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these are the wwftd archives...

the worthless word for the day is: chumbolone

[of uncertain origin, perhaps a comflation of chump and 
It. strombolone?]
Italian-American slang  a stupid idiot

""I gave him lip service," Doyle said. "I didn't know 
what he was talking about. I don't wanna look like a 
chumbolone, an idiot, stupid," Doyle said from the 
witness stand."
 - John Kass, Chicago Tribune  August 24, 2007

the worthless word for the day is: doofusistic [fr. doofus, a stupid, incompetent person] done by a doofus, or with a doofus, or to a doofus, or in the name of a doofus, or in lieu of a doofus, or just with a doofus-like flair "OK, now you are just being wilfully doofusistic." - h/t to Mark Peters, 27 Oct. 2005
the worthless word for the day is: freudenschade [as opposed to schadenfreude] dissatisfaction, unhappiness, or pain as the result of someone else's good fortune (this week, some neologisms for the nonce) "..my chief emotion was, to coin a phrase, Freudenschade." - Erin Korn, Remainders (1989) "The comment and letter.. on schadenfreude reminded me that there is no single word to express the feeling of disappointment at someone else's success. I suggest 'freudenschade' might fill the gap." - The Observer (London), letter to the editor Dec 31, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: agraffe [F. agrafe < agrafer, to hook onto] /uh GRAF/ 1) a kind of hook, which fastens to a ring, used as a clasp 2) the wire cage holding down the cork in a bottle of champagne (also, F. muselet) (file under: so that's what that's called) "The feather of an ostrich, fastened in her turban by an agraffe set with brilliants, was another distinction..." - Walter Scott, Ivanhoe (1820) "Audoin's greatest Champagne is, without doubt, his Cuvée de Prestige, which is sealed in the 18th century style with a waxed-cord agraffe." - Tom Stevenson, World Encyclopedia of Champagne (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: bayard [fr. bayard, a bay-colored horse] /BAY urd/ obs. one who has the self-confidence of ignorance "..and this he presumes to do, being a bayard, who never had the soul to know what conversing means..." - John Milton, Colasterion (1645) Bold as blind Bayard.. - ancient proberb "You are as bold as blind Bayard the horse, who blunders forth and thinks of no peril.." - Chaucer, The Canon's Yeoman's Tale (c 1386)
the worthless word for the day is: horologist [fr. horology, concerned with measuring time + -ist] /huh RAL uh just/ a person skilled in the practice or theory of horology; a maker of clocks or watches ""A horologist, Jack," she corrected primly... "Not a whoremonger. Chilton told me that a master horologist sells timepieces, not trollops."" - Miranda Jarrett, Buried Treasure (1999)
the worthless word for the day is: extirpate here's the word you may really want when your first thought is decimate.. [fr. L. exstirpo, to uproot] /EK stur pate/ 1a) to destroy completely: wipe out b) to root out 2) to cut out by surgery hence, extirpation, the act of extirpating Which was, that he, in lieu o' the premises Of homage and I know not how much tribute, Should presently extirpate me and mine Out of the dukedom..: - Wm Shakespeare, The Tempest (1610) "The "Self-Regenerating Systems" SRS auto-programming programme is the brainchild of the renowned Pentagon barmy-boffin bureau, DARPA, where they never saw a self-aware computer network hellbent on the extirpation of humanity they didn't like." - Lewis Page, The Register 13 Nov 2008
the worthless word for the day is: fly-tipping [fly + tipping] U.K. the illegal dumping of garbage in an unauthorized place "A custodial sentence could be appropriate for an offence of commercial flytipping even where aggravating features, such as depositing waste of a dangerous or offensive nature, were not present." - The Times (London) November 25, 2008 "On the fence was a sign, Fly Tippers Will Be Prosecuted." - Reginald Hill, The Roar of the Butterflies (2008
the worthless word for the day is: pongy [origin unknown] /PON gy/ Brit. informal having a strong, usually unpleasant smell; stinky, smelly "An 8ft cell replete with pongy latrine and even pongier cellmate." - The Times (London), 22 Aug. 2002 "Whatever, it also smelt like a pongy red herring." - Reginald Hill, The Roar of the Butterflies (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: chuffed updated: [orig. northern Eng. dial. meaning proud] /chuft/ 1) pleased, delighted; flattered; very excited 2) displeased, disgruntled "Qualifiers and context may be required to distinguish usage from the previous sense as 'pleased'. Variants include 'dischuffed' and 'dead chuffed'." [see below] - Eric Partridge et al. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2006) "'He'll not be chuffed at you paying off old debts on company time.' 'He's going to be even less chuffed if something big did happen and South were sitting there smugly saying, "Well, we did warn you!"'" - Reginald Hill, Death's Jest-Book (2004) "'And I thought that Sir Monty.. would be bum-chuffed to hear that something bad might be happening...'" - Reginald Hill, The Roar of the Butterflies (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: piste [F. piste < It pista, track] /peest/ 1) a beaten track or trail made by an animal; more generally, any track or trail 2) a hard packed ski trail or course "A "lost" track recorded by the band in 1967 and performed only once in public could finally be released, Paul McCartney told the BBC in an interview... "I like it because it's The Beatles free, going off piste."" - The Observer (UK) Nov 16, 2008 "Graham Anderson's family holiday to exclusive Puy St Vincent ended in appalling tragedy when he skied off piste with his ski school, lost control and slammed into a tree." - Plymouth Evening Herald (UK) Nov 14, 2008
the worthless word for the day is: cunctatory [fr. L. cunctari, to delay] /KUNK tuh tuh ri/ (not so) rare : delaying "When Marie tries to get a visa to go back to France, the vicious (and often murderous) commissar Pirogov merely tears up her passport. Aleksei, partly out of love for the motherland, partly out of necessity, pursues a cunctatory course, playing along with the authorities while hoping for some future amelioration." - John Simon, National Review, May 22 2000 "As minister, Speer had been stripped of his power to forbid scorched-earth measures. His cunctatory tactics, doubletalk and delay, were patent defiance of Hitler's orders." - James P. O'donnell, The Bunker (2001) (thanx to rkdillon)
the worthless word for the day is: flabbergastation [fr. flabbergast, to confound] the state of being flabbergasted "We scarcely remember to have ever seen any respectable party in a greater state of flabbergastation." - Punch (London), 13 Dec. 1856 "To the complete flabbergastation of all present, he easily read exactly what each of the five had written on their scraps of papers." - Newton Newkirk, Boston Post (1920) "Just when we thought we had heard everything from the financial shenanigans of some of our federal agencies, along comes this "flabbergastation"." - Washington Post (letter to the editor) Apr 17, 1995
the worthless word for the day is: vauntless [fr. vaunt, boasting or bragging + -less] not bragging or boasting "Vigorous, vauntless, straightforward, this man is as eminent and respected a teacher of men as might well be found today..." - Time magazine Oct. 13, 1924 "His tongue is true, he is vauntless, and tauntless." - Daniel Sargent (of G. M. Hopkins), Four Independents (1977)
the worthless word for the day is: preponderate [fr. L. praeponderare to exceed in weight or influence] /pri PON duh rate/ 1) to exceed in weight: turn the scale 2) to exceed in influence, power, importance or numbers; predominate "And in balancing his faults with his perfections, the latter seemed rather to preponderate." - Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (1749) "All these matters, no doubt, will be duly considered by Congress, and a decision had on whichever side the advantages preponderate." - George Washington (to Henry Lee), 20 July 1786
the worthless word for the day is: delation [fr. L. delatio, an accusation, denunciation] accusation, denouncement "[H]e was sure that Wield wouldn't have engaged in a deliberate act of delation over his researches into ex-Sergeant Roote's background." - Reginald Hill, Death's Jest-Book (2003) "Mirabeau himself announced that 'delation is the most important of our new virtues!'" - Friedrich Sieburg, Robespierre the Incorruptible (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: mafflard [maffle, to mumble or stammer + -ard] /MAFF lard/ obs. a stammering or blundering fool "As his book, Reading the Oxford English Dictionary, makes clear, Mr Shea's feat failed to make him a better person, improve his conversation or make him appear more intelligent. Rather it turned him into a mafflard, bedevilled by onomatomania. " - Ben Hoyle, The Times Oct. 4, 2008 this week: Reading the OED with Ammon Shea
the worthless word for the day is: onomatomania [NL] /AHN uh MAD uh MANE ea/ uncontrollable obsession with words or names or their meanings or sounds; esp.: a mania for repeating certain words or sounds "Time and again he returned to the subject of Mrs. Van Alstyne as persistently as though he were afflicted with onomatomania and her name was his particular obsession." - William R. Hereford, The Demagog (1909) "I'm waiting for the next flashing.. name to feed my onomatomania and induce reckless, cackling giggles." - Courier-Mail, 13 Sept. 1996
the worthless word for the day is: Sitzfleisch [G., sitting flesh] /ZITS flaish/ the ability to endure or persist in some activity "They simply hadn't enough Sitzfleisch to squat under a bho-tree and get to Nirvana by contemplating anything, least of all their own navel." - D. H. Lawrence, Things (1928) "There are the ghosts of governors past: Hiram Johnson and populist uprisings; Pat Brown and build, build, build; even Jerry Brown, ca. 1975, with his high- decibel environmentalism, a California space program, a string of new governmental agencies, contempt for civil servants and not much Sitzfleisch for the daily chores of governing." - Peter Schrag, McClatchy - Tribune Business News Nov 14, 2007 "I am always careful to pack a can of sitzfleisch whenever I have to go to the post office or visit a friend who wants to show me his entire collection of baby pictures." - Ammon Shea, Reading the OED (2008)
the worthless word for the day is: vocabularian [vocabulary + -ian] one who gives much or undue attention to words "..the one thing that isn't contestable.. is the last thing that left our venerable vocabularian's mouth prior to his expiration: "Love one another, push the perimeter of this glorious language. Lastly, please show proper courtesy; open not your neighbor's mail." - Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea (2001) "Passionate vocabularians often plunge into the unabridged dictionaries, which average 450,000 entries and offer quantities of information not available in desk versions." - Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: anthropophagous [L. anthropophagus] /ænthruhPOHfagus/ man-eating; feeding on human flesh "'However domesticated your academic may look, he is by instinct and training anthropophagous. Whatever else is on the menu, you certainly are!'" - Reginald Hill, Death's Jest-Book (2003) this week: a glance at Reginald Hill
the worthless word for the day is: (to go) pear-shaped [fr. earlier senses, shaped like a pear; rich, mellow] chiefly Brit. colloq. to go badly wrong, to go awry ""Because as you well know, Wieldy, the last time I asked them for help, things went a bit pear-shaped."" - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2002) "Everything went pear shaped, then banana shaped, then no shape at all. Then I seemed to be drifting in and out of these weird dreams." - Reginald Hill, Good Morning Midnight (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: plonker [fr. plonk, to set down heavily or carelessly] Brit. informal a foolish or inept person ""Any road, I didn't say he were a useless plonker. And if Pozzo says we ought to listen to him, then mebbe we should."" - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2002) ""I'm being a plonker, but everyone's entitled this time of year."" - Reginald Hill, Death's Jest-Book (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: halitotic [ad L. halitus, breath] /HAL uh TOT ic/? (characterized by) having bad breath "Minus her police ally, Jax was delighted to have whatever high-level support she could hang on to in Mid-Yorkshire and she let the halitotic councillor rabbit on for ten minutes or so before cutting him off with a promise to keep him up to speed." - Reginal Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2002) [commenting on the forthcoming end of Prohibition, he said] "we have cast off the cursed yoke imposed by a parcel of umbrella-brandishing halitotic harridans who forced the standards of Goosetown and Waterville, Ohio upon New York, Chicago and Union Hill, New Jersey." - Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, Mencken (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: contortuplicate [ad. L. contortuplicat-us < contortus, twisted together + plicatus, folded] Bot. twisted back upon itself; also in extended use ""But it's all a bit... convoluted, isn't it, sir?" "Convoluted?" echoed Dalziel. "It's [eff]ing contortuplicated!" That sounded like a Dalziel original, but Pascoe had been caught out before and made a note to look it up before making comment." - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: metastasize [fr. NL metastasis] /muh TAS tuh size/ Pathol. to spread to other parts of the body by metastasis; in extended use, to change form or matter; to transform "And the possibility was also there to be considered that what happened between the judge and his associate wasn't seductive flirtation but something misinterpreted as such, growing grotesque in the imagination, sufficient to metastasize as an inclination to bestiality." - William F. Buckley, On the Right this week: interesting usages
the worthless word for the day is: soubrette [F. coy, reserved] /soo BRET/ 1) Theatr. a) a lady's maid in comedies who acts the part of an intrigante : a coquettish maidservant or frivolous young woman -- compare ingenue b) an actress who plays such a part; in extended use, a woman playing a role or roles in light entertainment 2) a lady's maid; a maidservant "Although ostensibly a male - she played the wisecracking, cigar-smoking soubrette - Holt alone wore flesh-colored tights." - Darryl Brock, If I Never Get Back (2007) this week: interesting usages (this use seems very extended)
the worthless word for the day is: luxated [fr. L. luxare < luxus, dislocated] put out of joint; dislocated "[T]here's not even a recognizable human being in here. And this isn't just because of clunky prose or luxated structure. The book is inanimate because it communicates no real feeling and so gives us no sense of a conscious person." - David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays (2005) this week: interesting usages
the worthless word for the day is: perseverating [fr. L. perseverare, to persevere] /pe(r) SEV uh rating/ repeating something insistently or redundantly "Hoffman realizes, belatedly, the television is perseverating, obsessively and dramatically dispensing CNN news. His father waves irritably at the television and gropes for the remote to shut it off." - Kathleen George, Afterimage (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: demegoric [fr. Gk demegoros, popular orator] /dee muh GAW rik/ of or pertaining to public speaking "Aristotle devides rhetoric into three parts. These are the dicanic or forensic, a speech delivered in court; the symbouleutic or demegoric, a speech delivered in front of a political assembly; and finally, the epideictic, a speech concerned with praise and blame, delivered without explicit political or judicial function." - Benjamin Todd Lee, Apuleius' Florida (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: gelastic [fr. Gk gelastos, laughable] /juh LAS tik/ serving the function of laughter, risible "The members [of the Tuesday Club] adopted what they called the "gelastic" law: "That if any Subject of what nature soever be discussed, which levels at party matters, or the administration of the Government of this province, or be disagreeable to the Club... the Society shall laugh at the member offending, in order to divert the discourse." - Elaine G. Breslaw, The William and Mary Quarterly Apr., 1975 "Personally, I want to know the kind of guy or gal who describes a situation as "droll" or "gelastic." But those who opt for the LOL? I kind of want to punch them in the jimmies." - Jen Lancaster, Bright Lights, Big Ass (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: spruntly [origin unknown] obs. 1) vigorously; youthfully 2) smartly; gaily; neatly "How do I look to-day? Am I not drest Spruntly?" - Ben Jonson, The Devil is an Ass (1616) "But he does full justice to Jonson's linguistic zaniness. The comic high-point comes when Sheila Steafel's Lady Tailbush ("Am I not dressed spruntly?") begs Douglas Henshall's dragged-up Wittipol to discourse on Spanish fucuses (cosmetics) and, advised of some diabolical concoction to "keep it in your gallipot well gliddered", solemnly repeats the line as if it were a Delia Smith recipe." - Michael Billington, The Guardian Apr 6, 1995 gallipot - a small usually ceramic pot, for medicines gliddered - glazed over
the worthless word for the day is: sinisterity [fr. L. sinisteritas awkwardness, untowardness, perversity] now rare (opposed to dexterity) 1) sinister character; perversity; dishonesty 2) lack of skill or dexterity; clumsiness, awkwardness 3) use of the left hand; skill in this "Snarling wasn't a form of communication that came easily to him, and attempting to keep his upper teeth bared while emitting the plosive P produced a sound effect which was melodramatically Oriental with little of the concomitant sinisterity." - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2001) "We might wisely keep that word [desterity] for what the hand does at the mind's bidding; and use an opposite word - sinisterity, - for what it does at its own." - John Ruskin, Ariadne Florentina (1874) "The Latin thief's - I may not say dexterity of hand without exposing myself to the charge of making a bull - but if you will allow me to say the Latin thief's sinisterity of hand, became proverbial." - R. Shilleto, in The [Cambr.] Journal of Philology (1877)
the worthless word for the day is: paronomania [coined by Reginald Hill, after paronomasia] a clinical obsession with word games sometimes a person will go to great lengths in coining a new word; take this word, for instance — on the flyleaf of Dialogues of the Dead, Reginald Hill provided the following fiction of an OED entry, complete with quotes from Lyttelton, Byron and Hal Dillinger: paronomania [Factitious word derived from a conflation of PARONOMASIA [L. a. Gr. paronomasia] Word-play + MANIA (see quot. 1823)] 1. A clinical obsession with word games. 2. The proprietary name of a board game for two players using tiles imprinted with letters to form words. OED (2nd Edition) "And was his attempt to read something significant into these name changes merely a symptom of his own personal paronomania?" - Reginald Hill, Dialogues of the Dead (2001) "Anthropophagous. Charley loves such words. We still play Paronomania, you know, despite the painful memories it must bring him." - Reginald Hill, Death's Jest-Book (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: nimrod [fr. Nimrod, a mighty hunter] 1) not capitalized : a hunter 2) N. Amer. slang : a stupid or contemptible person; an idiot "Towns such as Eagle, Glenwood Springs.. and Gunnison throw out the welcome mat for this horde of nimrods." - Denver Post, Oct. 1994 "The Lord doesn't give a damn what a chicken does on the Sabbath, you nimrod! It's a chicken." - Christopher Moore, The Gospel According to Biff (2003) this week: words you might not expect to find in OED and W3, but there they are
the worthless word for the day is: snarf [prob. blend of scarf + snack] orig. U.S. slang to consume quickly or greedily snarfed down some pizza "Tradition has it that way back in the day, you could snarf up more free stuff at the State Fair than you could carry off - I still treasure a little Heinz pickle pin I got there when I was a kid - and that the giveaways, in these lean times, have gone away." - Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News (blog) Oct 01, 2008
the worthless word for the day is: diddly-squat [prob. euphemistic, cf. doodly-squat] U.S. slang the least amount: nothing (in negative constructions, anything) if everyone ignores it, it won't be worth diddly-squat -- Andrew Tobias "On the subject of managerial philosophy, Ozzie Guillen is something of an agnostic. He believes, with his requisite fervor, that managers account for diddly-squat of a team's success, which is interesting, because he gets paid more than $1 million to manage the Chicago White Sox." - Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports Sep 25, 2008 --- J. Hill writes to exclaim: How appropriate! I have a great usage example; Yesterday I had a nice 401k package of company stock, today it's worth diddly-squat.
the worthless word for the day is: bushwa [probably a euphemism for BS] also bushwah rubbish, nonsense there it was again: the bushwa, the sloganeering, being poured out to him with no regard for the truth -- David Driscoll "If you're a detective, what was all that bushwa about Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard?" - Ross Macdonald, The Galton Case (1959)
the worthless word for the day is: snootitude [fr. snoot, a snob; after attitude] /SNOOT uh tude/ the state of mind of a snoot; esp. in regards to the usage of American English (coined by David Foster Wallace?) "Maybe it's a combination of my SNOOTitude and the fact that I end up having to read a lot of it for my job, but I'm afraid I regard Academic English not as a dialectal variation but as a grotesque debasement of SWE [Standard Written English], and loathe it even more than the stilted incoherences of Presidential English ("This is the best and only way to uncover, destroy, and prevent Iraq from reengineering weapons of mass destruction") or the mangled pieties of BusinessSpeak ("Our Mission: to proactively search and provide the optimum networking skills and resources to meet the needs of your growing business"); and in support of this utter contempt and intolerance I cite no less an authority than Mr. G. Orwell, who 50 years ago had AE pegged as a "mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence" in which "it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning."" - David F. Wallace, Harper's Magazine April, 2001 but (note date), "Palm Beach, mother ship of the insufferably wealthy, has a track record of above-it-all snootitude that defies reality for us in the trade classes. It was in deference to the high-born, finely bred, princess-and-the-pea sensitivities of Palm Beach residents that shirtless jogging was barred from that city's streets a few years back.I was surprised to learn they allowed pedestrianism there at all." - Don Addis, St. Petersburg Times Jan 15, 1989 "Snootitude is a fine coinage, but I have always wondered what the criteria are by which certain neologisms are silently accepted while others are not." - Jim Bisso, Wordsmith Talk, 07/28/08 (thanx, Jim)
the worthless word for the day is: term of art a word or phrase used in a precise sense in a particular subject or field; a technical term "Or will you have the goodness to supply us with a few thumping, blustering terms of art..." - Walter Scott, The Antiquary (1816) ""Business model" is one of those terms of art that were central to the Internet boom: it glorified all manner of half-baked plans." - Michael Lewis, The New New Thing (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: presenteeism [after absenteeism] /prez un TEE iz um / the fact or condition of being present, esp. at work; (a) the practice of working more hours than is required by one's terms of employment, or of continuing to work without regard to one's health, esp. because of perceived job insecurity; (b) the practice of attending a job but not working at full capacity, esp. because of illness or stress (usually opposed to absenteeism) {OED Online} "'Presenteeism' in War Plants Sought in Manpower Measures" - Christian Science Monitor (header) Jan 12, 1945 "A new CIGNA survey of U.S. workers shows the flip side of low absenteeism is "presenteeism" - coming to work sick or distracted by personal problems, which can lower productivity." - Hartford Courant Sep 13, 2008
the worthless word for the day is: chaogenous [Gk chaos + genos, born] /kay OJ en us/ arising out of (born amidst) chaos "Then soon chaogenous dreams of revenge were fuming in his serpent brain, the last of his sanity burned out, and he called her to him." - John Gardner, Jason and Medeia (1973) "And after a time, the boiling sea of blood and all the lopped and all the hacked-up humanity that swam within it drained from mah head, and from it rose a pillar of chaogenous calculus, cold and hard. And some serious weighing up of terms ensued. Yes, there, supine beneath a bold and brazen sun, ah struggled with some pretty eternal, some pretty adult problems. Listen." - Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989)
the worthless word for the day is: dysnomy [fr. Gk dys, bad + nomos, law] /DIS noh mee/ rare bad legislation; the enactment of bad laws {Cockeram} "The state of 'eunomy' and good order which that constitution [sc. Lycurgus'] brought about..." - George Grote, A History of Greece (1846) "And though our elected officials usually claim they are committed to eunomy (like you know me), the enactment of good laws that promote the welfare of the people, all the wheeling and dealing of government often results in dysnomy, the enactment of flawed legislation that generates further difficulties and discontent." - Charles H. Elster, There's a Word for It (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: spifflicated [a fanciful conflation] /SPIFF likatid/ slang intoxicated, drunk (also spiflicated) "They forced his teeth open, and, while a couple of them sat on his chest, they poured about a quart of corn liquor into his system. He was so spifflicated before they let him up that they had to lift him bodily and plant him in a seat." - Washington Post, July 1904 ""He's spifflicated," said Andy. "We gotta keep him quiet."" - Darryl Brock, If I Never Get Back (1990) "Not surprisingly, many of these terms begin with the letter "sh" ... er ... "s": "stewed," "soused," "stiffed," "stinking," "snuffy," "sozzled," "spiflicated," "shellacked," "sloshed," "smashed," "schnockered," "sauced" -- and those are just the ones we can print in the newspaper." - Rob Kyff, Hartford Courant Jul 11, 2001
the worthless word for the day is: perquisquilian [fr. L. quisquiliae, trifles, rubbish] (cf. quisquilious) obs. nonce-word thoroughly worthless "It is a most unworthy thing for men that have bones in them, to spend their lives in making fiddle cases for futilous women's fancies: which are the very pettitoes of infirmity, the giblets of perquisquilian toys." - N. Ward, The Simple Cobler of Aggawam (1647) but.. "Efficient primality routines blinking retribution and incalescent divinity without the avoidance of cachinnatory hysterics. Avoid the perquisquilian planets that hatch pseudo magic lanterns." - Jason Earls, Red Zen (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: mundicidious [fr. L. mundus, world + -cidious (-cida, killer)] /mun di SID ee us/ (cf. homicidious, also rare) obs. rare likely or able to destroy the world "[T]hese are Exorbitancies: which is a formidable word: a vacuum and an exorbitancy, are mundicidious evils, Concerning Novelties of opinions..." - N. Ward, The Simple Cobler of Aggawam (1647)
the worthless word for the day is: waldo [fr. the name of Waldo F. Jones, the inventor of such gadgets in a science-fiction story by Robert Heinlein] a device for handling or manipulating objects by remote control "Even the..humanoid gadgets known universally as 'waldoes'.. passed through several generations of development.. in Waldo's machine shop before he redesigned them for mass production. The first of them.. had been designed to enable Waldo to operate a metal lathe." - Robert A. Heinlein, Waldo (1942) "Teleoperation on a massive scale. A kind of spiritual waldo." - Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars (1993)
the worthless word for the day is: uplift [fr. earlier sense, to lift up or elevate] to engineer a species (usually genetically) to make them intelligent; also, the act of uplifting "A young man on the left, wrapped in silver sateen from the throat to toe, held up a placard that said, 'Mankind Was Uplifted Too: let our E.T. Cousins Out!'" - David Brin, Sundiver (1980) "[E]ver since their uplift, these species had all grown more decadent, temperamental, and culturally sterile.. particularly those uplifted for the longest period." - James Gardner, Ascending (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: tanstaafl [acronym, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch] /tans toffle/ intj. asserting that there is a cost, hidden or otherwise, to everything "Oh, 'tanstaafl.' Means 'There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.' And isn't," I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, "or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless."" - Robert Heinlein, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress (1966) "'Tanstaafl. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. We both know that I was brought here for a reason. If we could get down to business.'" - Lance Parkin, The Infinity Doctors (1985) ""I noticed she had a large lapel button that said TANSTAAFL, which I took to be some Scandinavian name."" - Dr Helen Thomas, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: elsewhen [else + when] obs. at another time, at other times but used by Robert A. Heinlein in 1941 as a novella title; so now (in time-travel situations) at another point in time "Her husband willed her to go to the church, which she both then and elsewhen refused to do." - John Foxe, The Book of Martyrs (1563) "I appear in John Baird's apartment and set down the bag. I look at the empty chair in front of the old typewriter, the green beer bottle sweating cold next to it, and John Baird appears, looking dazed, and I have business elsewhere, elsewhen. A train to catch. I'll come back for the bag in twelve minutes or a few millennia..." - Joe Haldeman, The Hemingway Hoax (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: feck /fek/ feck has several vernacular meanings and variations.. [n] Scots 1) efficacy; force; value (whence, feckless) 2) (large) amount/quantity 3) greater or larger part (used with definite article) [v] Irish Eng. 1) to steal 2) to throw 3) to leave hastily [intj] chiefly Irish as an expletive, without sexual connotation; as in: damn, blast "He had a feck o' books wi' him—mair than had ever been seen before in a' that presbytery..." - R. L. Stevenson, Thrawn Janet (1881) "I hae been a Devil the feck o' my life..." - Robert Burns, Kellyburn Braes (1792) "Because they had fecked cash out of the rector's room." - James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist (1916) "Our perceived reluctance to leave the timelessness of the struck chord has earned ukulele players our reputation as feckless, clownlike children who will not grow up." - Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2007) this week: I may have previously failed to gloss these
the worthless word for the day is: refractory [fr. L. refragor, to oppose] /ri FRAK t(u)ree/ 1) resistant to control or authority: stubborn, unmanageable 2) resistent to treatment; unresponsive; immune 3) capable of enduring high temperature (not to be confused with refactory) "I must object to Oxford's dubbing resistentialism a "mock philosophy." There is nothing mock or sham about it, as anyone who has ever had to call a plumber on a Sunday morning to unclog a refractory toilet will attest." - Charles Elster, Resistentialism: Things that go totally awry Refractory Husbands (short stories) - Mary Stewart (Doubleday) Cutting (1913)
the worthless word for the day is: autological [fr. Gk autos, self + logos, word] self-descriptive, self-referential used to refer to words such as polysyllabic, English, pronounceable, common, olde, noun, word (compare heterological) "If it seems questionable to include hyphenated words, we can use two terms invented specially for this paradox: autological (="self-descriptive"), and heterological (= "non-self-descriptive")." - Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach (1979) "The question is: Is the word "heterological" auto- logical or heterological? If it's autological, then it's heterological. If it's heterological, then it's autological. Ha! Ha!" - Cathcart & Klein, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: apolaustic [Gk apolaustikos, devoted to enjoyment] /ap uh LOS tik/ devoted to seeking enjoyment; self-indulgent "The lordly, apolaustic, and haughty undergraduate.." - Saturday Review (London) (1880) "In France President Jacques Chirac observed his 73rd birthday with the lowest approval rating in the history of the Fifth Republic but with the prospect that when his term ends in 18 months he can have an apolaustic position in that Russian-German pipeline, possibly in its oil-for-Food program." - The American Spectator, Feb. 2006
the worthless word for the day is: psilology [alteration of philology; fr. Gk psilo- mere, bare] /psi LOL o gy/ obs. nonce-word (love of) empty talk "Schools of psilology (the love of empty noise) and misosophy are here out of the question." - Samuel T. Coleridge, Literary Remains (1838) bonus word misosophy - the hatred of wisdom
the worthless word for the day is: overegg [Yorkshire, 'we mustn't over-egg the pudding'] fig., orig. Eng. regional to embellish or supply to excess, to overexaggerate "The bank was anxious however, not to overegg investor expectations for the current year." - The Evening Standard, 15 May 2002 "But even that was refreshing, coming from a conductor so often accused of overegging the pudding." - Times Online, UK - Jul 10, 2008
the worthless word for the day is: marmoreal [fr. L. marmoreus < marmor, marble] /mar MOR ee ul/ resembling marble, as in smoothness, whiteness, or hardness "The thought of all that tensed and tensely quivering naked flesh, untrammelled save by the marmoreal folds of a robe or a wisp of gauze for­tuitously placed.. glutted my inexperienced but already overheating imagination..." - John Banville, op cit
the worthless word for the day is: glutinous [fr. L. glutinosus < gluten, glue] /GLOOT (e)n us/ of the nature of or resembling glue; sticky "The spring she had dreaded had come and gone, and she had been too ill to mind its agitations, and now it was a damply hot, glutinous summer." - John Banville, The Sea (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: flocculent [fr. L. flocculus + English -ent] /FLOCK yu lunt/ 1) of the character of wool: woolly, flocky <flocculent cloud masses> 2) made up of loosely aggregated particles or soft flakes <a flocculent white precipitate> "In the flocculent hush of the Golf Hotel we seemed, my daughter and I, to be the only patrons." - John Banville, The Sea (2005) this week: a touch of John Banville
the worthless word for the day is: pleionosis [fr. Gk pleos, filled + L. nos, us (ego)] /PLAY oh NO sis/ obs. rare the exaggeration of one's own importance (cf. nosism, egotism) "The only disorder universal to humankind." - Peter Bowler, The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird and Wondrous Words (1992) "I confess that one word I had never heard of seems to define one of my traits: That's pleionosis, the exaggeration of one's own importance." - Jack Smith, Los Angeles Times Jan18, 1993 "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains: round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away. - P. B. Shelley, Ozymandias (1818)
the worthless word for the day is: clodpoll [clod + poll, head] /CLOD poll/ a stupid person: blockhead, clodpate "Therefore this letter, being so excellently ignorant, will breed no terror in the youth. He will find it comes from a clodpoll." - Wm Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (1601) "Clodpoll number two, the Greek people again... for thinking that just because the civilization here [Smyrna] used to be approximately Greek in the distant past and is now partially Greek, it should be forced into political union with old Greece." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: lackwit [lack + wit] /LACK wit/ a dull or witless person: blockhead, fool yahoo, thickwit, dope, nitwit, dimwit, half-wit ""Lackwit? In what musty drawer of some dead English professor's dust-covered desk did you find that word? I assure you that never in my worst nightmares did I ever suppose that I was a lackwit."" - Orson Scott Card, Shadow Puppets (2002) "I will tell you who the rattlebrains are, beginning at the top. Actually, there is not a top, because there are so many contestants for the lackwit championships that all come in equal first." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: domnoddy [origin uncertain] /DOM noddy/ fool, ninny, nincompoop, simpleton (also, noddypoll, noddy) ""You idiot! You cabbageheaded domnoddy! If you've hurt my horse, I'll have your skin!"" - Gerald Morris, The Squire's Tales (1999) "But it can be a miserable, lonely existence for a subordinate who yearns to be productive and get things done, but is caught in a strangle hold by an unqualified and incapable domnoddy. Incompetent managers rely heavily on rules, policies, and procedures." - Jim Weaver, How Did You Manage That? (2002) "What bothers me is that I am dying (albeit quite pleasantly) because of the most gignatic f[oul]-up, brought about by domnoddies, nincompoops and ninny- hammers of the first order who happened to find themselves in charge of f[oul]ing everything up." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: antejentacular [fr. L. ante-, before + jentacul-um, breakfast] archaic before breakfast (compare postprandial) "Not one poor visit in the antejentacular perambulations." - Jeremy Bentham, correspondence (1843) "You will learn that the holder for a handleless coffeecup is called a zarf (if you didn't already know it); that the antonym for postprandial (afterdinner) is antejentacular (before breakfast), while the antonym of wealth may well be illth..." - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times Aug 9, 1982
the worthless word for the day is: misocainea [fr. Gk misos, hatred + kainos, new] /miso KINE eah/ an abnormal aversion to new things or ideas (cf. misoneism) "Although I agree with the majority that no appellate court has yet held an insurer liable absent a premium payment, it may be nothing more than appellate judges suffering from a case of misocainea!" - Arizona Business Gazette (Phoenix) Nov 11, 1993 "A crucial objective of our program is to remove any innate misocainea.. and replace it with the entrepre- neurial principle of 'change is an opportunity to create competitive advantage.'" - Scientific Computing & Instrumentation, 01 Jan 05
the worthless word for the day is: nephelococcygia [first used in the play The Birds written in 414 B.C. by the Greek comic poet Aristophanes, this was to be a city in the clouds; fr. nephele, cloud + kokkyx, cuckoo] /ne fê lê kak SI jee yê/ 1) capitalized cloud cuckooland 2) the act of finding shapes in clouds "Without flying to Nephelococcygia or to the Court of Queen Mab, we can meet with sharpers, bullies, hard-hearted impudent debauchees, and women worthy of such paramours." - Thomas Macaulay, Comic Dramatists (1840) "Finding shapes in clouds is an old endeavor. There's even a word for it: nephelococcygia, literally "cloud cuckooland," from the Aristophanes play The Birds. Thoreau practiced it, describing a sunset in which he saw a "phantom city." About a hundred years later cartoonist Charles Schulz created a Peanuts comic strip in which Linus gazed at the clouds and spied the outline of British Honduras, the profile of artist Thomas Eakins, and a group of forms reminding him of the biblical stoning of Stephen. "I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie," Charlie Brown responded, "but I changed my mind." - Chris Dodge, Utne Reader Jan/Feb 2007
the worthless word for the day is: nephology [fr. Gk nephos, cloud + -ology] /neh FOL eh jee/ the scientific study of clouds, the branch of meteorology that deals with clouds (also, nephologist) "This is the life! Things seen resemble images in a thaumatrope. (Squinting up at the washing on the line): I must take up nephology some day." - Mark Lemon (ed.), Punch (1841) "Conrad accepted every invitation to lecture Alden about nephology or aviation." - Maria Flook, Lux (2004) "If I put this ad in the paper — nephologist seeks eidolon — would you answer?" - Marcus E. Ryan, Two Diaries (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: unau [Port. < Tuni uná, lazy] /YOO now/ Zool. the South American two-toed sloth "There are two species of this animal, viz. the Unau and the Ai." - The Family Magazine (1843) "The Ai is more indolent in his habits than the Unau..." - Arthur Mangin, The Desert World (1872)
the worthless word for the day is: bardo [Tibetan, literally, between two] /BAR dO/ Lamaism the intermediate or astral state of the soul after death and before rebirth "Sometimes I felt I was already dead, wandering in some Hades or Tibetan bardo zone where the shades repressed the disquieting thought that they were no longer alive by engaging in a make-believe danse macabre of frantic activity." - Daniel Pinchbeck, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl
the worthless word for the day is: sabrage [F. sabrer] /sah BRAHDZH/ the act of opening a bottle, usu. champagne, with a sabre "You might think the result will be lots of broken glass and mess, but the skill of sabrage lies in hitting the bottle hard just at the edge of the annulus, the glass ring at the top of the neck. The blow breaks the neck off cleanly, complete with cork." - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 15 Jul 2006 "With a deft and decisive blow, he relieves the bubbly of its cork with one foul swoop and the top of the bottle, glass and all, flies to the bricks below. A rush of pent-up, foamy champagne gushes from the beheaded bottle. Bonaparte would be proud. After all, it was his mounted artillery officers who perfected the "art of sabrage," albeit back in the early 1800s, the beheading was usually done on live victims following bloody crusades." - Rick VanSickle, Calgary Sun August 6, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: nihilartikel [fr. L. nihil, nothing + G. artikel] /NI hil AR ti kul/ a deliberately erroneous entry in a dictionary or other reference book (cf. esquivalience, for instance) also see fictitious entry "Because we have no English word for the concept, some English writers have used what looks like a German word, Nihilartikel, for such deliberately invalid entries... There's some doubt whether this is a genuine German word, or one formed in English as a joke and unknowingly copied. Others have used Mountweazel, which derives from the false entry for Lillian Virginia Mountweazel that appeared in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia." - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words, 1 Oct. 2005 "No self-respecting reader will overlook such glaring errors as describing the DJ's favourite Technics SL-1200 turntable as 'belt driven'. Boy, I hope somebody got fired for that blunder. Sadly the authors resisted inserting a proper nihilartikel, the alleged German word for an item invented to catch out the unwary plagiarist." (from a review of The Rock Snob's Dictionary) - Steve Jelbert, The Independent June 26, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: infovore [info- + L. vorus, devouring] /IN fo vore/ (introduced as a scientific term by neuroscientists Irving Biederman and Edward Vessel, after carnivore, omnivore, etc.) a person who indulges in and desires information gathering and interpretation "I'm an infovore. I consume and excrete interesting factoids for a living." - Cory Doctorow, A Place So Foreign (2003) "Why are you reading this article when you could be watching paint dry instead? It's all because of our innate hunger for information. Humans, it turns out, are infovores." - New Scientist, 22 July 2006 the opposite of infovore is ignotarian, a person who avoids or limits the acquisition of (new) information
the worthless word for the day is: multivious [L. multivius, having many ways] /mul TI vi us/ now rare having many ways or roads; going in many directions "The sinner is often perplexed amidst the multivious and conflicting directions that are given." - David Thomas, The Crisis of Being (1850) "A "plea bargain" may take many forms; it is multivious in nature." - Court of Special Appeals of Maryland Mar 9, 1981 "The history of World War II has been told in such multivious detail that its simplest lessons are easily obscured." - Wayne Biddle, Barons of the Sky (2001) ___ for those who feel that most of these words are just *too obscure, to the point of being mostly unusable, this week I offer up some words that I've actually used recently, albeit online.
the worthless word for the day is: opioid [opi(um) + -oid] /OH pee oid/ n. an opium-like substance produced naturally in the brain adj. possessing some properties characteristic of opiate narcotics but not derived from opium "When he hooked up volunteers to a brain-scanning machine, the preferred pictures were shown to generate much more brain activity than the unpreferred shots. While researchers don't yet know what exactly these brain scans signify, a likely possibility involves increased production of the brain's pleasure-enhancing neurotransmitters called opioids." - Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal March 12, 2008 "When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us 'infovores.'" - ibid
the worthless word for the day is: disfluency [dis-, apart or away + fluency] /dis FLOO un see/ 1) Pathol. impairment of the ability to produce smooth, fluent speech; stammering 2) an interruption in the smooth flow of speech, as by a pause or the repetition of a word or syllable; lack of skillfulness in speaking also, dysfluency "People doubt the believability of a message when these delivery factors are present: (a) weak eye contact, looking at people infrequently; (b) frequent disfluencies (e.g., "uhs," "uhms"); (c) the use of abnormal hand or arm movements associated with fidgeting; and (d) overuse of hand gestures." - W. T. Coombs, Ongoing Crisis Communication (2007) "I have cleaned up some minor dysfluencies in Clinton's testimony." - Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought [note] (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: prepensely [by extension from prepense, which is usu. seen postpositionally] (as, malice prepense) with premeditation: deliberately, purposely "Whether Jennings changed my wording prepensely or merely in the folk-speech way, I do not know, and the point is of little consequence." - William Ritter, American Journal of Sociology, Jan. 1929 "To the Socialist a house, a knife, a cup, a steam engine, or what not, anything, I repeat, that is made by man and has form, must either be a work of art or destructive to art. The Commercialist, on the other hand, divides `manufactured articles' into those which are prepensely works of art, and are offered for sale in the market as such, and those which have no pretense and could have no pretense to artistic qualities." - William Morris, Monthly Review, Jan. 1997
the worthless word for the day is: fornication [fr. L fornix, an arch or vault] a vaulting or arching: vaulted construction (as of a cloister) so how did we get from here to the more common usage of today? below the streets of Rome were subterranean vaults that served as dwellings for vagrants, criminals and low-class prostitutes, who often conducted business beneath an arch or vault. fornix became synonymous with what we would call a brothel. (cf. vaulting-house) "Fornication is, in fact, a surviving term in architecture." - John Ciardi, A Second Browser's Dictionary (1993) "If an architect uses the term fornication, he or she is probably talking about a curved roof covering..." - Debrah K. Dietsch, Architecture for Dummies (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: pendulate [NL pendulum + -ate] /PEN jul ate/ 1) to swing as a pendulum 2) fig. fluctuate, undulate "But why does the pendulum vibrate, or pendulate, to coin a necessary verb?" - Scientific Monthly, 1922 v. 15 "The American electorate for some decades has pendulated between liberalism and conservatism." - J. L. Collier, The Rise of Selfishness in America (1991)
the worthless word for the day is: glottogony [fr. Gk glossa, tongue + gonikos, of the seed] /glo TOG uh nee/ the study of the (putative) origin of language hence, glottogonic /glot oh GON ik/ relating to the origin of language "The origin of words is a question that now falls within the chapter of "glottogony", resurrected after decades of inactivity." - Werner Winter, On Languages and Language (1995) "Reduplication, in early glottogonic periods of language, cannot have represented anything more than an attempt to make an idea tarry." - M. Bloomfield, American Journal of Philology, v. XVI 1895 (thanx to zmjezhd)
the worthless word for the day is: patulous [L. patulus, from patere to be open] /PACH ul us/ 1) Zool. and Med. expanded; gaping; also fig. <a wound with patulous margins> 2) Bot. spreading out <an old tree with patulous branches> (also, rarely, patulent; not to be confused with petulent) "The weave [of the cleansing cloth] is designed to remove material from patulous pores common on the central face." - Dermatology Times, v. 23, 2002 "Meagan Lawrence, a small young woman with large, patulous eyes and large, sweetly eccentric voice and manner, is excellent as the lost Sally Bowles." - Vincent Canby, New York Times Sep. 20, 1995 "It is said he found the baby under a patulous basil plant in his garden." - Times of India 24 Dec. 2000
the worthless word for the day is: frondescent [fr. L. frondere, to put forth leaves] /fron DES unt/ springing into leaf; leafy; expanding into fronds "In the spring, when all Nature was frondescent, that gaunt, strange man, that fellow of a million whimsies and thrice ten thousand charms, passed away." - The Smart Set, ed. by George J. Nathan (1930) "I have given a curious instance of the influence of light on the colours of a frondescent incrustation, deposited by the surf on the coast-rocks of Ascension, and formed by the solution of triturated sea-shells." - Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1888) ""In parks, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorans play dominoes under the frondescent shade of coconut palms.." Hold it. Are we in Broward or Dade County? There may be some Hispanics playing dominoes around here but if they're doing it under the frondescent shade of palm trees, every one of them will die of sunstroke." - Steve Weller, Sun Sentinel, Jun 20, 1989 spring, at last!
the worthless word for the day is: impulregafize [Urquhart's nonce-word, evidently coined to one-up Rebelais, who coined emburelucocquer for the nonce] to strain(?) "Ha, for favour sake, I beseech you, never emberlucock or inpulregafize your spirits with these vain thoughts and idle conceits; for I tell you, it is not impossible with God, and, if he pleased, all women henceforth should bring forth their children at the ear." - Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (ca. 1532) (tr. by Sir Thomas Urquhart, 1653)
the worthless word for the day is: scobberlotcher [related to scopperloit, also of obscure origin] /?/ an idler (also scobolotcher) ""What! not abroad yet, thou bed-worm, thou scobberlotcher!"" - Cecil Day Lewis, Dick Willoughby (1933) "A scobolotcher, said Mr. Moore, was an undergraduate walking around a quadrangle hands in pockets and deep in thought." - Bournemouth Daily Echo 21 Apr. 1956
the worthless word for the day is: equanimous [fr. L. æquanimis, having an even mind] /EE kwa nuh mus/ possessing or displaying equanimity: even-tempered "They are equally equanimous in prescribing the remedy by which this happy effect is to be produced." - The Federalist, Hamilton, Madison, Jay (1788) "French Eric, who has thought long and hard about these things, says that emotional control is the key to winning poker... With about 4,500 chips left, the once-equanimous burly man raised the next pot to 800. The woman beside him, who only played premium cards, promptly reraised, putting him all-in. He called, showing his 75 of spades against her QQ. The board didn't improve his hand and he rolled, cursing, away from the table, having gone from tournament leader to oblivion in the space of six minutes and three hands. French Eric was right." - Sunday Telegraph (London) Nov 18, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: axiopisty [fr. Gk axio-pistos < axios, worthy + pistos, to be trusted] /aks ee AH pih stee/ obs. rare : the quality that makes something believable: trustworthiness "She does not only attribute to their sacred authors the axiopisty, a credibility fully merited, but also the autopisty; that is to say a right to be believed independently of their circumstances or of their personal qualities..." - Louis Gaussen, Theopneusty (1844) "How can you not suspect the axiopisty of someone who has been convicted of a white-collar crime?" - New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur), July 1, 1996 bonus words: autopisty - self-authentication theopneusty - divine inspiration
the worthless word for the day is: urgrund [G. fr. ur- primal + grund, ground] /UR grunt/ a primal cause or ultimate cosmic principle "Bude's argument makes concealment into a kind of primal foundation for the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, its shadowy Urgrund." - Dagmar Reese, Dissent Winter, 2007 "Claire was eliminated in the seventh round after putting a "t" on the end of "urgrund."" - Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: expergefaction [fr. L. expergefacere < expergere, to awake] /ek spurj uh fak shun/ archaic the act of rousing; the condition of being aroused also, expergefactor : someone or something that awakens: an awakener; e.g., an alarm clock "[H]aving rubbed my eyes, distended my limbs, and returned to a full expergefaction, I began to call myself to account..." - The Harleian Miscellany: A Winter Dream (1810) "The newly invented Hydraulic Expergefactor rings a bell at the time when a person wishes to rise." - Mechanic's Magazine, 1823, no. 7
the worthless word for the day is: fefnicute [origin unknown] Lancashire dialect a hypocrite; a parasite, a hanger-on; a sneak "It is fate's promiscuous kiss, especially for the American writer who--ever since the unhappy pea-and-thimble tricks of Benjamin Franklin, that shifty-eyed fefnicute who tried to transmute thrift into worship, greed into sanctity--might suffer the delusion he can legitimately serve both God and Mammon." - Alexander Theroux, Three Wogs (1972)
