What is Gurning?

The verb gurn is about making distorted expression on the face. One of the most common, or rather typical gurn would involve protruding the lower jaw ahead and up, and hiding the upper lip behind the lower lip. Although it would be difficult to find the word ‘gurn’ in traditional dictionaries, there are several new dictionaries that define the verb. According to Joseph Wright, in the English Dialect Dictionary, ‘gurning’ means snarling like a dog, or distorting the countenance.

Apart from the definition, this word has a special prominence in England, as it holds annual gurning contests. It takes place in several locations and under various titles. However, one of the most prominent Egremont Crab Fair, believed to have started in 1267, during the reign of King Henry III.

This competition is still a part of the country, and many people from all over the place involving in gurning competition that takes place in many villages. Many people frame their faces with horse collars. However, the event that takes place in Egremont, Cumbria, sees participants from all over the world, as it holds the World Gurning Championship. Most winners of the competition as the ones that do not have teeth, as this condition allows them to make flexible jaw movement due to more space in the jaw. In many cases, some elderly with no teeth, are also able to hide their nose behind the lower jaw, a feat that seems impossible to people unaware about this contests.

The word gurning is often associated with the four-time winner of this championship, Peter Jackman. He had removed his teeth in the year 2000 only to win this championship. However, in 2003, while playing golf in Spain, the cliff under him collapsed and he unfortunately died. He is often referred to as ‘Bela Lugosi’. After him, the best deserving gurner was Owen Grant, also known as ‘Rubber Face’, who is known for some of his near-impossible gurning moves. The gurning faces in this competition as sights to be enjoyed. Hence a large crowd comes to witness this popular event.

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