Ruddy Ruddy: The English perspective

13Jan04

My new favorite Englishwoman — displacing the late, gin-swilling Queen Mum — is Ruddy Buddy #1, Katherine in Oxford, England, who has about the friendliest postal code I’ve ever seen; it’s all full of X’s and O’s and looks like it stands for “hugs and kisses.” Her English upbringing (of which I’m sure I have completely the wrong idea, having read too many Enid Blyton books as a tot) has given her a unique perspective to bring to the field of Ruddyology, and I’ll let her explain it here:

… thought you might like to know our family’s definition of a ruddy ruddy (lower case). A ruddy ruddy is whatever you’re thinking of; sort of like the x in an algebra equation. It’s like a guessing game, where you try and get the other person to say the word you’re thinking of. The formula always remains the same. For example:

Q: If I had it for breakfast this morning, what’s ruddy ruddy?
A: Fruit.

I know, it’s a bit random, but maybe all things Ruddy are… I think it got made up by one of my younger sisters when they were smaller on family holiday (you know how these things are) and it’s just become one of those jokes. The word ruddy is now also used for emphasis, sort of like inoffensive swearing, and it’s also morphed into rudder or even rudderhead as a term of abuse/endearment, depending on context.

I’ve seen the “mild swearing” usage of “ruddy” before from the British, where it’s used as an intensive. I think it probably comes from “bloody” — after all, it rhymes and it means “reddish”. The rest of that stuff makes no sense. But Katherine’s absolutely right — all things Ruddy are a bit random, and a bit mysterious to boot. And that’s where the beauty of it is.



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