the worthless word for the day is: comperendinate [fr. L. comperendinare, to defer (a trial)] /kom per EN di nate/ obs. rare to delay, to postpone {Johnson, 1805}; hence, comperendination <I vow not to comperendinate until tomorrow> I've been meaning to announce that this is National Procrastination Week...
the worthless word for the day is: priscianist and speaking of grammarians.. [fr. Priscian, a celebrated Roman grammarian] arch. rare a grammarian; (in extended use) a person who uses grammar cleverly in dissembling (not to be confused with precisian/precisianist) "He had a little beggarly and course latin, so much as a Priscianist may have." - Thomas Coryate, Coryate's Crudities (1611) "It may be said [Stanyhurst] went somewhat further than some of the Priscianists in his devotion to quantity." - George Smith (ed.), Elizabethan critical essays (1904)
the worthless word for the day is: grammaticaster [med. L. < grammatic-us + -aster, expressing incomplete resemblance] /gram MAT i CAS ter/ contemptuous a petty or inferior grammarian yes, today is National Grammar Day "He tells thee true, my noble Neophyte; my little Grammaticaster, he does..." - Ben Jonson, Poetaster (1616) "But Jonson undoubtedly did much to popularize the suffix -aster and [poetaster] itself. Grammaticaster is apparently his." - Joshua H. Neumann, Notes on Ben Jonson's English (1939) "And should Kerry, noting one of Bush's many verbal blunders, accuse him of being no less than a wantwit, the president could quickly respond by calling his assailant an ineffectual grammaticaster." - Bill Ott, The Booklist April 1, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: vapulation [fr. L. vapulare, to be beaten] (also vapulate) obs. a beating or flogging file under corporal punishment (cf bastinado, lapidation, etc.) "The defendant, however, not minding whether the battery he had inflicted on the plaintiff was severe or light, still threatened him with further vapulation." - The Times, Aug. 7, 1824 "Still used by judges to avoid public outcry when they sentence prisoners to "three months jail and ten vapulations."" - Toxic Custardpedia
the worthless word for the day is: metemptosis [fr. Gk meta- + emptosis, falling] /met emp TOE sis/ Astron. obs. the suppression of a (leap) day in the calendar to prevent the date of the new moon being set a day too late, or the suppression of the bissextile day once in 134 years (the opposite to this is the proemptosis, or the addition of a day every 330 years, and another every 2,400 years) "Metemptosis.. a term in chronology, expressing the solar equation, necessary to prevent the new moon from happening a day too late." - Encycl. Britannica, Vol. XI (1797) "[The] modern system is only superior to that of the ancient Mexicans by the metemptosis, or omission of the 29th of February once in every 134 years, in order to equalize the excess of time created by [their] innovation." - T. H. Lambert, Journal of the Am. Geog. Soc. of NY (1883)
the worthless word for the day is: monomyth [mono- single, one + myth] an archetypal myth; a theme that underlies a number of superficially different myths: the hero's journey evidently coined by Joyce as a throwaway, Campbell borrowed it and ensconced it forever in his seminal marriage of comparative mythology and cosmogony "And then and too the trivials! And their bivouac! And his monomyth! Ah ho! Say no more about it!" - James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939) "The changes rung on the simple scale of the monomyth defy description." - Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)
the worthless word for the day is: peevology [peeve + -ology] also, peevologist 1) the collecting and public airing of language peeves 2) the study of such peevish behavior this very recent coinage was adapted by language blogger Mr. Verb from Jan Freeman's phrase in the Boston Globe, "Connoisseurs of peeve-ology," (July 8, 2007) which she applied to the second sense given above. Mr. Verb went on to widely apply it primarily in the first sense, as have others... "National Grammar Day. Nominally interesting -- if only people really were interested in grammar -- but in fact it's just a peevology fest. (Stop harassing people about apostrophe[']s already, for heaven's sake.)" - Mike Pope, (blog) 29 January 2008 "The liturgical core of peevology is the ritual lamentation of lost causes." - Mark Liberman, Language Log, Feb. 12, 2008 "Such polysemy is endemic to our linguistic ecology, so it's fitting that the neologism peevology should develop its own polysemous behavior right out of the gate." - Benjamin Zimmer (commenting on the dual senses) Language Log, July 26, 2007 links: Jan Freeman Benjamin Zimmer Mark Liberman
the worthless word for the day is: spaghettified [by extension] hence, spaghettification 1) heavily Italianized; fig. incomprehensible 2) Physics stretched into a long thin shape, or torn apart by the tidal forces of a strong gravity field such as a black hole "Lurking inside the open door is a husky puller-in; and he dashes out and grabs hold of you and will not let go, begging you in spaghettified English to come and examine his unapproachable assortment of bargains." - Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb, Europe Revised (1914) "It is high time to recognize that action, and action alone, will be the agent that transmutes the flowery barrier of unutterability into an arbitrary but sacred iota of purposefulness, which cannot help but penetrate into an otherwise nameless and universally spaghettified lack of meaning, which smears and beclouds the crab-lit hopes of half-beings begging for deliverance from their own private, yet strangely tuberculine maelstroms that begat, and begotten were from, a howling sea of ribosomal plagiarism." - Y. Serm Clacoxia, The Illusions of Alacrity (as from Douglas Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas, 1985) "Soon my body gives way, and I become "spaghettified" (to use a technical term coined by John Wheeler)." - Kip Thorne, The Future of Spacetime (2002) "Those last three minutes will be very uncomfortable; in practice, spaghettification will kill the hapless individual long before the singularity is reached." - P.C.W. Davies, The Last Three Minutes (1994) neologisms are great fun, and even useful when struck for the purpose of of capturing new thoughts in a word; spaghettified was first coined as a humorous nonce-word in 1914, but was then re-coined by the physicist John Wheeler in 1957.
the worthless word for the day is: meracious [L. meracus, fr. merus pure, unmixed] /meh RAY shus/ obs. rare 'Strong; racy.' {Sheridan, 1797} pure, unadulturated; hence, strong, racy "We are glad to see this theme,-superstitious as it is,-made the subject of a poem, by an American; and confidently predict, that the bold meracious style, which dignifies this first attempt, is sure to be followed by some brighter wreath of Poesy." - The Southern Quarterly Review (1842) Matchless, meracious, overwhelming, reprieving, Inscrutable, piquant, microdont, relieving.. - The Fat Knight (1896) bonus word: microdont having relatively small teeth(?) "But the oddest things of all are to be found in the dictionaries. Why they are all kept there no one knows; but what man in his senses would use such words as zythepsary for a brewhouse, and zumologist for a brewer; would talk of a stormy day as procellous and himself as madefied; of his long-legged son as increasing in procerity but sadly inarcid, of having met wilh much procacity from such a one; of a bore as a macrologist; of an aged horse as macrobiolic; of important business as moliminous, and his daughter's necklace as moniliform; of some one's talk as meracious, and lament, his last night's nimiety of wine at that dapatical feast, whence he was taken by ereption?" - Charles Dickens (ed.), All the Year Round (1861) this week: from Dickens' dictionary(s)
the worthless word for the day is: ereption [L. ereptio, fr. eripere, to snatch away] /e REP tion/ obs. 'A taking away.' {Cockeram, 1623} "[T]he recovery of the civil inheritance by hereditatis petitio might be rendered unavailing by ablation or ereption for Indignitas." - Gaius, Elements of Roman Law (tr. by E. Poste, 1875) "Do not confuse with ereptation (creeping forth). Snuggling up to your beloved at the drive-in, you say, "I think I sense an ereption coming on," and suddenly snatch the M&Ms from her lap. If it transpires that she has put the M&Ms somewhere else, you will be compelled to perform an ereptation." - Peter Bowler, The Superior Person's Book of Words (1985) bonus word: ereptation [L. ereptare, to creep forth] obs. 'A creeping forth' {Bailey, 1736}
the worthless word for the day is: dapatical [L. dapaticus, magnificent (of a feast) < dapis, feast] obs. sumptuous in cheer {Bailey} "Let us then turn our thoughts to the dinner table and its scents of saffron and spices of the evening's dapatical banquet." - Sextus Propertius, Propertius in Love (ca. 25BCE) (tr. David R. Slavitt, 2002) Dapatical, fathomless, gorgeous, expanding, Enthymematic, fertile, commanding - The Fat Knight (1896)
the worthless word for the day is: procellous [L. procellosus, stormy < procella, a storm] /pro CEL lous/ rare, now literary tempestuous, stormy {Bailey} "But I recall that in it I likened myself to a sailor navigating shoals and besought the pharos of Giuliana's eyes to bring me safely through, besought her to anoint me with her glance and so hearten me to brave the dangers of that procellous sea." - Rafael Sabatini, The Strolling Saint (1913) "It was a Stygian and procellous night. Peter Mark Roget, a Scottish physician with a French name, was sitting alone in his study indulging in his favorite hobby (avocation, pastime)." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 Aug. 1992
the worthless word for the day is: zumologist [fr. Gk zume, to ferment + -ologist] "One who is skilled in the fermentation of liquors." - Noah Webster 1828 now, zymologist one skilled in the science of fermentation ""I'm a zymologist, if you don't mind." "What's the difference?" Clousarr looked lofty. "A chemist is a soup-pusher, a stink-operator. A zymologist is a man who helps keep a few billion people alive. I'm a yeast-culture specialist."" - Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel (1962)
the worthless word for the day is: delphically [< Delphic pronouncements; i.e., obscurely prophetic] ambiguously, obscurely "The pressure was direct: it was time for "moves" to be made; "your cheapest commodity available is money," Hunt delphically said." - Stanley Kutler, Wars of Watergate (1990) ""[F]or mine own part, it was Greek to me.".. Yet it is not difficult to find out what Cicero said. In Suetonius's Life of Julius Caesar, in the context of a possible bid for the monarchy on Caesar's part, Cicero delphically quotes a couple of lines from the Phoenissae of Euripides." - A. D. Nuttall, Shakespeare the Thinker (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: presagition [fr. L. praesagere, to forebode, portend] obs. an omen, a prognostication; (also) foresight, prevision "It shall nott bee labor loste if wee shall reherce a presagition and token..." - Polydore Vergil's English History (1550) "Those indications which physicians receive, and those presagitions which they give for death or recovery in the patient, they receive, and they give, out of the grounds and rules of their art." - John Donne, Sermons: Death's Duel (Feb. 1630) [his last, given a few days before his own death.]
the worthless word for the day is: pythonic [fr. Gk python, spirit of divination] A.1) of or relating to divination; prophetic, oracular 2) of, relating to or like a python; huge, monstrous [Python, monstrous serpent killed by Apollo at Delphi] B) of or relating to the Monty Python comedy group C) of or relating to the Python programming language "The blue glitter of Mr. Kelly's eyes in the uttermost depths of their orbits became fixed, then veiled by the classical pythonic glaze." - Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938) "Graham Chapman died in 1989, leaving the remaining five to eke out a post Pythonic existence." - Sunday Times (London) Feb 26, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: theomancy [fr. Gk theos, god + -mancy, divination] divination by the responses of oracles supposed to be divinely inspired "Exactly what advantage there may be in knowing the result six hours before it is declared it is hard to say, unless one is about to se up as an oracle and practise theomancy oneself." - Punch, 1841 "Every one, I presume, knows the distinction between oracular divination and theomancy. The pythia could only be inspired in the temple of Apollo, and at certain times; while the theomantics, after the performance of certain rites, might be inspired at any time, and in any place." - The Primitive Church Mag., v. viii (1851) bonus word: pythia [fr. Gk pythein, to rot] the priestess of Apollo at Delphi (not to be confused with theomachy)
the worthless word for the day is: vomitacious [vomit + -acious] (see also vomitous) vomit-inducing; nauseating this strikingly graphic word hasn't found its way into dictionaries yet, but can be found in several print sources, such as: "Another piece that the Goodmans salvaged is the circa-1880 "fainting couch," in the master bedroom: "It was upholstered in a vomitacious red-and-gold- velour bordello look. We saved it by re-covering it."" - Providence Journal Nov 26, 1989 "We did some research and discovered the cinquain was invented around the turn of the century by one Adelaide Crapsey, a humongously sensitive Vassar grad who died young of consumption and general weepiness. We have here in front of us several books of cinquains by Miss Crapsey, a hugely tragic figure, and we must say these are the most effete and vomitacious versifications, poems so ickily precious and pretentious they make haiku look like Kipling." - The Washington Post May 26, 1996 "As for Ms Jenkins and Jupiter, I kept hoping through- out that the god, in retaliation, would despatch a thunderbolt to carry her off in a puff of smoke. The great soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf once coined a word that sums up perfectly the sheer awfulness of this bathetic rubbish: vomitacious." - David Mellor, (London) Mail on Sunday May 6, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: symphoric [fr. Gk sumphora, mishap, calamity] /sim FOR ik/ accident prone, clumsy <elderly and increasingly symphoric - D. Grambs> "Who would have endured in this place to have seen two such words as the phthano-paranomic or crime- preventing, and the phthano-symphoric or calamity- preventing, branches of the police?" - Jeremy Bentham, Principles of Morals and Legislation (1781) "Just unhook it and come on down. It's very simple I assure you, old fellow. And perfectly safe unless you are symphoric perhaps." - K.K. Stevens, Moonspins and Widdershins (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: wouldingness [fr. woulding (desiring) + -ness] obs. nonce-word desire, inclination "And whatsoever you do, you do, first against one velleity (or wouldingness) or other; and secondly, with some mixture of the contrary." - Henry Hammond, A practical catechism (1645) "VELLEITY, s. A term (Locke) used to signify—The lowest degree of desire. Hammond calls it a wouldingness." - Charles Richardson, A new dictionary of the English language (1839)
the worthless word for the day is: crapulosity [fr. L. crapulosus, crapulous] /crap yu LOS ity/ A) an inclination to drunkenness or gluttony B) by transf. something which is complete rubbish "Of vanities under the sun, Pride seized me at last as concupiscence first, Crapulosity ever." - Robert Browning, Fust & his Friends (1887) "Just a few years ago you couldn't buy condoms legally in Ireland, nor could you get a divorce, though buckets of beer were easily available and unruly crapulosities a national curse." - Paul Theroux, The New York Times Dec. 15, 2005 "What?" said George.. vigorously erasing all that he had just written, scattering erasure crumbs across the pages. "Crap. Crap crap crap. Who wrote this crapulosity?" - Katharine Weber, Triangle (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: writative [write + -ative] /WRITE uh tiv/ inclined to much writing (after talkative) "Increase of years makes men more talkative but less writative." - Alexander Pope, letter to Swift (1736) "[Y]ou know I am a little talkative.. but alas I am not at all writative, at least not in English." - Patrick O'Brian, Treason's Harbour (1994)
the worthless word for the day is: pro tanto [late L., for so much] [adv] to that extent; accordingly [adj] commensurate, resultant "It should not surprise us that the propensity to consume is highest among the unemployed. But it is discouraging to be told that reduced income taxes do not result, pro tanto, in increased consumer spending." - W. F. Buckley, New Republic Jan. 19, 2008 "So far as these emergencies can be met from reserves there is a pro tanto saving in the cost of capital, and a corresponding benefit to the consumer. - Times, 8 May 1934 this week: punditocracy; subtext: semantic change
the worthless word for the day is: forensic [fr. L. forensis] /feh REN sik/ A. pertaining to, connected with, or used in courts of law B. ellipt. use, colloq. a forensic science department or laboratory "On the witness stand I argued that the word "jig" could be used other than as animadversion. The feverish lawyer grabbed a book from his table and slammed it down on the arm of my chair. "Have you ever heard of a dictionary?" he asked scornfully, as if he had put the smoking gun in my lap. I examined the American Heritage College Dictionary and said yes, I was familiar with it. "In fact," I was able to say, opening the book, "I wrote the introduction to this edition." That was the high moment of my forensic life." - W. F. Buckley, National Review May 19, 2006 "When a police officer hisses in my ear in court, 'Are you from forensic?' I no longer protest. I just weakly nod my head." - Guardian 2 Sept. 1983
the worthless word for the day is: sacerdotal [fr. L. sacerdos, one who offers sacrifices] 1) relating to priests or priesthood: priestly 2) relating to undue emphasis on a need for the authority of a priesthood or of priests "That's a sacerdotal thought, And not a soldier's." - G. Byron, Sardanapalus (1821) "She had all the brains of the Partisan Review crew but none of the sacerdotal sureness." - Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic Dec. 31, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: punditocracy [pundit + -ocracy] /pun dih TOK ruh see/ a group of pundits who wield great political influence "This analysis comes from.. the Washington punditocracy, including leading conservative sages whose concern for the health of the Democratic Party is, let us say, problematic." - M. Kinsley, Wall Street Journal Sept. 10, 1987 "Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of Americans are typing and hyping their opinions about the contest: the barricades are down, the punditocracy is dead, the technology has killed it, the people are their own commentators." - Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic Dec. 31, 2007 this week: the punditocracy speaks
the worthless word for the day is: litherness [fr. lither < G. liederlich, lewd + -ness] obs. 1) wickedness 2) laziness, sloth "slouthfulnes, idlenes" - Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabeticall "Things lost by much lethernesse must be recovered againe by great diligence." - Sir T. Wilson, Demosthenes (1570) this week: inkhorn terms from Cawdrey's list of Hard Words, credited with being the first English dictionary.
the worthless word for the day is: pinguidity [fr. post-classical L. pinguidus fatty, greasy] /pin GWID ity/ now rare fatty, greasy, or oily matter; fatness, obesity "fatnes, or greasinesse" - Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabeticall "She was a plain, sensible girl, and was rather corpulent than otherwise; and as is usual with most of the human race blessed with pinguidity, she was very sweetly tempered." - Southern Literary Messenger (1838) "Jennifer and Clarissa, dripping with pinguidity.., arrive at Aldershot to prepare a nosh-up." - Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Jan. 1999
the worthless word for the day is: preterlapsed [classical L. praeterlapsus] /pre ter LAPST/ now rare past, bygone; ended, over with "passed, or gone past" - Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabeticall "We look with a superstitious reverence upon the accounts of præterlapsed ages." - J. Glanvill, The Vanity of Dogmatizing (1661) "The following table shows the time preterlapsed between the light and report, as observed at Zevenboompjes." - Annals of Philosophy (1825)
the worthless word for the day is: sophister [fr. OF sophistre, ad. L. sophista] one who makes use of fallacious arguments; a specious reasoner: sophist (also, Hist an upperclassman at Cambridge (or Oxford, or Harvard or Dartmouth, or Trinity College, Dublin)) "cauiller, or craftie disputer" - Robert Cawdrey, A Table Alphabeticall "The pompous high-placed imbecile, mouthing his platitudes, the wordy sophister with his oven full of half-baked thoughts, the ill-bred rhetorician with his tawdry aphorisms, the heartless hate-producing satirist, would have gone down before his sword and spear." [of Cardinal Newman] - Augustine Birrell, Res Judicatae (1892)
the worthless word for the day is: naffin [origin uncertain, but see It. gnaffa, a dreary man] Brit. colloq. one who is almost an idiot "When the word idiot is a little too strong for the occasion, try naffin instead." - Novobatzky & Shea, Insulting English (2001) this week: random insults
the worthless word for the day is: fogram [origin unknown] also fogrum /FOE gruhm/ [n] an antiquated or old-fashioned person: fogy [adj] obs. antiquated, old-fashioned ""Only his reputation. You must be dreadfully behind times if you don't know it yourself." "Well," said Whitehouse, "I suppose I am. An old fogram like me."" - John Griesemer, Signal and Noise (2003) "Burney, perhaps, was a link between the world of ton and the world of fogrum." - Virginia Woolf, Dr Burney's Evening Party (1932) bonus word: ton - [F.] the fashion, vogue or mode
the worthless word for the day is: wordanista [coined by Steven Colbert, after fashionista, etc.; -ista has been given a pejorative twist in English] /word uh NEE sta/ someone who tells others what is or is not a word, based on what they have read in books "Truthiness. Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart." - Steven Colbert, The Colbert Report "Turns out I underestimated those wordanistas." - Steven Colbert, The Colbert Report
the worthless word for the day is: woodpusher [blend of wood + pusher] slang a poor chess player; a patzer (or, if you prefer, Urban Dictionary gives "a term used by rollerbladers to define skateboarders") ""This is a revelation of unsuspected depths," Holmes said, gazing at me quizzically. "Watson a woodpusher!" Somewhat stung, I replied, "Not quite a dub. While I was convalescing there from my wounds, I won the championship of the base hospital at Peshawur."" - Fritz Leiber, The Moriarty Gambit (1962) "So I sent my mind on a tour of my friends, such as they were. The woodpushers I whipped routinely at chess, the card sharps who just as routinely trimmed me at poker." - Laurence Block, Burglars Can't be Choosers (1977)
the worthless word for the day is: xylocephalous [fr. Gk xulo- < xulon, wood + kephale, head] /zy lo suh FAL us/ (also perh. xylocephalic) wooden-headed My dribbling chuckleheads My marmalade morons My zany April-fools My yokel boobies and bubbly-jocks My xylocephalous clods My witless driplets - Paul West, Caliban's Filibuster (1971) "Sir, you are an apogenous, bovaristic.. wlatsome, xylocephalous, yirning zoophyte." - Peter Bowler, cf. an abecedarian insult "Hulga Vanders - a xylocephalic ogress, deep disgruntled furrows carved carved upon her face, great arms folded across her vast bosom..." - Nick Cave, And the Ass Saw the Angel (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: rudery [fr. L. rudis, rough, unwrought] /RUE duh ree/ rudeness; a rude remark, comment, practical joke, etc. "I have, as a rule, been averse to including such obvious rudery in my letters to you, but the sight of your crazy supplement (thank you for it), has quelled my aversion." - Dylan Thomas, Dec. 1933 letter "Some of them walked in pairs, smoking, exchanging good-humored ruderies." - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, August 1914 (trans. 1989) this week: from the writings of Dylan Thomas.
the worthless word for the day is: platitudinary [fr. platitude, after e.g. latitudinary] rare characterized by or tending to use platitudes (usually seen in the form platitudinarian) "It is no mean gift being able to turn a piece of news into a nice, platitudinary set of verses, made to please relatives and poet-tasters alike." - Dylan Thomas, Early Prose Writings "Wordsworth was a tea-time bore, the great Frost of literature, the verbose, the humourless, the platitudinary reporter of Nature in her dullest moods. Open him at any page: and there lies the English language not, as George Moore said of Pater, in a glass coffin, but in a large, sultry and unhygienic box. Degutted and desouled." - D. Thomas, Sept. 1933 letter (he was 18)
the worthless word for the day is: prodnose [fr. the name Prodnose, a pedantic and interfering character in the humorous columns of J.B. Morton] [v] rare to pry, to be inquisitive (more commonly found used in Britain as a colloq. noun or adj. used to refer to the British public) "What can I say.. that can interest anyone save, vaguely, myself, and of course my guardian angel, a failed psychoanalyst in this life who is even now prodnosing in the air above me, casebook in claw, a lilttle seedy and down-at-winged-heel, in the guttural consulting-rooms of space?" - Dylan Thomas, Quite Early One Morning (1954) "Shiner was bitter about what he called "prodnosed bureaucrats" who interfere with his artistic freedom as a chef." - Michael Green, The Art of Coarse Drinking (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: dogdayed [f. dog-days, the hottest, sultriest days of summer] poetic nonce-word of or relating to the dog-days There from their hearts the dogdayed pulse Of love and light bursts in their throats. O see the pulse of summer in the ice. - Dylan Thomas, I see the boys of summer (1934) Out of these seathumbed leaves That will fly and fall Like leaves of trees and as soon Crumble and undie Into the dogdayed night. - Dylan Thomas, Prologue (1952)
the worthless word for the day is: vibrissa [L. vibrissae, nostril hairs] /vie BRIS uh/ pl. vibrissae one of the long stiff hairs that project from the snout or brow of most mammals, as the whiskers of a cat (also transf. somewhat speciously) (file under: so that's what that's called) "She simply looks around, makes a pass at the leg of the dining table with her vibrissa, then saunters over to the exact spot on the floor where the sun is streaming through the window and collapses in a heap of drowsy fur. I think she has [AD/HD]. I've a good mind to spike her food with Ritalin." - Smith & Sipress, Your Cat's Just Not That Into You (2005) "Excepting for Darcy and his father, who favoured each other both in swarthiness and in stature, no two shared a duality. That is, of course, if one discounted the predis- position to adiposity, vibrassa, and wattles..." - Linda Berdoll, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: ingravescent [L., to become worse] /in gra VES ent/ Medical growing worse or more severe; also transf. "The Original Dixieland Strutters have to be given credit for braving the elements in seemingly ingravescent circumstances." - John McKay, Richmond Times Oct 5, 1987 "To Americans who worry that their country is going the way of ancient Rome, only faster, two of the most alarming trends are the ingravescent influence of money in politics and the exponential growth of gambling." - Martin Dyckman, St. Petersburg Times Jul 8, 1997
the worthless word for the day is: adoxography [fr. Gk adoxos, inglorious + -graphy, writing] /ad ok SOG ra fee/ fine writing on a trivial or base subject "[T]he country would enter an age of adoxography, when good writing on base or meaningless subjects would emerge from the primal ooze of the politically correct - to be followed.. by an aeonian of philosophical re-examination." - Ralph de Toledano, Insight on the News May 7, 2001 "Montaigne's praise of Sparta belongs unmistakably to the rhetorical tradition repudiated by his Spartan heroes. Within that tradition, he cultivates especially the epideictic genre, and within that genre he shows a predilection for what is known as "adoxography" or paradoxical praise, which has been recognized as a precursor of the literary essay." - Eric MacPhail, Rhetorica (spring 2002) ""Elizabethan schoolboys," Mr. Kadri writes, "were commonly taught adoxography, the art of eruditely praising worthless things.... The first English treatise on the subject appeared in 1593 and contained essays celebrating deformity, ugliness, poverty, blindness, drunkenness, sterility, and stupidity. Its preface claimed that it would be particularly useful to lawyers."" - Walter Olson, Wall Street Journal Sep 8, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: mesopygion [fr. Gk meso-, middle + pyge, the rump + -ion] rare the cleavage of the buttocks (in the middle of the pyg family) "Even if they have the mesopygion of Ganymedes, the eye of Narkissos, the ankle of Hyakinthos, O cow-eyed Io! they steal your time, your rest, your attention. Be gone away!" - Guy Davenport, Eclogues (1981) "And precisely as he was trying not to think that little is as arousing as the [shadow] of a woman's veiled mesopygion, he was jolted by the belligerent epiphany that the day had been narrowing in complicity with his foreknowledge into the corner of the room..." - Rick Harsch, The Sleep of the Aborigines (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: mesonoxian [fr. Gk meso-, middle + L. nox, night] /mezz uh NOCK see un/? obs. rare of or belonging to midnight {Cockeram} "What are your mesonoxian plans?" sounds so much better on Dec. 31 than "Hey, whatcha doin' tonight?" - as from Erin McKean (author of More Weird and Wonderful Words) "What's your favorite jazz song?" "That's easy. Thelonius Monk's 'Round Mesonoxian." - The Booklist March 1, 2007 [perhaps better would have been 'Round Mesonoxia]
the worthless word for the day is: visuriency [fr. L. visere, to behold + -ency] obs. nonce-word the desire of seeing as Morris Bishop states in The Exotics, The love scene is majestic, though verging on the indelicate: "[T]hat each part and portion of the persons of either was obvious to the sight and touch of the persons of both; the visuriency of either, by ushering the tacturiency of both, made the attrectation of both consequent to the inspection of either." - Sir Th. Urquhart, The Jewel (1652) bonus obs. nonce-word: tacturiency - the desire of touching [fr. L. tangere, to touch]
the worthless word for the day is: feriation [fr. L. feriari < feria, holiday] obs. holiday keeping; cessation of work <a welcome midwinter feriation - D. Grambs> "[A]s though there were any feriation in nature..." - Sir Th. Browne, Pseudodoxia (1646) "Simple feriation was enough for the weekend. No binges, no feasts." - Coleman Barks from New Words, White Trash, ed. by Robert Grey (1976)
the worthless word for the day is: entheomania [fr. L, entheos, divinely inspired + -mania] a passion for divine inspiration; religious mania cf. demonomania ""Before the Beginning"!.. its very vastness prevents its doing injury to a mind not already unhinged from some other cause. This fact, coupled with a saving sense of humor, is sufficient to keep any normal person safe from entheomania." - William Wooten, The Planetarian Apocalypse (1956) "[The psychiatrist] is often much more aware of the pathological forms of religious involvement, such as entheomania, scrupulosity, asceticism, fantasy, denial, etc., than the wholesome forms of religious participation." - Eric G. Swedin, Healing Souls (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: titivil [L. Tutivillus, of unknown origin] /tit uh vil/ obs. 1) a name for a demon or devil in the mystery plays, said to collect fragments of words dropped, skipped, or mumbled in the recitation of divine service, and to carry them to hell, to be registered against the offender 2) hence, a term of reprobation: a bad or vile character, scoundrel, knave, villain b. esp. a tattletale "Titivil was evidently in origin a creation of monastic wit." - Paul Harvey, The Oxford Companion to Eng. Lit. (1938) "You may be saved from an eternity of misery by remem- bering the lesson of the word titivil: "a devil said to collect words mumbled, dropped, or omitted in the recitation of divine service, and to carry them to hell." The text's illustrations are by Roz Chast and they are - well - ostrobogulous." - The Baltimore Sun, Apr 6, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: ostrobogulous [attributed to Victor B. Neuburg, British writer] /OS tro BOG ju lus/ chiefly humorous slightly risqué or indecent; bizarre, interesting, or unusual hence, ostrobogulation and ostrobogulatory (see Ostrobogulous Pigs, by A. Graves) "It was sick, dirty, or more precisely, 'ostrobogulous', which according to Victor Neuburg.. meant etymologically full of (Latin, ulus) rich (Greek, ostro) dirt (schoolboy, bog)." - Times Lit. Suppl. 27 July 1973 "'Ostrobogulous' was Vickybird's favourite word. It stood for anything from the bawdy to the slightly off-colour. Any double entendre that might otherwise have escaped his audience was prefaced by, 'if you will pardon the ostrobogulosity'." - Arthur Calder-Marshall, The Magic of My Youth (1951) "A tissue of ostrobogulous lies, he calls them. With the writer laughing behind each page at the reader's gulli- bility, and no one else in this dead, dead town reads, except for Mrs. Pomeroy, and all she reads is Anne Bradstreet!" - Charles Johnson, Oxherding Tale (1982)
the worthless word for the day is: tortiloquy [fr. late or med.L. tortiloquium < tortus, crooked + loqui, to speak] obs. rare crooked talk {Blount, 1656} "[W]e should certainly rescue from the list of defunct words the splendid "tortiloquy", meaning "crooked speech", of which there is currently no shortage." - Guardian Unlimited, Sept. 1 2007
the worthless word for the day is: vampirarchy [vampire + -archy, rule of] exploitative rule comparable to rule by vampires "A sceptical critic has pretended, with a degree of malice prepense against the Vampyrarchy,.. that his Imperial Majesty's surgeons-major and counsellors of war might perchance be deceived in some respects." - New Monthly Magazine (1823) "[P]olitical humorists of the nineteenth century sometimes referred to the ruling classes as the "vampirarchy" rather than the "hierarchy."" - Jay Stevenson, Ph.D.; The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires (2002) "Some believe that we are secretly ruled by the Illuminati or a similar vampirarchy." - Stephen Chrisomalis, The Phrontistery note: malice prepense :: malice aforethought
the worthless word for the day is: philosophaster [post-classical L. philosophaster, person who dabbles in philosophy] /feh LAS eh fast er/ a pretender or dabbler in philosophy cf. poetaster, philogaster, criticaster, grammaticaster "And one must certainly concede to the debunkers that Wordsworth, not when he was communicating it as a poet, but when he was merely talking about it as a philosopher (or philosophaster), said some very silly things." - C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (of loving nature) "Hamlet and Macbeth with the coming to the throne of a Scotch philosophaster with a turn for witchroasting." - James Joyce, Ulysses (ref. to James I)
the worthless word for the day is: locupletative [fr. L. locupletare, to enrich] /lock you PLEA ta tive/? inkhorn term tending to enrich "The distinctions of which testimony is susceptible, considered with reference to the person whose interest is affected by it, and the manner in which it is affected, have been already brought to view. Veracious or mendacious, those distinctions are alike applicable to it; testimony self-regarding or extra-regarding: in both cases, servitive or disservitive: if disservitive, criminative or simply onerative; if servitive, exculpative, exonerative, or locupletative." - Jeremy Bentham, Rationale of judicial evidence (1827) today's putative connection: "Among other important factors are... mental technique (e.g. associative, extrapolative, intuitive, holographic, or nulutative)..." - David Brin
the worthless word for the day is: intertwingularity a term coined by Ted Nelson to express the complexity of interrelations in human knowledge "Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged - people keep pretending they can make things hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can't. Everything is deeply intertwingled." - Ted Nelson, Dream Machines (1987) "It is no doubt a reflection of the 'intertwingularity' of knowledge that one has to be concerned with terms other than those one had planned for. Definitions and contextual examples of terms often make use of many other terms." - B. E. Antia, Terminology and Language Planning (2000) this week: signs and portents redux, or six degrees of interconnectedness
the worthless word for the day is: qiviut [Inuit qiviuq, down, underhair] /KEE vee ut/ the soft wool of the undercoat of the musk ox "But to measure qiviut in terms of pounds is like speaking of the proverbial ton of feathers." - Brad Leithuser, The Atlantic Monthly (1993) (Scrabble players were probably expecting this one; an assist goes to katachresis)
the worthless word for the day is: fozy [fr. Dutch voos, spongy + -y] /FO zi/ chiefly Scot. 1) (of a vegetable) spongy and light-textured; overripe 2) (of a person) a: fat and bloated: obese; b: dull-witted and insipid: fatheaded hence, foziness "He maun be a saft sap, wi' a head nae better than a fozy frosted turnip: it wad hae ta'en a hantle o' them to scaur Andrew Fairservice out o' his tale." - Sir Walter Scott, Rob Roy (1834) bonus word: hantle - a good deal, many this week: words found in the OSPD
the worthless word for the day is: jauk [obscure origin] /jahk/ Scot. to trifle, to dally, in walking or work {Jamieson} "An' ne'er, tho' out o' sight, to jauk or play." - Robbie Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night
the worthless word for the day is: puggry [Hindi pagi, turban] /PUG gry/ (also puggree, etc.) 1) a turban worn in India 2) a light scarf wound around a hat or helmet to protect the head from the sun "Scott saw her, the centre of a mob of weeping women, in a calico riding-habit, and a blue-grey felt hat with a gold puggaree." - Rudyard Kipling, William the Conqueror "There are at least fifty -gry words in addition to angry and hungry, and every one of them is either a variant spelling, as in augry for augury.. or ridiculously obscure, as in anhungry, an obsolete synonym for hungry; aggry, a kind of variegated glass bead..; puggry, a Hindu scarf wrapped around the helmet or hat and trailing down the back to keep the hot sun off one's neck; or gry, a medieval unit of measurement equaling one-tenth of a line." - Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words (Richard neglected to mention iggry...)
the worthless word for the day is: fremd [fr. OE fremde] /fremd/ now chiefly Scot. 1) foreign, unfamiliar, strange 2) not belonging to one's own family: unrelated 'Better kind fremd, than fremd kindred.' - as from Walter Scott, Quentin Durward (1823) "Better kind friend than friend kind. Friend is a corruption of fremd, meaning a stranger." - Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) this week: found in the OSPD; i.e., playing Scrabble™
the worthless word for the day is: helluation [fr. L. helluari, to gormandize] /?/ obs. rare 'A devouring gluttony' {Blount*} *Thomas Blount, Glossographia; or, a dictionary interpreting the hard words of whatsoever language, now used in our refined English tongue (1656)
the worthless word for the day is: tarassis [fr. Gk tarasso(?), to trouble the mind, confound, agitate, disturb, disquiet] /tuh RASS iss/ male hysteria {Mrs. Byrne}? ""Hysteria" (hustera, womb) is a form of neurosis which, strictly speaking, ought to apply to women only. But males suffer from the malady, too, and the same term is used to designate it. In 1886 Sanoaville de Lachèse proposed that the word "tarassis" (tarasso, to agitate, disturb, trouble) be used to designate hysteria in the male, but in spite of its appropriateness the term has not received general acceptance. It is not always the superior scientific term that succeeds in winning approval." - Oscar Nybakken, Greek and Latin in Scientific Terminology (1959)
the worthless word for the day is: analogivorous [fr. L. -vorus < vorare, to devour] /analo JIV orous/ rare craving analogies or parallels(?) "I am inspired to concede a brief parenthesis to all the analogivorous, who are capable of interpreting the 'Live dangerously,' that victorious hiccough in vacuo, as the national anthem of the true ego exiled in habit." - Samuel Beckett, Proust (essay, 1930)
the worthless word for the day is: uropygium [Gk ouropygion, fr. ouro- tail + pyge rump] /YOOR uh PI jee um/ Ornith. the fleshy and bony prominence at the posterior extremity of a bird's body that supports the tail feathers: the rump hence, uropygial "The brilliant train of the Peacock.. not growing from the uropygium (or rump,) but upon the back." - William Bingley, Animal Biography (1813) "uropygial gland: secretory gland just above the base of the tail feathers that provides oil for preening" - David M. Bird[!], The Bird Almanac (2004) hoo-ah! another pyg word. (thanx to shufitz)
the worthless word for the day is: doula [modern Gk, female helper < Gk doule, female slave] /DU luh/ a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth "The best possibility would probably be a doula, who is trained to help new mothers in any way she can. This miracle worker will mind the twins for you, fix meals, do the laundry - whatever you want." - Washington Post June 21, 2000 "She had considered hiring a doula - a birthing coach - to stay with her through delivery. There are studies showing that having a doula can lower the likelihood that a mother will end up with a Cesarean section or an epidural. The more she looked into it, however, the more worried she became about being paired with someone annoying. She thought about delivering with a midwife. But, as a doctor, she felt that she would actually have more control working with another doctor." - The New Yorker Oct. 9, 2006 (thanx to Mark Kramm (krambo))
the worthless word for the day is: guddle [prob. imitative] /GUD ul/ 1) to grope for fish in their lurking places 2) chiefly Scot. : to feel one's way with or as if with the hands: grope "Stripped to the waist and groping about or (as they say) guddling for these fish. " - Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped (1886) "tickling. A peculiar method of catching trout by tickling them lightly with the fingers oil the belly. After a little practice it is easy to grasp the fish behind the gills and lift it out of the water. The process is called guddling in Scotland, and the writer, when a boy, has caught hundreds in this way." - The Shakespeare Cyclopædia, by John Phin (1902) (Lie thou here, for here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling! - Twelfth Night) "This way of capturing trout is well known to country boys in many lands. An eminent American jurist tells me that he has frequently practiced it in this country when he was a boy. It is a most deadly method, and a stream may be so very easily depopulated in this way that tickling or guddling is prohibited by law in some places." - To the Editor of the New Yorks Times, June 3, 1905 (thanx to Barry MacDonald)
the worthless word for the day is: refactory [fr. L. reficere, to remake or restore, cf. refectory] a place for remaking or restoring an object through reanalysis of its structure without changing its behavior <wwftd is an obscure words refactory> "This is Tim Talen's Ragwood Refactory, a haven where folks come to talk about airplanes made of wood and fabric, and where Talen restores the past. There isn't a plane made with rags and wood that Talen doesn't know about." - The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) Nov 20, 2005 (thanx to G. F. Perry)
the worthless word for the day is: terriculament [L. terriculament-um, bugbear] /ter RIK yoo la ment/ obs. a source or object of needless dread; a bugbear <childhood terriculaments> "[M]any times such terriculaments may proceed from natural causes, and all other senses may be deluded." - Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (1832) "The pains of purgatory are but a vain terriculament, to make men pay dear for Popish masses, merits, satisfactions and pardons." - Wm Fulke, Confutation of the Rhenish Testament (1834) (thanx to Hydra) ___ this week: more contributions from readers
the worthless word for the day is: Antaean [fr. Antaeus, a giant overcome by Hercules, his strength was renewed by contact with the earth] /an TEE en/ 1) of very great size: mammoth 2) possessed of superhuman strength with suggestions of earthiness "The word, Antaean, sprang hundred-voiced around her, and held her by every gripping voice. Perjury, on her soul and in her blood, if now she slipped to buy sweets with money that was not hers." - Charles Williams, Descent Into Hell (1937) "[Seferis] had begun to ripen into the universal poet - by passionately rooting himself into the soil of his people. Wherever there is life to-day in Greek art it is based on this Antaean gesture, this passion which transmits itself from heart to feet, creating strong roots which transform the body into a tree of potent beauty." - Henry Miller, The Colossos of Maroussi (1941) (thanx to Ben M)
the worthless word for the day is: indehiscent [in- + L. dehiscent, opening wide] /in di HIS uhnt/ Botany not splitting open at maturity: indehiscent fruit hence, indehiscence "But this is only the beginning for the black walnut forager... You have to get the husks off. They are magnificently indehiscent. Nature does not lend a hand." - Raymond Sokolov, Fading Feast (1998) (thanx to JNova)
the worthless word for the day is: boxology [box + -ology, science or discipline of] 1) a hierarchical presentation of software-architecture using boxes and arrows 2) pejoratively reduction of a scientific hypothesis to a series of boxes connected by arrows in lieu of a definitive exposition of the hypothesis referencing careful studies "Box-and-arrow diagrams seem inevitable for presentation of software architecture; however, the term "boxology" often mocks their over-use, especially when informal. We introduce in this paper a formal boxology to serve as a semantic domain for graph-based software architecture representation languages: the Nested Boxes and Arrows (NBA) model." - Malton & Holt, Boxology of NBA and TA (2005) "This is not a model in the statistical sense, which might be tested in relation to counts or measurements of various sorts of relevant behaviors or characteristics of individuals and groups. Rather, it's a "boxology" that expresses graphically a number of qualitative hypotheses." - Mark Liberman, Language Log October 22, 2007 (thanx to David Craig)
the worthless word for the day is: thagomizer [coined by Gary Larson] the cluster of spikes at the end of a stegosaurus' tail "Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons." - (as by) Gary Larson, The Far Side (1982) "Ken Carpenter, a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, was the first to use the term professionally, quipping, "And now, on to the thagomizer," when describing a specimen with broken tail spikes at a 1993 meeting." - Discover Magazine, 06.20.2007 "Father, I have sinned -- I have drawn dinosaurs and hominids together in the same cartoon." - Gary Larson (thanx to Kelly Egnitz)
the worthless word for the day is: cantrip [origin uncertain, perhaps alt. of caltrop] 1) Scot. a magic spell, a witch's trick 2) chiefly British a deceptive move; a sham Coffins stood round, like open presses, That shaw'd the Dead in their last dresses; And (by some devilish cantraip sleight) Each in its cauld hand held a light. By which heroic Tam was able To note upon the haly table, A murderer's banes, in gibbet-airns... - Robbie Burns, Tam O'Shanter (1790) ""God forgive us all!" thocht Mr. Soulis, "poor Janet's dead." He cam' a step nearer to the corp; an' then his heart fair whammled in his inside. For-by what cantrip it wad ill beseem a man to judge—she was hingin' frae a single nail an' by a single wursted thread for darnin' hose." - Robert Lewis Stevenson, Thrawn Janet (1881) (this passage is quoted by RLS in Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde) Shanil M. of South Africa notes: This is a very common word in fantasy novels. It is defined as a spell associated with words (somatic) as opposed to a spell associated with a hand gesture. Hence, some sorcerers are powerful enough to cast spells without the use of cantrips. "I have some poor little skill - not like yours, Master Doctor, of course - in small spells and cantrips that I'd be glad to use against our enemies if it was agreeable to all concerned." - C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia this week: trick or treat
the worthless word for the day is: samhainophobia [Irish Samhain, 'All Saints' Day' + -phobia] a fear of Halloween(?) the word seems a bit bogus, if you're at all literal-minded - Samhain falling on the first day of November and all, but read on.. "Millions of Americans may suffer some form of samhainophobia, says Donald Dossey, a Los Angeles psychologist who runs the Phobia Institute/Stress Management Centers. Samhainophobia is Dr. Dossey's clinical term for "fear of Halloween," named after Samhain, the god for whom Druid priests founded their end-of-summer festival of the dead more than 2,000 years ago." - Wall Street Journal Oct. 30, 1992 "The word [Halloween] began as All Hallowmas Even, roughly translated as "All Saints' Day Evening." (Nov. 1 is All Saints Day.) Over time and many translations, according to Donald E. Dossey in "Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun," the phrase was shortened to All Hallows' Even then All Hallowse'en, followed by All Hallowe'en and finally, Halloween. Halloween customs began as a means to frighten away spirits. Years ago some priestly Druids celebrated their year's end (Oct. 31) and the harvest. (The fear of Festival of the Dead is samhainophobia -- from the Gaelic "Samhain," meaning "summer's end."" - Austin American Statesman Oct 24, 1998 "If you have samhainophobia, you might want to avoid our last show of the year! We're bringing you an assortment of all-Austin Halloween-y short films.. themed around DISGUISES AND FEAR." - Austin American Statesman (online) Oct. 11, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: novercant [fr. L. novercalis, of or like a stepmother, hostile] obs. rare having characteristics attributed to a stepmother; hostile more commonly but now rare novercal /no VUR kul/ stepmotherly; freq. in extended use: cruel, malicious, hostile "It was only her third date with their father, and already Ingrid was addressing the twins in severe, novercant tones, admonishing them not to wipe their mouths on their sleeves and the like." - Novobatzky & Ammon, Depraved and Insulting English (2001) "The Soil is so pregnant and fertile, that nature hath stor'd it in no niggardly nor novercal benevolence." - Edmund Hickeringill, Jamaica View'd (1661) "This Greek world is certainly an eastward-facing one, Sicily and Magna Graecia receiving decidedly novercal treatment." - Classical Review 1982, v. 32 this week: words that can't be found via OneLook (yet)
the worthless word for the day is: necessarium [post-classical L. necessarium, privy] /NES eh SAR ium/ Historical a privy, esp. in a monastery; humorous a toilet, lavatory "A passage at the other end leads to the 'necessarium'.. a portion of the monastic buildings always planned with extreme care." - Encycl. Britannica 1875 "I had to look it up too, once I'd feigned a visit to the necessarium." - Scotland on Sunday 25 May 1997 (see macroverbumsciolist)
the worthless word for the day is: nihilarian [fr. L. nihil, nothing + -arian, producer] // obs. rare a person who deals with things of no importance; someone with a meaningless job "This emphasis on the importance of practical mathematics is expressed in the Commentaries where, having styled the mathematicians as "Nihilarians," Berkeley complains, "If the wit and industry of the Nihilarians were employ'd about the useful and practical mathematiques, what advantage had it brought to Mankind?"" - Douglas Jesseph, Berkeley's Philosophy of Mathematics (1993)
the worthless word for the day is: gutterblood Scot. 1) a low-bred person; one of the rabble 2) someone brought up in one's immediate neighborhood, and who is on equal footing as to their station "A dozen young gutter-bloods, street-boys, would have been round him in a moment." - Edmund Yates, The Rock Ahead (1868) "Yesterday, nae farther gane, just as we were mounted, and about to ride forth, in rushes a thorough Edinburgh gutterblood - a ragged rascal, every dud upon whose back was bidding good-day to the other, with a coat and hat that would have served a pease-boggle..." - Sir Walter Scott, The Fortunes of Nigel (1822) a pease-boggle, I gather, is very much like a scarecrow
the worthless word for the day is: lapidable [fr. L. lapidare, to stone < lapis, stone] obs. rare worthy of being stoned "Lapidable, marriageable, fit for a husband." - Phillips, The new world of English words (1706) [OED2 notes that this strange mistake is copied in some later dictionaries] "Now, to help get through some of these [awful] tomes, I've found it helps to be gambrinous. Even so, many of the books remain jumentous, and their authors lapidable." - James MacGowan, The Ottawa Citizen Feb 13, 2000
the worthless word for the day is: arudshield [?] "the velvet-covered razor," an elegant, logical, theoretical technique for cutting through cant to truth, celebrating the simplest explanation among a panoply of complexities or obfuscations, and resembling Ockham's razor - Madeleine Cosman's Medieval Wordbook (1996) another word from the hogwash files: "[These three].. votes probably came from those attempting to apply the arudshield." - the hogmaster
the worthless word for the day is: ology [abstracted from words with this ending] /ALL eh jee/ an informal term for an unidentified branch of learning "Ologies of all kinds, from morning to night. If there is any Ology left, of any description, that has not been worn to rags in this house.. I hope I shall never hear its name." - Charles Dickens, Hard Times For These Times (1854) "One's doing a thesis on geology now, and the other's writing a book on meteorology. Ology is about the only thing they have in common." - Anthony Price, War Game (1976)
