“We’re sorry. Wait times are longer than usual. Please thulge.”

Pause. Long pause. Very long pause. Go-get-yourself-something pause.

“Thank you for thulging with us. How may we help you?”

OK, I agree, it’s not likely to catch on. In fact, it, uh, de-caught-on, or however you want to put it for something that has been left by the wayside. Thulge was a verb in English back when English was “English? … I’m sorry, I don’t recognize that name; do you have a reservation?” But on its way to fame, fortune, hegemony, and so on, it left a number of little words by the wayside, and this is one of them.

Or else it has just been patiently thulging its turn.

You get what it means, right? It has an intransitive sense – per the Oxford English Dictionary, “To be patient, have patience, bear or put up with” – and a transitive sense – “To wait for.” It seems to be related to an Old English root meaning ‘patient’. It shows up, for instance, in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (the original, not the movie version): “Þenne he þulged with hir þrepe, & þoled hir to speke, & ho … bede hit hym swyþe.” (In case you don’t know, in the English of the time – in this case circa 1400 – þ was a letter for a sound that has since been spelled th because of technology, specifically movable type imported from Europe that didn’t have þ.)

The OED does not have any citations since Sir Gawain.

Thulge does have the advantage of concision, as well as not having any conflicting other senses. “Please be patient with us” has a certain tone; “Please bear with us” has another tone; and I think “Please thulge us” or “Please thulge with us” would have yet another tone. We tend to be influenced in our interpretation of words by other words they sound like, and thulge brings, on the one hand, the same beginning as thump, thuck, thud, and similar dramatic (and generally onomatopoeic) words, and on the other hand the same ending as indulge, divulge, and bulge. So it might have some sense of being something dramatic and perhaps a bit shady that you’re being let in on. Or it might just feel like you’re digging a hole into your spare time.

Or, not being familiar with the word and not being able to guess from context, a person might guess something completely different. I mean, if you saw this word with no context, what would you think?

No, seriously. Tell me. I want to know. It’s OK – I’ll thulge.

2 responses to “thulge

  1. to “thulge” sounds a little to me like like to sulk

  2. Has a bit of a violent edge to it, a sort of lunge, perhaps weighted down with a bulge. I don’t care for it that much.

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