To scurryfunge is to rush around cleaning when you find out someone’s on their way over. Another definition I found has it as ‘a hasty tidying of the house between the time you see a neighbour and the time she knocks on the door’.

I’ve struggled a bit to find the etymology of this and it’s not entirely clear where it comes from. It’s described as Old English (which means it appeared any time from 450AD to the Norman Conquest) on a lot of sites, and it definitely sounds like that. But the earliest proper reference I can find to it is in the late 18th century, where its meaning is shown as ‘to beat or lash’, and later ‘to rub or scrub clean’. It then disappeared for a while before reappearing in the mid-19th century with the meaning mentioned above. It looks like this might have happened with some confusion around the word ‘scurry’ i.e. ‘to move in or as if in a brisk pace’ or ‘to move around in an agitated, confused or fluttering manner’.

Thanks to my friend Lorna for telling me about this word when she came round for tea at the weekend. I don’t know why she thought of it when she came to my house though.