lallygag (and lollygag)

The NYTimes Spelling Bee is a daily puzzle of the sort that requires a Master Word List of words that are, for the purpose of the game, actual words, with any letter-combination that isn’t listed not scoring any points. The question of what words should or should not be on the list is worthy of its own note, and the subject of much griping. By me, at any rate.

One of my regular gripes is that the Bee accepts both LOLLYGAG and LALLYGAG. As far as I’m concerned, LOLLYGAG is a word and LALLYGAG is not. I have never, as far as I am aware, seen LALLYGAG in print, and have never even considered that the word might be spelled with an A between the Ls. In yesterday’s puzzle, which restricted the letters A E G I L T and Y, my preferred spelling was of course not counted, and the last word that MyS got was the spelling I deprecate.

Which led me to look them up in the OED, because that’s the sort of thing I do. I was surprised to discover that the OED’s main entry is for LALLYGAG, with LOLLYGAG reduced to “Forms: also” status. Four of their seven quotes did use the O form, which I would find more comforting if three of the seven didn’t use the hyphenated version, which is clearly (to me) an error.

Anyway, the point is that (a) standardized orthography is a scam of Big Dictionary, and (2) I seem to have been wrong about this particular gripe.


One Response to “lallygag (and lollygag)”

  1. Jed

    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate has an entry for lollygag that says “or less commonly lallygag,” which matches my perception, at least in the US. I’ve seen lallygag before, but only rarely.

    I agree that hyphenating is right out.


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