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The Whangdoodle is an imaginary creature of undefined character, often dismayed and discontent; a creature of sorrow in folklore and children's literature, most notably used by British authors Roald Dahl and Julie Andrews. Popularized by a sermon parody attributed to William P. Brannan as "Where the lion roareth and the whangdoodle mourneth for her first-born," published in The Harp of a Thousand Strings: Or, Laughter for a Lifetime (1858). Whangdoodle is also an earlier term for a "fanciful formation" or a "gadget . . . thing for which the correct name is not known."[1]

Roald Dahl books[edit]

The Minpins[edit]

In Roald Dahl's book The Minpins, one of the main characters is warned by his mother against a forest where Whangdoodles live.

James and the Giant Peach[edit]

One of the firemen of the book refers to the centipede as a Whangdoodle.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory[edit]

In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka mentions that he saved the Oompa Loompas from Whangdoodles and various other monsters.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles[edit]

A different Whangdoodle is described in the children's novel The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by singer and actress Dame Julie Andrews (under her married name of Julie Edwards): an intelligent, ungulate-like character capable of changing color to suit its emotions or blend into its surroundings, from whose hind legs grow a new and different set of bedroom slippers each year. It is introduced to the protagonists Ben, Tom, and Lindy, and thus to the reader, by the geneticist 'Professor Savant', a scholar of the Whangdoodle and its secret domain. Attempting to visit both, the scientist and children are opposed by the antagonist 'Prock' (the Whangdoodle's second-in-command), until his resources are exhausted by their tenacity. With Prock persuaded to grant their passage, the children discover that the Whangdoodle is oppressed by want of a mate, and convince Savant to create the latter. With this done, the two Whangdoodles are to be wedded at a great celebration, and the children return to their home.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain[edit]

Some versions of the song "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" include a mention of a Whangdoodle singing in the titular hobo's paradise. This is the case in the version written down and arranged by Charles and Ruth Seeger. This version is used in the Frederic Rzewski composition for violin, piano, and percussion, entitled 'Whangdoodles'.


  1. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2 March 2012.

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