Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Vraisemblance

Welcome back to FWiG's April A-to-Z Odditorium of Forgotten English! Or -- welcome for the first time!

Vraisemblance: an appearance of truth; verisimilitude, a representation or picture. From French vrai (true) and semblance.

Example: "Society is a structure of human organization for which people utilize to leverage one another in satisfying their individual dark desires, while managing a vraisemblance to that of a creature made in their god's image."

Source: New English Dictionary (1928) William Craigie
Google hits: 70,000

Verdugo: a hangman or executioner, or an insult along similar vein.

Not to be confused with vertigo, which may very well be related given their common components involving an unhealthy separation from the ground.

A weight-bearing crane, which we call a derrick (as in oil derrick) is so named after infamous hangman Thomas Derrick of England's Elizabethan era, who not only executed more than 3000 convicts but who engineered, for his gallows, the frame and pulley system eponymous with today's cranes. Ironically, Derrick, in 1601, bedangled The Duke of Essex, who once, himself, had pardoned Derrick of the death penalty for the crime of rape; an event which had a prominent role in Derrick's originally being coerced into the hangman role.

Thomas Derrick was eventually succeeded by also-famous Richard Brandon, subject of macabre fascination and a loyal following, who received a £30 bonus for doing in King Charles the 1st and ever after feared for his own assassination. But he died of natural causes and was succeeded by Jack Ketch who was like the Kleenex of hangmen as the word ketch became the household word for executioner.

So there you have it, the holy trinity of England's gallowicious period.

Source: New English Dictionary (1926) William Craigie
Google hits: 15,000,000 (due almost entirely to the surname)

Vampirarchy: rulership by the overtly predatory.

I choose not to buy gas at Esso stations. They are brand outlets of Imperial Oil; subsidiary of ExxonMobil. Together they do alright with around $48 trillion in annual profits, largely through their exploration and production of fossil fuels and related enterprises such as oil refining, petroleum and convenience retail, natural gas processing, synthetic crude production and super-scale wildlife destruction. To get a context for the figure 48 trillion, simply imagine something you can't possibly imagine. And remember that's net profit. Not earnings.

ExxonMobil is the largest company in the world by both revenue and market capitalization and are referred to as " of the planet’s most hated corporations, able to determine American foreign policy and the fate of entire nations," in a 2012 article by The Daily Telegraph.

At executive board meetings, executives sing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow..." and remind each other that fossil fuels come from a magical bottomless cup and that life on earth doesn't actually require a biosphere to survive. Then they recite the Daily ExxonMobil Prayer which closes as follows:

"...another small oil spill for man, another great shitstain on the face of mankind. Oh Lord we have more than enough buckaneros to buy our way into heaven. Amen and pass the bourbon."

No, instead I buy gas at Shell because they give me air-miles points which I later convert into free, though entirely crappy, food at Boston Pizza restaurants. See how awesome I am?

Source: New English Dictionary (1928) William Craigie
Google hits: 700

Stop! Swag time! (Exxon Mobil always finds innovative ways to spill oil and kill people.)

U is for Unthew

First off! This is not the past tense of unthaw! Secondly: There is no such word as unthaw! And that is because the reverse of thawing already has a name and that word is freeze! When someone says to you "unthaw," what they really mean is "thaw" but they're just being a nimrod.

Unthew: a bad habit; unhealthy custom. Unthewed: unruly or wanton (again, not the noodle). Unthewful: unmannerly; unseemly.

As recently mentioned, first album I ever bought (vinyl of course) as a teeny-bopper: The Monks, Bad Habits featuring hits Drugs in My Pocket and Nice Legs Shame About Her Face!

Source: New English Dictionary (1926) William Craigie
Google hits: 19,500

Unroningness: Desolation.

St. Kilda is a barren treeless island; Britain's most remote landscape, 180 Km off the west coast of Scotland. As there never was an actual St. Kilda, the name is believed a bastardization of Norse Skildir.

The first steamboats to ever reach the island threw the locals into a tizzy as they thought the ships were on fire. Upon their request, the last three dozen human inhabitants of St. Kilda were evacuated August 29, 1930 and oddly, most found mainland jobs in forestry. The local seabirds and puffins declined evacuation.

Source: Dictionary of the Oldest Words in the English Language (1863) Herbert Coleridge
Google hits: 95

Ustion: the act of burning or the state of being burnt. From Latin: ustus.

Not to be confused with Houston, where people wear big hats and think they're hot stuff and temperatures have been known to reach as high as 109°C (43°F). Director Wes Anderson and actor Patrick Swayze were born in Houston,

The Chinchaga River fire, also known as the Wisp Fire of 1950 is thought the greatest in North American history burning approximately four million acres through unpopulated British Columbia and Alberta. It created so much upper-atmosphere smoke that remnants migrated all the way to Europe where the mysterious "Great Pall" caused a sensation, its nature not initially understood.

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) Rev. John Boag
Google hits: 71,800

Torched my dinner because it wasn't cooking fast enough.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

T is for Tosher

Yep. Running late again. Great excuse this time though. Lost my research notes. This evening I found them again at the parole office (where I occasionally work; I'm not on parole).

