Chief Scout Coins a New Word, 1922

Arthur Mee founded The Children’s Newspaper in 1919 and it continued after his death, until its final issue in 1965. At this point the sixties started to swing, it looked a bit too old fashioned and was integrated into “Look and Learn” magazine. He also presided over The Children’s Encyclopaedia, despite claiming to have no particular affinity to children. His aim wasn’t so much to entertain children as to produce upright citizens of the future, and The Children’s Newspaper was a proper newspaper aiming to keep pre-teens up to date with world news and science. I’ve got a couple of issues from 1922, and they’re still interesting to read today. Especially this article, which I love, from the issue dated 13th May 1922.

The Children's Newspaper, 13th May 1922

The Children’s Newspaper, 13th May 1922

Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement and its first Chief Scout, invented a word – “goom”. It’s a great word.

The Children's Newspaper, 13th May 1922

The Children’s Newspaper, 13th May 1922

B-P (as he was known) says,
“Who knows how to goom? It’s a funny word isn’t it? And you won’t find it in the dictionary; but I know its meaning, and when I’ve told you how to go gooming you will agree with me that that is the word for it.”

Essentially, the “goom” is the time just before daybreak, when the songbirds start chattering and before the rest of the world is awake. Once the cocks crow and signs of human life start to appear,
“Man is awake; the sun is up; and gooming is at an end…..Good morning. The goom is over.”

Here’s the article:

The Children's Newspaper, 13th May 1922

The Children’s Newspaper, 13th May 1922

I think he’s right, “goom” is a brilliantly descriptive, yet silly, word and one I will always use in future (and you do see quite a lot of the goom with tiny kids in the house).

It’s a shame it didn’t stick around, well, apart from in Gracie Fields’ vernacular anyway….

Derby Evening Telegraph, 1937

Derby Evening Telegraph, 1937

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2 Responses

  1. ste says:

    That reveal in the newspaper advert is truly terrifying. How far is that chin going to extend.

  1. April 24, 2016

    […] is the time that Baden-Powell used to like to be out and about, and for which he invented the word “goom”. The goom being the time just before daybreak before people got up and the day started. “Good […]

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