The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

13 Nov 2008


Have you done your good deed of today, already? Not yet? OK, what about helping some unusual English words to prevent being removed from the dictionaries? The publishers of the Collins Dictionary have launched a project to save twenty four obsolete words in risk of disappearing. They are trying to brought them back into popular usage. The project has engaged public figures in UK and some of them have adopted some of such words (Stephen Fry, for example, has taken on ‘fubsy’, which means ‘short and stout, squat’). We can help, too, although we are not public figures. So, come on! Try to use some of these words, for example, when you vilipend our olid politicians!

Here is the list of words in need of help:

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 coesistence 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
periapt: a charm or amulet
recrement: waste matter, refuse, dross
reborant: tending to fortify or increase strength
skirr: a whirring or grating sound, as of the wings of birds in flight
vaticinate: to foretell, prophesy
vilipend: to treat or regard with contempt

1 comment:

  1. These words must be on the brink of disappearance. I’ve tried typing some of them, the ones I would have judged more common (e.g. caducity, fatidical…), on an online concordancer programme but none seems to be in its corpus.
    It is curious that many of them show a Latinate form. Maybe they were introduced as ‘inkhorn terms’ and never reached the necessary spread of usage to survive for too long.

    Languages are bound to change. Words are born, develop and die. The idea of adopting a word sounds romantic but I don't find it practical, in fact, I can't vaticinate a reborant development to any of them. I read the list and think that a fatidical malison hovers over them and will eventually lead them to caducity.