Roald Dahl and the Word Redunculus

Last week, I challenged readers to find a literary mention of a variation on the word “redonkulous” from thirty years ago.

To make it harder, I didn’t give the exact spelling of the word as it appeared back in the early 1980s.

Even so, it only took 21 minutes and five guesses for someone to provide the right answer: Roald Dahl‘s book The BFG. The reference occurs on page 115. (I had never heard of The BFG until my daughter Olivia asked me to read it with her before bedtime one night. I would say it is the most enjoyable Roald Dahl book I have read.)

So congratulations to blog reader J, who will be getting some Freakonomics schwag.

Honorable mention goes to blog reader Steven, who acknowledged that The BFG was the answer I was looking for, but also provided a reference to the word redunculous from 1815!


Dahl....if I had a tenth of his talent, I'd be much better off


that claim is redonkulous


How had you not heard of the BFG?! I'm glad your daughter could introduce you to its wonders.


BFG, a staple of Quake III destruction.


Redunculus and redonkulous are pronounced differently, and aren't really the same word at all.


Have you read "Danny, Champion of the World?" It's one of the lesser known Dahl books, but one parents always love.


The more common spelling "redonkulous" is doubly asinine -- and I mean that literally since it sounds like a twice-donkey.

I read that as Robert Dahl ( and thought "hey, that's weird".

Andrew M

If you liked BFG, check out Danny Champion of the World - it's great too. Love Roald Dahl!

Mike Dub

Love the BFG.

But, you really should start calling it "swag". "Schwag" refers to low-grade marijuana, and is a much more common usage of the word than the one you have undertaken, making reference to promotional merchandise. A simple google image search of the terms adequately illustrates their disparity, I believe.


The date I see for the older book is 1835, not 1815 (both in Google's summary and on the title page).


Thanks for the honourable mention, made my day seeing that today. guess i'm still holding out for some schwag then?


and yes I did refer to 1935 not 1915. thanks


Just make sure that you don't read "My Uncle Oswald", also by Roald Dahl, to your daughter...

kevin land

I really was hoping the 1815 publication date would be right (and i do not think anyone should take away the schwag), but Redonculous used in the surgical textbook IS A MEDICAL term related to a stalk-like polyp and not to something beyond ridiculous.


The word redonkulous, while obviously originating much earlier, should be credited in it's most recent iteration to world renowned party animal Nik Belcevich of Hollywood, CA. I'll explain: In 2003, Nik and I were at the side bar in the Gas Lamp district of San Diego with some of my good friends who are Marine Pilots. One of the pilot's call signs is "Donk" because he resembled the Donk from Crocodile Dundee. Nik, The Jorge and I were hanging out with a group of girls and we turned and saw the Donk dancing with a group of three, less than attractive girls. Nik yells out over the crowd "that's redonkulous!!". The word was used from then on by our entire crew in Hermosa Beach, as well as within the Hollywood circles that Nik partied with; which included most of the party scene you read about in any tabloid or Hollywood mag. It made it's way onto the O.C. in 2004 and then into main stream around 2008.