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Pronounced /pɒˈpɪzmɪk/Help with pronunciation

Poppysmic refers to the noise produced by smacking the lips together.

It comes from the Latin poppysma, via the defunct French popisme. Romans used the original for a kind of lip-smacking, clucking noise that signified satisfaction and approval, especially during lovemaking. In French, it referred to the tongue-clicking tsk-tsk sound that riders use to encourage their mounts.

You probably won’t encounter it in your local newspaper any day soon. Its only occurrence in the public prints that I’ve been able to find is this:

She has a passion for interesting words — quidnunc, poppysmic — and an assistant (Greer) at her shop who despairs at her poor taste in men.

Belfast Telegraph, 9 Oct. 2009.

Its source is appropriate, since the only writer in English known to have used our word was the Irishman James Joyce, in a stage direction in Ulysses: “Florry whispers to her. Whispering lovewords murmur, liplapping loudly, poppysmic plopslop.”

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 13 Aug. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 13 August 2005.