Tosher: One who steals copper from the hulls of ships.

Not to be confused with tosser: one who (somewhat ironically) spends a penny. And spending a penny, for those in the dark, is slang for spanking the monkey. Also known as flogging the bishop, waxing the carrot, grooming the schnauzer, choking the chicken, feeding the pigeons, frosting the pastries, painting the ceiling, investing in pork bellies and... running the bad boys out of town.

There. Wasn't that fun?

Source: Sailor's Word Book (1867) Adm. William Smyth
Google hits: 275,000

Tyromancy: Divining by the coagulation of cheese.

Akin to Groundhog Day, reading tea leaves and cow pie bingo.

Source: Magicall Astrologicall Diviner (1652) John Gaule
Google hits: 8700

Tib of the Buttery: a goose. Also a young lass, and in previous centuries, a wanton, which is someone unruly and lustful, and not a Chinese noodle ball. That's a wonton.

There are more than 80 bird breeds called "geese" but in fact only three are true geese, the Anser (Swan), Chen and Branta (Canada Goose).

The evening of Judgement Day is also known as St. Tibb's Eve.

Source: A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1796) Capt. Francis Grose
Google hits: 2100

Toesmithing: dancing, according to theater slang.

The most famous ballet worldwide is almost surely The Nutcracker, composed by Tchaikovsky in 1891 and first performed in North America in 1944 where it remains a Christmas tradition, bringing holiday joy to children and adults alike. Just like Walmart.

Source: A Dictionary of American Slang (1934) Maurice Waseen
Google hits: 650

Newday sugar plum fairy

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Sockdologer

Welcome back to FWiG's April A-to-Z Odditorium of Forgotten English! Sorry I got running late again. So far, we've been highlighting three words per day but I'm having difficulty with the letter S. There are just too many great words to choose from. I'll try to keep it brief!

Sockdologer: anything overwhelming or exceptional, such as an earthquake.

Not to be confused with proctologer, whose practices, one must suppose, might feel a little overwhelming at times...

Source: Slang and its Analogues (1890-1904) John Farmer, W.S. Henley
Google hits: 35,000

Squizzle: fire, as with a gun. To let squizzle.

The word gun comes from Old Norse gunnr (battle), which first became a given name in Sweden, 1891, generally as Gunnar for males and as many derivatives for females. There are currently around 34 thousand females in Sweden named Gun; about one for every million handguns in the U.S.A., which is in the process of changing its name to United States of Arms.

Okay, that was an exaggeration  There are only about 270 million guns held lawfully by American citizens and another 4.5 million operated by Yankee military and police. The number of criminally possessed firearms is incalculable but in essence there are about as many guns in the States as people. This is unprecedented in the history of the world and mind-boggling to some.

Source: Dictionary of Americanisms (1956) Mitford Mathew
Google hits: 80,000

Squantum: as described by the New York Mirror: "A party of ladies and gentlemen go to one of the famous watering-places of resort, where they fish, dig clams, talk, laugh, sing, dance, play, bathe, sail, eat and have a general good time... Care is thrown to the wind, politics discarded, war ignored, pride humbled, stations levelled, wealth scorned, virtue exalted, and this is squantum."

If you're looking for a quaint weekend getaway, I recommend the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi resort hotel on the Arabian Gulf. A decent suite with five-star amenities will only run your family of four about $15,000 for an average weekend.

Or if flying out to the Middle East is not your bag you could always bunk in cozy Manhattan for the same weekend in one of The Plaza's 1-bedroom suites for as little as $40,300 U.S.D. (before tax and parking of course).

Source: Dictionary of Americanisms (1877) James Bartlett
Google hits: 532,000

Scurryfunge: A hasty tidying of one's abode the moment a visitor is spotted on the driveway.

This is my favourite obsolete word so far. It should never have been allowed to fall out of style. Scurryfunges are especially vital to dog owners because you never know when your knickers might have suddenly appeared on the kitchen floor.

Source: Maine Lingo: Boiled Owls, Billdads, & Wazzats (1975) John Gould
Google hits: 3900

Slubberdegullion: a slovenly person. From slobber and gullion (wretch).

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, known as Eminem, or Slim Shady, is an American rapper and all-around vile miscreant. He is the only so-called musician in history whose voice, image or the mere mention of his name will reliably induce uncontrollable vomiting from mine very own gullet. Impressively, he has sold more than 100 million records to some millions of so-called people, every one of whom had best never enter my home lest they be struck viciously on the head by yours truly and rolled back onto the street. Nuff said. Excuse me while I go vomit uncontrollably.

Source: Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811) Francis Grose
Google hits: 448,000

R is for Reiliebogie

Reiliebogie: a state of confusion, tumult or disorder. Possibly having connection to the song Reel o' Bogie, as if in reference to an irregular form of dance. From reile, to roll.

Followers of religion/philosophy Discordianism observe the Discordian calendar, consisting of five 73-day "months" named Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy, and The Aftermath. Their weeks consist of five days: Sweetmorn, Boomtime, Pungenday, Prickle-Prickle, and Setting Orange.

