Though hangry was included in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) in the 1990s, only time will tell how long this relatively recent (1918) portmanteau will be with us. Surprising as it is that so few words end in -gry, equally interesting are some of the uncommon, archaic, and obsolete -gry words that have fallen out of use.
Going back to Old and Middle English, archaic variations and compounds using the words hungry and angry were numerous! Consider such colorful expressions as anhungry, unhungry, dog-hungry, meat-hungry, wind-hungry, ever-angry, fire-angry, half-angry, heat-angry, self-angry, and tear-angry.
As for uncommon words, let’s start with gry itself. This extremely rare word is defined as 1/10 of a line and was marked as obsolete in the 1934 Second New International Dictionary.
Other uncommon words include aggry, (a variegated glass bead found in Ghana and England), and meagry (a variation on the word meager). Foreign vocables turned into English-appearing words include the Hindi word puggry (a cloth wrapped around a sun helmet), or the Egyptian word iggry (a word that translates as, ‘Hurry up!’)
In researching this Fun Fact, I unwittingly smacked into a popular -gry riddle — just the kind to leave you feeling half-angry when you’re forced to say, “I giveth up.” You’ll find the answer at the end of this post. Good luck.
Think of three words ending in -gry. Angry and hungry are two of them. There are only three words in the English language. What is the third word? The word is something that everyone uses every day. If you have listened carefully, I have already told you what it is. (Hint: the answer is NOT hangry.)
If you found this interesting to read, you might enjoy learning about the rules of stacked adjectives, why the word we is so unique among languages, or the history of counters like, “A murder of crows”!
Stories for Young Readers, Book 1, is a graded textbook for students studying ESL/EFL. Dialogues for Young Speakers, Book 1, follows the Stories for Young Readers series with easy dialogues that will get students up and talking. Both of these textbooks are available as full textbook downloads.
With the question about -gry words being a kind of smokescreen, the rest of the riddle is interpreted to mean “What is the third word in the three-word phrase the English language?” The answer is “language” — something we use every day. Ugh, right!?