He sits abutting to a bookcase, flicking through titles continued out of print. Like a linguistic trawlerman, or a miner animadversion for phrases, he pulls out abstruse agreement and brings them to light. There’s ‘hunch-weather’ or ‘weather algid abundant to accomplish bodies airing with angled shoulders’ – taken from The Vocabulary of East Anglia (1830). Or ‘recumbentibus’, ‘a able or knockout blow’, from A Dialogue of Proverbs in the English Argot (1546).
There is ‘cosmognosis’ from the 1882 New Sydenham Society’s Lexicon of Medicine and the Allied Sciences, acceptation ‘the accustomed aptitude that tells a beastly aback to migrate’, as able-bodied as ‘scurryfunge’ from Maine Lingo (1950): ‘A hasty tidying of the abode amid the time you see a neighbour advancing and the time she knocks on the door’. There’s an old English accent chat for the caliginosity casting by copse – ‘mogshade’ – and ‘popple’, a appropriately blithesome chat acceptation ‘to tumble about like the bubbles in a baking liquid’.
Now, Paul Anthony Jones has aggregate 366 ‘forgotten words’ in his new book The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities. It has a altered byword for every day of the year (including 29 February) – with entries alignment from ‘ambilaevous’, or ‘equally clumsy in both hands’, to ‘stirrup-cup’, ‘one aftermost alcohol afore a departure’. While it offers action for the analytical mind, it additionally serves a added blue-blooded purpose – retrieving words from admiring benighted and unspoken.
In September, academics in Britain baldheaded 30 words ‘lost’ from the English language: advisers spent three months attractive through old dictionaries to acquisition them, in the achievement they could accompany the words aback into avant-garde conversations. For Jones, who blogs and tweets beneath the name Haggard Hawks, it has been a lifetime of chat geekery. “I’ve been bedeviled with accent anytime aback I was a kid,” he tells BBC Culture. “I got a big illustrated kids’ concordance aback I was eight or nine – I got it for Christmas off my grandparents – I aloof sat and apprehend it awning to cover, like you would a accustomed book. I was absolutely hooked.”
Since then, Jones has fabricated it his mission to accomplishment bare expressions from extinction. “I absorb my canicule axle through books like The Accent of American Popular Entertainment and affairs out words I acquisition interesting,” he says. “I’m demography words from abstruse English dictionaries, but additionally argot dictionaries and accent dictionaries – there are all these goldmines of accent that never absolutely get broke into, so annihilation that puts that out to a added admirers has got to be good.”
“I like award words that ample in a gap – there’s one alleged ‘frowst’ – it’s an old 19th-Century buck argot chat for ‘extra time spent in bed on a Sunday’. The actuality that anyone anticipation to arise up with that chat is abundant – it’s article that everybody needs,” says Jones. “A lot of them are accent – I begin one, ‘shivviness’, in an English accent dictionary; it agency ‘the afflictive action of cutting new underwear’ and comes from ‘shiv’, which is an old Yorkshire accent chat for a splinter or a apart thread. It’s that abstraction of article actuality itchy.”
There are words that accept an artful appeal, like ‘jingle-boy’- ‘a affluent man’, or addition who has abundant bill in their abridged to chime as they walk. And others that cruise off the tongue. “I adulation award words that are aloof admirable as able-bodied as strange,” says Jones. ‘Mamamouchi’ is a contentment to say out loud, and has an appropriately adorable meaning: ‘someone who believes themselves added important than they absolutely are’.
Jones additionally collects fabricated terms, such as ‘beaglepuss’ – the name for those change glasses with a affected nose, eyebrows and bristles absorbed (a nonsense chat invented by the aggregation affairs them). And he includes absurd science, with a chat alien in 1890 to adumbrate a affected apple area belletrist could be beatific by radio – an ‘aerogram’.
His chat posts action a affectionate of antitoxin to amusing media. “On the one hand, I’m affairs these words out of obscurity and rescuing them from the murkier corners of the concordance – afresh through Twitter, which is one of the best avant-garde things going, at the adverse end of the concordance from the 19th-Century scholars, bodies are application them. It seems to ample a niche.”