Discordianism holds that both order and disorder are illusions imposed on the universe by the human nervous system, and that neither of these illusions of apparent order and disorder is any more accurate or objectively true than the other.

Source: Etymological Scottish Dictionary
Google hits: 73

Renty: handsome; well-shaped. Spoken of horses, cows, etc.

According to, an amazing horse is one who tastes like raisins and has a purple winkie. Personally I don't find this useful. Personally, I sometimes wonder if some intergalactic court of aliens might be passing around samples of our internet right now and deciding whether earth should be blown up or not.

Source: North Country Words (1942) John Ray
Google hits: 1,800,000

Ring-time: the aptest season for marriage; spring.

Not to be confused with ring tone, a safety mechanism of the matrix; a musical alarm that goes off whenever a person might otherwise be burdened with too much peace and quiet wherein they might accidently contemplate and learn something dangerously genuine about themselves or the world.

[editor's note: He means he doesn't like phones.]

Source: Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary (1902) John Phin
Google hits: 16,800

A bird may love a fish, Signor, but where would they live?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quaker's Bargain

Apparently it's phrase day here at FWiG's odditorium of forgotten English:

Quaker's bargain: a yea-or-nay bargain; a take-it-or-leave-it offer; non-negotiable.

The 1803 Louisiana Purchase is often thought the greatest bargain in history. U.S. president Thomas Jefferson bought 828,000 square miles from France for fifteen million dollars, in effect, doubling the size of the United States for about three cents per acre.

Source: Slang and its Analogues (1890-1904) John Farmer, W.E. Henley
Google hits: 1360

In Queen Street: The fool, governed by his wife.

Example: "The joskin lives in Queen Street."

The second music album I ever purchased as a kid, after The Monks' Bad Habits, was The Game by Queen. Thirty two years later Bad Habits has devolved in my perception to a goofy bit of comedy while every song on The Game endures.

When the band Smile lost member Tim Staffell to Humpy Bong in 1970, Staffell's good friend and keen Smile fan, Farrokh Bulsara, stepped in and convinced remaining members Brian May and Roger Taylor to change their name to Queen. In '71 experiments with bassists ended with John Deacon and Farrokh changed his name to Freddie Mercury. They then evolved into one of the world's sincerest and best-loved stadium rock bands until Mercury's AIDS-related passing in 1991.

Their 1985 performance at Live Aid is widely regarded the best live act in history. Bohemian Rhapsody was voted Britain's favourite hit of all time in 2002 and in 2009 We Are the Champions, in global polls, was declared mankind's favourite song. In 2005 Guinness Book of Records reported Queen the most enduring presence in UK album charts at 26 years and counting.

Rolling Stone super-important magazine's super-important artist rankings place them at 52nd all-time, just ahead of the Allman Brothers. If anyone cares.

Source: Vocabulum, or the Rogue's Lexicon (1859) George Matsell
Google hits: 7,240,000 (of which possibly none relate to the above meaning.)

Quite the Cheese: quite the correct thing, especially in terms of costume or manner. Adapted from choice. Further refinements of the phrase: "That's prime Stilton" or "That's Double Gloucester."

Source: Popular Sayings Dissected (1895) A. Wallace
Google hits: 119,000

I don't know what you see in this cheese thing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Pulpatoon

Pulpatoon: a dish made of rabbits, fowl, etc., in a crust of stuffed meat. From Latin pulpamentum: tidbits.

In 1770, London's Newcastle Chronicle reported the baking of a nine foot diameter Christmas pie featuring geese, turkeys, rabbit, duck, woodcocks, snipes, partridges, curlews, blackbirds and pigeons. Yum. I guess.

Source: Glossary of Tudor and Stuart Words (1914) Walter Skeat
Google hits: 7200

Pooster: to toil in mud or filth; to splash among water.

Not to be confused with poofters, which reportedly do not exist in such enlightened higher-order nations as Iran. Oh, except for those framed, imprisoned, tortured and/or killed by their enlightened higher-order government. Oops, but we don't talk about that.

Source: Scots Dialect Dictionary (1911) Alexander Warrack
Google hits: 67,600

Pokeweed religion: Seemingly impressive religious excitement which springs up rapidly but without permanent value.

"We're hotter than pokeweed religion on an Ozark Sunday night!" is what John Lennon should have said, rather than the off-hand quip about Jesus Christ. It would have saved him a whole lotta splainin-to-do. Of course, then the Beatles wouldn't have got to re-sell all those albums to temporarily delirious vinyl-burning yankees.

Source: Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech (1953) Vance Randolf
Google hits: 86

Dick Cheney pulpatoon anyone?

O is for Ornature

Aggh.. I've fallen behind...

Ornature: decoration.

Yeah, decoration. That was short and sweet, wasn't it?

Male bowerbirds of Australia and New Guinea demonstrate perhaps the rarest of courtship rituals in the natural world. They build a fairly complex structure out of sticks and spend gads of time decorating it both internally and externally with locally available trinkets, often including shells, berries, feathers and any sort of colourful debris of human origin. Females choose mates purely on their housekeeping skills and males will not only steal decorations from one another but sometimes vandalize their competitors' bowers.

