Verb intransitive, pronounced: sprook
I didn’t learn this word until I moved to
First, a textual definition:
Spruik: to promote goods, services, or a cause by addressing people in a public place.
Now, a visual one, courtesy of the Herald Sun Online (Australian of course):
If you can’t be bothered watching the video, here’s a fuller explanation.
In its strictest sense, spruiking is when someone, in my experience they usually have a mic and a portable PA, stand by the entrance of a retail store, usually a jewellery store or something dealing in souvenirs and tacky gifts, and rattles on about the products inside in an attempt to induce people to enter the store. With jewellers in particular, they blather about special Today Only reductions. Sometimes it is not a live person extemporising outside the store, but a recording of someone, usually a blokey Australian male who most certainly has a Dipper moustache.
In the video (shot in
The etymology of spruik is unclear. To most Australians, it began with these people trying to sell their wares through the power of speech, but the meaning has been allowed to progress from its strictest sense to now encompass ‘to make an elaborate speech, with persuasive intent.’
It is in this sense that spruik is a handy word to wield. It’s one of those words you can use in context and people who’ve never heard it before will know what you mean.
I’ve used it already on this blog—as a synonym of ‘sell’ or ‘promote’ I guess—and I will probably use it again before the year of a million words is up.
And why should spruik get thirty-two of those million slots? The sound of it in spoken English and the look of it on the page—both have that element of surprise. The uncommon union of “uik” is a thing of beauty in my opinion. If it was spelt sprook, it would lose something. And even though sprook is how I and other online definitions have transcribed the pronunciation, it’s not quite like ‘spook’ with an ‘r’ in it. It’s its very own animal.
That’s why I’m spruiking the use of spruik today. Because it’s a bit of colour you can easily throw into you conversations. Trust me. There will come a time this weekend where you’ll be able to say spruik, spruiks, spruiking or spruiked, even if its just, “I read a blog where this guy was spruiking the use of this word, just which word, I forget.”
[Spruik count: 16 down, 16 to go.]