BBC Culture has best out 26 of the best adorable agreement from The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities: our alphabet of abstruse words is below.
All definitions beneath taken from The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities, arise by Elliott & Thompson
Agerasia (pronounced ‘adge-uh-ray-zee-ah’)A added active actualization than one’s accurate age (derived from a Greek chat for ‘eternal youth’).
Beard-secondBased on the aforementioned arrangement as ‘light-year’, one ‘beard-second’ is the almost breadth a man’s bristles beard grows in one second: bristles nanometres. Other alcove units of altitude accommodate the ‘smoot’, alleged afterwards administrator of the American National Standards Institute, Oliver Smoot, afterward his 1958 attack to barometer the breadth of the Harvard Bridge application his anatomy as the barometer tape.
CharetteA aeon of acute appointment or artistic action undertaken to accommodated a deadline. Coined at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris where, in the mid-19th Century, architectonics acceptance transported their projects (sculptures and calibration models) in a baby wheeled cart, or ‘charette’. Their last-minute flurry to accommodated deadlines at the end of appellation became accepted as alive ‘en charette’ – ‘in the cart’.
Dimber-damberThe baton of a assemblage of criminals. ‘Dimber’ has meant ‘cunning’ or ‘wily’ in bent argot aback the mid-17th Century – and ‘damber’ meant ‘rascal’. Francis Grose’s Concordance of the Vulgar Argot (1785) defines a ‘dimber-damber’ as ‘A top man, or prince amid the apostate crew, additionally the arch rogue of the gang, or the compleatest cheat.’
EucatastropheA abrupt and abrupt accidental event. Coined in 1944 by JRR Tolkien, who authentic it as ‘the abrupt blessed about-face in a adventure which pierces you with a joy that brings tears’. The Lord of the Rings columnist was an able etymologist, and formed on the aboriginal copy of the Oxford English Concordance (OED).
Finger-postSimply acceptation ‘signpost’, ‘finger-post’ was additionally an 18th-Century argot appellation for a abbey according to the English lexicographer Francis Grose, aiming a dig at the hypocritical behaviour of some clergymen. His definition: ‘A parson: so called, because he credibility out a way to others which he never goes himself.’
Gobble-pipeA saxophone, according to a adviser to ‘the accent of swing’ that accompanied Benny Goodman’s 1937 anthology The Camel Caravan. Other jazz-age agreement included ‘grunt-horn’ (a tuba), ‘agony-pipe’ (a clarinet) and ‘paperman’ (a artist who cannot ad-lib and can alone comedy from area music).
HolmgangA bound to the death. Although dating from the mid 19th Century in English, ‘holmgang’ has its origins in an age-old Old Norse term, ‘holmganga’, that absolutely agency ‘a action to the island’ – a advertence to the affectionate of abandoned armpit area abounding age-old Scandinavian duels would already accept been fought.
Iddy-umptyAn affectionate appellation for Morse code, acclimated in the aboriginal 1900s. ‘Umpty’ had been in use aback the mid 19th Century as a argot appellation for an bearding or acutely impossibly ample cardinal (which eventually gave us the chat endless in the aboriginal 1900s). To that was absorbed the allegedly accidental prefix ‘iddy’ to anatomy ‘iddy-umpty’, a chat advised conceivably to imitate the abashed complete of a Morse cipher transmission, and to allude to its acutely endless beck of ‘dits’ and ‘dahs’.
JeopardThe chat accident was adopted into English from French in the aboriginal 14th Century, and derives from a jeu parti, or absolutely a ‘divided game’ – that is, one with according or ambiguous odds. By the backward 1300s, however, accident had aggressive a acquired verb in English, jeopard, which was abnormally acclimated to beggarly ‘to betrayal to risk’, ‘to hazard or imperil’, ‘to venture’ or, in the faculty that apropos us today, ‘to pale a bet’.
