Runcible is a nonsense word coined and used by Edward Lear as an adjective in several of his written works. The word was famously used with a spoon –“runcible spoon” and also to describe various objects in his writings, such as “runcible hat, runcible cat, runcible wall and runcible goose.”
The Runcible Spoon was first used in 1871 in the poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear- “They dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.” Another book which finds the mention of the runcible spoon is in the “Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures” featuring alphabetical illustrations, with the entry fro ‘D’ listed as “The Dolomphious Duck, who caught Spotted Frogs for her dinner with a Runcible Spoon.” In Lear’s illustration of his poem, the runcible spoon is shown as a round- bowled spoon used by the ‘dolomphious duck” to catch frogs.
When Edward Lear first used the word, runcible it was more as a nonsense word used primarily for its sound rather than any specific meaning. However, the word runcible has found entry in modern dictionaries, decades after Edward Lear’s death. The commonly found definition of the runcible spoon, appearing in dictionaries, is a three-pronged fork used for hors d’ oeuvres or pickles also known as the pickle fork or the spork. It may also refer to a spoon having a slotted bowl used for serving purposes.
Authors have frequently used the words, runcible spoon in their writings, maybe for the sheer delight of the sound of the word. In his novel, “The End” Lemony Snicket mentions in his final book, about members of an island cult who eat only with the runcible spoon. Other authors who refer to the runcible as a spoon in their works of fiction, include Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, wherein an exhibition fight take place with the help of runcible spoons. Novelist , Alfred Bester mentions in his “The Computer Conection” the captive Capo Rib being fed with the runcible spoon while in rehabilitation.
Runcible Spoon is used in various arenas despite its vague origin and definition. Besides being used to mean a kind of spoon or as an adjective as used by Lear, Runcible Spoon is the name of a shop in Rhode Island selling kitchen items. A bakery in Nyack, New York and a restaurant in Bloomington, Indiana also run under the name –Runcible Spoon. In the world of music, Runcible Spoon is the popular name of a jazz band. In Paul McCartney’s musical album –Driving Rain, the track “Heather” refers to the runcible tune in the sense of an adjective as used originally by Lear.