worthless word for the day
an obscure words refactory

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today's wwftd is...

the worthless word for the day is: gerontocracy
[< F. gérontocratie]  
rule by elders; government by old people
"The zombie exterminators, a backlash of disaffected youth against 
the formerly graying gerontocracy of Europe, insist that people who 
predate the supergrid and can't handle implants aren't really conscious."
- Charles Stross, Accelerando  (2005)

last time...

the classic worthless word for the day is: kakistocracy 

[fr. Gk kakistos, worst + -cracy]  

government by the worst and/or most unprincipled citizens

"America needs to put this unwitting experiment in kakistocracy 
to an abrupt end..."
- Arick Wierson and Bradley Honan, CNN.com  Oct. 9, 2020


the worthless word for the day is: abydocomist

[fr. Gk abudokomes, after the town Abydos, whose inhabitants were known for inventing slanders and boasting of them]

a liar who boasts of his or her own falsehoods

"There were lots of abydocomists working the phones at the 
underground telemarketing firm, but none could top Neville,
who would cheerfully swindle a widowed grandmother out 
of her annuity fund and then climb atop his desk and trumpet,
'I am the king of the lying worms!'"
 - Peter Novobatzky & Ammon Shea, Insulting English, 2001

other recent entries

questions from the gallery...

spotted any obscure words? questions? other comments? 
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errata... (a list of corrigenda)

o Michael from New Jersey writes: I believe it was John 
Brunner, in one of his SF novels, who used a whole set 
of conjugations of ept. The one I remember best is 
“eptifying” – to train a subject to be “ept” in a skill.

to which: well, in Stand on Zanzibar, Brunner propounded  
eptification, a term he derived from the acronym EPT 
(Education for Particular Tasks); this was an expensive   
and classified(?) conditioning technique which could produce an expert from a layman in a short time - it sure looks like he formed the acronym to fit the extant word(s).

o Russell Perkins writes: The phrase "yesterday's home page" from the P.K. Dick quotation used to illustrate "kipple" caught my eye as being anachronistic for a 1960's novel. My 1996 Del Rey reprint of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? reads (p.65) "yesterday's homeopape." I believe that the word "homeopape" is another of the words coined by P.K. Dick. From the contexts in which the word appears, a homeopape seems to be something like a futuristic newspaper. My guess at the etymology would be: "homeo-" similar + "pape" paper. o Mel DeSart writes to suggest that the Darwin quote, which can be found online in a couple of places, should probably have read, "Mammalia, Ornithology, Ichthyology [not Ichnology (sic)], and Entomology." well, it was only a letter...

spotting obscure words...



"He suddenly felt very relaxed. Maybe it was the fact that he'd sunk two bottles of lovely Italian plonk.." - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue (2009) "Known hence forth as a quantum heretic, Albert was left in a strange limbo, his ideas were discussed to a great extent; however he, himself,.. who so many considered the personification of floccinaucinihilipilification, was greatly ignored." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005) "Sauncho had been tracking her course with a yellow grease pencil on the radar screen. "They're committing either suicide or barratry here, hard to say which—why don't they turn?"" - Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (2009)
some ESPN usages are just too good to pass up; e.g., "Still, do-gooder or dilettante, there are at least two things Mrs. McMahon will need to consider as she moves from the forthright sunshine and uplifting narrative of prime-time "sports entertainment" into the mephitic underworld of American politics." - Jeff MacGregor, Page 2 Oct. 9, 2009 the sportswriters at ESPN seem to have taken up this word; e.g., "This time, it appears we won't have to wait nearly as long, because I doubt we will see a more shambolic effort than the one Utah submitted on a second-quarter fastbreak against L.A. on Sunday." - John Hollinger, PER Diem Apr. 20 2009 "..that was only until the four or five masked men formed a cluster round the pair of them - a kind of testudo as the Romans had called it in her Latin lessons - and dragged and carried them to the minibus..." - John le Carre, A Most Wanted Man (2008) "I couldn't make any headway at all with its search functions, because of all its cack-handed efforts to assist me." - Neal Stephenson, Anathem (2008) __ I know a little man both ept and ert. An intro-? extro-? No, he's just a vert. Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane, His image trudes upon the ceptive brain. When life turns sipid and the mind is traught, The spirit soars as I would sist it ought. Chalantly then, like any gainly goof, My digent self is sertive, choate, loof. Gloss, by David McCord The Oxford Book of American Light Verse "My third grade teacher was the master of hell and damnation. Rumor had it that he had tried to become a Christian Brother but hadn't made it. The rumor was probably true, because this man really knew his eschatology." - Carlos Eire, Waiting for Snow in Havana (2003) "The newspapers had the Widdler story, and tied it to Bucher, Donaldson, and Toms. Rose Marie said that more arrests were imminent, but the Star Tribune reporter spelled it "eminent" and the Pioneer Press guy went with "immanent." You should never, Lucas thought, trust a spell-checker." - John Sandford, Invisible Prey (2007) "But the symbolic nature of the fruit (knowledge of good and evil, which in practice turned out to be knowledge that they were naked) was enough to turn their scrumping escapade into the mother and father of all sins." - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion "...jawbreakers the size and density of billiard balls, which were the best value of all as they would last for up to three months and had multiple strata that turned your tongue interesting new shades as you doggedly dissolved away one squamous layer after another." - Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid "At the end of the lunch, though, I wasn't just muzzy but absolutely knocked cold by the Madiran. I went back upstairs and slept for two hours." - Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon (2000) "That minacious image was buttressed when it was revealed several years ago that convicted spy Robert Hanssen, the FBI official who sold intelligence to the Soviet Union and may have been responsible for the death of at least one American agent, was a member of Opus Dei." - Minneapolis Star Tribune, Dec 10, 2005 bibulous laughter; found in E. Waugh's Brideshead Revisited of or relating to drink or drinking I've had cynarctomachy (bear-baiting with a dog) for a long time and just discovered it is a nonce-word in Butler. Gadarene poets; found in reading Lawrence's Seven Pillars... headlong, precipitate trepidatious (fearful) and again: "The Sultan is deposed, fainting into the arms of his chief eunuch when he is informed that he is to be sent to Salonika, and his trepidatious, pliable brother is released from thirty year's house arrest in order to be enthroned in his place." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004) "Jets coach Rex Ryan isn't happy with his team's efforts in the punting game. And since it's one of the most fungible positions in the sport, the Jets have inked a new punter." - NBCSports.com August 16, 2009 pareidolia Astronomer Philip Plait has two words for the latest claims of alien objects on Mars. The first is "garbage." The second and more scientific word is "pareidolia." I objurgate the centipede, A bug we do not really need. -Ogden Nash, The Centipede floccinaucinihilipilification the categorizing of something as worthless; it's what we do here! deja vu, presque vu, and jamais vu are mentioned in Joseph Heller's 1961 novel Catch-22 and play a large role in Kim Stanley Robinson's 1996 novel Blue Mars.

notes from the master...

Welcome logophiles and verbivores; here are some
notes and updates to past wwftds.  If you're 
curious as to what we're about, and to see the 
subscription list fine print, see our policy.


A critic writes as follows, "the name of your site 
arguably serves to make its creator(s) appear 
ludibrious (that is to say, the butt of their own 
joke)." Used in this sense, I guess I should add 
ridiculous to the definition of ludibrious.


With regard to the U.S. phrase root hog or die,
our friend Ann H. notes that "Charles Funk explained 
the expression this way, in Heavens to Betsy! & Other 
Curious Sayings:

Get to work or suffer the consequences. Although the 
earliest printed record of the Americanism so far 
exhumed dates only to 1834 ... it probably goes back 
to colonial times or, at least, to early frontier 
days. And, probably, its origin was literal -- an 
admonition to hogs or pigs when crops were scant to 
forage for themselves in order to survive. In fact, 
the expression sometimes appears as a command as given 
to a hog: "root, hog, or die!" The way it appears in 
each of the seven stanzas of the folk song under that 
title in the Archive of the American Folk Song 
Society, Library of Congress, each of which closes 
with the line, is:

Oh, I went to Californy in the spring of Seventy-six,
Oh, when I landed there I wuz in a terrible fix,
I didn't have no money my victuals for to buy,
And the only thing for me was to root, hog, or die.


Dr. McKay writes: The 'jejunum' is part of the small 
intestine and means 'empty', so jejeunosity, (merely a 
fancy spelling by NYT Dowds person/journo), should
mean an 'emptiness' or 'lack of content' and then it 
carries a much better and more correct meaning!

And Joan B. writes: IF you google Woody Allen and 
jejunosity, you'll find many references to Woody 
Allen's use of the term in the film Love and Death, 
which came out in 1975 -- well ahead of Maureen Dowd's 
(misspelled) use of that term on September 3, 2003, 
in a NYTimes article.

so I googled:
Boris: Since when is murder a heroic act? 
Sonya: Violence is justified in the service of mankind. 
Boris: - Who said that? 
Sonya: Attila the Hun. 
Boris: You're quoting a Hun to me? 
Boris: Don't you know that murder carries with it a 
       moral imperative that transcends any notion of 
       inherent universal free will? 
Sonya: That is incredibly jejune. 
Boris: That's jejune? 
Sonya: Jejune! 
Boris: You have the temerity to say that I'm talking 
       to you out of jejunosity? I am one of the most 
       june people in all of the Russias. 


H. L. Mencken coined the word ecdysiast in 1940, from 
the root ecdysis, in response to a request from a
stripper for another word for her job.


minion Jim B. writes from Lincoln Univ.: "Regolith!
Ah, now you're in my territory.... I like to tell
my astronomy classes that the regolith of the Moon
is basically pulverized rock and dust resulting from
the heavy bombardment by meteors early in the history
of the solar system (about 4 billion years ago). This
is more colorful than a dry definition. (I'd hate to
have my students memorize phrases like "the unconsol-
idated solid material...") The Earth would be like
this also, but we have an active surface: erosion,
volcanic activity, and crustal movement. Before we
landed on the Moon, some people in NASA feared that
this material in the regolith might be too loose to
support the weight of a large object. Luckily, it was
firm enough that the moon landers, with the astronauts
inside, didn't just sink out of sight. This would have
made for a pretty dismal Tom Hanks movie."


regarding tetragrammaton, a happy subscriber writes:
"I must disagree. Not only is [this] word of the day 
not worthless, I have actually used it within the past 
six months, when teaching my ninth grade students 
about the transmission of the Hebrew scriptures. The 
scribes were very creative in writing the name of God, 
to ensure that no one would in his reading later say 
the name aloud, thus breaking the commandment against 

w.m. comments: yes, well that's why we referred to
it as the "ineffable name of God ".


Donald Le Messurier writes:
"The gyascutis is commonly known as a "Side-Hill 
Lancer".  You have greatly enlightened me with the 
more proper name for this beast.  It may be unknown 
to you that it is quite dangerous and fast on its 
feet.  The only known means of escape is to turn about 
and run in the opposite direction, in which case the 
longer pair of its 4 legs will be on the upside of the 
slope thereby unbalancing him and causing the animal 
to fall over and roll down the hill.  I learned this 
at a very early age whilst spending my summers in 
Northern Michigan where this creature was then rather 
common.  I do not know what the status of their 
population is now, but then I was always very cautious 
when venturing out in the heavily forested hills.  I 
should add with pride that none ever came even close 
to catching me."

to which John Barry was moved to respond:
"I believe that Mr. Donald Le Messurier has mogued 
you. He is likely chuffed, but let me expose the 
fallacy of his expostulation... Here is the flaw. 
Turning about and running in the other direction would 
have no effect on the direction in which the gyascutis 
is traveling. The re-orienting to which he refers 
could only be achieved by causing the creature to 
change direction - something that would require either 
the considerably braver action of running past, the 
insanely dangerous leap over, or the usually fatal 
path under the fell beast."

this appears to be a U.S. coinage with local 
variations, meant to be mock Latinate. as such, the 
preferred spelling may be gyascutus..


the pyg family, so far:



as to the recent prastuphulic, 
rkdillon@_____ writes:
"I believe it's of Welsh origin & means heavyset... 
with a hint of slatternly. I have a small Collins 
Welsh dictionary & there're some near cognates in it.   
I'm not familiar with the book cited but Jensen is 
often a Welsh border name."


Robert Southey, of some recent citations, was 
poet laureate of England in 1813 and also a
noted critic of 19th century Americanisms, all 
the while coining (or introducing) odd neologisms 
of his own, such as agathokakological, cacodemonize,
gelastics and evangelizationer.


as words here cost nothing, the gulping 
gobemouche is plentifully supplied


anthimeria - the substitution of one part of speech 
for another; typically a noun used as a verb -- also 
known as (and for example) "verbing a noun" 
NB: this word has caused much gnashing of teeth at 


the worthless word for the day is: mactation

[fr. L. mactare, to slay; cf. mactate]
the act of killing, esp. the slaughtering of a sacrificial victim

"If the mactations, immolations, oblations, impetrations,
Are now observed."
- T. S. Eliot, Coll. Poems, 1931  [Difficulties of a Statesman]

the worthless word for the day is: thaumaturgic

[fr. Gk thaumatourgos < thauma marvel + -ergos -working]
magical; wonder-working

"Whoever did this did it with a thaumaturgic spell. That much I'm sure of."
- Jim Butcher, Storm Front  (2000)

the worthless word for the day is: heterozygosity

[< hetero- + zygote]
having two different alleles of the same gene

""We speak of heterozygosity," she said, "which just means
the amount of genetic diversity within a species.""
- Neal Stephenson, Seveneves  (2015) allele - any of the alternative forms of a gene

the worthless word for the day is: force majeure

[French, superior force]
1) superior or irresistible force
2) something that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled

"If he got stopped by the traffic police he'd have no option but to plead force majeure. He even considered turning on the blue light and the siren."
- Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Purity of Vengeance  (trans. 2013)

the worthless word for the day is: shirty

[prob. fr. idiomatic use; e.g., keep your shirt on]
chiefly Brit. irritable; querulous

"“But don't tell me that when he saw how shirty she was about it, the chump didn't back down?”"
- P.G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves  (1934)

"..as they were only some 433 days away from the end of the world, she didn't really think there was much point in getting shirty about it."
- Neal Stephenson, Seveneves  (2015)

the worthless word for the day is: battue

[F. < battre, to beat]
the beating of woods or bushes to flush game;
also a hunt in which this is done
(so that's what that's called)

""She can drive down to the inn. I'll call ahead and have
them open up. And have her take your unruly dog with her.
This is a special battue, Hjorth. You ought to know that."
A few of the others tried to mediate, as if they had any say in the matter."
- Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Absent One  (trans. 2012)

the worthless word for the day is: propolis

[L., bee glue]
a reddish brown resinous substance collected by honeybees
from tree buds, used by them to fill crevices and to seal and varnish honeycombs: bee glue

"Soon enough the wax floated to the surface, leaving the dead bees and the dirt and the pollen and the propolis inside the cloth."
- Neil Gaiman, The Case of Death and Honey  (2011)

the worthless word for the day is: tranche

[F., lit., slice]  (e.g., tranche de vie, slice of life)
a portion of something, especially money

"Bowen said, "You're going to suggest that latest
tranche of Gulf Stream money, aren't you?""
- Philip Kerr, A Five-Year Plan  (1997)

the worthless word for the day is: macronym

[portmanteau of macro- + acronym]
an acronym in which a letter(s) stands for an(other) acronym(s) itself (a.k.a. nested acronym)

"[tsuwm contains] an embedded acronym – there is a word for that
(of course), but it escapes me at the minute."
- tsuwm, email to CR  6/2/2015 "Macronym: an acronym containing a word which is itself an acronym,
as NADGE = NATO Air Defense Ground Establishment"
- Word Ways, The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, V. 9-10 (1976)

the worthless word for the day is: urinous

[fr. L. urinosis < urina]
of, resembling, or containing urine

"They frog-marched me through a long urinous passage
to a lift, and this took us up five floors to a quiet and well-carpeted corridor, which.. had the air of an
exclusive gentleman's club."
- Philip Kerr, March Violets  (1989)

the worthless word for the day is: sclerotic 

[< Med. sclerosis, abnormal hardening of body tissue]
becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt

"Rather than blame the wealthy and their political patrons, [they] point to sclerotic government and high taxes for the misfortunes of the middle and working classes."
- (Mpls.) StarTribune, 31 May 2015

the worthless word for the day is: meteorism

[fr. L. meteorismus]
medical  distension of the abdomen, esp. by gas in the gastrointestinal tract or peritoneal cavity

"The Führer suffers from a condition known as meteorism,
the primary symptom of which is uncontrollable flatulence."
- Bill O'Reilly, Killing Patton  (2014)

the worthless word for the day is: acherontic

[< L. acheronticus, of or relating to Acheron or the underworld]
chiefly literary infernal, hellish; dark, gloomy

"..an old Acherontic dizzard, that hath one foote in his grave."
- Richard Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

"The mien is, yes, doleful, the image verges on the acherontic,
the look of souls confronting hell."
- NY Times, 20 Feb. 1996

the worthless word for the day is: polyproprioception

[poly- + proprioception (see which)]
the vertigo that comes from perceptually being in two places at once (coined by John Scalzi - see quote)

"I felt that sensation unique to Hadens, the vertigo that comes from perceptually being in two places at once. It’s much more noticeable when your body and your threep are in the same room at the same time. The technical term for it is “polyproprioception.”"
- John Scalzi, Lock In  (2014)

the worthless word for the day is: au fond

[F., at bottom]  /o fôn(d)/
in essence

"You hope au fond that by rationalizing Dimitrios, by explaining him, you will also explain that disintegrating social system you spoke about."
- Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios  (1939)

the worthless word for the day is: rampageous

[< rampage]
archaic boisterously or violently uncontrollable

"He seems a pig-headed, self-willed, rampageous backwoodsman."
- Roy Pascal, German Novel  (1956)

"And him a rampageous little Pole, sir, they might have added."
- John le Carre, The Russia House  (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: truckle

[fig. fr. truckle bed]
to submit or behave obsequiously

"The world... is pure incoherence, a chaos, a nulliverse, to whose haphazard sway I will not truckle." - William James, in Mind (1882) "Teardrop stared back and did not truckle."
- Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone (2007)

the worthless word for the day is: haint

[var. of haunt]
Southern U.S. a ghost

"She smoked away haints so the house could feel cleansed
of lingering angers and pains and bad ideas that clung to old shadows soaked into the walls."
- Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone  (2007)

the worthless word for the day is: immurement

[fr. L. immurare < im- + murus, wall]
imprisonment (esp. within a wall)

"She swallowed hard. “You give me reason to hope I might
be spared immurement.” “Immurement?” he echoed. “What
makes you think you will be immured?”"
- Chelsea Yarbro, Night Blooming  (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: bumwad

[bum + wad]
Brit. slang toilet paper; thus, newspapers, magazines,
etc. fit only for such use

"The millions of promises printed on those slips of bumwad
will all be kept or broken in the next ten minutes; actual
pieces of silver and gold will move, or they won't. It is some kind of fiduciary Judgment Day."
- Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon  (2009)

the worthless word for the day is: invidious

[fr. L. invidiosus, envious]
unpleasant and likely to give offense to other people

"It would be invidious if not perilous to betray their awful secrets."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an old manse.. (1846)

"Categorization can be invidious,and many writers are drawn
to sf because it seems to offer them more freedom than any
other 'category'."
- David Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels  (1985)

the worthless word for the day is: pomosexual

[pomo-, for POstMOdern + -sexual, after homosexual]
a person who shuns labels such as heterosexual and
homosexual that define individuals by their sexual
preferences  (also as an adj., to refer to such a person)

"In a pomosexual world, sexual categories are no longer rigid. People can move beyond labels -- gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual -- while acknowledging the importance those labels played in the past."
- Mitchel Raphael, The Toronto Star, May 17, 1998

the worthless word for the day is: depucelate

[< F. dépuceler]  (cf. depucel)
obs. rare to deflower

"They had a last view of the Embassy treasurer's face as he was drawn away--with a look of utter puzzlement for the plump, heavily made-up, white-maned blue-blood of the Faubourg who had him firmly by the elbow and appeared to be bearing him off to depucelate in his chateau like some remote ancestor exercising his droit de seigneur."
- Alain Arias-Misson, The Mind Crime of August Saint (1993)

(see also  ‎Marquis de Sade)

the worthless word for the day is: rorid

[fr. L. rōridus dripping with moisture]
obs. dewy; bedewed

Leave to the Lark his lucid chariotings
And mirth Memnonian, when auroral skies
With rorid azure bathe his rapturous wings.

- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Poems  (1869)

(yes, that Bulwer-Lytton)

the worthless word for the day is: sook

[of uncertain origin]
Austral. and N.Z. slang a stupid or timid person;
a coward; a ‘softy’; a sniveling whinger

"Usually, though, the Brits are real sooks about weather and go into panic mode whenever the word "snow" is brought up."
- David Kinraid, 27 Jan. 2015

(thanx, Pfranz)

the worthless word for the day is: petrescence

[fr. L. petra rock, stone]
obs., rare the process of becoming petrified

"“I just can't help thinking what a real shake up it would give people if, all of a sudden, there were no new books, new plays, new histories, new poems..."
And how proud would you be when people started dying like flies?" I demanded.
They'd die more like mad dogs, I think--snarling & snapping at each other & biting their own tails."
I turned to Castle the elder. "Sir, how does a man die when he's deprived of the consolation of literature?"
In one of two ways," he said, "petrescence of the heart or atrophy of the nervous system.""
- Kurt Vonnegut, ibid.

the worthless word for the day is: oubliation

[fr. F. oubliette, an underground dungeon]
nonce word(?) the act of being imprisoned in an oubliette

"At least we could think. And one thing I thought was
that the creature comforts of the dungeon did nothing
to mitigate the basic fact of oubliation."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle  (1963)

the worthless word for the day is: dulcitude

[fr. L. dulcis, sweet]
the condition of being charming, sweet, or delightful; sweetness

"Miss Pefko was twenty, vacantly pretty, and healthy--a dull normal. In honor of the dulcitude of Christmastime, Dr. Breed invited Miss Pefko to join us."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle  (1963)

the worthless word for the day is: unspoofulated

[cf. spoofy (jokey, satirical)]
wine-tasting: simple, straightforward, unoaked, no kidding around

"I use the phrase "real wine" which is perhaps meaningless,
but which I think is closer to the spirit of the type of
unspoofulated (another vague term) wines I like."
- Joe Dressner, The Wine Importer [undated blog]

“Unspoofulated wines... Real wines made by real people.”
- Joe Dressner

the worthless word for the day is: ragnarok

[Old Norse Ragnarok, literally, fate of the gods; later rendered as Ragnarøkkr, literally, twilight of the gods]
(Norse mythology) the ultimate destruction of the gods in a cataclysmic battle with evil, out of which a new order will arise; transf., any violent upheaval

"It was only in situations like the one that had just occurred, when the room was crammed with superattentive colleagues who had been forced to sidle around worn-out document carts and heaps of case materials, that he regarded the ragnarok of his office with a certain dismay."
- Jussi Adler-Olsen, The Keeper of Lost Causes  (tr. 2011)

the worthless word for the day is: doughtily

[doughty + -ly]
in a doughty manner; valiantly, stoutly, persistently

"Smiley sat in a chair reading the files on his
knee like a man in a train, doughtily ignoring
the passengers. Sometimes he lifted his head,
but the sounds he heard were not from inside
the room."
- John le Carré, op. cit

the worthless word for the day is: mafoo

[fr. Mandarin mǎfū, horse servant]
a groom

"The mafoos held their charges miserably,
as if sick with nerves."
- John le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy  (1977)

the worthless word for the day is: abiogenesis

[a- + bio- + L. genesis]
the origin of life from nonliving matter:
spontaneous generation

"Attempts to create life in the laboratory by mixing
water and gases believed to have existed in the early
atmosphere on Earth have failed to get much beyond
the synthesis of a few simple amino acids. No instance
of abiogenesis has ever been observed."
- Nick Bostrom, op. cit.

the worthless word for the day is: negentropy

[fr. negative + entropy]
Physics of or characterized by a reduction in entropy
(with a corresponding increase in order)

"Land, minerals, energy, negentropy, matter: all abundant out there yet limited on any one home planet. These resources could be used to support a growing population and to construct giant temples or supercomputers or whatever structures a civilization values."
- Nick Bostrom, Technology Review  (2008)

the worthless word for the day is: superficiating

[fr. superficial]
rare making superficial

"..it was unimpeachable: in superficiating this perfection,
it absorbed the beholder and shut out the creator."
- William Gaddis, The Recognitions  (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: readeption

[< classical L. re- + adeptiō, act of acquiring]
with ref. to King Henry VI (1421–71) restoration to the throne; ergo, recovery or resumption of power

"On 26 November, the readeption Parliament met at
Westminster. Henry VI presided in person over this
assembly, which confirmed his right to be King of
- Alison Weir, The Wars of the Roses  (2011)

the worthless word for the day is: bravadic

[cf. bravado]
(ostentatiously) bold, courageous

"I write like a poorly edited rap video, with lots of
booty slapping and ceaseless bravadic fingerpointing!
I'm the Beat of a totally new generation.."
- Chris Eaton, Letters to Thomas Pynchon..  (2010)

the worthless word for the day is: whelming
[(?)fr. OE hwelfan, to overturn (a vessel)]
flowing or heaping up abundantly

"The rain that didn't fall this afternoon is gathering
up there... Maybe the sweep and drum of it on the
metal roof, a sound so loud and whelming and sweet
it turns the bed into a little boat and thoughts into a
wind that blows on northward."
- Peter Heller, The Painter  (2014)

the worthless word for the day is: plein-air

[fr. F. en plein air, in the open air]
a style of painting outdoors, or with a strong
sense of the open air

"I have never painted in plein air. Never set up
on some hillside, on some shore, in a big hat."
- Peter Heller, The Painter  (2014)

the worthless word for the day is: virga

[L : branch, rod, streak in the sky suggesting rain]
wisps of precipitation that evaporate before
reaching the ground

"Virga. That's what it was called. Alce told me that
once. Came home from school one day and told me.
Rain that falls and never hits the ground."
- Peter Heller, The Painter  (2014)

the worthless word for the day is: sonder

[perhaps related to F. sonder, to probe?]

the realization that each random passerby is living a life
as vivid and complex as your own-populated with their
own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited
craziness-an epic story that continues invisibly around
you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with
elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that
you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear
only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background,
as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted
window at dusk - The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Q: do all concepts require a specific word?

the worthless word for the day is: qajaq

Greenland kayak

"“The reaction of the American players when we
told them that we’re adding the word kayak but
spelled [“qajaq,”] with two Qs and a J, was divided between outrage and glee.”"
- National Post (canada.com), August 5, 2014

the worthless word for the day is: quinzhee

[fr. Athabaskan koézhii, lit. ‘in the shelter’]  also, quinzee
a snow shelter of a type originally used by N. American Indians, consisting of a mound of (settled) snow with a domed chamber dug into it

"Don't forget to store your shovel inside the quinzee in case
there's a snowstorm.. and you have to dig yourself out."
- K. Callan, Happy Camper  (2005)

"One of the new Canadian words creating excitement in
hardcore Scrabble circles -- "quinzhee," a shelter made by
hollowing out a pile of settled snow -- could give a player
a total of 401 points.. That’s a lot."
- National Post, August 5, 2014

the worthless word for the day is: blootered

Scot. (highly) intoxicated

"'Come on, while the cat's away, the mice can
sod off to the pub and get blootered.'"
- Stuart MacBride, Flesh House  (2009)

the worthless word for the day is: pech

[of imitative origin]
Scot., Irish to breathe hard or with difficulty; pant; hence peching

"He was peching, the saliva like glue in his mouth."
- Ian Rankin, The Black Book  (1993)

the worthless word for the day is: cankle

[blend of calf and ankle]
an unusually thick or stout ankle

"I looked like a normally proportioned person with
a balloon for a head. This was not even to mention
the cankle situation."
- John Green, The Fault in Our Stars  (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: petrichor

[fr. Gk petros, stone + ichor, fluid which flows in the veins of the gods]
the pleasant loamy smell that often accompanies
the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather

"Though it had yet to begin raining, the familiar smell of petrichor appeared to be already present and Neelam
suddenly wished she was sitting at home with a nice cup
of tea and a good book"
- Val Panesar, For the Sake of the Future  (2010)

the worthless word for the day is: demeritorious

[fr. demerit; after meritorious]
1) bringing demerit, ill-deserving, blameworthy
2) obs. rare undeserving

"Thus, it is clear that a good or bad act counts as praiseworthy
or blameworthy because it is in the power of the will, as right
or sinful because of its order to an end, and as meritorious or
demeritorious in accordance with the recompense demanded
by justice with respect to another."
- Thomas Aquinas, Basic Works (ed., trans. 2014)

the worthless word for the day is: lashings

Brit. informal (orig. Anglo-Irish)
pl. n. abundance, 'floods'; a copious amount
of something, esp. food or drink

"Nice little dinner--lashings of champagne."  
- D. L. Sayers, Unnatural Death  (1927)

the worthless word for the day is: huckled

Scot. dialect
arrested; manhandled; broadly: handled

"He was wondering if he had been huckled by Fox, reeled in like a greedy fish."
- Ian Rankin, Saints of the Shadow Bible  (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: nomophobia

[prob. fr. no mobile + -phobia]
the fear of being without your cell phone (or signal)

"Nomo-phobia is very real for many people in the UK.
We're all familiar with the stressful situations of everyday life such as moving house, breakups and organising a family Christmas -- but it seems that being out of mobile contact may be the 21st century's contribution to our already manic lives."
- Royal Mail Group, March 31, 2008

the worthless word for the day is: flosculation

[fr. L flosculus, diminutive of flos, flower]
flowery speech, embellishment

"Academic ataraxia and exantlation from indesinent moliminous indagation are, however, more conducive to nagacious (nugacious?) insulsity or hebetudinous paralereme than rabulous procacity and flosculation. In short, I apologize."
- The Forum, V. 99 (1938)

"We try to avoid flosculation (embellishment or ornament) or blateration (blabber), but we’re kind of suckers for a good story about the English language."
- NPR blog Nov. 9, 2010

the worthless word for the day is: sevidical

[fr. L. saevidicus < saevus, fierce + dicere, to say]
obs. rare
that speaks cruel and harsh words

"And I think we can assume he was quite sevidical in his comments about you, don't you think?"
- E. W. Nickerson, Something to Crowe About  (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: éclaircissement

[F.] a clearing up or revelation of what is obscure or
unknown; an explanation

"When the éclaircissement comes there will be a scene,
and hysterics, and a great quarrel, and then a great
- Wm M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair  (1848)

"But his eclaircissement of the subject was cryptic and
- S. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant

NB: Hoshour's usage is, perhaps, ironical

the worthless word for the day is: obstupefy

[fr. L. obstupefacere  to stupefy, to stun, astound]
now rare to stupefy; to astound; to make insensible
hence, obstupefaction

"You cannot obstupefy such a man by the jugglery of
a mathematical puzzle, telling him that all knowledge
is uncertain.."
- Ch. Pritchard, Occas. Thoughts of an Astronomer.. (1889)

"Obstupefaction seized his sectators in view of his
supposed polymathy."
- S. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant

NB:  the prefix ob- can take the sense of toward or
against in Latin; here it takes the former

the worthless word for the day is: celsitude

[F. < L. celsitūdo, lofty carriage < celsus, lofty]
obs. (exc. humorous)
1) high rank or position  2) loftiness

"..where the spissitude of population and the celsitude
of the means of the sustentation of vitality, necessitated
those who.. had become depauperated, to make an ingress
into the sylvan nooks of our untenanted domain."
- S. K. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant  (1856)

(or, the density of population and the loftiness of the
means by which life is sustained, necessitated those who
had become impoverished to enter the wooded recesses
of our unpopulated domain.)

the worthless word for the day is: hydroptic

[fr. L. hydrōpicus]  (cf. hydropic)
archaic having an insatiable thirst (like a dropsical person)
hence fig.

