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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(v., adj.) stolen or pilfered

Cabbaged is the longest word that can be spelled using musical notes:

the word cabbaged written using musical notes

...although we don’t recommend playing that, as it sounds like something even Schoenberg would’ve turned his nose up at.

The seven musical notes from A–G can be used to spell around a hundred English words, including the likes of face, cafe, decaf, badge, faded, defaced and effaced, acceded and deceded, baggage, feedbag and gagged. The fact that the musical note B is designated H in some notational systems would more than double this total if this were the case in English music, and would add the likes of hedge, beach, chafed and chaffed, egghead, beheaded and headache to the list.

The 10-letter word deadheaded would also step forward and steal the record from cabbaged. (FYI, if you like this sort of thing, there’s more on this in the HH fact book, Word Drops.)

It’s worth specifying that cabbaged is the longest widely-accepted dictionary word on this list, as other 8-letter musical words—or longer, for that matter—are certainly possible, but not universally acknowledged.

Amid these also-rans you’ll find debagged (the past tense of debag, British slang for taking your trousers off), as well as the likes of debadged, bedeafed, baggaged and cabbage-bed. And the sooner people who look like they’ve overindulged start to be described as feedbag-faced the better.

One question remains, though: what on earth does cabbaged mean? This isn’t the cabbage you’ll find in your coleslaw. As a verb, cabbage means to steal or pilfer something—but as Merriam-Webster point out, that meaning has nothing to do with thieves stealing vegetables from unguarded farmyards.

Derived from an old French word, cabas, for stealing or theft, cabbage was once a slang word for the off-cuttings of tailored garments, which clothes-makers were once permitted to keep for their own use as a perquisite of their job. Perhaps because less reputable tailors and cutters had a habit of trimming off more fabric than was actually required, the word gained an association with shady dealings—and ultimately makes our musical cabbaged another word for something that has been stolen, purloined, or embezzled.

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