bork (the portmanteau)

Heard last night on a radio show about food:

… mixing beef with pork to make something called bork

Yes, a somewhat unsavory-sounding portmanteau.

Fair number of ghits, some offering recipes, some with bork for sale:

Bork Burgers (Beef and Pork) (link)

Fleisher’s is also famous for its grinds–made fresh every day. We offer ground beef, ground lamb, ground pork, our aptly-named bork (ground beef and pork) and everybody’s favorite burger base, beef-n-bacon. (link)

And then there’s a joke invention combining beer and pork:

asking that everyone who marinates pork in beer now refer to it as bork or borked meat… (link)

Why does bork sound so unpleasant? Probably because of other bork-words.

The verb Bork/bork (from Judge Robert H. Bork, blocked nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court). From OED3 (March 2002):

U.S. Polit. slang.
trans. To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.

The euphemism bork for fuck (an alternative to the phonologically-based avoidance words listed here). It can be sexual:

Hanners borked me in the ass! (link)

or figurative, as in bork ‘fuck, screw, mess up’:

Apple Borked Me Again (link)

and in bork up ‘fuck up, break’:

Thread: Is the CFL RSS feed totally borked up for anyone else? (link)

Not only does this bork work on purely phonological grounds, it also rhymes with pork and fork as alternatives to fuck. And the homophony with defamatory bork probably helps; many would say that Bork was borked over.

The onomatopoetic bork ‘vomit, retch’:

Everything I have eaten (besides apples, bananas and raisins) makes me bork/retch. (link)

Other possibilities include echoes of the slur dork and a connection to the silliness of the Swedish Chef Muppet:

Nearly all Swedish Chef sketches begin with him in a kitchen, waving some utensils while singing his signature song in his typical mock Swedish – a semi-comprehensible gibberish mimicking Swedish phonology and prosody. The song’s lyrics vary slightly from one episode to the next, but always end with “Börk, börk, börk!” [often quoted as “Bork, bork, bork!”] as the Chef throws the utensils aside with a clatter that seems to startle him.

There are probably still more associations (like bork as an imitation of a dog’s bark). But all in all, there are plenty of reasons to be wary of bork as the name of a food.


8 Responses to “bork (the portmanteau)”

  1. Dean Says:

    I wondered why you didn’t talk about the other way to do that portmanteau, peef. Or maybe that’s just one of your pets.

    • arnold zwicky Says:


      I don’t find peef used for pork-and-beef. It does occur as an error for beef, though, as in this headline from Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm and Resource Issues / Winter, 2001, with an anticipatory p:

      Churning out the links: Vertical integration in the peef and pork industries (link)

      (The actual article has beef and pork throughout.)

      And here’s a perseveratory b in bork:

      Hell try and vary your protein sources-
      a little beef and bork aint to bad every now and then. (link)

  2. mollymooly Says:

    Swedish meatballs are often made of blended beef and pork. Suddenly the chef makes sense.

  3. Dennis Preston Says:

    Arnold, don’t forget StarTrek and the “Borg.” [-voice]

  4. Jack Hamilton Says:

    Do you eat bork with a spork?

  5. Food and drink postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (the portmanteau) (link) beef + […]

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