OK, Courant readers, a challenge for you. Between us, can we bring words such as ‘quockerwodger’ and ‘snollygoster’ back into everyday use?

Or how about ‘transpontine’, author and blogger Paul Anthony Jones’ own particular favourite?

During an entertaining talk on Sunday, the founder of the Haggard Hawks wordsmith website said there were some very useful old words he’d like to see return.

“Quockerwodger was a wooden puppet, the type with strings coming out of its head. In the 1920s, it became slang for a politician whose strings were being pulled behind the scenes.

“And Snollygoster was a word for a disreputable politician who would do anything to get into office.”

This South Shields-born, Newcastle University graduate had become hooked on dictionaries the Christmas his grandparents gave him his first one, at the age of seven or eight.

“I sat and read it like you would a Dickens novel,” he said. It has been joined by dozens more in the years since, including the Dictionary of Sailors’ Slang he found for a pound on ebay.

He’d started his website, devoted to obscure words and etymology, in 2013, but had only begun Tweeting in 2016.

“By the end of the first week I had a thousand followers!” he said. Today he has just shy of 56,000, most of whom would have read his ‘word for the day’ on Sunday.

It was ‘convail’ (v.), which means to rest and recuperate, to regain strength.

Jones was in Hexham, however, to talk about his sixth book, Around the World in 80 Words. This time, he focuses on words that have arisen from place names.

One is ‘bikini’. In 1946, French fashion designer Louis Réard took the name for his new swimwear from Bikini Atoll, where the nuclear bomb was first publicly tested. His skimpy design would rock the conservative world of fashion, he reasoned.

Buncombe County in North Carolina produced the word ‘bunkum’ when, in 1820, Congressman Felix Walker gave the most spurious, rambling speech while ‘speaking for Buncombe’.

But Serendip, the old Persian name for Sri Lanka, gave rise to the altogether happier ‘serendipity’.

And Jones’s favourite, transpontine? Well, strictly speaking it means ‘on the other side of’, say an ocean or a bridge. “However, journalists in London used it to refer to the second-rate productions, the penny-dreadfuls, put on in the theatres on the South Bank, on the other side of the bridge,” he said.

“So it came to imply something that was rough round the edges and playing to the lowest common denominator.

“I like that, when a word builds up over the years into another meaning entirely.”