Grockle






What is the origin of the word Grockle?


This slightly dismissive term for a tourist was, as several of our readers have noted, first popularized because of its use by the characters in the film
The System (1962) which is set in the Devon resort of Torquay during the tourist season. Some older dictionaries suggested that this might be a West Country dialect word. Other scholars have suggested that it might originate in a comparison of red-faced tourists (in baggy clothing with handkerchiefs on their heads) to Grock the famous clown. The word grockle was indeed picked up by the script-writer from the locals during filming in Torquay. However, it was apparently not an old local dialect word. According to research by a local journalist in the mid-1990s, the word in fact originated from a strip cartoon in the children's comic Dandy entitled Danny and his Grockle. The grockle was a magical dragon-like creature. A local man, who had had a summer job at a swimming pool as a youngster, said that he had used the term as a nickname for a small elderly lady who was a regular customer one season. During banter in the pub among the summer workers, the term then became generalized as a term for summer visitors. This seems to have occurred in or only shortly before, the summer in which The System was filmed: we know of no instances of the word dating from before the release of The System (though one or two people from the south-west remain convinced that they knew it before then).





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