What is gleeking?

Reading time: About 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: gleeking…

When I read the word gleeking, in the Joshua Ferris novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, I knew it had nothing to do with the TV show Glee.

The main character, Paul O’Rourke, is a dentist so I figured it had something to do with teeth. I was close, but not quite right. Here’s how Ferris used it in a sentence:

It was all one big mouth to me — one big open, straining, gleeking, unhappy discomfited, slowly decaying mouth.

Gleeking, as I discovered via Youtube, is an acquired skill in which a person rolls back the tongue, then compresses the salivary gland until a stream of saliva is released. Take a look, here! I’m pretty sure I’ve gleeked inadvertently. But I’m still not able to do it deliberately.

I’ve also been unable to learn the etymology of the word — at least the one relating to the saliva gland. There’s an archaic word, to gleek, meaning to joke or gibe. It dates back to 1590 and it comes from Shakespeare, of course.

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