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Alternative forms[edit]


A nonce word popularized by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, scriptwriters for a 9 November 1954 programme of The Goon Show, "Lurgi Strikes Britain", in which Ned Seagoon must deal with a national outbreak of a highly dangerous, highly infectious and — as it turns out — highly fictitious disease known as the Dreaded Lurgi.[1] Folk etymologies for this word include:

  • that it is a corruption and contraction of the term allergy. This is not supported by the use of the hard /ɡ/ in lurgi (rhyming with Fergie), as allergy has a soft 'g' /dʒ/.[1]
  • that it is based on the Northern English dialectal phrase fever-lurgy (lazy or idle).[1]


  • (UK) enPR: lû(r)ʹgē, IPA(key): /ˈlɜː(ɹ)ɡi/
  • (US) enPR: lûrʹge, IPA(key): /ˈlɝɡi/
  • (file)


lurgy (plural lurgies)

  1. (Britain, slang) A fictitious, highly infectious disease; often used in the phrase "the dreaded lurgi", sometimes as a reference to flu-like symptoms
  2. (Britain, slang) Any uncategorised disease with symptoms similar to a cold or flu that renders one unable to work.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Phrases like "I've got the lurgi" are commonly heard when somebody is explaining why they cannot attend a social occasion, come to work, etc.
  • The term is also used in the context of playground games. For example, "You can't play with us; you've got the lurgi!" could be used when excluding another child from a group.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Quinion, Michael (November 13, 2004), “The Dreaded Lurgi”, in World Wide Words[1]

See also[edit]