Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gruntled: Are you there yet?

“Be gruntled. Start building,” screams the full-page newspaper ad by I’m hooked. Gruntled? What kind of word is that?

Disgruntled is a word we all know, especially in the context of the disgruntled employee who pulls a pistol at the office. Come to think of it, disgruntled doesn’t seem to be widely used in any other context. Had some copywriter coined gruntled, to mean “be satisfied,” or “be happy with your work?”

Gruntled is a word in its own right, or so I found out from my on-line dictionary. However, the closer of the two definitions given says that gruntled means “to calm,” or “still,” which doesn’t quite fit. More apt is probably the WordWeb online definition “to cause to be more favorably inclined.”

There’s also a webside, advertising “what you want when you need it.” Quite possibly what I really need is a softwear product called Gruntle for Windows, where the softwear reads what’s on my screen and interprets my problem, as opposed to the Windows version, where they show what some engineer thinks I should be seeing. Install this device and I would probably have fewer disgruntled moments where I want to throw my laptop through one of my windows.

Another site,, promotes several enticing products written in a quite possibly put-on computer language called python: Check out Madcow;IRC Bot; PyFiglet and Insub.

Gruntle is a very old word, says fantasy writer Anne Ewan, who has a degree in linguistics ( Gruntle once meant “grumble.” The dis in front of it meant completely. So in a sense our disgruntled employee comes straight out of Dickens. I can see him walking around grumbling rather loudly about his or her situation. Gruntled, Ewan says, came about as a “back formation” where people created gruntled, meaning the opposite of disgruntled, but that’s okay, Ewan says, people do that all the time, so welcome to a gruntled world.

Gruntled might fit into a piece of writing suggesting ancient history or maybe some science fiction setting as in “Merlin gruntled his winged steed,” for instance, where today we would say, “The jockey gentled his mount at the starting gate.”

Who could get away using gruntle? E.L. Doctorow,maybe? Cormac McCarthy, writing about the modern wild west? Dean Koontz writing one of his misfit characters? I become disgruntled simply thinking about how to use gruntled, and so then I told myself to get a grip, as in “Gruntle yourself girl.”

However, if I were looking for a job, I can’t believe I’d sit across from a prospective employer and say that I used to be a disgruntled employee and that my aim in a new job is to gruntle myself. Not unless I was seeking a job as the sorcerer’s apprentice that is. And then I decided to the obvious. I went to and typed “gruntle” into the job search. Nothing came up. Maybe I should try sorcerer’s apprentice?