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) Rev. John Boag
Google hits: 94000

Orphanotrophy: a hospital for orphans.

Pop culture's favourite orphan, Annie, began life as a poem by James Whitcomb Riley in 1885, then in 1924, as a comic strip, drawn by Harold Gray until his death in 1968. A succession of further artists carried the project for another 42 years. The strip was ranked #1 according to 1937 polls.

Annie took form as a radio show in 1930, a broadway musical in 1977 and films in 1932, 1938 and 1982. The strip's popularity slowly declined until 2010, when running in just 20 newspapers, it was cancelled.

Source: American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) Noah Webster
Google hits: 6100

Odditorium: a collection of curiosities.

Example: "FWiG's Odditorium of Forgotten English." Hey, that's me!

Pensioner Carol Vaughn of Birmingham, UK has collected more than 5000 bars of soap from all over the world. Jens Veerbeck of Essen, Germany has gathered more than 600 different models of toasters, and Icelander Sigurdur Hjartarson had collected 143 penises from 41 different mammals as of 1997. Yes. Penises.

Eleven year old Luke Underwood sold his collection of promotional item memorabilia, including hundreds of McDonalds Happy Meal items, reportedly for ten thousand dollars.

I once had a very impressive foreign beer bottle collection ringing a basement rec room on high shelves until a home-invading squirrel knocked many of them to their smashing demise while being chased by my doberman. I finally whittled the collection down to my six favourites and now I have about 2000 books instead.

Source: A Dictionary of American Slang (1934) Maurice Weseen
Google hits: 311,000

Home of anonymous Coca-Cola collector

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Nink

Nink: a useless antique object preserved in worshipping the picturesque. An imitation of a bygone style. Ninkty: architecturally dishonest.

The Decoratum web site, championing 20th Century & Contemporary Design features an article on the most expensive antiques ever auctioned. Three of the top five come from 18th century China including a Ming dynasty gold tripod vessel selling for 9,397,905 British pounds (more than 14.4 million yankee dollars). Yes, once a dish is worth $14 million or more, it's called a vessel.

The article goes on to explain: "As number 5 in the top 10 most expensive antiques ever auctioned it is also the most expensive piece of Chinese metalwork to ever have been auctioned." As there are no other examples of Chinese metalworks - or any metalworks - in the top five, I kind of regarded this as being entirely self-evident. But that's the modern western world for you, isn't it? Besides having more money than brains, we have a charming knack for using a whole lot of words to say nothing.

Source: A Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed (1914) Gelett Burgess
Google hits: 1,040,000

Nonnock: an idle whim; a childish fancy. Connected, no doubt, with nonny: to trifle; to play the fool.

on a nonnock
I drove to town
on a nonnock
I fell down
on a nonnock
I leapt a building
in a single bound
(2007) by Barbsdad2003

Source: Vocabulary of East Anglia (1830) Rev. Robert Forby
Google hits: 6700

Nabbity: Short in stature though full grown, usually said of a diminutive female. Literally deriving from nab, as though one might snatch up this person as a bird nabs an insect!

Online dictionary of slang, defines nabbity as the quality of being a mendacious prick. It should probably have read possessing the quality... since nabbity is obviously a verb.

Wow. I'm really being critical today, aren't I? Oh, look at that, some jackass drew Gandalf and forgot the beard...

Source: Vocabulary of East Anglia (1830) Rev. Robert Forby
Google hits: 1,600,000

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Melsh-dick

Welcome back to FWiG's April A-to-Z Odditorium of Forgotten English! Without further ado:

Melsh-dick: a sylvan goblin, protector of hazel-nuts.

This is a wood demon who supposedly stood guard over unripe nuts. "Melsh Dick'll catch thee lad," it was said, in order to frighten young children going nutting. Um... so there. Nothing dirty about any of that by the way.

Here's a pretty cool tune, kind of psychedelic, by Evan Grysko, called In Which Box Harry Encounters The Melsh-Dick

Dotty and friends go nutting, from novel
Dotty Dimple Out West (1869) By Sophie May
Source: Glossary of Almondbury and Huddersfield (1883) Rev. Alfred Easther
Google hits: 3200

Meaverly: middling, as regards to health. "Art thou meaverly?" Are you pretty well?

Not to be confused with Beaverly, which is to find oneself blundering through childhood being a bit of a dope, and learning goofy life-lessons from your older brother and ridiculously square, overly-present parents.

Source: Glossary of Almondbury and Huddersfield (1883) Rev. Alfred Easther
Google hits: 5700

Marooning: a party of pleasure akin to a picnic but lasting several days.

Jessica at The Lovely Side identifies ten varieties of picnics and how to equip one's self for each:

My friends and I marooned at a trailer park one weekend at a time for seven lucky years. On one notable occasion we socialized (read: drank) for fifteen consecutive hours from Friday 5PM until Saturday 8AM which was possibly the second dumbest pursuit I ever undertook. Top-spot in that category belongs to the activity immediately following, chronologically, the aforementioned: The intent to circumvent a locked gate, for the purpose of playing tennis, by climbing the 12-foot fence and leaping from the top.

The fractured bones healed nicely I'm happy to report.

