As a child, I remember reading through the dictionary and delighting in discovering new words that appealed to me. Some, I fancied for the way they sound when spoken, like atelectasis (the collapse of a lung). Others found their way into my writing and vocabulary because of their definition, like Junoesque (marked by stately beauty). Words have a special place in the heart of writers.
This morning, I happened upon a blog post over at CopyWriterUnderground.com that tells a woeful tale of words in danger of deletion from the dictionary. It seems that once a word is deemed archaic, it is deleted from the next edition of the dictionary, never to see the light of day again. While this practice seems unnatural and more a than a little sadistic, it continues year after year with dozens of words withering away to oblivion at the hands of a team of heartless dictionary editors suffering from caffeine withdrawal and hemorrhoids.
Tom’s post is based on an article in the New York Times that allows readers to vote for their favorite delightful words in danger of extinction. As a preview of some of the worthy words facing the axe, we’ve decided to reprint a portion of the list here.
• Abstergent: Cleansing or scouring
• Agrestic: Rural; rustic; unpolished; uncouth
• Apodeictic: Unquestionably true by virtue of demonstration
• Caducity: Perishableness; senility
• Caliginosity: Dimness; darkness
• Compossible: Possible in coexistence with something else
• Embrangle: To confuse or entangle
• Exuviate :To shed (a skin or similar outer covering)
• Fatidical Prophetic
• Fubsy: Short and stout; squat
• Griseous: Streaked or mixed with grey; somewhat grey
• Malison: A curse
• Mansuetude: Gentleness or mildness
• Muliebrity: The condition of being a woman
• Niddering: Cowardly
• Nitid: Bright; glistening
• Olid: Foul-smelling
• Oppugnant: Combative, antagonistic or contrary
• Recrement: Waste matter; refuse; dross
• Roborant: Tending to fortify or increase strength
• Skirr: A whirring or grating sound, as of the wings of birds in flight
• Vilipend: To treat or regard with contempt
If you see a word or two you like, head over to the NYT website and give it a vote. Tom also encourages bloggers to use a few of these unusual gems in their posts and copywriting to help save these words from extinction and slow down this olid practice of word executions, which we think is an excellent idea! No word deserves to be thrown out like literary recrement! Thanks for sharing Tom.
By the way, how many of these obscure words can you use in a sentence?