A runcible spoon is a fictional spoon. The word “runcible” is a nonsense term first used by the poet Edward Lear in the 19th century. Lear used the term first in his poem “The Owl and The Pussycat,” where the two besotted animals dine on mince and slices of quince, eating them with a “runcible spoon.” Lear also used the term runcible again as a modifier for hat, goose, and wall.
To help decide what a runcible spoon truly is, Lear offers an illustration of the Dolumphious Duck, who catches frogs with one. Although the spoon is often defined as a spork in modern language, Lear’s illustration offers us a different look at what it might be. It appears to be a long-handled spoon with a large curved bowl, somewhat resembling a punch bowl spoon or a ladle. Unlike the spork, Lear’s drawing does not include tines.
There are several explanations on possible inspirations for the word runcible. The most likely appears to be that it derives from the word rouncival or rounceval, primarily French in origin. Rouncival is defined as exceptionally large, and this adjective would explain Lear’s drawing.
A Latin word runcare means to weed out. This word could explain the Dolumphious Duck’s fishing process with a runcible spoon. The duck is really weeding out the frogs from the water. Yet it does not make sense when a person or a hat is considered runcible.
Despite the nebulous meaning of the words runcible spoon, they trip off the tongue with delight and account for their many uses by other authors. Isaac Asimov refers to it in his novel The Currents of Space. Lemony Snicket, in his final book in the Series of Unfortunate Events: The End, mentions an island cult where members only use this spoon as a utensil.
Runcible Spoon is also the name of jazz band, a store in Rhode Island that sells kitchen items, a restaurant in Indiana, and a bakery in New York. Despite an unclear picture of what it is, or even what the adjective means, it continues to capture the public’s imagination.