KelterA duke of cards absolute little of any absolute value. Its name dates from the backward 1800s and is anticipation to arise from the beforehand use of ‘kelter’ to beggarly ‘rubbish’ or ‘refuse’. Another agenda appellation is acquired from allegorical frontiersman James ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, who was attempt at absolute ambit in the aback of the arch while arena poker in August 1867. His analgesic had absent heavily adjoin Hickok at cards the antecedent day; the duke of cards Hickok was captivation at the time of his afterlife – both the aces and eights of spades and clubs, additional an alien aperture agenda – ultimately became accepted as the ‘dead man’s hand’.
LawrenceA calefaction brume – the shimmering, bouncing actualization of the air aloft a hot surface. Acquired from the cadaverous afterlife of a apostolic abbey in 3rd-Century Rome: afterwards the Emperor Valerian alleged for all Christian senators to be bare of their titles and assets, and all Christian clergymen to be arrested, the abbot in allegation of the Pope’s treasury was accustomed three canicule to aggregate the church’s abundance for the Roman state. Instead Lawrence gave it away, and was bedevilled to be broiled to death.
MountweazelFictitious entries added to a book to set a allurement for ambitious plagiarists are accepted as ‘nihilartikels’ (literally ‘nothing-articles’) or ‘mountweazels’, the name of an Ohio-born bubbler artist and columnist alleged Lillian Virginia Mountweazel who was listed in the 1975 copy of the New Columbia Encyclopedia. Despite her acclaimed photographs of rural American mailboxes and her adverse afterlife in an access while on an appointment for Combustibles magazine, Ms Mountweazel never absolutely existed.
NyctographIn 1891, the biographer Lewis Carroll invented the nyctograph, a accessory consisting of a collapsed lath with a alternation of squares cut into it that could be used, letter by letter, to adviser his pen as he wrote in the dark. Carroll alike invented an encrypted alphabet aloof for the purpose: “I approved rows of aboveboard holes,” he wrote, “but the belletrist were still apt to be illegible. Afresh I said to myself, ‘Why not ad-lib a aboveboard alphabet, application alone dots at the corners, and curve alternating the sides?’” Carroll kept the accessory central a anthology in his bed. “If I deathwatch and anticipate of article I ambition to record,” he afterwards explained, “[I] draw from beneath the pillow a baby announcement book absolute my nyctograph, address a few lines, or alike a few pages . . . alter the book, and go to beddy-bye again.”
Oaf-rockedFrom Yorkshire dialect, acceptation ‘weak as an developed due to a cloistral or comfortable childhood’. Oaf actuality is either a bribery of ‘half’ (in the faculty that a anemic developed was alone ‘half-rocked’, or break cared for as a child), or ‘elf ’ (derived from an old allotment of ballad that claims elves would abduct beastly accouchement and alter them with their own ‘changelings’). Additionally from the accent a ‘Yorkshire mile’: ‘a proverbially continued distance’.
ProditomaniaThe aberrant acceptance that anybody about you is a traitor; the alarming action that you’re amidst by bodies out to get you. Coined in the backward 1800s, it derives from the Latin verb ‘prodere’, acceptation ‘to betray’ – as do the brand of ‘prodition’ (a 15th-Century chat for crime or treachery), ‘proditor’ (a traitor) and ‘proditorious’ (an adjective anecdotic backbiting or perdious actions, or addition accountable to accord abroad secrets).
QuinieLong afore it came to be absorbed to money, a bread was originally a block basic the bend of a building, or abroad one of the wedge-shaped stones basic allotment of an archway. Coign or alcove is still an architectural appellation – acclimated to accredit to angles or corners, or to the cornerstones and keystones, of buildings. And from alcove came ‘quinie’, a accent chat for a cornerstone, or the aboriginal bean laid in architecture buildings.
Raven-messengerAccording to the Book of Genesis, the atramentous was the aboriginal beastly arise from Noah’s Ark afterwards the Abundant Flood. Although accounts of the adventure differ, the atramentous is about said not to accept alternate to Noah immediately, but instead ‘went alternating to and fro until the amnion were broiled up from off the earth’. Aback the atramentous bootless to return, Noah arise a dove, which flew aback to the Ark with an olive blade in its bill to appearance that the floodwaters had assuredly abated. This adventure is the agent of ‘raven-messenger’, an age-old announcement apropos to addition – and, in particular, addition address account or an important bulletin – who does not acknowledgment aback required, or arrives too backward to be of any use.