"The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be.
The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular.
The silence."
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road  (2006)

the worthless word for the day is: cahoot

[fr. cahoots : a collaboration, collusion] (an old favorite)]
to conspire or plot
"I had seen this man, knowing that he was out there, knowing that he and Leo were in cahoots, cahoots being a legal term in Wyoming, see cahooting in the first degree, intent to cahoot, and so on."
- Craig Johnson, Death Without Company  (2007)

the worthless word for the day is: flagitious

[fr. L. flāgitium, shameful crime]
deeply criminal, extremely wicked

"Crimes heap'd on crimes, shall bend your glory down,
And whelm in ruins yon flagitious town."
- A. Pope tr. of Homer's Illiad  (1718)

the worthless word for the day is: haar

[related to Dutch dialect harig, damp]
east Eng. a cold sea mist or fog off the North Sea

"There were two of them in the van that early morning,
lights on to combat the haar which blew in from the
North Sea. It was thick and white like smoke."
- Ian Rankin, The Black Book (1993)

the worthless word for the day is: bibliothecary

[L. bibliothecarius]
a librarian

"My ten minutes passed very rapidly in conversation
with these two experts in books, the bibliopole and
the bibliothecary."
- O. W. Holmes, Our 100 days in Europe  (1887)

the worthless word for the day is: over-egged

[fr. over-egging the pudding]
fig., orig. Eng. regional over-exaggerated

"Having seen Ward's thesis, it seems to me that his version of events is somewhat self-serving and over-egged."
- Frank Close, The Infinity Puzzle  (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: mohel

Juadism one who performs the rite of circumcision
on a Jewish male

"..the coming and going of friends and relatives including the distant in-law who always ends up telling mohel jokes."
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

the worthless word for the day is: appoggiatura

[It. < appoggiare to lean upon, rest]
an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic
note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size;
also transf. a prop, a point of support
cf. grace note

"The pushcarts stayed away, and so the morning began that
much less comfortably, obliging folks to go in to work without
their customary coffees, danishes, donuts, bottles of water,
so many bleak appoggiaturas for what was about to happen."
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

the worthless word for the day is: quant

[prob. short for quantitative]
slang an expert in the use of math and related subj.,
esp. in investment management and stock trading

""Some of the quants are smart, but quants come, quants go, they're just nerds for hire with a different fashion sense.""
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

the worthless word for the day is: squillo

[It. < squillare to ring, to blare]
the resonant, trumpet-like sound in the voice of
opera singers--the purpose of the squillo is to
enable an essentially lyric tone to be heard over
thick orchestrations [wiki]

"Ernie making a face, "sub-Tin Pan Alley. Awful.
And she's a lovely girl, but she's got no squillo."
"She's a soprano, Ernie.""
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: ept

[back-formation fr. inept < L. ineptus < L. in- + aptus]
(so the positive of inept is actually apt)
used as a deliberate antonym of inept: adroit, appropriate,
effective; hence, eptitude

"I am much obliged.. to you for your warm, courteous, and
ept treatment of a rather weak, skinny subject."
- E. B. White (fr. a letter, 1936)

"The Foreign Secretary has a deserved reputation for being
an accident prone speechmaker, and his eptitude -- if that is a word -- is sometimes questionable."
- Guardian 3 Nov. 1970

and, seemingly ineptly used:
"She brought him home, we figured, OK, horny kid, way too
much screen time, socially ept as they ever get.."
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: alexithymia

[fr. Gk lexis word, diction + thumos soul, as the
seat of emotion; thus: without words for emotions]
(Psych.) an inability to recognize and express one's
own feelings, esp. in words
hence, alexithymic, unable to do so

"Another.. psychologist.. is credited with rediscovering
what has become a widely used clinical term for the
phenomenon: 'Alexithymia'. (Translation: No words for
feelings. Movie translation: It's not O.K. to be Gary
Cooper anymore.)"
- N.Y. Times, 7 Nov. 1993

"The big alexithymic lug."
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: cheongsam

[fr. Ch. chèuhng-sāam, literally, long gown] /CHON sam/
a long dress of southern Chinese origin with a slit skirt
and a stand-up collar (so that's what that's called)

"A bubbly young Asian lady in a turquoise cheongsam
handed him a laminated menu of services."
- Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: suctorial

[mod. L. suctorius < sugere, to suck]
Zool. adapted for sucking

""I don't happen to agree, but I'm not the one who
had a suctorial attachment inserted up his rectum.""
- Carl Hiaasen, Bad Monkey (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: makeweight

[make + weight]
1) something added on a scale to make a desired weight
2) an unimportant person or thing thrown in to fill a gap
3) a counterweight; a counterbalance

"And right behind him was the guy Reacher thought of as
the third man. Not the driver from the first night, and not the big guy with the small ears, but the makeweight from the second day."
- Lee Child, Never Go Back (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: suprapreantepenultimate 

[fr. ultimate + a plethora of L. prefixes]
the fifth from the last
(or propreantepenultimate)

"Does the sequence stop with preantepenultimate? There must be
so little need for a word meaning fifth from last that we can hardly
imagine anybody has taken the trouble to invent it. But it does
exist: suprapreantepenultimate (Latin supra, above, beyond)."
- World Wide Words 12 October 2013

(thanx to Max.. and Quinion!)

the worthless word for the day is: abnihilisation 

[fr. L. ab nihilo, from nothing]
so, creation from nothing

"The abnihilisation of the etym by the grisning of the
grosning of the grinder of the grunder of the first lord
of Hurtreford.."
- James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

the worthless word for the day is: untermensch

[G. fr. unter, under + mensch, person]
derogatory an inferior person; a subhuman
cf. ubermensch

"My ministry would xpel me if I were ever Eyed in that untermensch slum."
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: démarche

[F. literally, gait]
a) a course of action: maneuver
b) a diplomatic or political initiative or maneuver

"I'm sure it will be extremely useful when the time comes
for a démarche. It's just could you please find somewhere
clever to put it for a few days? Out of harm's way."
- John le Carré, A Delicate Truth (2013)

the worthless word for the day is: prevenient

[fr. L. praevenire, to precede]
1) preceding 2) anticipatory

"A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient
counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries."
- Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness.. (1976)

the worthless word for the day is: snaffled

[cf. snaffle]
Brit.  snatched

"But Ilya could tell by a glance down the page that 
this had, at one time, been somebody, somebody snaffled
up in the purges of 1936, too important or favored to 
kill, thus consigned to the [Gulag], a nonperson."
 - Alan Furst, Night Soldiers  (1988)

the worthless word for the day is: graunching

[cf. graunch]
Brit.  crunching, grinding

"He put his weight on the lever and I could hear the
metal graunching."
 - Lee Child, Killing Floor  (1997)

the worthless word for the day is: immanentize

[fr. L. immanere, to remain + -ize ]
to make immanent, to bring about
(not to be confused with imminent)

"It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton."
- The Illuminatus! Trilogy

the worthless word for the day is: antiphrasis

[fr. Gk antiphrazein, to express by the opposite]
the use of words in senses opposite to the generally
accepted meanings or the use of a word in this way
usually for humorous or ironical purposes
thus, antiphrastically: in an antiphrastic manner

"Formerly, kings dressed up as shepherds; nowadays,
to wear for a fortnight clothes from a cheap chain-
store is for them the sign of dressing up. Yet another
sign of democracy: to get up at six in the morning.
All this gives us, antiphrastically, information on a
certain ideal of daily life: to wear cuffs, to be
shaved by a flunkey, to get up late."
- Roland Barthes, Mythologies (tr. A. Lavers, 1972)

the worthless word for the day is: vog

[blend of volcanic + smog] Hawaiian coinage
air pollution caused by volcanic emissions

"Vog looks like smog, but it isn’t. It is natural
pollution from the fires inside the earth."
- Neil Young, Waging Heavy Peace (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: boogid

[fr. Objibwe boogijizh, to fart at someone]
a fart

"The crawling around was definitely easier on
us this time, though Angus lifted his leg and
flared a boogid at me. No boogid wars, said
- Louise Erdrich, The Round House (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: vexillology

[fr. L. vexillum, flag + –ology]
the study of flags

"I’d be sprawled next to him. Aiding him in his budding
vexillology, which sounds less like a study of flags
than a study in annoyance, which would have suited my
father's attitude toward me."
- Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: peripeteia

[Gk peripeteia] also peripetia
a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances
or change of events, esp. in a literary work

"If they had been twins separated in infancy, and now
revealed to one another by some birthmark or other
perepetia, they couldn't have been more exhilarated."
- Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety (1987)

the worthless word for the day is: sputation

[fr. L. sputare, to spit]
the act of spitting; expectoration

"But in a brevity of time he became stentorophonic,
and spumous at his oral aperture; his sputations
became frequent, and his palpebral organs gained
indescribable celerity. Obstupefaction seized his
sectators in view of his supposed polymathy."
- S. K. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant (1870)

the worthless word for the day is: fnarr

[imitative of stifled laughter]
intj. representing lecherous or half-suppressed
laughter; freq. used to indicate sexual innuendo
cf. nudge, nudge (wink, wink)

"fnarr fnarr!" - Used most appropriately when
someone has said something which has dual meaning,
also known as a 'double entendré'. - Urban Dict.

"Tellingly, their new LP is titled ‘Innuendo’, (fnar, fnar)."
- Rage, 13 Feb. 1991

the worthless word for the day is: fnord

[neologism from the Principia Discordia popularized in the Illuminatus! trilogy]
1) a word held to be invisible to the conscious mind, but
subliminally causing a sense of angst when encountered
2) a word defined as having no definition
3) anything jarringly out of context (intentional or not)

not to be confused with fnard, P. K. Dick's nonsense word

"You will not panic. you will look at the fnord and see it.
You will not evade it or black it out. You will stay calm
and face it."
- Wilson & Shea, The Illuminatus! (1975)

"Now and then, Shea claimed, the word "fnord" will pop up
in a news story. You can't consciously see it, he says,
"but it's placed throughout the paper, and you notice it
only subconsciously. Every time you see a "fnord" you feel
fear, so that by the time you have finished reading the
paper you're in a state of chronic, low-grade emergency
paranoia. Keeping people in that state is one of the main
things the Illuminati do.""
- Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope, 1982

"I'll lower the fnard on her. She's young; she'll survive."
- P. K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)

the worthless word for the day is: absonous

[fr. L. absonus, discordant] now rare
1) unharmonious, dissonant
2) absurd; unreasonable

"They were a mendacious clan, and their testifications
were absonous, and devoid of comprobation."
- S. K. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant

"The poem closes on an absonous strain.."
- W. Morrisey, Culture in the Commerc. Republic (1996)

the worthless word for the day is: finity

[finite + –y, after infinity]
the state of being finite: finitude

"..stars, galaxies, dark matter, time-space, finity
itself: all subject to [the] same iron laws of decay
and death.”
- Tony Hendra, George Carlin: The Last Words (2009)

"The lesson boredom teaches according to Brodsky is
that of one's own insignificance, an insignificance
brought about by one's own finitude."
- Joseph Epstein, Commentary June, 2011

the worthless word for the day is: depauperate

[fr. L. pauper poor, impoverished]
obs. to render poor, impoverish

"..where the spissitude of population and the celsitude
of the means of the sustentation of vitality, necessitated
those who.. had become depauperated, to make an ingress
into the sylvan nooks of our untenanted domain."
- S. K. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant

the worthless word for the day is: swarf

[of Scand. origin, akin to ON svarf]
any fine waste produced by a machining operation

"The ground was soaked with oil and rainbow puddles
of diesel and littered with curled metal swarf and
where it was dry it glittered with shiny dust."
- Lee Child, Nothing to Lose (2008)

the worthless word for the day is: chillax

[blend of chill (out) + relax]
slang to relax, take it easy, calm down

"Although new to the world of teens, I know enough
to let the dude 'chillax' on the weekend and not ask
him to cut his hair because it might kill the 'flow'.."
- Molly Baker, Huffington Post 3/17/10

the worthless word for the day is: blutherbung

[East Lincolnshire] (also blutterbung)
obs. to break down in speech; to lose the thread of conversation, confound

"Even the words blutherbunged moozles, though we
may well imagine their significance, give us a far
truer insight into the psychology of peasant life
when we realise that they mean "a slow-witted
person who loses the thread of conversation"."
- Punch, Vol. 179 (1930)

the worthless word for the day is: nanometric

[fr. nanometer, after metric]
pertaining to a nanometer, which is a billionth
part of a meter (pretty small)

"The silence that followed this declaration,
while nanometric, was abrupt and revelatory."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue

the worthless word for the day is: homiletics

[fr. Gk homiletos, conversation]
pl. but sing. in construction
the art of preaching

"They were in her BMW on their way to pick up
the boys, KMEL playing some 120 bpm thumper,
girl singer, the usual combination of finger
crooking and sass homiletics."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue

the worthless word for the day is: seddity

[perh. fr. alt. of sedate]
(also saddity, siddity, seditty, etc.)
U.S., in African-Amer. usage

affecting white middle-class values, esp. characterized
by an air of superiority; conceited

"If you don't want to dance, we can just sit there at
the table, looking siditty by the lamplight."
- Toni Morrison, Jazz (1992)

"These seditty, high falutin' blacks were as determined
to segregate us from them as were whites."
- Slate Mag., 3 Sept. 2004

"It was all a long time ago," Flowers said, and in his
voice there was a nasal, seddity echo of Luther's
impersonation of [Flower's son].."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue

the worthless word for the day is: fulmination

[fr. L. fulminare, strike with lightning]
1) the bursting forth of thunder and lightning
2) the act of fulminating or exploding
3) a thunderous verbal attack

"Whenever his mother and her sisters gathered to
work hair and pronounce judgments in the kitchens
of Archy’s childhood, they had two favorite terms
of fulmination. The first thunderbolt they liked
to throw, reaching back like Zeus to grab it from
a bucket in the corner, was shameless."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue

the worthless word for the day is: perdurance

[fr. perdure < L. perdurare to endure, persist]
(also, perduration)
the state or quality of being everlasting:
permanence, persistence

"These and other recent incidents of religiously
inspired violence.. give powerful testimony, not
only to the perdurance and revival of centuries-old intra-religious conflicts.."
- Marty & Appleby, The Glory and the Power (1992)

"Only [her] long habit of taking the temperature of
her own racism, of her biases and stereotypes about
young black males (or about the ironhard perdurance
of their grandmothers) enabled [her] to set aside
(for the time being) her gut reaction--the boy was
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: selvage

[fr. M. Eng. selfegge]
1 a) the edge of a fabric that is woven so
that it will not fray or ravel
b) an edge (as of fabric or paper) meant
to be cut off and discarded
2) an outer or peripheral part: border, edge

"“Hey,” said Julie, twisting a finger in the
tattered selvage of his denim cutoffs until
the blood ceased to circulate in his fingertip."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: septenary

[fr. L. septenarius < septem, seven]

pertaining or relating to the number seven;
forming a group of seven

(see also septet, septemplicate, September, etc.)

"Steeled by a lifetime of training in the arts of
repression, like Spock battling the septenary
mating madness of the pon farr, Gwen had resisted
the urges and surges of estrogen and progesterone.."
- Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: rebarbative

[F. rébarbatif < rebarber, to be repellent]
repellent, irritating
"I can easily remember.. why I found him [Reagan]
so rebarbative at the time. There was, first, his
appallingly facile manner as a liar."
- Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22

the worthless word for the day is: doyen

[F., doyenne is the feminine form]
1) the eldest or senior member of a group
2) a person uniquely skilled by long experience
in some field of endeavor
3) something which is the best of its kind

"Through adjoining walls he can hear the voices of his colleagues, raised like his own: boisterous Frau Doktor Blankenheim, retired teacher, recent Buddhist convert and doyenne of the reading circle; pallid Herr Stettler, cyclist and erotomane; Michel Delarge from Alsace, unfrocked priest."
- John le Carré, Absolute Friends (2004)

"Some public figures not in holy orders, such as.. the doyen of espionage authors John LeCarré.."
- Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great (2008)

the worthless word for the day is: lunt

[fr. Dutch lont, a match]
chiefly Scot., archaic(?)
1) to smoke tobacco in (a pipe)
2) to set fire to : light up : kindle
hence, lunting (not to be confused with lant)
"He sat ever by the chimney corner and
lunted away on his cutty pipe."
- S. R. Crockett, The Raiders (1894)

the worthless word for the day is: circumambient

[fr. L. circumambire, to surround in a circle]
being on all sides: encompassing; surrounding

"More than this, though, the drama was inscribed
in the circumambient culture. Until I was about
thirteen, I thought all films and all television
programs were about the Second World War.."
- Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22 (2010)

the worthless word for the day is: thanatology

[fr. Gk thanatos, death + –logy]
the study of death and dying and of psychological
mechanisms for coping with it; hence, thanatologist

"The most disturbing issue that has arisen anew with thanatology is the problem of what to tell the terminal patient about his illness."
- New Scientist, 2 Mar. 1972

"He referred to himself as a "thanatologist."
- Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir (2010)

the worthless word for the day is: blellum 

Scot. a blabber

She tauld thee weel thou was a skellum,
A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum.
That frae November till October,
Ae market-day thou was na sober;

- Robt. Burns,
Tam o' Shanter (Poems & Songs, 1790)

the worthless word for the day is: fulminous

[fr. L. fulmen, a thunderbolt]
of or pertaining to thunder and lightning; also fig.

"Oh cataclysm of fulminous desire in the soul:
oh new uprising from the cataclysm. This is a
trick of resurrection worth two."
- D. H. Lawrence, Mr. Noon (1934)

"Trading arguments, then insults, the old men
worked themselves up into a fulminous rage."
- Alan Furst, The Polish Officer (2001)

the worthless word for the day is: hypercritical

[fr. hyper + critical < L. critic-us]
extremely or unduly critical; addicted to excessive
adverse criticism, esp. upon minute or trivial points

"It would have been hypercritical to have objected
to the shortness of the skirt."
- Mary Braddon, Eleanor's Victory (1863)

"CPAC invites comparison with a pessimistic and
hypercritical political environment of the past."
- Athens Banner-Herald, March 6, 2013

the worthless word for the day is: corpocracy

[blend of corporate + bureaucracy]
1) a corporate bureaucracy, esp. one characterized by
ineffective management
also, 2) a society where the interests of large corporations
inform economic and political decisions

"This nation is rapidly heading into the shoals of
corpocracy and our ideals of economic equality under
democratic opportunity being eclipsed by corporation
- Daily News (Port Angeles, Washington), 19 Sept 1975

"Like many of this dying corpocracy's purebloods, he
clung to the belief that hard work and a blemishless
record were enough to achieve status.."
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: reniflement

[F., a sniff]
a sniff; sniffling

"They shook hands, shared a brief reniflement-the
term came from the world of dogs, where it meant
a mutual sniff on first meeting-then settled back
down at the table."
- Alan Furst, The World at Night (1996)

the worthless word for the day is: innumerate

[after such pairs as illiterate : illiteracy]
marked by ignorance of mathematics and the scientific
approach: mathematical illiteracy; hence innumeracy

"But that's just it: it's the only way to describe
what's happened to me. I am now innumerate; I can't
conjure the equations.."
- Brian Lumley, Deadspeak (2001)

the worthless word for the day is: momser

[fr. Hebrew mamzer]
1) a child who is born out of wedlock; a bastard
2) slang a contemptible person, a jerk

"I don't want to leave, we made a life here. But
if these momsers do here what they did in Poland..."
- Alan Furst, The World at Night (1996)

the worthless word for the day is: jeopard

[back-formation < jeopardy]
to put in jeopardy; to hazard, risk, imperil

"And when they heard of his adventures, they
marvelled that he would jeopard his person so,
- Sir Th. Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur (ca. 1470)

the worthless word for the day is: spondulics

[origin uncertain] (also spondulicks, spondulix)
U.S. slang  money, cash

"The days when I had that kind of spondulics at my
beck and call are gone, gone, gone! Our house is
mortgaged, twice over!"
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: boke

[ME bolken; related to belch] (also boak)
Scot.  to retch or vomit

"The smell the eight of us, two long baskets
of live guinea fowl and a small bag of dried
fish managed to generate would have made a
hyena boke."
- Rbt. Wilson, Instruments of Darkness (1995)

the worthless word for the day is: spalling

[origin uncertain]
splitting or chipping off

"But at the western end of the block were three
old piles, all in a row. Narrow. single-front.
fivestory brick. weathered. peeling. spalling.
stained. somewhat decrepit."
- Lee Child, Gone Tomorrow (2009)

the worthless word for the day is: pong

[origin uncertain]
UK a strong smell, usually unpleasant; a stink

"Smelling the cinnamon nighttime pong of snap-
dragons and efficient whiffs of swimming pool
- Douglas Copeland, Generation X (1991)

"Moved compartments because mine smelt
unpleasant, but all compartments had the
same pong."
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: riotocracy

[riot + -ocracy, rule]
violent or disorderly rule

"Nay, it was no democracy at all, but a permanent
Riotocracy, which gloried in having no law but
- H. Melville, The Encantadas.. (1854)

"I snatched my diary & clattered downstairs to a
riotocracy of merriment & ridicule from the White
savages there gathered."
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)

the worthless word for the day is: dimmening

[fr. dimmen, to grow dim (rare)]
rare growing dim

"I watched her dimmening figure waver away
through the twilight, over the bridge, and
disappear, slipping like a shadow through
a gap between two worlds, hers and mine."
- John Banville, Ancient Light

the worthless word for the day is: streel

chiefly Irish
an untidy, slovenly person; esp. a woman: slattern
also figurative (see JB quote)

“She did look a streel tugging the two kids along
with the flimsy blouse.. like a rag on her back and
a bit of her petticoat hanging like a caricature.”
- James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

"In the little gravelled square where the Grays
lived the cherry trees were shivering in the wind
and sinuous streels of cherry blossom were rolling
along the pavements like so many pale-pink feather
- John Banville, Ancient Light (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: eggcorn

[sounds like acorn]
a word which is changed into another which is
either said the same or is closely similar and
which seems to make at least as much sense in
context as the original (see also mondegreen)


"There are hundreds of eggcorns. Jeanette Winterson
wrote in the Times in 2006 about a repairman who
told her that her washing machine had given up the
goat (and who had invented a wondrous story to
explain it about farmers passing on their livestock
to their heirs when they died)."
- worldwidewords [see the link]

(thanx to John McGaw for the suggestion)

the worthless word for the day is: trull

[of uncertain origin]
a female prostitute

"Not even my youth, ever more vigorous, or the portents and perils of Flanders, or the nearness of the army of vivandières and trulls who followed the soldiers, or the Flemish women themselves.. could make me forget [her]."
- Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Sun Over Breda (2007)

bonus word: vivandière
a woman who formerly followed an army or maintained a
store on an army post to sell provisions to the soldiers
(F., masc. vivandier, sutler)

the worthless word for the day is: uxorial

[fr. L. uxori-us < uxor, wife]
1) of or pertaining to a wife
2) excessively fond of or submissive to a wife: uxorious

"I had not seen her dressed so formally before, so rigidly, all interestingly pinned and pent, and I sat surveying her with an impudent and, it might almost be, an uxorial sense of possession."
- John Banville, Ancient Light (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: fakeloo

[arbitrary formation?]
dated U.S. slang (but now used by gamers)
a made-up story; a con

"A fakeloo artist, a hoopla spreader, and a lad
who had his cards rolled up inside sticks of tea,
found on a dead man."
- Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (1940)

the worthless word for the day is: concumbence

[fr. L. concumbere, to lie together]
obs. a lying together

"Of her coming to my room, of our chaste concumbence,
of her tears and her subsequent abrupt and violent exit, we did not speak."
- John Banville, Ancient Light (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: necessitous

[fr. necessity + -ous, after F. nécessiteux]
1) needy, destitute
2) urgent, pressing
3) necessary

"He walks toward remote dawn in the empty city,
Facing the cold draft, fish-smell from the river,
Necessitous of love."
- R. Fitzgerald, Wreath for Sea (1943)

"Something in me had been struck, though, by the
look of that sagging roof among the trees, and I
went back the very next day, led by love the
necessitous and ever-practical..."
- John Banville, Ancient Light (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: guffin

[of unknown origin]
Brit. dial. and slang a stupid, clumsy person

"Augustus Fink-Nottle was Nature’s final word in
cloth-headed guffins..."
- P. G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves

the worthless word for the day is: goop

[arbitrary formation]
slang (orig. U.S.) a stupid or fatuous person

"My first emotion.. had been a gentle pity for
the unfortunate goop slated to step up the aisle
with her."
- P. G. Wodehouse, Joy in the Morning (1947)

the worthless word for the day is: dissentient

[fr. L. dissentire, to dissent]
disagreeing, esp. with a majority

“"One and all admitted that I had got hold of
a good thing. Not a dissentient voice."”
- P. G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves (1922)

the worthless word for the day is: omnishambles 

[omni-, all + shambles]
Brit. a situation that has been comprehensively
mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations; a complete screw-up in all areas

"'Omnishambles' is the word they are using in Downing
Street these days to describe the series of self- inflicted political disasters that have engulfed the prime minister, David Cameron, and his coalition government."
- Independent, Dec. 07 2012

"Today Oxford University Press announces omnishambles
as Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012. Originally used in the British political comedy television series The Thick of It, omnishambles has gained momentum throughout 2012 as a word used to describe a comprehensively mismanaged situation, characterized by a shambolic string of blunders."
- OxfordWords blog, 13 Nov. 2012

the worthless word for the day is: solatium

[L. solatium]
a sum of money, or other compensation, given to
a person to make up for loss or inconvenience

"A month later, when the reports were finalized
and guilt apportioned, solatium payments were
made to the families of those killed and maimed —
twenty dollars for each wounded villager; thirty-
three dollars and ninety cents for each death.
Certain blood for uncertain reasons."
- Tim O'Brien, If I Die in a Combat Zone (1975)

the worthless word for the day is: strack

Vietnam War era slang straight and by the book

""Here, let me get that dandruff, it's all over your
collar... there, now you're a strack trooper, just
button up your pocket.""
- Tim O'Brien, If I Die in a Combat Zone (1975)

the worthless word for the day is: geophagous

[fr. geo-, of earth + -phagia, eating]

"The Brothers were severely censured for encouraging
geophagous inclinations among the local nobility,
whose ladies they had inspirited with a craving for
the taste of the local earth, as seasoning, or a
dish in itself: it was, after all, Spanish earth."
- William Gaddis, The Recognitions

the worthless word for the day is: schnozzling

[fr. snozzle < Yiddish shnoitsl, diminutive
of shnoits, snout + -ing]

"..a Captain of Industry caught in the act
of schnozzling a sort of teenage dairymaid
by his side."
- Alan Furst, Dark Star (1991)

the worthless word for the day is: fainaigue

[origin uncertain] /fuh NEYG/
1) Brit. dialect to shirk; evade work or responsibility
2) to renege at cards; cheat or resort to devious means
(cf. finagle)

"..some fainaiguing had been necessary at.. customs,
confirming it a fake to get it out of the country.."
- William Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955)

the worthless word for the day is: mithridatism

[after Mithridates VI, who is said to have acquired
tolerance for poison]
tolerance or immunity to a poison acquired by
taking gradually larger doses of it

"He was called back to the Seminary for a refresher
course, and it was at that time that he developed a
taste for schnapps, and started the course of
mithridatism which was to serve him so well in his
later years."
- William Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955)

“As it is, one has to read through it to find the
good stuff, which is not a thrilling prospect,
notwithstanding the fact that much worthwhile
material is here, though one should take it in
small quantities: mithridatism The act of taking
poison in increasing doses as a means of building
an immunity to it, as in the case of people who
start out with talk shows and gradually work their
way up to situation comedies.”
- Verbatim, Vol XI No 2

the worthless word for the day is: knouted

[fr. Russ. knut]
past tense of knout, to flog with a knout

"So it says in your file. But then, both my parents were knouted to death by the White Guard."
- Alan Furst, Night Soldiers (1988)

"He was tried, knouted, and his nostrils having been torn off.. he was sent to hard labor in Siberia."
- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (tr. 1956)

the worthless word for the day is: sublunary

[fr. Late Latin sublunaris]
of, relating to, or characteristic of the
terrestrial world
<dull sublunary lovers — John Donne>

"But my uncle, who never thought even of such
sublunary matters, knew nothing of this."
- Jules Verne, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1871)

the worthless word for the day is: vengeant

[fr. Anglo-Norman vengant < venger, to avenge]
archaic avenging

"They did it in the attic, where the May Day portraits
of Lenin, colossal things colored a vengeant Soviet
red, were folded and stored."
- Alan Furst, Night Soldiers (1988)

the worthless word for the day is: tweeker

[fr. UK tweak, crack cocaine?]
U.S. street slang (also tweaker)

A methamphetamine user. Tweekers are known for
their extreme paranoia, flagrant dishonesty, and
lack of non-tweeker friends. A tweeker will steal
your stuff and then help you look for it.

- Urban Dictionary

"The tweeker was right there, with a.. chromed
revolver shaking like a leaf, three feet from
Lucas's eyes. The hole of the muzzle large as the
moon, and the man was saying, "Gimme the money
gimme the money gimme the money..."
- John Sandford, Stolen Prey (2012)

the worthless word for the day is: autochthonously

[fr. classical L. autocthon + -ous + -ly]
indigenously; in the place where it originated

"Other masochistic practices seem to have developed more autochthonously."
- M. P. Carroll, Madonnas that Maim (1992)

"One can intuit from these that thought originates
autochthonously (solipsistically) as an imaginative
- James Grotstein, A Beam of Intense Darkness (2007)

the worthless word for the day is: shemozzle

[perhaps fr. Yiddish shlimazl, "misfortune”]
(var. spellings, as usual with Yiddish anglification)
slang : a muddle or complication; a quarrel, row,
rumpus, mêlée

"There was something of a schemozzle last night
but we weren't in that."
- E. Waugh. Officers and Gentlemen (1955)

"They had a minute to come up with a plan. A
shemozzle of thoughts."
- Markus Zusak, The Book Thief (2005)

the worthless word for the day is: uroboros

[fr. Gk ouroboros]
the symbol, usu. in the form of a circle, of a snake (or dragon) eating its own tail

"The ouroboros, the snake with his tail in his mouth, is the prototype of the vicious circle.."
- Hughes and Brecht, Vicious Circles & Infinity (1975)

"The hoop snake may be related to the uroboros, a symbol of eternity and cosmic unity in Greek and Egyptian art."
- Orson Scott Card, et. al., The Writer's Digest Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy (2010)

the worthless word for the day is: vespertine

[fr. L. vesper, evening]
relating to, or occurring in the evening

"Whether they are matinal or vespertine,
crepuscular animals are responding primarily
to selection pressure.”
- Jim Chen, Jurisdynamics (a blog) Nov. 19, 2006

NB: matinal - pertaining to the morning;
see also matutinal

the worthless word for the day is: bedenim

[be-: to make, cover, etc. + denim]
covered in denim; e.g., wearing blue jeans
"The woman - no more than a girl really, seventeen,
eighteen - hit the bedenimed man with a good right
hand, sending him spinning."
- Ian Rankin, Tooth and Nail (2008)

(I admit to being puzzled by this on first reading..)

the worthless word for the day is: dizen

[fr. earlier disen, to dress a distaff with flax]
archaic to attire or array with finery, to deck out,
adorn: bedizen; also fig.