Source: Encyclopaedic Dictionary (1894) Robert Hunter
Google hits: 47000 (of which most concern being stranded)

Picnic in the park 'neath the vomiting lark

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Lollop

Welcome back to FWiG's April A-to-Z Odditorium of Forgotten English!

Lollop: To lounge or saunter heavily. Loll-poop: a sluggish sedentary lounger. Literally, one who is sluggish in the stern.

The term is more endearing when applied to rabbits, especially wascally wabbits.

Not to be confused with trollop; a slovenly woman or prostitute, or trollipop; a slovenly woman or prostitute on a stick.

Source: Vocabulary of East Anglia (1830) Rev. Robert Forby
Google hits: 99400

Lug-and-a-bite: A boy flings an apple some distance. The others race for it. The winner takes a bite as fast as he can while his opponents lug at his ears. He bears it as long as he can then launches the apple. The sport is resumed.

The alternate name for this pastime might have been BAGI; acronym for Boys Are Generally Idiots.

We never played lug-and-a-bite when I was a kid but we did play Chinese Nose Torture which is about equal in sophistication and usefulness: All boys but one conspire to tackle the unsuspecting target who is held prone on his back, his head firmly stilled, while the ringleader selects a choice blade of grass, snaps it off the lawn and inserts it up the prone boy's nose. Great fun I can report, though I admit I was never the inserter or the insertee by the way; but a perennial limb anchorer. While this sport seems to have gone by the by, the term Chinese nose torture persists but now in reference to that nation's wild proliferance of coal-burning power plants.

Okay, here's the very best advice you'll ever receive: Do not Google-image the phrase Chinese Nose Torture or you will likely never sleep again. Seriously. Don't.

Source: Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1855) James Halliwell
Google hits: 1190

Lumming: The weather condition featuring heavy rain; a galloway. Akin to loom (a mist or fog)

Kaneohe Ranch, Oahu, Hawaii reported 247 straight days with rain from August 27 1993 to April 30 1994.

In Shanghai, February-March 2009, twenty days of non-stop rain marked a twenty per cent rise in depression-related healthcare events. Officials advised bright lights, music and exercise as anti-depression measures. I would have suggested staying indoors but what do I know?

Not to be confused with lemmings which are miniature workers of very brief mortality, specializing as diggers, climbers, bashers, stoppers, exploders etc. What the hell am I talking about? I don't know.

Source: Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia (1824) John MacTaggart
Google hits: 12900

The times we had, oh when the wind would blow with rain and snow, were not all bad.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kingkisheen

Kingkisheen: A person born on Whit Sunday, generally fated to be unlucky and to slay or be slain or both.

Whit Sunday, to the best of my understanding, is the Christian Feast of Weeks, currently known as the Pentecost, which celebrates the descending of the holy spirit upon the twelve apostles of Christ, which in essence marks the origin of the Christian church. I could possibly be wrong about any or all of that.

Not to be confused with Kinky Sean. But we don't talk about him.

Source: The English Dialect of Donegal (1953) Michael Traynor
Google hits: 1900

Ketchcraft: The hangman's craft.

Because hanging releases no blood, a good ketcher would arrange to have ketchup theatrically squirted at the crowd at the moment of the plunge, hence the term ketchcraft. Those in the front row often wore raincoats for this reason and this tradition evolved into the modern day Marineland events where whales and dolphins now take the place of death-row prisoners and are made to splash water, which is cheaper than ketchup, under the threat of starvation should they refuse. And... that might have all been B.S. just now.

Source: New English Dictionary (1901) Sir James Murray
Google hits: 15300

Kickseys: The pockets of breeches when turned inside out for the purpose of stealing their contents. To turn out a man's kickseys.

Example: "It was got from the kickseys."

An authority on pickpockets, Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) describes his encounter with Apollo Robbins, likely the premiere pickpocket of all time; his ability described as almost supernatural: At a magician's convention where they shared a table with other peers, Jillette insisted Robbins demonstrate his craft. Robbins refused, declaring he hadn't the nerve to perform in front of other magicians but finally offered to do a trick instead. He asked Jillette to remove his ring and trace it on a piece of paper. Jillette produced the ring and his pen, began the exercise and promptly declared, "Fuck you," slumping back into his chair. Robbins was holding a small cylindrical object, the ink cartridge for Jillette's pen.

Source: Vocabulary of the Flash Language (1812) James Hardy Vaux
Google hits: 14400

Little Tommy always has to fight the urge to take candy from strangers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jejunely

Jejunely: Hungrily. From jejune, wanting, empty, vacant, hungry, dry, barren; from Latin jejunus (fasting). Jejuneness: poverty, barrenness, particularly wanting of interesting matter.

Example: "While occasionally useful, FWiG's blog was prone to long bouts of jejuneness."

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) Rev. John Boag
Google hits: 22600

Jirging: The squeak that too-clean shoes make when walking. insists that squeaky-shoe is a problem which must be dealt with and recommends one or more of the following resolutions: baby powder, saddlesoap, stuffing with paper towel, adhesive, repair shops or returning the product as defective. They do not deal with the question: Why do we find it so insufferably embarrassing to have our shoe squeak and is it possibly the human being who is defective...