the worthless word for the day is: adiaphanous [ f. a- + med.L. diaphanus < Gk diaphanes] /ae di AHF enes/ not translucent, opaque (not diaphanous) "Upon the Gurmundizing Quagmires and most Adiaphanous Bogs, of the Author's obnubilated Roundelayes." (penned by 'T.C.', 1658) - The Origins of English Nonsense, collected by Noel Malcolm (1999) "Sometime in the warm, adiaphanous space of their night, curled around each other, Grace moved her arm across Max's pocketknife." - Jacqueline Hand, Hidden in Xanadu (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: exsufflate [L. exsufflare to blow at or upon] /ex SUF flate/ obs. exc. Historical to blow away; to exorcise or renounce by blowing hence, exsufflation, blowing out; forced breathing also, rare exsufflicate, puffed up(?) cf. insufflate "The old Mumbo Jumbo of 'unchristianizing the Legislature' must not be consigned to the eternal limbo.. without a parting exsufflation." - Saturday Review, 31 July 1858 When I shall turn the business of my soul To such exsufflicate and blown surmises. - Wm. Shakespeare, Othello
the worthless word for the day is: nulutative [?] /?/ neologism, nonsense word Some time ago I received the following query from a concerned reader: I found the word [nulutative] in David Brin's "The Uplift War". Among other important factors are [...] mental technique (e.g. associative, extrapolative, intuitive, holographic, or nulutative)... I can find no other use or definition of the word, and since it appears here in a list, there is no context from which to infer a precise meaning. If it is a neologism, it is the only one in the book, if you don't count presumable misspellings. Given Brin's prodigious use of pointedly obscure words, it's reasonable to think that he may have unearthed this one rather than invented it. --- Eventually, I wrote to Mr Brin via his web site, and received this in return.. response from the David Brin web site: In this case the word does NOT come from "Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual Words." Rather, it is made-up for a very good storytelling reason. Sometimes, the reader is supposed to FEEL that there have been new concepts developed in the future. Inserting a neologism is better than saying "they didn't know about this in 2007."
the worthless word for the day is: dysthymic [fr. dysthymia < Gk dysthymos, despondent] /dis THY mik/ affected with despondency or depression of spirits "Did he venture a guess about what's wrong with her?" .. "Dysthymic Disorder. That's his guess." "Sounds impressive. What does it mean?" "Sad, down in the dumps for more days than not." - Paul McCusker, The Mill House (2004) "Lately he'd grown accustomed to spending his days in a dysthymic funk, but the following morning he was so nonplussed by his conversations.. that he failed to notice that the usual cause of said funk wasn't around." - Jesse Kellerman, Trouble (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: kyacting [?] /KYE ac ting/ UK slang, rare clowning at work "Here, knock off that kyacting, will you?" an irate PO will say, if he sees a youngster playing the fool instead of attending to his work." - G. Goodenough, The Handy Man Afloat & Ashore (1901) Eric Partridge opines, "This may be a confusion of chy-ack or chi-hike," slang for jeering or banter. (not to be confused with kayaking)
the worthless word for the day is: trendoid [blend of trend + android] /TREN doid/ usu. disparaging [n] a trendy person [adj] trendy "You are well within your homeowners' rights to evict any trendoid who sullies the beer with lime." - Bon Appetit, Sept. 1989 "Food isn't supposed to be some sort of trendoid object, it's supposed to feed your body and soul and the things that matter." - Chicago Tribune Jan. 11, 1990 "Being unaware of the existence of any other people at all, none of this rather large and very loud mob of trendoids had noticed the creature from another species who joined their revels. Dortmunder was in perfect concealment with this crowd." - Donald Westlake, What's So Funny (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: concinnous [L. concinnus neatly arranged, elegant] /kuhn SIN uhs/ characterized by concinnity: neat, elegant; harmonious "[Y]our final alloquy, and concinnous deport laid me under a reasonable obstriction to impart to you a pantography of the occidental domain upon which I had placed my opthalmic organs." - Lorenzo Altisonant, Letters to 'Squire Pedant (1850) "The incandescent grin that once had illuminated those concinnous quarters disappeared with the decade, however." - Gerald Clarke, Capote: A Biography (2005) (of Cole Porter's quarters) bonus word: pantography in this sense, a general description of an object; an overview
the worthless word for the day is: borborology [fr. Gk borboros, filth + -logia, discoursing] rare filthy talk "Shunne obscene borborology, and filthy speeches." - John Trapp, Commentary on the Epistles (1649) not to be confused with borborygmic, maybe
the worthless word for the day is: advertently [advertent + -ly ad. L. advertere, to turn to] rare heedfully "It does not pay to assume that a word must have an opposite, or one opposite, whether it is a 'positive' word like 'wilfully' or a 'negative' word like 'inadvertently'. Rather, we should be asking ourselves such questions as why there is no use for the adverb 'advertently'.., if used for this purpose, would suggest that, if the act was not done inadvertently, then it must have been done noticing what I was doing, which is far from necessarily the case (e.g. if I did it absent- mindedly), or at least that there is something in common to the ways of doing all acts not done inadvertently, which is not the case. Again, there is no use for 'advertently' at the same level as 'inadvertently': in passing the butter I do not knock over the cream-jug, though I do (inadvertently) knock over the teacup -- yet I do not by-pass the cream-jug advertently." - John Austin, A Plea for Excuses (1956) "..teens inadvertently starting the Third World War, aliens inadvertently starting the Third World War, and adults advertently starting the Third World War." - Richard Powers, Operation Wandering Soul (1994)
worthless word for the day is: deparadisation [de- + paradise + -ation] nonce-word expulsion from the Garden "Commonly there are far more enemies in the spirit world than there are protectors, although there are supposed to be uncountable armies of angels and the like. Maybe they've all been on R&R since the deparadisation of Shaitan, I don't know." - George Alec Effinger, When Gravity Fails (1986)
the worthless word for the day is: unpregnant obs. in this sense not prolific; slow of wit, inept Yet I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak*, Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, And can say nothing; no, not for a king, Upon whose property and most dear life A damn'd defeat was made. - Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet *mope (now obs.)
the worthless word for the day is: vinolency [L. vinolentia] obs. drunkenness "This disease [apoplexy] being so frequent an attendant, or a consequence of vinolency holds up a most awful warning to the inebriate." - Thomas Trotter, An Essay.. on Drunkenness (1813) "[Ye] wassailers elide your costrels and degneate[sic] yourselves of your vinolency..." - Lorenzo Altisonant, Letters to 'Squire Pedant (1850) costrel - an earthenware or leather bottle denegate - to deny
the worthless word for the day is: regargletate nonce-word (after regurgitate) to spew forth the same old arguments(?) "[Y]ou are not going to regargletate that tired hash. Please spare me the trouble of having to correct you in public." - Jesse Kellerman, Trouble (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: rumble-bumble [rumble + bumble] cf. rumble-jumble a miscellaneous mass or mixture: jumble, hodgepodge "And under all the rumble-bumble of bad ideas lay the imbecile assumption of the jitney messiah at all times and everywhere: that human beings may be made over by changing the rules under which they live, that progress is a matter of intent and foresight, that an act of Parliament can cure the blunders and check the practical joking of God." - H. L. Mencken, writing of H. G. Wells Prejudices (1919) "He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash." - H. L. Mencken, of Pres. Warren G. Harding's bloviations The Baltimore Evening Sun (1921)
the worthless word for the day is: maculate [fr. L. maculatus] archaic or literary 1) marked with spots: blotched 2) besmirched, defiled, impure Arm. My love is most immaculate white and red. Moth Most maculate thoughts, master, are masked under such colours. - Wm. Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost (1590) "The best banana is the maculate kind, the banana whose succulent flesh is ripening to the point where its fibres are breaking down." - Independent, 16 Nov 1991 (thanx to Krambo)
the worthless word for the day is: lentiginous [L. lentiginosus, freckled] /len TIJ uh nuhs/ covered with freckles: freckled "But this man, this artist with the broad lentiginous hands, he let the world sift through his fingers as though it were all wreckage and it was his job to reclaim and recreate." - Melissa Pritchard, Spirit Seizures (1987) (not to be confused with litigious: Litigious hands did her of right deprive, That after all 'twas penance to survive. - Katherine Philips (1656))
the worthless word for the day is: lexiphanicism [fr. Gk lexiphanes, phrase-monger (title of dialogue by Lucian)] /lex i FAN i sizm/ archaic the use of pretentious phraseology "Come, Doctor, let us have no more of your medical terms and solemnity... 'Tis no better than downright Lexiphanicism." - Archibald Cambell, Lexiphanes; a dialogue.. (1767) "[W]hen it comes to -isms there isn't a single, satisfactory, all-encompassing, universally agreed definition, or even agreement on the fact that there isn't a single, satisfactory, all-encompassing, universally agreed definition of the -ism in question. Whether it be realism, relativism, conservatism, liberalism, idealism, empiricism, communism, capitalism, fascism, feminism, gnosticism, aestheticism, asceticism, athleticism, mysticism, mesmerism, masochism, modernism, marxism, malapropism, or any other '-ism' that those mad for macaronicism, liable to lexiphanicism or smitten by sesquipedalianism are inclined to conjugate, the only thing that everyone knows for certain is that there is no certainty about the thing everyone 'knows'. The ism isn't." - Stephen Brown et al, Romancing the Market (1998) (bonus word: macaronicism - macaronic style) "Judges, by nature and by training, rarely tend to be free spirits, and I have encountered from time to time an undercurrent of anti-lexiphanicism." - Judge Bruce M. Selya, wordsmith.org (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: altisonant [fr. L. altus, high + sonare, to sound] /al TIS oh nant/ archaic lofty or pompous: high-sounding; loud ""This, you see, is a story in words of five syllables. I wrote it to show the absurdity of big words so striven after by young writers, and, for the matter of that, by many old ones as well." Taking another book, he selected a passage and had me read it aloud, saying, at the conclusion, "How clear and simple that is! Now try Altisonant again." I tried, but gave it up." - Lew Wallace, quoting Professor Samuel K. Hoshour (the man behind Lorenzo Altisonant), his private teacher for a period, in: Lew Wallace: An Autobiography (1906) "There was one.. clerk of Eastham, who was guilty of several enormities; amongst others, "for that he singeth the psalms in the church with such a jesticulous tone and altisonant voice, viz: squeaking like a gelded pig, which doth not only interrupt the other voices, but is altogether dissonant and disagreeing unto any musical harmony, and he hath been requested by the minister to leave it, but he doth obstinately persist and continue therein." - Peter H. Ditchfield, The Parish Clerk (1907) bonus word: jesticulous - ridiculous(?) (nonce-word) --- this week: deciphering the Lorenzo Altisonant quote "Divest yourselves of your imbonity, incogitancy, and malversation; bonity is impetrable; perpend your longinquity from eupathy and the inenarrable sequences of your impreparation for the apropinquating catastrophe." - Lorenzo Altisonant (Samuel Keinfelter Hoshour), Letters to 'Squire Pedant (1850) the words purport to be those of a visiting preacher to a camp meeting, which might be re-rendered in English along these lines: Quit your unkindness, thoughtlessness, and corruption; kind acts are called for; ponder your distance from good feelings and the indescribable results of your lack of preparation for the approaching doom.
the worthless word for the day is: longinquity [L. longinquitas, fr. longinquus, distant] /lan JIN kwed ee/ archaic remoteness in space or time "But Don Quixote told him not to worry about leaving the animals unattended, because he who was to care for them on a voyage of such longinquity would see to their animal's sustenance. "I don't know what you mean by longdrinkity," said Sancho, and I've never heard such a word in all the days of my life." "Longinquity," Don Quixote replied, "refers to a very great distance, and it is no surprise that you do not understand it, because you are not obliged to know Latin, like some who pride themselves on knowing it and don't."" - Cervantes, Don Quixote (tr. by J. Rutherford) (2003) [NB: in an earlier translation, Walter Starkie stuck with the Anglicized Latin longinquous and Poncho heard logicuous -- but on the whole, I prefer Starkie's 1964 translation.)
the worthless word for the day is: eupathy [Gk eupatheia comfort; innocent emotions] /EU pa thy/ Stoic Philos. good affections; right feeling "The Stoics who called our good affections eupathies, did not manage those affections as well as they understood them." - Robert Southey, The Doctor (1834-43)
the worthless word for the day is: incogitancy [fr. L. incogitantia] /in COG i tan cy/ obs. lack of thought or of the power of thinking: thoughtlessness "It leads me to seek for happiness.. in every breath that blows around me, in an entire freedom of rest or motion, of thought or incogitancy, owing account to myself alone of my hours and actions." - Th. Jefferson, letter to James Madison (June7, 1793)
the worthless word for the day is: cullibility [fr. cully, to make a fool of + -bility] archaic gullibility "Providence never designed him to be above two and twenty, by his thoughtlessness and cullibility." - Jonathan Swift, letter to Alexander Pope (1728) "--it is a beautiful sound, that call to prayer, alliterative and moving even to a blaspheming dog of an unbeliever like myself. I hurried through the empty streets; hustlers stopped their hustling for prayer, marks overcame their cullibility for prayer." - George Alec Effinger, When Gravity Fails (1986)
the worthless word for the day is: imbonity [fr. L. imbonitas < im- + bonitas, goodness] /im BON i tee/ obs. rare the absence of good qualities, want of goodness "Divest yourselves of your imbonity, incogitancy, and malversation; bonity is impetrable; perpend your longinquity from eupathy and the inenarrable sequences of your impreparation for the apropinquating catastrophe." - Lorenzo Altisonant (Samuel Keinfelter Hoshour), Letters to 'Squire Pedant (1850)
the worthless word for the day is: ramfeezled [origin unknown] /ram FEEZ uld/ Scot. exhausted, worn out My awkward muse sair pleads and begs I would na write. The tapetless ramfeezl'd hizzie, She's saft at best, and something lazy. - Robert Burns (1785) "Poor Burns loses much of his deserved praise in this country through our ignorance of his language. I despair of meeting with any Englishman who will take the pains I have taken to understand him. His candle is bright, but shut up in a dark lantern. I lent him to a very sensible neighbour of mine; but his uncouth dialect spoiled all; and, before he read him through, he was quite ramfeezled." - William Cowper (1787) bonus word: tapetless - senseless
the worthless word for the day is: toey [toe + -y] /TOE ee/ Austral. informal nervous, anxious; frisky(?) "The horse seemed to him a bit on the toey side. He looked down to see if saliva was dripping. " - Charles Drummond, The Odds On Death (1969) "I don't know, his girlfriend came into town last night, and maybe he was feeling "toey,"" said Allenby, using Australian slang for "frisky." - Bob Harig, ESPN.com September 8, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: cornobble [fr. cor-, with(?) + nobble, to strike, hit, beat up] /kor NOB bul/ to beat on the head {Phelps} cornobbled : hit with a fist {Mrs. Byrne} NB: hit with a fish is a bit of a stretch, but fun You'd better walk a circle around him, if you don't want to visit Fist City... - Stuart Friebert
the worthless word for the day is: whamboozled [wham + bamboozled] (coined by Norman Chad) hoodwinked and eliminated "[W]hen a poker player stands to be eliminated from a tournament, Chad often states that said player needs a certain card or he/she is "whamboozled."" - wikipedia "Helmuth needs a King and King only or he is WHAMBOOZLED" - Norman Chad, ESPN/World Series of Poker
the worthless word for the day is: casuistry [fr. F. casuiste < Sp. casuista] /KAZH oo i strE/ 1) specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead 2) a resolving of specific cases of conduct through interpretation of ethical principles or religious doctrine casuist: someone whose reasoning is subtle and often specious "The science of casuistry.. has been termed, not inaptly, the 'art of quibbling with God'..." - The Penny Cyclopaedia VI (1836) "This is casuistry. The United States invaded Iraq and.. has some responsibility for the security situation in that country. Comparing American responsibilities in Iraq to those in the Congo is deceptive." - Atlantic Online Sep 1, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: introvenient [fr. L. introvenire, to come in] obs. rare coming in "..there being scarce any condition (but which depends upon clime) which is not exhausted or obscured from the commixture of introvenient nations either by commerce or conquest." - Sir Th. Browne, Pseudodoxia epidemica (1646) not(?) to be confused with intervenient [fr. L. intervenire, to intervene] 1) coming in incidentally or extraneously 2) intervening 3) intermediary "For if the intervenient appetites make any action voluntary, then by the same reason all intervenient aversions should make the same action involuntary; and so one and the same action should be both voluntary and involuntary." - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)
the worthless word for the day is: fecklessness [fr. Sc. feck, effect + -less + -ness] worthlessness due to being weak and ineffectual of his latest tome, Against the Day, Thomas Pynchon wrote: "With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places;" in the press release he added a caution: "No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred." heh.
the worthless word for the day is: cispontine [fr. cis- near side + L. pons bridge] /si|spon TINE/ situated on this or the nearer side of the bridge (in London, north of the Thames) compare transpontine (also cismontane (this or the near side of the moun- tains) and cismarine (this or near side of the ocean)) "The transpontine and cispontine dramas were nearly all built that way sixty years ago -- the avenging spirit was always "on top."" - Louis C. Elson, University Musical Encyc. (1912) "And Trainspotting took place entirely north of the Thames so it was cispontine [not transpontine]." - Faldage, Wordsmith Talk, Aug. 30 2007
the worthless word for the day is: sputative [fr. L. sputare] /SPYOO ta tive/ obs. rare given to (excessive) spitting <an ugly and sputative lizard - D. Grambs> "..and to see whether among all kind of affected persons confluent thither I could pick out any counsel to allay that sputative symptom, which yet remaineth upon me from my obstructions of the spleen." - Sir Henry Wotton, letter to Dr Castle (1638) "Doyler laughed, expectorated... You're all right, Doyler, MacMurrough thought. You'll do fine, my sputative disputative boy." - Jamie O'Neill, At Swim, Two Boys (2001)
the worthless word for the day is: confabulatory [fr. L. confabulari, to chat together] /kun FAB yu luh tory/ marked by familiar talk; colloquial "This led to a confabulatory discourse between the men." - Blackwood Magazine (1829) "But a lot of them's looking at us like it one of them confabulatory tales of them UFOs, like it one them confabulatory UFO tales that Nicholas telling. Like he telling them how he got hisself abducted in one of them confabulatory UFOs. And how one of them little confabulatory aliens that abducted him had them special and purely wonderful and powerful healing powers." - Gayl Jones, The Healing (1999)
the worthless word for the day is: jamfle [Sc. jamphle < jamph, travel with difficulty] to shuffle in walking, as if in consequence of wearing too wide shoes {Jamieson} "And in the morning I jamfled over to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and their archives..." - Glen Berger, Underneath the Lintel (2001) (thanx to John Huston)
the worthless word for the day is: introuvable [F., incapable of being found] /a[n] tru va bl[eh]/ [adj] immpossible to find; spec. of books. also as noun <pamphlets, all now almost introuvable - Times Lit. Suppl.> "Privately printed, 1894, Sir George's book - a most interesting volume, based on public and private papers - unluckily is introuvable." - Andrew Lang, The Valet's Tragedy (1903) "A potential introuvable to future collectors." - Times Lit. Suppl., 15 Feb 1963 (thanx to Hydra)
the worthless word for the day is: suffisance [ad. late L. sufficientia] // 1) obs. sufficiency; plenty; abundance; contentment 2) after F. suffisance excess of self-confidence, conceit "Welcome my knight, my peace, my suffisance!" - G. Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde (1374) "Perhaps it's suffisance on my part, but still it's better to say it." - Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace (1865) (2002 Constance Garnett tr.) --- are y'all sufficiently sophonsified?
the worthless word for the day is: cumulose [fr. L. cumulus, a heap] // 1) obs. full of heaps {in Bailey} 2) of a soil deposit consisting chiefly of accumulated organic matter cf. cumulus (heap-like) clouds "Cumulose materials may be grouped under two heads, peat and muck." - Harry Buckman et al, The Nature and Properties of Soils (1969) --- this week: an abundance of surfeit
the worthless word for the day is: aggerose [fr. L. aggerosus(?)] /ad jer OSE/ obs. full of heaps; formed in heaps {in Bailey} <a quantity of aggerose foreign coins - David Grambs> also, aggeration - a heaping up; an accumulation <aggerations of sand> "I think the stones are more likely to have been raised by mechanical means than by the rude process of aggeration." - R. Southey, letter [in ref. to Stonehenge] (1832)
the worthless word for the day is: murth [origin uncertain] /murth/ (obs?) N. Eng. dial. a great quantity, an abundance <a murth of cold> also: morth, mort "I think we should have had a murth of it this year, but the summer has been a little too cold, and Indian corn must have a hot sun. " - W. Brooke, Eastford (1855)
the worthless word for the day is: consilience [fr. L. consilere < con- + silere, to leap] /kun SIL iens/ jumping together, bridging the gaps to join together "The consilience of inductions takes place when one class of facts coincides with an induction obtained from another different class." - William Whewell, The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840) "The trend cannot be reversed by force-feeding students with some of this and some of that across the branches of learning; true reform will aim at the consilience of science with the social sciences and the humanities in scholarship and teaching." - Edward O. Wilson, Consilience (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: obscurantist [fr. L. obscurare, to obscure] a person who opposes reform and enlightenment "Nor is it certain from Derrida's ornately obscurantist prose that he himself knows what he means." - Edward O. Wilson, Consilience (1998) "Unfortunately, there is huge resistance to such modernization from the authoritarian and religiously obscurantist forces within the Arab-Muslim world." - Thomas L. Friedman, The World is Flat (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: irrisory [L. irrisorius < irridere, to laugh at] /ih RIZ eh ree/ rare mocking, derisive "Finding that, in despite of his displeasure, the young men continued in their irrisory mood, Van Ni admonished them a second time, and with greater seriousness." - Walter S. Landor, Imaginary Conversations (1846) "It is unusual for an irrisory epigram to impart so much information with such little clarity..." - N. M. Kay, Epigrams from the Anthologia Latina (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: subreption [fr L. subripere, surripere to take away secretly] /sub REP shun/ a deliberate misrepresentation, or an inference drawn from it; so, subreptitious & subreptitiously "Subreption is a vice in a rescript* arising from fraud." - Ethelred Luke Taunton, The Law of the Church (1906) "'Do you know what subreption is?' said Donelly. 'No.' 'To obtain something by misrepresentation. That is what our civilization does -- it holds carrots in the air to make donkeys work." - John Lahr, Prick Up Your Ears (1987) *in this sense, rescript is a written answer of a pope to an inquiry or petition as to Church law
the worthless word for the day is: contumation [fr. contumacious, by false analogy after vexatious, vexation, etc.] inkhorn term(?) obs. rare disobedience to authority; rebellious stubbornness : contumacy "..and if he [Raleigh] should fail in either of these two conditions, he should but augment his fault and contumation both." - Patrick F. Tytler, Life of Sir Walter Raleigh (1844) (quoting a letter from Sir Robert Naunton (1618)) (not to be confused with contumulation, cf. contumulate)
the worthless word for the day is: indigeneity [indigenous + -eity, quality or condition] /IN di jeh NAE ity(?)/ the quality of being indigenous or native: indigenousness "The term "indigeneity" is something of a mouthful. You won't find it in the Oxford English Dictionary, which insists on "indigenousness" or the ugly "indigenity" (which it describes as rare). Like its near-synonym, "aboriginality," the word "indigeneity" forms an abstract noun from a term we use to apply to certain peoples living in the world." - Jeremy Waldron, New Zealand Journal of Public Law, December 5, 2002
the worthless word for the day is: ambisinister [fr. L. ambi- both, + sinister, on the left side] clumsy with both hands (with two left hands) "Use your left hand, do you?" "Er, I use both," said Brutha. "But not very well, everyone says." "Ah," said Didactylos. "Ambi-sinister?" "What?" "He means incompetent with both hands," said Om. - Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
the worthless word for the day is: clochard [F. fr. clocher, to limp < L. cloppicare] /klO SHAR/ a tramp; vagrant "There was a good moon, but it was very late for lovers; the evening was silent and uninhabited but for the clochards, the human flotsam in rags sleeping in the streets underneath the globular streetlamps that hung like rotted melons on their corroded stalks." - Brian Garfield, Hopscotch (2004) --- our friend BranShea, of the Hague, writes to say that she has to cut down some with online endeavors lest she "end up a computer clochard."
the worthless word for the day is: resipiscent [L. resipiscentia, < resipiscere to recover one's senses] /res eh PIS ent/ returning to one's senses; learning from experience (also, resipiscence: repentance for misconduct; return to a sane, sound, or correct view or position) "Whenever this befalls, reason takes immediate steps for its coercion and recovery; and grammar, in the end, resipiscent and sane as of old, goes forth properly clothed and in its right mind." - Fitzedward Hall, Recent Exemplifications of False Philology (1872) "After worrying us all by missing a short par putt at the fourth hole, the resipiscent Garcia alleviates those fears by holing another little tickler." - Mike Adamson, Guardian Unlimited July 20, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: gephyrophobia [fr. Gk gephyra (bridge) + phobos (fear)] /JEFF ih ro FO bee uh/ an abnormal and persistent fear of crossing bridges hence, gephyrophobic "'Where did you go?' she asks crossly when she's negotiated the traffic. 'Gephyrophobia,' she says unexpectedly. 'Pardon?' "Gephyrophobia -- fear of bridges.'" - Kate Atkinson, Human Croquet (1999) "[Gephyrap]hobic drivers may worry about being in an accident in busy traffic or losing control of their vehicles. " - Webster's New World Medical Dictionary (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: earworm [G. ohrwurm] a song or tune that repeats over and over inside a person's head "The Germans use the word Ohrwurm to denote these cognitively infectious musical agents. Whenever somebody complains to you that he just can't keep the latest pop tune from running through his head, tell him he can dispel it by calling it by name and by thinking about the original German meaning, which captures some of the mnemonicalli parasitical connotations of the word, for Ohrwurm literally means "ear worm" and is also used to refer to a kind of worm that can crawl into the ear." - Howard Rheingold, The Whole Earth Review, Dec. 22, 1987 ""Wait till you've got the Barney song stuck in your head," Festino said. "Earworm from hell."" - Joseph Finder, Killer Instinct (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: onomatopeed [fr. onomatope, an onomatopoeic word] /AN eh ma TOPT/ or /-to PEED/ (?) used onomatopoeia (a word from a sound associated with an action or a thing being named) ""Ding, ding, ding," Jody onomatopeed, signaling that Tommy had hit on the correct answer." - Christopher Moore, You Suck (2007) "..the second of these papers calls attention to the fondness of comic-strip artists for onomatopes, e.g., whap, zam, sputtt, tsk-tsk,.. bam, yazunk and whambo." - H. L. Mencken, The American Language (1948) "You can verb anything." - attributed to William Safire
the worthless word for the day is: plastinated [fr. plastic, after plastination] preserved by plastination (an embalming and preserving technique using synthetic materials such as epoxy or polyester polymers) "The.. exhibition of flayed and dissected 'plastinated' corpses has opened in London." - Daily Telegraph, 26 Mar. 2002 "Edward Depauw's current wife was a plastinated real-estate broker half his age, the very one who'd found him a penthouse after things went awry with the Original Recipe Mrs. DePauw." - Jesse Kellerman, Trouble (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: mise-en-scene [F. mise en scène, putting into the scene] /meez ahn sen/ narrowly a stage setting; broadly visual style "Even when we don't understand the director's specific purposes, we are stirred by his gorgeous images, stirring mise-en-scène (Paris seems to be a reddish, glowing series of Hollywood-style soundstages) and the note-perfect performances of [his] cast..." - Desson Thomson, Washington Post June 29, 2007 "He should have noticed how slowly she'd been moving; should have noted the choreographed quality, the mise-en-scène of it all." - Jesse Kellerman, Trouble (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: gorgeosity [a blend of gorgeous & generosity(?)] an abundance (generosity) of gorgeousness "Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh." - Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962) "I didn't want you to be hurt. So messy. But you got going. I couldn't stop you. It was gorgeosity." - Jesse Kellerman, Trouble (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: recto [fr. L. rectus straight, right] /REK toe/ 1) the front side of a printed sheet 2) the right-hand page of an open book (contrast verso) "Chapters or similar divisions after the first usually begin either on recto or verso pages but may begin, in a very formal book, on recto only." - Univ. of Chicago Press, A Manual of Style (1952) "Traditionally the terms recto and verso are used for the front and back of a papyrus when it is used in the regular manner... Egyptologists in general adhere to the use of recto and verso." - T. G. H. James, Pharaoh's People (2007)
the worthless word for the day is: trivium [L., crossroad (where three roads meet)] /TRIV eum/ the lower division of the seven liberal arts in medieval schools, comprising grammar, logic, and rhetoric "The real secular education of the early Middle Ages was confined to the "Trivium."" - Arthur A. Tilley, Medieval France (1922)
the worthless word for the day is: quadrivium [L., place where four roads meet] /kwa DRIV eum/ the higher division of the seven liberal arts in the Middle Ages, comprising geometry, astronomy, arithmetic, and music (compare trivium) "The "Quadrivium" was never much more than a scheme on paper: it was superseded before it had been fully elaborated." - Arthur A. Tilley, Medieval France (1922)
the worthless word for the day is: sphallolalia [fr. Gk sphallo, make to fall + -lalia, chatter] /SFAL oh LAY lee yuh/ (nonsense word?) flirtatious talk that leads nowhere "Welcome to Wikipedia! We welcome your help to create new content, but your recent additions (such as Sphallolalia) are considered nonsense." - Wikipedia, 4 February 2007
the worthless word for the day is: pyrrhonism [fr. Gk skeptic philosopher Pyrrho] /PIR eh nizem/ usu. capitalized Philos. the doctrine of the impossibility of attaining certainty of knowledge; absolute or universal skepticism; hence generally, skepticism esp. when total or radical "Pyrrhonism is, therefore, an abdication of all the supposed rights of the mind, and cannot be dealt with by the ordinary rules of logic or by the customary canons of philosophical criticism." - The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) "Pyrrhonism is an anti-philosophy..." - Hugh Roberts, Dog's Tales (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: emmet [fr. emmet, a synonym of ant] in Cornwall, mildly disparaging a holiday-maker or tourist; a summer visitor (cf. grockle) "A Devon lady mentioned in passing that emmets and grockles were about to come her way" - Sunday Express, 15 June 1975 "The visitors, drawn to Cornwall's subtropical climate and unique culture, are called emmets by the locals, a Cornish word for the insects they resemble..." - James B. Minahan, One Europe, Many Nations (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: grockle [origin uncertain] Brit. dialect, mildly disparaging holiday-maker or tourist (esp. in southwest England); a summer visitor "The term 'Grockle' now commonly used in the South West to mean holidaymaker, has also given rise to the following descriptive expressions: Grockle fodder (fish and chips), Grockle bait (the merchandise sold in gift and souvenir shops), and Grockle nests (camp sites)." - Daily Telegraph, 25 Aug. 1986 "Fowles went on to admit that he had been less than helpful as curator... "That was because I already knew the right person was tackling the problem, and that we did not need one more error-perpetuating account just to fill a space in the grockle market." - Judith Pascoe, The Hummingbird Cabinet (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: periscian [fr. Gk periskios, throwing a shadow all around] /peh RIS kian/ rare having shadows revolving all around, as happens during the course of a summer day in the polar regions "In every clime we are in a periscian state, and with our Light our Shadow and Darkness walk about us." - Sir Thomas Browne, Christian Morals (1716)
the worthless word for the day is: fritinancy [fr. L. fritinnire, to twitter] /FRIT i nan see/ (also fritiniency) obs. twittering or chirping, as of cicadas or other insects "Life in all its manifestations - the tumult of politics, the dolor of women, the fritinancy of the drawing-room -- was his "divine amusement."" - Vance Thompson, French Portraits (1899) "Unsupported libels and slanders whizzed all day long through the offices of the great, a sort of gnat- fritinancy, disregarded." - Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed (1962)
the worthless word for the day is: gemebund [L. gemebundus] /JEM eh bund/ inkhorn term, rare groaning; sighing Ut vero fuga vos a certa morte reduxit, ille quidem totam gemebundus obambulat Aetnam praetemptatque manu silvas... [When you escaped by flight from certain death, Polyphemus roamed over the whole of Aetna, groaning, and groping through the woods...] - Ovid, Metamorphoses
the worthless word for the day is: manticratic [fr. Gk mantisi, prophet + -cratic] (found only in Lawrence) of the rule by the prophet's family or clan "The position of the Sherif of Mecca had long been anomalous. The title of 'Sherif' implied descent from the prophet Mohammed through his daughter Fatima, and Hassan, her elder son. Authentic Sherifs were inscribed on the family tree - an immense roll preserved at Mecca, in custody of the Emir of Mecca, the elected Sherif of Sherifs, supposed to be the senior and noblest of all. The prophet's family had held temporal rule in Mecca for the last nine hundred years, and counted some two thousand persons. "The old Ottoman Governments regarded this clan of manticratic peers with a mixture of reverence and distrust. Since they were too strong to be destroyed, the Sultan salved his dignity by solemnly confirming their Emir in place. This empty approval acquired dignity by lapse of time, until the new holder began to feel that it added a final seal to his election." - T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
the worthless word for the day is: seely [ME sely (cf. silly)] /SEE lee/ archaic 1) foolish, simple 2) pitiable especially because of weak physical or mental condition: frail By thee the seely amorous sucks his death By drawing in a leprous harlot's breath.. - John Donne, Elegy IV (ca. 1621) "Feisal told [Said] that he was come at an opportune moment. He could offer Jemal the loyal behaviour of the Arab Army, if Turkey evacuated Amman, and handed over its province to Arab keeping. The seely Algerian, thinking he had scored a huge success, rushed back to Damascus: where Jemal nearly hanged him for his pains." - T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926)
the worthless word for the day is: metensomatosis [fr. Gk meta- + en- + somat-, soma body + -osis] the migration of a soul from body to body (to be confused with metempsychosis) "Metempsychosis is the common name for the concept more properly referred to as palingenesis or metensomatosis." - Rhodri Lewis, The Huntington Library Quarterly (2006 no. 2) "Ægypt is a metamorphosis, a metensomatosis, a memory play and a meta-novel; a story about many stories, a book with a larger book inside it." - Elizabeth Hand, Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 2007
the worthless word for the day is: nowanights [now + anight(s), at night; after nowadays] on present nights (in contrast with the past) "I take it that the Golden Drugget is not outspread nowanights across the high dark coast-road between Rapallo and Zoagli." - Max Beerbohm, And Even Now (1920) "And they fell upong one another: and themselves they have fallen. And still nowanights and by nights of yore do all bold floras of the field.. say only: Cull me ere I wilt to thee!" - James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake (1939) "Luckily, a nocturnal shopper in Ottawa has other options nowanights." - Ottawa Citizen, 22 May 2000
the worthless word for the day is: Bob's your uncle [origin uncertain] ..but see worldwidewords UK interj. used to show the simplicity of something; there you are "Ask the two questions: height and airspeed. Research Section must know the height and airspeed. Leave the money in your overcoat pocket. He'll pick up your coat, hang his own beside it and help himself quietly, without any fuss, taking the envelope and dropping the film into your coat pocket. You finish your drinks, shake hands, and Bob's your uncle. In the morning you fly home. Leclerc had made it sound so simple." - John le Carré, The Looking Glass War "Or had they improvised this on the spot from stuff lying around -- a bit of cable here, a transformer there, a dimmer-switch, an old poker, and Bob's your uncle?" - John le Carré, The Mission Song this week: a few words from le Carré
the worthless word for the day is: knees-up Brit. informal a lively party, usu. including dancing Knees up, Mother Brown. - traditional pub/party song "There's a knees-up afterwards apparently, with some big names in the industry, so I thought it might do me some good." - John le Carré, The Mission Song (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: caboosh UK slang an aggregate; usu. in the phrase the whole caboosh: all, everything, everyone "And she skilfully behaved so that Sir Alexander should think that he was lord and monarch of the whole caboosh, with his stout, would-be-genial paunch, and his utterly boring jokes, his humourosity, as Hilda called it." - D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928) 'I heard people of all nations.' 'You heard right. French, German, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Turkish, Thai, Lebanese, Saudis and black Africans, the whole caboosh, male and female. And a lot of Greeks.' - John le Carré, Absolute Friends (2004) 'Further explanations will tie you in knots, so do not on any account attempt one. That's the whole caboosh you're wearing, is it? Shiny shoes, dress shirt, the lot?' - John le Carré, The Mission Song (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: doddle [origin unknown] Brit. colloq. a very easy task; a 'walk-over' "Probation was a doddle really, and it didn't make much difference to me." - Alfred Draper, Swansong for a Rare Bird (1970) 'You're.. brilliant. Well, be brilliant. Young strong chap like you, it's a doddle.' - John le Carré, The Mission Song (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: kippleization [cf. kipple, both words coined by P. K. Dick] the tendency of the universe towards decaying entropic trash "It's a universal principal operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving towards a final state of total, absolute kippleization." - Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? this week: words for you to hoard
the worthless word for the day is: mongo [origin unknown] /MAWNG goh/ New York City dial. an object retrieved from rubbish; a scavenger "Nagle's interests lie more with the trash collectors than with the trash, although the two intersect on the subject of "mongo" -- sanitation lingo for "redeemed garbage" or the act of collecting it. (Nagle consulted a lexicographer, looking for help in tracking down the etymology, to no avail.)" - Ben McGrath, New Yorker Nov. 13, 2006 (not to be confused with any other mongo, or mungo) (thanx to helen :)
the worthless word for the day is: syllogomania [fr. Gk sylloge, collecting + -mania] /SIL eh jo mania/? compulsive hoarding "The technical name is syllogomania, from sylloge ("to collect"), but most psychiatric professionals call it compulsive hoarding." - Jeff Koyen, Wired 03-07-07
the worthless word for the day is: pismirism [with reference to the behaviour of ants (pismires) in hoarding food] /PIS mer izem/ nonce-word the hoarding of money; miserliness "The mass of money piled up by the late Mr. Sage in the course of a life of parsimonious pismirism." - Daily News, 22 Dec. 1906
the worthless word for the day is: bibliothec [fr. L. bibliotheca, collection of books, library] /BIB li o thec/ [n] a librarian [adj] belonging to a library or a librarian "Librarians are all wonderful people. Here at Gouger, we want to recognize that wonderfulness and make money off it. Every bibliothec desires a professional award to adorn their work area." - Gouger Library Supplies May 29, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: bouquiniste [F., fr. bouquin, old book] /bukeeneest/ (also, the anglicized bouquinist) a dealer in secondhand books "The bouquiniste encouraged us to browse as long as we wanted." - Scripps Consolidated Word List "M. Mabeuf's political opinion consisted in a passionate love for plants, and, above all, for books. Like all the rest of the world, he possessed the termination in ist, without which no one could exist at that time, but he was neither a Royalist, a Bonapartist, a Chartist, an Orleanist, nor an Anarchist; he was a bouquinist, a collector of old books." - Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (1862) tr. by I. Hapgood
the worthless word for the day is: machicotage [F.] /ma shi KO tazh/ the embellishment of the solo part of plain song by the insertion of ornaments between the authentic tones "'Machicotage is an anachronism, a living leftover which remains obliquely in its own time, a surviving element which one no longer knows what to do with." - Björn Schmelzer, Glossa Music (2006) "Finola gets maschicotage. Oops, I'm wrong again. It's machicotage. Hey, I was only off by one letter! She gets it right. Apparently, this is "luck of the draw" working in her favor, because three of her last four words have been French, which Finola studies in school. Okay, I studied French for six years, and you saw what I did with machicotage." - Red Fraggle, Spelling Bee: A Running Diary (2006) _______ in what may be an apochryphal story, when the British conquered Sindh in 1843, General Charles Napier is said to have reported victory to the Governor General with a one-word telegram, namely "Peccavi" – or "I have Sindh"; or, this pun may have first appeared later as a cartoon in Punch magazine.
the worthless word for the day is: peccavi [L., I have sinned] /pe KAH wee/ or /~ vee/ an acknowledgment of sin "Anurag walks to the microphone to face peccavi. He knows it, and as Jacques Bailly gives the definition, Anurag, rushing in the heat of the moment, interrupts to get the language of origin. He apologizes to Bailly quickly, then just as quickly spells without doubt." - James Maquire, American Bee <heh>
the worthless word for the day is: onychophagy [NL onychophagia] /AHN eh KAF eh jee/ nail-biting (= onychophagia) ""Does it mean the biting of fingernails?" [Samir Patel] replied, when asked to spell "onychophagy."" - Houston Chronicle, June 3, 2005 "Onychophagy is usually symptomatic of emotional tensions and frustrations." - anon.
the worthless word for the day is: onomasiologic [fr. Gk onomasia, name + -ology] /on uh may see uh LOJ ik/ Linguistics relating to the gathering or comparison of lists of words that designate similar or associated concepts (cf. onomastics, the science or study of the origins and forms of proper names of persons or places) "The project of such a book.. may materialize in different ways (clusters of synonyms supported by well-chosen quotations from authors; "ideological index" to a standard dictionary; array of regional or temporal counterparts of each basic entry - an arrangement sometimes called "onomasiologic" in the Central European tradition of modern-language scholarship.)" - Yakov Malkiel, A Typological Classification of Dictionaries on the Basis of Distinctive Features (1962) "A book on onomastics explained that the name Donald is a Scottish Gaelic word meaning "world ruler."" - [Scripps] Consolidated Word List
the worthless word for the day is: antinomy [fr. Gk antinomia, < anti- + nomos, law] /an TIN uh me/ 1) opposition between two laws or rules 2) a contradiction between principles or conclusions; a paradox "Of all the cosmological ideas, however, it is that occasioning the fourth antinomy which compels us to venture upon this step." - Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1899) "The open space versus movement debate figures an irresolvable antinomy within the WSF [World Social Forum]." - Bret Benjamin, Foreign Policy in Focus, 5/10/07 (not to be confused with antimony - see link (look close)) (thanx to John Hedin)
the worthless word for the day is: oscine [fr. L. oscen] /OS Ine/ of or relating to a large suborder of passerine birds that includes most songbirds "Oscine birdsongs.. are among the most complex of all natural behaviors known to us" - Marc Hauser & Mark Konishi, The Design of Animal Communication (2003) "When we think of birdsong, we think mostly of the perching birds, and among them especially of the oscine families, such as vireos, thrushes, finches, warblers, orioles, sparrows, and tanagers: the so-called true songbirds." - Gene Holtan, The Ardent Birder (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: passerine [L. passerinus of sparrows, fr. passer sparrow] of or relating to the largest order of birds, comprising mainly songbirds of perching habits "[T]he only passerine glimpsed all day was a solitary tree sparrow on a frozen street." - Peter Matthiessen, The Birds of Heaven (2001) "Waterfowl migration is about complete but passerine and shorebird migrations are heating up." - Jackson Hole Star-Tribune, May 10, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: skyhookery [fr. skyhook < sky + hook] nonce-word use of an imaginary hook suspended in air to bootstrap a process; gen., the abandonment of reason "It is a dreadful exhibition of self-indulgent, thought- denying skyhookery... But the very least that any honest quest for truth must have in setting out to explain such monstrosities of improbability as a rainforest, a coral reef, or a universe is a crane and not a skyhook." - Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia on 6/6/06, Tom Kuffel wrote: I thought you'd be using hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. [fr. Gk hexa^kosioi-, six hundred + hexekonta-, sixty + hexa-, six + -phobia] fear of the number six-hundred and sixty-six and, hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiac, one who so fears "So far, few seem to be suffering from hexakosioihexekonta- hexaphobia - an intense aversion to the numerical sequence 666." - L. A. Daily News, June 07, 2006 "64. Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobiacs is the term for people who fear the number 666." - BBC News Magazine Monitor, 100 things we didn't know last year, 28 Dec. 2006
the worthless word for the day is: ichthyophagous Charles Hodgson wrote: Ichthyophagous: eating or subsisting on fish [fr. Gk ikhthus, a fish, plus phagein, to eat + -ous] /ik thE OFF uh gus/ feeding on fish "..and my brother observed derisively, much to my grief, that a wretched ichthyophagous people must make shocking soldiers, weak as water, and liable to be knocked over like nine-pins; whereas, in his army, not a man ever ate herrings, pilchards, mackerels, or, in fact, condescended to anything worse than sirloins of beef." - Thomas De Quincy, Autobiography (1853) "..we Greenlanders are a clean, proud people who would never stoop to the unhealthy habits of those desperate grubby ichthyophagous Icelanders and Norwegians." - Jared Diamond, Collapse (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: teetotaciously John Turner writes: I have had quite a go of it and still no success in locating the meaning of this word. I found it in a quote; 1840: ...the Administration is bodaciously used up, tetotaciously exflunctified. Mr. Wick, Indiana, House of Reps., Congressional Globe, July 20, p.545. [fanciful elaboration of teetotally {OED2}, t(otal) + total + -ly] U.S. dial. totally, completely, absolutely "I'm the best man--if I ain't, I wish I may be tetotaciously exflunctified!" - James K. Paulding, Lion of the West (1833) "With consummate ease he could teetotaciously exfluncticate his opponent in a conbobberation, that is to say a conflict or disturbance, or ramsquaddle him bodaciously, after which the luckless fellow would absquatulate." - A. Marckwardt, American English (1980) "Hell, all courtroom testimony about the past is ipso facto and teetotaciously a baldface lie, ain't that so? Moonshine! Chicanery! The old gum game!" - Robert Coover, The Public Burning (1977)
the worthless word for the day is: accismus [Gk akkismos] /ak SIZ mas/ Rhet. a form of irony, a pretended refusal of something one desires "A woman uses no figure of eloquence - herself excepted - so often as that of accismus." - tr. of Jean Paul Richter's Levana (1863) ""I don't need help," I say with perfect accismus, "but who are you talking about?"" - Dan Wick, The Devil's Tale (2006) this week: yours insincerely
the worthless word for the day is: assentation [fr. L. assentari, to agree with] ready assent, esp. when insincere or obsequious "Abject flattery and indiscriminate assentation degrade as much as indiscriminate contradiction and noisy debate disgust." - Lord Chesterfield's Letters to his son (1749) "The decanter flew across and across the table with wonderful rapidity, and the flow of assertion increased with the captain, and that of assentation with his lieutenant." - Edward Howard, Rattlin the Reefer (1971)
the worthless word for the day is: phonus-bolonus [alt. of phoney baloney, after L. nouns ending in -us] nonsense, exaggeration; insincerity; fraud, trickery "Of course this message is nothing but the phonus bolonus." - Damon Runyon, in Hearst's International, Jul. 1929 "She had guessed, of course, that he was up to some kind of phonus-bolonus, but if you had asked her what particular kind of phonus-bolonus she would not have been able to tell you." - P. G. Wodehouse, Quick Service (1940) "Many times in history we get this type of phonus bolonus from Scared Hair, so we give him the razz and go back to minding our own business." - Sunday Telegraph, 18 Feb. 1990
the worthless word for the day is: patrioteer [patriot + -eer, cf. profiteer] U.S. depreciative an insincere, misguided, or false patriot: flag-waver "They are quick to detect the phony and they can distinguish a patriot from a patrioteer." - Birmingham (Alabama) News, 14 Apr. 1954 "Rathenau's acceptance of the post was regarded as an outrage by apoplectic patrioteers of the right." - N.Y. Review of Books, 4 Nov. 1999 "The main modern meaning of patriot, "loyal and disinterested supporter of one's country," is attested from 1605, but the history of the word has diverged in America and England. In the United States, patriot has kept a positive sense. Phony and rascally varieties of the patriotism tend to be identified by collateral formations, such as patrioteer." - Callimachus, Feb. 9, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: greyhoundy [gray + hound + -y] resembling a greyhound dog in appearance "A wiry, light-fleshed filly of the greyhoundy type.." - Black & White (journal) "Ah ! heavens ! how handsome he looks in his sinuous, supple, greyhoundy, vivacious grace." - Annie Thomas, Stray Sheep (1879)
"The annotated proof sheets reveal that editing primarily meant cutting. Murray was constantly obligated to compromise his descriptive ideal, deleting quotations, definitions, and entire entries. Mugglestone discusses the rationale behind the deletions, confirming that literary language tended to be favored over vulgarisms, established vocabulary over neologisms. Thus quotations from daily newspapers were cut, while the wisdom of poets and bishops was kept. "Linguipotence" was retained because it was a coinage of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, while "greyhoundy" was omitted, being used only in the popular journal Black and White." - Andrea Nagy, Losing "greyhoundy" (a review of Lynda Muggleston's Lost for Words, 2006)