"'Tis the vulgar great who come dizened with gold and
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Work & Days (1870)

"Herb and tree Which dizen thy [Earth's] mother-breast."
- Robert Browning, Reverie (1889)

the worthless word for the day is: luculent

[fr. L. luculentus < lux, light]
clear in thought or expression: lucid

"Cleombrotus Ambraciotes persuaded I know not
how many hundreds of his auditors, by a luculent
oration he made of the miseries of this, and
happiness of that other life.."
- Robert Burton, The Anat. of Melancholy

the worthless word for the day is: dehort

[fr. L. dehortari, to dissuade]
now rare to (attempt to) dissuade

"If they see a man melancholy given, solitary, averse
from company, please himself with such private and
vain meditations, though he delight in it, they ought
by all means to seek to divert him, to dehort him, to
tell him of the event and danger that may come of it."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1628)

the worthless word for the day is: poltroon

[Middle F. poultron, fr, Old It. poltrone]
an abject coward

"The Germans, having previously regarded their Italian
allies as mere poltroons, now viewed them as traitors."
- Max Hastings, Inferno (2011)

the worthless word for the day is: kidon

[Hebrew, bayonet or ‘tip of the spear’]
an assassin (of the Mossad)

"At Mossad he became a very effective kidon, or in
the common parlance of the business, an assassin."
- Vince Flynn, Executive Power (2003)

the worthless word for the day is: keech

[origin obscure]
obs. exc. dial a lump of congealed fat

Why, thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool,
thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-keech..

- Shakespeare, King Henry IV (ca. 1597)

"'The polis'll probably be oot lookin' for us.'
'Man, we need tae get oot o' here.'
Murph stood up and began walking towards the rear
of the truck, the beam of his torch pointing the way.
'Where ye gaun?'
'There' a wee hole in that shutter. I'm gaunny have a keek through it.'
'You'll never get your arse up that high.'
'Very good. I says a keek, no' a keech.'
'I know.'"
- Chris Brookmyre, A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away (2011)

(thanx to John McGaw)

the worthless word for the day is: funge

[fr. L fungus] obs.
1) a mushroom or fungus
2) a soft-headed person

"When as indeed, in all wise men’s judgments..
they are mad, empty vessels, funges, beside
- Robert Burton, The Anat. of Melancholy

the worthless word for the day is: stupend

[fr. L. stupend-us]
stupendous; hence, stupendly
(see also tremend, horrend)

"It is stupend to relate what strange effects this
idolatry and superstition hath brought forth of the
latter years in the Indies and those bordering parts.."
- Robert Burton, The Anat. of Melancholy

"The Britons are so stupendly superstitious in their
ceremonies, that they go beyond those Persians."
- ibid.

(much favored by Burton, now obs. in serious use)

the worthless word for the day is: hagriding

[hag + ride, cf. hagridden]
archaic tormenting

"Mechanical, intellectual acceptance of that which
a genuine organism — with two billion years of the
pressure to live and evolve hagriding it — could
never have reconciled itself to. “I can't stand
the way you androids give up,” he said savagely."
- Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream.. (1968)

the worthless word for the day is: moreish

[more + -ish] Brit. colloq.
of food or drink: that makes one want to have more

"An intense, chewy pint which is surprisingly
refreshing and moreish."
- J. Preece, Good Beer Guide (1999)

"The velvety delights of the parfait caressed the
palate, and we were provided with more of the
moreish brioche when we asked for it."
- North Devon Journal June 14, 2012

(thanx to Fr Steve)

the worthless word for the day is: pleather

[blend of plastic + leather]
faux leather, usually of polyurethane
compare naugahyde

"Coach Cox came into the room, took a [diet cola]
from the fridge, and plunked down in his pleather
desk chair."
- Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding (2011)

the worthless word for the day is: rodentially

in the manner of rodents

"Shreds of cloud blew past the setting sun, causing
shadows to scurry rodentially over the grass."
- Chad Garbach, The Art of Fielding (2011)

"Move Splitbar Sets the focus on the split bar
between the two window panes — for the rodentially
challenged, I guess, since you can also just point
to it and drag!"
- Mitch Tulloch, Microsoft exchange server in a

the worthless word for the day is: despiteous

/dis PIT ee us/ also, dispiteous
archaic despiteful; malicious; cruel

"'What a renegade. What a dispiteous, low-class
self-serving, power-hungry, ambitious, unprincipled
renegade. He ought to go down in the history books
with that statement about him.. Jot that down.. I’ll
have that put in the next edition of the Britannica,
just like I said it. Word for word.’"
- Philip K. Dick, Our Friends from Frolix 8

the worthless word for the day is: blurfled

nonce-wd intoxicated

"’I know a place where we can get some alcohol,’ she
said. ‘Let’s go there; then we can really get blurfled.’
‘No,’ he said. ‘I’m blurfled enough now.’"
- Philip K. Dick, Our Friends from Frolix 8 (1970)

(because there just don’t seem to be enough words
for sozzled, spifflicated, or whiffled..) ___

TH, a faithful reader, notes: Personally, I prefer "overserved."

the worthless word for the day is: paraprosdokian

[fr. Gk para prosdokian, contrary to expectations]
/par ah proze DOKE ian/
a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or
phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the
reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part as in,
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

(thanx to Cécile)

"It is long since I have sat at the feet of this minstrel; and I quote from memory; but I think another verse of the same poem thus illustrated the same paraprosdokian, or concluding jerk of disappointment.."
- G.K. Chesterton, On Bad Poetry  (1931 essay)

the worthless word for the day is: smug

[perhaps back-formation fr. smuggling]
to steal, filch, run away with

"What did that mean about the smugging in the square?
Why did the five fellows out of the higher line run
away for that? It was a joke, he thought."
- James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist.. (1916)

the worthless word for the day is: theolepsy

[fr. Gk theolepsis]
rare seizure or possession by a god; inspiration

"Perhaps ancient accounts of theolepsy - possession
by a god, such as Dionysos or Apollo - described the
identical event."
- Philip K. Dick, Radio Free Albemuth (1985)

see also, diabolepsy - possession by a devil; insanity

"..they prove that in the extremest ecstasies there is
neither theolepsy nor diabolepsy, nor any other lepsy
in the sense of possession of the individual by an
external power."
- Henry Maudsley,
Nat. Causes & Supernat. Seemings (1886)

the worthless word for the day is: maleficiate(d)

[fr. L. maleficiare]
obs. bewitched

"A third dares not venture to walk alone, for fear he
should meet the devil, a thief, be sick; fears all old
women as witches, and every black dog or cat he sees
he suspecteth to be a devil, every person comes near
him is maleficiated, every creature, all intend to
hurt him, seek his ruin.."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

the worthless word for the day is: insuavity

[fr. L. insuavitas < in- + suavis, sweet]
rare unpleasantness; surliness

"All fears, griefs, suspicions, discontents, imbonities,
insuavaties, are swallowed up & drowned in this.. Irish
Sea, this Ocean of misery, as so many small brooks.."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy

"It partly explained the insuavity with which the woman
greeted him."
- Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native (1878)

the worthless word for the day is: gaydar

[portmanteau of gay + radar]
slang the supposed ability to discern whether
a person is homosexual, at a glance

"She's gay? Bi? How come my gaydar hadn't picked
up on it?"
- Margaret Cruikshank (ed.), The Lesbian Path (1981)

the worthless word for the day is: prognathous

[pro- + Gk gnathos]
of jaws or a lower jaw: prominent, protruding

"But he cuts no ice. If your business is big, you
get behind him and find a prognathous Westphalian
with a retreating brow and the manners of a hog."
- John Buchan, The Thirty-nine Steps (1915)

the worthless word for the day is: fucate

[fr. L. fucare, to paint, rouge]
obs. painted; hence, falsified, disguised, counterfeit

"..virtue and honesty are great motives.. especially if
they be sincere and right, not fucate.."
- Robert Burton, Anat. of Melancholy

the worthless word for the day is: sockdologizing

[sockdolager + -izing]
nonce-wd sensationalizing (?)

""Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well,
I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old
gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap.""
- Tom Taylor, Our American Cousin (1858)

"He can hear the players down below, knowing that
in a few short lines Harry Hawk's character Asa
Trenchard will be alone, delivering his
“sockdologizing old man-trap” line. That line is Booth's cue — and just ten seconds away."
- Bill O’Reilly, Killing Lincoln (2011)

(thanx to Cécile)

the worthless word for the day is: elbedritsch 

[Penn. G.] |EL buh drich| (cf. snipe hunt)
an imaginary creature which, as a practical joke,
a greenhorn is sent to hunt or capture
{DARE - Dictionary of American Regional English}

"Incidentally, among the Pennsylvania Dutch the
hoax is known as elbedritsch, and there may be
other names for it in other parts of the country."
- Charles Earle Funk, Heavens to Betsy (1986)

the worthless word for the day is: hangashore

[hang + ashore] Newf. dial. a lazy person (a fisherman who doesn't fish)

"..storm journeys to fetch medicines — always the wrong thing and too late for the convulsing hangashore."
- Annie Proulx, The Shipping News ""You sounds like a hangashore, Luke, tossing a squall into his boat so's he won't have to go to sea today."" - Donna Morrissey, Downhill Chance (2002)

the worthless word for the day is: scurrifunging

[a word of jocular formation] (cf. scurryfunge)
Newf. dial. a brisk and thorough cleaning

""Needs a good scurrifunging. What mother always
said." Now she roved the rooms, turned over
pictures that spit broken glass."
- Annie Proulx, The Shipping News (1993)

"Though Proulx's use of such an awkward and
arcane phrase gives proof to Pierson's assertion
that there "is something a little stannous about
Proulx's ear, "scurrifunging" is an appropriate
term to describe that which truly saves Quoyle.
defined in the Dictionary of Newfoundland
as a "thorough cleaning."
- Alex Hunt, The geographical imagination of
Annie Proulx

NB: stannous = tinny!

the worthless word for the day is: paleomnesia

[fr. Gk paleo-, ancient + -mnesia, condition of
memory] a good memory of events of the distant past

an interesting word, but it doesn't seem to have
ever been used for much of anything..

"Not all of Mrs. Byrne's offerings are addlepating
esoteria; some are refreshingly useful, like
paleomnesia, "happy memories from events far in
the past," and euneirophenia, "peace of mind after
a pleasant dream."
- Christi M. Smith, Verbibore's Feast

the worthless word for the day is: herpetological

[fr. Gk herpeto, a creeping thing]
of or relating to the study of reptiles and amphibians

"Well, Gus was really more of a nautical man, a very
nice man but not exactly what you'd call educated
when it came to herpetological sports."
- Karen Russell, Swamplandia!

the worthless word for the day is: fatidic

[fr. L. fatidicus < fatum, fate + dicere, to say]
of or relating to prophecy

"Auntie Kapur tapped a steady beat on a miniature
ceremonial drum - which some called a zzxjoanw -
while making fatidic statements about amorous
goddesses and other superstitious nonsense."
- David Brin, Earth (1990)

"If you put the fan on high in his bedroom these
little powder blue cards with funny words on them
flew everywhere: FATIDIC [adj], OPPROBRIUM [n]. My brother always had a pack of study cards with him."
- Karen Russell, Swamplandia! (2011)

(see zzxjoanw, the ultimate word in the wwftd word list, for grins)
the worthless word for the day is: iracundulous

[fr. L. iracundus, inclined to anger] cf. iracund
nonce-wd irascible; passionate

"Love is.. one of the most.. Iracundulous and
Lyrical of all human passions..."
- Laurence Sterne,
The Life.. of Tristam Shandy (1765)
the worthless word for the day is: grumbletonian

[fr. grumble, after Grindletonian (a British sect)]
a discontented person; a grumbler

"Father-in-law has been calling me whelp, and hound,
this half year. Now if I pleased, I could be so
revenged upon the old grumbletonian."
- Oliver Goldsmith, She stoops to Conquer (1773)

"Don't fill your conversation with complaints and
criticism. No one wants to hang out with a
- Brett and Kate McKay, The Art of Manliness (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: delator

[L. informer, accuser]
an informer, a secret or professional accuser

"A formidable army of sycophants and delators
invaded Africa.."
- Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (v.1, 1776)
the worthless word for the day is: canaille

[F., fr. It. canaglia, pack of dogs, rabble < L. canis]
1) the proletariat; the masses
2) rabble; riffraff

"It is the educated, the intelligent, the wealthy, the
refined, who ought to have equal rights, and not the
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)

(thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: taphonomy

[fr. Gk taphe, burial + -nomy] /tuh FON uh me/
the study of the processes that affect animal and
plant remains as they become fossilized; also,
the processes themselves; hence, taphonomic

"TV crime-scene forensics series present taphonomic
adventures week after week, teasing out the likely
when, where, and how of one or another winsome
- The Guardian, 13 February 2012
the worthless word for the day is: corposant

[fr. L. corpus sanctum, holy body]
the sailors' name for St. Elmo's fire (also corpusant) St. Elmo's Fire

"The parted mouth of Tashtego revealed his shark-white
teeth, which strangely gleamed as if they too had been
tipped by corpusants"
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

(thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: decorticate [fr. L. decorticare, to remove the bark from] 1) to remove the bark or outer layer; peel 2) to remove the outer layer or covering (of an organ or structure) "He said he'd once used the device to partially decorticate a meth dealer who'd been bothering Mr. Aaron." - Carl Hiassen, Star Island (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: tumular

[cf. tumulus]
consisting of a mound or tumulus;
having the shape of a tumulus

"He attacked the tumular drift, digging fast."
- Tim O'Brien, Northern Lights (1975)

the worthless word for the day is: pungle [fr. Sp pongale, put it down] /PUN gul/ to make a payment or contribution (of money) ""All right. I'll ask him; and I'll make him pungle, too, or I'll know the reason why. Say, how much you got in your pocket?"" - Mark Twain, The Adv. of Huckleberry Finn (1884) (thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: grotendous [portmanteau (coined by Neal Stephenson)] neologism grotesque, horrendous hence, grotendously "She has this image in her mind that he's going to be like the wrestling coach at the high school. That would be so grotendous. Anyway this [Mom's Truck Stop] is where she is supposed to meet him." - Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (1992) "What's weird to me is how the collective output of all that great work by great people produces such lousy outcomes -- DRM-crippled OSes like Vista, stupid products like the Zune, grotendously complex apps like Office.." - Cory Doctorow, boingboing.net you can now say there are four words ending in 'endous'
the worthless word for the day is: inscient here's one of those opposite thingnames*, brought about by the duplicity of the in- prefix [in- + L. scire, to know] 1) now rare lacking knowledge; nescient, ignorant 2) rare having inward knowledge or insight *Janus word, contronym, or enantiodrome "In the thirties the Oxford mind was inscient." - The Speaker, 10 Dec. 1898 Gaze on, with inscient vision toward the sun, And, from his visceral heat, pluck out the roots Of light beyond him. - E.B. Browning, Aurora Leigh (1856)
the worthless word for the day is: geocaching [blend of geo + cache] a type of scavenger hunt in which participants are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items, which they then locate using GPS navigation hence, geocacher "Geocaching is a new Web-based fad that could have Alaskans flying to Finland to find treasure hidden under fallen trees. Players stash the goods -- any- thing from native art to sunglasses -- and leave directions at geocaching.com." - Time, Oct. 2000 "..these RVers had apparently decided to get a jump on the tourist season and be the first geocachers of the year to make it to the sites in question." - Neal Stephenson, REAMDE (2011)
the worthless word for the day is: frenemy [blend of friend and enemy] someone with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; someone who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy "Howz about calling the Russians our Frienemies?" - Walter Winchell, Nevada State Jrnl 19 May, 1953 "Once she'd sat down, she realized that she had sort of ducked past the mirror without looking at it, as if her own reflection were a deeply estranged frenemy with whom she could not possibly make eye contact." - Neal Stephenson, REAMDE
the worthless word for the day is: septentrion [fr. L. septentriones, the seven stars of Ursa Major] obs. the northern regions, the north "Among them he had acquired a sort of shamanistic aura and become the high priest of a breakaway faction calling itself the Septentrion Paladins to distinguish themselves from their predominantly Californian parent group." - Neal Stephenson, REAMDE (2011)
the worthless word for the day is: collogue [of obscure origin] /kuh LAUG/ 1) obs. to deal flatteringly or deceitfully 2) dialect to intrigue, conspire 3) to talk privately: confer "Illiterate scribblers, that write as parasites to flatter and collogue with some great man." - R. Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) "And how long have you been so thick with Dunsey that you must collogue with him to embezzle my money?" - G. Eliot, Silas Marner (1861) "They wagged their old heads sadly when they collogued in clubs." - Wm Thackeray, The adventures of Philip.. (1862)
the worthless word for the day is: morosis [NL] idiocy; fatuity; stupidity the highest grade of feeble-mindedness - Stedman's Medical Dictionary "Joseph, in his infinite morosis, felt not uplifted, but experienced a strange few moments.. of malnoia." - Chris WunderLee, Moore's Mythopoeia ___ NB: Christopher graciously sent me a copy of this, his latest book, and wrote on the dedication page: What you hold in your hands may be quisquilious - even rebarbative; however, I believe you may be one of the few who appreciate the jocoserious omphaloskepsis of it.
the worthless word for the day is: asterism [Gk asterismos] a group or cluster of stars; a constellation "Cepheus was one of the old forty-eight asterisms." - Edwin Dunkin, The Midnight Sky (1869) "Two of the best known star groups are the constellation Orion and the asterism (a star group that's not an official constellation) called the the Summer Triangle." - Gettysburg Times, Nov. 21, 2011
the worthless word for the day is: paracme [fr. Gk parakma, to be past the prime] the point at which the prime is past (and decline has set in) "A real population, for example, may go into a permanent decline (paracme)." - Annals of the Assoc. of Amer. Geog. (1991) "She had been shoving him off the bridge for years now, he whose entire life was statically caught at the paracme." - Christopher WunderLee, Moore's Mythopoeia (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: pantophagy [Gk pantophagia, indiscriminate eating] the eating of all kinds or a great variety of food "The patron saint of pantophagy was Frank Buckland.. Buckland's chief hobby was eating his way through as much of the natural world as possible." - The Guardian, 27 Apr. 1991 "Among solutions suggested so far, one of the more ingenious is pantophagy - the eating of anything." - New York Magazine, Sep. 28, 1992
the worthless word for the day is: abydocomist [fr. Gk abudokomes, after the town Abydos, whose inhabi- tants were known for inventing slanders and boasting of them] /ab ee duh CO mist/ a liar who boasts of his or her falsehoods "There were lots of abydocomists working the phones at the underground telemarketing firm, but none could top Neville, who would cheerfully swindle a widowed grand- mother out of her annuity fund and then climb atop his desk and trumpet, 'I am the king of the lying worms!'" - Peter Novobatzky & Ammon Shea, Insulting English
the worthless word for the day is: strabismus [Gk strabismos, act or condition of squinting] /struh BIZ mus inability of one eye to attain binocular vision with the other because of imbalance of the extrinsic eye muscles -- called also manifest strabismus, or squint There once was a man from the Isthmus who suffered from horrid strabismus. On his doctor's advice he had to look twice at his daybook to know it was Christmas. - Fr Steve (Nov. 2011) (thanx to Fr Steve)
the worthless word for the day is: whiffler [fr. obs. wifle, battle-ax] Brit. one that clears the way for a procession "If Democritus were alive now, he should see strange alterations, a new company of counterfeit vizards, whifflers,.. maskers, mummers, painted puppets,.. gulls, monsters, giddy-heads, butterflies." - Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
the worthless word for the day is: exornation [fr. L. exornare < ornare, to adorn] obs., chiefly Rhet. an adornment; decoration, embellishment (nothing whatsoever to do with an exclusive or) "This love is the cause of all good conceits, neatness, exornations, plays, elegancies, delights, pleasant expressions, sweet motions, and gestures, joys, comforts, exultancies, and all the sweetness of our life.." - Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)
the worthless word for the day is: knobkerrie [Afrikaans knopkierie] a short wooden club with a knob at one end used as a missile or in close attack, especially in southern Africa "[D]own in Herefordshire, apparently, something in the nature of a knobkerrie is de rigueur." - P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on, Jeeves
the worthless word for the day is: parasang [Latin parasanga < Gk parasanges, of Iranian origin] an ancient Persian unit of distance; about four miles (or 6 kilometers) "The Paddock, Beckley-on-the-Moor, was about a couple of parasangs from the village, and I set out for it next morning, after partaking of a hearty breakfast at the local inn, practically without a tremor." - P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on, Jeeves
the worthless word for the day is: espièglerie [F. fr. espiègle] /es pyeg luh REE/ the quality or state of being roguish or frolicsome "[T]here's something about Paris that always makes me feel fairly full of espieglerie and joie de vivre." - P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on, Jeeves (1925)
the worthless word for the day is: gezorgenplatz nonsense word a random thingname (various spellings) "Even if he started out okay, sooner or later you'd get a line that read, "To be or not to be, that is the gezorgenplatz."" - Lawrence Block, Hit and Run (2008) "Hey Harry, I think this one has got something - 'To be or not to be, that is the gazorninplat.'" - Bob Newhart, An Infinite Number of Monkeys (ca. 1960) --- Steve Anderson writes, "You're spelling it wrong; it's "Gzornmplatz". You've been listening to too much "Hooked on Phonics." - so there you go, Steve, now your spelling will get a Google hit! ---
the worthless word for the day is: hinky [of uncertain origin] US informal 1) dishonest or suspect : he knew the guy was hinky 2) unreliable : my brakes are a little hinky "'There are certain precautions that are automatic, and yes, it felt a little hinky, but it was my last job and it was going to feel that way no matter what.'" - Lawrence Block, Hit and Run (2008) "'He says their arrest pattern is maybe a little hinky for the past few months, like maybe these guys aren't making the arrests that they should be, and are making a lot of arrests that they shouldn't.'" - Robert Crais, Free Fall (1994)
the worthless word for the day is: anozinize neologism (see quote) to interdict or obstruct "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!" - Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park and servants of the dark lord Xenu) [via the Huffington Press Oct. 23, 2011] http://tinyurl.com/6hkdamn (thanx to JMH)
the worthless word for the day is: haka [Maori] /HA kuh/ a Maori ceremonial war dance involving chanting, a version of which is performed by New Zealand rugby teams before a match "Fining France for their response to New Zealand's traditional challenge in the World Cup final is a bizarre reaction and highlights the curious sensitivity that surrounds the haka." - The Guardian, 25 October 2011
the worthless word for the day is: herpetical [fr. Gk herpein, to creep] /her PED ik al/ 1) of the nature of herpes 2) rare related to serpents "A pruriginous, herpetical and incurable eruption of pustules." - Archibald Campbell, Lexiphanes (1767) "Still Grossman lived on, in his heated cage, escaping regularly, by means of various herpetical stratagems, to prey on Irene's ragged tribe of chickens and to leave incredibly foul smelling sculptures of snake dung in artistic locations all over the house" - Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys (1995)
the worthless word for the day is: equipoise [fr. the phrase equal poise] 1) a state of equilibrium 2) a counterbalance "The adventure of meeting Gallaher after eight years.. upset the equipoise of his sensitive nature." - James Joyce, Dubliners (1914) "He reached an instant of bodily equipoise, during which the rapture of his survival to breathe and be burned by the wind perfectly balanced the agony of his exposure to it." - Michael Chabon, ..Kavalier & Clay (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: bibliopole [fr. L. bibliopola, bookseller < Gk bibliopoles] a dealer esp. in rare or curious books "Surprise! The bibliopole with an economic interest in selling the book says it is a good one." - Fr Steve, Oct. 19, 2011 (thanx to Fr Steve)
the worthless word for the day is: deinotherian [fr. L. Deinotherium, a genus of prehistoric mammals related to but often larger than the elephants] fig. uncommonly large: elephantine "Sara hadn't the faintest idea of how she looked, or of what effect her deinotherian body might have on a man." - Michael Chabon, op cit
the worthless word for the day is: deckled [G. deckel] having a rough edge; used of handmade paper or paper resembling handmade (so that's what that's called) "I turned the deckled pages of the book Albert Vetch hadn't lived to hold." - Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys (1995)
the worthless word for the day is: hoick [prob. alt. of hike] to move or pull abruptly: yank "But a few weeks later there arose a disagreement between my immediate superior and myself over the length of time I had stayed out to dinner, and before you could have counted ten, I was hoicked out of my job." - Vincent Sheean, Personal History (1969) "With some little difficulty, Cordon hoicked the dog off the settee so they could both sit down." - John Harvey, Far Cry (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: sarky Brit. informal sarcastic "'Captured smugglers ain't supposed to be sarky; they're supposed to have a humble and contrite heart - just like the hymn says.'" - David Fiddimore, The Hidden War (2009) "Face reddening, Lambert was halfway out of his chair, pointing. 'Don't play clever buggers with me, you sarky piece of...'" - John Harvey, Far Cry (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: spliff [Jamaican Eng.] slang a marijuana cigarette "What [she] really wanted was a spliff, something to relax her before bedtime, help her sleep." - John Harvey, Far Cry (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: diddicoi [fr. Romani didikai] also diddicoy Brit. dialect a gypsy or other nomadic person "'Gyppos, diddicoys, whatever you like to call 'em.'" - John Harvey, Far Cry (2009) I'm a Romano Rai, just an old didikai, I build all my temples beneath the blue sky, I live in a tent and I don't pay no rent, and that's why they call me the Romano Rai. - old Romani song
the worthless word for the day is: obnunciate [fr. L. obnuntiare] obs. rare to announce an unfavorable omen (and thus prevent, stop, or render void, some public transaction); hence, obnunciation "Before he arrived at the place, he was met and recognised by Milo, who signified to him, in virtue of his tribunitial power, the obnunciation, that is, the declaration of a religious obstacle to the holding of the popular assemblies." - Napoleon III, History of J. Caesar (tr. 1866) "In resorting to this obstruction Clodius has by- passed the legal form of obstruction that his brother might have supplied by obnunciating." - Eleanor Leach, The Spectacula.. (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: tragematopolist [fr. L. tragematopola] obs. rare a seller of sweets; a confectioner "We were happy when a tragematopolist moved in next door, and so was our dentist." - anon.
the worthless word for the day is: chironomy [L. chironomia < Gk cheir-, hand + -nomia, management] /kai RAHN uh mee/ archaic the art or science of gesticulation, or of moving the hands according to rule in oratory, pantomime, and esp. Gregorian chant (thanx to zmjezhd) "Unlike conventional music notation, the curves of chironomy were not signs or musical sounds, but gestures that appeared to contain sound within their very shapes..." - K. Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments (1998) "Whereas in modern conducting the notes are already specified in a written score, in cheironomy the hand signs indicate melodic curves and ornaments." - Wikipedia
the worthless word for the day is: opsigamy [fr. Gk opse, late + gamos, marriage] /op SIG uh mee/ marriage late in life (cf. opsimathy) "Nor is there any danger of Donald's being flogged for opsigamy by the Highland nymphs, as the Spartans were of old." - John MacCulloch, The Highlands and Western Isles.. (1824) "He was so choosy in finding a wife that he ended up in opsigamy." - New Straits Times (Malaysia), 1 July 1996
the worthless word for the day is: gaudiloquent [fr. L. gaudium, joy + -loquus, speaking] obs. rare speaking with joy or happiness "Her gaudiloquent tone was thought excessively perky by the stodgy faculty." - anon. (thanx to Cécile)
the worthless word for the day is: faculent [fr. L. fax, torch] obs. rare giving forth light like a torch; bright, clear (compare luculent) (not to be confused with feculent!) How that Vergill, that worthie wise doctour, In latin toung was most faculent, Nane mair pregnant, facund, nor eminent.. - John Rolland, Treatise.. Court of Venus (1575)
the worthless word for the day is: irrisible [fr. L. irredere, to laugh at] obs. rare worthy of derision; ridiculous "They may.. conclude that the natives of one of our three kingdoms are really no better than irrational, irrisible, four-legged animals, and considered by their fellow-subjects, and the legislature in no other capacity." - Afchibald Campbell, Lexiphanes (1767) (but one 'modern' dictionary defines irrisible as 'not risible' -- go figure.)
the worthless word for the day is: quagswagging [fr. quag, to quake + swag, to sway] obs. rare the action of shaking to and fro "Therefore John Calfe, her Cosen gervais once removed with a log from the woodstack, very seriously advised her not to put herself into the hazard of quagswagging in the lee, to be scoured with a buck of linen clothes till first she had kindled the paper." - François Rabelais, The Life of Gargantua.. (tr. 1883)
the worthless word for the day is: abhorfulness [formed after fearfulness, cheerfulness, etc.] obs. rare abhorrence "Natures abhorfulness to permitte any emptines." - Robert Record, The Castle of Knowledge (1556) "There are, in the Oxford English Dictionary, 324 words ending in -lessness, from affectlessness to zeallessness, yet there are only 279 ending in -fulness, starting with abhorfulness and ending with zestfulness." - Gulf Daily News, Feb. 25, 2010
the worthless word for the day is: mythopoeia [fr. Gk mythopoiia, the making of myths] also mythopoesis the creation of myths (cf. mythopoeic) "As she stood in Jacobs' hallway she experienced one of those moments -- much celebrated in fashion-industry mythopoeia -- of mysterious but incontrovertible revelation." - New Yorker, 22 Sept. 1997
the worthless word for the day is: eventerate [fr. L. e-, out + venter, belly; cf. F. eventrer] obs. rare to open the bowels of; to disembowel "[H]ere is Richard III., sinister and deformed; here, with his broad face and his great stomach, Henry VIII, who, of five wives that he had, killed three, one of whom he eventerated.." - Victor Hugo, Napoleon the Little (tr. 1852)
the worthless word for the day is: underconstumble [alteration of undercumstand < understand] UK dialect to understand (also undercumstumble) "Waiting, guvnor? Most deciduously. Bet your boots on. Stunned like, seeing as how no shiners is acoming. Underconstumble?" - James Joyce, Ulysses (1922) "I undercumstumble our little Francesca -- we shall see her trotting home one of these days, you mark my words." - E. M. Delafield, The Pelicans (1919)
the worthless word for the day is: hirudinal [fr. L. hirudinem, leech] obs. of or pertaining to a leech (also, hirudinous) "Like unto the coleopter attacked by a myrmidonian column, like unto the ox assailed by a hirudinal shoal, Gabriel shook himself, squirmed and squig- gled, projecting in different directions various human projectiles which flew through the air and ended up by breaking tables and chairs or rolling between the feet of the customers." - Raymond Queneau, Zazie in the Metro (tr. B. Wright, 2001)
the worthless word for the day is: frobnicate [perhaps fr. frobnitz, a thingname] abbrev. as frob slang to manipulate or adjust; to tweak the controls "We should file the thingum sooner rather than later in order to frobnicate the veeblefetzer." - anon., sooner or later
the worthless word for the day is: paradiorthosis [Gk, a marginal correction] /parr uh dye or thoh sis/ obs. rare a false correction "I cannot choose but take notice of a Paradiorthosis, or false emendation." - William Burton, A commentary on Antoninus.. (1658) "The word is positively gorgeous: paradiorthosis. One doesn't often run across such delights. I committed it to memory on the spot, and I take great pleasure in sharing it with you now." - William Safire, Spread the Word (1999)
the worthless word for the day is: morosoph [fr. Gk morosophos foolishly wise, wise fool] now rare a) a wise fool, a jester b) a foolish pedant or would-be philosopher "These three, the man of medicine, the man of money and the morosoph, formed a remarkable nominative possessive and objective triangle of dissimilitude, as concerned their convictions respecting the wisest economy of Relief." - Albert A. Day, The Mysterious Beggar (1891) "It got so terrible for me that I had to incinerate all my old Cliffs Notes, the worst reminders I know of what absolute morosophs we once were." - Stephen Reid, Purpose and Process (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: dephlogisticate [cf. phlogiston] to remove or deprive of phlogiston; to take away the ability to burn (now understood to be chemically impossible) "I write what he dictates, but I am not happy with the idea of phlogiston. I think that the results of our experiment support Stahl's theory* to an extent but don't prove it. I wish we could catch the air insde the glass and do more experi- ments to see how it really differs in quality from what Stahl would call the dephlogisticated air around us, but I say nothing of this to my father." - Katharine McMahon, The Alchemist's Daughter (2006) *Georg Ernst Stahl, German chemist chiefly remembered for his obsolete phlogiston theory "I will dephlogisticate you! Anathema!" - The New Monthly Mag. and Humorist Vol 92 (1851)
the worthless word for the day is: succussion [fr. L. succutere, to toss up from below] 1) Medical a violent shaking of the body to ascertain if fluid is present in a cavity 2) transf. the condition of being shaken violently "Shelby's head was red with thoughts of succussion, the satisfying concept of shaking her brother so hard it caused him damage." - Jodi Picoult, Second Glance (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: vilipending [see vilipend] [adj] disparaging [n] disparagement "..the never-relieved apprehensions he must in consequence wake up to every morning; the daily weary weight of the not-often-expressed, yet seldom absent, vilipending of hostility or contempt in almost all his fellow men.." - James Cozzens, op cit.
the worthless word for the day is: volitation [fr. L volitare, to fly about] the act or power of flying "Flight from physical self.. was futile. Volitations of that kind were, for the expedition's rank and file at least, neither afforded nor countenanced." - James Cozzens, By Love Possessed (1957)
the worthless word for the day is: gralloch [fr. Sc. Gaelic grealach, entrails] UK to remove the offal from (a deer) also transf. (for the purpose of making 'umble pie, one assumes) "As the sun was now getting low, we could do little more that day than gralloch the dead beast." - E. Littel, The Living Age, V. 177 (1888?) ""I'll find him and then I'll gralloch the bastard." Thomas did not know what gralloch meant, but decided the word was bad news for de Taillebourg." - Bernard Cornwell, Vagabond (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: logodaedalus [fr. Gk logos, word + Daedalus, famed artificer] obs. an artificer of words and phrases: wordsmith "Shakespeare was the logodaedalus par excellence. He invented words and they stuck." - Michael Gelb, Discover Your Genius (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: shandy [of obscure origin] wild, boisterous; also visionary, scatter-brained "Could there be anything more moonstruck, more shandy, more wretchedly listless, than for a girl.. to indulge in dreams of an impossible lover.." - Anthony Trollope, An Old Man's Love (1884)
the worthless word for the day is: cecity [fr. L. caecitas] blindness, lack of sight (usu. fig.) "I can only marvel at the utter want of comprehension and appreciation with which this critic read what he wrote about : one hemisphere of his brain must have been otherwise occupied and his mental cecity makes him a phenomenon even among reviewers." - Sir Richard Burton, The Supplemental Nights.. (ca. 1890) "But who was he, Enderby, to adapt a great tragedy to the limited talents, New World phonemes and into- nations and slangy lapses, cecity towards the past, Pyrrhonism and so on of this weak cry of players?" - Anthony Burgess, Enderby's Dark Lady (1984)
the worthless word for the day is: autoptic [fr. Gk autoptikos, of an eyewitness] seen for oneself; self-obvious an autoptic report on the Far East "That concept of piacular pollution, much diminished as the idea of the undressing Hope was entertained, received, with the autoptic fact of the undressed Hope, its coup de grace." - James Cozzens, By Love Possessed (1957) NB: this novel was turned into a film starring Lana Turner - in 1961 it was the first inflight film, screened on a TWA flight [wiki]
the worthless word for the day is: cosmopsis [fr. cosmic + -opsis, view] a cosmic view of life, which leads one to psycho- logical paralysis (see novelist John Barth's heros) "It is the malady cosmopsis, the cosmic view, that afflicted me. When one has it, one is frozen like the bullfrog when the hunter's light strikes him full in the eyes, only with cosmopsis there is no hunter, and no quick hand to terminate the moment--there's only the light." - John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)
the worthless word for the day is: akrasia [Gk akrasia, lacking command (of oneself)] weekness of will; lack of self-control (also acrasia) "Akrasia is weakness of the will. It means that you know what is good for you, but you can't do it. You're too weak." - Alexander McCall Smith, 44 Scotland Street (2005) "Many of McCall Smith's other philosophical interests find their way into the novel. For instance, his characters struggle with akrasia.. a philosophical problem which has been discussed since Plato." - The Philosopher's Magazine (2005) (thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: opsimath [fr. Gk opsimathes, late in learning] one who acquires knowledge or learning late in life "An opsimath just dropped in with a yaffle of chthonic scripts. In my opinion all of them are fungible." - Saturday Review, V. 30 (1947) "Dear Mr. Buckley: Having recently celebrated my 90th birthday, am I too young to be an opsimath?" - Peter Meltzer, The Thinker's Thesaurus (2010) NB: yaffle has a number of senses - in Newfoundland dialect it refers to a handful.
the worthless word for the day is: adjuvant [fr. L. adjuvare, to aid] 1) serving to aid or contribute: auxiliary 2) involving the use of or functioning as a medical aid "It is my unhappiness that I cannot be sufficiently adjuvant to such Princely beginnings." - William Greenhill, An Exposition of the Prophet Ezekiel (1650) "Adjuvant chemotherapy.. could be the surgeon's little helper. It would eradicate microscopic deposits of cancer left behind after surgery..." - Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: anacronym [blend of anachronistic + acronym] an acronym [heh] where few people remember what each letter stands for (thanx to Ted Remington) "Laser is an anacronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." - Tampa Bay Magazine, Mar-Apr 1992
the worthless word for the day is: armamentarium [L., armory, arsenal] 1) the total store of available resources 2) array (as of materials): collection 3) essential components: apparatus "The elaborate armamentarium of "antivitamins" that Farber had dreamed up so vividly in his fantasies did not exist." - Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: consist [fr. the verb, to consist of] /CON sist/ [n] makeup or composition by classes, types, or grades and arrangement "In his twenties, he "started chasing trains" and "collecting paper"--timetables, schedules, dis- patcher sheets, consists. (Accented on the first syllable, "consists" is a railroad term for what a train is carrying.) Eisfeller goes into railroad yards, opens Dumpsters, and rummages through them for consists." - John McPhee, Uncommon Carriers (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: verborrhea [fr. verbal diarrhea] diarrhea of the mouth; cf. logorrhea (an assist to Fr Steve) "Mrs. Lopez's verborrhea enveloped my father Angel: she never stopped talking about trips abroad, and when she'd exhausted that theme she went on to relatives, illness, servants, and priests - in that order." - Carlos Fuentes, Christopher Unborn (tr. 2005) "verborrhea--miscreant formation. illiterate. it should be logorrhea. one [should] not combine Greek and Latin components. :) " - Jay Bookman's blog, March 28th, 2011
the worthless word for the day is: verborrhea [fr. verbal diarrhea] diarrhea of the mouth; cf. logorrhea (an assist to Fr Steve) "Mrs. Lopez's verborrhea enveloped my father Angel: she never stopped talking about trips abroad, and when she'd exhausted that theme she went on to relatives, illness, servants, and priests - in that order." - Carlos Fuentes, Christopher Unborn (tr. 2005) "verborrhea--miscreant formation. illiterate. it should be logorrhea. one [should] not combine Greek and Latin components. :) " - Jay Bookman's blog, March 28th, 2011