Source: Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia (1824) John MacTaggart
Google hits: 940

A note regarding the "google hits" statistics I've been collecting for FWiG's April A-to-Z Odditorium of Forgotten English: It's meant to hint at just how rare the word has become. However, if one really penetrates into the search variables you find that the vast majority of instances are just dictionaries and glossaries which champion old words. They're not actually using the word to communicate. And then if you filter through the remainder, usually all you can find are proper name usages, non-English usages, digitized documents from the nineteenth century and bloggers intentionally celebrating forgotten English! So of the 940 usages of jirging, for example, only 89 remain after filtering out dictionaries and of the remainder I could find no examples of plain modern usage; only the phenomena listed above.

Juglandine: A substance contained in the juice expressed from the green shell of the walnut, used as a remedy in cutaneous and scrofulous diseases and for dying the hair black.

Additionally it was used in "walnut ketchup" along with pepper, salt, vinegar, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and mace. Mace the spice, I presume, and not the spray.

Source: Dictionary of the English Language (1897) Daniel Lyon
Google hits: 30800

Slap or mace?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Irrisory

Irrisory: Addicted to laughing or sneezing.

Peutenhausen, Germany, in the heartland of Europe's powdered tobacco production, is the site of the World Snuff Championships in which athletes stuff five grams of snuff up their schnoz. The competition has drawn around three hundred competitors annually since the early nineties.

"It's nothing to sneeze at," says this former champion:

Thirty-one year old mom, Chantel Faill, is the world champion for carrying a pool cue tip up one's nose. She didn't even realize she was competing at this for twelve years until a good cough dislodged the object. She'd been suffering severe flu-like symptoms the whole time, mystifying doctors for more than a decade, since being accidently skewered by the cue in a friendly tavern mishap. Don't let this happen to you.

Also, don't marry a guy named Faill. The universe might just insist that you live up to your name, as Chantal learned the hard way.

Source: Dictionary of the English Language (1897) Daniel Lyon
Google hits: 15600

Indeed-la!: The exclamation of a whining Puritan.

Shakespeare is most known for using this phrase along with such linguistic nuggets as doth, dost, hither, thither, hence, whence, dasher, dancer and blitzen.

Source: Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1855) James Halliwell
Google hits: much less than 100,000 (Google function inadequacies prevent this precise phrase from being properly isolated from over 12 billion indeed references)

Insectile: Having the nature of an insect.

Example: "It was known to very few, the insectile aspect of the legendary wizard Merlin, as was his penchant for the gifting of eyeballs."

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) Rev. John Boag
Google hits: 106,000

merlinant gives you the eye

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

H is for He-biddy

He-biddy: A male fowl; a product of prudery and squeamishness.

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665), in his writings provides an excellent recipe for delicious cock ale, requiring the "well stoned raisings" of a boiled March he-biddy along with regular ale, nutmeg, dates and mace. In a curious full-circling he later advises that your he-biddies be given the cock ale to drink as it will induce drunkenness wherein the cock will only want to eat and sleep, and thus you will "fatten young chickens in a wonderful degree." I don't personally endorse this having never experimented so. And besides, it smacks of cannibalism and we all know how that worked out for the cows...

Not to be confused with hippety, as in Here comes Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail, Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way; chorus of the famous Easter Bunny song, surely one of the crowning achievements in the history of music. It was probably written by Kim Mitchell. Probably the B-side to that profound and uplifting masterpiece Rockland Wonderland.

Source: Americanisms Old and New (1889) John Farmer
Google hits: 4600

Holer: Adulterer; libertine; from the French holier.

This begs the obvious question: What term applies then to the donkey adulterer? Oh that wasn't obvious to you? Well excuse me then.

Adultery is a fairly common theme in literature. Perhaps the most significant works featuring this theme: Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary and of course, the Holy Bible.

Source: Dictionary of the Oldest Words in the English Language (1863) Herbert Coleridge
Google hits: 850000 (largely due to the surname)

Hit the maples: To go bowling.

I presume then, that bowling lanes are, or were, typically constructed of maple.

To the ire of the church-o-the-day, King James the 1st invited his subjects to enjoy, on Sundays, such lawful sports as Morris dances, men-and-ladies dances, May-pole raising, archery, vaulting, leaping, games and Whitsun Ales. He only frowned on bear or bull baiting on the holy day, or interludes. Only one activity did the king prohibit seven days a week: That egregious of vices: bowling.

Interludes? Hmmm...

Source: A Dictionary of American Slang (1934) Maurice Weseen
Google hits: 30700

Smiley McApplehead finds Daisy irresistible when she's cornbowling.

Monday, April 08, 2013

G is for Guisard

Guisard: One who goes about in fantastic guise or dress; a masquerader; a mummer.

I'm personally delighted to learn this word as I shall always use it in place of drag queen henceforth!

Not to be confused with gizzards, which are the cooked entrails of fowl. Mind you, now that I think about it, I've met a couple drag queens with off-stage personalities about as endearing as cooked fowl entrails.