James Murray declaimed in 1883 that 'The design of the 
new dictionary is to furnish a complete account of the 
present meaning and past history of every English word 
whatsoever now in use, or shown to have been in use. 
The dictionary aims at being exhaustive.' But, in the 
event, choices had to be made, words were rejected, 
and others were simply missed. 

this week we'll look at a handful of words you can't 
find in the OED.

the worthless word for the day is: tiddledies [origin unknown] soft flexible ice, or chunks of floating ice "Naturally, I felt pretty foolish, and, while I tried to pass it off with something about your still being green and raw, the ice was mighty thin, and you had the old man running tiddledies." - George H. Lorimer, Letters from a Self Made Merchant.. (1902) "In spring, when the ice was breaking up, there was another sport, exciting, but not at all safe, in which little Sam Howe delighted; and he spent much of his play time in "running tiddledies, "which means jumping from one floating ice-cake to another." - Laura E. Howe Richards, Two Noble Lives (1911) "When we were boys we used to run tiddledies on the frog pond in the Common -- that is, jump from piece to piece of the ice, each being enough to jump from but sinking under you if you stopped. I said [to Brandeis], having ideas was like running tiddledies -- if you stopped too long on one, it sank with you." - Harold J. Laski, Holmes-Laski letters (ca. 1916)
the worthless word for the day is: after-dream a depressive letdown, as after a period of drug-induced euphoria; a muddled state upon wakening from a vivid dream "I looked upon the scene before me - upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain - upon the bleak walls - upon the vacant eye-like windows - upon a few rank sedges - and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees - with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium - the bitter lapse into everyday life - the hideous dropping off of the veil." - Edgar A. Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) "We first expect 'after-dream' to represent the nightmare of the addict. However, this 'dream' turns out to be the addict's waking to 'every-day life'." - Raman Selden, Practicing Theory and Reading Literature (1989) For ever burning in the midst and wrapping In luscious slumber and sweet after-dream The soothed and lullèd heart. - Gilbert Beresford, Sorrow (1875) (you won't find this term in the OED)
the worthless word for the day is: grannyism [granny + -ism] (also old-grannyism) a characteristic or mannerism of an old woman "Hence, also, that singular but most characteristic specimen of unconscious grannyism, namely, his pedantic, unseasonable and impertinent trifling and dallying with artful forms and turns of thought and speech amidst the more serious business.. where he appears not unlike a certain person who "could speak no sense in several languages." Superannuated politicians, indeed, like [Polonius], seldom have any strength but as they fall back upon the resources of memory." - Henry Hudson, The Works of Shakespeare (1848) "The conclusion locally and nationally about the May riots in Philadelphia was that response was not quick and harsh enough-that, in Strong's words, "irresolution and old grannyism in general" prevailed. - David Grimsted, American Mobbing, 1828-1861 (1998) (This word was also struck from OED's 1st edition.)
the worthless word for the day is: luniversary [L. luni-, moon + versus, turned; after anniversary] the day of the month on which something recurs "The "Atlantic" obeys the moon, and its luniversary has come round again. I have gathered up some hasty notes of my remarks made since the last high tides, which I respectfully submit." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (The Atlantic) [1858] (This word was struck from the 1st edition of the OED. More recent attempts at coining a term for this concept are lunaversary and mensiversary.)
the worthless word for the day is: wrongeousness [after righteousness] the state or condition of being wrong; wrongfulness "The heroic effort to carry out the old righteousness becomes at last sheer wrongeousness." - D. H. Lawrence, Kangaroo (1923) "Jung's idea of the ego leans toward self-righteousness, whereas his idea of the personal unconscious leans toward self-wrongeousness." - Martin Lass, Mirror, Mirror, Body and Mind (2002) "If we don't have righteousness, we only have "wrongeousness," and it is like having steel armor that is rusted, weak, and with holes that are large enough to let weapons pierce through and cause death." - Thomas P. Dooley, Praying Faith (2005) this week we're looking at some words that were coined just for the nonce, but have since received some wider usage.
the worthless word for the day is: grandiloquism [fr. L. grandiloqu-us + -ism] the practice of using bombastic language "But everything that is Russian appears, according to the author's colouring, so superior to what exists any where else, that we must take his testimony with some caution.. His grandiloquism proves too much." - The Monthly Review, Aug. 1836 "The other day, as I walked by the World Trade Center site, with its immense, fraught blankness extending above, I reflected that I never used to take the "world" in that name seriously. I thought it was a grandiloquism for "American," like the "world" in the name World Series." - Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, Apr 25, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: desperadoism [fr. desperado + -ism] /des peh RAHD o izem/ a wave or period of unusual activity by desperadoes "The sort of sneaking desperadoism of the disguised bands of thieves infesting the rural neighborhood." - Nation (N.Y.) 1874, vol. XIX "My idea, when I began this chapter, was to say something about desperadoism in the "flush times" of Nevada." - Mark Twain, Roughing It (1880) "[T]he most usual form of early desperadoism had to do with attempts at unlawfully acquiring another man's property." - Emerson Hough, The Story of the Outlaw (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: wordster [word + -ster] /WORD ster/ one that is adept in the use of words, esp. in an empty or overblown manner "To the tribe of Wordsters, Pedants, Fanatics, and Impossibilists, who so rabidly pursued an ignoble peace, that they helped to provoke a disastrous war." - H. A. Jones, The Pacifists [Dedication] (1917) "..a clever wordster might equate the situation to zero." - John J. O'Neill, Engineering the New Age (1949) "As an amateur wordster, my personal lexicon contains lengthy lists of various types of words." - Verbatim, Dec. 8, 1976
the worthless word for the day is: ventripotential [ad. F. ventripotent, fr. L. venter, belly + potens, powerful] nonce-word hving a large abdomen; big-bellied "An alderman is a ventripotential citizen, into whose Mediterranean mouth good things are perpetually flowing, although none come out." - New Monthly Magazine (1824) this week: nonce-words; that is, words intended by a writer for one instance only

