Printable Version
Pronunciation: kê-nud-êl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive

Meaning: To bill and coo, to spoon, to pet, or make out. To canoodle is to cuddle up with someone you are most fond of.

Notes: Over the past centuries every generation has had a different word or phrase for engaging in this universally enjoyable and enjoyed activity. This one is seldom heard outside the north-eastern US these days, but it is worth saving. The spelling of this word has been Anglicized as canoodle, even though its origin is the Yiddish verb knuddeln. People who canoodle are canoodlers enjoying a bit of canoodlery (or canoodling).

In Play: Though this word still sounds too slangy for formal English, it is a cute, mildly funny word for this activity: "Buffy was stunned to find her parents canoodling on the very living room couch that she and her boyfriend, Biff Stroganoff, had hoped to put to the same use." The derivations are just as funny as the basic verb: "The canoodlers were tied in a knot sealed at the lips by a kiss."

Word History: This word did not originate with an image of noodles knotted together, even though this image might have crossed your mind as you read the definition and examples above. It is yet another one of those words English borrowed from Yiddish (and never returned). Yiddish picked the word up from German knuddeln "to hug, pet". English speakers do not handle the consonant combination KN at the beginning of a word as well as Yiddish speakers, so we added the vowel A and converted the K to a C, no doubt to disguise the fact that this word really belongs to another language.

Dr. Goodword,

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