Erasing the Dictionary
Erasing the Dictionary

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?

8 thoughts on “Do You Contribute to the Caducity of Words?

  1. Not to obfuscate the confabulation (or discourse, if you like), but I do believe that abstergence of the general lexicon is a gross miscalculation and the grand quintessence of stultified ivory-tower cerebration.

    In other words, it sucks.

    But I do intend to use spatchcocked in everyday conversation — not to mention blog posts and comments — in an effort to do my bit.

    ~Graham

  2. Not to obfuscate the confabulation (or discourse, if you like), but I do believe that abstergence of the general lexicon is a gross miscalculation and the grand quintessence of stultified ivory-tower cerebration.

    In other words, it sucks.

    But I do intend to use spatchcocked in everyday conversation — not to mention blog posts and comments — in an effort to do my bit.

    ~Graham

  3. Spatchcocked is a good one, possibly a little agrestic, but not to be embrangled with your everyday butterflying.:)

    I’ve noticed an unusual number of these words describe odoriferous topics…25 words in the English language all replaced by STINK. What a shame. 😉

  4. Spatchcocked is a good one, possibly a little agrestic, but not to be embrangled with your everyday butterflying.:)

    I’ve noticed an unusual number of these words describe odoriferous topics…25 words in the English language all replaced by STINK. What a shame. 😉

  5. I like embrangle too. Wrangle, brand, bramble… I can see the cowboy connection. Long live embrangle! 😉

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