Source: New English Dictionary (1901) Sir James Murray
Google hits: 313000 (largely due to the surname)

Gregarian: Of the common sort; ordinary. Related to gregal: belonging to a herd

Obviously not a compliment and yet it relates directly to gregarious, meaning sociable and considered complimentary. The rift points to the underappreciated tragedy of our society: It is most often the big talkers who are internally the dullest and least intelligent. It is the quiet ones who observe, learn and gather wisdom while the bullshitters slick-slide their way into the positions of political, corporate, social, and other forms of power and leadership, to our species' ongoing demise.

Source: Ladies Lexicon and Parlour Companion (1854) William Grimshaw
Google hits: 16600

Gilravage: To hold a merry meeting, with noise and riot but without injury, usually featuring intemperate use of alcohol. From gild (society or fraternity) and the French ravager: to waste.

I suppose this sheds some light on the modern term rave (bush party).

Source: Etymological Scottish Dictionary (1808) John Jamieson
Google hits: 25700

Hey! It's Party time at EPUC!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

F is for Flippercanorious

Flippercanorious: Elegant.

Example: "Emperor Pikatchu surrounded himself with ivory statues and flippercanorious gold fountains in his opulent palace."

Not to be confused with flippercarnivorous which is to dine on washed up former-TV-star dolphins (interpret washed-up as you wish).

Source: A Dictionary of American Slang (1934) Maurice Weseen
Google hits: 5100

Flabberdegaz: Nonsensical talk.

Example: "Emperor Pikatchu spoke frequently of alien conspiracy, balloon ships, a supreme Pokemon race and other flabberdegaz."

Not to be confused with flumadiddle which means... the very same thing, so go ahead and confuse them.

Source: A Dictionary of American Slang (1934) Maurice Weseen
Google hits: 98

Flooster: To flatter, coax, make much of. Of a dog, to play, gambol.

Example: "His subjects floostered Emperor Pikatchu for his shiny yellow coat, rosey cheeks and lustrous teeth, and pampered him with platters of fancy fruits and cheesy cheesums."

Source: The English Dialect of Donegal (1953) Michael Traynor
Google hits: 14200

King Pikachu knew feeding mermaids the right combination of nutrients was essential.

Friday, April 05, 2013

E is for Escargotoire

Escargotoire: A nursery of snails

Apparently the earliest known snail cuisine belongs, surprisingly, not to the French, but to the Romans. Fulvius Hilpinus (125 BC) had several escargotoires for separate breeds; likely including the white snails of Reate, the grey of Illyricum, and the cadillac of snails: the Solitans.

In the 1800's the Cornish town of Roche held annual snail celebrations featuring a dance called the Snail's Creep.

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) John Boag
Google hits: 4660

Ensorcell: To enchant, bewitch, fascinate. From Old French: ensorceler.

One of the great literary ensorcelers was, of course, Sauron, from Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. He drew great evil armies to him who bent to his will unquestioningly, a tremendous accomplishment considering he had no CNN or Fox News as tools of propaganda  He was just a floating eye from a small town. He didn't even own a car. But he was probably the most successful floating eye in literary history - at his peak that is. These things never last.

Source: The Shaving of Shagpat (1856) George Meredith
Google hits: 19800

Erubesceny: blushing for shame; for fear of damage to reputation.

Perhaps the word ruby lies at its root?

And again, one of the great literary erubescences was the shame of Sauron when, in a late chapter of The Two Towers, which was entirely edited out in later editions, he was pooped upon by none other than Tweety Bird.

[Editor's note: The preceeding paragraph is a complete fabrication.]

Source: Etymological English Dictionary (1749) Nathaniel Bailey
Google hits: 0

Tweety defeats Sauron.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

D is for Dog Nawper

Dog-nawper: A church beadle who uses his wand of office for tapping (nawping) the heads of dozing, or unruly, youngsters.

At the Roman Catholic church I was occasionally sentenced to as a youth, there were few opportunities to doze
thanks to the constant game of Simon Sez that went on. Simon sez stand... Simon sez sit... Simon sez kneel... Catholic clergy like to take up gobs of your time. You can't get in and out of their churches in less than an hour. So they resort to a lot of audience participation to keep the snoring levels down.

Source: Leeds Dialect Glossary and Lore (1924) John Wilkinson
Google hits: 20

Dishing up the spurs: To hint to guests that it is time to depart.

The phrase is said to originate from the English-Scotch borderlands where, upon provisions running low, a pair of spurs would appear at the table instead of food, signalling the time had arrived for a raid for provisions.

A friend and generous host once swore that if we didn't learn to start departing his home at a reasonable hour he would resort to leaving the room and returning wearing an old-fashioned night-robe complete with droopy nightcap, and carrying a candlestick.

Source: Dictionary of English Phrases (1922) Albert Hyamson
Google hits: 56

Dendranthopology: The study concerning the theory that man had sprung from trees.

Not to be confused with Neandrothology which is the study concerning the theory that man is slowly devolving; growing stupider, due to the complacency-inducing processes of societal power structures derived for the financial benefit of the wealthy elite... or at least there should be such a study.