the worthless word for the day is: espiocrat

[fr. espionage aristocrats, a John Le Carré coinage]
the governors of the intelligence service (MI6);

"He was a technology man, not at ease with live 
sources, a suburban espiocrat of the modern school."
 - John Le Carré, The Russia House  (2004)

"He was always in top-level staff jobs and possessed 
a personal magnetism and charm that made him a 
great espiocrat."
 - J. Trento, The Secret History of the CIA  (2005)

the worthless word for the day is: formicate [fr. L. formicare] to crawl like ants; transf. to swarm with moving beings "An open space, which formicated with peasantry." - James R. Lowell, My Journal in Italy.. (1854) "A hot flash is hardly complete without a touch of formication. Shall we formicate? Come on, let's try for the brass ring." - Peter Straub, The Hellfire Club (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: captation [fr. L. captare to chase, to strive after] the use of artful endeavors or appeals to secure something, esp. approval or applause "To induce candidates to rely.. less on the arts of political captation." - (London) Daily News, 28 July 1873
the worthless word for the day is: wagon-lit [F., fr. wagon, railroad car + lit, bed] a railroad sleeping car "I go to the first-class wagon-lit and have a snooze." - Alan Furst, The Foreign Correspondent (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: appetitious [fr. appetition, on the form of ambition/ambitious] obs. : belonging to, of the nature of, or suited to, appetite "Amandola got only a glimpse of her -- brick red hair, pointy white nose, a Rubenesque woman, fleshy and abundant. And greatly appetitious, according to the operatives who'd rented Room 46 and eavesdropped on the other side of the wall." - Alan Furst, The Foreign Correspondent (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: toponym [fr. Gk topos, place + onama, name] the name of a geographic locality: place-name (not to be confused with eponym, a name or noun formed after a person) "The Manchester Guardian (before it dropped the toponym)." - Times Lit. Suppl., 5 Jan 1973
the worthless word for the day is: Houstonize [after Texan Sam Houston] eponym to beat someone up, esp. a Congressman "On April 13, 1832, Sam Houston, the soldier and political leader.. fought and gave a beating to Congressman William Stanberry. As a result, houstonize became a synonym, now only a historical curiosity, for "to beat someone up, especially a Congressman. Sam Houston's name is better honored, of course, by the city of Houston, Texas."" - Robert Hendrickson, Facts on File Dict. of American Regionalisms (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: Rachmanism [after Peter Rachman, London landlord, whose unscru- pulous practices became notorious in the early 1960s.] Brit. eponym the exploitation and intimidation of tenants by unscrupulous landlords "The disease of Rachmanism is to buy controlled properties at low prices, and to use every means.. to bring about evictions which.. have the effect of decontrolling the property." - H. Wilson, Guardian, 23 July 1963
the worthless word for the day is: daltonism [after John Dalton, who first described it] eponym (esp. red-green) colorblindness (also fig.) "Of all the unfortunate inventions of pathological nomenclature the word Daltonism seems to me the worst." - James Dixon, Pract. Study Dis. Eye (1855) "But their task is complicated by a phenomenon I would like to call.. "national daltonism": the extreme difficulty nationalists had.. in perceiving and appreciating the viewpoints or needs of members of other nationalities." - Theodore Weeks, Nation and State.. (1996) "It seems to have been a response to demand for a Humbucker Les Paul Goldtop. Lester Paul himself told me he liked this model.." - Paul Balmer, The Gibson Les Paul Handbook (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: humbucker music an electric guitar pickup that has a pair of coils of reverse polarity connected in series, so as to "buck the hum" (a.k.a. humbucking pickups) "They're antiques, really, and putting a humbucker on them would be like putting a moustache on the Mona Lisa." - Tony Bacon, Six Decades of the Fender Telecaster (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: chav [perhaps fr. Romani chavo, unmarried male] Brit. slang (derogatory) a young person of a type characterized by brash and loutish behavior and the wearing of designer-style clothes; usu. with conno- tations of a low social status {OED} (thanx to Benign Bodger) "Help. Trapped in a queue in chav-land! Woman behind me explaining latest Eastenders plot to mate, while eating largest bun I've ever seen." - Baroness Hussein-Ece (via tweet) "Like many insults it's short and punchy. Its brevity lends itself easily to spin-offs, such as 'chavtastic', 'chavsters', 'chavette', 'chavdom'." - Susie Dent, lexicographer (in BBC News mag.)
the worthless word for the day and final word in the 2011 Scripps spelling bee is: cymotrichous [fr. Gk kuma, wave + trich-, hair] /SY ma tre kes/ Anthrop. having wavy hair hence cymotrichy, wavy-hairedness "Some cymotrichous peoples have very hairy bodies." - A. C. Haddon, The races of man.. (1924)
the worthless word for the day is: superfetation [fr. L. superfetare, to conceive while already pregnant] fig. a progressive accumulation or accretion reaching an excessive degree (also superfoetation) "Mark the superfetation of omens -- omen supervening upon omen, augury engrafted upon augury." - T. De Quincy (in Blackwd's Edinb. Mag. Apr. 1882) "[It is an] epic of grubbiness and disillusion.. a superfetation of fantasies, a monstrous coupling of reminiscences." - E. M. Forster (fr. lecture on Joyce's Ulysses)
the worthless word for the day is: splenitive [fr. L. spleneticus] (also splenative/splenetive) obs. splenetic; of a hot or hasty temper I prithee take thy fingers from my throat, For though I am not splenetive and rash, Yet have I in me something dangerous. - Wm Shakespeare, Hamlet (1604) "He was however too splenitive, austere, impatient, indolent, and heedless, to reach the abacus of excellence in the science of lexicography." - Monthly Mag. and British Register (v. 38, 1814)
the worthless word for the day is: tsuris [fr. Yiddish tsores, plural of tsure, trouble] troubles, distress "Before me stands a man who brings tsuris to the world and doesn't care." - Leslie What, Tsuris (fr. Logorrhea, 2007)
the worthless word for the day is: triste [F.] /treest/ 1) sad; wistful 2) dull, depressing, dismal, dreary "Friday night, the cafés should have been jammed with Parisians...Now they were triste, half-empty." - Alan Furst, The Polish Officer (1995)
the worthless word for the day is: thig Scots to beg; hence, thigging (thanx to Benign Bodger) "Better a thigging mither than a riding father." - proverb of Scotland "..and maun gang thigging and sorning* about on their aquaintance, or live by doing the laird's bidding, be't right or be't wrang." - Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy (1817) *sorn - to impose upon another for food and lodging
the worthless word for the day is: macroscian [fr. Gk makros, long + skia, shadow] /muh KRASH iun/ [adj.] having a long shadow; [n] a person whose shadow is long, spec. an inhabitant of the polar regions "How did it shape itself, the morning of that macroscian day which I had dreaded for so long?" - Osbert Sitwell, The Scarlet Tree (1946)
the worthless word for the day is: mirific [fr. L. mirare, to wonder] (also mirifical) causing or working wonders: marvelous "His own remarkable adventures have a quality of the mirific." - Maxwell Nurnberg, I alway look up the word "egregious" (1981)
the worthless word for the day is: phobosophy [fr. Gk phobos, fear + -sophia, knowledge] neologism (1949) fear of knowledge, or of abstract thinking "Philosophy is, literally, the love of knowledge; phobosophy is the fear of it. There are obviously more "phobosophers" in the world than philosophers." - Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin (1973)
the worthless word for the day is: episematic [fr. Gk epi- + sematic, of mimetic colors] Biol. (esp. of coloration) serving to assist members of the same species in recognizing each other "Bearing all the episematic markings of the WAG, she shouldered Beanie aside with the gentle courtesy of Wayne Rooney on a bad day and bore her man along the walkway." - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue NB: WAG (also wag), UK informal acronym for wife and girlfriend: a woman who is a wife and/or girlfriend, especially of a football (soccer) player(s)
the worthless word for the day is: demonym [fr. Gk demos, people + onuma, name] a name for a resident of a particular locality, derived from the name of that locality (popularized by Paul Dickson - but cf. deme, demonymic) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonym (thanx to olly) "Labels for Locals, by Paul Dickson... tells us.. 'What to Call People From Abilene to Zimbabwe' (Abilenian, Zimbabwean). Dickson calls these demonyms, from the Greek demos, 'populace.'" - William Safire, "Gifts of Gab for 1998," The New York Times Magazine
the worthless word for the day is: ooglification [fr. uglification ooglified] /oog li fi KAY shun/ the substitution of an "oo" sound for another vowel sound in a word to form a slang (or slangier) word (e.g., snoot for snout) "My suggestion is that we are dealing here with a form of colloquial vowel-substitution that [has been] christened "ooglification." - Wm Safire, Language Maven Strikes Again (1990) "Cigaroot for cigarette is a good example of ~." - Erin McKean, Weird and Wonderful Words (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: palter [origin uncertain, perhaps related to paltry] archaic 1) to equivocate 2) (palter with) to trifle with (thanx to David Shohan) A whoreson dog, that shall palter thus with us! - Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (1602(?)) "Here palter is used in the sense of trifle; in Macbeth, v. 8. 20, and Julius Caesar, ii. 1. 126 = "equivocating." Skeat derives it from palter, rags, and says that it originally meant "to deal in rags," and so "to haggle about paltry things."" - Edward Dowden, The Works of Wm Shakespeare, v.5
the worthless word for the day is: niffy [fr. niff, an unpleasant smell, perhaps fr. sniff] Brit. informal having an unpleasant smell: malodorous "'Me, like everyone else down here, I just came to the conclusion that if all them smart lawyers.. couldn't find anything niffy in Goldie's linen basket, then it wasn't worth looking.'" - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: praxeology [fr. praxis, customary conduct + -ology] the study of human conduct "The entire realm of praxeology and its best developed subdivision, economics, is based on an analysis of the necessary logical implications of this concept [sc. the axiom of human action]." - Murray Rothbard; Man, Economy, and State.. (1970)
the worthless word for the day is: dyslogy [dys- + stem of eulogy] dispraise, censure (as opposed to eulogy "In the way of eulogy and dyslogy and summing-up of character there may doubtless be a great many things set forth concerning this Mirabeau." - Thomas Carlyle, Mirabeau (essay, 1837) "Freud's dyslogy signifies the deterioration of a eulogy - that is, his clinical intention is to convince man how uncivilized he remains.." - Phillip Rieff; Freud, The Mind of the Moralist (1959)
the worthless word for the day is: butty [fr. butter + -y] Brit. informal a sandwich "On day six he was moved out of intensive care and on day seven he demanded a gill of Highland Park and six bacon butties, which some of the staff took to be evidence of incipient dementia." - Reg. Hill, Death Comes for the Fatman (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: zoetic [fr. Gk zoe, life + -etic] pertaining to life: living, vital "'His article in last fall's Zoetic Review is the reason most of you are here. In it he describes how he found six thousand dollars inside a candy box.'" - Maxine G. Combs, The Inner Life of Objects (1999)
the worthless word for the day is: melismatic [fr. Gk melisma, a song or tune] Music relating to, or being a melisma; the style of singing several notes to one syllable of text (cf. Gregorian chant) "He opened his mouth and in a bass-baritone more leathery than velvety but nonetheless melismatic he boomed out the opening lines of 'Happy Days Are Here Again'." - Reginald Hill, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: thole [OE tholian] Scots to endure something without complaint; tolerate (not to be confused with thole, the peg on the gunwale of a boat that holds an oar in place) "And there was the explanation. This morning his mind, recalling the previous day as a long, vacuous.. Scots Sabbath and unwilling to thole the notion of enduring such another, had decided it had to be Monday." - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: bouleverse [F. bouleverser] obs., rare to upset, overturn "..the usual number of limbs which waved spasmodically in the air like those of a bouleversed beetle." - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: recusant [fr. L. recusare to object to, refuse] 1 a) a person (as a Roman Catholic) refusing to attend the services of the Church of England b) one that dissents : nonconformist 2) one who refuses to comply with some regulation or to conform to some general practice or opinion "Thomas Needham, a prominent local recusant of substantial means, employed John Simonds to place thirty-four barrels of gunpowder, faggots, old iron and stones in the vault of the church, with the intention of blowing it up during divine service.." - Michael Braddick, God's Fury, England's Fire (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: clarty [origin unknown] Scots dirty, muddy; sticky, gooey "His mind was trying to avoid the unattractive mental task that lay before him. But he hadn't got wherever he'd got by turning aside when the path turned clarty." - Reginald Hill, Midnight Fugue (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: pickelhaube [G.] /PIK el how bee/ a spiked helmet once worn by German soldiers (file under: so that's what that's called) "What attracted the barter-obsessed British more than food and drink were German uniform accessories, from buttons and belt buckles to the most desirable souvenir of all - the impractical and obsolescent Pickelhaube, about as useful as the tall black bearskin worn at Buckingham Palace at the changing of the guard." - Stanley Weintraub, Silent Night (2001) (Jim Bisso points out that a secondary meaning of Pickelhaube in German is "spotted" or "pimply-faced".)
the worthless word for the day is: swingeing [fr. swinge, to flog] Brit. very large: whopping "This was more than a kerfuffle... The authority of the Lieutenant was upheld by a swingeing fine, which at this distance in time seems to be barely warranted by the evidence produced." - Michael Braddick, op cit
the worthless word for the day is: wheeze [in this sense, orig. Theatrical slang, a joke or comic gag introduced into a performance] Brit. slang a catchphrase constantly repeated; more widely, a trick or dodge frequently used "In 1629 the Council began to impose fines on men worth more than £40 per annum (not a large sum) who had failed to acknowledge their ancient duty of presenting themselves for knighting at the corona- tion - a wheeze known as distraint of knighthood." - M. Braddick, God's Fury, England's Fire (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: gasogene [F. gazogène, from gaz, gas + o-gene] a late Victorian device for producing carbonated water "[H]e waved me to an arm-chair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner." - A. Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia
the worthless word for the day is: ichthyologist [fr. Gk ichthys, fish + -ologist] a zoologist who studies fishes "Some ichthyologists have been so bold as to suggest that the Monster of Montgomery Lake was a supremely mutant fish, an all-tackle record that will never be bested by any angler." - Carl Hiaasen, Double Whammy (1987)
the worthless word for the day is: benthic [fr. Gk benthos, depth] occurring at the bottom of a body of water, or in the depths of the ocean "They're all here in this corridor, good memories and bad, humiliations and accidents and even small victories, each tableau playing out like the movement of silent, benthic sea life, viewed through the viscous and refractive medium of the years in between.." - Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: epiphor [Gk. epiphora, a bringing to or upon] a metaphor that expresses the existence of something (opposed to diaphor, which is not to be confused with diaphoresis) "Philip Wheelwright's 1962 classification of metaphors into "epiphors" (metaphors that express the existence of something) and "diaphors" (metaphors that imply the possibility of something). Diaphor and epiphor measure the likeness and the dissimilarity of the attributes of the referents. A diaphor can become an epiphor (when the object is found to really exist) and an epiphor can become a literal expression (when the term has been used for so long that people have forgotten its origin)." - Earl R. MacCormac, A Cognitive Theory of Metaphor [1985]
the worthless word for the day is: supralapsarian [fr. L. supra- before + lapsus, fall] pertaining to the belief that the predestination of some to eternal life and of others to eternal death was antecedent to the creation and the fall of man (opposed to infralapsarian) "His followers, who became known as the Remonstrants, rejected double predestination and supralapsarian beliefs on the grounds that they made God the author 1of sin." - Michael Braddock, God's Fury, England's Fire (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: amphitryon [fr. Molière's comedy, in which Amphitryon (foster-father of Hercules) gives a fine dinner] /æm'fitriun/ a host, an entertainer to dinner ""Well, then, Signor Aladdin," replied the singular amphitryon, "you heard our repast announced, will you now take the trouble to enter the dining-room, your humble servant going first to show the way?"" - Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)
the worthless word for the day is: quiddle [fr. L. quid, what] (not to be confused with quibble) chiefly dialect to trifle or waste time; to dawdle hence, quiddling "She liked to quiddle about the china-closet, prepare the salt-cellars, put the spoons straight on the table; and every day went round the parlor with her brush, dusting chairs and tables." - L. M. Alcott, Little Men (1887) "Now don't sit quiddling the string of your cap, but listen to me attentively." - Julia Pardoe, Reginald Lyle (1854)
the worthless word for the day is: steampunk [steam + punk, after cyberpunk] neologism a sub-genre of speculative science fiction set in an anachronistic 19th century society "There is a new genre climbing to popularity within the science fiction world of writing: steampunk. A mix of Victorian times and futuristic [steam] machines clash to create a unique world.." - P[urdue]UC Chronicle, Feb. 20, 2011 "People say steampunk is what happens when Goths discover the color brown.." - Isaiah Plovnick, theater arts major & steampunker
the worthless word for the day is: bedder Cambridge University one who makes the beds and performs other necessary domestic duties for residents in college "But there were also newer, younger bedders. Drawn from the same social class as their older colleagues and likewise rooted in the East Anglian rural community, they doubtless looked upon us as the feckless and privileged outsiders that we were." - Tony Judt, The Memory Chalet (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: smirr [origin obscure] /smur/ also smur or smir Scots fine rain; drizzle "Rebus twice had to leave his car and call in for instructions, both times queuing outside phone boxes in the rain. Only it wasn't real rain, it was smirr, a fine spray-mist which drenched you before you knew it.. It was all Rebus needed on a dreich Monday morning." - Ian Rankin, Black and Blue (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: incondite [fr. L. in- + condere, put together] badly put together: crude incondite prose (unrelated to condite, to pickle; fr. L. condire) "Perhaps Mother, conscious of the glorious traditions of her own rich past, had sometimes chidden too severely the incondite exuberance of her lusty offspring.." - Thomas Wolfe, O Lost (1929)
the worthless word for the day is: yataghan [Turkish yatagan] /YA tuh gan/ a Turkish sword or scimitar having a double-curved blade and (often) an eared pommel, but lacking a handle guard "..the other swung a yataghan, and I already felt the cold steel on my neck, when this gentleman whom you see here charged them, shot the one who held me by the hair, and cleft the skull of the other with his sabre." - Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo (1844)
the worthless word for the day is: axiopisty [fr. Gk axiopistos, trustworthy] obs. rare the quality that makes something believable: trustworthiness; hence, axiopistic : believable "Here the canonicity of particular books is dealt with, their authenticity and integrity, the author's axiopisty, and a dogmatic guarantee is posited: inspiration." - Søren Kierkegaard, (P.S. to) Philosophical Fragments (tr. 1992) "She, and Them, those that she was working for, were giving him back his axiopistic fantasy, the nubile wife with clinomania, caring, a little naughty, comforting." - Chris WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: exfluncticate [mock Latinism from U.S. pioneer days] now used historically also, exflunctify to overcome or beat thoroughly; to completely use up "He was dead all right," Jones laughed, "but his ghost could exfluncticate any man alive. Believe it." - Charles Johnson, Faith and the Good Thing (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: enormity well, I have one more confusion before returning you to your regular programming.. [fr. L. enormitas] 1) great wickedness 2) an improper, vicious or immoral act 3) usage problem : great size, immensity (not) to be confused with enormousness "Enormity, some people insist, is improperly used to denote large size. They insist on enormousness for this meaning, and would limit enormity to the meaning "great wickedness." Those who urge such a limitation may not recognize the subtlety with which enormity is actually used. It regularly denotes a considerable departure from the expected or normal <they awakened; they sat up; and then the enormity of their situation burst upon them. "How did the fire start?" - John Steinbeck>. When used to denote large size, either literal or figurative, it usually suggests something so large as to seem overwhelming <no intermediate zone of study. Either the enormity of the desert or the sight of a tiny flower - Paul Theroux> <the enormity of the task of teachers in slum schools - J. B. Conant> and may even be used to suggest both great size and deviation from morality <the enormity of existing stockpiles of atomic weapons - New Republic>. It can also emphasize the momentousness of what has happened <the sombre enormity of the Russian Revolution - George Steiner> or of its consequences <perceived as no one in the family could the enormity of the misfortune - E. L. Doctorow>." - Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary, 11th Edition "There was no escaping the enormity of it.Everywhere you turned you saw destruction." - Isaac Asimov & Robt Silverberg, Nightfall (1991)
the worthless word for the day is: mitigate [fr. L. mitigare, to soften] to make less intense or serious or severe; appease NOT to be confused with militate, to weigh heavily NB: it's never correct to mitigate *against anything "For Heaven's sake I entreat you, by your own words I conjure you, to mitigate your anger, and permit that faithful pair to spend their remaining days in peace." - Cervantes, The History of Don Quixote (tr., 1848) "One must admit that, in these unpredictable contingencies of life, there is much that militates against our pursuit of happiness." - James Sully, Pessimism (1891)
the worthless word for the day is: careen [fr. F. (en) carène, (on) the keel] 1) to lurch or swerve while in motion 2) to rush headlong or carelessly; career 3) Nautical a) to lean to one side, as a ship sailing in the wind b) to turn a ship on its side for cleaning or repair so, (not) to be confused with career, to move at full speed (I used this word in an Honors English paper many moons ago, and got marked down for "no such word".) "Suddenly the front windshield spiderwebbed, and the car started to careen out of control." - Robert Ludlum, The Janson Directive (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: egoism [ego + -ism] the ethical doctrine that morality has its foundations in self-interest; hence egoist (not) to be confused with egotism, an inflated sense of self-importance this week: don't be confused "He is thoroughly selfish, an 'egoist,' as Mr. Meredith, adopting current slang, writes the word which used to be 'egotist'." - Saturday Review, 15 Nov. 1879 "In his drive toward personal domination, there was nothing of the egoism of genius or of the craving for honor of the statesman." - Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (1940)
the worthless word for the day is: parti [F.] /PAR tee/ 1) a match (as, eligible for marriage) 2) a good or desirable match "He is an excellent parti being handsome, well off, and of good birth. He is a doctor and really clever.. He is only nine-and-twenty, and he has an immense lunatic asylum all under his own care." - Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
the worthless word for the day is: cobwebbery [cobweb + -ery] the spinning of cobwebs; a texture of cobwebs fig. "Metaphysical controversies and cobwebberies." - Th. Carlyle, Reminisc. of my Irish Journey (1849) "What he tells us is not only childish but irrelevant. He cannot extenuate his behavior by building a cobwebbery of theories that makes sense only in his own mind." - Isaac Asimov, Foundation's Edge (1982)
the worthless word for the day is: fubbery [fr. fob, to cheat + -ery] obs. rare cheating, deception "Singing, dancing, cepaceous, all-star AWM, with a head o hair, enjoys catachresis, bovarism, doxography, galimatias, fubbery.. seeks ophelimitic MWBPBYF hierodule..." - Christopher WunderLee, bio (goodreads.com)
the worthless word for the day is: dziggetai [fr. Mongolian tchikhitei] /DZIG uh tai/ the wild ass of Mongolia "He paid them little mind, as he skirted the big rigs and muscled the dawdling commuters, until the image appeared on the side of the divine road, a receding figure of animate arches, feminine and holy, a vision.. thumbing it in Ohio, her dziggetai broken down, her Joseph long since discarded out of boredom..." - Christopher WunderLee, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: nycterent [fr. G. nycto- < nyx, night] (relating to) one who hunts by night "Looking into the animal's melting blue eyes (the long, nycterent pupils were rapidly narrowing in the sunlight) Silk could almost believe him." - Gene Wolfe, Litany of the Long Sun (2000) "The two were nycterent lovers for a vain- glorious thirteen months, busy in random hotel rooms sneaking up on each other every night.." - Chris WunderLee, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: mythomane [back-formation fr. mythomania] one who has an excessive propensity for lying or exaggerating this week: more from Chris WunderLee "When [he] tries to analyze his own desires.. he's taken captive by the sort of reel-to-reel imagining of a brute, oftentimes vulgar, more often than not, nonsensical superciliousness of a pride and true mythomane." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: castrophenic [var. of castrophrenic (note 2nd 'r'), which relates to the belief that one's thoughts are being stolen; + -phen, to show] nonce-wd demonstrating a belief that one's thoughts are being stolen; generally, paranoiac "Albert was back in New England, long since forgetting his plunge into the Pacific, and beginning what was already a controversially castrophenic career..." - Christopher WunderLee, op. cit. (thanx for helping on this, Chris)
the worthless word for the day is: lygophilic [fr. G. lyge, twilight + -philic] (soft or hard g?) one who loves darkness (as opposed to lygophobic) "..a vision.., a lygophilic picaroon just ready for the picking..." - Christopher WunderLee, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: flaneuring [F. flâneur, idler] ~/FLAH nuhr ing/ idling; sauntering; wandering aimlessly "..flaneuring American-style like a doomsday piece of celestial litter across the country, to see the great Pacific and leap its shores like a mad expatriate on the parabolic chariot of Helios." - Christopher WunderLee, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: exoptable [fr. L. exoptare to wish earnestly, desire greatly] obs. highly desirable "Justine was, like the solemn, haughty tone of her name, an exoptable maid who'd been plucked from adolescence and placed rather squarely into the capable hands of a nunnery..." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: off-piste [see piste] away from prepared ski runs <off-piste slopes> also transf. "Taking ski instructor training and learning to master off-piste runs could be the perfect route to winter fitness." - Matt Baldwin, Flathead Publishing Group, 6 Jan. 2011 "Robert Lepage is the presiding magus who has written and directed this heady fusion of Darwin, oddball theology and off-piste mysticism." - Henry Hitchings, This is London, 6 Jan. 2011
the worthless word for the day is: haver [origin unknown] 1) chiefly Brit. to hem and haw: stall for time (as by useless talk); hence, havering <she was exasperated by all this havering> 2) Scot. to talk foolishly; babble <Tom havered on> "I havered over this for weeks. Finally done it." - Elizabeth Creith, 31 Dec. 2010 (thanx E.C.)
the worthless word for the day is: gregarization [fr. L. gregaria, the gregarious phase of locusts] the swarming of locusts "Phase change plays a central part in the population changes of locusts, but exactly what conditions produce gregarization and swarms is not known." - Science Journal, Jan. 1970
the worthless word for the day is: gregicide [fr. L. grex flock, crowd + -cide (after regicide)] nonce-wd. involving the slaughter of the common people Thoughts on the prospect of a Gregicide War, in a Letter to the right hon. Edmund Burke. - unknown, 1796 "A house divided against itself cannot stand. Strife between the members of a community is gregicidal." - Charles A. Mercier, Conduct and its Disorders (1911)
the worthless word for the day is: gregger Hebrew(?) (also gragger, grogger) a rattle noisemaker {A Popular Dict. of Judaism} "The gregger is sounded on the festival of Purim so the name of Haman is blotted out while the Book of Esther is read." - ibid., 1997 "That and the bitch next-door has been as noisy as a gregger since Friday..." - inselpeter, 19 Dec. 2010 (thanx, IP)
the worthless word for the day is: divulsion [fr. L. divello, to rend asunder] (now used chiefly in surgery) the act of pulling away; a tearing asunder; violent separation "Albert waited, his eyes downcast, discomfited, the way they always were now, that silent divulsion for his ill behavior.." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: muculent [L. muculentus, sniveling < mucus] slimy; moist, and moderately viscous; resembling mucus "[He] ground his teeth and then spat out a muculent globule of saliva and Cadbury's milk chocolate." - M. Hartmann, Game for Vultures (1976) "We were busy sharing a pot of coffee and exchanging pleasantries when Beverly Greene walked in wearing her Parish Administrator demeanor, followed by an overweight and extremely muculent man in a priest's collar. His hair was sparse and hung in damp tendrils around his ears. Perched on his nose was a pair of oversized glasses that he was continually pushing back up the slippery slope with his index finger." - Mark Schweizer, op cit
the worthless word for the day is: infralapsarianism [fr. L. infra, later than + lapsus, fall] a doctrine holding the view that God's election of some to everlasting life came after his prescience of the Fall of man, or that it contemplated man as already fallen, and was thus a remedial measure (opposed to supralapsarianism) "I believe in fate, in chance meetings, and in good fortune. I also believe in the Trinity, salvation by grace, infralapsarianism, non-Darwinian evolution, and possibly unicorns, as they are mentioned nine times in the Old Testament. I wasn't too sure about the unicorns yet." - Mark Schweizer, The Mezzo Wore Mink (A Liturgical Mystery) (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: rumbustious [prob. alt. of archaic robustious] informal, chiefly British boisterous or unruly "She wanted to like those boys, to think they were good - perhaps a little too rumbustious but at heart decent human beings - but they weren't. They were little shits who never listened to a word she said." - Kate Atkinson, Case Histories (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: shipoopi [neologism] U.S. slang a woman; the girl who's hard to get(?) (Eric Partridge claims the slang meaning is simply 'a woman', dating from 1954.) "Remember the halcyon days, when you could get a cheesecake shot of any shipoopi into any paper by announcing she had just been chosen Girl I'd Most Like To Be Snowed In With?" - Bernard Wolfe, The Late Risers (1954) Now a woman who'll kiss on a very 1st date, Is usually a hussy, And a woman who'll kiss on the second time out, Is anything but fussy, But a woman who'll wait 'till the 3rd time around, Head in the clouds, feet on the ground, She's the girl he's glad he's found, She's his Shipoopi. - Meredith Willson, The Music Man (1957)
the worthless word for the day is: tripudiation [fr. tripudiate < L. tripudiare, to dance exultingly] obs., rare the act of dancing {Carlyle} "Till champagne and tripudiation do their work; and all lie silent, horizontal; passively slumbering with meed-of-battle dreams!" - Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (1837) "The rest of his speech was mere tripudiation." - Saturday Review, 12 Dec. 1895
the worthless word for the day is: obelus [L. < Gk obelos spit, pointed pillar] 1) a mark (- or ÷) used in ancient manuscripts to indicate spurious or doubtful passages; also, the division sign 2) the dagger sign (†) used as a reference mark or to indicate that a person listed is deceased "The obelus, or division sign, is placed before a pronunciation variant that occurs in educated speech but that is considered by some to be questionable or unacceptable. This symbol is used sparingly and primarily for variants that have been objected to over a period of time in print by commentators on usage, in schools by teachers, or in correspondence that has come to the Merriam-Webster editorial department." - Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: bumwhush UK dialect ruin, obscurity, annihilation "When anything has made a noise for some time, and is then quashed, it is said to have gone to the bumwhush. This is too often the way with people of great popularity; they have their day, then go all to the bumwhush." - John Mactaggart, The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia (1824)
the worthless word for the day is: hibernaculum [L. hibernaculum, winter residence < hibernare] 1) obs. a greenhouse for wintering plants 2) a shelter occupied in winter by a dormant animal "One advantage of maintaining even a low level of activity (rather than truly hibernating) is that the animal can move within its hibernaculum to areas of varying temperatures." - Vail Daily, Feb. 28, 2010