the worthless word for the day is: delphinity [fr. L. Delphinidae, after humanity] humorous nonce-word dolphin-kind, the nature of dolphins "[H]istory has never told that the dolphins who were charmed by Orpheus were peculiar dolphins, with any special fondness for music, or an ear for melody; they were ordinary creatures of the deep, -- fish, so to say, taken ex medio acervo of delphinity." - Charles Lever, A day's ride; a life's romance (1863) (some marketing/consulting firm has co-opted this term)
the worthless word for the day is: yogibogeybox [yogi + bogey + box] nonce-word the apparatus of a spiritualist "Yogibogeybox in Dawson chambers. Isis Unveiled. Their Pali book we tried to pawn. Crosslegged under an umbrel umbershoot he thrones an Aztec logos, functioning on astral levels, their oversoul, mahamahatma." - James Joyce, Ulysses
the worthless word for the day is: epassyterotically [fr. Gk epassuteros, one after another] nonce-word one after another "..my successfulness therein amounting.. to the final discussing of some of these creditors, and, in a plausible way, according to the exigence of the persons, and circumstances of the nature, condition and quality of their security, to dispatch the residue of them epassyterotically, that is, one after another." - Sir Thomas Urquhart, Logopandecteision (1653) (in his book Literary Portraits (1920), Charles Whibley comments that Urquhart knew of a "Francis Sinclair who to 'accresce his reputation' fought a duel with a gallant nobleman.. who once in Spain slew seven adversaries 'epassyterotically, that is, one after another.'")
the worthless word for the day is: interaulic [fr. inter- + L. aula, hall, court] /in TER au lik/ nonce-word 'Existing between royal courts' {Webster, 1864}. "And now, after examining these pictures of interaulic politics and backstairs diplomacy.., we must throw a glance at the external, more stirring, but not more significant public events which were taking place during the same period." - John L. Motley, History of the United Netherlands (1860) Jonathon Green, in his comprehensive examination of dictionaries 'Chasing the Sun' (1996), writes of how English lexicons have shamelessly borrowed from one another over the last four centuries. He states that OED "in its most recent edition refers to Webster's various editions more than 5,000 times." this week: taken intact from Webster's in OED2
the worthless word for the day is: refluctuation [re- + L. fluctuation-em] /re fluk tu A shun/ very rare A flowing back {Webster 1828}; reflux "Sheet flow restored to the Kissimmee Basin by dechannelization of Canal 38 coupled with refluctuations of Lakes Cypress, Hatchineha and Kissimmee may be the most direct - [i]f not the only - means of augmenting the effective storage capacity of Lake Okeechobee." - Arthur R. Marshall, Statement To Governing Board South Florida Water Management District, 6/11/1981
the worthless word for the day is: renidification [re- + L. nidus, nest + facere, to make] /re NID i fi KAY shun/ Zool. The action of building a nest a second time. {Webster 1864} so renidify, to make another nest
the worthless word for the day is: vertiginate [fr. L. vertiginare < vertigo, a whirling around] /ver TIJ uh nate/ rare [adj] 'Turned round, giddy' {Webster, 1864} [v] to whirl dizzily around, spin, twirl "Surely never did argument vertiginate more!" - Samuel T.Coleridge, Literary Remains
the worthless word for the day is: demephitize [fr. de- + mephit-ic + -ize] rare 'To purify from foul unwholesome air' {Webster 1828} hence, demephitization <a railroad that should demephitize its stale old smoking cars> - David Grambs, The Endangered English Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: schm- (or shm-) [fr. various Yiddish words] colloq., chiefly U.S. an element used to form a nonsense term of derision by preceding the initial vowel or by replacing the initial consonant or consonant cluster (forming a rhyme) <fancy, shmancy> "'Time; schmime,' said Pappa irritably." - Isaac Asimov, Second Foundation (1953) "'It's murdering your own child, is what it is.' 'Child, schmild. A complex protein molecule, is all.'" - Thomas Pynchon, V. (1963) "Nowadays even the headboards boast a book shelf or two and some fancy-schmancy reading lights." - Daily News & Analysis, India - Mar 5, 2007 BURNOUT Published in The New Yorker © February 14, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: finiteless /FI nite less/ Webster's 1913: a. Infinite. [Obs.] --Sir T. Browne. without bounds, unlimited non-word, or not? OED2 comments: a spurious word in the Dictionaries. Cited by Johnson from Sir T. Browne (Pseud. Ep. I. ii, where the real reading is 'fruitlesse') {fruitless??} :finiteless is boundless, a word hardly worth perpetuating while we have the far better one infinite to express the same sense: - The London Encylopaedia, ed. by Th. Curtis (1839) Forcible, fulgid, epanthous, auxetic, Entitative, finiteless, informative, excellent, Interpretative, latitudinous, crepitant.. - The Fat Knight (1896)
the worthless word for the day is: pompatus [perhaps fr. puppetutes, coined by Vernon Green?] nonsense word (or maybe not) Some people call me the space cowboy. Yeah! Some call me the gangster of love. Some people call me Maurice, Cause I speak of the Pompatus of love. - Steve Miller, The Joker ("It doesn't mean anything--it's just jive talk.")
the worthless word for the day is: genethlialogy [Gk genethlialogía, casting of destinies] /jeh neth lee OL uh jee/ the science of calculating positions of the heavenly bodies on nativities; the act or art of casting nativities; astrology hence, genethlialogic ""I guess so," I said, being polite. "I, uh, don't go much for astrology." "Not astrology, genethlialogy. One's superstition, the other's science." "Um."" - Frederik Pohl, Gateway (1976)
the worthless word for the day is: schmegeggy (Yiddish) /shmeggy/ also shmegegge 1) a contemptible person; an idiot 2) baloney; hot air; nonsense "'He better get it this afternoon, that ludicrous schmegeggy!'" - Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964) "'Don't give me that shmegegge!'" - L. Roster, Joys of Yiddish (1968)
the worthless word for the day is: batrachian [Gk batrachos, frog] /buh TREY kee uhn/ relating to tailless amphibians, esp. frogs and toads "Traditionally he ought to see snakes, but he doesn't. Good old tradition's at a discount nowadays. Eh! His--er--visions are batrachian. Ha! ha! No, seriously, I never remember being so interested in a case of jim-jams before." - Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900) bonus word: jim-jams - slang 1) the jitters 2) delirium tremens
the worthless word for the day is: scaturient [fr. L scatere, to flow out] /skah TUR ee ent/ gushing forth, overflowing; effusive "[H]e wielded that most fatal of all implements to its possessor, a pen so scaturient and unretentive, that we think he must have been often astonished not only at the extent of his lucubrations, but at their total and absolute want of connection with the subject he had assigned to himself." - Scott(?), in The Edinburgh Review (1805) "Marshall, who later would remark that a single English word was more interesting than the entire NASA space program, tried to memorize three new words a day - words like scaturient and sesquipedalian - and use them in conversation. He collected lists of the words and in later life habitually pored over etymologies in the Oxford English Dictionary as if they were mystic runes." - Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: a biography (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: tonitruous [fr. L tonitruare, to thunder] /tu NI tru ous/ thundering, fulminating (also tonitruant) ""Skill and kill, kill and skill, Carolina," muttered Gattineau, -- words brushed aside by Simms's tonitruous baritone as by a hand sweeping aside gnats." - Craig Bell, Lost in the Elysian Fields, v. 3 (2002) bonus word: tonitruone - a device or instrument for imitating thunder (so that's what that's called!)
the worthless word for the day is: firnification [fr. G. firn + -i + -fication] /FIR nuh fi KAY shun/ the process whereby snow is changed to firn, or névé "The third type of snow change is melt-freeze metamorphism, or firnification. Sunlight melts the surface of the snowpack, and the meltwater moves down into it, where it refreezes at night. Firn -- hard, firm snow that still has spaces between grains -- forms from old snow. Glacial ice, from which the air has been pressed, comes next." - Steven A. Griffin, Snowshoeing (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: immanitous [fr. L immanis brutal, frightful, enormous] nonce word monstrous in size or strength; immane there's no telling why de Bernières seemingly coined this word instead of going with (the archaic) immane "These immanitous men were single-handedly capable of carrying pianos uphill on their necks, in the full fire of the sun, with nothing but a cushion by way of assistance." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings
the worthless word for the day is: epistemic [fr. Gk epistem(é), knowledge] /ep uh STEE mik/ of or pertaining to knowledge or the conditions for acquiring it "Henceforth, we will call this claim that knowledge excludes luck the 'epistemic luck platitude'. The problem, however, is that it is difficult to take this thesis entirely at face-value, despite its initial plausibility." - Duncan Pritchard, Epistemic Luck (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: foofaraw [origin uncertain; possibly fr. Sp. fanfarron, boaster] /FOO fuh raw/ 1) a great fuss over a trifling matter 2) an excessive amount of decoration or ornamentation "All this mommixity and foofaraw was compressed into a street no more than three paces wide, and was further complicated by the dogs who.. slept promiscuously in the paths and alleyways." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings (2004) bonus word: mommixity (?) from mommuck, to bother; thus, all this fuss and bother
the worthless word for the day is: mameluke [fr. Arabic mamluk, slave] /MAM uh look/ 1) usu. cap. a member of an Arabic military class, originally composed of slaves 2) lowercase (in Muslim countries) a slave "Conceivably both fort and causeway had been built by an Egyptian Mameluke for the passage of his pilgrim-caravan from Yenbo." - T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926) ""Tell me," I said, changing my tone dramatically, "do you enjoy working for Wild, being treated like his mameluke?" - David Liss, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: opisometer [fr. Gk opiso, backwards + -meter] /AH peh SAH med er/ an instrument with a revolving wheel for measuring curved lines, as on a map "The women were found in a wild maze of maps.. and Bell had armed herself with an opisometer." - Wm Black, The strange adventures of a phaeton (1872) "Almost no one uses the opisometer we mentioned above, for example; spatial properties of features can be determined by geographic information systems on digital representations." - Dan Montello, Paul Sutton, An Introduction to Sci. Research Methods in Geography (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: scripturient [L scripturire, to desire to write] obs. having an overwhelming urge to write from Butler's epitaph upon William Prynne: This grand scripturient paper-spiller, This endless, needless, margin-filler..
the worthless word for the day is: teratism [Gk terat marvel, monster + -ism] /TER eh tizm/ 1) an anomaly of organic form and structure: monstrosity 2) love of the marvelous; worship of monsters (also teratosis, Med.) "The Bringer looked with scorn on the snarling, caged teratism." - Neal Shusterman, Thief of Souls (2000) ""I can't understand why we've run across so many teratisms. I can't remember ever seeing one in my practice at the Medical Center." - James Gunn, The Immortals (2004) [see Google for role-playing and heavy metal usages]
the worthless word for the day is: velitation [fr. L velitari, to skirmish] /vel i TEY shun/ now rare a minor dispute or contest "While the ladies in the tea-room of the Fox Hotel were engaged in the light snappish velitation, or skirmish, which we have described, the gentlemen who remained in the parlour were more than once like to have quarrelled more seriously." - Sir Walter Scott, St. Ronan's Well (1824) "And in a tense atmosphere of mistrust, with normal diplomatic channels severed, any small clash or velitation can spur escalation back to full-scale war." - Virginia Page Fortna; Peace Time (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: docity [perhaps alter. of docility] dial. teachableness; quickness of comprehension "She's all docity jist now, keep her so." - Thomas Haliburton, The Clockmaker (1838)
the worthless word for the day is: testudineous [fr. L. testudine-us] /tes tju DIN eus/ 1) like the shell of a tortoise {Blount} 2) slow, like a tortoise "I don't think there is one of our boarders quite so testudineous as I am." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, The professor at the breakfast-table (1860) "Like a fool, I'd gone down on one knee to comb the stiff hacked grass for the keys, my mind making connections in the most dragged-out, testudineous way, knowing that things had gone wrong, that I was in a lot of trouble, and that the lost ignition key was my grail and my salvation." - T. C. Boyle, Stories (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: cumber-ground [fr. cumber, to block up] a person or thing that uselessly cumbers the ground; a useless or unprofitable occupant of a position "Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?" - Luke xiii. 7 "It hath been a cumber-ground these three years; cut it down." - John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress (1684) "Thou hast been a cumber-ground long already, and wilt thou continue so still?" - John Bunyan, The Holy War (1682) "Now at the parish cottage wall'd with dirt, Where all the cumber-grounds of life resort.." - John Clare, The Village Minstrel, etc. (1821)
the worthless word for the day is: furciferous [fr. L furcifer, yoke bearer, scoundrel] /fur CIF er ous/ rare rascally "[O]bserve the dilemma into which these furciferous knaves must drop." - Thomas De Quincey, Autobiographic Sketches (1835) "[sotto voce] Furciferous wabbit!" - Elmer Fudd (19??)
the worthless word for the day is: sustention [fr. sustain, after such pairs as retain : retention, detain : detention] /suh STEN chen/ an act or instance of sustaining; the state or quality of being sustained "Those of extreme theological sophistication.. were gratified that someone might have turned up who would lend their shoulder to the great cosmic wheel, directing their spiritual power to the sustention of the universe." - Louis de Bernières, Birds Without Wings
the worthless word for the day is: jolterhead [origin obscure] also jolthead obs. a blockhead ""Hold your confounded stupid tongue, will you, you old jolterhead;" and on this occasion he put his hand on his father's shoulder and shook him." - Anthony Trollope, Castle Richmond (1861)
the worthless word for the day is: jawhole [fr. jaw, an outpour of liquid + hole] Scot. an uncovered sewer, house-drain, or cesspool "That odoriferous gulf, ycleped, in Scottish phrase, the jawhole; in other words, an uncovered common sewer." - Sir Walter Scott, St Ronan's Well (1824) "On one occasion he outwitted some caterans who were hovering in the neighbourhood, and who ultimately entered his house to rob it, by concealing his money in the nave of an old wheel, which lay in the jaw-hole before the door as a kind of stepping-stone." - George Gilfillan, The Life of Robert Burns (1886)
the worthless word for the day is: quakebuttock a coward "His mind's eye watched a boy. It watched him at home and it watched him at school and it was watching him now at the Forty Foot. And looking back, it seemed to Jim that he had never prayed for himself at all but for this other boy that his mind's eye watched, a rawney- looking molly of a boy, the son of a quakebuttock, a coward himself, praying that he should hear his calling and join the brothers like Our Lady wished." - Jamie O'Neill, At Swim, Two Boys (2001) "If you weren't such a quakebuttock, you wouldn't need a gun." - anon. (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: tongue-shot [tongue + shot, range or distance] speaking or talking distance, voice-range "I wish I was within ear-shot of you, and tongue-shot too; for I would speak as well as hear." - S. Wilberforce, The Life of Wm Wilberforce (1838) "She would stand timidly aloof out of tongue-shot." - Charles Reade, The cloister and the hearth (1861)
the worthless word for the day is: footpad [fr. foot + obs. pad, highwayman] historical a highwayman who robs on foot "Roads in the neighbourhood of the metropolis were infested by footpads or highwaymen." - Ch. Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1841) ""There can be murders without hate," said Cadfael grimly. "Footpads and forest robbers take their victims as they come, without any feeling of liking or disliking."" - Ellis Peters, One Corpse Too Many (1979) (thanx to Ray Haupt)
the worthless word for the day is: barlafumble [fr. parley, call for truce + ?] Scot. obs. a call for a truce by one who has fallen in fighting or play; a request for a time out ..do not go To fight, lest ye, when canons rumble, With shame for fear, cry barlafumble. - A Book of Scotish Pasquils [sic], ed. by J. Maidment (1868) (thanx to William Kendrick)
the worthless word for the day is: enthymeme [fr. Gk enthyméma thought, argument] /EN thuh meem/ Logic a syllogism or other argument in which a premise or the conclusion is supressed "With an enthymeme, it is not even necesary to state the premise that is already believed. As a practical matter, most deductive arguments in everyday life are of this type. To convince your listener that a witness is smart, you might just say that he is a rocket scientist. Your listener will supply the implicit premise..." - Ronald J. Waicukauski, et al, The Winning Argument (thanx to Anthony Quas)
the worthless word for the day is: jargogle [origin unknown, but perhaps related to jargon] obs. to confuse or jumble "I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible Words in your Head.. might a little jargogle your Thoughts, and lead you hoodwink'd the round of your own beaten Circle." - John Locke, A Third Letter for Toleration (1692) "Congratulations, dearest; I wouldn't have thought it possible, but you've found something else to jargogle." - Peter Bowler, Superior Person's Book of Words (1990)
the worthless word for the day is: dunkle Scot. [v] to make a dint or pit in; to dint [n] the cavity produced by a blow, or in consequence of a fall "Victoria came to sit at the foot of her bed and see her stomped so ugly with two teeth on the floor. Ree could feel the dunkle with her tongue." - Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: automagically [blend of automatic + magically] /aw toh MAJ i klee/ now chiefly computer jargon automatically, esp. in a way that seems ingenious or inexplicable; as if by magic automagically - Automatically, but in away that, for some reason (typically because it is too complicated, or too ugly, or perhaps even too trivial), the speaker doesn't feel like explaining to you. - Jargon File 4.2.0. 23 Jan. 2007 "The Thor Automagic Washer is a streamlined cabinet with two separate tubs... Each tub is complete in itself--compact, sanitary, operated automagically." - Chicago Tribune, 2 Sept. 1945 "Of course, life would be easier if the spam could be deleted automagically." - Guardian, 27 Feb. 2003
the worthless word for the day is: truthiness [fr. truth via truthy] 1) obs. rare truthfulness, faithfulness 2) nonce usage the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true "Everyone who knows her is aware of her truthiness." - J. J. Gurney, Memoirs (1824) "In its 16th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted truthiness as the word of the year [2005]." - American Dialect Society, Jan 6, 2006 "Comedian Stephen Colbert [co-opted] the word "truthiness" to describe "the quality by which a person claims to know something intuitively, instinctively, or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or actual facts," to quote the Wikipedia entry on it. In other words, things that we just believe because they feel right." - John Whiteside, Houston Chronicle Jan. 17, 2007 American Dialect Society Words of the Year
the worthless word for the day is: pluto [fr. Pluto, the declassified planet] to demote or devalue someone or something ""Plutoed" has been chosen as word of the year for 2006 by the American Dialect Society, beating "climate canary" in a run-off vote." - BBC News, 8 Jan. 2007 "Yet there were those who felt the politico most plutoed in the shift was Vic Toews, who went from being justice minister to president of the treasury board." - Montreal Gazette, Jan 10, 2007
the worthless word for the day is: mattoid [fr. It. matto, mad + -oid, resembling] /MAD oid/ [adj] semi-insane [n] a semi-insane person; a borderline psychopath "These mattoid scientists make a direct and disastrous attack upon the latent self-respect of criminals." - H. G. Wells, Mankind in the Making (1903) "The hostages give him an excuse not to obey the mattoids who enrich themselves by creating wars." - Orlando Sentinel, 10 Sept. 1990
the worthless word for the day is: vendition [F. fr. L. vendere, to vend] /ven DISH en/ the act of vending or selling; sale "Several taverns are set apart solely for the vendition of this liquor." - Henry Fielding, Journal of a voyage to Lisbon (1754)
the worthless word for the day is: miserabilism [fr. L miserabilis, miserable] /MIZ er(a) ba LIZ em/ a philosophy of pessimism; self-indulgent pessimism; gloomy negativity ""Capitalism sure is sunny!" cried the unemployed Laredo toolmaker, as I was out walking, in the streets of Laredo. "None of that noxious Central European miserabilism for us!" And indeed, everything I see about me seems to support his position." - Donald Barthelme, Sixty Stories (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: epenthesis [fr. Gk epentithenai, to insert a letter] /e PEN(t) thuh sis/ the insertion (or development) of a sound or letter within a word epenthesize, to so insert epenthesis describes the extraneous vowel sounds you hear in (and the misspelling of) words such as athlete, film, nuclear, realtor, Lithuania and Tijuana(!) -- this purportedly stems from a need to make things easier to pronounce! in Phonetics, the special case of the development of a vowel between two consonants is also called anaptyxis [Gk, unfolding]
the worthless word for the day is: euphuistic [After Euphues, in Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit by John Lyly; from Gk euphues, shapely] /YU fyu IS tic/ of the nature of or characterized by euphuism (high-flown diction); hence, euphuistically "Pistol, however, is not an original invention of Shakespeare's; but he was intended to be a satire upon some euphuistic and bombastious characters that are to found in other plays of his time.." - Charles C. Clarke, Shakespeare Characters (1863) "As for Gongora, that puerile asshole, that proparoxytonic, euphistic [sic] versifier, that dabbler in vortices, tricliniums, promptuaria, and vacillating Icaruses, that shadow on the sun and eructation of the wind... he is the last thing that worries me now." - Arturo Perez-Reverte, Purity of Blood (trans. by Margaret Peden) (2006) "A poem, most euphuistically entitled The Cherubic Wanderer." - Robert A. Vaughan, Hours with the mystics (1860)
the worthless word for the day is: diversiloquent [fr. L. diversus, diverse + loquentem, speaking] /dy ver SIL o kwent/? rare speaking diversely Diversiloquent, speaking in different ways. - John Craig, A new universal etymological, technological, and pronouncing dictionary of the English language (1848) Electric, effable, true-born, didactive, Diversiloquent, dynastic, conclusive... - The Fat Knight (Anon.) (1896)
the worthless word for the day is: extirp [ad. F. extirper, ad. L. ex(s)tirpare] obs. or arch. extirpate (to root out, exterminate) "Who such a black concatenation Of mischief hath effected, that to extirp The memory of't must be the consummation Of her and her projections--" - John Webster, The White Devil [T]he vice is of a great kindred, it is well allied: but it is impossible to extirp it quite, friar, till eating and drinking be put down. - Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (III. ii. 110) "Errors or defects in the details are readily extirped or supplied." - John Austin, Lectures on jurisprudence (1873) (thanx to Dan McCartney for the heads-up)
the worthless word for the day is: diversivolent [fr. L. diversus, diverse + volentum, wishing] /dy ver SIV o lent/? desiring strife or differences: contentious "Lawyer. Most literated judges, please your lordships So to connive your judgments to the view Of this debauched and diversivolent woman, Who such a black concatenation Of mischief hath effected, that to extirp The memory of't must be the consummation Of her and her projections-- Vittoria. What's all this--? Lawyer. Hold your peace. Exorbitant sins must have exulceration." - John Webster, The White Devil "Yo[n] diversivolent lawyer, mark him: "knaves turn informers, as maggots turn to flies; you may catch gudgeons with either." - ibidem (thanx to the gang at Wordsmith Talk)
the worthless word for the day is: syne [OE siththan, since] /sine/ Scots [prep] since [adv] since then: ago should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days o' auld lang syne - Robert Burns
the worthless word for the day is: badot Amelia W. thinks "badot cumber-ground" is a fabulous insult and wants to say it aloud.. [ad. F. badaud gaping fool, idler] /ba DOH/ obs. rare silly "[T]he people of Paris are so sottish, so badot, so foolish and fond by nature, that a juggler, a carrier of indulgences, a sumpter-horse, or mule with cymbals or tinkling bells, a blind fiddler in the middle of a cross lane, shall draw a greater confluence of people together than a.. preacher." - Rabelais, Gargantua (trans. by Th. Urquhart, 1653) bonus word: sottish - drunken (or stupid)
the worthless word for the day is: hoddypeak [fr. hoddy-dod, a shell-snail + peak] obs. a fool, simpleton, blockhead ""Don't stand there gawking like a hoddypeak! Alert the castle: Lady Elaine returns!"" - Joan E. Goodman, The Winter Hare (1996) "By creatively combining disparaging archaisms, you can brand your nemesis a badot cumber-ground ("silly person who takes up space"), a furciferous lordswike ("rascally traitor"), a balatronic hoddypeak ("buffoonlike blockhead").. [etc.]" - Richard Lederer, Word Wizard (2006)
the worthless word for the day is: majuscule [fr. L. majusculus, rather large] /MA jus kyul/ [n] a large (capital) letter [adj] uppercase so, majuscular compare minuscule "Majuscule came before minuscule, not only in rank but also in time." - David Diringer, The Book Before Printing (1982) "Uncial, in calligraphy, ancient majuscular book hand characterized by simple, rounded strokes." - Encycl. Brit. XII (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: hypersnickety [hyper- + snickety : fussy, pernickety] /HY per SNIK iti/? nonce-wd excessively over-particular "But Richard Dawkins knows better. He is just as leery of idle armchair speculation and hypersnickety logic- chopping as any hard-bitten chemist or microbiologist.." - Daniel Dennett, The Selfish Gene as a Philosophical Essay "persnickety, pernickety - Both adjectives mean "over-particular, over-fussy." Persnickety is the American version of Scottish and British pernickety..." - The Columbia Guide to Standard American English
the worthless word for the day is: knackatory [fr. knick-knack, itself a redup. of knack, a toy or trifle] also knick-knackatory a shop for finnimbruns (knick-knacks) "I keep a nicknackatory, or toy-shop." - Thomas Brown, Works (1704) "Salter described it as a knackatory and himself as a gimcrack-whim collector..." - Mary Cathcart Borer, Two Villages (1973) "He saw Ribbins and Looking-glasses.. and Hobbyhorses.. and all the other finnimbruns that make a compleat Country Fair." - Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1653)
the worthless word for the day is: abligurition [f. L. abligurire, to spend in luxurious indulgence] /ab lig yoor ISH un/ obs. lavish spending on food and drink "Abligurition, a prodigal spending in Belly-Cheere." - Nathan Bailey, An universal etymological English dictionary (1742) When abligurition prevails, Instead of some fries I'll eat snails. I won't care about taste, Nor the money I'll waste. Were they pricey, I'd eat monkey tails. - John Scunziano, OEDILF
the worthless word for the day is: centicipitous [fr. L. centum + caput, head] /cen ti CIP i tous/? obs. rare hundred-headed {in Bailey} Hence, then can you marvel when editors pure, So incorrupt, chaste, whom naught e'er could allure, Unsullied, untainted, untarnished, clean, Immaculate, holy like virute's pure queen, ... Neat, able-minded, powerful, vigourous Aboveboard, abluent, astral, crucigerous, ... Alexipharmic, acquisitive, lucky Centicipitous, anthophorous, plucky... - The Fat Knight (Anon.) (1896) bonus words: abluent - washing away; carrying off impurities crucigerous - bearing or marked with a cross alexapharmic - counteracting or driving away poison anthophorous - flower-bearing (thanx to Kelly Egnitz)
the worthless word for the day is: logocentrism [fr. Gk logos, word + -centrism] /lo go CEN triz em/ 1) literary analysis that focuses on words and language to the exclusion of non-linguistic matters such as the author's individuality or historical context 2) excessive attention paid to the meanings of words or distinctions in their usage hence, logocentric "Logocentrism relies on an assumption of secure meaning that the slippery nature of the language system cannot supply. Hence logocentrism is metaphysical, something posited as outside the verifiable world." - Susan Rowland, Jung's Ghost Stories (2004) this week: more words about words
the worthless word for the day is: haplography [fr. Gk haplo- single + -graphy writing] /hap LOG ruh fee/ the inadvertent omission of a repeated letter(s) in writing (e.g. writing philogy for philology) compare haplology, for pronunciation haplography is often cited as a problem in the translation of ancient books: "The commonest kind of omission is that known as ~." - W. M. Lindsey, Intro. to Latin Textual Emendation
the worthless word for the day is: pundigrion [origin unknown, but prob. the source of pun; perhaps a humorous alteration of It. puntiglio (equivocation, trivial objection)] obs. rare a play on words; pun "A few days [we] passed at Liverpool..; and had it been quite sure that we should have found you at no inconvenient season, perhaps I might have crossed the river; in which case had there come on a storm, so as to endanger the ferry-boat, I could not have prayed to the Lord to have Mersey upon me! What a face of abomination you will make at that pundigrion!" - Robert Southey, letter to C. W. Wynn, Esq. M.P.
the worthless word for the day is: logomachist [Gk logomachia + -ist] /lo GAM eh kest/ one given to disputes over or about words (also logomach) "One feels inclined.. to ask like some old logomachist what he exactly means by 'is'." - Pall Mall Gazette May 3, 1882
the worthless word for the day is: grammatolatry [fr. Gk grammato- + Eng. -latry, worship of or fanatical devotion to] /GRAM eh TAL eh tree/ the worship of letters or words; fig. concern for the letter with disregard for the spirit cf. epeolatry, word-worship "The worship of words is more pernicious than the worship of images; grammatolatry is the worst species of idolatry." - R. D. Owen, The Debatable Land (1871) "If it is true.. that the writing down depends upon the reading up, then the causal decoupling of these reciprocal functions both assumed and promoted by contemporary forms of grammatolatry will have only a tangential effect on the problems our students continue to face." - David Solway, Lying About the Wolf (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: oicotype [fr. Gk oikos house, dwelling + type] cf. ecotype* /OY ko type/? a term proposed by Carl Wilhelm von Sydow to designate a local or regional form of a migratory folktale "The final chapter of the study includes an attempt to establish oicotypes by linking the variation of the story to their geographical distribution." - Leho & Maglaughlin (Compilers), Kurdish Culture and Society (2001) "...the concept of oicotype is a major theoretical construct in folkloristics even though admitedly it is not widely known outside the ranks of folklorists." - Alan Dundes, Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder (1984) * a subdivision of an ecospecies adapted to an environment
the worthless word for the day is: perpession [fr. L. perpessio, endurance of suffering] /per PES sion/ obs. endurance of suffering "The eternity of destruction in the language of Scripture signifies a perpetual perpession and duration in misery." - Bp John Pearson, Exposition of the Creed (1659) not to be confused with: perpension, [fr. L. perpensio] careful weighing in the mind <give me the results of your perpensions -- R.L.Stevenson> --- regarding murdrum: yes, it is a palindrome; and yes, it does remind one of Steven King's REDRUM (The Shining)
the worthless word for the day is: murdrum [ML] /MUR drum/ early English law, now hist. 1) the killing of someone in a secret manner 2) a fine imposed by the Crown on a manor or hundred (district) in which such a killing had been committed (also called the murder fine) "The institution of the murdrum fine by William I was of particular significance in making clear the distinction between French and English." - H. R. Loyn, Anglo-Saxon England.. (1962) "[F]or the unsolved murders of Frenchmen, they inflicted a particularly punitive version of the long-lasting murdrum fine.." - Rebecca Colman, Saint George for England, Contemporary Review, Apr. 1997
the worthless word for the day is: musard [F., fr. muser, to loiter, trifle] /MU sard/ obs. a dreamer; an absent-minded person "Alle men wole holde thee for musard, That debonair have founden thee; It sittith thee nought curteis to be." - Chaucer, The Romance of the Rose
he worthless word for Thansgiving day is: epulose [fr. L. epulum, a feast] /EP u lose/ obs. rare feasting to excess hence epulosity, a feasting to excess "Epulosity, great banqueting." - Nathan Bailey, The universal etymological English dictionary (1760)
the worthless word for the day is: blatterer [L blaterare to prate, babble] dialect one who blatters; a babbler; a noisy, blustering boaster <he blattered along and managed to inquire about pretty much everybody -- Mark Twain> also blatteration, a blattering "All the famous blatterers and swindlers." - N. Y. Nation, 3 Jan. 1867
the worthless word for the day is: treeware [tree + -ware, after hardware, software, etc.] computing slang, freq. humorous documentation or other printed material "But the word slips have gone obsolete now, as Simpson well knows. They are treeware." - James Gleick, NY Times Magazine Nov. 5, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: fumifugist [L. fumus, smoke + fugare, to put to flight, fugere, to flee] /fu MIF u gist/? obs. rare 'One who or that which drives away smoke or fumes.' - Webster, 1864 (thanx to Jackie!)
the worthless word for the day is: scry [fr. shortening descry] 1) obs. descry 2) to practice crystal gazing hence, scrying "The bowl of water you scry with is part of the oceans of our earth. ... As you scry with a crystal ball, you scry with the wisdom of the Earth." - Sally Dubats, Natural Magick: The Essential Witch's Grimoire "Scrying is an old-fashioned practice of divination that involves staring into a reflective object, such as a magic mirror, crystal ball, or a still pool or bowl of water (as Nostradamus did)." - Complete Idiot's Guide to Psychic Awareness "John Dee's adventures with alchemy and the scrying glass take him ever further from his god." - from a review of John Crowley's Daemonomania
the worthless word for the day is: ejulation [L. ejulatio, fr. ejulare to wail, lament] /EJ u LAY shun/? obs. a wailing, lamentation "..with dismal groans, And ejulation, in the pangs of death." - J. Philips, Cyder (1708)
the worthless word for the day is: irreption [fr. Latin irreptus] /eh REP shun/ creeping or stealing in, stealthy entrance <the irreption of pseudoclassical plurals in technical language> "A protection against casual and deplorable irreptions creeping into the language." - Encounter, Feb. 1974 also, irreptitious: characterized by creeping in, esp. into a text "A firm grounding in the 'sovereign command' of Scripture was the starting point for a critical and historical assessment of 'what is authentical, what erroneous, irreptitious and inserted by monks.'" - Justin Champion, Republican Learning (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: bêtise [F, fr. bête, beast, fool, foolish, fr. OF beste, beast] /bay TEZE/ 1) a stupid or foolish act or remark 2) stupidity; folly "The bêtise of our human community is everywhere." - Thornton Wilder (?) "We have no word very fitly to represent the character of the affair. The French would have called it a betise. It was a betise of the first magnitude." - Sir John W. Kaye, History of the War in Afghanistan (1851)
the worthless word for the day is: enatic [L. enatus] also enate related on the mother's side <enatic clans> bonus word: agnatic (also agnate) - related on the father's side [L. agnatus] "I regard it as now established that the elementary components of patrification and matrification, and hence of agnatic, enatic, and cognatic modes of reckoning kinship are, like genes in the individual organism, invariably present in all familial systems." - Meyer Fortes, Kinship and the Social Order (2005)
the worthless word for the day is: congou [ad. Chinese kung-fu work, and workman, kung-fu-ch'a, app. tea on which work or effort is expended - omission of the f is the foreigner's corruption (Prof. Legge)] /KUN(j) go/ a fine grade of black tea imported from China "The chief varieties of black tea, arranged in [an upward order of excellence] are Bohea, Oolong, Congou, Campoi, etc." - F. W. Pavy, Food & Dietetics (1875) "For example, the company sold very little of the more expensive and better quality Congou tea since it cost twice as much as Bohea tea from China. There was clearly a good opportunity here for the selling of illicit Congou and within a decade it had become one of the most popular black teas in Britain." - William J. Ashworth, Customs and Excise (2003) (thanx to Dan Dyckman)
the worthless word for the day is: irenology [fr. Gk irene, peace] the study or science of peace "All of these different approaches complement each other and contribute to the rich diversity of the emerging academic discipline, irenology, from the Greek word for peace, "irene."" - Ian M. Harris et al, Peace Education (2003) compare polemology, the study of war
the worthless word for the day is: terp [Frisian] an artificial mound or hillock, the site of a prehistoric village "The terp as we know it today is the result of almost 800 years of occupation and complex site formation processes." - J. C. Besteman, Excavations at Wijnaldum (thanx to C. Terp Madsen) not to be confused with terp, theater slang for 'stage dancer' or chorus girl (or even for the short form of terrapin) "Variety bestowed its succinct accolades on him: "George Balanchine has done an ace job on the terp angle."" - Bernard Taper, Balanchine: A Biography
the worthless word for the day is: contango [perhaps an alteration of continue] /cuhn TANG go/ Commerce charge paid by purchaser for postponing payment from one settling day to next compare backwardation : postponement by seller of delivery of stock; premium paid to buyer for such postponement "Heating fuels would be expected to be priced in a backwardation structure during the winter and in a contango structure during the fall." - John Elting Treat, Energy Futures
the worthless word for the day is: laocoon [after Laocoon, ancient Greek priest of Apollo who is portrayed in a 1st century B.C. sculpture in a heroic struggle against two giant serpents] /lay AK oh wan/ one that struggles heroically with crushing or baffling difficulties "Hardy wrote as he pleased, just as any popular novelist does, quite unaware of the particular problems of his art, and yet it is Hardy who gives the impression of being cramped, of being forced into melodramatic laocoon attitudes, so that we begin to appreciate his novels only for the passages where the poet subdues the novelist." - Graham Greene, The Lesson of the Master
the worthless word for the day is: indurate [fr. L. indurare] /IN duh rate/ [v] 1) to harden 2) to inure 3) to make callous [a] hardened; obstinate cf. obdurate Thy heart indurate, shall poetic woe, And plaintive ejulation, nought avail? - Lord John Maclaurin, On Johnson's Dictionary (1798) White as the snows of Apennine Indurated by frost. - William Wordsworth, The Eclipse of the Sun (1820) "Bertram Cornell, the indurate, cold-blooded Englishman, is struck by many arrows but remains upright and still as a statue as his comrades make their way to safety." - Dale L. Walker, Jack London: The Stories (ca. 2006) bonus word: ejulation - obs. wailing, lamentation
the worthless word for the day is: galliardise [fr. F. galliard] (or galliardize) /GAL yeh(r) dize/ archaic exuberant merriment, (extreme) gaiety "I am in no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardize of company, yet in one dream I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh myself awake at the conceits thereof." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1643) "Your life is one long gaillardise." - Harper's Magazine, Feb. 1893
the worthless word for the day is: capernoited [perhaps from capernaite (a believer in transubstantiation)] /KAP er noi ted/ Scot. 1) crabbed, peevish 2) muddleheaded, tipsy "It was an ill hour that he darkened my doors in, for, ever since that, Alan has given up his ain old- fashioned mother-wit for the tother's capernoited maggots and nonsense." - Sir Walter Scott, Redgauntlet (1824) "Of the stark aquavitæ they baith lo'ed a drappie, And when capernutie then aye unco happy." - Whistle-Binkie (Sc. Songs) (1853)
the worthless word for the day is: internesia [blend of internet + amnesia] informal the inability to remember either the location of or information contained on a web site cf. infonesia, the inability to remember where one saw a piece of information "Bookmarking pages is one tool that helps users remember favorite Internet sites or backtrack to important information, but often bookmarking too many pages will only contribute to internesia." - Webopedia "Internesia means "inability to remember where on the Web you saw a particular bit of information," and I presume a lesson plan to overcome this mental lapse is called an intercourse." - William Safire, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: nocuous [fr. L. nocere, to harm] /NAH kyu wus/ harmful; noxious hence: nocuously, nocuousness (both rare) "To have that 'other woman', what's her name, accuse him of adultery is self-seeking, nocuous, media sensationalism." - San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Jan. 1992
the worthless word for the day is: meticulosity [from meticulous (after curious : curiosity)] /muh tik yuh LAS ud ee/ the quality or state of being meticulous: meticulousness "..unconsciously explaining for inkstands, with a meticulosity bordering on the insane, the various meanings of all the different foreign parts of speech he misused..." - James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake (1939) "Pam Wilkinson, editor extraordinaire, and my son Stuart Calderwood, who canvased the manuscript with a meticulosity bordering on the insane, have from many blunder freed me, if not foolish notion." - James L. Calderwood (1989, Acknowledgment) "Never before has the story of the twisted course of these negotiations been told with such richness of detail and meticulosity of documentation." - Journal of Modern History (Vol. 52, Dec. 1980)
the worthless word for the day is: internecion [fr. L. internecare, to kill, destroy] /in ter NESH un/ rare (mutual) destruction, slaughter, massacre "By the Spaniards in the West Indies, the numbers of Internecions and Slaughters would exceed all Arithmetical Calculation." - Sir Matthew Hale, The primitive origination of mankind (1677) "The Civil War Battle of Antietam is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, an internecion that claimed more than 23,000 lives." - 2004 Scripps National Spelling Bee Cons. Word List
the worthless word for the day is: objurgatory [L. objurgatorius] /ob JURG uh tor ee/ expressing (a harsh or violent) rebuke ""You did not head for your pretended creek," he added, after dealing in some objurgatory remarks that we do not deem it necessary to record, "but steered for that bluff, where every soul on board would have been drowned, had we gone ashore."" - James Fenimore Cooper, The Pathfinder (1841) "[Mrs. Poyser] was remarkable for the facility with which she could relapse from her official objurgatory tone to one of fondness." - George Eliot, Adam Bede (1859) "I note and can to some extent sympathize with the objurgatory tone of certain critics who feel that I write too much because, quite wrongly, they believe they ought to have read most of my books before attempting to criticize a recently-published one." - Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (1989)
the worthless word for the day is: pessimize [fr. L. pessimus, worst] /PES uh mize/ to take a negative view of; make the worst of also, to act or speak in a pessimistic manner cf. pessimal "'You don't stay at Notre Dame very long making a lot of third-and-eights,' Holtz pessimized." - Chicago Sun Times Sept. 6, 1999 (quoting Lou Holtz) "People optimize their own opinion and pessimize others'." - E. Robert Morse, Amazement (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: vertiginous [ad. L. vertigo, a whirling] /ver TIJ uh nus/ 1) revolving; whirling round 2) affected with vertigo or dizziness; giddy, dizzy 3) unstable "Wherever it was, in whatever city, it was a vast and crowded station. Through its high windows the sun made great solid bars of light in the dusty air that were vertiginous to look up at: he remembered that." - John Crowley, The Translator (2002) "Recall my earlier mad cows and how they stayed young as they moved about at vertiginous speeds, while the sensible farmer got older every day." - Joao Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: gracile [L. gracilis] /GRAS ul/ or /GRAS ile/ 1) gracefully slender 2) graceful "They were divided into two types-a slender "gracile" type and a burlier, more primitive-appearing "robust" type." - Donald. C. Johanson, Lucy: The Beginning of Humankind (1987) "The iceberg shattered like a gracile wine glass being sung to by a heavy soprano." - Reuters, October 02, 2006 thanx to long-time contributor M. Kramm!
the worthless word for the day is: nutant [fr. L. nutare, to nod] chiefly Bot. nodding; drooping "The old bandstand stood empty, the equestrian statue of the turbulent Huerta rode under the nutant trees wild-eyed evermore, gazing over the valley..." - Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (1947)
the worthless word for the day is: transvection [fr. L. trans, across + vehere, to carry] /trans VEK shun/ 1) obs. the act of carrying from one place to another 2) Math. a method for deriving invariants and covariants 3) flying on something via magical powers (witchcraft) "The consummate salvation of the Saints, or their transvection into those eternal Mansions of glory." - Henry More, Apocalypsis apocalypseo (1680) "--You do not, the Emperor's physician asked Doctor Dee, believe in the transvection of witches. --I do not, said John Dee." - John Crowley, Daemonomania
the worthless word for the day is: opiniatry [fr. French opiniâtreté] /eh PIN ieh tri/ now rare the quality or state of being opinionated: mental obstinacy or inflexibility also opiniatrety (obs.) "The floating of other men's opinions in our brains makes us not one jot the more knowing, though they happen to be true. What in them was science, is in us but opiniatrety; whilst we give up our assent only to reverend names, and do not, as they did, employ our own reason to understand those truths which gave them reputation." - John Locke, An Essay.. (1690) "Hard-working students such as ourselves should take such sage advice to heart, especially after several long sessions of opiniatry and a full meal." - James Axtell, Beyond 1492 (1992)
the worthless word for the day is: suzerainty [F. suzeraineté] /SU zeh ren tee/ the dominion of a suzerain: overlordship "One cannot come away from St Helena without shaking one's head and muttering that something must be done; but nothing has been, nothing is, and nothing ever will be done - under the suzerainty of Britain, at least." - Simon Winchester, Outposts "Under Saddam's suzerainty, the trains ran on time and Shia and Sunni lived in relative peace - in the same neighborhoods." - Free Market News Network Sept. 26, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: matelot [F] /MAT low/ or /MAT uh low/ Brit. sailor "Britain gave up Port Edward, the famous sanatorium where unnumbered matelots had recovered from malaria and gazed out at the sea and the mountains of Shantung was handed over to the Chinese Navy, and the fleet sailed away, for ever." - Simon Winchester, Outposts "Matelot, matelot, where you go my heart goes with you; matelot, matelot, when you go down to the sea." - Nicholas Delbanco, Running in Place (2001) (quoting Noel Coward)
the worthless word for the day is: ogrous [apparently adj. form of ogre] /OH grus/? having the appearance or characteristics of an ogre: ogreish "[The Gibralter apes] are truly loathsome creatures, in a state of permanent distemper, ogrous packages of green and grey fur, all teeth, stale fruit and urine." - Simon Winchester, Outposts (1985) "Now, in another bed of the same size lay the ogre's seven ogrous daughters, each wearing a gold crown." - William F. Hansen, Ariadne's Thread (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: lubricity [fr. L. lubricus, slippery] /loo BRIS ity/ the quality or state of being lubricious: slipperiness; lasciviousness Haste thee, Thought, and bring with thee Emblems of Lubricity - John Crowley, Daemonomania "Some time ago, when our highbrows, or, as they are pleased to call themselves, our intelligentsia, were all praising James Joyce's "Ulysses," I ventured to put it in the pillory as the pinnacle and apex of lubricity and obscenity." - James Douglas, Sunday Express, Nov. 1922 this week: some words from John Crowley
the worthless word for the day is: ludibrium [L., mockery, derision] a divine comedy(?) "He wasn't composing, only recording; there was no reason for him to write down his ludibrium, his celestial jest or comedy, at all, except for others to read; he himself would not forget it." - John Crowley, Daemonomania cf. ludibrious - obs., rare scornful, mocking
the worthless word for the day is: athanor [ad. Arab. attannur, the furnace] /ATH en or/ also, formerly, athenor an alchemist's furnace designed to maintain uniform heat "The athenor of the alchemists, for instance, the Philosopher's Egg within which the transformation from base to gold took place -- was it not a microcosm, a small world?" - John Crowley; Little, Big (1981) "I have sat whole weeks without sleep by the side of an athanor, to watch the moment of projection." - Samuel Johnson; The Rambler, No. 199 (1752)
the worthless word for the day is: exemplum [L., model, example] /eg ZEM plum/ 1) example, model <an exemplum of heroism> 2) a story illustrating a moral point or sustaining an argument "..history's game of Telephone that always pushes anecdotes toward clarity, wonder, or exemplum." - John Crowley, Daemonomania (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: operose [fr. L. operosus : laborious, industrious] 1) tedious, wearisome 2) industrious, diligent "The deed had proved more operose than he'd expected." - John Crowley, Little, Big (1981) "This punishingly operose text bears the hallmarks of having been written by a committee. " - Internat. Affairs, No. 57 (1981) "He is an operose Bachelor of Music..." - New Republic; Feb. 26, 1995
the worthless word for the day is: ophiophilist [fr. Gk ophio-, serpent + philos, loving] rare a person who loves snakes "An 'ophiophilist' is one who loves snakes, and you don't get a chance to use the word any too often." - Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times, 17 July 2000 bonus word: ophiophagous, snake-eating
the worthless word for the day is: incompossible [ad. L. incompossibilis] /in kom POS sih bel/ now rare not possible together; wholly incompatible or inconsistent; hence, incompossibility "Incompossibility, it will be seen, is only incompatibility let loose. Instead of such low language as "Go heel yourself - I mean to kill you on sight," the words, "Sir, we are incompossible," would convey an equally significant intimation and in stately courtesy are altogether superior." - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary "It is a moment [of recognition] which may be signalled by trompe l'oeil effects, when two realities (the past and the future) dance in one moment or body, before time moves again, and they become incompossible." - John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
the worthless word for the day is: exenterate [fr. L. exenterare] obs. in literal sense to take out the entrails of; to eviscerate, disembowel "They.. went into a poore woman's house.. and bought a hen, and made the woman exenterate it, and then stuffed the bodie with snow..." - John Aubrey, Brief Lives [of Bacon] (1697) "A boxful of papers.. which I have to read and exenterate." - Robert Southey, a letter (1822) "Let any man of correct taste cast his eye on such words as denominable, opiniatry, ariolation,.. discubitory, exolution, exenterate, incompossible, incompossibility, indigitate, &c. and let him say whether a dictionary which gives thousands of such terms, as authorized English words, is a safe standard of writing." - An American view of [Johnson's] Dictionary (1807)
the worthless word for the day is: inwit [ME., in + wit] obs., used as conscious archaism by modern writers 1) conscience 2) reason, intellect, understanding; wisdom "They wash and tub and scrub. Agenbite of inwit. Conscience." - James Joyce, Ulysses (1922) "There is no light in your conscience And your acts shed, therefore, no light In your inwit." - Ezra Pound, The classic anthology.. (1955) "Very probably Bond fans will be able to turn a blind eye to the bites and agenbites of new-Bond's inwit." - The Listener, 28 Mar. 1968 cf. agenbite of inwit
the worthless word for the day is: haggersnash [Sc. term applied to tart language {Jamieson}] Sc. dialect : a spiteful person "Tova swatted Seth on the back of his head. "Why must I be stuck with this little haggersnash?" she said." - Brian Snelson, Shaturanga (2000)
the worthless word for the day is: faleste [F., thrown into the sea] cf. infalistatus obs. a form of capital punishment inflicted upon a malefactor by laying him bound upon the beach sands until high tide carries him away "INFALISTATUS. L. Lat. In old English Law. Exposed upon the sands, or sea shore. A species of punishment mentioned in Hengham... See Faleste." - A. M. Burrill, A Law Dictionary and Glossary (with an assist to Spartann!)
the worthless word for the day is: notaphilist [fr. L. nota, note + -phile] /no TAF il ist/ a person who studies notaphily; a collector of banknotes "'I am a notaphilist,' booms Brian Turner.. which means, as you know, that he 'spends a lot of present day money collecting banknotes.'" - Daily Telegraph, 26 Jan. 2000 this week: collector words
the worthless word for the day is: ephemerist [fr. Gk ephemeris, diary] /ee PHEM er ist/ 1) obs. one who keeps an ephemeris; a journalist 2) obs. one who studies the daily motions and positions of the planets 3) a collector of ephemera [paper items (as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles] "Almost all the material that ephemerists collect is intrinsically worthless." - Sunday Telegraph, 27 May 1990 "To the uninitiated the word [ephemera] is faintly suspect. To the initiate it may or may not cover a multitude of items, from cigarette cards to uniform buttons. To the Ephemera Society it has fairly precisely defined limits: It covers printed or handwritten items, produced specifically for short- term use and, generally, for disposal." - The Ephemerist, Journal of the Ephemera Society (1975)
the worthless word for the day is: mirabiliary [fr. L. mirabilis, marvel] obs. a person who deals in marvels, a miracle-worker; a collector of marvelous things "The use of this work.. is nothing less than to give contentment to the appetite of curious and vain wits, as the manner of Mirabilaries [sic] is to do..." - Francis Bacon, Of the advancement of learning (1605)
the worthless word for the day is: mome [a factitious word introduced by Lewis Carroll] nonce-word (explained by Carroll as) grave, solemn All mimsy were the borogoves; And the mome raths outgrabe. - L. Carroll, Rectory Umbrella & Mischmasch (1855) "'Mome' has a number of obsolete meanings such as mother, a blockhead, a carping critic, a buffoon, none of which, judging from Humpty Dumpty's interpretation, Carroll had in mind." - Martin Gardner, in The Annotated Alice (1999) (not to be confused with mome, the noun)
the worthless word for the day is: durbar [Pers. and Urdu darbar, court] East Indian /DUR bar/ 1) the court of an Indian prince; an audience held by a prince 2) a hall or place of audience "Lord Curzon held his darbar about this time." - Mohandas Gandhi, An Autobiography (1948) "It took several hours, this great imperial dog-durbar, and must have tested Sir Bruce to the limits of his ingenuity. But eventually, with the aid of rifles, strips of strychnine-laced beef and whips made from palm fronds, the dogs were all herded or dumped dead inside the shed." - Simon Winchester, Diego Garcia (Granta 73)
the worthless word for the day is: swith [fr. OE swithe, strongly] 1) obs. strongly, forcibly; extremely, excessively 2) chiefly dial. instantly, quickly "Kings and nations -- swith awa'!" - Robert Burns, 'Louis, what reck I by thee' (1788) (thanx to Logwood)
the worthless word for the day is: bailiwick [fr. bailiff + ME wik, town] /BAY leh wik/ 1) a person's specific area of interest, skill or authority 2) the office or jurisdiction of a bailiff ""Bailiwick" today means something less precise and legalistic than in merry old England, more an area of expertise or authority based on familiarity with the subject." - The Word Detective "..in the case of Man, in the cases of the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and of Alderney, Great Sark, Little Sark, Brechou, Lihou, Jethou and Herrn, not even the most fervent apologist would suggest that an Imperial foot was placed against a colonial neck..." - Simon Winchester, Outposts (1985)
the worthless word for the day is: cymotrichous [fr. Gk kuma, wave + trich-, hair] /SY ma tre kes/ Anthrop. having wavy hair hence cymotrichy, wavy-hairedness "The wavy-haired, or Cymotrichous people, are those who belong to the Aryan Root-Race. They comprise nearly all Europeans, the Hamites and Semites, the Iranians, the Dravidians and Aryans of India, the Indonesians, and some Polynesians." - The Theosophist Magazine, Jul-Sep 1923 "Some cymotrichous peoples have very hairy bodies." - A. C. Haddon, The races of man and their distribution (1924)
the worthless word for the day is: extramundane [fr. late L. extramundan-us] situated in or relating to a region beyond the material world; fig. out of this world "Matthew Gregory Lewis was the leader of a romantic school, both of poetry and prose fiction, abounding in diablerie and all manner of extramundane machinery, to which the perturbed temper of the times gave a momentary sucess." - The new American cyclopædia (1858) "What may be called an extramundane zeal." - Robert Southey, Sir Thomas More (1829)
the worthless word for the day is: yclyketed [olde English] latched "..and the dore closed, Y-keyed and yclyketed..." - William Langland, The Vision of William Conc. Piers the Plowman (1393) ""Yclyketed," which originated in the 1390s and is equivalent to the more modern "latched," might not be a word you need to find in a hurry -- or ever for that matter -- but there are more than 600,000 others to choose from." - Kate Flatley, The Wall Street Journal Mar 23, 2000 (The OED Goes Online..) [okay, so this is one of the really, truly worthless words in OED! and I have no clue how it was pronounced.]
the worthless word for the day is: disquixote [dis- + quixote, to act like Don Quixote] to disillusion "I will not be the first to tell him of our quixoting." - Jane Porter, Thaddeus of Warsaw (1803) "However, he came home the most disquixotted cavalier that ever hung up his shield at the end of a scurvy crusade..." - John P. Kennedy, Swallow Barn [p.54] (1832)
the worthless word for the day is: pie-faced [pie + faced] orig. U.S. slang, chiefly derogatory having a round, flat face or a blank expression; stupid a pair of pie-faced louts - A.J. Liebling "Did you put that pie-faced infant up to bally-ragging Mr. Bassington-Bassington?" - P. G. Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves (1923) "I told her that Hanna Klovack was a piefaced little fathead." - Walter Stewart, Right Church, Wrong Pew (1990) (not to be confused with po-faced!)
the worthless word for the day is: quorate [fr. quor(um) + -ate] of a meeting: attended by a quorum; hence inquorate, not attended by a quorum "In a tiny department of three, what happens if the head is wed to one of the other two? The department meeting becomes quorate during intercourse." - Times Higher Educ. Suppl., 11 May 1973 "The meeting.. was an inquorate one and therefore had no validity and was entirely unofficial." - Times, 13 May 1974 (thanx to J. Hilton) --- regarding yesterday's word: I typo'd wiffled. OED2 has whiffled as a headword, and for both citations. Wodehouse has whiffed in both instances, according to amazon.com. QED(not)..
the worthless word for the day is: whiffled [origin obscure; cf. squiffy] (or is it whiffed?) slang intoxicated, drunk "Intoxicated? The word did not express it by a mile. He was oiled, boiled, fried, plastered, whiffled, sozzled, and blotto." - P. G. Wodehouse, Meet Mr. Mulliner (1927) "'Have you forgotten that I did thirty days.. for punching a policeman.. on Boat-Race night?' 'But you were whiffled at the time.'" - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves (1930) bonus word: swacked [fr. Sc. swack, to gulp, swill] U.S. slang drunk, intoxicated "My father used to drink till he saw the light, and he prided himself on being able to say anything at any time of the day or night, no matter how swacked he might be, without tripping over a syllable." - P. G. Wodehouse, Laughing Gas (1936)
the worthless word for the day is: uterine [fr. L. uterinus] 1) of or relating to the uterus 2) having the same mother but different fathers uterine brothers 3) being enclosed and dark; womblike "That is how I become: even on spring days I can be wrapped in a uterine fog." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame.. (trans. by Geoffrey Brock)
the worthless word for the day is: magniloquence [fr. L. magniloquus] the quality or state of being magniloquent : speaking in or characterized by a high-flown often bombastic style or manner "'You owe nothing to me,' said Plantagenet, with some little touch of magniloquence in his tone." - Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her "He was a suave elderly man who balanced his imposing body, when at rest, upon a large silk umbrella. His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely respected." - James Joyce, Dubliners
the worthless word for the day is: goombah [fr. It. dial. compare, gumbare : literally, godfather] (also goomba) 1) a close friend or associate - esp. among Italian- American men 2) mafioso; broadly: gangster 3) a macho Italian-American man "I didn't see any goombahs, who mostly avoided Little Italy on weekends when people came to see goombahs." - Nelson DeMille, The Lion's Game ""Goombah" has now become the modern catch phrase for the decades-old stereotypical Italian American wise guy starring in the latest generation of gangster movies..." - Anthony V. Riccio, The Italian American Experience.. --- note: there is some conjecture that exflunct actually preceded exfluncticate in Pioneer days, although I can find no usage before the 1950s.
the worthless word for the day is: exflunct [back formation from exfluncticate, itself a mock Latinism from U.S. pioneer days] to demolish or utterly destroy, to overcome or beat thoroughly; to exhaust, completely use up "'With all this excitement we've had, I think the men are just about completely exfluncted.'" - Michael D. Cooper, The Runaway Asteroid "Yet again, there are the purely artificial words, e. g., sockdolager, hunky-dory, scalawag, guyascutis, spondulix, slumgullion, rambunctious, scrumptious, to skedaddle, to absquatulate and to exfluncticate." - H. L. Mencken, The American Language (1921) "The frontiersman, ring-tailed roarer, half horse and half alligator, described himself as kankarriferous and rambunctious, his lady love as angeliferous and splendiferous. With consummate ease he could teetotaciously exfluncticate his opponent in a conbobberation, that is to say a conflict or disturbance, or ramsquaddle him bodaciously, after which the luckless fellow would absquatulate." - A. Marckwardt, American English (1980)
the worthless word for the day is: marmalize [origin uncertain; perhaps fr. marmalade, after pulverize] (also marmalise) Brit. slang to thrash; to crush or destroy; also fig.: to defeat decisively "'In the words of Ken Dodd, our great national comedian, I shall marmalise 'em.'" - Sunday Times, 5 Dec. 1993 "Marmalize = A metaphor for beating you into a strawberry colored pulp." - Old Rottenhat, Dec. 2004
the classic worthless word for the day is: gruntled [back-formation from disgruntled] put in a good humor: pleased, satisfied, contented "He spoke with a certain what-is-it in his voice, and I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled." - P. G. Wodeshouse, Code of the Woosters (1938) "An action against a barrister for negligence.. would open the door to every disgruntled client. Now gruntled clients are rare in the criminal courts." - New Statesman, 11 Nov. 1966 this week: some words used by Wodehouse
the worthless word for the day is: rannygazoo chiefly U.S. dial. or slang (see also similar forms ranikaboo, reinikaboo) a prank, trick; horseplay, nonsense "'You--bluffer!' shouted a voice, 'don't you think you can run any such ranikaboo here!'" - S. E. White, Arizona Nights (1907) "It is very little all right. If such rannygazoo is to arrive, I do not remain any longer in this house no more." - P. G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves "..she possessed to a remarkable degree that sort of quiet air of being unwilling to stand any rannygazoo which females who run schools always have." - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves! "Still [Wilkie] refused to make a.. speech, still turned down.. pleas.. to let loose with a ring-tailed, rabble-rousing rannygazoo." - Time, 14 Oct. 1940 "A ranikaboo in Arizona would be known as a prank in other states." - Baltimore Sun, 20 Jan. 1947
the worthless word for the day is: volplane [F. vol plané, gliding flight] /VAL plane/ 1) to glide in or as if in an airplane 2) to make one's way be gliding "The only thing to be done was to shut off, and volplane down to the straits. And there were points in the problem which appalled me." - Aleister Crowley, Diary of a Drug Fiend "She legged it into the sitting-room and volplaned into a chair." - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves!
the worthless word for the day is: oojah-cum-spiff [origin uncertain] cf. oojah fine, all right ""All you have to do," I said, "is to carry on here for a few weeks more, and everything will be oojah-cum-spiff." - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves! [1st OED citation] "Then everything is tickety-boo, hunky-dory and oojah-cum-spiff." - Times, 15 Sept. 1984 "For the first couple of centuries all was oojah-cum-spiff." - Observer, 21 Nov. 1993
the worthless word for the day is: palter [origin unknown] /POL ter/ 1) to act insincerely or deceitfully: equivocate 2) now rare to haggle, chaffer hence, paltering "..what other Bond Then secret Romans, that have spoke the word, And will not palter?" - W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene I "Well, we Woosters are campaigners. We can take the rough with the smooth. But to say that I liked the prospect now before me would be paltering with the truth." - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves! "..hatred of the girl who had dared to palter with strangers; an utter distrust of the sincerity of her refusal to yield him up..." - Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
the worthless word for the day is: snooter [fr. snoot : to nose, to snub (U.S. dialect)] to harass, bedevil; to snub (only in P. G. Wodehouse) "My Aunt Agatha.. wouldn't be on hand to snooter me for at least another six weeks." - P. G. Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves "You know, sometimes it seems to be as if Fate were going out of its way to such an extent to snooter you that you begin to wonder if it's worth while continuing to struggle." - P. G. Wodehouse, Very Good, Jeeves!
the worthless word for the day is: dybbuk [Yiddish dibek] the wandering soul of a dead person believed in Jewish folklore to enter and control a living body "I had no idea if [he] was merely the product of my own mind, a sick and twisted, deranged and malevolent phantom of a personality that had finally split, or if he was a disembodied spirt, an astral projection, a dybbuk or poltergeist or alien from the center of the Earth that had come to wreak murder.. using me as his unwitting tool." - Harlan Ellison, In the Fourth Year of the War ""Possessed, you say?" The Rabbi paused and stroked his beard waiting to hear more, "You mean a dybbuk?"" - Ken Goldstein, The Dybbuk
the worthless word for the day is: vanishment [vanish + -ment] an act of vanishing or state of having vanished "He remembered that [day] now. And found the emotion.. to react to this terrible vanishment of the world." - Harlan Ellison, Shatterday "As they dimmed and spread, legs of light crept down from their point of vanishment, brightening wherever they passed through the earlier glows." - Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky (not to be confused with banishment)
the worthless word for the day is: ergodic [erg + Gk hodos, way + -ic] 1) of or relating to a process in which every sequence or sizable sample is the same statistically and therefore equally representative of the whole 2) involving or relating to the probability that any state will recur hence ergodicity RK Dillon writes: When things seemed utterly chaotic & disorganized and then some glimmer of resolution finally began to appear, [John Bird] would credit it to ergodic process breakdown - antientropy. "Under certain circumstances a system will tend in probability to a limiting form which is independent of the initial position from which it started. This is the Ergodicity Property." - Gustav Herdan, Type-Token Mathematics