Source: Supplemental English Glossary (1881) T. Lewis Davies
Google hits: 580

Why is there a hotdog on the tree of mythology?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

C is for Curmur

Curmurring: A low rumbling sound, akin to a murmur, but in motion with the bowels, produced by flatulence. One of many rhythmical terms applied to the art of flatuosity for which our ancestors apparently shared a peculiar fascination.

Not to be confused with curmudgeon; a nasty bad-tempered person. Of course, if his foul demeanor were due to gas…

Source: Century Dictionary and Cyclopaedia (1889) William Whitney
Google hits: 28,400

Cook, slut & butler: A common expression for one who does all the turns of work in a household.

The second term surely refers to it's 15th century meaning: kitchen maid. Likely an ancestor of the modern term chief, cook & bottle-washer. How the butler became chief, I do not know. Is the butler considered the chief of all servants?

As a former facilities officer at a Bank of Montreal operations centre, I often protected my budget by doing various repair type work personally, rather than hiring an expensive vendor to do the work, or purchasing a new replacement article. I thus earned the occasional nick-name Rich-of-all-trades.

Source: Glossary of North Country Words (1825) John Brockett
Google hits: 600

Curglaff: The shock felt when bathing and one first plunges into cold water.

Curgloft, confounded, and bumbaz'd,
On east and west by turns he gazed.
As ship that's tost with stormy weather,
Drives on, the pilot knows not whither.
- William Meston, 1767

Source: Etymological Scottish Dictionary (1808) John Jamieson
Google hits: 1400

Ghosts ARE corporeal! They can get their hands stuck in cracks like anyone else!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

B is for Bibliobibuli

Bibliobibuli: One who reads too much, who is drunk on books as some are drunk on whiskey or religion.

Louise Brown of Stranraer, Scotland borrowed nearly 25000 library books between 1946 and 2009; mostly romance, war and historical fiction. She's ninety five years old as of today if in fact she's still alive, but there are no references to her since June 2009 that I can find. Whether she ever hit the 25K mark is unknown to me.

Not to be confused with bibliophile: also a bookworm but without such a harsh connotation, or bibliomania: a craze for collecting books. Um... no comment on that.

Source: Notebook 71 (1956) H. L. Mencken
Google hits: 33,600

Belly-bender: A cake of floating ice which tips under as one passes from piece to piece in a precarious game of bravado played by boys.

According to my uncle John, a big-time snowmobile junky, who has played this game, albeit unintentionally, aboard skidoo, and dunked at least one machine into the deep, the thing to do upon realization you are up the proverbial not-so-frozen creek without a paddle (more likely a small Northern Ontario lake) as the ice is giving away under your snowmobile, is to gun the machine to its maximum velocity. You can go a fair distance on a skidoo, skimming the water, for much the same reasons of physics by which thrown flat stones will skip, though not indefinitely.

Source: Dictionary of American English (1940) William Craigie, James Hulbert
Google hits: 23,100

Bottle-thrall: A confirmed drunkard. Thrall: slave. Literally slave to the bottle.

Source: Lost Beauties of the English Language (1874) Charles Mackay
Google hits: 1300

Go home sheep. You're drunk. It's not even night time.

Monday, April 01, 2013

A is for Arfname

Arfname: An heir; from Old Norse arfr (inheritance) and niman (to take); used from the 10th to 13th centuries.

In A Guide for Butlers and Other Household Staff (1827), Robert Roberts promotes the interests of arfnames; instructing that old deeds such as wills be revived using a solution of gall nuts and white wine.

Not to be confused with Arkenflame, which is actually not the guy by the first name David who pumps out new-agey ambient music albums with names such as Chillout Lounge or Celtic Chillout, at a rate of about a dozen per day, because that dude's name is actually Arkenstone but for some reason I can never remember this and I always think Arkenflame instead. Isn't that deliriously exciting? P.S. Don't tell anyone I have those two aforementioned goofy albums. Thanks! You're a peach.

Source: Dictionary of Early English (1955) Joseph Shipley
Google hits: 4300

Agatewards: To go agatewards is to accompany one's guest part of their way home, possibly for reasons of guidance or safety if your estate is huge enough or maybe you have pet wolverines or lawn chihuahuas.  It has been explained as meaning gate-wards or toward the gate, but is more likely from the Craven dialect, gaitwards: to accompany.

As with the generation before them, who inhabited the family farm, my parents are in the habit of accompanying guests out the door and over to the laneway where their car is parked and to send them off with a wave. In the days of my grandparents' tenure, it was the farm dogs who championed this "last office of hospitality," for they would chase our car down the quarter-mile laneway to the town line, and often then down the line all the way to the highway! What can I say? I was a popular kid.

Not to be confused with the cloudy or striped quartz crystal called agate which is worth anywhere from 6 to 16 gold pieces according to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (1979) by Gary Gygax!

Source: Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1855) James Halliwell
Google hits: 400

Acromania: Extreme madness.

Let's use it in a sentence: "Nicolas Cage was a merry old soul and a merry old soul was he, though prone to occasional bouts of acromania."

Source: Imperial Lexicon (c. 1850) Rev. John Boag
Google hits: 35,100

Nicholas Cage just loves Molar World.