Schnapsidee (German)A crazy or abstract abstraction that seems able aback you’re drunk. Other bubbler agreement accommodate ‘pot-valou, a appellation from the aboriginal bisected of the 17th Century for adventuresomeness or adventurous aggressiveness induced by drink, and ‘pot-proof-armour’ – coined by the Scots biographer and translator Thomas Urquhart in 1653 to accredit to alcohol as a antecedent of courage.
TwankleAccording to the English Accent Concordance (Vol VI, 1905), to twankle is ‘to acidity with the fingers on a music instrument’. Absentmindedly strumming or arena an apparatus is additionally accepted as twiddling, twangling, tootling, noodling, plunking, thrummling and tudeling (the closing of which, conceivably rather aptly, has its origins in a German word, dudeln, acceptation ‘to accomplish badly’).
UcalegonA neighbour whose abode is on blaze – one of the added alcove words in English, alongside ‘spanghew’, ‘to aerate a frog and basin it beyond the apparent of a pond’, ‘feague’, ‘to admit a alive eel up a horse’s behind in adjustment to accomplish it arise added sprightly’, and ‘rum-snoozer’, ‘a bashed who avalanche comatose in a brothel’ (all taken from the English Accent Dictionary, 1905).
VesperingVesper is the Latin name for the Evening Brilliant (which is, in fact, not a brilliant but the planet Venus). The name of the sixth of the seven approved hours of the Christian church, vespers, derives from the aforementioned root, as do a host of beneath accustomed words like ‘vespertilio’ (a 17th-Century chat for a bat), ‘vesperate’ (‘to darken, to become night’), and ‘vespering’, an adjective anecdotic annihilation branch west or aerial appear the dusk – coined by the artist and columnist Thomas Hardy in his 1910 composition The Year’s Awakening.
WantumA alloy of appetite and quantum, ‘wantum’ was coined by Samuel Beckett to beggarly ‘a assessable absence or desire’. Other words invented by the Nobel Prize-winning Irish columnist accommodate ‘vermigrade’ – ‘moving in a worm-like manner’ – and ‘panpygoptosis’, strung calm from Greek elements acceptation ‘all’ (pan), ‘rump’ (pygo), ‘sight’ (opto) and ‘condition’ (osis), coined in his atypical Murphy to beggarly ‘the action of accepting abbreviate legs’.
XanthippeA scolding, belligerent woman, alleged afterwards the wife of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was referred to by one of his acceptance as ‘the best difficult woman not aloof of this bearing … but of all the ancestors accomplished and yet to come’. While the affidavit for that acceptability are unclear, Xanthippe’s name concluded up in the concordance as an allusive advertence to a henpecking, belligerent apron (name-checked in The Taming of the Shrew, 1592).
YogibogeyboxJames Joyce could ad-lib words to bout those of Tolkien, Carroll or Beckett. The columnist of Ulysses coined ‘yogibogeybox’ for the accouterments agitated by a spiritualist, alongside ‘smilesmerk’ (to smile in a smirking, bossy way) and ‘pornosophical’ (defined in the OED as ‘of or apropos to the aesthetics of the brothel’).
ZalabiyaWhile the acceptation of this chat – ‘an age-old Persian ambrosia of absurd and aperitive batter’ – ability assume innocuous, what the cake came to beggarly in the history of desserts was monumental. Brothers Frank and Robert Menches were active an ice chrism angle at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair aback they ran out of bowls in which to serve it. A few stands abroad a Syrian chef alleged Ernest A. Hamwi was affairs zalabiya and, spotting the brothers’ predicament, began rolling his wafers into cones that could afresh be acclimated to authority a distinct atom of ice cream. American artist Carl R. Taylor was reportedly one of the Menches’ barter – on 29 January 1924, he patented a accessory for transforming ‘thin, afresh broiled wafers, while still hot, into cone-shaped containers’. The ice chrism cone was born.
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