Humorous disease names

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Thu Jun 5 08:11:38 UTC 2008

Jim Parish wrote:

> I recall a reference to "slitting someone from guzzle to zorch" in one of
> Piers Anthony's Xanth novels. (I no longer have any of them, so can't
> verify, much less identify which one.)

How about "He was already moving forwards when you lunged, and by the time
you committed yourself to it, he was ready to parry in passing, and leave
you open from guzzle to zorch." (Raymond E Feist, Murder in LaMut, 2002).

It's widespread, if not common, in both the computing and SF fields in
various senses, which are summed up in the entry for the word in The New
Hacker's Dictionary:

1. [TMRC] v. To attack with an inverse heat sink. 2. [TMRC] v. To travel,
with v approaching c [that is, with velocity approaching lightspeed --
ESR]. 3. [MIT] v. To propel something very quickly. "The new comm software
is very fast; it really zorches files through the network." 4. [MIT] n.
Influence. Brownie points. Good karma. The intangible and fuzzy currency
in which favors are measured. "I'd rather not ask him for that just yet; I
think I've used up my quota of zorch with him for the week." 5. [MIT] n.
Energy, drive, or ability. "I think I'll punt that change for now; I've
been up for 30 hours and I've run out of zorch." 6. [MIT] v. To flunk an
exam or course.

It's listed in the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional
English: "zorch verb in computing, to move or process quickly US, 1983".

It's in a couple of Tom Clancy books, Executive Orders and The Sum Of All
Fears ("Jesus! 301 got spiked on over a hundred freqs! Somebody just tried
to zorch us.") I've found examples in books by Harry Turtledove, Joel
Rosenberg, Keith Laumer, Poul Anderson, Antony Boucher and Julian May.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list