the worthless word for the day is: cringeworthy [eponymous, after Cuthbert Cringeworthy (Beano comics)] informal, orig. Brit. causing feelings of embarrassment or awkwardness "Most Caucasians who play 'soul' music make cringe- worthy spectacles of themselves, especially Brits." - Alternative Press, May 1995 "Got a cringeworthy memory that still makes you blush when you think about it? Don't worry, 'cause you're not alone." - Sugar, Feb 13 2001
the worthless word for the day is: jobbery [fr. job or jobber] the practice of turning a public office or position of trust to personal gain or political advantage; corruption in public office "The constantly recurring necessity of electing a President is a very serious evil, and one which should make every Englishman value the ancient Constitution under which he enjoys such unbounded freedom of self-government, untainted by any source of excitement and political jobbery." - Henry H. Vivian, Notes of a Tour in America (1878) "But this trophy for Italy's presidency symbolises the European Union's chronic vices: jobbery, bureaucracy, chicanery." - Daily Telegraph, 5 Jan 2004
the worthless word for the day is: feckly [feck + -ly] /fek ly/ chiefly Scots 1) for the most part 2) almost, nearly Wheel-carriages I hae but few: Three carts, an' twa are feckly new; An auld wheelbarrow - mair for token, Ae leg an' baith the trams are broken: I made a poker o' the spin'le, An' my auld mither brunt the trin'le. - Robert Burns (a1796)
the worthless word for the day is: lucriferous [fr. L. lucr-um gain, profit, advantage + -iferous] obs. lucrative, profitable hence, lucriferousness the quality of being profitable "Such transmutations.. being the most luciferous and many times lucriferous experiments too, in philosophy." - Sir Isaac Newton (1669) (fr. Brewster, Memoires of the Life, 1855)
the worthless word for the day is: loxotic [fr. Gk loxos, oblique] /lok SOT ik/ rare distorted; oblique "Loxotic means lopsided." - Jan & Hallie Leighton, Rare Words (2003) "[ ] munching a quarenden and full of gasconade, put the loxotic cimix down and said sheepishly..." - anon
the worthless word for the day is: lockrum [origin uncertain] (also lockram) dialect a pack of gibberish; nonsense "I'd say to the members, don't come down here to Halifax with your long lockrums about politicks, makin a great toss about nothin.." - Thomas Haliburton, The Clockmaker (1837) "As for that long lochrum about Mr. Everett,.. there aint a word of truth in it." - ibid.
the worthless word for the day is: lachschlaganfall [G.] /lok shlok en fol/ a condition in which a person falls unconscious due to excessive laughter [apologies for the medical term] "Lachschlaganfall : A condition described by Herman Oppenheim (German neurologist, 1858-1919) in which the patient falls unconscious due to violent laughing." - Robert Campbell, Psychiatric Dictionary (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: fulgurating [fr. L. fulgur, lightning] /FUHL gyuh rey ting/ flashing or sudden, like lightning: a fulgurating pain (cf. fulgurant) "Its sorrow is rambunctious, its anguish rollicking. Its fulgurating pain comes out in shrieks of unlikely laughter." - The New York Times (book review, Oct. 14, 2010)
the worthless word for the day is: parvanimity [fr. L. parvus, little + animus, mind] /PAR vuh NIM i tee/ the state or quality of having a little or ignoble mind; pettiness; meanness (opposed to magnanimity) "[H]anging might be too heavy a price for the refuta- tion of a single error; yet still, a]t times, when my moral sense is roused and provoked by the obstinate blindness of Professor Wilson to the meanness and parvanimity of Bonaparte (a blindness which in him.. is connected at the moment with intense hatred for those who refuse to partake in it),.." - The Uncollected Writings of Thomas de Quincey NB: although de Quincey claims the coining of the word in 1829, the OED has an earlier citation from 1691: "[T]hey will justly esteem your parvanimity so great that you deserve derision for so poorly fearing it." - Robert Boyle, Free Discourse Against Swearing
the worthless word for the day is: parachronism [fr. Gk para- beyond + kronos, time] /pa RAK ruh niz uhm/ an error in chronology; esp. the placing of an event later than its actual date hence, parachronistic : misdated, esp. dated too late "Bringing an object forward through time would create a parachronistic incongruity." - Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: pillion [Scottish Gaelic pillean] /PIL yun/ 1) a pad or cushion for an extra rider behind the saddle on a horse or motorcycle 2) a bicycle or motorcycle saddle (file under: so that's what that's called) "I can hear my old '65 BSA, too, and my '71 BMW boxer twin, which took me west to the Rockies and east to the Atlantic and south to Florida with Karen riding pillion." - Yoder & Sons, Wall St. Journal Sept. 26, 2010 (thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: goditorium [after auditorium] slang a church, perhaps a huge and gaudy one "Too many sins to confess, so I go to the goditorium only once a year." - Carole Glickfeld, Swimming toward the Ocean (2002) "...Prestonwood Baptist Church, known locally as the "Goditorium," which dwarfed anything I'd ever seen erected on the Lord's behalf in my life." - Robert Rummel-Hudson, Schuyler's Monster (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: versal [short for universal] archaic entire, whole I anger her sometimes, and tell her that Paris is the properer man; but, I'll warrant you, when I say so, she looks as pale as any clout in the versal world. - Wm Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet a reader asks: Then is "reversal" short for a parallel universe? (heh.)
the worthless word for the day is: craquelure [F.] /kra kloor/ a network of fine cracks that may appear on the surface of an oil painting as it ages; also in extended use "The most obvious feature of age in a medium are the patterns of cracks, known as crackle or craquelure, and their imitation has long exercised the ingenuity of forgers." - Paul Craddock, Scientific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries (2009) "..all you will otherwise have to look at is your splintery husband gumming chew or the craquelure of your own chapped hands." - Paul Harding, Tinkers (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: wodge [alt. of wedge] /wodj/ UK informal a large piece or amount of something "There were six women and four men, and each of them had a telephone and a thick wodge of computer printout, covered with names and telephone numbers." - Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: wazzock [origin unknown] UK informal a stupid or annoying person ""Course I haven't been drinking, you great wazzock. You can see the fish, can't you?"" - Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: intrinsicate [app. fr. It. intrinsecato, familiar, confused in sense with intricato, intricate] obs. intricate, involved, entangled Come, thou mortal wretch, With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate Of life at once untie. Poor venomous Fool, Be angry and dispatch. - Wm Shakespeare, Anth. & Cleo. (1606) "Mr. Harrison taught him about Attila the Hun, Vlad Drakul, and the Darkness Intrinsicate in the Human Spirit." - Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: vendible [fr. L. vendere to sell] available or suitable for sale vendible produce; of a kind to command a cash return vendible beauty; [as below, also a jocular usage for vending] (this week, somewhat obvious words used in somewhat non-obvious ways) ""Are you sure you don't want coffee, though? There's one of those vendible machines on the next floor."" - Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: wittering [perh. fr. Sc. whitter, to warble or twitter] U.K. informal, colloq. continuous pointless chatter: chattering "Then one of the words in sister Mary's wittering struck a hopeful chord in his mind." - Pratchett & Gaiman, Good Omens (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: wantwit [want + wit] one who lacks wit or sense; a fool, blockhead And such a want-wit sadness makes of me.. - Wm Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (ca. 1596)
the worthless word for the day is: paneulogism [fr. pan- + eulogy] obs. rare universal or indiscriminate praise "With all its excellencies, and they are many, her book has a trace of the cant of paneulogism." - National Review, July 1857
the worthless word for the day is: quadrigamist [cf. L. quadrigamus, married four times] one who has married four times; esp., one who has four wives or four husbands at the same time "On this date in 1540 [Jul 28], quadrigamist Henry VIII married his fifth unfortunate wife, Katherine Howard, whom the Tudor king called his "rose without a thorn." He would soon become a sexigamist." - Jeffrey Kacirk, Forgotten English (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: comportation [fr. L. comportare, to carry together] obs. a bringing together; an assemblage "What amount of 'comportation' of acquired information entitled a man to claim the standing of an 'author' of a new unit in the chain of transmitted knowledge?" - Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962)
the worthless word for the day is: sortilege [fr. L. sortilegus, foretelling] 1) the act or art of divination by lots 2) sorcery, witchcraft, enchantment the sortilege of suddenly acquired wealth hence, sortileger, sortilegic, sortilegious "[S]ortilege consists, properly speaking, in doing something, that by observing the result one may come to the knowledge of something unknown." - Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (1265-1274) [tr. 1922] "We have therefore summoned to our presence.. a woman infamous for sortileges and for witcheries.." - Walter Scott, Ivanhoe (1819)
the worthless word for the day is: moirologist [fr. Gk moira, fate] obs. rare a hired mourner (cf. Sc. saulie) (not to be confused with morologist) "The moirologists will sing of the loneliness of the living, of the horrors of death, of the black earth, and the cold dreary frozen Hades.." - The Quarterly Review, July 1886
the worthless word for the day is: forjeskit [cf. Sc. disjaskit, possibly a corruption of dejected] /for JES kit/ Scot. jaded; worn out "Forjeskit sair, with weary legs.." - Robert Burns, Letters (1785) "On the morning after the Coronation, I found myself in a very disjaskit state, being both sore in lith and limb, and worn out in my mind.." - John Galt, The Steamboat (1822)
the worthless word for the day is: poculation [fr. L. poculum, a drinking vessel] /pok yoo LAY shun/ obs. nonce-word the drinking of wine "The art of poculation, if so it may be termed, being of the highest antiquity, and the claims of Bacchus as the inventor of the art being unquestioned." - The New Monthly Magazine (1837)
the worthless word for the day is: gafty Cheshire dialect sly; tricky; cunning; not to be trusted; mischievous {Joseph Wright's Eng. Dialect Dict.} "A gafty person is a suspected person." - Roger Wilbraham, An attempt at a glossary (1836)
the worthless word for the day is: hymeneal [fr. L. hymenaeus: wedding song, wedding] archaic nuptial "The hymeneal market was not supported only by needy fortune-hunters and conscienceless profligates, ladies troubled with duns, and spinsters wanting husbands for reputation's sake. all classes flocked to the fleet to marry in haste." - London Weekly Journal June 29, 1723
the worthless word for the day is: adamantive [fr. adamant + -ive (or a misprint of adamantine)] obs. rare immovable, impregnable: adamantine My adamantive eyes might head-long hale This iron world to me. - Ben Jonson, Every man out of his humour (1599)
the worthless word for the day is: scribacious [fr. L. scribere, to write + -acious] (also, scribatious) rare given to, or fond of, writing "We have some Letters of Popes (though not many; for Popes were then not very scribacious..)." - Isaac Barrow, Treatise on the Pope's Supremacy (1677) "..the scribatious and sapiential aspects of your epistolography.." - Lorenzo Altisonant, Letters to Squire Pedant (1856)
the worthless word for the day is: frampold [of obscure origin] (also frampled) obs. sour-tempered, cross, disagreeable, peevish [from the hogwash files] "Alas! the sweet woman leads an ill life with him; he's a very jealousy man; she leads a very frampold life with him, good heart." - Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602)
the worthless word for the day is: duff [origin uncertain] Scot. and U.S. decaying leaves and branches covering a forest floor; in extended use for a lake bottom "A number of lab studies on smoldering have used peat as a substitute for forest duff with the justification that peat has similar particle sizes and bulk as duff." - Johnson & Miyanishi, Forest Fires (2001) "[The old snapping turtle] was a grand old man carrying an underwater map in its head, a quick-striking curmudgeon disguised in lake duff." - Susan H. Shetterly, Settled in the Wild (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: mumchance [fr. G. mummenschanze, a dice game that mummers played] /mum chans/ archaic silent; unable to speak "I strain in vain to catch what he is saying to her, what mischief he might be pouring into her ear.. And here I lie, mumchance." - John Banville, The Infinities (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: instauration [fr. L. instaurare to renew, restore] 1) renovation, restoration 2) obs. an act of starting or establishing something "This was in the early days of the great instauration, after we exposed the relativity hoax and showed up Planck's constant for what it really is." - John Banville, The Infinities (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: dingbat [origin unknown] a typographical ornament or symbol used typically to call attention to an opening sentence or to make a break between two paragraphs; also, pi fonts (not to be confused with Archie Bunker's dingbat spouse) "Some dingbats mark separation between the prelude sections and the rest of the chapter, while others are placed near the end of each chapter to mark the start of the exercises." - Jorgensen & Treadway, Analysis and Probability (2006) "The typographic ornaments themselves are sometimes called dingbats, and the flower-shaped ones are fleurons." - zmjezhd, wordsmith.org May 25, 2010
the worthless word for the day is: neanimorphic [fr. Gk neanikos youthful, fresh, active] looking younger than one's years Gynotikolobomassophile (M, 43) seeks neanimorphic F to 60 to share euneirophrenia. Must enjoy [angering] librarians (and be able to provide the correct term for same). [personal ad from the London Review of Books] - David Rose (ed.), They call me Naughty Lola (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: matutinal [fr. L. matutinus, early] /mat yoo TI nul/ of or occurring in the morning "Many of them sleep on, of course, careless of our cousin Aurora's charming matutinal trick.." - John Banville, The Infinities (2010)
the worthless word for the day is: lubberwort [fr. lubber, a stupid person + wort, a plant] obs. provincial Eng. food or drink that makes one idle and stupid; food without nutritive value; junk food "And whilst they do take their medicine, put no lulbberwort into their pottage." - Andrew Boode, The Breviary of Health (1557)
the worthless word for the day is: chantpleure [F. chantepleure] archaic to sing and weep at the same time I fare as doth the song of chantepleure; For now I pleyn, and now I pley. - Chaucer, Anelida and Arcite (ca. 137x) "Papa always said he and Mother were damned to chantpleure." - Bill Porterfield, Diddy waw diddy (1994)
the worthless word for the day is: semblable [fr. OF sembler, to resemble] /SEM bluh bul/ archaic 1) having a resemblance: suchlike 2) seeming; apparent It is a wonderfull thing to see the semblable Coherence of his men's spirits, and his." - Wm Shakespeare, Henry the Fourth p2 (1597) "What is gained.. by supposing.. the miracle was only semblable, not real?" - Frederic Farrar, Life of Christ (1874)
the worthless word for the day is: nooning (cf. morning, evening) 1) rare midday 2) a rest taken an noon; a lunch break 3) a midday meal "At the first running water we made a long nooning, and I slept on the bare ground." - Owen Wister, The Virginian (1902) "A German gentleman and his two young lady daughters had been taking their nooning at the inn." - Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)
the worthless word for the day is: maquette [F. fr. It. macchietta, little sketch] /ma KET/ a sculptor's small preliminary model or sketch; a model of a room or building "They stand at the glass wall, elbow to elbow, watching crowds flow through the gorges below them.. Their city is a staging ground too huge and hungry to dope out, lying like a scale maquette at their feet." - Richard Powers, Generosity (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: hyperthymia [hyper- + Gk thymos soul, spirit] Psych. euphoria; excessive emotionalism (medically, considered a mild form of hypomania) "Some people are simply the big winners in genetics' happiness roulette. They live every day bathed in renewable elation, enjoying a constant mania without the depression, ecstasy without the cyclic despair. These people (and they are rare) may possess a trait called hyperthymia." - Richard Powers, Generosity (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: hipped [fr. hypochondria, by shortening and alt.] /hipt/ 1) marked by worry, depression, or hypochondria 2) absorbed to an extreme or unreasonable degree: obsessed (usu. used with on) "What with his bad habits and his domestic grievances, he became completely hipped." - H. W. Longfellow, Outre-mer (1835) "Another director is married to a girl who is hipped on psychoanalysis." - Bennett Cerf, Reading Eagle May 24, 1954
the worthless word for the day is: yonks [perhaps related to donkey's years] UK informal a very long time "There has been no worthwhile challenger for yonks in the political arena." - Lankaweb.com (Sri Lanka) Apr. 11, 2010 "..is [Gemma] Arterton the most intriguing actress Britain has produced in yonks?" - The Scotsman, 13 Apr. 2010
the worthless word for the day is: terrine [F.] (cf. tureen) an earthenware serving dish; a ragout served in such a dish (also transf.) "The dense terrine of feeling in Julian - regret, hope, sorrow, faltering ambition, longing - startles him." - Arthur Phillips, The Song Is You (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: eclaircise [back-formation fr. F. éclaircissement, clearing up] rare to clear up "Till time shall accomplish and eclaircise all the particulars." - Th. Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies (1754) Passage O soul to India! Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables. - Walt Whitman, Passage to India (fr. Leaves of Grass, 1919)
the worthless word for the day is: flabbergastation colloq., of uncertain origin the state of being flabbergasted (i.e., astonished, utterly confounded) "We scarcely remember to have ever seen any respectable party in a greater state of flabbergastation." - Punch, 13 Dec. 1856
the worthless word for the day is: maudle [back-formation fr. maudlin] obs. rare to make maudlin; to talk in a maudlin manner ""Bit maudlin tonight, are we, John?" he asked himself out loud. Then gave a little chuckle, knowing he could maudle for Scotland, gold-medal a nap at the Grump Olympics." - Ian Rankin, Exit Music (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: psychopomp [fr. Gk psychopompós, conductor of souls] /SAHY koh pomp/ someone who conducts spirits or souls to the other world, as Hermes or Charon "Good to see you," said the creature, with Mr. Ibis's voice. "Do you know what a psychopomp is?"..."It's a fancy term for an escort," said Mr. Ibis... "I escort the living to the world of the dead." - Neil Gaiman, American Gods (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: dictionatical [dictionary + -ical, relating to] authorized or approved by the dictionary "I don't think that word is dictionatical." - American Dialect Society, Dialect Notes (1917)
the worthless word for the day is: foolscap [fr. a former watermark representing a fool's cap] 1) chiefly Brit. a sheet of writing or printing paper measuring approximately 13 by 16 inches 2) a fool's cap peanuts (thanx to Krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: illaqueate [fr. L. illaqueare, to trick] /eh LAK wee ayt/ archaic to entangle, entrap, ensnare "Let not the surpassing eloquence of Taylor dazzle you, nor his scholastic retiary versatility of logic illaqueate your good sense." - Samuel Coleridge, The Literary Remains (1838)
the worthless word for the day is: crozzled [origin unknown] Brit. dial. charred, burnt to a coal "If it's crozzled up to a cinder I don't see why I should care." - D. H. Lawrence, The Odour of Chrysanthemums (1914) "Ten thousand dreams ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts. They went on." - Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: propaedeutic [fr. Gk propaideuein, to teach beforehand] /pro pee DYU dik/ (also propedeutic) needed as preparation for learning or study; introductory to an art or science "..because the manual of psychiatry acquired at the.. bookshop had not been exactly propedeutic for [them]." - Julio Salazar, Hopscotch (tr. 1966) "The job of philosophy is essentially propaedeutic, anticipating the needs of the real knowledge- gatherers." - Times Literary Supp., 3 Jan. 1997
the worthless word for the day is: cadastral [F. fr. Gk katastikhon, a list or register] /kuh DAS trul/ of a map or survey showing or recording property boundaries, subdivision lines, buildings, and other details "The Domesday Survey was in a sense a cadastral one..." - Blackwood's Mag., Sept. 1886 "..and asked.. if it was true that she was living on the Rue Monge, what number, those inevitable cadastral details." - Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch (tr. 1966)
the worthless word for the day is: trismegistic [fr. Hermes Trismegistus] mysterious, occult; metaphysical (cf. hermetic) "All of us, Talita, you, and I, we form a triangle that is exceedingly trismegistic. I'll tell you again: just give me a signal and I'll break it off." - Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch (tr. Rabassa, 1966)
the worthless word for the day is: beddage [fr. bed + -age] the total number of beds in a facility such as a hospital "Beds collectively, especially in a hospital... How long will it be before the little job of putting on a shirt button is called sewage?" - Eric Partridge, Chamber of Horrors (1952)
the worthless word for the day is: dern [fr. Fris. dern hidden, secret, obscure] now chiefly dialect 1) hidden, secret; crafty, underhanded 2) drear, dark, somber, dire 3) UK earnest, determined (not to be confused with dern, U.S. var. of darn)
the worthless word for the day is: chouse [origin uncertain] /chaus/ (also chowse) mainly UK colloq. to cheat, trick, defraud "[they seem] to have thought that, though simony was a sin, it was no sin to chouse the patron of a living, so it could be got for a preacher of their own party." - Letters of Robert Southey (1856)
the worthless word for the day is: callomania [fr. Gk kallos, beauty + -mania] Psych. having delusions of one's own inordinate beauty "CALLOMANIA An abnormal condition found, usually but not necessarily, among women, characterised by delusions of personal beauty. But why should it not also apply to men who are particularly taken by the sight or presence of beautiful women?" - Fritz Spiegl's sick notes (1996)
the worthless word for the day is: cofishes other fish in a group; by transf. coworkers, cohorts (a Christopher Moore nonce-word) "Bubble dropped a gutless trout into a bushel of slippery cofishes.[3].. 3. Cofishes——other fish in a group, coworkers, cohorts, etc. Shut up, it's a word." - Christopher Moore, Fool (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: jakes [origin uncertain, perhaps from F. Jacques] chiefly British a privy "He kicked open the crazy door of the jakes." - James Joyce, Ulysses (1922) "In particular he feared dying in some undignified way, on the jakes or with his face in the porridge." - Michael Chabon, The Final Solution (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: futz [perhaps fr. Yiddish arumfartsn zikh, lit. to fart around; or maybe just a euphemism] 1) with around : to fool around, waste time 2) with with : to mess with; to tinker or trifle with "Studs kept futzing around until Helen Shires came out with her soccer ball." - James T. Farrell, Young Lonigan (1932) "In spring there is the garden. In fall the leaves. But in winter, unless you're into igloo-making, futzing with the snowblower, or carving out figure eights on the pond, what is there to mess with?" - Chr. Science Monitor, 4 Mar. 1980
the worthless word for the day is: cinereal [fr. L cinereus, ash-colored] /si NER ee ul/ cinereous : ashen "What phantom version of me is it that watches us—them-as they grow indistinct in that cinereal air and then are gone through the gap..." - John Banville, The Sea (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: Pessimisterian pessimism as a state of mind (coined by Rankin?) "In religion, he might be more Pessimisterian than Presbyterian, but in some things John Rebus still clung to faith. Faith and hope." - Ian Rankin, Strip Jack (1992)
the worthless word for the day is: ramsquaddle to beat, thrash {DARE} also, ramquaddled unkempt and in disarray; drunk "The Kentuckian was the half-horse, half-alligator man, full of fun and fight, with a gargantuan capacity for punishing his jug without getting ramsquaddled." - Gerald Carson, The Social History of Bourbon (1963)
the worthless word for the day is: procacity [fr. L. procacitas pertinacity, obtrusiveness, impudence] /pro KAS uh tee/ petulence; impudence "Folks from all over the island went to.. receive a daily dose of the mock crotchety proprietor's patented procacity." - New York Times, 14 June 1998
the worthless word for the day is: slurt to squirt; to blurt (out) "From my company's prospective[sic] business knowledge is far more important than being able to slurt out the latest buzz words." - anon
the worthless word for the day is: flug dust or lint that collects in pockets, under beds, and in similar places; also fig. (also sp. phlug)
the worthless word for the day is: bowssen [fr. Cornish beuzi, to drown, submerge] /BAUS un/ in Cornwall to immerse in water as a treatment for insanity; hence, bowssening
the worthless word for the day is: backchat [back + chat] a) gossipy or bantering conversation: small talk b) good humored repartee c) UK impertinent or impudent replies
the worthless word for the day is: ackamarackus [origin unknown] (possibly coined by Runyon) U.S. slang, now rare pretentious nonsense; something intended to deceive; humbug "Now of course this is strictly the old ackamarackus, as the Lemon Drop Kid cannot even spell arthritis, let alone have it.." - Damon Runyon, The Lemon Drop Kid (story, 1934)
the worthless word for the day is: kerygmatic [fr. Gk kerygma, proclamation] /kerig MAD ik/ belonging to or of the nature of preaching; also transf.
the worthless word for the day is: jaculation [fr. L. jaculari, to hurl] obs. the act of throwing or hurling
the worthless word for the day is: gilravage [origin unknown] chiefly Scot. to practice intemperate eating and drinking; to be noisy and boisterous in merrymaking "Great was the gilravaging and fun.." - John Ramsay, Eglinton Park Meeting (poem, 1848)
the worthless word for the day is: pilpul [fr. Heb. pilpel, to search, argue] /PIL pool/ : casuistic argumentation especially among Jewish scholars on talmudic subjects : rabbinical dialectic : critical analysis and hairsplitting
the worthless word for the day is: tohubohu [fr. Heb. tohu, confusion + bohu, emptiness] /TOW hu BOW hu/ chaos, confusion
the worthless word for the day is: shammes [fr. Hebrew shamash, servant] /SHAH mes/ (rhymes with promise) Yiddish 1) the sexton or caretaker of a synagogue 2) Am. slang : a detective, a policeman; a 'private eye' (see Irish shamus)
the worthless word for the day is: pistic [fr. Gk pistikos, faithful < pistos, faith] /PIS tik/ of, relating to, or exhibiting faith
the worthless word for the day is: volitant [fr. L. volitare, to fly to and fro] /VOL i tnt/ 1) flying or capable of flying 2) moving about rapidly, to and fro "The bat is a volitant quadruped." - Century Dictionary (1891) "The tremulous volitant motion of breeze upon wave." - Fraser's Mag. July, 1857
the worthless word for the day is: aposematic [fr. Gk apo-, away from + sema, sign] Zool. being conspicuous and serving to warn (applied to coloration of animals) "In effect, then, aposematic coloration is negative advertising." - Steven B. Carroll, Ecology for Gardeners (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: redeless [fr. G. rede + -less] archaic without counsel or advice; foolish, heedless; resourceless, perplexed, confused "The treasury being empty, owing to the extravagance of Richard, Parliament meets in accordance with the royal summons, but it is a packed Parliament, and the poet thus describes it, in "Richard the Redeless"..." - William Langland(?), Piers Plowman (ca. 1378) "Ethelred, so redeless, From westward course restrained me." - Eirik the Red (tr. by Gwyn Jones, 1961) "The marriage Unn arranged.. produced the villain of Njáls saga.., while Gunnars' redeless marriage to Hallgerd enabled its central feud." - W. I. Miller, Bloodtaking & Peacemaking (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: zyxt [fr. Kentish zi, ze to see] obs. Kentish thou seest (also zixt, zist) "'Zyxt' will be the last word in the New English Dictionary [OED], the monumental ten-volume work which is being carried to completion by the Oxford University Press." - The Living Age, [Spring] 1921 "The New York Times put the fact on the front page the next morning, [Jan 1, 1928] - that with the inclusion of the Old Kentish word zyxt - the second indicative present tense.. of the verb to see - the work was done, the alphabet was exhausted, and the full text was now wholly in the printers' hands." - Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman (1998) "Given that in the new online edition [zyxt] has been stripped of its headword status and moved to the middle of a heap of variant spellings of see, it seems unlikely that it will ever return to vogue." - Ammon Shea, Reading the OED (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: zythum [fr. Gk zuthos, beer] /ZAI thum/ in ancient Egypt a kind of malt beer (much of the word's continuing use is due to its status as the last word listed in several dictionaries, as in the online OED) "For the thousands of years that the Egyptians were building pyramids they were brewing zythum to quench their thirsts, to satisfy their gods, nourish their appetites and to help them relax." - (Newcastle) Journal June 28, 2001 "And, there's someone in the pub we refer to as Zythum. He always has the last word." - ibid. --- NOTE: the last word in W3 is 'zyzzogeton', a genus of large South American leafhoppers
the worthless word for the day is: fremescent [fr. L. fremere, to roar] /fre MES ent/ archaic, rare murmuring, growing noisy and indignant "Thuriot shows himself from some pinnacle, to comfort the multitude becoming suspicious, fremescent: then descends; departs with protest..." - Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (1837) "On either side fremescent crowds jostle and growl." - Scotsmann May 4, 1881
the worthless word for the day is: antipriscianisticall [fr. Priscian-us, a celebrated Roman grammarian] obs. nonce-word ungrammatical "Againe he was unlearned, because the Latin which he did speake was such incongruall and disjoynted stuffe, such antipriscianisticall eloquence..." - Thomas Coryate, Coryats Crambe (1611) "Coryate describes the woodcutter's mode of speech as 'antipriscianisticall'.. meaning ungrammatical, an adjective of his own manufacture which has justifiably failed to find a place in the Oxford English Dictionary." - Michael Strachan, The life and adventures of Thomas Coryate (1962) (thanx to Cécile)
the worthless word for the day is: huckery (today's word is esp. for Stuart in NZ..) [fr. huckster, or origin unknown] 1) obs. ME the business of a huckster {OED2} 2) NZ slang ugly {Collins Eng. Dict. 5th Ed.}; often used to describe a woman or moll {Partridge} "Collins, Chambers, OED, they're all useless anyway, since none of them offer a defintion or etymology for NZ English "huckery", which means run-down, decrepit, in a state of poor repair, etc. So I say that none of them are worth the paper they're no [longer] being printed on." - Stuart, languagehat.com Sept. 24, 2008 She hath holden hokkerye al hire lyf tyme. - William Langland, Piers Plowman (ca. 1377) "Jools looking pretty huckery in dun frock and plastic sandals." - (Wellington) Dominion, 25 Mar. 1993 (quoted in New Partridge Dict. of Slang, 2006) "..everybody seems to be in agreement that this year's batch are pretty ordinary, so much so that you could rename this show America's Next Huckery Moll." - America's Next Top Model (blog) June 3, 2007 this week: expect the unexpected
the worthless word for the day is: flamfew [corruption of F. fanfelue, bubble(?)] also flamefew, Sc. flamfoo obs. rare 1) a gewgaw, trifle, trinket 2) Naut. moonlight reflected on water (cf. moonglade) "a top drawer filled with costume-jewelry flamfew" - David Grambs, The Endangered English Dict. (1997) "Flam-few. The glimmer of the moon on the water." - A Naval Encyclopædia (1880)
the worthless word for the day is: plumpendicular [blend of plumb line + perpendicular (fr. L. pendeo, to hang)] obs. dial. perpendicular (to the ground); hanging perpendicularly "A plumpendicular gulch is a sudden, awkward and heavy fall." - A dictionary of archaic and provincial words (1855) "[I]t will be a bad day indeed, and the sun must be "plumpendicular down in dere eyes,".. if your industry is not rewarded by a dozen of sporting fish..." - The New Sporting Magazine (1870)
the worthless word for the day is: flapadosha [origin unknown] an eccentric, showy, superficial person "Need some verbal firepower to flatten an obnoxious stuffed shirt? Try the supremely supercilious flapadosha, which applies to any vain, ostentatious, shallow person." - Charles H. Elster, There's a Word for It! (1996)
the worthless word for the day is: crumenically [fr. L. crumena, purse] humorous nonce-word in relation to the purse; related to money "A Work.. in which I am greatly interested, morally and crumenically." - S. T. Coleridge (letter to a friend, Mar. 20 1825) "It is a different matter if every individual begins to consider what in his own case is crumenically expedient." - The Christian Observer (1834) (reminds me a bit of the Simpson's cromulent..) this week: really rare words, or Google this!
the worthless word for the day is: energumenist [fr. Gk energoumenos, possessed by an evil spirit] obs. rare one possessed by demons "The meerly passive be simply deemoniacks, but not energumenists." - John Gaule, Select Cases of Conscience (1646) "Who is the energumenist who comes up with these, or is it a committee, or is it--" - W. F. Buckley (to M. Thatcher, on Firing Line, Sept. 20 1975)
the worthless word for the day is: impigrity [fr. im- + L. piger slow, dull, sluggish] obs. rare quickness; diligence The omni parent of all arts am I, My forms and motions do surpass The Delian twins impigrity, Of the fam'd mirror glass. - D. Roscoe, A Pindarick* Enigma (fr. The Diarian Miscellany, 1775) *in the style of the Greek poet Pindar
