This term was used in this way, for the first time: “The oyster is a blob of glup, but a woman is a woman.” ― James Thurber, The 13 Clocks . I also saw some articles using this phrase, but I just don't get it.

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    I'd normally spell it gloop - defined by the full OED in that link as A glutinous or viscous substance; a lump or blob of this type of substance. Note that the OED doesn't actually list the spelling glup, although that seems to be the more common version in Google Books. It's probably a mash-up of slop and goo (influenced by glug / gulp, in Thurber's context). Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 16:33
  • I feel my mind expanding. Thanks.
    – T. K.
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 17:34
  • I'd say Thurber's "humorous aphorism" here is a complete one-off, but the basic construction is idiomatically well established. And one particularly well-known version that comes to mind as a kind of "opposite" is Rudyard Kipling's 1855 offering: A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke. Which Thurber would have been perfectly familiar with, so we could say he's "riffing" off that "original". Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


'Glup' seems to be a (possibly) Thurber-invented term meaning roughly 'slimy, jelly-like material', similar to guck.

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I believe the remark is intended to be humorous (using bathos), contrasting a slimy food, offering a small amount of transitory pleasure to the small number of people who like oysters, with the much more fulfilling possibilities offered by interaction with a woman. Presumably the remark was written to be understood from a traditional sexist male viewpoint. To be contasted with the similar rather misogynistic remark by Groucho Marx, borrowed from Rudyard Kipling: 'a woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke'.

  • You saved my mind. I was getting crazy about it! Thank you!
    – T. K.
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 16:28
  • Actually, Groucho Marx was just repeating Rudyard Kipling's original aphorism Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 18:07

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