Sweet kisses

August 26, 2012|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Pity the anchorman.

Andrew Johnson of CTV Vancouver Island was on the air talking to Astrid Braunschmidt, the weather reporter. Transitioning from a story about a town where couples used to come to "canoodle," he said to her, "It's time now for a look at your forecast with Astrid. Maybe we can canoodle before you get into it."

Her response: "We won't be canoodling."

He thought the word meant "chat."

Instead, canoodle means to "kiss and caress amorously." I would have thought it American slang. It sounds like rural American, like sparking for "courting." But its origins, the Oxford English Dictionary indicates, are solidly British. Though its origins, as is the case with much slang, are obscure. The OED has an citation from 1879 in Punch: "Then he and the Matchless one struggle, snuggle, and generally conoodle together rapturously." 

But there is a darker streak to its origins. The original sense was "to persuade by endearments or deception." That is, to seduce, as seen in a citation from 1864: "He is an adept in that branch of persuasive dialectics known as ‘conoodling’. He will ‘conoodle’ the ladies..into the acquisition of whole packages of gimcrack merchandise."

The echoic association with snuggle and cuddle suggests some of the appeal of canoodle, Myself, I prefer the more recent British snogging for "light, amorous play, esp. kissing and cuddling." It too is of obscure origin, its earliest citations dating from the 1940s.

If you have an opportunity today, give someone you care for a smooch. It'll do you both good.

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