the worthless word for the day is: infrendiate [fr. L. infrendere] obs. rare to gnash the teeth "As everyone knows, the words marked obsolete or archaic in unabridged dictionaries are the best words of all... the dazzled reader will learn that "bloncket" means "gray, or a light grayish blue" and "infrendiate" to "gnash the teeth" and "discerp" to "tear something to shreds." - The Washington Post Oct 19, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: villatic [fr. L. villaticus, of a country house < villa] /vi LAD ik/ of a farm or village: rural; rustic And as an evening dragon came Assailant on the perched roosts And nests in order ranged Of tame villatic fowl.. - John Milton, Samson Agonistes (1671) "I suppose you think a hummingbird would dare stick its beak into this arctic tundra, this endless twilight, this . . . this villatic barbican!" - Jan Karon, Out to Canaan (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: obluctation [fr. L. obluctari, to offer resistance] obs. rare the action of striving or struggling against something 'a struggling or striving against; resistance' {Webster, 1828} (not to be confused with oblectation!) "To use that artificial obluctation, and facing out of the matter." - Martin Fotherby, Atheomastix (1619)
the worthless word for the day is: humicubation [fr. L. humi, on the ground + cubare, to lie down] /hyu mik yoo BAY shun/ obs., rare lying on the ground, especially in penitence or humiliation "Fasting and sackcloth, and ashes, and tears, and humicubations, used to be companions of Repentance." - Bp. John Bramhall, Hobbes' Animadversions (1658) "He is afraid, that 'this doctrine' of fasting, and mourning, and tears, and humicubation, and sackcloth, and ashes, 'pertaineth to the establishment of Romish penance.'" - Bp. Bramhall, op. cit. "I had to submit to humicubations in abatures during my pernoctations..." - S. K. Hoshour, Letters to Squire Pedant (1856)
the worthless word for the day is: Sprachgefühl [G., fr. sprache speech + gefühl feeling] /SHPRAKH guh fyl/ an intuitive grasp of the spirit of a language, esp. consciousness of what is acceptable usage; linguistic instinct "..whose Sprachgefühl and orexis will find more than fugacious fulfillment among its felicific pages." - Laurence Urdang, Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words (Foreword, 1972) "The Sprachgefühl, feeling for speech, exercises a pervasive influence in a language so long cultivated as English." - Eric Partridge, World of Words (1938)
the worthless word for the day is: humectation [fr. L. (h)umecto, to moisten] /hyu mek TAY shun/ archaic the act or process of moistening or wetting; irrigation; the condition of being moistened or wet "Health consisting in his view in the humectation and suppleness of the parts, he advised water in great abundance as the "universal menstruum..." - C. B. Burr, The Physician as a character in fiction (from The American Journal of Insanity, July 1906) bonus word: menstruum - a solvent
the worthless word for the day is: orexis [Gk orexis, desire] /aw REK sis/ Psych. the aspect of mental activity concerned with emotion and desire rather than cognition; appetite, desire "..whose Sprachgefühl and orexis will find more than fugacious fulfillment among its felicific pages." - Laurence Urdang, Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words (Foreword, 1972) "Aristotle coined the Greek noun orexis from.. orego, which means "to reach out." Orexis is the soul's "reaching out" for something in the world. - Larry Arnhart, Darwinian Natural Right (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: legerity [fr. F. legereté, lightness (fr. L. leviarius?] /luh JER ud ee/ agility of mind or of limb: nimbleness "This is not a succedaneum for satisfying the nympholepsy of nullifidians. Rather it is hoped that the haecceity of this enchiridion of arcane and recondite sesquipedalian items will appeal to the oniomania of an eximious Gemeinschaft whose legerity and sophrosyne, whose Sprachgefühl and orexis will find more than fugacious fulfillment among its felicific pages." - Laurence Urdang, Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words (Foreword, 1972) "..the legerity of the French mind made the Gallic visitor quick to comprehend his desire for solitude, and the very transparency of the masking rendered it invulnerable." - Elinor Wylie, The Venetian Glass Nephew (1925)
the worthless word for the day is: contrafibularities [fr. contra-, against + fibula, a bone in the lower leg] while sounding congratulatory, the elements suggest pulling someone's leg Blackadder: Oh, well, in that case, sir, I hope you will not object if I also offer the Doctor my most enthusiastic contrafibularities. Dr. Samuel Johnson: What? Blackadder: '"Contrafribularites", sir? It is a common word down our way. Dr. Samuel Johnson: Damn! [writes in the book] - Edmund Blackadder, Blackadder the Third "Contrafibularities was one of several nonce [or nonsense] words used by the fictional Edmund Blackadder to confuse the lexicographer Samuel Johnson, whom Blackadder despised. Among the others were anaspeptic, phrasmotic, pericombobulations, interphrastically and extra- muralization." - wikipedia (this week: nonsense and jokes)
the worthless word for the day is: hackette [hack + -ette] a jocular or disparaging term for a female journalist "I, innocent hackette on my first foreign assignment, passed up the chance of becoming part of the action of Frederick Forsyth's life." - The Sunday Times, 18 Feb. 1990 "[Barbara] Amiel has been busy penning yet another letter to The Spectator in her ongoing row with Sunday Times hackette Eleanor Mills." - The Evening Standard (London), Feb 19, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: stupex [fr. stupid] jocular, obs. a fool "The light of nature would show that to any one but a stupex." - Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Trial (1864) "..we had fairly to place the morsel in his mouth and call him a little stupex for his pains." - Beatrice Batty, Mätzchen and his Mistresses (1881)
the worthless word for the day is: frostification jocular the process of becoming frosty "..a certain frostification in progress among most elaborately tended whiskers..." - John Wilson, Blackwood's Magazine (1831) "[I]t is an act of great barbarity to leave the persons of the plot stoically and heroically facing the gathering storm - feet in imminent peril of frostification and the very words of their converse snapping from their tongues like broken icicles." - Michael Loftus, The Pots of Mcphail (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: hedgehoggy [hedgehog + -y] having a prickly nature, of a forbidding appearance or manner; tending to arouse aversion (hence, hedgehogginess) "So your hedgehoggy readers roll themselves over and over their Bibles, and declare that whatever sticks to their own spines is Scripture; and that nothing else is." - John Ruskin, The Ethics of the Dust (1866) "'Why is it that we English, when we meet abroad, are so very friendly, and when we reappear in London are so very hedgehoggy?' I told her that the reason why there was no hedgehogginess on this occasion was because I was not an Englishman." - John L. Motley, Correspondence (a. 1877)
the worthless word for the day is: enturbulate [coined by L. Ron Hubbard, prob. fr. turbulent/disturbed] used as a shibboleth by Scientologists to disturb; to harass "The English language was insufficiently rich and diverse for Hubbard and he often made up new words to compensate for its inadequacies - to 'enturbulate' was a neologism meaning 'to bring into a confused state'." - Russell Miller, Bare-faced Messiah (1987) "Underground armies operate in the large cities enturbulating the police with false information through anonymous phone calls and letters." - William S. Burroughs, The Wild Boys (1971) "Yet it gets under the skin, leaks in, enturbulates the dark waters." - Catherine Keller, The Face of the Deep (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: nomothetic [fr. Gk nomothetikos, of legislation] /nom uh THET ik/ relating to law; based in general laws "Is musicology.. a nomothetic or an idiographic discipline? Ought it to emulate physics and concern itself with estab- lishing generally applicable laws or must it, like history, describe what is unrepeatable?" - Daily Telegraph 19 Sept, 1970
the worthless word for the day is: obnixely [fr. L. obnixus strenuous, resolute] obs. rare earnestly, strenuously cf. obnixiously (not to be confused w. obnoxiously) "[M]ost humbly and most obnixely I must beseach both them and you..." - The Gentleman's Magazine (1862, in letter fr. Robt. Codrington to Sir Edw. Dering, pleading for mercy from the Parliament for unintentional offence given in one of his poems)
the worthless word for the day is: pernickety [origin unknown] chiefly Brit. characterized by excessive precision and attention to trivial details; fussy, meticulous, persnickety "Sich fellers are troubled with a vertigo in their consciences, and are never very pernikety how they steer if it leads 'em tu profit." - J. Downing, Life of Andrew Jackson (1834) ""No, the word is not persnickety; it's pernickety," I can hear him saying to me. Only a pernickety person, like him, might say such a thing." - Zontee Hou, Pieces Apart (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: omniscian [fr. L. omniscius + -an] obs. rare a person who knows, or professes to know, everything "[A]nd say not but Thomas Nash hath read something, that, affecting to seem an university of sciences, and a royal exchange of tongues, would be thought to have devoured libraries, and to know all things.., like Adam and Solomon, the arch-patrons of our new omniscians." - Gabriell Harvey, Pierce's Supererogation (1593) "Have Omniscians learned anything new recently?" - Neil de Grasse Tyson, Just Visiting This Planet (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: myrmidonize [myrmidon + -ize] obs. rare to make hard, to harden "Besides, she hath steeled my soft impressive heart, and myrmidonized mine eyes, that they shall never give grief a tear more alms." - Th. Nashe, Christ's Tears Over Jerusalem (1593) "..long ago someone thought to use myrmidonize as a verb, but the word didn't catch on." - poetrypoem.com Jul 03, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: mussitate [fr. L. mussitare, to mutter] obs. to mutter "'Oh, Anu, I never thought to see you again,' he mussitates. (I have appeared to him in my original form.) 'What name are you using now?' 'Loki.'" - Dan Wick, The Devil's Tale (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: heisenbug [after Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle] Programming jargon a software bug that alters its behavior or disappears when you try to isolate it or examine it (compare schroedinbug) "A Heisenbug is a transient software error (a soft software error) that only appears occasionally and is related to timing or overload. Heisenbugs are contrasted to Bohrbugs which, like the Bohr atom, are good, solid things with deterministic behavior." - Gray & Reuter, Transaction Processing (1993) "Finally, and this is perhaps the easiest solution, you can kill yourself. Believe me, [that] looks pretty tempting after trying to find a thread related Heisenbug for two weeks." - The Register, 28th July 2008 this week: more eponyms
the worthless word for the day is: Zoilist [after Zoilus, Gk critic famous for criticism of Homer] a carping critic My fashion's known; out rhyme, tak't as you list; A fico for the sour-brow'd Zoilist. - John Marston, What You Will (1607) "'The man is a Zoilist, and there is nothing to be done about such creatures.' Polly asked what a Zoilist was. 'A carping and malicious critic..'" - Pamela H. Johnson, Survival of the Fittest (1968)
the worthless word for the day is: Oblomovian [fr. Ivan Goncharov's novel, Oblomov] characterized by sloth or lassitude (see also Oblomovism, sluggish inertia) "Gumbo was in a bad mood. His Oblomovian head was dizzy and drooped over the bar." - Drago Jancar, Mocking Desire (tr. 1998) "There is Papa, an ex-journalist whose wife committed suicide, and who now leads an Oblomovian existence of bed, gin, and hopes for his 18-year-old Omar at university next fall." - John Simon, John Simon on Film (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: Thalian [pertaining to Thalia, the muse of comedy] of the nature of comedy; comic "The Thalian Association's version [of 'Phantom'] is different from Andrew Lloyd Webber's better- known "The Phantom of the Opera," which has been running on Broadway since 1988.." - California Chronicle, Oct. 06, 2009
the worthless word for the day is: lusk [origin uncertain] idle, lazy, worthless {Johnson, 1822) "The lapses of lusk water heard apart, As in a dream are heard love-broken words, Or wing-strokes when the chimney-swallows dart." - Julian Hawthorne, Millicent and Rosalind (1889)
the worthless word for the day is: gry [fr. Gk gru, grunt of a pig; dirt under the nail] obs. anything of little value, as the paring of the nails {Johnson, 1805} "The work has every fault which must convict it.. but which will leave it not the ninety-ninth part of a gry the worse.." - E. S. Barrett, Heroine (1815)
the worthless word for the day is: tralatitious [fr. L. tralatio, a transporting or transferring] /tra luh TISH us/ 1) characterized by transference; metaphorical, figurative 2) handed down: traditional (nothing at all to do with skipping/jumping, tra la..) "In the first place I give the meaning of each word, both its primary and its secondary or tralatitious meaning." - Richard C. Christie, Etienne Dolet (1880) "Among biblical critics a tralatitious interpretation is one received by expositor from expositor." -Wm. Withington
the worthless word for the day is: moider [origin uncertain] /MOI dur/ Irish & Brit. dial. (also moither, etc.) [tv] 1) to perplex, bewilder 2) to distract, bother [iv] 1) to talk incoherently: be delirious 2) to wander about aimlessly or confusedly (not to be confused with U.S. vernacular for murder) this week: more words from Dr. Johnson "I never was so moidered in all my life as I was yesterday..." - William Westall, Ralph Norbreck's Trust (1885) "..to become, at last, the writer who depicted, as none has ever done before or since, the moidered passions of youth." - Andre Maurois, Mad Grandeur (tr. 1938)
the worthless word for the day is: violaceous [L. violaceus, violet-colored] of a violet color, bluish purple "(his prose frequently begins as lavender and moves rapidly through violaceous toward plum-colored)" - Damien Broderick, Earth is But a Star (2001) "The extraordinary violaceous blue tint which immediately precedes the yellowish red." - Pereira's Polarized Light (1854 tr.)
the worthless word for the day is: chartopaigniologist [fr. Gk charte[s], a sheet of paper + pagnios, playful + -ologist, person who studies] nonce-word an expert in gambling "But if I told them that I'm a chartopaigniologist, they might be impressed and give me a laboratory." - Anthony Burgess, The End of the World News (1983)
the worthless word for the day is: fidimplicitary [fr. L. fides implicita, implicit faith] /fi dim PLI si ter ee/ nonce-word having implicit faith in another's views "[I]nsomuch as one word will hardly be believed by our fidimplicitary gown-men, who, satisfied with their predecessors' contrivances, and taking all things literally, without examination, blaterate, to the nauseating even of vulgar ears, those exotick proverbs, There is no new thing under the sun, Nihil dictum quod non dictum prius, and, Beware of philosophers.." - Sir Thomas Urquhart, Logopandecteision (1653) (cf. logopandocie) "It had grown later and later when Dr. Dodypol, fidimplicitary no more, burst into a crazy fit of laughter.." - Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat (1981)
the worthless word for the day is: deblateration [fr. L. deblaterare, to prate or blab out] the act of prating or babbling "..in the words of Sir Thomas Urquhart.."We nauseate such quisquiliary deblaterations of philsophunculi." - Jacqueline Belanger, Critical Receptions ""Truly, sieur," replied Sir Thomas, "your observations on those antiquated times, as they are now called by those shallow and fidimplicitary coxcombs, who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations, appear to me both orderly digested and aptly conceived." - Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 1817 "(she'd received the ophelimitic deblateration of god..)" - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005) (quisquiliary: trashy, worthless)
the worthless word for the day is: philosophunculist [fr. the Latinate form philosophunculus] rare a petty or insignificant philosopher (see also philosophaster) "You know, or should know, that I am a senior philosophunculist on active duty." - Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) "..the sagacity of the sapient philosophunculi.." - Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. (1817)
the worthless word for the day is: deprehend [fr. L. deprehendere: to seize, catch, detect, etc.] obs. 1) to seize, capture 2) to take by surprise 3) to perceive or detect hence, deprehendible & deprehensible (detectable) "[L]et them and the world know that thou.. can deprehend the wise in their own wisdom, and the proud in the imagination of their wicked hearts to their everlasting confusion." - John Knox (sermon, ca. 1570) "I deprehend in myself more than an alacrity, a vehemency to do service to that company, and so I may find reason to make rhyme." - John Donne, Letters (1651)
the worthless word for the day is: eumoirous [fr. Gk eumoiros, well-endowed by fortune] /yoo MOI rus/? rare happy or lucky as the result of being good ""But in a hundred years we wouldn't use a word like 'eumoirous'!"" - Leo Rosten, The Return of Hyman Kaplan (1959) "After the threesome went their own eumoirous ways, Regina Lochner slipped like a specially treated throat lozenge into the seedy, contrectated terra incognita of the Louisiana Francophile militia.." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: commination [fr. L. comminari, to threaten] /kom uh NAY shun/ a formal denunciation; also used loosely "The last [letter] is on the subject of religion, and by its publication will gratify the priesthood with new occasion of repeating their comminations against me." - Th. Jefferson, letter to John Adams June 15, 1813 "At last the leaders of the Democratic Party have moved decisively, hauling out their ripest comminations and hurling them at--no, not at George Bush. The man at whom they're leveling their fire is Representative James Moran of Virginia." - Alexander Cockburn, The Nation March 31, 2003 this week: things I've left undone
the worthless word for the day is: depontication [ad L. pons/pontis, bridge; after defenestration] the act of hurling from a bridge "There are several instances of defenestration in Czech history, and it has continued into modern times. The martyrdom of St Johannes is the only case of depontication, but it must be part of the same Tarpeian tendency." - Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts (1977) [this is quoted (erroneously?) online as 'depontiFIcation', perhaps influenced by this: "Shana Alexander added that if this verb [to defenestrate] is acceptable, then jumping off of bridges should be "depontification."] --- akmszkuta writes to remind us of an other variant form, flocciPaucinihilipilification (which gets out-googled about four-to-one, for what that's worth). This was apparently foisted on us by Sir Walter Scott in 1829: "They must be taken with an air of contempt, a floccipaucinihilipilification [sic, here and in two other places] of all that can gratify the outward man." {OED2} But consider, the Latin prefix nauci- means worthless, while pauci- means few or little. QED.
the worthless word for the day is: maritodespotism [fr. L. maritus, husband + despotism] /MAR i toh DES puh tiz'm/ ruthless, tyrannical domination by a husband "One could very well assume that these women are victims of domestic violence and might have been subject to extreme maritodespotism without any recourse for legal or social review of their circumstances with the aim of attaining a favourable outcome." - Akin Akintayo, Akin (blog) 21 January 2009 "Ruthless domination by a husband is "maritodespotism." Search for the comparable wife word is under way. Stand by." - L. M. Boyd, San Fran. Chronicle Apr 5, 1998 [that would be uxorodespotism; thanx Charles..] ".. and the one and only hyperhedonic, brimborian, and mendaciloquent maritodespot, playing craps and engaged in a heated, rather secretive, hubbub over someone's roll." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005) (and, apropos of nothing..) "Known hence forth as a quantum heretic, Albert was left in a strange limbo, his ideas were discussed to a great extent; however he, himself, ..who so many considered the personification of floccinaucinihilipilification, was greatly ignored." - Christopher WunderLee, ibid.
the worthless word for the day is: devenustation [de- + venustation, a making beautiful] (Theroux's coinage?) the condition or process of being reduced from Venus status: de-aestheticization "[W]e can rely on Leo Steinberg's reading of the formal and thematic ways in which Les Demoiselles constitutes "the radical devenustation" that inaugurates modernist art." - Charles Altieri, The Kenyon Review Spring, 1984 "LEGS. The one devenustation. What intrusive image will you have, swollen fetlock? Curb at the bank of the hock? Puffed gaskin?" - Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat (1981)
the worthless word for the day is: uranology [fr. Gk ouranos sky, heaven(s) + -logy] /yur uh NAL uh jee/ (also ouranology) 1) the study of the heavens: astronomy 2) a discourse or treatise on the heavens hence, uranologist & uranological "Uranology is a science which treats of the natural body of heaven..." - E. Sibly, The Celestial Science of Astrology (1792) "..we may regard ouranology as the discipline that binds together the various specializations necessary to the creation of a space microcosm." - Anthony Burgess, The End of the World News (1983)
the worthless word for the day is: eonism [eponym, fr. the Chevalier Charles d'Éon (1728-1810), a French adventurer who wore women's clothes + -ism] transvestism, esp. by a man "Eonism is rather a puzzling condition to define and to label. I met with it many years ago [1920] and put it aside for further consideration." - Havelock Ellis, Psychology of Sex (1938) "Havelock Ellis proposed the term "eonism," naming it after its prototype, the Chevalier D'Eon and as a parallel to sadism and masochism. Hamburger and his associates in Denmark reserved the term eonism for severe cases of so-called "genuine transvestism." - Harry Benjamin, Transexualsim and Transvestism.. (1954)
the worthless word for the day is: luciferous [fr. L. lucifer, light-bearing] /lu SI f(uh)rus/ archaic bringing light or insight: illuminating (to be confused with Luciferous) "..the luciferous action of dead fish may be not only transfused to water, but may be afterwards brightened by a certain quantity of saline impreg- nation..." - The Imperial Magazine, Vol I (1831) "..the line between the 'luciferous' imparting of knowledge to the common good and the 'luciferous' exploitation of knowledge for personal gain was a fine one, to be drawn within the consciences and attitudes of each individual." - Mark Greengrass et al, Samuel Hartlib (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: astunomologist [fr. Gk astunomos, city magistrate] policeman (nonce word coined by Burgess?) "'I never saw the necessity of an astunomologist on the team.'...'It comes from the Greek for policeman.. Policeman sounds horrible, of course.'" - Anthony Burgess, The End of the World News (1983)
the worthless word for the day is: castrametation [fr. L. castra, camp + metari, to measure out] the art or science of laying out an encampment "The elder traveller.. plunged, nothing loth, into a sea of discussion concerning urns, vases, votive altars, Roman camps, and the rules of castrametation." - Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary (1816) "'..pray put me in mind of the word that has been on the tip of my tongue this last half hour,.. the learned word for setting up tents and so on.' 'Castramentation[sic], sir,' said Welby, beaming with decent triumph..." - Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen-Gun Salute (1989)
the worthless word for the day is: epicritic [fr. Gk epikrinein, to decide] /ep i KRIT ik/ of or relating to sensory nerve fibers that enable the perception of slight differences in the intensity of stimuli, especially touch or temperature (not to be confused with protopathic, of or relating to sensory nerve fibers that enable the perception of strong rather crude stimuli) "During the early stage of recovery, when the primitive, protopathic sensibility had been restored, but not yet the finely discriminating epicritic sensibility, many of the experiments had been extremely painful." - Pat Barker, Regeneration (1991) this week: science rears its ugly head?
the worthless word for the day is: devorative [fr. L. devorare, to devour] /de VOR uh tiv/ obs., Med capable of being swallowed whole "[D]evorative capsules are thin films of gelatin designed to be used like powder-papers, except.. when ready to be taken the whole capsule (and powder) is.. then swallowed." - John King, King's American Dispensatory (1900) succulent and devorative cherrystone clams - David Grambs, The Endangered English Dict.
the worthless word for the day is: calefacient [fr. L. calefacere, to make warm] [n] a medicinal agent which produces warmth or a sense of heat [adj] producing warmth (also, calefaction, calefactive) "Galen strongly defends the practice of drinking wine, especially for old people. He says: 'Old age is cold and dry, and is to be corrected by calefacients.'" - Lord Bramwell, 'Drink: A Rejoinder' (in the 19th Century, June 1885) "But if the swelling is itself cold, the remedy must be combined with a calefacient astringent such as bog rush and the medicament derived from a certain species of oyster." - Eric Schroeder, Muhammad's People (1955)
the worthless word for the day is: cohobate [fr. L. cohobare, perh. fr. Arab. ka"aba, to repeat an action] /KO ah bate/ old Chem. to redistill (a distillate) one or more times hence, cohobation, a repeated distillation (not to be confused with cohabit) thanx to Joel Patton "Cohobate the Spirit and distil again, after which rectify it in a Glass Matrass, in a gentle Balneo, or Sand-heat." - Richard Le Gallienne, An Old Country House (1902) "He is our contemporary Dr Dee, effecting cohobation from the dross and vapours of the urban scape to produce this golden vision..." - Will Self, New Statesman 16 October 2000
the worthless word for the day is: cephalization [fr. Gk kephala, head + -ize + -ation] /SEF uh li ZA shun/ Biol. the degree to which the head is developed and dominates over the rest of the body "Now this cephalization, this subordination of the members and structure of the anterior part of the body to the head, is a difference in degree..." - Charles Lyell, The Antiquity of Man (in The North American Review, Oct. 1863) "Indeed, this increased cephalization of animal life in the fall of the great year does suggest a kind of ripening process, the turning of the sap and milk, which had been so abundant and so riotous in the earlier period, into fibre and fruit and seed." - John Burroughs, Time and Change (1912)
the worthless word for the day is: precatory [fr. L. precari, to pray] /PREK uh tor E/ expressing entreaty, or a wish also, precative "Because the Constitution gives the President the discretion to recommend only "such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient" (Article II, section 3 of the Constitution), the specified officers and I shall treat these directions as precatory." - Pres. Obama, (in The Washington Post Mar. 11, 2009) (thanx to TEd R.)
the worthless word for the day is: fissiparous [fissi- (being split) + L. parere, to bring forth] divisive; factious "Lenin was duelling with the Mensheviks while pursuing the fissiparous feud against Bogdanov and Krasin, who had stolen much of his Tiflis-heist booty, which in turn was being vigorously pursued by the European police." - Simon Montefiore, Young Stalin (2007) "Russia's far east has always been the most strate- gically vulnerable part of Moscow's fissiparous imperium, in what is the world's biggest country." - The Observer (UK), 2 August 2009
the worthless word for the day is: hyperhedonia [fr. hyper-, above + Gk hedone, pleasure] Psychol. feeling abnormally great pleasure from a humdrum act "Hyperhedonia A condition in which abnormally heightened pleasure is derived from participation in activities which are intrinsically tedious and uninteresting. For a case study near you, see any golfer." - Peter Bowler, The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird and Wondrous Words (1992)
the worthless word for the day is: mendaciloquent [fr. L. mendacium, falsehood + -iloquent, speaking] obs. rare skillful or artful at telling lies "..the one and only hyperhedonic, brimborian, and mendaciloquent maritodespot, playing craps and engaged in a heated, rather secretive, hubbub over someone's roll." - Christopher WunderLee, The Loony (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: enracinate [en- + F. racine, root < L. radix] to put forth roots; hence, enracination, the act or process of taking root (compare deracinate/deracination) "For no kind of formal architecture can take account of ecology: the cold and authoritarian abstractions of recent modernists comprise quite another discourse. Here, we enracinate ourselves." - Peter Jones, The Architectural Review (Nov 1996) "[The angel's] reply uses the familiar Caribbean metaphor of the tree, but in a way that no longer sees enracination as an imperative, and which now encourages the movement into exile." - Martin Munro, Journal of Modern Lit. (Winter 2006)
the worthless word for the day is: jacquerie [F. < jacques, peasant] /zha KREE/ 1) capitalized the uprising of the French peasants against the nobility in 1358 2) a peasant revolt, esp. a very bloody one "In the ensuing jacquerie, peasants attacked the nobility, seized land and drove out the Tsar's police." - Simon Montefiore, Young Stalin (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: perlustration [fr. L. perlustrare] 1) the act of inspecting, surveying, or viewing a place thoroughly; a comprehensive survey 2) the act of examining documents for purposes of sur- veillance; spec. the inspection of posted letters, etc. (see also perlustrate) "The perlustration was compounded by widespread fear of contagion in Philadelphia." - Laurie Garrett, The Coming Plague (1994) "Mr. Hugh Fraser.. asked the Prime Minister whether cables and radio telegrams sent by M.P.s were priv- ileged from perlustration by the security services." - Times (London), 15 Mar. 1967 "[The Okhrana] bureaux noirs practised perlustratsia (perlustration): 380,00 letters annually were being opened by 1882... police director, Lopukhin, found forty of his own private letters in the dead man's safe: the Minister was perlustrating his own chief of police." - Simon Montefiore, Young Stalin (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: hemipygic [fr. Gk hemi- half + pyg, buttocks + -ic] nonce-word having only one buttock (or, half-assed) "..which first causes it to depress at the poles, then warps it into an ellipsoid that wobbles through a period of hemipygic asymmetry to the beauty of a pear." - Guy Davenport, The Dawn in Erewhon (in Tatlin!, 1974) the pyg family
the worthless word for the day is: buccinator [fr. L. bucinator, trumpeter] /BUK suh nA tur/ Anat. (of) the thin, flat muscle forming the wall of the cheek - so called from its use in blowing wind instruments also attrib. "Two or three [frogs] are blowing out their buccinators." - Blackwood's Magazine, v. LI, 1842 "Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, he explained, owed the signature ballooning of his cheeks to the buccinator muscles." - Steve Giegerich, Body of Knowledge (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: canicular [fr. L. canicula, little dog < canis] 1) relating to the Dog Star, or its rising (ab. Aug. 11) 2) of or relating to the dog days of summer "Canicular days are computed by Harris to extend from the 24th of July to the 28th of August." - Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopædia Supp. (1753) "But, in the sudden storm, calculations went to the canicular devils." - Vladimir Nabokov, Ada (1969)
the worthless word for the day is: assot [fr. F. assoter < L. ad- + sot, a fool] /as SOT/ obs. to make a fool of, infatuate, befool (cf. besot) (not to be confused with asset) "They assot themselves, they will not conceive aright of their estates." - Bp. Andrewes, Sermons (a1626) "[H]e counted on King Mark to be so assoted with Isolde that he would plunge his hands into her robe rather than deeply into the supposed treasure." - Thomas Berger, Arthur Rex (1978)
the worthless word for the day is: costiveness [fr. L. costiver, to bind] constipation; also fig., stultification "I find the autumn stimulating, as spring is supposed to be for others. Autumn is the time to work... A general costiveness has set in, however,.. and I cannot work." - John Banville, The Sea (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: viduity [L. viduitas < vidua, widow] /vi DOO i tee/ widowhood "[T]here is of course the house on the canal where mother lay a-dying, in the late autumn, after her long viduity." - Samuel Beckett, Krapp's Last Tape (1958) "Hauled back to his cell, he took his own life by drinking a phial of poison smuggled to him by his wife, who perhaps was, understandably, impatient for her viduity." - John Banville, Prague Pictures (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: feuilletonist [F. feuilletoniste] /fuh yuh TOE nust/ a writer of regularly appearing critical or familiar essays or of a column "The article was terrible. The feuilletonist had obviously understood the whole book deliberately in a way in which it could not possibly be understood." - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (tr. 2000) "And there, glaring at him across the room, was sad old Svoboda, the critic and feuilletonist, whose name had not been allowed to appear in print since '68." - John Banville, Prague Pictures (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: synecdoche [L. a. Gk synekdoche] /suh NEK duh kee/ a figure by which a more comprehensive term is used for a less comprehensive or vice versa; as whole for part or part for whole, genus for species or species for genus, etc. compare metonymy "Are only the Danish snot-nosed? No, but a good question. The writer does refer to Danes here, but perhaps not literally. Perhaps he refers to a generic type of mid-eighties, reflexively leftist Western European youth. I think the writer could just as easily have used Norwegian. I'd say this is a good example of synecdoche as we discussed yesterday." - Arthur Phillips, Prague (2003) "Conjure a winter morning, a river and a castle and a traveller disembarking with a book under his arm and for the space of a page or two an implied world comes to creaky life. It is all a sleight of the imagination, a vast synecdoche." - John Banville, Prague Pictures (2003) heh. dueling citations..
the worthless word for the day is: plutonic [fr. L. Pluto] 1) of deep igneous or magmatic origin plutonic rocks 2) plutonian (relating to Pluto) (not to be confused with platonic) "Ocean ridges and island arcs are the location of the Earth's most active areas of volcanic and plutonic activity." - Kearey & Vine, Global Tectonics (1990) "As if some ancient doom compelled him to wander here against his will in the service of his Plutonic master." - Th. Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891)
