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. 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/.
- that it is based on the Northern English dialectal phrase fever-lurgy (“lazy or idle”).
lurgy (plural lurgies)
- (Britain, slang) A fictitious, highly infectious disease; often used in the phrase "the dreaded lurgi", sometimes as a reference to flu-like symptoms
- (Britain, slang) Any uncategorised disease with symptoms similar to a cold or flu that renders one unable to work.
- 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.
- Quinion, Michael (November 13, 2004), “The Dreaded Lurgi”, in World Wide Words