the worthless word for the day is: antientropic [anti- + entropy] tending towards order (as of man's intellectual power) "The physical is inherently entropic, giving off energy in ever more disorderly ways. The metaphysical is antientropic, methodically marshalling energy. Life is antientropic. It is spontaneously inquisitive. It sorts out and endeavors to understand." - Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics "And she wanted the young man to go away and begin fulfilling the destiny that would produce antientropic energy by hastening the onrush of the Infinite Dark Mass." - Harlan Ellison, Shoppe Keeper
the worthless word for the day is: claustrophial [fr. L. claustrum, confined space + -phile] nonce word used to describe a space which could only be appreciated by someone who desires to be confined "The on-air studio in which they sat was a claustrophial box, fifteen by ten, with two windowed walls: one side looked into the control room; the other looked into the waiting room [for] taking and screening phone calls from the general public. The studio seemed somehow smaller than usual, and throat- cloggingly filled with menace. And it had started out being such a lovely day." - Harlan Ellison, Flop Sweat
the worthless word for the day is: catchpole [fr. Anglo-French cachepole, literally, chicken chaser, fr. cacher + pol, chicken < Latin pullus] also catchpoll a sheriff's deputy or bailiff; esp. one who makes arrests for failure to pay a debt: bumbailiff (disparaging) but, "An instrument consisting of a six-foot pole, furnished at the end with metal bars and springs so arranged as to catch and hold be the neck or a limb a person running away." (Robert. Hunter, The Encyclopaedic Dictionary) and "One that catches by the poll, though now taken as a word of contempt. Yet in ancient times it was used without reproach for such as we call Serjeants of the Mace, bailiffs, or any other that we use to arrest men upon any action." (Thomas Blount, A Law Dictionary and Glossary) "The chair and its contents had become the object of a local pilgrimage, and a number of Saldaña's catchpoles were needed to hold back the crowd while the judge and the scribe drew up their documents and Martín Saldaña made his cursory examination of the corpse." - Arturo Perez-Reverte, Purity of Blood (trans.) "But I.. kept looking anxiously outside, expecting at any moment to see the catchpoles of the corregidor appear with a new warrant for don Francisco's arrest, to punish his arrogant lack of caution." - Arturo Perez-Reverte, Captain Alatriste (trans.)
the worthless word for the day is: bricolage [F. < bricoler, to putter about] /BREE ko LAZH/ construction achieved by using whatever comes to hand; also, something constructed in this way cf. bricoleur "His photographs divide along definite lines of contrast. The most obvious is.. a contrast between the bricolage of popular life and small trading, and the formal plan of the aristocratic parks." - The Times, 21 Dec. 1971 "Even the decor is a bricolage, a mix of this and that." - Los Angeles Times Aug. 24, 1986 "All knowledge, whether one knows it or not, is a species of bricolage, with its eye on the myth of "engineering." - Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (trans. preface)
the worthless word for the day is: lampadedromy [Gk lampadedromia] Gk Antiquity a torch-race; a race (on foot or horseback) in which a lighted torch was passed from hand to hand (erroneously in Webster: lampadrome) also lampadephore, a torchbearer "The lampadedromy was a race run in ancient Greece. Contestants carried lit torches, and the winner was the first to finish with his torch still lit. The race was run in honor of Prometheus." - New York Times trivia quiz #78
the worthless word for the day is: noctuolent [fr. L. noctu, by night + olent, redolent of] obs. rare of a flowering plant: more strongly scented at night than during the day "Dog-rose, The noctuolent plants, of which there are several kinds, as some of the geraniums, and of the jasmines, etc." - Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopædia (Suppl. 1753) "noctuolent (NOK-too-o-lent) smelling strongest at night - the noctuolent bog on the property" - David Grambs, The Endangered English Dictionary not to be confused with noctilucent; e.g., night, smelling strongest at: noctuolucent (from index to The Endangered English Dictionary)
the worthless word for the day is: pejorate [fr. L. pejorare to become worse, make worse] to make worse: depreciate "You do not appear to me to recognise the gravity of your situation, or you would be more careful not to pejorate the same." - R. L. Stevenson, Catriona: a sequel to 'Kidnapped' (1893) "Although the tendency is for words to pejorate, this one [sc. raffish] has ameliorated. It suggests a certain kind of swagger, yes, but not so unfavorable as its origin (riffraff) would indicate." - Max Nurnberg, I Always Look Up the Word Egregious (1981)
the worthless word for the day is: uncomeatable [un- + come-at-able : attainable] also un-come-at-able unattainable; inaccessible Characterized by Johnson as ‘a low, corrupt word’. "My Honour is infallible and uncomatible." - William Congreve, The Double-dealer (1694) "For instance, the word inaccessible, though long in use among us, is not yet, I dare say, so universally understood by our people as the word uncomeatable would immeditely be, which we are not allowed to write." - Ben Franklin, The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 10 1731 "Dr. Donne was mentioned as a writer of the same period, with a very interesting countenance, whose history was singular, and whose meaning was often quite as "uncomeatable," without a personal citation from the dead, as that of any of his contemporaries." - William Hazlitt, New Monthly Magazine, Jan. 1826
the worthless word for the day is: catastrophonical a nonsense word "A sign of good shaving, my catastrophonical fine boy." - John Marston, The Dutch Courtezan "If enough new words were cast at theatregoers, some would stick and become part of common usage while others would fade into obscurity the moment the play concluded. Thus, for every 'capricious' there is a 'catastrophonical'..." - Richard Scarr, in The Drama of John Marston
the worthless word for the day is: concupiscible [fr. L. concupiscere]] lustful, desirous; archaic : that merits desire, suitable to be longed for or lusted after; greatly desirable "He would not, but by gift of my chaste body To his concupiscible intemperate lust, Release my brother.." - W. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
the worthless word for the day is: latrinology [fr. latrine, ad. L. lavatrina + -logy] the study of bathroom graffiti (latrinalia) "Latrinalia reputedly was coined by Alan Dundes, a professor at UC Berkeley who apparently has made an academic specialty out of latrinology, the study of restroom writings." - Charles H. Elster, There's a Word for It! "Years of experience have revealed that latrinology is a field of limited value, save for improving one's handwriting analysis, but "they wash these walls to stop my pen // but the bathroom poet strikes again" is a classic." - unknown
the worthless word for the day is: enigmatology [enigmato- + -logy; fr. L. (Gk) ænigma] the investigation or analysis of enigmas so enigmatologist "At Indiana University, [Will Shortz] became the first and only person to major in puzzles and to receive, in 1974, a degree in enigmatology, the art and science of puzzle construction." - Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words "Will Shortz, the current New York Times crossword puzzle editor (and former editor of Games Magazine), has called for a systematic study of the relation between puzzles and culture under the rubric of enigmatology." - Marcel Danesi, The Puzzle Instinct
the worthless word for the day is: exobiology [fr. Gk exo, outside + biology]] the branch of biology that deals with the search for extraterrestrial life and the effects of extra- terrestrial surroundings on living organisms hence exobiologist "In the same paper [George Gaylord Simpson] opined that exobiology was a "'science' that has yet to demonstrate that its subject matter exists!"" - Steven Dick, James Strick; The Living Universe "One could be cynical and suggest that an exobiologist is drawing his wages under false pretences." - Gary Bates, Alien Intrusion
the worthless word for the day is: limnology [fr. Gk limne, lake + -logy] the scientific study of bodies of freshwater, esp. lakes and ponds so limnologist, one who studies lakes "A monumental three-volume reference work on limnology (the science of inland waters) hardly acknowledges the existence of streams." - Thomas F. Waters(!), Streams and Rivers of Minnesota "The English Lake District has been and is still a mecca for limnologists." - Nature, 25 July 1970 from the land of 10,000 lakes.. actually, there are 12,034 lakes in Minnesota of greater than ten acres.
the worthless word for the day is: asyndeton [fr. Gk asyndetos, unconnected] /ah SIN deh tahn/ Rhet. a figure which omits the conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words or clauses "[asyndeton is] the omission of the conjunctions that ordinarily join coordinate words or clauses, as in the phrase "I came, I saw, I conquered" or in Matthew Arnold's poem The Scholar Gipsy: Thou hast not lived, why should'st thou perish, so? Thou hadst one aim, one business, one desire; Else wert thou long since numbered with the dead!" - © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica "In the end, I settle on three rhetorical devices: anadiplosis, or repetition; asyndeton, or lack of conjunctions (as in Caesar's "I came, I saw, I conquered"); and antithesis, the juxtaposition of two opposing ideas (as in the phrase "Life is short, art is long")*." - A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All * that's Ars longa, vita brevis in the original
the worthless word for the day is: haboob [Arabic habub, blowing furiously] /ha BOOB/ a hot, violent wind which causes duststorms or sandstorms, esp. of the Sahara in Sudan "A haboob may transport huge quantities of sand or dust, which move as a dense wall that can reach a height of 900 metres (about 3,000 feet). Haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the intertropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea." - © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica "It kind of reminds me of my life. It's my own.. fault, but I've found myself in an information haboob. A dense wall I can't see out of. I'm not even a third of the way to those glorious Zs, and my life consists of work and reading, reading and work, with a little sleep and a bowl of.. cereal in between." - A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All "The American haboobs are not so frequent as the Sudanese (two or three a year at Phoenix as compared with perhaps 24 a year at Khartoum)." - Scientific American, Jan. 1973 haboobs have been used to great effect by Hollywood.
the worthless word for the day is: pachycephalosaurus [sci. L.(genus name) < ancient Gk, thick-headed lizard] Paleontology a bipedal herbivorous dinosaur of the late Cretaceous, characterized by thickened, dome-like skulls "The unusual and distinctive feature of Pachycephalo- saurus is the high, domelike skull formed by a thick mass of solid bone grown over the tiny brain." - © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica "As I dive into the P's, it's [the stack of completed Britannicas] shot to above my belly button, like I've been rubbing the covers with somatotropin growth hormone. So I'm getting there. I'm not Ron Hoeflin, but I'm no pachycephalosaurus (a dinosaur with a thick mass of solid bone grown over its tiny brain, also known as the "bone-headed dinosaur")." - A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All somatotropin : a hormone which promotes human growth Jacobs describes Ron Hoeflin, founder of the Mega Society (much more exclusive* than Mensa), who lives in a tiny apartment in which the rent is lower than his IQ and who had stopped work on his magnum opus, a work of philosophy called "To Unscrew the Inscrutable", because he couldn't afford to replace his printer. (*99.9999th percentile, or 1 person-in-1,000,000)
the worthless word for the day is: erethism [fr. Gk erethizein, to irritate] abnormal irritability or sensitivity to stimulation (of an organ or body part) "More than ever did he seek women, urged by a nervous erithism which he could not explain or control." - George Moore, Mike Fletcher "In the past, hatters often became ill because they used mercury salts to make felt out of rabbit fur. The mercury poisoning led to a mental deterioration known as erethism. Hence the phrase 'mad as a hatter'." - A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All "Ingestion of mercury salts.. also affects the higher centres of the brain, resulting in irritability, loss of memory, depression, anxiety, and other personality changes. This mental deterioration, known as erethism, led to the well-known saying "mad as a hatter," because, in the past, hatters commonly became ill when they used mercury salts to make felt out of rabbit fur." - © 2006 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
the worthless word for the day is: pennyworth [penny + worth] chiefly Brit. 1) a penny's worth; that which can be bought for a penny 2) a bargain 3) a small amount; a modicum "What, not a word? You take your pennyworths now; Sleep for a week." - Will Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet (IV. iv. 31) "I like long and unusual words, and anybody who does not share my tastes is not compelled to read me. Policemen and politicians are under some obligation to make themselves comprehensible to the intellectually stunted, but not I. Let my prose be tenebrous and rebarbative; let my pennyworth of thought be muffled in gorgeous habilements; lovers of Basic English will look to me in vain." - Robertson Davies, The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks "A succession of extremely pompous commentators, historians, royal watchers, a pollster, and one individual described as a 'social critic', lined up to add their pennyworth to the debate." - Daily Mail, 17 Aug. 1992
the worthless word for the day is: culacino [It.] a mark left on a surface by a moist glass there's a slight difference of opinion as to the surface that is indicated; here are two sources: "The Italians even have a word for the mark left on a table by a moist glass (culacino) while the Gaelic speakers of Scotland, not to be outdone, have a word for the itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whisky. (Wouldn't they just?) It's sgriob." - Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue (1990) "Culacino : A drink-ring or circular stain left when a book is used as a coaster for a drinking glass. A handy Italian term which has no one-word English equivalent (and, from the perspective of book people, one of the most useful terms to be found in Howard Rheingold's entertaining book They Have a Word for It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words and Phrases)." - Between the Covers Illustrated Glossary (online) so that's what that's called.. (or is it on the tablecloth? my hunch is that the surface doesn't really matter.)
the worthless word for the day is: bundling [from bundle (vi)] traditional a former custom of an unmarried couple's occupying the same bed without undressing esp. during courtship "Van Corlear stopped occasionally in the villages to.. dance at country frolics, and bundle with the Yankee lasses." - Washington Irving, Knickerbocker's History of New York (1809) "Before this time bundling was known primarily as something other people somewhere else did." - Bruce C. Daniels, Puritans at Play (1996) "I'm thinking about how engaged couples in Scotland were allowed in the same bed -- but were sewn up in separate sleeping bags (the practice is called ~)." - A. J. Jacobs, The Know-It-All (2004) so that's what that's called - back when I was fresh out of college, I had a roomie who got into something like this odd custom with his girlfriend; shortly thereafter I was asked to move out...
the worthless word for the day is: papillote [F.] /PA pe YOTE/ 1) a greased paper wrapper in which food (as meat or fish) is cooked 2) Hist. a small triangular piece of paper used as a curl-paper for damp hair "Except in the most formal situations, part of the appeal of fish en papillote is cutting open the paper at the table." - Fine Cooking, Feb.-Mar. 1995 "Papering, 18th cent. term for placing the paper papillotes around the wound hair preparatory to pinching it with hot pinching irons." - J. S. Cox, An illustrated dictionary of hairdressing (1966) this week: so that's what that's called
the worthless word for the day is: solidus [Med. L. solidus, shilling] (pl. solidi) diagonal, or forward slash : / (a.k.a. virgule) (appears in this sense in the Century Dictionary of 1891) "I think the 'solidus' looks very well indeed... it would give you a strong claim to be President of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Printers." - Arthur Cayley, letter to Stokes (ca. 1880) "Johnson/Jenkinson's 'oblique dash'.., which is otherwise called a 'solidus' or 'virgule'." - Archivum Linguisticum (1971)
the worthless word for the day is: nyctinasty [G. nyktinastie] /NIK teh NAS ti/ Botany plant movement associated with diurnal changes of temperature or light; e.g. the shutting of the petals of a flower at night "But the [Yucca] flowers exhibit nyctinasty, the art of being nyctotropic or, in other words, they move about at night." - H. Peter Loewer, The Evening Garden nyctinastic : relating to or caused by nyctinasty
the worthless word for the day is: slipshoddity [slipshod + -ity] carelessness, slovenliness you probably won't find this is any (other) dictionary, but these two citations show its viability: "The variations between the two [editions], far from being, as Mr. J. Vinson with his usual slipshoddity asserted, a question of orthography, are really dialectal, at least for certain verbal forms." - Edward S. Dodgson, Transactions of the Philological Society (1902) "Priority jobs are a little unusual. A symptom of bad morale and general slipshoddity. Every job should be a priority job." - Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (1992) NB: OED2 attests slipshoddiness and slipshodness used in the same sense, including this from Poe: "No error, for example, is more certainly fatal in poetry than defective rhythm; but here the slipshodiness is so thoroughly in unison with the nonchalant air of the thoughts--which, again, are so capitally applicable to the thing done.. that the effect of the looseness of rhythm becomes palpable, and we see at once that here is a case in which to be correct would be inartistic." - E. A. Poe, Marginalia (1850)
the worthless word for the day is: plerophory [fr. Gk plerophoria] archaic complete assurance; full conviction "The peace of a good conscience, and the plerophory of faith." - John Trapp (Bible commentary, 1647) "For there is an extraordinary variety of seemingly innocent objects.. by which men have elected to give what an old anonymous writer.. pleonastically calls 'the fulness of plerophory of confirmation.'" - W. H. Olding, The Gentleman's Magazine, Oaths and the Law (1899) more pleonasm: "To forbear, in some measure, that plerophory of cocksureness with which he habitually dogmatizes." - Fitzedward Hall, The Nation (1893)
the worthless word for the day is: adequation [fr. L. adaequare, to make or become equal] 1) the result of making equal: equivalence 2) the act of making equal: commensuration 3) Linguistics a semantic process whereby the meaning of a word or phrase changes under the influence of the type of context in which it typically occurs "In another way truth is defined according to that in which the notion of true is formally perfected, and thus Isaac says, 'Truth is the adequation of thing and intellect,'..." - Thomas Aquinas, The Meanings of Truth "Strict adequation can bring nonrelating as much as relating intentions into union with their complete fulfillments." - Edmund Husserl, The Shorter Logical Investigations NB: the verb adequate (to make equal, to be equal to) is obsolete
the worthless word for the day is: strepitant [fr. L. strepere, to make noise] also strepitous clamorous, noisy, boisterous (strepitous found chiefly in musical criticism) One is incisive, corrosive; Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant; Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive; Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant: Five... O Danaides, O Sieve! - Robert Browning, Master Hugues of Saxe-Gotha "The magnificent, intoxicating, bewildering, the grandiose, the terrible, strepitous, ugly, convulsive, neurotic,--each finds its place." - Richard Wagner, Religion and Art (translator's preface (1897))
the worthless word for the day is: jubilate [fr. L. jubilare, to rejoice] to rejoice, exult; hence, jubilating "Hark! in heaven is mirth! Jubilate!" - Edward Bulwer Lytton, Dramatic Works (The Duchess de la Vallière) Taraba citizens jubilate over third term failure - Nigerian Tribune (column head) 17/5/2006 "'He nearly slipped from me there. I could not make him out. Who was he?' And after glaring at me wildly he would go on, jubilating and sneering." - Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
the worthless word for the day is: ursprache [G. ur-, original + sprache, speech] usu. capitalized a parent language: proto-language "Greek, Latin and Sanskrit.. are all close enough in structure to their common progenitor, the Ursprache, to have retained the Ursprache's principal characteristic." - Arnold Toynbee, Greeks and their Heritages "A 13-year-old New Jersey girl making her fifth straight appearance at the Scripps National Spelling Bee rattled off "ursprache" to claim the title of America's best speller on prime-time television Thursday night." - Associated Press June 2, 2006 (a nod to SNSB on prime-time; or, when did these kids start wearing makeup?! -- kudos to Ms. Close)
the worthless word for the day is: compenetrate [med. L. compenetrare] to penetrate throughout: pervade, permeate thus, compenetration : pervasive penetration, mutual permeation (not to be confused with contemperation) "..the world of power, of influence, and of state, the world which made laws as best suited it, and executed them, the world that loved earthly prosperity and hated faith, felt itself surrounded, filled, compenetrated by a mysterious system, which spread, no one could see how, and exercised an influence derived no one knew whence." - Nicholas Wiseman, Fabiola (1855) "And this absorption, sir, and compenetration of the two ideas--land into people, people into land--the exposition of which might, in good hands, be made beautiful--is a fruitful germ of Patriotism..." - John Wilson, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (1849) contemperation - obs. accommodation; also, compromise this week: other obvious offshoots
the worthless word for the day is: vincible [fr. L. vincere, to conquer] /VIN(t) suh bul/ capable of being overcome or subdued "Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know." - Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (1937) "The foundation of the distinction between vincible and invincible ignorance lies in the disposition of the will with regard to the search for the true good." - Peter Bristow, The Moral Dignity of Man (1993)
the worthless word for the day is: exoteric [fr. Gk exoterikos, external] (compare esoteric) 1a) suitable to be imparted to the public b) belonging to the outer circle 2) relating to the outside: external "An individual can pass from the exoteric circle to the esoteric by undergoing a process of initiation in the form of scientific education." - Ludwik Fleck, Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact "..calling to me with an air of superiority, like that of an esoteric over an exoteric disciple of a sage of antiquity..." - James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson
the worthless word for the day is: premonish [pre- + monish (admonish); fr. L, monere, to warn] now rare to forewarn; to give warning in advance "It is an enigma you might long guess over, did not perhaps indolence and healthy instincts premonish you that, when you had it, the secret would be worth little." - Thomas Carlyle, Historical Essays "I would premonish you, as a friend..." - Sir Walter Scott, A Legend of Montrose
the worthless word for the day is: phthartic [fr. Gk phthartikos, destructive] /THOR tik/ obs. rare deadly, destructive "..at the end of this Kolhari alley, a luminous fabric that leaps from the loom of language for a monstrous, phthartic flight, soaring, habromanic, glorious as song and happy as summer, till finally it sinks into the savage and incicurable complexities." - Samuel R. Delany, Flight from Neveryon bonus words: habromania - insanity in which the delusions are of a cheerful or gay character; extreme euphoria habromanic - euphoric (in the extreme) incicurable - that cannot be tamed [fr. L. cicurare, to tame + in-]
the worthless word for the day is: noctilucent [fr. L. nox, night + lucere, to shine] 1) luminescent at night or in the dark (rare) 2) Meteorol. designating a cloud that appears luminescent at night; spec. a silvery or bluish-white cloud occasionally seen in summer in high latitudes "There has been considerable dispute in the past about whether the noctilucent clouds are composed of ice particles or dust particles." - New Scientist, 25 July 1963 "Another phenomenon to watch for during June and July evenings is that of noctilucent clouds which form at a height of about 80 km in high latitudes." - Times, 30 May 1995 "To see noctilucent clouds, you need to be in the right place at the right time. The right time (for those in the Northern Hemisphere) is June and early July. The right place is typically between latitudes 45° and 60°." - Jeff Kanipe, A Skywatcher's Year (1999) "Noctilucent clouds are not just curiosities; they can be among the most splendid sights in the heavens. There is an old saying that every cloud has a silver lining, but noctilucent clouds shine entirely silver-blue -- except that they sometimes have a golden lower edge!" - Fred Schaaf, Wonders of the Sky (1984)
the worthless word for the day is: lethiferous [fr. L. lethum, death + -ferous] that causes or results in death, deadly "As we murder bishops, so is there another class of persons whom we only afflict with lethiferous diseases." - Edward Bulwer Lytton, Paul Clifford (1842) "At any rate, the pathogen-host relationship was not fully understood and back-contamination had resulted in lethiferous disease." - Charles M Houck, The Heavens Are Mine (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: umbrageous [fr. L. umbra, shadow > umbrage] 1) affording shade, shady; shadowy 2) inclined to take offense easily: belligerant, resentful hence, umbrageously "The Umbrageous Umbrella-maker, whose Face nobody ever saw, because it was always covered by his Umbrella." - Edward Lear, More Nonsense "Only the street lamps shone on, making a glow-worm halo in the umbrageous alleys or drawing a tremulous image on the waters of the port." - RLStevenson, The Ebb Tide between fiftyodd and fiftyeven years of age at the time after the socalled last supper he greatly gave in his umbrageous house of the hundred bottles with the radio beamer tower and its hangars, chimbneys and equilines - James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake "Cymon sat up, glowered umbrageously, and fingered his windpipe." - Godfrey Tucker, Darkweorld
the worthless word for the day is: bibliomania [fr. Gk biblio-, book + mania, madness] a rage for collecting and possessing books; thus, bibliomaniac and bibliomaniacal "The most determined, as well as earliest bibliomaniac upon record.. Don Quixote de la Mancha." - Walter Scott, The Antiquary (1816) "This bibliomaniacal anecdote is literally true." - Walter Scott, op. cit. "I am not like [The Failure], but I would like to become so. To fashion from his bibliomaniacal fury an opportunity for my own nonmonastic escape from the world." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame..
the worthless word for the day is: logorrheic [ad. NL logorrhea + -ic] /LO geh REE ik/ characterized by excessive use of words "Fenig is hyperactive, logorrheic, a language- secreting insect who generates millions of words and keeps them all in a massive trunk." - Mark Osteen, American Magic and Dread "A secular penitent, a logorrheic mystic, I convince myself that the most beautiful island is the one that has not been found, that sometimes appears, but only in the distance..." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame.. (trans.)
the worthless word for the day is: gravedinous [ad. L. gravedinosus, fr. gravedo, heaviness] obs. rare drowsy, heavy-headed {in Bailey} this is one of those words that contains the 5 vowels (aeiou) in alphabetical order without repetition; some others that are more(?) common: facetious, abstemious, arterious, arsenious, adventious, abstentious, bacterious, and tragedious the shortest word of this type seems to be the obsolete term aerious (7 letters), meaning airy if you'd like to include 'y', you can add -ly to these; e.g., facetiously hence, gravedinously, I suppose 8-)
the worthless word for the day is: omnigenous [L. omnigenus, from omnis, all + genus, kind] /om NI jen ous/ composed of or containing all kinds Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with velocity Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them, Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers, Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms. - Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (I think I could turn and live with animals) "His collection was omnigenous, and he never ceased to accumulate books of all kinds, buying them by all methods, in all places, at all times; once by a single purchase he secured 30,000 volumes." - Holbrook Jackson, The Anatomy of Bibliomania
the worthless word for the day is: noctuary [fr. L. noctu, by night + Eng. -ary; after diary] archaic a journal of nocturnal incidents "It stands thus in a diary or rather noctuary of dreams." - Robert Southey, Omniana (1812) "When we had proceeded for a considerable time, (at least so it appeared to me, for minutes are hours in the noctuary of terror,--terror has no diary), ..." - Charles Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1998)
the worthless word for the day is: trebuchet [fr. OF trebucher, to overthrow] also trebucket /treb yeh SHET/ or /treb eh KET/ a medieval catapult, a heavy siege engine for hurling large stones and other missiles ""The kid's special," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said of Liriano, the 22-year-old with the trebuchet for a left arm." - Jim Souhan (sports columnist!), Star Tribune, May 14 2006 "In the State Science Olympiad, Jacob Manogue and Tim Cwirla placed first with their trebuchet and second in bridge building." - Michelle Scheuermann, Watertown Daily Times, WI - May 13, 2006 "It was too bad for them that a lucky trebuchet shot decimated the formation before it could get within shooting distance of the walls." - Matt Cook, mygamer.com, 11 May 2006
the worthless word for the day is: avolate [fr. L. avolare, to fly off or away] obs. to fly away, escape, exhale, evaporate "Lo! through the scant casement of that lonely cot, which is seated on a barren furzed heath, protected from the blast by no umbrageous shelter, glimmers one sickly light.--Enter there, ye children of Mockery! the soul of one is about to avolate to those empyrean seats of bliss, where the sneer and point shall never vex him more." - G. R. W. Baxter, Humor and Pathos (1842)
the worthless word for the day is: pulicous [ad. L. pulicos-us, fr. pulex : flea] (erroneously, pulicious) archaic abounding with fleas; fleay so, pulicose : infested with fleas "A pulicious fever, caused by lying upon an old leathern sofa, prevented me from closing my eyes." - Sir George Le Fevre(!), The life of a travelling physician (1843) "Just notice, in passing, how infinitely more difficult it is to suppose a common or "generalised ancestor" for the flea and the elephant than to suppose simply, that the elepant began its terrestrial existence as an elephantine beast, and the flea as a pulicious; that the flea's terrestrial parent was originally a flea, or very flea-like; that the elephant's, was an elephant, or very elephantine. A "generalised ancestor, indeed!" - David Graham, The Grammar of Philosophy (1908) "At last a gloomy vision of our dirty and pulicose schooner obtruded itself; and we took leave of our new friends." - The Knickerbocker (1857)
the worthless word for the day is: grangerism [fr. James Granger who published a Biographical History of England, with blank leaves for the reception of engraved portraits or other pictorial illustrations of the text.] (cf. grangerize, to so illustrate) the practice of illustrating a book with engravings, prints, etc. cut from other books "The only drawback to Grangerism is that it leads to the plunder and mutilation of valuable books for the enrichment and amplification of others. It is stated in the advertisement to the fifth edition of Granger's Biographical History of England, that at its first appearance the rage to illustrate it became so prevalent, that scarcely a copy of any work embellished with portraits could be found in an unmutilated state." - George Augustus Sala, Living London
the worthless word for the day is: vespillo [ad L. vespillo; fr. vesper, evening] also vespillon obs. rare : he that carries forth dead bodies in the night to be buried, as they use in time of plague and great sickness {Blount, 1656} "VESPILLO'NES. Undertakers' men, who carried out the corpses of poor people at night-time, or in the dusk (from vesper), because they could not afford the expense of a funeral procession." - Anthony Rich, A Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities (1874) "By raking into the bowells of the deceased, continuall sight of Anatomies, Skeletons, or Cadaverous reliques, like Vespilloes, or Grave-makers." - Sir Thomas Browne, Religio medici (1643) "To test the burying-beetle (Necrophorus vespillo), the former had tied a dead frog lying on the ground to a string fastened at the upper end to a stick..." - Arthur Schopenhauer, World As Will and Representation (1958) [clang]: Bring out your dead! [clang]: Bring out your dead!
the worthless word for the day is: inadequation [in- + L. adaequare] archaic want of equivalence or exact correspondence see Brock's translation of Eco, "terms that tasted like magic words: avolate, baccivorous, benzoin, cacodoxy, cerastes, cribble, dogmatics, glaver, grangerism, inadequation, lordkin, mulct, pasigraphy, postern, pulicious, sparble, speight, vespillo..." "It is precisely their insistence on inadequation that makes ethical feminism and deconstruction utopian." - Marian Eide, Ethical Joyce "On the one hand, deconstruction reveals a certain inadequation of form and content, theory and praxis, in the manifestation of the text itself..." - The Textual Sublime: Deconstruction and Its Differences
the worthless word for the day is: topos [Gk, short for (koinos) topos, (common)place] /TOE pos/ a stock rhetorical theme or topic; a literary convention "It is a common topos to remark that thanks are due to the editor or author for raising weighty questions." - Times Lit. Supplement, 16 Jan. 1981 "They range from geography to satire to philosophical romance to nonsense, and provide material for tracing the history of the topos of the world turned upside down..." - Ronald Reichertz, The Making of the Alice Books (2000) "In Milan some weeks earlier, I had seen on television a color movie about the last stand of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo. Nothing is more exhilarating than the topos of the besieged fort." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame.. (trans.)
the worthless word for the day is: pulverulent [L, pulverulentus; from pulver-, dust + -ulentus, abounding in] /pul VER yuh lent/ consisting of or reducible to fine powder; covered or looking as if covered with dust or powder: dusty, crumbly "I do not understand their changes. Some [puffball fungi] are quite pulverulent, and emitting a cloud of dust at every touch." - Henry David Thoreau, Journal "If a cellar prefigures the underworld, an attic promises a rather threadbare paradise, where the dead bodies appear in a pulverulent glow, a vegetal elixir that, in the absence of green, makes you feel you are in a parched tropical forest, an artificial canebreak where you are immersed in a tepid sauna." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame.. (trans.) NB: regarding yesterday's Eco citation, translator Geoff Brock writes: In this case the literal meaning of the Italian words was beside the point -- what mattered was only that the words be obscure and sound mysterious or "magical." So I picked words that looked vaguely similar (pseudo-cognates, I called them to myself) from the 1913 Webster's Unabridged (which seemed a decent analogue for the Melzi). It's one of several passages in the book where I as the translator got to have a bit of fun. (With Eco's oversight and approval, of course.) next week we'll look at some other words from his list.
the worthless word for the day is: glaver [fr. M. Eng. glaveren] obs. to talk in a deceitfully kind or pleasant manner: flatter "Those who will glaver upon you, and seem as if their hearts were with you." - Jeremiah Burroughes, An exposition of Hosea (1643) "It was in [Nuovissimo Melzi (Italian encyclopedic dictionary)] that I had encountered terms that tasted like magic words: avolate, baccivorous, benzoin, cacodoxy, cerastes, cribble, dogmatics, glaver, grangerism, inadequation, lordkin, mulct, pasigraphy, postern, pulicious, sparble, speight, vespillo..." - Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame.. (trans./2005)
the worthless word for the day is: hesitude [fr. L. haes- (< haerere, to hold fast) + -tude] obs. rare doubtfulness I'm feeling some hesitude about today's word. - w.m.
the worthless word for the day is: mordacious [fr. L. mordax < mordere, to bite + Eng. -ious] /mo(r) DAY shus/ 1) biting or given to biting 2) biting or sharp in manner: caustic "[The snakes] were powerful and mordacious, their poison was virulent; ...he bestowed the art of healing poison on the great-spirited Kasyapa for the well-being of creation." - J A B Van Buitenen, The Mahabharata (1980) "Grand-duke and taxes were synonymes, according to this mordacious lexicographer!" - Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature (1823)
the worthless word for the day is: squadoosh Italian-American slang used to describe something that is missing, absent, or forgotten; zero, nil, nothing "I don't know squadoosh about stock-car racing! What.. number is Richard Petty? Live and learn. I figured everyone from Georgia loved racing." - Robert Cullen, A Mulligan for Bobby Jobe
the worthless word for the day is: viaggiatory [fr. It. viaggiare, to travel; ad. L. viaticum] (nonce-wd in Medwin, appropriated by Wolfe) [adj] on the move; given to traveling around [n] a journey "The viaggiatory English old maids, who scorn the continent." - Thomas Medwin, The Life of Shelly You're holding a viaggiatory sacrifice? - Gene Wolfe, Epiphany of the Long Sun Taking everything outside for a viaggiatory! However did you think of it? - Gene Wolfe, op. cit.
the worthless word for the day is: witticaster [fr. wit or witty, after criticaster; fr. L. -aster, expressing incomplete resemblance] nonce-wd a petty or inferior wit, a witling "The mention of a nobleman seems quite sufficient to arouse the spleen of our witticaster." - in Latham's Dict., quoted as from Milton
the worthless word for the day is: ombibulous [coined by H. L. Mencken; ultimately fr. L. imbibere, to drink in + omni, all] referring to someone who drinks anything "One of the fellows I can't understand is the man with violent likes and dislikes in his drams--the man who dotes on highballs but can't abide malt liquor, or who drinks white wine but not red, or who holds that Scotch whiskey benefits his kidneys whereas rye whiskey corrodes his liver. As for me, I am prepared to admit some merit in every alcoholic beverage ever devised by the incomparable brain of man and drink them all when occasions are suitable--wine with meat, the hard liquors when my so-called soul languishes, beer to let me down gently of an evening. In other words, I am omnibibulous, or more simply, ombibulous." - H. L. Mencken, Minority Report "Harold E. Stearns was addicted to a "nauseous" bootleg sherry so vile that even the ombibulous Henry Mencken, having ventured to taste it, absolutely refused to touch the stuff again." - Nathan Miller, New World Coming
the worthless word for the day is: lychnobite [fr. Gk lychnos, lamp + bios, life] /LIK no bite/ obs. rare one who labors at night and sleeps by day; one who turns night into day; a fast-liver "Lychnobite, a Night Walker." - in Bailey (1727) "Conveniently meeting in the afternoon, a Masonic rendezvous was provided where the gregarious lychnobite could in his..." - Charles M. Williams, 50 Years of St. Cecile Lodge "..a number of words are thrown in, which have either never before made their appearance in English, or of which young ladies may safely remain ignorant. Of this description are, odontalgia, otalgia, lychnobite, pseudodox, asmatography..." - The Eclectic Review (ca. 1805-1868) (that is: toothache, earache, ~, false doctrine, composition of songs)
the worthless word for the day is: paradiastole [L. ~, putting together of dissimilar things] /PAR eh DI es teli/ Rhet. a figure of speech in which a favorable turn is given to something unfavorable by the use of euphemism or partial truth [not to be confused with peridiastole (Med.)] "The rhetorical device of paradiastole, that is redescription of one thing as another--I am brave, but you are reckless; I am frugal, but you are stingy." - The Journal of Modern History (1998) "You use paradiastole when you choose your words according to whether you like or dislike the action." - Teresa Brennan, Globalization and Its Terrors (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: sevocation [fr. L. sevocare, to call aside] /sev uh KAY shun/ obs. rare a calling apart or aside a discreet sevocation of the four girls in trouble - David Grambs, The Endangered English Dictionary
the classic worthless word for the day is: hexerei [Pennsylvania German, fr. G. Hexe, witch] /hek seh RYE/ witchcraft "Never in my life have I seen a shop filled with so much religious hexerei." - John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces "To some of these folk the supernatural is still real. 'Powwow' doctors have not wholly disappeared, nor have witches and Hexerei, especially among the Busch Deutsch or 'hillmen'" - Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State
the worthless word for the day is: boak chiefly Scot. (also bolk) [v] to belch; to vomit [n] a belch, an eructation "I think it was at this moment that Patricia lurched from the table, informing everyone that she was going to be sick and indeed was as good as her word, throwing up before reaching the door ('Heinrich, fetch a clout - the lassie's boaked!')." - Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum "Sanctimonious bastard gives me the boak." - Ian Rankin, A Question of Blood
the worthless word for the day is: carriwitchet [origin unknown] /kar eh WICH et/ a hoaxing or riddling question; a pun, quibble "There is a certain exhilaration in meeting a new word and recognizing its capacities. Frequently it changes that for which it stands from the intolerable to the attractive in your estimation. I find the carriwitchet endearing, for example, though I find the pun -- which is almost the same thing -- detestable." - Scribner's Magazine (1939) "Carriwitchet, a hoaxing, puzzling question.. as 'How far is it from the first of July to London Bridge?'" - John C. Hotten, A dictionary of modern slang (1874)
the worthless word for the day is: agible [ad. L. agibilis, fr. agere : to do] obs. feasible; practicable "In my first years, my friends bestowed on me those Learnings which were fit for a Gentlemans ornament, without directing them to an Occupation; and when they were fit for agible things, they bestowed them and me on my Princes Service..." - Sir Anthony Sherley, Travels into Persia (1613)
the worthless word for the day is: imprescriptible [F] not subject to prescription: inalienable; also, absolute "..the natural and imprescriptible rights of man.. are liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression." - Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791) "The Argentine nation ratifies its legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty [over the Falkland, South Georgia and South Sandwich islands]." - Belfast Telegraph, UK Apr 3, 2006
the worthless word for the day is: aurify [f. L. aurum, gold + -fy] to turn into gold "..and so are the future guineas that now lie ripening and aurifying in the womb of some undiscovered Potosi; but dig, dig, dig, dig, Manning!" - Charles Lamb, letter to Th. Manning A skill held by Midas of old Was to aurify - turn things to gold. On the plus side for him, His cup filled to the brim; On the minus, no food, so I'm told. - John Wellington Wells (OEDILF)
the worthless word for the day is: indign [fr. L. indignus, not worthy] /in DINE/ 1) archaic unworthy, undeserving 2) obs. shameful, disgraceful Let housewives make a skillet of my helm, And all indign and base adversities Make head against my estimation! - William Shakespeare, Othello (act I, sc 3) Such scope is granted not my powers indign... I have lain in dead men's beds, have walked The tombs of those with whom I'd talked, Called many a gone and goodly one to shape a sign, And panted for response. - Thomas Hardy, A Sign Seeker (poem)
the worthless word for the day is: bimanous [fr. L. bimanus or F. bimane] /BI meh nehs/ (also bimanal) having two hands: two-handed "Even in these enlightened days, many a curate who, considered abstractedly, is nothing more than a sleek bimanous animal in a white neck?cloth, with views more or less Anglican, and furtively addicted to the flute, is adored by a girl who has coarse brothers, or by a solitary woman who would like to be a helpmate in good works beyond her own means, simply because he seems to them the model of refinement and of public usefulness. " - George Eliot, Janet's Repentance (1858) "At this point in time, we have little information on the indigenes. A few orbital pictures, enough to show they are bimanous bipeds." - Richard Fawkes, Face of the Enemy (1999) [thanx to Bingley]
the worthless word for the day is: wegotism [jocular blend of we + egotism] an obtrusive and too frequent use of the editorial we (also called weism) "Dr. Dwight," said an inquirer, "is it not better for a minister, when speaking of himself, to say 'we,' rather than 'I?'" "I think not," answered the doctor. "But it avoids the appearance of egotism." "Ah, well," said Dr. Dwight, "I would rather have egotism than wegotism." - J. Gallaher, The Western Sketchbook (1850) "What intolerable weism! more revolting than the worst species of egotism!" - Anti-Jacobin Review (1800)
the worthless word for the day is: wesort [probably from we sort (i.e., our sort)] usually capitalized one of a group of people of mixed white-black-Indian ancestry living in southern Maryland "The man who answered was Oswald Swan, a so-called wesort--of white, African American, and Piscataway Indian descent--who lived there with his wife and eight children." - Michael W Kauffman, American Brutus "Write-in entries included such synonyms of "mixed" as multiracial, multiethnic, interracial, and Wesort (one designation for white-black-Indian groupings)..." - William Petersen, From Birth to Death [thanx to David Check!]
the worthless word for the day is: decussate [fr. L. decussis : the number ten (X), intersection of two lines] to intersect decussation : an intersection esp. in the form of an X "One of Johnson's most commonly quoted fits of classical whimsy is his definition of network: "Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections." - David Micklethwait, Noah Webster and the American Dictionary "The unmarked, decussating paths would have been confusing to anyone but a native. Hackworth had never been here before." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
the worthless word for the day is: apothegmatic [fr. Gk apophthegmatikos, sententious] /apeh THEG mad ik/ also apophthegmatic relating to or characteristic of apothegms; sententious; pithy hence apothegmatical (and apophthegmatical) "I copied out passages from Ecclesiastes and Lovecraft, Shakespeare and Dunsany, even from my apothegmatic dad: 'Every fifteen-minute job takes an hour... If you liked it all the time they wouldn't call it work.'" - Michael Dirda, An Open Book (2003) "It seems that the apothegmatical Hipparchus did not associate with Anacreon more from sympathy with his genius than inclination to the subjects to which it was devoted." - Edw. Bulwer Lytton, Athens: Its Rise and Fall (1837) (yes, that Bulwer Lytton)
the worthless word for the day is: algorism [ad. mL. > Arab. al-Khuwarizmi (Arab mathematician)] the Arabic, or decimal system of numeration; hence, arithmetic (ultimately the source of algorithm) "Al-Kuwarizmi's Algebra is a collection of rules for the solution of linear and quadratic equations, elementary geometric propositions and more mundane inheritance problems involving the distribution of money. The word "algorism" is derived from Al-Kuwarizmi's name." - A. T. Haft et al., The Key to the Name of the Rose "..a denial that at best is swamped by the uselessness of the effort, the ninny teaching algorisms in some hazy university to grubby grinds or colonels' daughters." - Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch (trans.)
the worthless word for the day is: ataraxia [Gk ataraxia, impassiveness] /ad eh RAK see eh/ also ataraxy calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet: intellectual detachment, imperturbability "They go their way unmolested and have attained to literary ataraxia." - Saturday Review, 20 May 1882 "Lay quietism, moderate ataraxia, attent lack of attention." - Julio Cortazar, Hopscotch (trans.) bonus word: quietism - a passive mysticism; a state of calmness or passivity
the worthless word for the day is: limacology [fr. L. limax : slug, snail + -ology] the branch of zoology which deals with slugs "To the same author we owe a paper on "Limacology, or Slug-study." This came upon us as a bit of a shock, for we were unaquainted with this evidence of the extent of Mr. Sich's versatility. What a nerve it must require to study slugs!" - James William Tutt, The Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation (1890) "Limacology or slug-watching is similar to bird- watching with the added convenience that slugs don't fly away before you've got a good look at them." - Observer, 15 Feb. 1981
the worthless word for the day is: supinity [fr. L. supinus lying on the back] obs. supineness: inertness; sluggishness "Incuriousness was the most potent ally of our imposed order; for Eastern government rested not so much on consent or force, as on the common supinity, hebetude, lack-a-daisiness, which gave a minority undue effect." - T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom ""You have charms," Elly commented as I tried to sit upright on a piece of furniture suited only to graceful supinity. "But not to soothe the savage beast." - Peter Schaffter, The Schumann Proof
the worthless word for the day is: stentorian [fr. Stentor, a Gk warrior with a powerful voice] /sten TOR ee un/ of the voice: loud, like that of Stentor also stentorious (?) "And turning to the imaginary microphones in the wall, he said in a stentorian voice, "Gentlemen, as always in such circumstances, I wish to take this opportunity to encourage you in your work and to thank you on behalf of all future historians."" - Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (not to be confused with stertorous) "It was the most horrible and fascinating snoring that I have ever listened to: it was stertorous and stentorian, morbid and grotesque; at times it was like an accordian collapsing, at other times like a frog croaking in the swamps; after a prolonged whistle there sometimes followed a frightful wheeze as if he were giving up the ghost, then it would settle back again into a regular rise and fall, a steady hollow chopping as though he stood stripped to the waist, with ax in hand, before the accumulated madness of all the bric-a-brac of this world." - Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn "When in Robert Carson's very fine novel, The Revels Are Ended, I read that a man breathed 'stentoriously' I thought, 'Oh, he means stertorously. But Carson writes so well that I then reflected that he intended a portmanteau, or a blend, of stentorianly and stertorously, for he wishes to convey the senses of an extremely noisy stertorousness." - Eric Partridge, Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English
the worthless word for the day is: stertorous [fr. stertor, a heavy snoring sound > L. stertere, to snore] 1) characterized by a harsh snoring or gasping sound: exhibiting or marked by stertor 2) marked by snoring hence sterterously and stertorousness "Her breathing grew stertorous, the mouth opened... And then Lucy's breathing became stertorous again, and all at once it ceased. "It is all over," said Van Helsing. "She is dead!" - Bram Stoker, Dracula "They find Krook still sleeping like one o'clock; that is to say, breathing stertorously with his chin upon his breast." - Charles Dickens, Bleak House "At the expiration of this period.. a natural although a very deep sigh escaped the bosom of the dying man, and the stertorous breathing ceased-that is to say, its stertorousness was no longer apparent, the intervals were undiminished." - Edgar A Poe, The Short Fiction of Edgar Alan Poe
the worthless word for the day is: theologaster [NL, fr. theologus + -aster, cf. poetaster] /the AL uh gas te(r)/ a shallow theologian, esp. one who pretends to possess great theological knowledge; a theological quack "Why Deity, being omniscient and omnipotent, doesn't "kill the Devil" and banish evil from the earth... is a question in theodicy a trifle too profound for a safe-brush theologaster." - William C. Brann, Brann the Iconoclast "So farewell, dear Doctor Platitude, Thou Theologaster sound and good." - Edwin P. Hood, The World of Proverb and Parable
the worthless word for the day is: clinomania [fr. Gk klin- : sloping, inclining + -mania] an overwhelming desire to stay in bed, esp. on a snowy (or rainy) day "Clinomania... Not a bad mania, as manias go; and a reasonably plausible excuse for taking Monday off." - Peter Bowler, The Superior Person's Second Book of Words
the worthless word for the day is: petarding [fr. petard, explosive] rare the action of setting off petards "A 'wicker Figure'.. is promenaded, not in silence, to the popular judgment-bar; is doomed; shriven by a mock Abbe de Vermond; then solemnly consumed by fire, at the foot of Henri's Statue on the Pont Neuf;--with such petarding and huzzaing that Chevalier Dubois and his City-watch see good finally to make a charge (more or less ineffectual); and there wanted not burning of sentry-boxes, forcing of guard-houses, and also 'dead bodies thrown into the Seine over-night,' to avoid new effervescence." - Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (1837) "On the 5th of February 1,000 guns started a barrage that lasted five hours as the leading troops to cross the Rhine crossed the start line. We supported the 51st Division by laying two bridges and some fascines and petarding a pillbox." - Henry Smith, Recollections of 6thJune 1944; Before and after: 79th Armoured Division in Normandy (2004) bonus word: fascine - Mil. A long cylindrical faggot of brush or other small wood, firmly bound together at short intervals, used in filling up ditches, the construction of batteries, etc. usually pl.
the worthless word for the day is: sardoodledom [> sardoodle- (blend of Victorien Sardou, French playwright criticized by G. B. Shaw, for the supposed staginess of his plays and doodle) + -dom] usually capitalized : mechanically contrived plot structure and stereotyped or unrealistic characterization in drama: staginess, melodrama "No wonder the battery inflicted nightly on Shaw's aesthetic sensibilities often left him in critical condition: titles of his reviews include "Plays That Are No Plays," "Sardoodledom," "One of the Worst," "Boiled Heroine," and "Resurrection Pie." - Bernard Dukore, 1992: Shaw and the Last Hundred Years "We do not want to try to rebut Shaw's criticism of 'Sardoodledom'." - The Times, 15 Jan. 1960 "There is certainly a good reason why it's [sc. Fedora] not performed more often; it's a crashing bore. And Shaw rightly condemned Sardou's dramaturgy in this and other pieces: "Sardoodledom." - anon., rec.music.opera (1996)
the worthless word for the day is: nebulochaotic [fr. L. nebula : mist, fog + chaotic] nonce-wd (obs.) : hazily confused "The altogether nebulochaotic condition of her mind." - George MacDonald, Mary Marston (1881)
the worthless word for the day is: libricide [f. L. liber, book + -cide] the slaughter of books this is marked rare by the OED, with just the Blair citation; but they haven't yet taken into account the bounteous opportunities for usage supplied by more recent history "Milton ranks libricide or book-slaughter with homicide or man-slaughter." - W. Blair, Chron. Aberbrothock (1856) Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century - Rebecca Knuth, book title (2003) "In the 1990s, the ethnocide and libricide in post-Communist Yogoslavia was a common feature on the nightly news..." - Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness ed. by Terrie Waddell (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: neologization [fr. neologize v. > neology n.] rare (coined by Jefferson) the coining of new words or phrases "When an individual uses a new word, if illformed it is rejected in society, if wellformed, adopted, and, after due time, laid up in the depository of dictionaries. And if, in this process of sound neologisation, our transatlantic brethren shall not choose to accompany us, we may furnish, after the Ionians, a second example of a colonial dialect improving on its primitive." - Th. Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams (1820) "As the subject of this.. has been adequately covered within the various portions of this book, I merely wish in this instance, to offer it to you for your study, as well as, for the invigoration of your mind. It is well worth your ambitiousness, to recognize the two previously studied letters as a collective doctrine on the neologization of the American language. Furthermore, a serious study of them would be an admirable endeavor indeed, which in turn, would render to the aspirant multifarious coruscations of sagacity." - Prof. Diogenes Vindex, So It Was Written (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: divinate [fr. L. divinare, to divine] back-formation from divination(?) to foretell future events, soothsay, augur, prophesy "But as against any view that one pariticular technique is in itself metaphysically fatal, one might rather suggest that cultures which use hieroglyphs to 'divinate' will continue to 'divinate' with alphabetic letters, reducing truth to determinate manipulation." - John Milbank, The Word Made Strange [whoa! almost read 'determinate' as a verb there!] "Numerology: Similar to astrology in that our birth date is used to divinate meaningful information about a person's life and potential, numerology uses numbers derived from both the birth date and name as the basis for understanding an individual." - Joanne E. Brunn, Awakening Your Psychic Skills "Accurate information in order to divinate! Do you know how idiotic that sounds? This is exactly why I've been reluctant to commit to a relationship with you." - Eve Howard, The History of Hugo Sands [for AnnaStrophic]
the worthless word for the day is: sesquipedalophobia [sesquipedalian + -phobia] (coined by Byran A. Garner in a Verbatim article) the fear or hatred of long words "Fear ...and the most ironically named one of all: sesquipedalophobia--the fear of long words!" - Barron's How To Prepare For The SSAT/ISEE (!?)
the worthless word for the day is: pottiness [f. potty + -ness] (first attested to Wodehouse) the state or condition of being potty "It was not primarily his pottiness that led him to steal the Empress." - P. G. Wodehouse, Heavy Weather (1933) "We shall all feel perfectly ghastly wondering.. whether our own conversation doesn't sound a little potty. It's the pottiness, you know, that's so awful." - Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935) potty : (chiefly Brit.) 1) trivial, insignificant; easy, simple 2) crazy, mad; eccentric
the worthless word for the day is: cerebrotonic [fr. L. cerebrum, brain + tonic, producing tension] designating or characteristic of a type of personality which is introverted, intellectual, and emotionally restrained, usu. associated with an ectomorphic physique; so cerebrotonia, such a personality or characteristics "With cerebrotonia, the temperament that is correlated with ectomorphic physique, we leave the genial world of Pickwick, the strenuously competitive world of Hotspur, and pass into as entirely different and somewhat disquieting kind of universe - that of Hamlet and Ivan Karamazov. The extreme cerebrotonic is the over-alert, over-sensitive introvert, who is more concerned with what goes on behind the eyes.. than with that external world, to which, in their different ways, the viscerotonic and the somatotonic pay their primary attention and allegaince." - Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (1945) "There was just enough of the somatotonic in his.. cerebrotonic make-up to make him regret his cerebrotonia." - Aldous Huxley, letter (1945)
the worthless word for the day is: persifleur [F, see also persiflate] a person who indulges in persiflage : one given to frivolous banter, especially about matters usually given serious consideration "He thought: 'A leg-puller, a persifleur, a practical joker?'" - Olivia Manning, The Rain Forest (1974) "There is something almost alarming about his [sc. Lawrence] sincerity and seriousness - something that makes one feel oneself to be the most shameful dilettante, persifleur, waster and all the rest." - Aldous Huxley, (quoted by Nicholas Murray in Aldous Huxley) persiflate : rare to indulge in persiflage, to talk banteringly [< French persifler, to banter lightly] "In later school stories you get Marriott and Jimmy Silver putting their feet up and simply persiflating." - Richard Usborne, Plum Sauce (Wodehouse at Work)
the worthless word for the day is: totipotent [fr. L. toti-, fr. totus : whole + potent; cf. omnipotent] /toe TIP oh tent/ Biol. capable of developing into a complete organism or differentiating into any of its cells or tissues; also gen. <totipotent blastomeres> "A fertilized egg is called a zygote and is said to be totipotent because it is not specialized and can give rise to an entire functioning organism." - Raymond Bonnett, Genetic Engineering "...[the business card] was, in fact, a chit: that is to say, a totipotent program for a matter compiler, combined with sufficient [credit] to run it." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (a chit, in this case, is akin to a signed voucher.)
the worthless word for the day is: minger [prob. from minging : stinking; foul, unpleasant] Brit. slang (derogatory) an ugly or unattractive person, esp. a woman "Last night Ali asked fashion designer Thomas Del Jeffers if he was happy to design clothes for women 'even if they were mingers, you know, nice personalities, but mingers'. - The Bath Chronicle, 14 Apr. 1999 "In the hall, a girl in a gold lamé halter top called a girl in a fake Pucci dress "a minger." - Marian Keyes, Under the Duvet (2001)
the classic worthless word for the day is: nefandous [< classical L. nefandus : wicked, impious, abominable] /neh FAN dous/ archaic unspeakable, unmentionable; abominable, execrable "Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the cellar, some mineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of that nefandous well." - Tales of H. P. Lovecraft "Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of the most nefandous conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves-they took no moral stances and lived by none." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
the worthless word for the day is: grith [fr. Old Norse gridh, domicile, asylum] obs. exc. Hist. : protection or sanctuary provided by Old English law to persons in certain circumstances "So Church-grith is sometimes used for sanctuary; but it really means as much as Church-frith, the peace and security which the law guarantees to those under the Church's protection." - Wm Stubbs, The Constitutional History of England "Dr. X was unusually clever at taking advantage of the principle of grith, or right of refuge.." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age
the worthless word for the day is: hederated [fr. L. hederatus] /HED ur ated/ adorned or crowned with ivy "He [Gower] appeareth there neither laureated nor hederated Poet.. but only rosated, having a Chaplet of four Roses about his head." - Thomas Fuller, The history of the worthies of England (1662) "If a campus was a green quadrilateral described by hulking, hederated Gothics, then this was a campus. But if a campus was also a factory of sorts, most of whose population sat in rows and columns in large stuffy rooms and did essentially the same things all day, then the Design Works was a campus for that reason too." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995)
the worthless word for the day is: catachthonian [< Gk kata : down, under + chthonios, of the ground] /kae tuk THO nian/? subterranean hence, catachthonic "Pluto.. was always.. a chthonian or catachthonian Zeus." - Sir John Rhys, The Hibbert Lectures (1888) "Lying as close as it did to Source Victoria, the park was riddled with catachthonic Feed lines, and anything could be grown there on short notice." - Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age (1995)
the worthless word for the day is: mulierosity [< L. mulierositas, excessive fondness for women] obs. rare : a (excessive) fondness for women also, mulierose : (excessively) fond of women "That may signify nothing; but as rule when the friends of a preacher- by scraping the state-cannot secure a committee that will unanimously acquit him of a charge of too much mulierosity, there's something desperately rotten in Denmark. The brethren much dislike to convict a preacher of scandalous conduct..." - William Cowper Brann, Brann the Iconoclast (1898) "Well then, dame, mulierose- that means wrapped up, body and soul, in women. So prithee tell me; how did you ever detect the noodle's mulierosity?" - Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth (1861)
the worthless word for the day is: passéist (passeist) [< French passéiste < passé, the past] contrast futurist (adj.) having an excessive regard for the traditions and values of the past; backward-looking (n.) a person, esp. a writer or artist, with excessive regard for the traditions and values of the past; a backward-looking person "The passéist, who once pretended to be offended by the "impermissible devices" of the Futurists,.. now makes use of a complete arsenal of whatever devices he pleases, and displays any sort of sleight of hand." - Anna Lawton, Herbert Eagle, Words in Revolution (1988) "For younger Japanese film-makers, especially during the socially divisive period of the late Sixties, [Kurosawa] had come to seem aloof and passeist, one of the most visible representatives of a detested Establishment, no longer deigning to direct his fastidiously patrician gaze at the problems besetting the society in which he lived." - Gilbert Adair, The Independent (obit. Sep 7, 1998)
the worthless word for the day is: percontation [fr. L. percontari : to inquire, interrogate] /per kon TAY shun/ archaic a questioning or inquiry, esp. one which requires more than a yes or no answer "Between a percontation and interrogation, the ancients made this distinction -- that the former admitted a variety of answers, while the latter must be replied to by 'yes' or 'no'." - Samuel Maitland, The Dark Ages (1890) and perhaps this is the word meant by Samuel Clemens here (note the other 'typos'): "The result of my perlustration and perscontation of this isoperimetrical protuberance is a belief [th]at it is one of those rare and wonderful creation[s] left by the Mound Builders." - Mark Twain, Sketches New and Old
the worthless word for the day is: perscrutation [fr. L. perscrutari, to examine thoroughly] a thorough examination: careful investigation "Such guessing, visioning, dim perscrutation of the momentous future..." - Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present (1843) "..the reader knows that.. Narcissus is just a story; and Conrad is surely at liberty to turn his pretended narrator into a veritable Pooh-Bah of perscrutation if it will serve his turn." - Ian P Watt, Essays on Conrad (2000) "In an age when many of our judicial opinions lack originality and freshness, this use of the English vocabulary is peculiarly striking. But it strikes us negatively in almost every instance because the writer has strained to find the unfamiliar word when the ordinary one comes immediately to mind. Why perficient instead of efficient, or perscrutation instead of scrutiny?" - Bryan A. Garner, The Elements of Legal Style (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: pernoctation [L. fr. pernoctare, to stay all night] /per nak TAY shun/ the act of staying up all night; an all-night vigil "..some difficulties were chronic: frequenting taverns, pernoctation, gambling, hunting, irreverent or disorderly conduct within the chapel and hall." - James McConica, The History of the University of Oxford (1986) "The nature of 'engagement' and the status of 'fiancés' was at that time qualitatively different to those of the present day (even if 'bundling' -- joint pernoctation -- was often permitted provided it did not result in pregnancy)." - James Dunkerley, Americana (2000) "The baths were used by night; there were lights and incense, and the patient saw visions during the pernoctation." - William R. Smith, Religion of the Semites (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: ecdemomania [fr. Gk ekdemos, being away from home + -mania] a compulsive wandering this is another of those words that can be found on many lists of obscure words, but doesn't seem to have been actually used anywhere of note. (perhaps a journal of psychiatry??) ecdemiomania, ecdemomania, ecdemomonomania: A morbid impulse, or obsession, to travel or wander around. - John G. Robertson, An Excess of Phobias and Manias bonus word: ecdemolagnia - arousal from traveling or being away from home --- this week: expiscations, or words searched for herein
the worthless word for the day is: tulgey

