Glurge: Cloyingly sentimental stories, testimonials, and object lessons frequently sent as email or chain letters. (Source: WiseGeek.) Rhymes with “purge.”
Glurge was invented in 1998 by Patricia Chapin, a member of the urban legends discussion mailing list run in conjunction with Snopes.com, the website that fact-checks urban legends. According to the Snopes glossary, Ms. Chapin, “at a loss for words to describe the retching sensation this then-unnamed category of stories subjected her to, … fashioned a word that simultaneously named the genre and described its effect.”
Glurge can be applied to any one story or to the genre as a whole. On the Snopes home page, Glurge is given its own section, along with other categories such as 9/11, Fraud & Scams, and Cokelore. The introduction to the Glurge Gallery begins:
What is glurge? Think of it as chicken soup with a cup of sugar mixed in: It’s supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits.
Examples include the story of the poem “Daddy’s Day,” supposedly written in response to the September 11 attacks (false), the tale of the pastor who encountered a stranger who hands out bibles (true), and the parable of the ant that “fortuitously retrieves a contact lens lost by a hiker” (classified as having “multiple truth values”).
“Many of us,” Snopes concludes, “cannot overcome the urge to glurge.”
According to Word Spy, glurge first appeared in the press in 2000, in a review of the movie Anywhere But Here, starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman, in The Australian. “Thankfully,” wrote reviewer Kerrie Murphy, “it’s not as glurge-ridden as it could have been, but it’s a pretty soulless piece, saved from a fate worse than mediocrity by the good performances of the leads.”