An invertebrate of many parts

I was just reading the word ‘slug’ in the dictionary and thinking how much I like it. If you were wondering why I was looking at it, it was because it was underneath ‘slow-roast’ and I needed to know if that was hyphenated or not. These are the important questions which make up my working life.

A slug can be a lot of different things. Apart from a little slimy beastie that you always seem to step on if you go out barefoot in the dark, it can also be a bullet, or any little disc of metal. When I worked down my old man’s steel pressing factory I used to roll up the sleeves on my boiler suit so they didn’t get sopping wet with oil reaching inside the presses, and when I was on punching jobs the turn-ups would end up full of slugs.

It can be a drink too, providing it’s strong, short and you take it back in one, and as an insult it is excellent. I have a friend who sent me a text once saying ‘XXXXX is a SLUG’, and for childish contempt it was perfect.

And it can be a verb. You can slug a shot or a person, and in this latter sense the dictionary is quite elaborate: ‘to hit (somebody or something) hard, esp. with a fist or baseball bat’. The extra specific about the bat is particularly pleasing.

It’s all very confusing. If you are a slugger then you might be an alcoholic, or a brawler, or just someone with pluck and tenacity. Or I suppose you might hunt slugs or make bullets. Not to be confused with a sluggard who is just lazy. I think I am going to add slug to my list of favourite words, along with pyjamas and calico. Partly for the sound and partly out of respect for a level of four-letter versatility usually reserved for swear words.

Also, I have discovered that a spurtle is a wooden stick used to stir porridge.

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