[nonsense word coined by 'Lewis Carroll']
applied to a wood(s); (usu. interpreted as) thick, 
dense, and dark; also fig.

The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, 
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
 - C.L.Dodgson, Through the Looking-glass (1871)

"The jabberwocks of historical and antiquarian 
research burble in the tulgy wood of conjecture, 
flitting from one tum-tum tree to another."
 - J.R.R.Tolkien, Proc. of the Brit. Acad. (1936)

"The meandering road from these relatively 
straightforward beginnings into the tulgey woods 
of semiotics was long, labyrinthine, and full of 
 - Thomas A. Sebeok, Global Semiotics  (1982)

the worthless word for the day is: aibohphobia [phobia melded with phobia reversed, fr. LL. -phobia, fear of something] jocular : the fear of (or aversion to) palindromes "This investigation prevents aibohphobia-the fear of palindromes." - Judith & Paul Sally, Trimathlon: A Workout Beyond the School Curriculum Aibohphobia stands for the fear Of those phrases or words that appear, When reversed, not to change. It's a palindrome-strange- And the same from the front or the rear. - Chris Doyle, Aibophobia [OEDILF]
the worthless word for the day is: elozable [fr. OF. esloser, to praise] /el LO za bul/? obs. rare amenable to flattery <a very insecure and elozable widow - D. Grambs> "...but the execution of the laws would reach them, as well as others, who, in the time of Tarquin, it seems, found the prince more elozable." - Machiavel's Vindication (1537) (in The Harleian Miscellany (1808))
the worthless word for the day is: ubiquit [back-formation from ubiquitous or -ity (fr. L. ubique, everywhere)] obs. to make ubiquitous (as to turn up everywhere) "This being done, then the Exposer ubiquits himself, peeping at the key-holes, or picking the locks of the bed-chambers of all the great ministers, and though they be reading papers of state, or at the stool, more seasonably obtrudes his pamphlet." - Andrew Marvell, Mr. Smirke (1676) this week : back-formations
the worthless word for the day is: reluct [ad. L. reluctari, to struggle; but in later use prob. a back-formation from reluctance] 1) to make a determined resistance: struggle 2) to feel or show repugnance or reluctance: revolt "He is apt to reluct against the oppression of task masters." - Escape from Toil (1849) "I care not to be carried with the tide, that smoothly bears human life to eternity; and reluct at the inevitable course of destiny." - Charles Lamb, New Year's Eve (ca. 1823)
the worthless word for the day is: flummer [back-formation from flummery] archaic : to get around (a person) especially by coaxing or flattery: beguile, humbug ""But what, what do they do, these famous Monseers?" demanded the Captain;.. "or do they spend all their time in flummering old women?"" - Frances Burney, Evelina (1777) "She was flummering Sheridan upon the excellence of his heart and moral principles, and he in return upon her beauty and grace." - Thomas Creevey, The Creevy Papers (1904) "[The struggle] had succumbed to a sudden inspiration that the primal need of humanity not yet met either by gonculating nor trummeling was the ability to flummer." (2005) - anon.
the worthless word for the day is: farfetch [back-formation from farfetched] tv : to derive (a word) in a farfetched manner iv : to make farfetched derivations "Poetry more and more tends to farfetch its word- meanings, and this results once again in mob-meanings, which arouse only a mob-reaction in the individual." - D. H. Lawrence, Selected Critical Writings (1929) bonus word : farfetchedness, the state or fact of being farfetched "Occasionally, we meet in Miss Barrett's poems a certain far-fetchedness of imagery, which is reprehensible in the extreme. What, for example, are we to think of: Now he hears the angel voices Folding silence in the room?" - Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Barrett [Browning]
the worthless word for the day is: delapsation [?] a spurious word in Webster, copied in subsequent dictionaries De`lap*sa"tion (?), n. See Delapsion [a falling down]. Ray. - Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 DELAPSATION, n. A falling down. - Webster's 1828 Dictionary the citation from Ray: "[The birds] are able to continue longer on the Wing without Delassation." - John Ray, Miscellaneous discourses concerning the dissolution and changes of the world (1692) delassation - [fr. L. delassare, to weary or tire out] obs. rare : fatigue, weariness delapsion - [fr. L. delabi, to slip of fall down] obs. : to fall or slip down, descend delapsation could have been an error for either of these words, or a conflation of the two. this week: spurious words & dictionary errors
the worthless word for the day is: superhumerate [?] to carry on the shoulders a spurious word, error in Richardson's Dict. for subhumerate perhaps influenced by superhumeral, a vestment worn over the shoulders; fig. a burden carried on the shoulders [fr. superhumerale (Latin Vulgate)] "To blessed Silvester and all his successors we give especially the Lateran palace of our empire, then the diadem, that is the crown of our head, and the miter, and the superhumeral, that is the band which customarily goes round the imperial neck,..." - William of Ockham, A Short Discourse on Tyrannical Government (tr. from Latin)
the worthless word for the day is: razbliuto [Russian(?)] a feeling a person has for someone he or she once loved but no longer feels the same way about - Christopher Moore, In Other Words (2004) We can't blame Webster for this one, as it seems to stem from a fascination with "untranslatable" foreign words. "In a more bittersweet mood, the Russian offers razbliuto, ros-blee-OO-toe, 'a feeling a person has for someone he or she once loved but no longer feels the same way about.'" - William Safire, The New York Times 4/17/2005 the feeling a person has for someone he or she once loved but now does not - Howard Rheingold, They Have a Word for It (1988) "The origin is not as important as the basic fact that (listen up, now) there is no such Russian word." - Languagehat April 17, 2005 Languagehat goes on to point out a source which relates: the "word" originated in the '60s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.! A commenter there speculates that the word intended was [Cyrillic characters deleted] (razlyubleno 'fallen out of love') but there was a typo in the script. ""Stop it," she said. "There's no need for any of this. Just go." And then, softly, she spoke a single word, a word that hung like a question mark between them: "Razbliuto." Only that: razbliuto." - Will Ferguson, Happiness: A Novel (2002)
the worthless word for the day is: throstling [?] A disease of bovine cattle, consisting of a swelling under the throat, which, unless checked, causes strangulation. - Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 (orig. in 1828 Webster; but not known to Vet. Surgery) prob. in origin a misprint or other error for throttling "He passed several playa lakes crowded with thousands of ducks and geese struggling in the white-capped waves, and these bodies of water seemed incongruous under the throstling brown wind." - Annie Proulx, That Old Ace in the Hole
the worthless word for the day is: weasy [?] Given to sensual indulgence; gluttonous. - Webster's Revised Unabridged, 1913 this word has spread all over the web, as the 1913 Webster's is in the public domain; but it's a spurious word, in dictionaries based on a misreading of 'wealy' in Joye's The exposicion of Daniel the prophete; hence weasiness (wealines[s]) from the same source "The peple of Israell as oft as thei wexed wealy and fatte as saith the song of Moses."
the worthless word for the day is: pauciloquy [fr. L. pauciloquium, the fact of saying little] archaic brevity in speech hence, pauciloquent | that uses few words in speech; laconic "I felt abashed at his pauciloquy; he had not yet told me how I could meet Father's friend." - P. Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi "The trilingual but pauciloquent 'word score' [of an opera]." - The Times, 5 Mar. 1973
the worthless word for the day is: babliaminy nonce-word a babbler "Out, you babliaminy, you unfeathered, cremitoried quean, you cullisance of scabiosity!" - Thomas Middleton, A Trick to Catch the Old One (1608) bonus word: bablatrice - a female babbler (yet another nonce-word)
the worthless word for the day is: hecatomb [fr. L. hecatombe > Gk hekatombe] /HEK uh tome/ (or -tum) 1) an ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice consisting typically of 100 oxen or cattle transf. and fig. 2) the sacrifice or slaughter of many victims 3) a large number or quantity A whole hecatomb in Chrysa bled. - Homer, The Iliad (trans. by Cowper) (1791) "We may use an analogy to symbolize the inefficiency of natural selection by hecatomb." - Steven Jay Gould, Eight Little Piggies (1993) "That the Mumias hecatomb is a horrible stain on the whole nation's character is obvious." - Daily Nation (Kenya) Dec. 20, 2005 ...regard this Earth Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise, And toil, and hecatombs of broken hearts, With fear and self-contempt and barren hope; Whilst me, who am thy foe, eyeless in hate, Hast thou made reign and triumph, to thy scorn, O'er mine own misery and thy vain revenge. - Percy Shelley, Prometheus Unbound (1821)
the worthless word for the day is: apostrophize [fr. Gk apostrophein, to turn away] /uh PAS truh fize/ 1) (trans.) to address an absent person or a usually personified thing rhetorically; i.e. to address by apostrophe <Carlyle's "O Liberty, what things are done in thy name!" is an example of apostrophe> 2) (intrans.) to make use of an apostrophe (') "Ah! poultry, poultry! You little thought," said Mr. Pumblechook, apostrophizing the fowl in the dish, "when you was a young fledgling, what was in store for you." - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations "Obscure noblemen, forgotten builders--thus he apostrophized them with a warmth that entirely gainsaid such critics as called him cold, indifferent, slothful..--thus he apostrophized his house and race in terms of the most moving eloquence; but when it came to the peroration--and what is eloquence that lacks a peroration?-—he fumbled." - Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography
the worthless word for the day is: circumjacent [fr. L. circumjacere, to lie around] /sir kum JAY sent/ adjacent on all sides: surrounding "The civilian passed on in the middle of the road, and when he had penetrated the circumjacent Confederacy a few yards resumed his whistling and was soon out of sight beyond an angle in the road, which at that point entered a thin forest." - Ambrose Bierce, The Story of a Conscience "..the circumjacent region of sitting-room was of a comparatively pastureless and shifty character: imposing on the waiter the wandering habits of putting the covers on the floor (where he fell over them), the melted butter in the armchair, the bread on the bookshelves, the cheese in the coalscuttle, and the boiled fowl into my bed in the next room - where I found much of its parsley and butter in a state of congelation when I retired for the night." - Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
the worthless word for the day is: gridironic [fr. gridiron, after ironic] adj. related to the game of (American) football "Emily really did wear football shoulder pads under a green Philadelphia Eagles jersey, and her tight white pants, although convincingly gridironic, were in fact a pair of her favorite casual slacks." - Arthur Phillips, Prague (2002) not only does Phillips adjectivize the word gridiron, but he adds a touch of irony as well; good stuff. actually, gridironic does score a few Google hits (ghits?), a couple of them from 1998; e.g., "He lost by an extra point. In a gridironic finish, Hale Irwin, the former star of the Colorado secondary, came in second at the Bruno's Memorial Classic to a guy with the physique of a kicker. Irwin finished within a whisker of becoming the first Senior tour player to win three straight tournaments since Lee Trevino in 1992." - Sports Illustrated Golf Plus May 11, 1998
the worthless word for the day is: fratultery [fr. L. frater, brother; after adultery] nonce-word an affair between a man and his brother's girlfriend or fiancé "John Price.. lay on his folded bed's covers, unable to file the events of the day, the head injury and fratultery. His brother deserved nothing better." - Arthur Phillips, Prague (2002) "These big ideas are conveyed in prose that is studied, even mannered; nonetheless, "Prague" often manages to be very funny... And it's filled with the kind of gleeful neologisms-"fratultery," for a man's affair with his brother's girlfriend-that you'd expect of a five-time "Jeopardy!" champion, which Phillips is." - Daniel Mendelsohn, The New Yorker 07/08/2002
the worthless word for the day is: fourberie [F. > fourbe : a cheat, imposter] /FUR buh ree/ obs. trickery, deception "On ne trompe point en bien; la fourberie ajoute la malice au mensonge." [We never deceive for a good purpose; knavery adds malice to falsehood.] - Jean de la Bruyere, Les Caracteres (1688) "This, sir, I think is a very pretty Pantomime trick, and an ingenious burlesque on all the fourberies which the great Lun has exhibited in all his entertainments." - Henry Fielding, The historical register for the year 1736 (1737) fraud: artifice, bamboozlement, bamboozling, blackmail, cheat, chicane, chicanery, con, craft, deceit, double-dealing, dupery, duping, duplicity, extortion, fake, fast one, fast shuffle, flimflam, fourberie, fraudulence, graft, guile, hanky-panky, hoax, hocus-pocus, hoodwinking, hustle, imposture, line, misrepresentation, racket, scam, sell, shakedown, sham, sharp practice, skunk, smoke, song, spuriousness, sting, string, swindle, swindling, treachery, trickery, vanilla - Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus (2006) vanilla?? [thanx and a tip of the wwftd beret to Ray Haupt]
the worthless word for the day is: detritivore [ad. G. Detritivore > L. detritus, rubbing away + -vore] /deh TRID uh vore/ Zool. an organism that feeds on detritus; also, detritivorous : feeding on detritus "Autumn leaf-drop provides a rich seasonal source of organic material to stream-dwelling detritivores in temperate regions. To assess the degree that leaf-drop enhances production of detritivorous insects, this study measured the annual production of two nemourid stoneflies in a small west-coast stream..." - R. W. Griffiths, Department of Zoology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada "Detritivores such as bacteria, earthworms, and many insects aid in breaking down soil." - Encarta® World English Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: echt [G] /ekt/ genuine, authentic, typical as performances these are echt masterpieces "'Are you married?' he asked.., 'I see your ring, but is that camouflage or echt?'" - Nicloas Freeling, Love in Amsterdam (1962) "John Singleton Copley, the Bostonian who painted some of the most exquisite portraits of the 18th century, hightailed it for England, where he remained for the rest of his days. Henry Adams, despite his echt Boston lineage, left town for Washington and Paris." - Sam Allis, The Boston Globe Dec. 25, 2005 (Exit, stage left)
the worthless word for the day is: paperasserie [F] excessive bureaucratic procedure or paperwork; bureaucracy; red tape (see also: bumf) "He wept sweet tears over Maillard, that nice little man who introduced la paperasserie into the September massacres. But as emotional tenderness leads to fury, he becomes all at once furious against the victims." - Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (tr. 1923) "The larger a bureaucracy, the more paperasserie -- the production and dissemination of paper. An inordinate amount of time and effort goes into bureaucratic empire building..." - Walter Laqueur, The Uses and Limits of Intelligence (1985) "Britain's quarantine laws should be tightened. Our bulwark against rabies.. must not be transmuted into the flimsy paperasserie of 'Passports for Pets'." - The Sunday Telegram, 20 Oct. 1996
the worthless word for the day is: jargonaut [fr. jargon + -naut > Gk nautes, sailor; after argonuat; cf. juggernaut] humorous, colloq. someone who uses an excessive amount of jargon "Mr. Williams sketches them with what, in the current idiom of the jargonauts, is called an expert, lucid meaningfulness." - The New York Times July 9, 1963 "'Mode' could now use a rest. 'Slipping into a failure mode' is an admiral's jargon for 'failing.' Whenever a scientific term is embraced by jargonauts, the parameters are stretched beyond recognition. Let us return 'mode' to fashion, and to the large dollop of ice cream that lands squarely on top of the pie." - William Safire, "On Language," The N. Y. Times December 28, 1980 "I'd also worry that Americans in general and aerospace types in particular are jargonauts and acronymphomaniacs. An international partner could, for example, easily confuse PMC with PMS." - Discover Feb. 24, 1992
the worthless word for the day is: illeism [fr. L. ille : he, that one, that + Eng. -ism] /IL e ism/ orig. a nonce word of Coleridge, until jerked into current usage in referring to pop icons, such as certain sports figures, who became illeists; e.g., Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson excessive use of third person pronoun, esp. in reference to oneself; by extension, referring to oneself by name; hence illeist, one who does this "For one piece of egotism.. there are fifty that steal out in the mask of tuisms and ille-isms." - Samuel Coleridge, The Friend (1809-10) "Bo doesn't like that." - Bo Jackson (somewhen in the 80s) "In the published novel, Grimes relation with Clutterbuck emerges from a series of coyly teasing hints, and his dull admission 'I've never really been attracted to women' becomes the splendid illeism '"Women are an enigma," said Grimes, "as far as Grimes is concerned"' - a formula Waugh would often use again when lost or despairing souls among his characters reflect on themselves." (1998) - Douglas L. Patey, The Life or Evelyn Waugh
the worthless word for the day is: crassitude [ad. L. crassitudo, f. crassus, crass] /KRAS uh t(y)ud/ 1) obs. thickness (as of a solid body) 2) the quality or state of being crass: grossness; excessive dullness of intellect, obtuseness; also, an instance of this "But in this computation we have made no allowance for the crassitude of the solid particles of the air, by which the sound is propagated instantaneously." - Isaac Newton, Principia, Vol I "Amy, not being afflicted with crassitude, soon did her work admirably." - Mortimer Collins, Marquis and merchant (1871) "Furthermore, for the deputy commissioner to accept such a proposition is an example of crassitude and criminal neglect." - Benjamin Ricci, Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective (2004)
the worthless word for the day is: sophrosyne [Gk fr. sophron : of sound mind, prudent] /sau FRAS en ee/ moderation; prudence, self-control "Translating the idea into English, however, has always posed a difficulty, since we don't have one word that summarises his ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind combined in one well-balanced individual. [Plato] defined it as "the agreement of the passions that Reason should rule". - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words I am that star most dreaded by the wise, For they are drawn against their will to me, Yet read in my procession through the skies The doom of orthodox sophrosyne. - W. H. Auden, For the time being (1944) "Even when his ideas were crazy, the man had sophrosyne, as they used to call it in the old days." - John Gardner, The Wreckage of Agathon (1970) "Not the philosophers - who often had their heads in places bereft of sun - but the ancient Greek poets understood two things: arete and sophrosyne. The first is all-around excellence in a man who first must become sophron. That meant he must understand the fundamental mysteries, the unfathomable love of woman, the sometime bravery of man, human mortality and man's relationship with God and live with these among the accepted modalities." - T. R. Fehrenbach, San Antonio Express-News, 01/01/2006 ---all things in moderation, for the new year
the worthless word for the day is: manso
[Sp., prob. < Vulgar Latin mansus, tame] n. a meek, tame, or cowardly person or animal, esp. a tame or timid bull adj. of a bull: tame, timid, lacking in aggression "'Yes sir, war drums,' said Gomez, the half-breed. 'Wild Indians, bravos, not mansos; they watch us every mile of the way; kill us if they can.'" - Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World (1912) "Manso, tame, mild and unwarlike; a bull which does not have the fighting blood is manso, as are also the steers called cabestros when they are trained." - E. Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (1932)
the worthless word for the day is: murmuration [fr. L. murmuratio : muttering, grumbling] 1a) now chiefly literary : the act of murmuring; the uttering of low continuous sounds or complaining noises b) Sc. obs. : rumoring; the action of spreading rumors 2) of starlings: a flock There in the ring where name and image meet, Inspire them with such a longing as will make his thought Alive like patterns a murmuration of starlings Rising in joy over wolds unwittingly weave.. - W. H. Auden, Perhaps (in New Statesman, 16 July 1932) "Like the murmuration of a flock of warblers, the prattling and giggling of the women.." - John Hersey, Antonietta "It was a warm late-May night, summer having finally caught up with baseball, and the smallish crowd, having nothing much to cheer about, fell into a soft, languid murmuration." - Roger Angell, Five Seasons
the worthless word for the day is: peregrinity [f. L. peregrinitas, foreignness, outlandishness, condition of being a foreigner or alien] now rare (considered to be a foreign word by Johnson) foreignness in style, fashion, dialect, etc.; strangeness, outlandishness "He [sc. Johnson] said to me as we travelled, 'these people, Sir,.. may have somewhat of a peregrinity in their dialect, which relation has augmented to a different language.' I asked him if peregrinity was an English word: he laughed, and said, 'No.' I told him this was the second time that I had heard him coin a word." - James Boswell, Journal of a tour to the Hebrides (1773) (Boswell notes that Johnson had earlier made up the word depeditation [after decapitation], for amputation of a foot; but OED has a couple of earlier, 16th century citations for peregrinitie.)
the worthless word for the day is: megalophonous [f. Gk megalophonos, loud-voiced] rare of imposing sound; clamourous
"The result of my perlustration and perscontation of this isoperimetrical protuberance is a belief [th]at it is one of those rare and wonderful creation[s] left by the Mound Builders. The fact that this one is lamellibranchiate in its formation, simply adds to its interest as being possibly of a different kind from any we read of in the records of science, but yet in no manner marring its authenticity. Let the megalophonous grasshopper sound a blast and summon hither the perfunctory and circumforaneous Tumble-Bug, to the end that excavations may be made and learning gather new treasures." - 'Mark Twain', Sketches New and Old
---even the old masters..

the worthless word for the day is: blunderkin [f. blunder(er) + -kin] obs. rare a blundering fellow, a muddlepate
"I utterly despair of them, or not so much despair of them as count them a pair of poor idiots, being not only but also two brothers, two blockheads, two blunderkins, having their brains stuffed with nought but balderdash, but that they are the very botts & the glanders to the gentle readers, the dead palsy and apoplexy of the press, the serpigo and the sciatica of the 7 liberal sciences, the surfeiting vomit of Lady Vanity, the sworn bawds to one another's vainglory, &, to conclude, the most contemptible Monsieur Ajaxes of excremental conceits and stinking kennel-raked-up invention that this or any age ever afforded" - Tho. Nashe, Have With You To Saffron Walden (1596)
--- rarities from Thomas Nashe

the worthless word for the day is: baggagery [f. a now obs. sense of baggage: rubbish, refuse cf. savagery (in spite of having only the quote from Nashe, the OED normalized the spelling)] obs. rare worthless rabble; the offscourings of society "Men of the best sorte (an vnfit match for these of the basest baggagerie)." - Tho. Nashe, Martin's Months Mind (1589)
the worthless word for the day is: collachrymate [fr. L. collacrimare, to weep together] obs. rare to weep together with, or in sympathy with; to commiserate; hence, collachrymation : a weeping together "A tormentor.. would collachrymate my case, and rather choose to have been tortured himself than torment me with ingratitude as thou dost." - Tho. Nashe, Christ's Tears Over Jerusalem (1593) "You shall not need to think that the collachrymation of the Romans and their confederates at the decease of Germanicus Drusus was comparable to this lamentation..?" - François Rebelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart (1693))
the worthless word for the day is: bodgery [fr. bodger < bodge, var. of botch] rare (pre-web, that is) botched work, bungling "Do you know your own misbegotten bodgery, [divine] entelechy and [melodiously] addulce? With these two hermaphrodite phrases, being half Latin and half English, hast thou pulled out the very guts of the ink-horn." - Tho. Nashe, gentleman : Strange News (1592) "I do not grudge at the proud men who pay their court, if they act with violence in the mischievous bodgery of their minds: they stake their own heads when they devour the house of Odysseus with violence, and think he will never come back." - Homer, The Odyssey (trans. by W.H.D. Rouse)
the worthless word for the day is: oblivionize [f. L. oblivion-, forgetfulness + -ize] now rare to consign to oblivion (cf. obviousize <wink>) {warning: firefox can't resolve this link} "Let thy deepe entring Dart obliuionize their memories." - Thomas Nashe, Christ's teares over Jerusalem (1593) "I annihilate museums. I demolish libraries. I oblivionize skyscrapers." - Harry Crosby, Assassin (1929) "The remorse which set in.. his own cargo of humiliation.. all swiftly oblivionized by another rush of drink." - Desmond Hogan, A New Shirt (1986)
the worthless word for the day is: sparrow-blasting [f. sparrow, with jocular or contemptuous force] obs. being blasted or blighted by some mysterious power, skeptically regarded as unimportant or non-existent "No more praying against thunder and lightning, than against sparrowe blasting." - Thomas Nashe, Martin's Months Mind (1589) "After Shakespeare, playwright Thomas Nashe (who?) contributed more words (nearly 800) to the English language than any other writer... "Sparrow-blasting" was intended to mean "being blighted with a mysterious power of whose existence one is skeptical," this could someday come in handy." - David Crystal, The Stories of English
the worthless word for the day is: glisk [origin unknown] chiefly Scots 1) a glimpse 2) a gleam or glimmer 3) a brief moment: instant "...for I chanced to obtain a glisk of his visage, as his fause-face slipped aside - that he was a man of other features and complexion..." - Walter Scott, Rob Roy (1817) "At which he desisted; and in the midst of the disgust that commonly overflowed my spirits I had a glisk of pleasure. But I have not patience to dwell upon that time at length." - R. L. Stevenson, Catriona (1893, the sequel to Kidnapped) "Whiteford speaks English with only a rare glisk and sough from the old regional variation.. called Scots. This is the way it has been from the pulpit since the early seventeenth century, when James I ordered the Kirk to conduct services in standard English." - Emily Hiestand, The Very Rich Hours: Travels in Orkney, Belize, the Everglades, and Greece (1993) --- existential words (or not)
the worthless word for the day is: antemundane [fr. ante- + mundus, world; after mundane < L. mundanus, belonging to the world] existing or occurring before the creation of the world "That the kind of fear here treated of is purely spiritual -- that it is strong in proportion as it is objectless upon earth -- that it predominates in the period of sinless infancy -- are difficulties, the solution of which might afford some probable insight into our ante-mundane condition, and a peep at least into the shadow-land of pre-existence." - Charles Lamb, Witches and Other Night-Fears (1823) "The goal of the world-development is deliverance from the misery of existence, the peace of non-existence, the return from the will and representation, become spatial and temporal, to the original, harmonious equilibrium of the two functions, which has been disturbed by the origin of the world or to the antemundane identity of the absolute." - Richard Falckenberg & Charles F Drake, History of Modern Philosophy from Nicolas of Cusa to the Present Time (1893)
the worthless word for the day is: nullibiquitous [fr. L. nullibi, nowhere + -biquitous, cf. ubiquitous] rare. existing nowhere "When clients ask me for a locution I suspect is nullibiquitous (not in existence anywhere) I hate to let them down, so I make something up." - Charles Harrington Elster, NY Times Magazine Aug. 29, 1999 although rare, this word is not nullibiquitous.. - anon.
the worthless word for the day is: geomancy [ad. L. geomantia, a. late Gk geomanteia] divination by means of signs derived from the earth; hence, usually, divination by means of lines or figures formed by a series of random dots "Certain colleges in old times, where judicial astrology, geomancy, necromancy, and other forbidden and magical sciences were taught." - Washington Irving, The Sketch Book.. "Modern geomancy is a theory about sacred places (such as Stonehenge) considered to be power centers and the lines of energy believed to connect such places..." - S. Rabinovitch, J. Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism and finally, a flashback, bonus wwftd: ostent : a sign, portent, wonder, prodigy Thus expounds the Augure this ostent, Whose depth he knowes and these should feare. - Chapman's Homer, The Iliad Use all the observance of civility Like one well studied in a sad ostent To Please his grandam, never trust me more. - W. Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice --- signs and portents
the worthless word for the day is: gerontic [fr. Gk geront-, old man + -ic] of or relating to decadence or old age <gerontic nursing> "These gerontic leaders are good for nothing," one of my deputies stated. "They are cowards. They should have responded to the American challenge at least the same way." - Victor Israelyan, Inside the Kremlin During the Yom Kippur War: A Soviet Ambassador's Confession Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign": The word within a word, unable to speak a word, Swaddled with darkness. - from Gerontion, by T. S. Eliot
the worthless word for the day is: bewray [fr. ME bewreien, fr. be- + wreyen: to accuse, inform on, from OE wregan; ultimately fr. Gothic wrohjan: to accuse] archaic 1) to make known : divulge, disclose; esp. to reveal (as a secret) to one's disadvantage often unintentionally 2) to reveal the true character of from one of yesterday's quotes: yet did the king often bewray of him an unquiet conceit Silence in love bewrays more woe Than words, though ne'er so witty: A beggar that is dumb, you know, May challenge double pity. - Sir Walter Raleigh, The Silent Lover
the worthless word for the day is: ominate [fr. L ominari, to prognosticate; cf. omen] archaic trans. 1) to prophesy from signs and omens: augur 2) to be a portent or omen of obs. intrans. 1) to utter prophecies or forebodings 2) to serve as a prophecy "...yet did the king often bewray of him an unquiet conceit, often did he ominate evil upon him." - The Harleian Miscellany: Or, A Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts... found in the late Earl of Oxford's Library (ca. 1744) "I had no vultures to omenate wars and conquests." - John Galt, Annals of the Parish (1827) "Ominate more favourably, I beg of you," cried Brutus.--"As favourably as you please," said I, "and that not so much upon my own account, as your's." - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Cicero's Brutus Or History of Famous Orators --- you want themes? I give you signs and portents of things to come...
the worthless word for the day is: gaberlunzie [origin unknown] /gab er LUN zie/ Sc. a strolling beggar, peddler or tinker "Crowds of sturdy beggars and gaberlunzies in the highest degree picturesque, assail him." - Blackwood's Magazine, Apr. 1880 "The gaberlunzie is a fascinating Scottish folk character, the beggar who asks a farmer for a night's lodging only to disappear by the next morning, taking the farmer's daughter with him." - Yiannis Gabriel; Myths, Stories, and Organizations
the worthless word for the day is: mudsill 1) the lowest sill of a structure, usually suspended in soil or mud 2) a person of the lowest stratum of society "We push below this mudsill the derelicts and half-men, whom we hate and despise, and seek to build above it - Democracy!" - W.E.B. DuBois, Darkwater "This mudsill theme was becoming increasingly visible in southern propaganda." - James M McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom "A mudsill like me trying to push in and help receive an awful grandee like Edward J. Billings? Why, I should have been laughed at for a billion miles around. I shouldn't ever heard the last of it." - Mark Twain, Tales of Wonder
the worthless word for the day is: graunch [imitative, compare crunch] UK dial. (also graunching, graunchy) to make a crunching or grinding sound "Many people 'graunch' their gears." - The Observer, 11 Oct. 1964 "'I'm getting the knack of this,' said Jack, gronching the gears and clinging to the steering wheel. 'These things take time.'" - Robert Rankin, the hollow chocolate bunnies.. "The graunching of the departing carriage wheels made me feel disconsolate." - Patrick Henden, Miriam
the worthless word for the day is: suffonsified [perhaps a blend of sufficiency and fancified] (also sophonsified, suffancified, suronsified, etc.) used in phrases to politely refuse more food at a meal: full "The most common line seems to be, "My sufficiency has been suffonsified and any more would be superfluous." - Warren Clements, The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Nov. 27, 2002 "After we've finished our hamburgers and fries she turns to the boys and says brightly, "Are you sufficiently sophonsified?" and they gape at her. They are not the kind of boys who would have napkin rings." - Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye Quinion's take
the worthless word for the day is: chronophagic [Fr. chronophage < Gk chronos, time + phagos, devouring] time-eating ""Time becomes a rare commodity in comparison with material things" (Dupuy). Its value increases with the standard of living--which accounts for the search for ways to take time away from chronophagic.. activities." - Joël de Rosnay, Time and Evolution, translated by Robert Edwards
the worthless word for the day is: gormster [related to gormless < gorm, gaum, gome : understanding] someone of little sense or discernment, a fool "'Dafter thaan a box of hair,' said the farmer. That you are a gormster and a dullard, with a most inferior cap, who understands little of the world and will surely come to grief in a time not too far distant.'" - Robert Rankin, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
the worthless word for the day is: deponticate [fr. L. de-, down from + pons, bridge + -ate] nonce word : to hurl from a bridge hence, depontication : the act thereof We will defenestrate and deponticate. - Dave Aronson, alt.music.filk (1992) "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) notes: Johannes was hurled into the Moldau from a bridge in Prague. Tarpeian - Denoting a rock-face on the Capitoline Hill at Rome over which persons convicted of treason to the state were thrown headlong
the worthless word for the day is: decretive [fr. L. decernere, to decree + -ive] /dih KREE tiv/ having the force of a decree: decretory <decretive will> anon: Can you explain in one paragraph or less how to make sense of the distinction you make between.. decretive and preceptive.. will? J. Bonomo: Right. The quick and dirty approach to untangling the mysteries of the universe. (not to be confused with serving to decorate; just try googling this word!)
the worthless word for the day is: diffidation [fr. L. diffidare, to renounce one's vassalage, renounce friendship] /dif uh DAY shun/ archaic, historical : a renunciation of faith or allegiance; formal severing of peaceful relations "The right of avenging injuries by arms, and the ceremony of diffidation, or solemn defiance of an enemy, are preserved by the laws." - Henry Hallam, The History of Spain... Fourteenth Century England moved away from the "feudal habit of amendment or redress by royal prerogative under threat of diffidation." - J. Jolliffe, The Constitutional History of Medieval England note: many of the hits that turn up for this word seem to have been generated by ESL learners -- one is left to wonder what the source for this is...
the drasty word for the day is: drasty [fr. drast, obs. : dregs, lees] obs. dreggy; fig. vile, worthless, rubbishy [OED notes that "In several places the s has been misread or misprinted as f, which was perhaps actually the source of drafty."] Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord! Thou doost noght elles but despendest tyme. - Chaucer, Tale of Sir Thopas (1386) all twenty-four must have lugged those preassembled bodies here sans Santa, sleigh, and eight little reindeer, to my drasty stretch of shore. - Mike Chasar, Conches on Christmas (2005) "I intend to inform the OED that the word drasty has been revived and brought into gen-u-wine contemporary use in a 2005 poem, and I want to see it in the next edition with the Chasar citation." - languagehat
the worthless word for the day is: spermologer [f. Gk spermologos, gathering seeds; also fig. picking up news, gossiping] obs. a gatherer of seeds; in quot. fig., gossipping (a collector of trivia, according to Trivial Pursuit™) "Whereas there are some Few among the Few, such Spermologers, that unless a grain of Faith fall down, by the by, from Heaven, your seed is Barren." - Andrew Marvell, Mr. Smirke, or the divine in mode.. spermologos, in Acts 17:18, is usually translated as babbler [RSV]; but elsewhere is rendered as the more pointed scandalmonger. jheem informs me that LSJ* gives three meanings for spermologos: 1. picking up seeds (of birds); 2. picking up scraps, gossiping; 3. one who picks up and retails scraps of knowledge, an idle babbler, gossip. Literally, in Greek: gathering seeds. * Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon
the worthless word for the day is: bonfire night [bonfire, fr. bone + fire = fire of bones, + night] UK, usu. capitalized : a night on which bonfires are lit in celebration; spec. = Guy Fawkes night, November 5th Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason why gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot. "We opened the Club on Bonfire Night, November 5th." - Nicholas Smith, Fifty-two Years at the Labrador Fishery (1936) "Now, the religious tensions that sparked the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605 are long gone, and November 5 has become an occasion to gather with family and friends and enjoy the sights and sounds of Bonfire Night. A number of events will mark the quadcentenary of the plot." - Buckingham Today, UK 3 Nov. 2005 "As always, what actually happened is not the same as what later generations imagine. History is not the past; it is the story we tell ourselves about the past. And Guy Fawkes, as the seven contributors to Gunpowder Plots: a celebration of 400 years of bonfire night demonstrate, has proved explosive material for myth-makers." - New Statesman, UK 3 Nov. 2005 "Scots firefighters are to be given police escorts on Bonfire Night to prevent attacks on crews." - Craig Brown, The Scotsman Fri 4 Nov 2005 note: the word guy, informal for a man, stems from Guy Fawkes; this usage originated in the US -- meanwhile, in Britain, it came to mean a person of grotesque appearance or dress "I wouldn't speak to you in the street for fear of disgracing you; I am such a poor little guy to be addressing a gentleman like you." - Charles Reade, Hard Cash (1863)
the worthless word for the day is: alembicate [fr. alembic < Gk ambix spouted cup, cap of a still + -ate] to distill as if by passing through an alembic: refine to an essence; by extension, to over-refine hence, alembication : distillation; overrefinement, precosity "[...St. Aldhelm] visited Rome in 687 and 701, and wrote poems on virginity in over-alembicated verse, widely popular." - John Bowle, The English Experience (1972) "What kills me is the frame of mind of one of the characters; I cannot get it through. Of course that does not interfere with my total inability to write; so that yesterday I was a living half-hour upon a single clause and have a gallery of variants that would surprise you. And this sort of trouble (which I cannot avoid) unfortunately produces nothing when done but alembication and the far-fetched. Well, read it with mercy!" - Robert Lewis Stevenson, Vailima Letters (1890)
the worthless word for the day is: glossator [fr. L. glossare to gloss] 1) one that makes textual glosses; a commentator; spec. one of the mediæval commentators on the texts of Civil and Canon Law 2) a compiler of a glossary hence, glossatorial : of the nature of glosses "..we must therefore conclude that the glossator has misinterpreted the Old English, not that we have here a previously unrecorded use of gelflogen." - William Schipper, Mediæval English Studies Newsletter, Dec. 1985 "The Brussels vocabulary is thus to be seen as part of a huge glossatorial effort carried out by a group of anonymous eleventh-century scholars whose work is spread across several manuscripts." - David W. Porter, (paper) for those that wonder about relative merits, here is the Wikipedia gloss of glossator and the Enc. Britannica gloss of legal glossator
the worthless word for the day is: strappado [ad. F. strapade, estrapade, ad. It. strappata, fr. strappare, to drag] obs. exc. hist. a form of punishment or of torture to extort confession in which the victim's hands were tied behind his back and secured to a pulley, he was then hoisted from the ground and dropped partway to back with a jerk; also an application of this punishment or torture; also the device so used Falstaff: What, upon compulsion? Zounds, and I were at the strappado or all the racks in the world, I would not tell you upon compulsion. Give you a reason on compulsion? If reasons were as plentiful as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I. - W. Shakespeare, King Kenry IV, Part I [We found strappado used in some recent agitprop.]
the worthless word for the day is: vivarium [L, enclosure for live game, warren, fish-pond] 1) an enclosure or structure where living animals are maintained for food, esp. fish; a fish tank or pond 2) an enclosure where animals can be studied in natural conditions, either as objects of interest or for scientific purposes; often an aquarium, or a terrarium "The dry hollow.. in former days served the monks as a vivarium, or fish-pool." - D. Beveridge, Between the Ochils & the Forth (1888) "On Saturday, October 8, 500 shimmering tropical butterflies flutter into the [American Museum of Natural History] for their eighth annual visit. Traipse through the tropics all winter in their warm and lush habitat, with abundant vegetation and flowering plants, that offers visitors a respite from the cold. Interact with the butterflies in the vivarium, view illustrated displays on the butterfly life cycle and evolution, and learn about conservation efforts." - Monsters and Critics.com, UK - Oct 5, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: morganatic [from NL matrimonium ad morganaticam, literally, marriage with morning gift (or, that's all she got)] of, relating to, or being a marriage between a member of a royal or noble family and a person of inferior rank in which the rank of the inferior partner remains unchanged and their children have no claim to royal possessions or title "Leaders of the YAF arrived in San Francisco in the high spirit of loyalists, triumphing over morganatic contenders with impious bloodlines." - William F. Buckley, Getting It Right "Through the bodies of women men conduct what tortured dealings they can with the universe, producing serial murder and morganatic marriages and a Morgan Library's worth of love letters." - John Updike, Toward the End of Time
the worthless word for the day is: slubber [prob. from obsolete Dutch slubberen] 1) dialect chiefly English : stain, sully 2) to perform in a slipshod fashion, do carelessly (cf. slubberdegullion) "Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio.." - W. Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice "You must therefore be content to slubber the gloss of your new fortunes with this more stubborn and boisterous expedition." - W.S., Othello "..the parking lot had been empty when he arrived, and except for a chubby, amoebic-looking family who slubbered in and out of a van.. nobody but he had stayed for more than two nights." - Jon Fasman, The Geographer's Library
the worthless word for the day is: vorticity [fr. L. vortic-, vortex + -ity] the state of a fluid in vortical motion vortical : of, like or pertaining to a vortex: swirling therefore, vorticity is the twirlness of a fluid - C. Tollefsen "So we have this vorticity maxima moving through a mid-level trough which is using some Lake Erie enhancement to bring us precipitation." - Betsy Kling, WKYC-TV, OH Oct 23, 2005 [thanx and a tip of the wwftd hat to Cris!]
the worthless word for the day is: enantiomorph [fr. Gk enantios, opposite + -morph, form] /eh NAN tee uh morf/ a form which is related to another as an object is related to its image in a mirror; a mirror image also adj. enantiomorphic, enantiomorphous : of or relating to, or exhibiting properties of an enantiomorph; hence enantiomorphism, enantiomorphy : the condition or property of being enantiomorphous, esp. in Crystallography "The melting point attributed by your correspondent to the D form [of thalidomide] referred to a compound used in the synthesis of this enantiomorph." - New Scientist, 5 Aug. 1965 "Keyboard work creates a class of unwanted things -- one letter typos, failures of phrasing, bad punctuation. If you don't want to delete these entirely, you can use the Return key to push them to the of the screen. What gathers.. is a concentrated, enantiomorphic residue; a backward parody of each session's prose-in-progess." - Nicholson Baker, The Size of Thoughts (not to be confused with enantiodromic!)
the worthless word for the day is: ecphorize [fr. Gk ekphoros, (to be) made known] /EK fur ize/ (also ecphore) Psychol. to evoke or revive an engram (an emotion, a memory, or the like) by means of a stimulus
"The verb "ecphorize" occupies an honored place in the mythology of San Francisco Mensa. A truly obscure term, it had been lovingly dredged from the depths of the Oxford English Dictionary and inserted in the local by-laws, where the nominations committee was instructed to "ecphorize candidacy." When the by-laws went to National Mensa for approval, they accused San Francisco Mensa of deliberate obfuscation. The local group stuck to its guns, and the battle raged for years."   - George Towner,  ecphorizer.com  August, 2000
(not to be confused with ecphonesis!)

