2

In the foreword to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the following sentence occurs:

You will find quantum tomfoolery, cosmic belly laughs and more absurd one-liners than you could quorble a stank at.

I haven’t the slightest notion of what quorble and stank at mean there. Browsing through dictionaries hasn't helped.

5
  • 2
    This is deliberate nonsense, a nod to the Douglas Adams's own "hoopy frood". Aug 4, 2013 at 17:07
  • 2
    It's Douglas Adam's unique way of saying. Than you can shake a stick at! en.wiktionary.org/wiki/more_than_one_can_shake_a_stick_at
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 4, 2013 at 18:51
  • 4
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about "English" Aug 4, 2013 at 20:52
  • 1
    @Fumble: Perhaps that's true in hindsight, but there's no way to know that at the time of asking. Moreover, there was a time when the word "jabberwocky" wouldn't have been a question about English, either, but now that word is in the dictionary. Sometimes the boundaries of English can shift over time.
    – J.R.
    Aug 5, 2013 at 1:16
  • So if quorble is a loan-word in English, does it need italics?
    – Fortiter
    Aug 5, 2013 at 1:39

1 Answer 1

2

It’s the HHG2G, which is known for being silly and nonsensical at times. They don’t mean anything except in so far as they are literary nonsense. In this case I would say they are meant as a nonsensical parallel construction to “shake a stick at”.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.