the worthless word for the day is: intenerate [ad. L. tener, tender] now rare to make tender, soften (lit. and fig.) (not to be confused with intemerate) "..and the undesigning approaches and familiar communion of his family could not but win and intenerate his heart." - The New-England Magazine Oct 1, 1835
the worthless word for the day is: arse-verse [L. arse verse, to turn back fire] a Tuscan-Latin incantation against fire not to be confused with arse-versy, heels-over-head, topsy-turvey "Arse-verse.. A spell written upon a house to preserve it from burning." - Nathan Bailey, English Dialect Words.. (1883) Stand to't, quoth she, or yield to mercy, It is not fighting arsie-versie... - Samuel Butler, Hudibras (1678)
the worthless word for the day is: snipocracy [fr. snip + -ocracy] obs. rare the tailoring profession or its leading members "By Jove! this comes it strong. Fancy the snipocracy here - eh?" - George Meredith, Evan Harrington (1861)
the worthless word for the day is: forficate [fr. L. forfex] /FOR fi kit/ shaped like scissors; deeply forked "It would be advisable to have a term to express such extreme condition, which I shall call forficate..." - Elliott Coues, Key to North American Birds (1872) "Many of you probably are aware that the scissor-tailed flycatcher (Muscivora forficate) is our state bird." - Daily Oklahoman Apr. 5, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: divulgate [fr. L. divulgare, to divulge] 1) obs. divulge 2) archaic disclose, reveal; publish (while marked as archaic in modern dictionaries, this term seems to be making a comeback, either as a loan word (from Italian), or as an inkhorn term..) (thanx to Pfranz) "I tried to slow myself down so as not to divulgate the impatience of desire." - Lee Siegel, Love in a Dead Language (2000) "[The Iron Heel] divulgates a fully developed theory but cannot countenance its consequences." - Phillip E. Wegner, Imaginary Communities (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: plagium [L., kidnapping] /PLAY jee um/ Civil Law the crime of kidnapping (esp. of children); an instance of this "A 29-year-old woman has appeared in court charged with plagium, the offence of child stealing." - BBC News Oct 31, 2005 "Plagiarism, which means kidnapping words of another, comes from the Latin, plagium (kidnapping)." - (as from) Anu Garg, The Dord, The Diglot, etc.
the worthless word for the day is: spaghettification [by extension fr. spaghettify] the stretching of objects into long thin shapes in a very strong gravitational field, caused by extreme tidal forces "I am convinced, by arguments given by Wheeler in 1957, that the end point of spaghettification - the singularity itself - is governed by a union, or marriage, of the laws of quantum mechanics and those of spacetime warpage." - Kip Thorne, The Future of Spacetime (2003) "You're stretched into an incredibly thin line, miles long, like a strand of pasta. Scientists call this process spaghettification. And the black hole, as if in appreciation of the analogy, slurps you down." - Philip Plait, Death from the Skies! (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: ekpyrotic [fr. Gk ekpurosis, conflagration] referring to the destruction and recreation of the world in fire "The ekpyrotic process begins far in the indefinite past with a pair of flat empty branes sitting parallel to each other in a warped five-dimensional space - a situation they say that represents the simplest solution of Einstein's equations in an advanced version of string theory." - Dennis Overbye, New York Times May 22, 2001 "There is another idea, still in its infancy, called the ekpyrotic universe (Greek for "from (or out of] fire")." - Philip Plait, Death from the Skies (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: benignity [fr. MF. benignité] /bi NIG nuh tee/ (rhymes with dignity) 1) the state of being gracious 2) archaic kindness "The abbé spoke of the faith with wisdom and benignity." - W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge (1944) "The evil inherent in human nature forbids the fancy of a despot blending benignity with energy, or an oligarchy at once sagacious and generous." - The New York Times July 29, 1867
the worthless word for the day is: peenging [prob. an imitative alteration of whinging] Sc. and n. Eng. regional whining, complaining, moping; peevish "[T]hat useless peenging thing of a lassie there, at Ellangowan..." - Walter Scott, Guy Mannering (1815) "And he says, I've sold some neeps - you ken he had that girny peenging voice - I've sold a cartload of neeps to a chiel in London, but he wants me to deliver them, and I don't ken where it is." - Duncan McLean, Blackden (1994) [neeps are turnips!]
the worthless word for the day is: exodist [fr. exodus + -ist] /EK suh dust/ rare one who departs from one place to settle in another; an emigrant "Want was the prime foe these hardy exodists had to fortress themselves against." - James R. Lowell, The Biglow papers (1848) "I walked through Chelsea's streets with an exodist's attentiveness." - Joseph O'Neill, Netherland (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: inconsonance [fr. inconsonant, after consonance] lack of harmony: disagreement "[W]e are able to judge respecting the consonance or inconsonance of the means employed." - Rbt Wilberforce, The doctrine of holy baptism (1849) "It had turned into a freakishly transparent morning free of clouds or natural inconsonances of any sort." - Joseph O'Neill, Netherland (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: tantalism [fr. Tantal-us + -ism] obs. rare a teasing or torment like that of Tantalus; tantalization "Is not such a provision like tantalism to this people?" - Jos. Quincy {Webster, 1828} "..longings concerned with horizons and potentials sighted or hallucinated and in any event lost long ago, tantalisms that touch on the undoing of losses too private and reprehensible to be acknowledged to oneself, let alone to others." - Joseph O'Neill, Netherland (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: gormlessness [gormless (stupid) + -ness] the state of lacking intelligence; foolishness "The problem with being evil, he'd been forced to admit, was that demons were not great innovatory thinkers and really needed the spice of human ingenuity. And he'd really been looking forward to Eric Thursley, whose brand of superintelligent gormlessness was a rare delight." - Terry Prachett, Eric (2002) "She was casting us in a screwball comedy, herself as Hepburn.. me as the professor with his head up his ass. I looked the part: excessively tall, bespec- tacled, given to nodding and smiling. I have never entirely shed the gormlessness of that early role." - Joseph O'Neill, Netherland (2009)
the worthless word for the day is: aftosa [Am. Sp., < Sp. fiebre aftosa, aphthous fever] /af TOE suh/ hoof-and-mouth disease (cf. Hud, Bill Cosby) "We need a cure for the confusion surrounding the common name for aftosa." - William Safire, The Right Word.. (2004) "hoof-and-mouth is synonymous with foot-and-mouth, could be regional differences -- or maybe hoof-and- mouth got a bad reputation from Paul Newman in Hud, and Bill Cosby.. or maybe we should just call it aftosa or aphthous fever." - tsuwm, Wordsmith Talk 03/22/01 back in the days when "Hud" was in first run release, Cosby was doing stand-up comedy and his take on the scene in the movie where the cattle were hurtling towards oblivion went something like this: cow1: hey man, where we goin? cow2: goin' to get shot cow1: shot?! how come? cow2: we got hoof-and-mouth cow1: what's that? cow2: noticed that white stuff 'round your mouth? cow1: yeah... cow2: that's hoof-and-mouth (thanx to anonymous expiscation) this week: more contributions from our readers
the worthless word for the day is: ceilidh [Gaelic] /KAY lee/ Irish & Scot. 1) a friendly call: visit 2) a social gathering with traditional music, dancing, and storytelling Eating and meeting Talking and singing Such is the ceilidh The joy of my life - Robert Urquhart (in The Creaky Traveler, by Warren Rovetch) "There will be a ceilidh on Saturday evening at the Spa Ocean room from 8pm to midnight." - Scarborough Evening News, 16 June 2009 (thanx to Meghan R.)
the worthless word for the day is: amerce [fr. OF. a merci, at (one's) mercy] /uh MURS/ to punish by a fine, the amount of which is left to the discretion of the court; broadly to punish "That the University have power to punish and amerce all forestallers, regraters.." - The History of the Univ. of Cambridge (1840) "The King could not amerce other people's villeins harshly, although those on his own farms might be amerced at his discretion." - William S. McKechnie, Magna Carta (1905) (thanx to Ray Haupt)
the worthless word for the day is: lustration [fr. L. lustrare, to purify] /luh STRAY shun/ a purifying ceremony; an act or instance of cleansing especially by moral or spiritual purification "There was much to be done: prayers, lustrations, holy meals-and the sacred scrolls must be taken to the nearby caves and hidden from the impious enemy." - Out of the Desert, Time Apr. 15, 1957 "It lasted a long time, this swim which seemed to have some of the qualities of an esoteric act of lustration." - Lawrence Durrell, Monsieur (1975) "Nalyvaychenko described the opening of formerly secret documents and plans to proceed with prosecutions as "the launch of a Ukrainian version of lustration."" - Eurasia Daily Monitor June 5, 2009 (thanx to krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: siffilate [modif. of F. siffler, to whistle] /SIF uh layt/ rare to whisper ""He's gone," was siffilated above and below, until it met the ears of even Corporal Van Spitter, who had it from a marine, who had it from another marine, who had it from a seaman, who..." - Frederick Marryat, Snarleyyow (1837) "The librarian told us that if we felt impelled to communicate in the library we should either pass notes or siffilate our words." - Rod L. Evans, The Gilded Tongue (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: megalonisus [fr. Gk megalo- great, exagerrated + L. nisus, striving] /meg ah LON ih sus/? very rare a tendency to exaggerate {Mrs. Byrne} "Mrs. Byrne herself suffered from a rare form of megalonisus." - anon.
the worthless word for the day is: anamnesis [Gk < anamimnesko, to remind one] /an am NEE sus/ the recalling of things past; recollection, reminiscence "It is the familiar, autumnal Auden speaking: student of fleshly decay, writer of thank-you notes, urbane scold, expert at anamnesis, a celebrator of the numinous past that raises nostalgia almost to the level of ritual." - Timothy Foote, Time Feb. 03, 1975 "Everybody who has heard of Plato has heard of the doctrine of anamnesis or recollection." - I. M. Crombie, An Examination of Plato's Doctrines (1979)
the worthless word for the day is: anhedonia [NL. fr. Gk an-, without + hedone, pleasure] /an hE DO nE uh/ Psych. the inability to feel pleasure "Anhedonia (if I may coin a counter-designation to analgesia) has been very little studied.. but there are cases of an insensibility relating to pleasure." - T. A. Ribot's Psychol. of Emotions (tr. 1897) "An election straight from Freedonia was an expression of a national anhedonia, a mass loss of appetite for mediocrity, artificiality, pandering, meandering and the rest of the cheap tricks that passed for campaign 2000." - Maureen Dowd, The N. Y. Times Nov. 12, 2000
the worthless word for the day is: becquerel [after Antoine H. Becquerel, French physicist] /bek uh rel/ a unit of radioactivity equal to one nuclear decay per second "A dose of a billion becquerels would typically be fatal in more than half of people, [a spokesman] said." - Alex Morales, Bloomberg Dec 6, 2006 this week : more spelling bee words!
the worthless word for the day is: brachylogy [Gk brachylogia] /bra KIL uh jee/ conciseness of expression; also a condensed expression ""Unless we hold back on hendiadys and ban brachylogy utterly," Blair's public opinion guru Philip Gould told the PM in a memo unearthed by a Sun reporter in a dustbin in Goole, "this party is done for."" - David McKie, The Guardian February 15, 2001 hendiadys
the worthless word for the day is: beckmesser [G., after Sixtus Beckmesser, pedantic musical philistine in Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger] /BEK mes u(r)/ usu. capitalized a critic or teacher of music characterized by timid and excessive reliance upon rules: pedant ""Shall we have," he whispered to Mr. Zander, "a Beckmesser fiasco to-night, or will it be a Walter success?"" - Paul Leicester Ford, A House Party (1901) "Kid Rock was seen leaving the club with a 'beckmesser' on each arm." - The feeble attempt at a hip response by the Spelling Bee pronouncer to "can you use it in a sentence?" - david iserson (blog, May 28 2009)
the worthless word for the day is: Laodicean the 2009 Scripps spelling bee final word.. [fr. the ancient city of Laodicea] 1) of or relating to Laodicea 2) indifferent or lukewarm esp. in matters of religion or politics (in reference to Revelation 3:14-16) "An unfashionable subject in these Laodicean times, that of a man's struggle with his religious faith." - Christopher Hart, Sunday Times (UK) Dec 3, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: otiant [fr. L. otiari, to be at leisure] /OH she unt/ now rare idle; resting; unemployed (cf. otium) "His existence would be otiant and superfluous." - North American Review, Apr. 1845 "They who.. relegate the Supreme to the otiant ease of Epicurus, cut the nerves of moral obligation." - North American Review, May 1878
the worthless word for the day is: salvific [L. salvificus] /sal VI fik/ having the intent or power to save or redeem ".. they had carried back down to the four-dimensional world the memories of the way it had been before Lepidopt's salvific jump." - Tim Powers, Three Days to Never (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: pervious [fr. L. pervius passable, accessible] /PUR vee us/ 1) permeable 2) archaic accessible; open-minded "Pervious concrete -- made of gravel and cement minus the sand that gives regular concrete its impenetrable density -- has the porous quality of a Rice Krispies bar." - Minneapolis Tribune May 26, 2009 The solid, solid universe Is pervious to Love. - R. W. Emerson, May-day (in Works, 1867)
the worthless word for the day is: quale [L., of what kind] /KWA lee/ pl. qualia a property considered independently from things having the property "When I do not know the 'quid' of anything how can I know the 'quale'?" - Benjamin Jowett, The dialogues of Plato (tr. 1875) "Despite our disagreements on qualia, zombies, and consciousness, we remain good friends." - Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: gnathonize [fr. Gnatho, a parasite in Terrence's The Eunuch] obs. rare to act the sycophant to play the smell-feast, to flatter {Blount, 1656} See how he squares it, takes a private stand, To Gnathonize, to act it with his hand. Behold his gesture and his brazen face, How stoutely he doth manage his disgrace. Lo ! how he whispers in his masters eare... - Henry Hutton, Follie's anatomie (1619)
the worthless word for the day is: illecebrous [fr. L. f. illicere, to entice] inkhorn term alluring, enticing, attractive "Hesiodus, in Greek, is more brief than Virgil where he writeth of husbandry, and doth not rise so high in philosophy; but is fuller of fables, and therefore is more illecebrous." - Sir Thomas Elyot, The value of poetry.. (1531) "The background music changes to suit the mood as the program [sc. Alien Empire] celebrates both the illecebrous and the illaqueable of bugdom." - Walter Goodman, The New York Times Feb 9, 1995 bonus inkhorn term: illaqueable - capable of being ensnared [fr. L. laqueare, to snare
the worthless word for the day is: didymous [fr. Gk didumos, twin] /DID uh mus/ arranged or growing in pairs; twin "To the Oswego tea furnished by the didymous monarda and the fermented liqueur extracted from the dragon tree roots, Cyrus Smith had added a real beer..." - Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island (tr. 2002) [monarda = aromatic plant of the mint family] "As it happens, we do not live in a didymous world like Twinwirld, nor do we live in a world where the existence of relatively clear boundaries between souls seems imminently threatened by the advent of extremely high-bandwith interbrain communication..." - Douglas Hofstadter, I Am a Strange Loop (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: goropism [eponymous] see Fletcher quote "..the culmination coming when Leibniz coined the term 'goropism' to characterize the practice of basing historical linguistic relationships on absurd etymologies." - William H. Fletcher, Netherlandic Studies (1985) "[T]heir activity has been referred to as Goropism - a term coined from the first[sic] name of [Johannes] Goropius Becanus (d. 1572), who tried to prove that Dutch was the Ur Sprache of all languages. An example of "Goropism" was the Celtic Academy founded in France in 1805. Members were eager to prove that the etymology of all European languages could be explained with the help of Irish, Welsh and Breton." - Societas Celtologica Nordica, 26 May 1990 [cf. Ursprache] (thanx to zmjezhd)
the worthless word for the day is: hirtellous [fr. L. hirtus rough, hairy + -ellus (diminutive suffix)] /hur TEL us/ (also hirsutulous) finely hirsute thickened hirtellous leaves "He noted that there were "at least 60 ways* to say that a plant is not smooth, that it has fuzz, hair, prickles, or roughness of some sort." Few of these words (such as bullate, hirtellous, pilosulous, and rugose) were familiar to the average person." - Elizabeth Rosenthal, Birdwatcher (2008) *Eskimos got nothing on Botanists "That dictum being: "Any noticeable hirsute or even hirtellous shadings visible upon the represented, unclothed, female form, anywhere below the eyebrows, say, is, in the judgment of this Department, sufficient cause to remove said representation from the category..." - Frank Yerby, Tobias and the Angel (1975)
the worthless word for the day is: thalassotherapy [fr. Gk thalassa, sea] the use of seawater (baths, voyages, etc.) in health and cosmetic treatment "Establishments which provide thalassotherapy have been springing up around the continent of Europe.. to provide a holiday in which the usual seaside ingredients.. are supplemented.. by a regime of salt-water treatments." - Inglis & West, Alternative Health Guide (1983) "...your choice of therapeutic thermal, krauter bad, thalassotherapy and aromatherapy mineral baths." - Orange Coast Magazine, Oct. 1996
the worthless word for the day is: obstupefactive [L. obstupefacere, to stupefy] obs. rare obstructing the mental powers; stupifying {Johnson, 1828} "Readers today are also asked to contribute in another way, by tracking down a long list of quotations that the OED incorporated from Samuel Johnson's 18th century dictionary but which have not been found and checked in their original context. Heading the OED's "Appeals List" is this, purportedly penned by Archbishop Abbot, about 1633: "The force of it is obstupefactive, and no other."" - Steve King, salon.com Apr 19, 2002 "The force of it [sc. an hearbe] is obstupefactive, and no other." - George Abbot, A briefe description of the whole worlde (1605) [as from OED DRAFT REVISION Dec. 2008] this week: more from Johnson's Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: discalceation [fr. L. discalceare, to pull off the shoes] obs. : to put off the shoes {Johnson, 1828} the act of taking off the shoes, esp. in token of reverence "We have all Johnson's pedantic words, such as disculceate, discalceated, discalceation. We know not on what principle these words, which are never used, can be admitted into a dictionary, unless upon the principle that every word which every educated person has introduced into his writings, should be placed immediately in the dictionaries." - The Westminster Review, v14 1831 "The classical Biblical allusion to discalceation is, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." - Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1909)
the worthless word for the day is: vaticide [fr. L. vates seer, prophet; (trans.) bard, poet] a murderer of prophets* (Johnson, 1828} a murderer of poets {Johnson, 1836} *the modern rendering, in most cases Then first (if Poets aught of truth declare) The caitiff Vaticide conceiv'd a prayer. - Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1728) "Vaticide is no crime in the statute-book : but a crime, and a heavy crime, it is; and the rescue of a poet from a murderous enemy, although there is no oaken crown decreed for it, is among the higher virtues." - Walter S. Landor, Classical Conversations (1882) "Last week, a committee of the House of Representatives emerged as the vaticide. The prophet is dead, and the war over." - William F. Buckley, Washington Star June 14, 1977
the worthless word for the day is: perpotation [fr. L. perpotare, to drink heavily] obs. rare the act of drinking largely {Johnson, 1755} excessive drinking "And which insists upon a perpotation, A sort of liquid loan for instant liquidation." - Manufacturer and Builder Apr. 1878 "What perpotation and ruinous ebriety!" - J. E. L. Seneker, Frontier Experience (1906) bonus word: ebriety [L. ebrietas] drunkenness {Johnson, 1828}
the worthless word for the day is: smellfeast [smell + feast] archaic one that is apt to find and frequent good tables; an epicure; a parasite {Johnson, 1828} "Like so many smell-feasts they hankered near the Altars to enjoy the nidorous fumes." - Henry More, [The] mystery of iniquity (1664) The Smell-feasts rouse them at the hint There's cookery in a certain dwelling-place. - Robert Browning, The ring and the book (1868) "He is an outsider, an ingrate, a smell-feast, and who could possibly see the burgeoning of a savior in such qualities?" - Kenneth Burke, Here & Elsewhere (1932) this week: oddities of all sorts
the worthless word for the day is: ucalegon [Ucalegon is one of Priam's friends in the Iliad, and the destruction of his house is referred to in the Aeneid: jam proximus ardet Ucalegon] /yoo KAL uh gon/ archaic a neighbor whose house is on fire or has burned down "But who is this Ucalegon below, that cries and makes such a sad moan?" - Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (tr. 1694) "One of them, Peter Chamberlin, was burnt out; but this Ucalegon lived next door to the Castle, and suffered in consequence." - T. F. Kirby, Annals of Winchester College (1892) "Mingling with the crowd gathered outside the burning dwelling, the ill-starred lexicographer simply could not restrain himself; after smugly flaunting the word ucalegon several dozen times, he was set upon by his neighbors and cast into the flames." - Novobatzky & Shea, Depraved and Insulting English (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: thiotimoline a fictitious chemical compound conceived by science fiction author Isaac Asimov (first published in the March 1948 issue of Astounding Science Fiction) "The result was that I wrote a pseudo-dissertation written as stodgily as I could manage about a compound which dissolved 1.12 seconds before you added the water. I called it The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline." - Isaac Asimov, I.Asimov: A Memoir (1994) "It can only be initiated in my continuum, because the molecules of the activating substance, thiotimoline, have different properties when they're reversed." - Spider Robinson, Time Travelers Strictly Cash (1981)
the worthless word for the day is: cereologist [fr. Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture] /cee ree AWL uh jist/ (also cerealogist) one who studies or investigates crop circles so, cereology "The growing number of amateur and professional cereologists may have the last laugh." - John Vidal, "Cereal Killers" The Guardian, 13 Sept 1991 "Pity the humble cerealogist. Saddled with the Herculean task of explaining the existence of crop circles." - The Observer, 11 July 1993 "The people who had invented the new field (no pun intended) of "cereology" watched a source of income turn into a vapor." - Judith Herbst, Hoaxes (2004) this week: oddities of all types
the worthless word for the day is: droumy [origin uncertain, but see Sc. drumlie] obs. rare troubled; muddy: turbid "[T]o set on fire and trouble states, to the end to fish in droumy waters.." - Francis Bacon, Of the advancement of learning (1605) drumlie winter, dark and drear -- Robert Burns
the worthless word for the day is: depertible [fr. L. dispertire, to distribute, divide (as if fr. depertire] obs. capable of being divided into parts; divisible "[S]ome Bodies have a.. more Depertible Nature than others.." - Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum (1626) "And, as lagniappe, they threw in a list of "spurious words" the scholars had come upon in dictionaries dead and extant, which imposters had got into them as the result of typographical or other errors (sample: "Depectible, a. Error in Johnson's Dict. and some later Dicts. for Depertible")..." - William F. Buckley, The New York Times Dec. 19 1971 (the lengths I go to for latter-day citations..)
the worthless word for the day is: expediate [fr. L. expedire, to make ready, prepare] [adj] obs. expeditious [v] error for expedite (in Cockeram) "This way.. is more prompt and expediate." - John Evelyn, The French Gardener (tr. 1658) Expediate, to dispatch, or make ready. - Henry Cockeram, The English dictionarie, or an interpreter of hard English words (1623)
the worthless word for the day is: ush [back-formation from usher] U.S. slang to serve as an usher "The six gentlemanly cow-boys.. swore that whoever should prove to be the lucky man, the others would ush for him at the ceremony." - Harper's Magazine, Dec. 1890 "Man alive, you've crossed half a continent to 'ush' at that wedding!" - Margaret Cameron, Tangles (The Forlorn Hope) (1910) "The ushers ush anyone who needs ushing, including all the mothers you mention. That is their job." - vandalfan on February 20, 2009 (thanx to Giles Thomas)
the worthless word for the day is: crastinate [fr. L. crastinum, tomorrow] obs. = procrastinate, delay (so crastination = procrastination) so why procrastinate? the prefix was added in classical Latin procrastinare, to put off until the morrow. crastinate seems to have been just an inkhorn term. "And try, by pray'rs, and vows, and floods of tears, To crastinate their sure impending doom." - Richard Dagley, from Death's Doings (1828) ""I am trying to crastinate, so I can stay here long enough to find out what is so infernally important about your quest."" - Piers Anthony, Swell Foop (2002) this week: lost positives, or not
the worthless word for the day is: fatigable [fr. L. fatigare, to fatigue] /FAT uh guh bul/ subject to fatigue; easily tired: defatigable (where defatigable was truly lost, and then back-formed from indefatigable; where de- is used to intensify and in- to negate) "It is evident that the idea of any kind of play can only be associated with the idea of an imperfect, childish, and fatigable nature." - John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (1853) "He was fatigable, and often desperately fatigued, but he persisted..." - Hershel Parker, Herman Melville (2005) "I was always the most defatigable of hacks." - Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One (1948)
the worthless word for the day is: flappable [back-formation from unflappable (1968)] lacking self-assurance and self-control: easily upset (a lost positive of the 2nd kind: jocular) "The existence of back-formed words such as flappable from unflappable. In the word-based hypothesis, this would have to be formed by the prefixation of un- to an already existing flappable, which contradicts its back-formation origin." - Pavol Stekauer, English Word Formation (2000) (the theory being that unflappable was formed out of whole cloth; i.e., un- + flap + -able) ""Now that," said Milo.. "is what I call a shrink. Unflappable, soft-spoken, analyzing everything." "I don't qualify?" "You, my friend, are an aberration." "Too flappable?"" - Jonathan Kellerman, Therapy (2005) "I'm the sort of flappable American who leaves everything until the last minute." - Benjamin Cheever, Strides (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: sheveled [by shortening] (also shevelled) rare, archaic disheveled "He bowed his tall white head into my shevelled hair." - Richard Blackmore, Erema (1877) "After the prisoner was delivered to Lexington the next day in sheveled and humbled state, the posse was dismissed..." - Reese Prescott; The Rockbridge County Gazette, June 28, 1904 (but) "She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way." - Jack Winter; The New Yorker, 25 July 1994 "Is sheveled the opposite of disheveled? Recreational linguists call these words lost positives." - Charles Elster, What in the Word? (2005) ___ you never know how a prefix is going to affect things; some expect that sheveled existed as a positive form (as happened with couth and kempt), but in this case the word was formed (as per OED) by aphesis.
the worthless word for the day is: tardigrade [fr. L. tardigradus, slow-moving] /TAR duh grade/ slow-moving; sluggish "The steady wash of the rain, the tardigrade progress, the inexorable attrition." - T. C. Boyle, Water Music (1981) "Davis mentions.. two intimately connected char- acteristics of the Latin American Enlightenment, namely its tardigrade character and its political conservatism." - Mario Saenz, The Identity of Liberation in Latin American Thought (1999) this week: some echt descriptive words
the worthless word for the day is: mundivagant [fr. L. mundus, world + vago, to wander] /mun DIV uh gant/ rare world-wandering {wandering through the world - Johnson, 1755} His chest was ready and well stocked with clothes Including many things of useless want, Which had been better left to their repose, Instead of being made mundivagant. - Thomas Cadett, Timothy Cotton, a poem (1871) "..and they saw the cities and manners of many men, to an extent undreamed-of by Ithaca's mundivagant king." - James Cabell, The Cream of the Jest (1917)
the worthless word for the day is: tritical [trite + -ical, after critical] archaic trite or commonplace in nature "I don't like it at all; though I own there is a world of water-landish* knowledge in it; but 'tis all tritical, and most tritically put together." - Laurence Sterne, Tristam Shandy (1762) "Nor in reading good moral observations, or anecdotes of great men, do I care whether they are in a connected series, or strung together like Swift's Tritical Dissertation on the Faculties of the Human Mind." - A. P. Russell, In a Club Corner (2007) *nonce-wd characteristic of theologian Daniel Waterland
the worthless word for the day is: entheastic [fr. Gk entheastikos, inspired] /en the AS tic/ obs. agitated by divine energy; inspired "It is this that makes them - to use an uncommon but proper word - entheastic, or having in them the energy of God." - Warren Evans, The Divine Law of Cure (1884) "I thought you should know, because if you're going [to] tell people you're running an election for a seat in the Senate of Canada, you should consult a lawyer... You send me one (1) name, of someone you've elected, and I don't care if that person is also earnest, elegant, erect, enchanting, embraceable, electrifying, ebullient, emollient, enlightened, eager, energetic, earthy, erudite, ecaudate (having no tail), erotic, exotic, effervescent, effete, effulgent, egalitarian, enlivening, enlumining, equable, ethereal, ethical, exuberant, or entheastic." [patiently explaining that the Senate of Canada is appointed by the Governor General] - George Bain, The Gazette (Montreal) Feb 19, 1989
the worthless word for the day is: palterer [fr. palter (of unknown origin) + -er] one who palters: a triffer; a huckster, a haggler "'Was I a preacher?' Pain asked of Anderson, 'no I was a palterer, and my living was but in paltry, and I had no mind to mend yet.'" [fr. ca. 1592] - David Cressy, Agnes Bowker's Cat (2001) "The circuit from conjurer to palterer runs the gamut of scepticism about the very idea of specialness." - International Affairs No.72, 1996 this week: very special people
the worthless word for the day is: morologist [morology + -ist < Gk moros, foolish] /moh ROHL uh jist/ obs. rare 1) a boring fool who speaks utter nonsense; 'a foolish talker' {Bailey, 1727} 2) a student of fools or folly "But then I am a student of fools, a morologist - to coin a word." - W. Wilkins & H. Vivian, The Green Bay Tree (1894) "There is no such thing as applied morology. The laws of stupidity cannot be translated into practice... The laws of morology only work when applied unwittingly." - Matthijs van Boxsel et al, The Encyclopædia of Stupidity (2005) "Everybody has an opinion. Most of them are based on a morologist mentality." - bobsayssomejunk.blogspot.com Mar. 6, 2009
the worthless word for the day is: agathist [fr. Gk agathos, good + -ist; cf. optimist] /AG ah thist/ rare an adherent of the doctrine that all things tend toward ultimate good "The existence of evil compels Dr Miller to substitute the moderate title of 'Agathist' for that of 'Optimist'." - Sydney Smith, The Edinburgh Review Oct. 1829 "The agathist is like an optimist, but more rational and profound. " - Charles Elster, There's a Word for It (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: pedascule [fr. pedant] archaic nonce-word a contemptuous diminutive of 'pedant', coined (or discovered) by WS According to Warburton, "He should have said Didascule [fr. Gk didaskalos; but thinking this too honourable he coins the word Pedascule, in imita- tion of it, from pedant." And Stevens opines, "I believe it is no coinage of Shakepeare's; it is more probable that it lay in his way and he found it." How fiery and forward our pedant is! Now, for my life, the knave doth court my love. Pedascule, I'll watch you better yet. - W. Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, iii. 1 (c. 1590) No pedascule, he bears in his visage such spirits and fires... She will a handmaid be to his desires. - Ausonius, tr. by David Slavitt (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: intrigante [F. < intriguer, to intrigue] /in trE gahnt/ a woman who intrigues; a busybody (also intriguante) "Well, Sir, my mistress was the greatest intriguante of her party.." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Devereux (1829) "..the most fascinating woman they had ever known, but also as an intrigante of dark and winding ways.." - Gertrude Atherton, Black Oxen (1923) ""'Intrigante' conjures up the idea of lightness which I refute. I am not an intrigante; I'm a hard worker. It was vital for me to earn my living," [Miss Dati] said." - Telegraph (London) 09 Mar 2009
the worthless word for the day is: slughorn [erroneous use of slughorne, an early form of slogan] a trumpet some caught a slughorne and an onsett wounde - Thomas Chatterton, Battle of Hastings (1770) I saw them and I knew them all. And yet Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set, And blew. "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came." - Robert Browning, Childe Roland... (1855) "The name "Roland", references to his slughorn (a pseudo- medieval instrument which only ever existed in the mind of Thomas Chatterton and Browning himself), general medieval setting and the title childe (a medieval term not for a child but for an untested knight) suggest that the protagonist is the paladin of The Song of Roland..." - wikipedia this week: ghost words and fictitious entries - we've seen others, from dord to zzxjoanw; here come five more
the worthless word for the day is: phantomnation [misinterpretation of 1725 quot., q.v.] appearance as of a phantom; illusion. (Obs. and rare.) Pope. {Webster 1864}

