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20 obsolete English words that should make a comeback

BY H E A T H E R C A R R E I R O ON N O V E M B E R 8 , 2 0 1 0 1 9 7 C O M M E N T S

Photo: Liz West

If we all start using them, these words can be resurrected. DURING MY UNDERGRADUATE studies as a Linguistics major, one of the things that struck me most is the amazing fluidity of language. New words are created; older words go out of style. Words can change meaning over time, vowel sounds shift, consonants are lost or added and one word becomes another. Living languages refuse to be static.

The following words have sadly disappeared from modern English, but its easy to see how they could be incorporated into everyday conversation.

Words are from Erin McKeans two-volume series: Weird and Wonderful Words and Totally Weird and Wonderful Words. Definitions have been quoted from the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Jargogle
Verb trans. To confuse, jumble First of all this word is just fun to say in its various forms. John Locke used the word in a 1692 publication, writing I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible Words in your Head..might a little jargogle your Thoughts Im

planning to use it next time my husband attempts to explain complicated Physics concepts to me for fun: Seriously, I dont need you to further jargogle my brain.

2. Deliciate
Verb intr. To take ones pleasure, enjoy oneself, revel, luxuriate Often I feel the word enjoy just isnt enough to describe an experience, and revel tends to conjure up images of people dancing and spinning around in circles at least in my head. Deliciate would be a welcome addition to the modern English vocabulary, as in After dinner, we deliciated in chocolate cream pie.

3. Corrade
Verb trans. To scrape together; to gather together from various sources Im sure this wasnt the original meaning of the word, but when I read the definition I immediately thought of copy-pasting. Any English teacher can picture what a corraded assignment looks like.

4. Kench
Verb intr. To laugh loudly This Middle English word sounds like it would do well in describing one of those times when you inadvertently laugh out loud while reading a text message in class and manage to thoroughly embarrass yourself.

Photo: Liz West

5. Ludibrious
Adj. Apt to be a subject of jest or mockery This word describes a person, thing or situation that is likely to be the butt of jokes. Use it when you want to sound justified in poking fun at someone. How could I resist? Hes just so ludibrious.

6. Sanguinolency
Noun Addiction to bloodshed Could be a useful word for history majors and gamers, as in Genghis Khan was quite the sanguinolent fellow or Do you think spending six hours a day playing Postal 2 actually fosters sanguinolency?

7. Jollux
Noun - Slang phrase used in the late 18th century to describe a fat person Although Im not sure whether this word was used crudely or in more of a lighthearted manner, to me it sounds like a nicer way to refer to someone who is overweight. Fat has such a negative connotation in English, but if you say Hes a bit of a jollux it doesnt sound so bad!

8. Malagrugrous

Adj. Dismal This adjective is from Scots and may be derived from an old Irish word that refers to the wrinkling of ones brow. An 1826 example of its use is He looketh malagrugorous and world-wearied. Im tempted to also make the word into a noun: Stop being such a malagrug!

9. Brabble
Verb To quarrel about trifles; esp. to quarrel noisily, brawl, squabble Brabble basically means to argue loudly about something that doesnt really matter, as in Why are we still brabbling about who left the dirty spoon on the kitchen table? You can also use it as a noun: Stop that ridiculous brabble and do something useful!

10. Freck
Verb intr. To move swiftly or nimbly I can think of a lot of ways to use this one, like I hate it when Im frecking through the airport and other people are going so slow.

11. Brannigan
Noun A drinking bout; a spree or binge Brannigan was originally a North American slang word, but it is now rarely used. Shall we go for a brannigan on Friday? can be a more sophisticated way to discuss such activities.

12. Perissology
Noun Use of more words than are necessary; redundancy or superfluity of expression A useful word for editors: Thanks for your 4,000-word submission. Unfortunately there is too much perissology in this piece for us to publish it.

13. Quagswagging
Noun The action of shaking to and fro This can also be used in verb form, to quagswag, and is pronounced like kwag swag. It could definitely work as the name for a new type of dance, or possibly serve as an alternate way to describe a seizure.

14. Hoddypeak
Noun A fool, simpleton, noodle, blockhead This one doesnt need any explanation as to how you could use it; you may already have someone in mind who fits the description.

15. Bibesy
Noun A too earnest desire after drink. Bibesy may have been completely made up in the 18th century and its unclear whether it ever made it into common use, but it could easily be used today: Wedding guests waited anxiously for the bar to open; bibesy should be expected after such a long, dull service.

16. Scriptitation
Noun A 17th-century word meaning continual writing Matadorians taking part in this years National Novel Writing Month are getting good practice at scriptitation!

17. Widdendream
Noun A state of mental disturbance or confusion I can start using this obsolete Scottish word right away: While working on writing my thesis, I find I am constantly in widdendream.

18. Yemeles
Adj. An Old English and Middle English word meaning careless, heedless, negligent Pronounced as yeem-lis, this is another word that could prove useful for teachers around the world: Handing in messy and incomplete work just shows me you are being yemeles, and I wont hesitate to give you a zero for the assignment.

19. Twitter-light
Noun Twilight Used in the early 17th century, twitter-light sounds like a romantic way to refer to the hours as the sun goes down.

20. Illecebrous

Adj. Alluring, enticing, attractive Alright, so at first this word kind of sounds a way to describe something diseased, but if you put the stress on the second syllable for emphasis, it does sound like a compliment: That girl was so illecebrous; Ive got to figure out how to see her again.