Francesca Gillett:

He said: “As professional linguists and historians of English we were intrigued by the challenge of developing a list of lost words that are still relevant to modern life, and that we could potentially campaign to bring back into modern day language.

“We’ve identified lost words that are both interesting and thought-provoking, in the hope of helping people re-engage with language of old.”

According to the BBC, the complete list of 30 words are categorised into different groups: post-truth; appearance, personality and behaviour; and emotions.

I’ve been collecting compilations of archaic and forgotten words for about twenty years. From this list, I particularly like the term ear-rent: The figurative cost to a person of listening to trivial or incessant talk. We recently hired a kid who’s on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, and my ear-rent has skyrocketed thanks to his habit of chattering about this, that, and everything. But one of the better compilations I’ve read is a book I only acquired earlier this year: Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by Josefa Heifetz Byrne. Some of the standouts are:

Anonymuncule: an insignificant anonymous writer.

Breedbate: someone looking for an argument.

Charientism: a gracefully veiled insult.

Dolorifuge: something that relives sadness.

Enucleate: to extract the kernel or truth or nucleus from.

Fimetarious: Growing or living in excrement. [I believe I can find some figurative uses for this one.]

Galimatias: gibberish; confused, meaningless jargon.

Hunkerousness: opposition to progress; old-fogeyism.

Jocoserious: a combination of funny and serious.

Lexiphanic: using pretentious language.

Logastellus: a person whose enthusiasm for words outstrips his knowledge of them.

Nescient: uneducated, unaware, ignorant, and stupid.

Philopolemic: pertaining to love of argument or controversy.

Phrontistery: a place for study and contemplation.

Prosonomasia: use of a humorous modification of a person’s name.

Psilosopher: a superficial philosopher.

Quakebuttock: a coward.

Remontado: someone who has fled to the mountains; a person who has renounced civilization.

Sous-entendu: something implied but not stated.

Twiddlepoop: an effeminate-looking man.

Vade mecum: a favorite book carried everywhere.

Yahoomanity: people en masse.

In a delightful coincidence, just as I was finishing this post, I got the email notifying me that John Koenig has finally published his book The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. (“It’s a dictionary of made-up words for emotions that we all feel but don’t have the words to express. Featuring hundreds of new definitions, otherworldly illustrations, and lyrical essays that explore forgotten corners of the human condition—from zenosyne, the sense that time keeps getting faster, to sonder, the awareness that each random passerby is the main character of their own story.”)