To The Editor Of The Nation:

Sir: Nowhere that I have seen this monstrosity adverted to is anything said relative to its history.

We find, in Richard Paul Jodrell's Philology on the English Language, published in 1820: "Phantomnation, n. A multitude ot spectres. These solemn vows and holy offerings paid To all the phantomnations of the dead. Pope, Odyssey, b. x., v.'627."

Worcester followed, in 1860, with: "Phantomnation, n. Illusion. Pope."

A few years later, Webster's editors proposed, aiming at an improvement on Worcester: "Phantomnation, n. Appearance as of a phantom; illusion. [0bs. and rare.] Pope."

In England and its dependencies, this Brummagem [spurious] gem of lexicography is known chiefly through the medium of Ogilvle's Dictionary.

If those who have accepted phantomnation as incomplex [simple, uncompounded] had used their eyes to proper purpose, their recorded treatment of it would have been impossible. Though "a multitude of spectres" is not one with "a nation made up of phantoms," Jodrell plainly understood what he essayed to define. But his definition was passed by unobserved, and so was the very next article after his phantomnation, namely, phantomprophet, - also credited to Pope, - explained by "an incorporeal seer." A single glance, other than the most hasty, at his article on either of those eccentricities would have sufficed to reveal that he was possessed with a singular caprice. In phantom we have a substantive passing into an adjective; so that, phantomnation being no stereotyped combination, either phantom-nation or phantom nation is permissible, with hardly anything to choose between them. The point is by no means a nice one.

Worcester, where quoted above, gives no information as to where he learned that Pope has phantomnation, or as to who first defined it "illusion," or something similar. It would be curious to know how many of those who, like him, have appropriated it, were aware of its being in Jodrell. That they all went astray owing to a coincidence of oscitancy [inattentiveness] is clearly beyond belief. We must suppose, then, that their miscarriage had its source in the too frequent practice of their craft in general: whatever novelty one of them brings forward is spheterized [appropriated] by his successors in compilation, without scrutiny and without acknowledgment of indebtedness.

 - F. H.  Jan 13, 1900

"These solemn vows and holy offerings paid
To all the phantom nations of the dead.."
 - Alexander Pope, The Odyssey of Homer  (1725)

the worthless word for the day is: kelemenopy [fr. the alpha sequence klmnop] /kel em en OH pea/ a sequential straight line through the middle of everything, leading nowhere <a strictly sequential irrelevance - John Ciardi> "A good example of the nonce word is kelemenopy, which John Ciardi invented in a A Browser's Dictionary (1980) solely to indulge his wish to father a word." - Jeff Jaske, Storied Words (2004) "Ted Kennedy's political career is a kelemenopy through 20th-century American politics." - John Ciardi, NPR's "On Words"
the worthless word for the day is: abacot [see OED2 quote] a corruption of the word bycoket, a kind of cap or head-dress "Through a remarkable series of blunders and ignorant reproductions of error, [bycoket] appears in modern dictionaries as abacot.. (some of which provide a picture of the 'abacot'), and even inserted in dictionaries of English and foreign languages." - Oxford English Dict. 2nd Ed. (1989) "Abacot, (ab'-a-kot) The cap of state, used in old times by our English kings, wrought up in the figure of two crowns. - Johnson's Dictionary (1828) "It came then to his reeling mind that an appropriate costume for the deed would be the robes and abacot of a Minor Priest." - Gelett Burgess, Lady Mechante (1909) "Murray proved to be an adept ghostbuster, revealing abacot to be based on an early misprint of bycoket (a cap or head-dress) after which, bizarrely, it had taken on an entirely independent life and meaning in the pages of various dictionaries, being passed down 'like a precious heirloom' from Phillips to Bailey, Ash and Johnson, as well as to the canonical Webster." - Lynda Mugglestone, Lost for Words (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: mountweazel [see quotes] a bogus entry purposely inserted into a reference work: a copyright trap "Turn to page 1,850 of the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia and you'll find an entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, a fountain designer turned photographer.. she never existed." - Henry Alford, The New Yorker Aug. 29, 2005 "And only publishing insiders know that a Mountweazel is "a bogus entry purposely inserted in a dictionary or encyclopedia as a means of protecting copyright."" - William Safire, N.Y. Times Mag. Dec 3, 2006 (following up on last week's theme, nothing at all to do with taxidermy 8-)
the worthless word for the day is: obambulate [fr. L. obambulare, to walk to] /oh BAM byuh late/ archaic to walk about; wander aimlessly "[T]hey do not obambulate and wander up and down, but remain in certain places and receptacles of happiness or unhappiness." - John Boys, An exposition of the festival.. (1615) "While we alas ! must still obambulate, Sequacious of the Court and Courtier's Fate." - Francis Rabelais, Works (tr. 1653) "We have often seen noble statesmen obambulating (as Dr. Johnson would say) the silent engraving-room, obviously rehearsing their orations." - The Year's Art (1917) (nothing at all to do with Japanese or Kenyan surnames) this week : unexpected connections (or not)
the worthless word for the day is: idiotism [(1) fr. L. idiotismus, common or vulgar manner of speaking (2) idiot + -ism] 1) a peculiarity of phrase: idiom 2) a lack of knowledge: ignorance; stupidity "The expression 'in or with respect' is an idiotism, a phraseological construction of an adverbial character, and in its ordinary modern use it is the equivalent of relatively." - Edmund Routledge, Every Boy's Annual (1865) "People get sympathy when they have damaged themselves by the perpetration of an idiotism.." - Scotsman, 8 Apr. 1864 "Now, I know that idiotism is highly contagious. But even I was surprised it can go this far. - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Mar. 11, 2009 (best not to use this in connection with idioms)
the worthless word for the day is: sicarian [fr. L. sicarius < sica, dagger] rare (relating to) a murderer, esp. an assassin "In a nation which produced the sicarii, Pilate had given a fatal precedent of sicarian conduct; the Assassins had received from their Procurator an example of the use of political assassination. - Frederic Farrar, Life of Christ (1874) "We called the Sicarian - Lujan, our enforcer - it was taken care of. " - Thea Devine, Sensation (2004) (the Sicarii (dagger-men) were the occupiers of the fortress Masada, taken by the Romans in 74CE)
the worthless word for the day is: cliosophic [fr. Gk kleiein : to tell of, celebrate + -sophic, of wisdom] rare in praise of wisdom (usu. capitalized) "The College of New Jersey had two clubs at this time: the American Whig Society and the Cliosophic Society. Burr was unusual because he belonged to both-the Whigs, until he switched to the Clios." - Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder (2007) "When Gibson joined the Cliosophic Society [a debating club], he was given the cognomen Decius." - Thomas A. Foster, Long Before Stonewall (2007) (connected to Clio, the Greek muse of history, but little to do with the annual advertising Clio awards named after her)
the worthless word for the day is: imborsation [ad. It. imborsazione] /im bur SAY shun/ an Italian mode of election in which the names of the candidates were put into a bag to be drawn by lot "The imborsations are made, and eight hundred names are put in the purses." - John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions.. (1787) "After this they fortified themselves with new laws and ordinances, and made a fresh imborsation, substituting the names of their friends for those of their enemies." - Niccolò Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories (tr. 1845) (this week is all about names)
the worthless word for the day is: polyonymosity [polyonymous + -osity] rare the use of several different names for the same person or thing "In rural polyonymosity it is hailed as sheep-sorrel, cuckoo-spice, hallelujah, ladies' cakes, [etc]. Need it be added that it is also St. Patrick's one true shamrock?" - Walter De La Mare, Times Lit. Suppl. 3 May 1923
the worthless word for the day is: onomasticon [fr. Gk onomazein, to name] /ON uh MAE stik on/ a vocabulary or lexicon of proper names or place names "[The] book ends.. with a Glossary or Onomasticon interpreting the proper names which have been used..." - George Saintsbury, History of the French Novel (1917) "There's the Buffyverse Onomasticon, an online resource that gives the origins of the names of all the characters in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer." - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words 17 Sep 2005
the worthless word for the day is: disquiparant [fr. med. L. disquiparantia] Logic obs. pertaining to the relation of two correlates which are heteronymous, i.e. denoted by different names, as father and son, or husband and wife "There are said, in [Aristotle's] book of Categories, to be four kinds of opposites. Relative opposites are relate and correlate of a disquiparant relation. Contrary opposites are the most unlike species of the same genus, as black and white, sickness and health. The third kind of opposition is between a habit and its privation, as sight and blindness. The fourth kind is between affirmation and negation. This passage has prevented the word opposite from taking any definite meaning in philosophy." - Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology (1902)
the worthless word for the day is: obaceration [fr. L. obacerare to contradict, interrupt] /oh BASS uh RAY shun/? obs. rare the act of shutting someone's mouth (cf. obacerate, to shut someone's mouth; contradict) "Obaceration is the action of shutting someone's mouth -- whether metaphorically or physically is not clear." - Erin McKean, AskOxford 14 Apr 2005 (Bird actually had this spelled correctly, but dropped it for lack of verification; as of Dec. 2008 it has a definitive headword in OED online, whereas it was pretty well obscured (under obacerate) in OED2.) this week I've got obscure words that were at some point purged from Christopher Bird's Grandiloquent Dictionary because they couldn't be confirmed by using various available online resources - in these instances because they were misspelled! as a result, the misspellings have some net ubiety. (e.g., he had abecedarian (the usual spelling) originally as abcedarian, a nice conceit actually given as a variant by OED2.) this all provides support for one of my disclaimers: You try spell-checking this stuff!
the worthless word for the day is: schrecklichkeit [G. Schrecklichkeit, a deliberate policy of terrorizing the enemy (esp. non-combatants) as a military asset] /SHREK likh kahyt/ frightfulness (in the above sense); also trans. and fig. "The British frightfulness of 1943 has left the German Schrecklichkeit of 1915 far behind." - G. B. Shaw, Everybody's Polit. What's What? (1944) "I embarked on the quotidian schrecklichkeit of getting up." - K. Bonfiglioli, Don't Point that Thing at Me (1972) (Bird had this misspelled as schrecklichkreit)
the worthless word for the day is: imparlibidinous [impar, unequal + libidinous] /im PAHR li BID i nus/ very rare relating to an unequal state of desire between two people (another nonce/inkhorn term?) "When you ask the woman of your dreams out on a date and she [mocks] you, and says she would rather couple with a rhino, simply explain to your friends that the two of you were imparlibidinous." - Novobatzky & Shea, Depraved and Insulting English (2002) (Bird had this as inparlibidinous.)
the worthless word for the day is: percribrate [fr. L. percribro, to sift thoroughly < cribrum, sieve] obs. rare to sift; pass through a sieve "The extravagated blood.. percribrates and trickles into the vessells of the vena cava." - Henry Power, Sloane MS British Mus. (1652) (the misspelling in C. S. Bird was percribate)
the worthless word for the day is: mutuatitial [fr. L. mutuatio, a borrowing] /myoo choo uh TISH ul/ obs. rare [adj] borrowed [n] something borrowed (heading) "Mutuatitial essais." [essays] - Robert Vilvain, Enchiridium Epigr. (1654) (hdng) "The sixth classis or century of mutuatitials." - Robert Vilvain, Enchiridium Epigr. (1654) (mutuatitial was misspelled as mutatitial)
the worthless word for the day is: cacestogenous [fr. Gk kakesto, ill-being + -genous, of or relating to origin or development] /kak us TOJ un us/? very rare caused by unfavorable home environment this is probably a nonce/inkhorn term coined by someone who used it once and stuck it on a list of hard words from time to time folks come to wwftd searching out really obscure words - imagine my surprise! this week I'll reveal five more of these. (I have no way of knowing who exactly does these searches, so I'll just have to say thanx to all.)
the worthless word for the day is: dartle [dim. of dart] /DART ul/ (cf. sparkle) archaic, rare to dart or shoot forth repeatedly "My star that dartles the red and the blue!" - Robert Browning, My Star (1855) "Out from the incandescent heart of the kindling amethyst begin to dartle and to flash violet..." - Edward Bulwer Lytton, The Ring of Amasis (1863) (not to be confused with dottle!)
the worthless word for the day is: illaqueation [fr. L. laqueare, to snare] /il LAK wi A shon/ obs. the act of entangling in a snare; esp. an entangling argument "Secondly, there is a seducement that worketh by the strength of the impression, and not by the subtlety of the illaqueation; not so much perplexing the reason as overruling it by power of the imagination." - Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605)
the worthless word for the day is: doryphore [F. doryphore, Colorado beetle (a pest)] /DOR i fo(r)/ (coined by Sir Harold Nicholson) also doriphore one who gains inordinate pleasure from detecting minor errors; a pedantic nitpicker "Conversely the prig, the pedant, or the doriphore were thought unworthy of the name of gentleman." - Harold Nicholson, Good Behavior (1956) "When [the editors].. took me to lunch, they were rigidly abstemious, lest they fuddle their minds and give hostages to subsequent doryphores on returning to work." - New Yorker, 3 Apr 1989 regarding yesterday's garbled Kate Burridge citation, I received the following note, "you must have missed an n in commenstaions." the following quote seems to apply: "For a doryphore, what is more delightful than a mistake in a correction?" - Herb Caen, San Francisco Chronicle (1996)
the worthless word for the day is: deipnetic [fr. Gk deipnon, the principal meal + -etic] obs. rare pertaining to dinner; fond of eating "Of peculiar interest in connection with the present study is the mimic letter which occurred in the "deipnetic" or banquet literature of Chaerophon..." - Reinhard Becker, A War of Fools (1981) "She was an opsophagist, coenaculous and cuppendous - pabulous commesations were an ephialtes for the deipnetic." - Kate Burridge, Blooming English (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: idiolalia [NL fr. idio-, private + -lalia, speech] an idiosyncratic language, one invented and spoken by only one or a very few people; often the private language of twins: idioglossia "Manichaeans who see two Rockets, good and evil, who speak together in the sacred idiolalia of the Primal Twins..." - Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
the worthless word for the day is: anecdotage [anecdote + -age] or [anecdote + dotage] 1) anecdotes collectively 2) facetious garrulous old age Grandfather is in his anecdotage. "Successive campaign advisers had tried without success to get him to give briefer answers, but nothing had stemmed the logorrheic tide, the tsunami of subordinate clauses and parenthetical asides, the inexorable mudslide of anecdotage." - Christopher Buckley, Supreme Courtship (2008) "When a man fell into his anecdotage it was a sign for him to retire from the world." - Benjamin Disraeli, Lothair (1870)
the worthless word for the day is: jactancy [fr. L. jactare, to throw] boastfulness; boasting "He does not strut in innocent pride and open jactancy and crow like Chanticleer to wake the world to labor and joy o' the sun." - Christian Gauss, Why We Went to War (1918) "There was no need now for jactancy in an attempt to magnify himself. Sufficiently had his achievements magnified him." - Rafael Sabatini, Columbus (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: icosahedron [Gk eikosaedron] /eye kO suh HEE drun/ a polyhedron having 20 plane faces "It was an icosahedron. Twenty faces, each of them an equilateral triangle... Geometers loved icosahedrons, but so did nature; viruses, spores, and pollens had all been known to take this shape. So perhaps it was a space-adapted life form, or a giant crystal that had grown in a gas cloud." - Neal Stephenson, Anathem (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: grassation [fr. L. grassari : to go about, attack, rage against] obs. an act of attacking violently; a lying in wait to attack "He addes with extreame intemperance, that this claime to that Kingdome was buried a while, but revived againe by Tyrannicall force, by violent grassation, and by the robbery of Princes.." - John Donne, Pseudo-martyr (1610) "For example, he sneered at Italianate composers, saying that their "Cassations" should really be called "Grassations"." - Mary Sue Morrow, German Music Criticism.. (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: hypotyposis [Gk hypotyposis sketch, outline] /hy po ty PO sus/ vivid picturesque description "Simple and suitable language, the effective metaphor, 'the nervous hypotyposis' may be introduced." - Dublin Review Oct. 1897 "The list could surely go on, and there is nothing more wonderful than a list, instrument of wondrous hypotyposis." - Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (tr. 1983)
the worthless word for the day is: snaffle [of obscure origin] Brit. dialect to steal, purloin; to obtain by devious means, snatch " Jack discovered how to extend the TV mosaic image.. seemingly snaffling up just anybody from anywhere." - Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (1964) Hundreds of BBC staff snaffle six-figure pay - Times Online (headline) Jan 24, 2009
the worthless word for the day is: shonky [origin unknown] Austral. informal of poor quality, shoddy; inferior (thanx to The Pook) "They are based on shonky science, rubbery data and green myths." - The Macleay Argus, Australia Jan 8, 2009 "His drunken friend, his shonky but energetic manager and his bumbling aristocratic fool of an uncle are all caught in the whirlpool of his illness." - The Australian Jan 25, 2009
the worthless word for the day is: shtook [origin unknown (app. not Yiddish)] /shtook/ also shtuck or schtuck U.K. informal, esp. in phrase: in (dead) shtook a problem situation "If it falls down on any of these points, you are likely to be in dead shtook." - Racing Post Jan. 31, 2003 "Do they really believe George W Bush rang up Tony Blair and said something like: "I'm in dead shtuck in Ohio. We need a futile gesture. You'll have to send the Black Watch to Baghdad"?" - Richard Littlejohn, The Sun (London) Oct 22, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: snarge [prob. onomatopoia] /snarj/ the Feather Identification Lab at the Smithsonian Institution has, sometime within this century, coined this term for the goop that remains of a bird after it collides with an airplane (notwithstanding Charles Elster's insistence that it's really "a person nobody likes; a total jerk") (thanx to Betsy!) "Carla Dove(!) and her team at the feather- identification lab at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, study snarge - that's the bird goo that is wiped off an aircraft after it hits a bird." - All Things Considered [NPR], Jan. 16, 2009 "How badly do I want to hear Tamara Taylor say, "Any word on the snarge?" and/or "There's human DNA in the snarge"? So. Badly." - Jamie Frevele, The Huffington Post Jan 21, 2009
the worthless word for the day is: solitarian [fr. L. solitarius, solitary] a recluse, a hermit "At the other end of the solitarian spectrum we find the American monk Thomas Merton, who found monastery life too gregarious for his eremitical taste..." - David McKie, The Guardian May 9, 2002 ""I've spent most of my life alone. Holidays. Birthdays. Symposiums. Even football games. You are dealing with an expert in solitude. I'm an award-winning solitarian."" - Jennifer Vanderbes, Easter Island (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: cacozelia [Gk kakozelia: unhappy imitation; affectation] /ka ko ZEEL i a/ studied affectation in diction or style, as in a speech filled with pedantic latinisms and inkhorn terms (not to be confused with lalochezia?) ""It's not over until it's gone" should be this nation's watchword. Until what's gone, you ask, eyes coruscating with the eager spirit of youth, brow bulging quaquaversally (pardon my cacozelia)." - Ben Tripp, counterpunch.org Oct 26, 2004 "[T]he Times may just be engaging in epicaricacy, but that should not compel us to give ourselves over to cacozelia." - James Robbins, nationalreview.com Nov 18, 2008
the worthless word for the day is: balneary [fr. L. balneum, bath] /BAL nee er ee/ of or relating to a bath, bathing, or a bathroom (also balneal) "In fantasy I view and loathe each balneary station - I have been down at Pebbleton-on-Sea." - Weekly Westminster Gazette, 29 Aug 1924 ""I saw the servants this morning when they were making the search; they opened the door of the balneary and took a glance inside, without investigating."" - Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (tr. 1983)
the worthless word for the day is: encomiastic [fr. Gk enkomiazein, to praise] /en CO mi AS tic/ praising; eulogistic; laudatory "That the views held by the majority of people on social questions are formed largely by their environment seems clearly apparent from the endless encomiastic letters and editorials in the press regarding Andrew Carnegie and his library hobby." - E. B. Swinney, N. Y. Times Mar 31, 1901 "He and Elle.. had spent a tipsy evening extracting from this critical molehill an encomiastic mountain." - Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man
the worthless word for the day is: fumid [fr. L. fumus, smoke] (rhymes with humid) smokey, vaporous; hence, fumidity (smokiness) "He imagined himself standing on the corner, taking in the view, smelling the fumid city air mixed with the stink of stale alcohol and fast food," - Val McDermid, The Mermaids Singing (1995) ""Good night," he said, and went out into the rich fumid air of a Manchester summer evening." - Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man "Temperatures soar and the humidity thickened in a syrupy morass that Cam not so cheerfully dubbed "fumidity." - Nora Roberts, Rising Tides (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: clemmed [fr. ME forclemmed, pinched with hunger] /klem'd/ UK dial. hungry; famished "'All this hanging around's fair clemmed me.'" - Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: rathe [OE hræth] /rayth/ appearing or ripening early in the year bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies - John Milton "Most of these businesses proved as short-lived as the rathe primrose that forsaken dies..." - Reginald Hill, Death Comes for the Fat Man (2007) ""Can I help you, Mr. Penn?" said Rye with enough frost in her voice to blast a rathe primrose." - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: simoniac [fr. LL. simonia, simony] /sy MOE nee ak/ one who practices simony, or the buying and selling of church offices and preferments "In any event, he hadn't seen him for a long time, and Michael's friends hastened to paint the portrait of that simoniac in the darkest hues." - Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (tr. 1986)
the worthless word for the day is: refection [fr. refect < L. reficere, to refresh] /rih FEK shun/ 1) now rare refreshment of the mind or spirit: nourishment 2) the taking of food and drink: repast "The abbot asked him whether he wanted to join the community for the midday refection, after sext." - Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (tr. William Weaver, 1986)
the worthless word for the day is: Oxbridge [conflation of Oxford + Cambridge] [n] 1) a fictional university, esp. regarded as a composite of Oxford and Cambridge 2) the universities of Oxford and Cambridge regarded together, esp. in contrast to other British universities [adj] regarding Oxbridge, often with implication of superior social or intellectual status "'Rough and ready, your chum seems,' the Major said. 'Somewhat different from your dandy friends at Oxbridge.'" - W. M. Thackeray, The History of Pendennis (1850) "The searchlight was remorselessly on Tessa, the Society Girl Turned Oxbridge Lawyer, the Princess Diana of the African Poor..." - John Le Carré, The Constant Gardener (2000)

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