gurn by matt halloran

A gurn or chuck is a distorted facial expression, and a verb to describe the action. A typical gurn might involve projecting the lower jaw as far forward and up as possible, and covering the upper lip with the lower lip. Another common form of gurning is the ‘duck face’ which is characterized by outwardly splayed lips. Gurn has also been defined as ‘to snarl as a dog; to look savage; to distort the countenance.’ The derivation may originally be Scottish, related to ‘grin.’ In Northern Ireland, the verb ‘to gurn’ means ‘to cry,’ and crying is often referred to as ‘gurnin’.’

Gurning contests are a rural English tradition. By far the most notable is that held annually at the Egremont Crab Fair, which dates back to 1267 when King Henry III granted the fair a Royal Charter. The competitions are held regularly in some villages, with contestants traditionally framing their faces through a horse collar — known as ‘gurnin’ through a braffin’.’ The World Gurning Championship takes place annually at the same crab fair in Egremont, Cumbria. Those with the greatest gurn capabilities are often those with no teeth, as this provides greater room to move the jaw further up. In some cases, the elderly or otherwise toothless can be capable of spectacular gurns covering the entire nose.


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