in yesterday's citation we inexplicably typoed the 
wwftd as 'ecphoresis'; were this an actual word, it 
would mean something such as the evocation of an 
engram from a latent to a manifest state',-- which is, 
more or less, the definition of ecphory (or ecphoria).

the worthless word for the day is: ecphonesis [Greek ekphonesis, from ekphonein, to cry out] /ek feh NEE sis/ Rhet. an emotional exclamation e.g., "O tempora! O mores!" - Cicero "..instead of semi-colons, [Beckett] spliced the phrases of Malone Dies and Molloy together with one-size-fits-all commas.. to achieve that dejected sort of murmured ecphonesis so characteristic of his narrative voice--all part of the general urge, perhaps, that led him to ditch English in favor of French." - Nicholson Baker, The Size of Thoughts
the worthless word for the day is: synoptic [ad. Gk. synoptikos] /suh NOP tik/ (also synoptical) 1) affording a general view of some subject; spec. depicting weather conditions over a broad area <synoptic study of polar air masses> 2) chacterized by a comprehensive mental view of something <synoptic genius of Einstein> 3) giving an account of events from a common viewpoint <the synoptic Gospels> "How is it that whole cultures and civilizations can change their "minds" in ways that seem so susceptible to synoptic explanation?" - Nicholson Baker, The Size of Thoughts
the worthless word for the day is: gadarene [from the demon-possessed Gadarene swine that rushed into the sea (Matthew 8:28)] often capitalized headlong, precipitate <a gadarene rush to the cities> "Australia's Gadarene slide into entrenched human rights abuse, war criminality and "democratic tyranny" can be halted by resolute, bipartisan insistence on rational risk assessment and the uncompromised retention of our civil rights." - Gideon Polya, Media Monitors Network, Sept 18 2005 [a gadarene tip of the hat to Anu Garg, at AWAD]
the worthless word for the day is: panglossian [after Pangloss, the absurd, pedantic tutor of (Voltaire's) Candide < pan, all + Gk glossa, tongue] blindly or naively optimistic "Be the first on your block to immunize yourself against what may turn out to be the most financially reckless president in history with these anti-inflation equities designed to profit from our president's unbelievably foolish Panglossian profligacy." - James J. Cramer, New York Mag. Oct. 10, 2005 "Less an overview and more a thin veneer making capital flight seem attractive, Friedman's book has all the zip of a hall monitor's oral report. Yet this silly Panglossian screed has stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for much of the year." - Michael Hirsch, www.dissidentvoice.org
the worthless word for the day is: ultramontane [fr. Med. L. ultramontanus, beyond the mountain] adj 1) situated beyond the (Alps) mountains 2) of or relating to ultramontanism : advocating the greatest possible enhancement of papal power and authority [from the fact that the papal seat was located the other side of the Alps from the French] 3) claiming an absolute supremacy or a privileged superiority hence, ultramontanist : a supporter of ultramontanism "I believe you," answered the King, "for your speech smacks of the northern, or Norman-French, such as is spoken in England and other unrefined nations. But you are a minstrel perhaps, from these ultramontane parts." - Walter Scott, Anne of Geierstein (1829) "With respect to the new States, were the question to stand simply in this form: How may the ultramontane territory be disposed of, so as to produce the greatest and most immediate benefit to the inhabitants of the maritime States of the Union?" - Th. Jefferson, Writings (1786) "In the late 1950s and early 1960s, disputes raged between satrapies in the libertarian/anarchist/Randian world. There was only one pope and he was Ayn Rand. Her edicts were dispositive... Where possible, the Randian ultramontanists preferred to have persuasive grounds for trials and convictions." - William F. Buckley, Getting It Right: A Novel
the worthless word for the day is: poecilonym [fr. Gk. pœcilo-, many-colored, variegated, various, a combining form in scientific terms + -nym, name] one of various names for the same thing; a synonym hence, poecilonymic; poecilonymy many "-nym" sites give just the "synonym" definition for this variegated word Q: Does this expression so dominate its niche that there exists no other suitable poecilonym? R: I think P__ may have been reaching for a synonym for synonym; poecilonymy is the use of several names for one thing. - Word Fugitives, The Atlantic Online "An unusually complete combination of poecilonymic ambiguities." - Buck's Handbk. of Med. Sc. (1889) "Terminological variety, such as occurs in the passages quoted, may be expressed by the single word, poecilonymy." - Ibid.
the worthless word for the day is: scurryfunge [jocular used in various senses with little obvious connection] also scurrifunge Brit. dial. a) ? to scrub, scour b) ? to wriggle about "Half a dozen tooth brushes... Two of the brushes abovesaid must be for inside scurryfunging, viz. they must be hooked." - Cowper, Letter to Lady Hesketh (1789) "So he scurryfunged around with his stomach on the ground,.. And he spied ‘a stag of ten’." - Punch, 1 Sept. 1894 (also a Maine colloquialism?) a hasty tidying of the house between the time you see see a neighbor coming and the time she knocks on door - Paul Dickson, Words
the worthless word for the day is: frippish [fr. fripp-ery + -ish < OF frepe, ferpe, feupe rag, old garment < ML faluppa, piece of straw] obs. rare tawdry, gaudy "Let them erect their pompous edifices with all the frippish grandeur of modern architecture." - George Smythe, The generous attachment (a play, 1796) "Samuel Morse was a minor painter, more a portraitist and copyist than creative artist. He did fine with small busts of the rich and famous, and made money catering to their fripperous whims." - Barbara Scott, for Curled up With a Good Book (book review, 2003) [h/t to Fr. Steve, who suggested fripperous, in the same sense]
the worthless word for the day is: chthonophagia [fr. Gk chthon-, earth + -phagia, eating] U.S. Med. an irresistable urge to eat earth "A disease not uncommon [in] the South, accompanied by a strong desire to eat dirt or earthy matter." - Joseph Thomas, A Comprehensive Medical Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: vinous [fr. L vinosus < vinum, wine] /VI nus/ 1) of or relating to wine 2) showing the efects of the use of wine 3) the color of wine "[We] enjoyed a vinous lunch with discursive conversation, in the course of which I expressed admiration for a suspense novel I had just finished.." - W. F. Buckley, The Genesis of Blackford Oakes lecture (1984) "This can be frustrating for vinous train-spotters such as me but it did open my eyes to a category of wines I knew I loved individually but had never realised was a group - chiefly perhaps because they are made in three different countries." - Jancis Robinson, Financial Times September 17 2005 bonus word : the UK term trainspotter has developed a figurative sense, a person who collects trivial information of any sort in the U.S. trainspotters are known as railfans or railbuffs -- although some like to use the term Ferroequinology (the study of the Iron Horse)
the worthless word for the day is: caducous [fr. L caducus < cadere, to fall] /kuh DYU kus/ 1) falling off easily or before the usual time 2) law subject to caducity: lapsed "So is it with this calamity: it does not touch me; something which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me nor enlarged without enriching me, falls off from me and leaves no scar. It was caducous." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience (from Essays 2) "(The) Caducous schwa in Ulster Irish." - Cathair Ó Dochartaigh (paper)
the worthless word for the day is: omnilegent [fr. omni- + L legere, to read] /om nilujunt/ reading or having read everything; having encyclopedic curiosity and knowledge no historians have been more omnilegent, more careful of the document -- George Saintsbury "We satisfy our craving for the emotions of intense study at second hand, by consuming gee-whiz stories about the omnilegent and omnilingual." - N. Baker, The Size of Thoughts (Lumber)
the worthless word for the day is: perspicuous [fr. L perspicere, to see through] /pur SPI kyu wus/ simple and elegant as well as clear not to be confused with perspicacious : of acute mental vision or discernment [also fr. L perspicere] "The author, true to his academic domain, cites Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ezra Pound, uses "perspicuous" and "procrustean" in a single sentence and argues his case with sober, Ivy League rigor." - Steven Winn, S.F. Chronicle Sept. 15, 2005 (reviewing On Bull, by Harry G. Frankfurt) "By 1945, fascism and nazism had suffered the most perspicuous of defeats--in the battlefield." - Bernard Lewis, Middle East Quarterly Oct 2, 2005 "Simone de Beauvoir wrote a book on de Sade in which she stressed the historical and perspicacious passages in de Sade, to which the appropriate comment is, "Aha." - William F. Buckley Jr. [thanx to Roger G.]
the worthless word for the day is: amuse-bouche [F, literally, (it) entertains (the) mouth] /ah moo(z) boosh/ a small complimentary appetizer offered at some restaurants "The meal begins with a complimentary amuse-bouche, which was a foie gras au torchon one recent evening." - Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 28, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: kayfabe [borrowed from carny slang : protecting the secrets of the business] /KAY fabe/ the illusion that professional wrestling is not staged or 'worked' "Wrestlers reportedly have been banned from playing video games backstage by the management of World Wrestling Entertainment. Maybe they were tiring their thumbs out so much that they were unable to execute successful eye gouges? Maybe this is just some sort of silly kayfabe around which some new, melodramatic plotline will be woven culminating in the launch of some next-gen wrestling title?" - joystiq.com Sep 22, 2005 "It was a fantastic story, but it was bizarre to watch [WWE] so casually dismiss kayfabe." - Pro Wrestling Torch Sep 27, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: scrivello [<Pg. escrevelho] /SKREH ve low/ an elephant's tusk of small size (less than 20 pounds?), once commonly used to produce billiard balls [cf. Dr. Orin Scrivello] "Billiard ball pieces and cut descriptions few sold. Ball scrivelloes dearer." - Times, 24 Oct. 1891
the worthless word for the day is: foo fighter [<foo, nonsense word* + fighter] orig. U.S. Mil. used in WWII to describe any of various mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over Europe and the Pacific theatre *from World War II comic strip Smokey Stover; Smokey, a firefighter, was fond of saying "Where there's foo there's fire." "There are three kinds of these lights we call 'foofighters' -- one is red balls of fire which appear off our wing tips and fly along with us; the second is a vertical row of three balls of fire which fly in front of us, and the third is a group of about fifteen lights which appear off in the distance.. and flicker on and off." - N.Y. Times 2 Jan. 1945 "Foo Fighters photographs are very rare. Two of them are seen here following Lysanders aircraft of the RAF during World War II in Europe." - Foo Fighters "Near the end of WWII, the U.S. Air Force [sic] patrolling German airspace encountered highly maneuverable balls of light in the area between Hagenau in Alsace-Lorraine and Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in the Rhine Valley. These unidentified flying objects came to be referred to as "Foo Fighters", or "Kraut Balls" by those who believed the objects were a secret German weapon." - from Foo Fighters [the band] FAQ this week: new entries in OED3
the worthless word for the day is: jobsworth [fr. It's more than my job's worth (not) to...] Brit. colloq. an official who mindlessly upholds petty rules "That's Life. Consumer programme which includes the first contenders for the Jobsworth Award, given to the person who enforces the most stupid rule." - Times Oct. 19, 1982 "They say it's the nickname of a jobsworth councillor in the 1930s who walked the site keeping tabs on boats in the harbour and had an officious manner." - Outrage over Hitler's Walk, The Sun Sep 8, 2005 "Benaud did well to slip off before the dull confusion at the close of play, in which a gathering sense of euphoria finally gave way to umpires with watches, puzzled men in suits and a general air of jobsworth-ery. This was no way to end a Test series, and it certainly would have been no way to end 42 years of commentary." - Times Online Sep 12, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: gastropub [<gastro- in gastronomic, etc. + pub] Brit. a public house which specializes in serving high-quality food (as opposed to pub-grub) "Will stale pork pies and reheated bangers ever be axed from pub menus? The rise of the gastro-pub suggests that, one day, they might." - Evening Standard 9 Apr. 1996 "Gastropubs usually have an atmosphere which is relaxed and a focus on offering a particular cuisine prepared as well as it is in the best restaurants." - Wikipedia
the worthless word for the day is: pencil-necked [<pencil + necked] orig. U.S. slang having a pencil-neck; thin, underdeveloped; weak, effete, or excessively studious "Lick my Pro-Keds, you pencil-necked geek." - Washington Post, 9 Jan. 1982 "[I]t's obvious the Oilers won't be showing up for eight tilts with Calgary, Vancouver, Colorado and Minnesota looking like a roster full of pencil-necked accountants toting pocket protectors." - SLAM! Sports, Canada - Sep 8, 2005 "Those ridiculous baggy jeans that pencil-necked teenagers currently sport." - Scotsman (Nexis), 13 July 1999 note: Freddie Blassie, late of the pro wrestling business, is said to have coined the phrase pencil-necked geek.
the worthless word for the day is: esquivalience [perhaps from French esquiver, dodge, slink away] the willful avoidance of one's official responsibilities this is a fictitious entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary, inserted for the purpose of foiling copyright violations; see Nathan Bierma, On Language, Chicago Tribune an entry for esquivalience can be found at Wikipedia, along with a discussion of deletion (no concensus) [thanx to Faldage, who calls this a willfully created ghost word] this week: more offerings from the learned crew at AWADtalk
the worthless word for the day is: hoon [origin unknown, but perhaps a blend of hooligan and goon] Austral./NZ slang 1) a lout or hooligan 2) someone, esp. a young man, who drives fast and recklessly 3) an act of driving fast and recklessly v. hoon, to drive fast and recklessly; hooning "Two louts.. walked up behind him. The biggest hoon ruffled up his hair and tried to put his half-smoked cigarette in the young man's hair." - Sunday Truth (Brisbane), 9 July 1967 "Almost 400 reckless and dangerous drivers have had their cars impounded under the Western Australian "hoon" laws since the legislation was introduced 12 months ago." - ABC News online (Au) Sept. 4, 2005 "An unaccompanied learner driver has been caught hooning in his parents' car in the Spreyton area." - Tasmania Advocate, Australia - Aug 28, 2005 [thanx to Sparteye]
the worthless word for the day is: biblioclasm [f. biblio- + Gk. klasmos, breaking] the destruction of books, or of the Bible and biblioclast : a destroyer or mutilator of books also biblioclastic, adj. [little more than nonce words] /BIB lee uh klaez um/ and /BIB lee uh klast/ "None of these historical accounts of this biblioclasm resolve the mystery of the true fate of the Library of Alexandria." - Brandie Minchew, Biblioclasm: The Library of Alexandria "..Otto Ege, a self-proclaimed "biblioclast" (a destroyer of books), sold a large number of single leaves and portfolios." - Joel Silver, Fine Books Magazine, Sept/Oct 2004 "May these bishops expiate their crimes in the purgatory of biblioclasts!" - Athenæum, 7 June 1884 "The biblioclastic dead." - Longman's Mag., Dec. 1887 [thanx to Bingley]
the worthless word for the day is: siderate [fr. L. siderari, to be struck by a star] obs. to blast or strike down (as with lightning) "This is Demonstration that puts the Controversie beyond all exception, and the poor Non-conformists are siderated with the violence of it!" - V. Alsop, Melius inquirendum; or, a sober inquiry [1679] [thanx to ullrich]
the worthless word for the day is: scalawag [origin unknown] or scallywag /SKAL uh wag/ or /~ lee wag/ 1) rascal, scamp, reprobate 2) an undersized or ill-conditioned animal 3) a white Southerner who supported reconstruction policies "Hand a quarter to a bewhiskered old scalawag." - James Thurber "You've something good to say about the worst scallywag, and, if you haven't, you hold your tongue." - John Buchan, Castle Gay [1930] "Governor George Wallace of Alabama once denounced [Mr. Frank Johnson] as 'a scallywaggin', integratin', carpet-baggin' liar'." - Times, 18 Aug. 1977 [thanx to Russell Joyce] this week I tackle my rather daunting backlog of subscriber's suggestions..
the worthless word for the day is: snook [of uncertain origin] a derisive gesture, thumb to nose with fingers spread, usu. in phrase to cop a snook; also fig. "With his right hand he made the somewhat coarse gesture known as 'cocking a snook'. The thumb and extended fingers, spread in front of the face, made a baffling disguise." - M. Cumberland, Murmurs in the Rue Morgue [1959] "John Wycliffe (1330-1384) was repulsed by papal corruption and its demands on the English for money. A true man of the people, he decided that the best way to cop a snook at the Pope would be to publish the Bible in English." - Scott Bidstrup, an essay [thanx to Edward Fitzgerald]
the worthless word for the day is: homeopape [coined by Philip K. Dick] a futuristic newspaper that has been filtered such that you see only the news which interests you "Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more." - P. K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 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. [thanx Russell]
the worthless word for the day is: skive [perh. ad. Fr. esquiver, to dodge, slink away] UK slang (orig. Military) to avoid work by absenting oneself, to play truant hence, skiving (cf. mitching) "A Dundee bus conductor was chatting to three young boys as he took their fares last Monday. He asked if they were on holiday. They replied they were 'just skiving'." - Sunday Post (Glasgow), 26 Dec. 1976 [thanx to Anthony S.]
the worthless word for the day is: burelage [F] /BUR(uh) lazh/ fine lines printed on stamp paper as protection against fraud or forgery "The burelage on some stamps is part of the stamp design." - MiMi, Philately [thanx to Dr. Bill]
the worthless word for the day is: omnist [fr. classical L. omnis, all + -ist] rare one that believes in all faiths or creeds "I am an omnist, and believe in all Religions." - Philip J. Bailey, Festus [1839]
the worthless word for the day is: kipple the collection of useless bits of trash we wallow in; all the paper and junk that is not recycled "Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday's home page. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself... No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot." - Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? "...the entire universe is moving toward a state of total, absolute kippleization." - ibid.
the worthless word for the day is: nyaff Scot. and Irish a diminutive, insignificant, or contemptible person; often as wee nyaff "He never knew before what a bandy leggit shauchly wee nyaff his brother was." - H. W. Pryde, The First Book of the McFlannels "The shop's owner, a crabbit wee nyaff, came over." - J. Torrington, Swing Hammer Swing! "'That clock-watching wee nyaff?'" - Ian Rankin, The Falls bonus word: shauchly - shaky, unsteady in gait
the worthless word for the day is: biro [named after László József Biró (1899-1985), Hungarian inventor of the ballpoint] Brit. trademark a kind of ballpoint pen (cf. BIC ballpoint) "Wylie stuck the end of her biro between her teeth and ground down on it." - Ian Rankin, The Falls "Initially, the company made fountain pen parts and mechanical lead pencils. Bich then adopted and improved the process for making ballpoints invented by the Hungarian Laslo Biro." - One of history’s most prolific inventions
the worthless word for the day is: fud [origin uncertain] Scot. and Brit. dial. 1) the backside or rump 2) the tail of a hare or rabbit Ye maukins cock your fud fu' braw, Withouten dread. Your mortal fae is now awa; Tam Samson's dead! - Robert Burns, Tam Samson's Elegy [1787] "Do you cock your fud at me, you tiny thief you?" - Michael Scott, Tom Cringle's Log [1833] nothing at all to do with Elmer Fudd.. oh, but wait just a second! "Fud, pronounced as in Elmer Fudd, is, by the way, a perfectly good Scottish word meaning rabbit's tail." - Prof. Gavin Brown, Vice-Chancellor, U. of Sydney [with an assist to Elizabeth C.]
the worthless word for the day is: wabbit [origin uncertain] Scot. tired out, exhausted; slightly ill "Been feeling a bit wabbit lately? Blaming it on the heat and the close, thundery weather?" - Sunday Post, 5 Aug. 1973 "Siobhan stopped to rest, sitting down with her knees up, heels digging in. She took a swig of water. 'Is that you wabbit already?' Hood said..." - Ian Rankin, The Falls [2000] nothing at all to do with Elmer Fudd.. "Be vewwy, wewwy quiet. I'm hunting wabbits."
the worthless word for the day is: biblioclasm [f. biblio- + Gk. klasmos breaking] destruction of books, or of the Bible also biblioclast, a destroyer of books, or of the Bible; hence biblioclastic (little more than nonce-words)
"The most devastating "biblioclasm" of all time was carried out by the Nazis, who in 12 years destroyed an estimated 100 million volumes throughout occupied Europe. The book burnings one sees in newsreel footage were only the beginning. German students celebrated the bonfires as a perverse academic ritual, a kind of anti-commencement. In one case firemen threw kerosene on the flames - quite possibly the inspiration for Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. For a long time Joseph Goebbels did not publish lists of forbidden books, a Machiavellian strategy for keeping librarians and private citizens in constant anxiety: because they did not know which titles the stormtroopers would rip from their shelves, they preemptively censored themselves, often burning their own books." - Harvard Magazine, Conflict in the Stacks (Nov/Dec 2003)
[thanx to Bingley]

the worthless word for the day is: cahooting [fr. cahoots : collaboration, collusion] conspiring, plotting ".. I doubt they'd execute Dmitriev." "Unless he was cahooting with the Pletnev kid." - W. F. Buckley, Last Call for Blackford Oakes "I realize that we have urgent news stories to think about, such as sleazy lobbyists cahooting with sleazy lawyers about election-night phone calls..." - Jill Kuraitis, Boise Weekly July 27, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: glutless [fr. glut, satiate + -less] nonce-word insatiable "The greedy Trout and glutless Eel." - Th. Best, A concise treatise on the art of angling [1787] (this word nearly caught on..) Ha! in the desperate pang And subtle stroke and fang Of hateful kisses Whence devilish laughter sprang, Close on me with a clang The brazen abysses The leopard-coloured paw Strikes, and the cruel jaw Hides me in the glutless maw -- Crown of ten blisses! - Aleister Crowley, What Lay Before - White Poppy [1906] Sophistication! Sophistication! You are the idol of our nation Each fellow has Fallen for jazz And we'll give the past a merry razz Thro' the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber And fellow-guestship with the glutless worm. - H. P. Lovecraft, Waste Paper: A Poem of Profound Insignificance [1922]
the worthless word for the day is: glossomachicall [as if f. Gk. glossomachos, f. glosso, tongue + -machos, fighting] obs. nonce-word given to wordy strife "God saue you (right glossomachicall Thomas)." - Richard Lichfield, The Trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman [1596]
the worthless word for the day is: plumeopicean [f. L. plume-us, feathery + pice-us, pitchy + -an] humorous nonce-word composed of tar and feathers (alluding to the practice of tarring and feathering an obnoxious person) "I will appear on my knees at the bar of the Pennsyl- vanian Senate in the plumeopicean robe of American controversy." - Sydney Smith, letter "On American Debts" [1843] "Those whom it proposed to teach would destroy the types, and invest the compositors with the plumeopicean robe of the republican Nemesis." - Saturday Review, 7 Dec. 1861
the worthless word for the day is: pleistodox [f. Gk. pleistos, most + doxa, opinion; after orthodox] nonce-word holding the opinion of the majority "His proper language as an orthodox, or (if I might coin a more modest expression), a pleistodox.. man." - Coleridge, letter [1814]
the worthless word for the day is: floricide [fr. L. flor(i), flower + -cide, killer] nonce-word one who destroys flowers "I cannot like a floricide." - Horace Smith, The Moneyed Man [1841]
the worthless word for the day is: gangue [ad. F, fr. G Gang, vein of metal] /gan/ (var. gang) the worthless rock or earthy matter in a mineral deposit "Their earthy portions we designate as their 'matrix' or 'gangue'." - Trans. Amer. Inst. Mining Eng. [1871] "The lawyers who practice regularly in my court have come to expect and look for these lexical gems embedded in the gangue of my prose." - Father Steve, at AWADtalk (Aug.4, 2005) [thanx to FS]
the worthless word for the day is: logofascinated [hybrid fr. Gk logos, word] nonce-wd : fascinated by words "The logofascinated spirits of the beholding hearers and auricularie spectators were so on a sudden seazed upon." - Sir Th. Urquhart, Ekskubalauron: Or the discovery of a most exquisite jewel [1652]
the worthless word for the day is: arghness [f. argh (Teut. : cowardly, pusillanimous, timid, fearful) + -ness] obs. cowardice, pusillanimity, timidity Arghe, pusillanimis. Arghnes, pusillanimitas. - Catholicon Anglicum [1483] Arch, argh, ergh, erf. - Jamieson, An etymological dictionary of the Scottish language [1808]
the worthless word for the day is: zerk [fr. Oscar U. Zerk, American inventor] /zerk/ a grease fitting "A zerk is a grease fitting on a machine, a sort of hollow nipple, over which a grease gun is fit, and through which grease is applied to moving parts... Oscar U. Zerk was born in Austria but lived in the United States. In the 1920's, while working for the Alamite Corporation, he invented the Zerk fitting. He died in 1968 ... and probably slid effortlessly into his coffin." - Father Steve, at AWADtalk [July 1, 2005] "The beefy arms themselves are thick, rounded heavy-duty shafts made of 1 ¼-inch heavy-wall DOM tubing, are zinc-plated and come with zerk fittings and Grade 8 mounting bolts." - Gabriel Sheffer, Four Wheeler Jul 29, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: nelipot [fr. Gk. nelipous (nelipodos): unshod, barefooted] /NEL i pot// someone who walks about barefooted "Though it looks like it might be related to pous (podos) 'foot', it's suppose to be from ne- + elips (elipos) 'shoe'. But why it got twisted in nelipot, instead of something like nelipus, only Mrs Byrnes knows why." - jheem, at AWADtalk [Oct. 2004]
the worthless word for the day is: achromatopsia [fr. Greek akhromatos, without color + -opsia] /a krO muh TAHP see ah/ a visual defect marked by total color blindness, the colors of the spectrum being seen in tones of white-gray-black "Total colorblindness caused by brain damage, so-called cerebral achromatopsia, though described more than three centuries ago, remains a rare and important condition." - Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars "Scdoris has congenital achromatopsia, a hereditary visual impairment that affects her ability to properly perceive depth and fine details, particularly in bright light." - Corvallis Gazette Times, OR - Jun 25, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: fusee [fr. French fusée: spindle, rocket, flare, fuse (lit. spindleful of yarn), from L. fusus, spindle] /FYU zee/ (also fuzee) 1) a friction match with a large head capable of burning in a wind 2) a colored flare used as a warning signal for trucks and railroad trains 3) a cone-shaped pulley with a spiral groove, used in a cord- or chain-winding clock to maintain even travel in the timekeeping mechanism 4) a combustible fuse for detonating explosives "Fuzees for the purpose of lighting cigars, pipes, etc." - Specif. Jones' Patent No. 6335 [1832] "In modern watches and clocks the fusee is furnished with maintaining power to drive the train while the fusee is being turned backwards during the process of winding." - F. J. Britten, The watch and clockmaker's handbook [1884] " Most pyrotechnicians light up the shells with a fusee, better known as a road flare, which isn't longer than a foot." - Walla Walla Union-Bulletin July 04, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: idioticon [fr. Gk idiotikos] /id e OT ikon/ a dictionary of a dialect "Idioticon, a word of frequent use in Germany, signifying a dictionary confined to a particular dialect, or containing words and phrases peculiar to one part of a country." - William Brande, A dictionary of science, literature and art [1842] "The novel's [De Verteller (The Narrator)] subtitle is 'Idioticon voor zegelbewaarders' [Idioticon for Guardians of the Seals], a reference to a dictionary of a certain idiom (with the association: idiocy)." - Anthony Mertens, Postmodern Elements in... Dutch Fiction [2005] [I feel that I may have actually surpassed the bounds of obscurity of late; time to fallback..]
the worthless word for the day is: iggry iggri, iggry, int. [Representing Egyptian colloq. Arab. pronunc. of ijri, imper. of jara, to run.] Hurry up! also as n. in phr. to get an iggri on. 1925 FRASER & GIBBONS Soldier & Sailor Words 127 Iggry (iggri), ..a phrase in use in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. 'Iggry Corner' at Bullecourt was so named by Australian troops who had been stationed in Egypt, as being an exceptionally dangerous locality from shell fire, where it was necessary to move rapidly. 1946 Penguin New Writing XXVIII. 173 'Come on, Chalky,' he pleaded, 'get an iggri on!' Copyright © Oxford University Press 2005 [for those seeking a third -gry word]
the worthless word for the day is: delirament [fr. L. deliramentum, fr. delirare, to be crazy] archaic an insane fancy: craze, delusion "I stood then in the door of a little ante-room opening into the drawing-room and looking on the courtyard, and gazed thence at those three pictures, as if it were all a delirament, till out of them Effie stepped in person, and danced, trilling to herself, through the groups, flashing, sparkling, flickering, and disappeared." - Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 63, January, 1863
the worthless word for the day is: unthirlable [fr. un- + thirlable] obs. impenetrable according to OED2, unthirlable and thirlable itself are only to be found in Catholicon Anglicum, an English-Latin wordbook c. 1483; to wit, Thirleabylle, penetrabilis Vn Thyrleabylle, jnpenetrabilis thirlable [f. OE thirl: hole, perforation] obs. rare that may be thirled or pierced; penetrable Our lawyer presented the case with unthirlable logic.
the worthless word for the day is: fugation [f. L. fugare, to put to flight] obs. a chase; a royal hunt "That they haue their fugacions and huntyngis lyke as they had the tyme of King Harry the Second." - Richard Arnolde, Chronicle (The names of ye baylifs custos mairs and sherefs of london) [1502] "Do not all bodies therefore abound with a very subtle, but active, potent, electric spirit by which light is emitted, refracted, & reflected, electric attractions and fugations are performed...?" - Isaac Newton, as by James Gleick (Newton seems to have used it here in opposition to attractions; i.e., repulsions.)
the worthless word for the day is: syncategorem [ad. L. syncategorema, a. Gk.] Logic /sin ka" tuh gor" uh MAT ik/ a word which cannot be used by itself as a term, but only in conjunction with another word or words: e.g. a sign of quantity (as all, some, no), or an adverb, preposition, or conjunction; hence syncategorematic, of the nature of a syncategorem, also in extended uses in linguistic analysis "In another sense, "sign" means that which makes us know something else, and either is able itself to stand for it, or can be added in a proposition to what is able to stand for something -- such are the syncategorematic words and the verbs and the other parts of a proposition which have no definite signfication -- or is such at to be composed of things of this sort, e.g., a sentence." - P. Boehner, Philosophical Writings (of Occam) "Syncategorematic words are, roughly, those which give the sentence its form, or logical constants -- but, if, and, every, some, however, etc." - Cosma Shalizi
the worthless word for the day is: deblaterate [f. L. deblaterare, to prate of, blab out] rare to babble, prate; hence, deblateration "Those who deblaterate against missions have only one thing to do, to come and see them on the spot." - R. L. Stevenson, Brit. Weekly Apr. 6, 1893 "Those shallow and fidimplicitary coxcombs, who fill our too credulous ears with their quisquiliary deblaterations." - Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine, 1817 bonus words: quisquiliary : obs. rare [f. L. quisquiliæ f. pl., waste matter, refuse, rubbish] quisquilious (of the nature of rubbish or refuse) fidimplicitary : nonce-wd. [f. Eccl. L. fid-es implicita, implicit faith + -ary] that puts implicit faith in another's dictum
the worthless word for the day is: shebeen [fr. Irish Gaelic séibín, measure of grain, grain tax, bad ale] /shu BEEN/ chiefly Irish an unlicensed or illegally operated drinking establishment (also Scot. and S. Afr.) "The spiritual life that there is in Shakespeare is always intimately connected to the fleshy and the human. The nunnery and the brothel, the church and the shebeen are yoked violently together in his world. Neither can survive without the other." - The Guardian, July 13, 2005 "It is estimated that 74% of [S. Afr. liquor] retailers are unlicensed and most of them operate shebeens and taverns in the townships." - Business Day, July 13. 2005
the worthless word for the day is: sozzled [fr. sozzle : to splash, intoxicate, alteration of sossle, probably frequentative of British dialect soss, to mess] drunk, intoxicated Hip new theatre artists will clash with sozzled old ti-tum ti-tum "put it in the back of the net" actors over how to approach these holy [Shakespearean] texts. - The Guardian, July 13, 2005 (thanx to sjmaxq)
the worthless word for the day is: abscondite [L. abscondite : abstrusely, profoundly, secretly] (cf. abscond) /abs CON dite(?)/ inkhorn term abstruse, obscure : recondite "Do you believe then that the sciences would ever have arisen and become great if there had not beforehand been magicians, alchemists, astrologers, and wizards who thirsted and hungered after abscondite and forbidden powers?" - Friedrich Nietzsche, quoted by James Gleick in Isaac Newton
the worthless word for the day is: mistemious [fr. mis-, bad + L. temetum, intoxicating beverage] marked by the misuse of alcohol : drunken [nonce-word?] I have not found this word anywhere except in the following citation; it would seem to be formed as in abstemious : marked by restraint in the consumption of food or alcohol "So that is the famous White Tower.. Feich! It's not even white!" "The Englishmen have no self-pride. If you read their history you will see that they are nothing more than a lot of doxy and mistemious bog-stalkers. Think: what would a few gallons of white paint cost the Queen of England?" - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World
the worthless word for the day is: dowless [Sc.] /DOW lis/ without strength or energy; feeble; infirm "Paltry," was the verdict of Rufus MacIan, "A dowless effort." - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World
the worthless word for the day is: sobornost [Russ. sobornost, conciliarism, catholicity] /so BOR nost/ Theol. a unity of persons in a loving fellowship in which each member retains freedom and integrity without excessive individualism; spiritual harmony based on freedom and unity in love "Sobornost furthermore provides a further incentive to Roman Catholic officialdom not to regard Church unity too exclusively from a juridical point of view..." - Church Times, 21 Jan. 1977 "Theologians, East and West, have had a range of delicious terms for co-inherence - circuminsessio, conciliarité, koinonia, perichoresis, sobornost... Berdyaev (1937) in the twentieth century gave the best generalized account of the best of these terms - sobornost - as the creative process of divine spirit manifest through the self-determining subjectivity of human personhood, engaged in the realization of value and achieved in true community." - John Heron, Self and Society, June-July 2001
the worthless word for the day is: onychophagia [fr. Gk. onycho, nail + -phagia, eating] /on i kO PHA juh, -jee uh/ Psychiatry habitual biting of the nails, esp. as a symptom of emotional disturbance "Dipping one's fingertips in a bad-tasting solution can help to break the habit of onychophagia..." - grammarandmore.com March, 2003 "Conditions once considered bad habits are now recognized as psychiatric disorders (trichotillomania, onychophagia)... (For those without the Greek or medical background, trichotillomania is hair-pulling, and onychophagia is nail-biting.)" - blogborygmi.com March 27, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: bevan [from the name Bevan(?)] Aust. dial. a loutish, unfashionable male; someone of the working class or from the wrong side of town who wears ugg (thick sheepskin) boots and flannel shirts, drives a panel van and listens to heavy rock "The word bevan is in common use here in Queensland, Australia, to describe a person, usually of lower socioeconomic background, who favours plaid shirts, severe mullet hair cuts (no hair on top), and jackets or sweaters tied by the arms round the waist." - Harry Audus (in response to wwftd, bavin) (and so, not to be confused with bavin) [addendum] Chris Killick-Moran writes from Oz to add: There are in fact a bevy of dialectical variations on this term around the country. A similar young person may be described as a "bogan" in Victoria (orig. unkn.) or a "westie" in NSW/Canberra. The latter refers to the geographic location of large populations of such young people in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and Canberra.
the worthless word for the day is: stamagast [fr. dial stam, to astonish + ag(h)ast (?)] Brit dial. a great and sudden disappointment, an unpleasant surprise "They ir in for a stamagast then!" Angusina exclaimed. - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World
the worthless word for the day is: carnaptious [fr. Sc. knap, to bite] /ka(r) NAP shus/ Scots & Irish dial. bad-tempered, irritable, grumpy "Ye alluded afore to my carnaptious first twelvemonth on these premises. A do confess a was frawart and bool-horned." - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World (frawart = froward, perverse) "The carnaptious old Irish hotel-keeper.." - Times Lit. Suppl. 21 June 1963
the worthless word for the day is: usquebaugh [fr. Irish Gaelic uisce beathadh, water of life, whiskey (translation of Medieval Latin aqua vitae)] /OOS kwi bah/ Irish & Scots whiskey "You are strangely giddy. I should have never ordered you usquebaugh." - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World "The term aquavit, like eau de vie and usquebaugh (the Gaelic word from which "whiskey" is derived), is from the Latin aqua vitae, "water of life," and can vary slightly in spelling (akvavit, aqvavit) depending on its country of origin." - Patrick J. Comiskey, L.A. Times June 7, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: retronym [fr. L. retro- + Gk. onymon, name] a term consisting of a noun and a modifier that specifies the original meaning of the noun <film camera is a retronym> "Another example of a retronym is analogue watch, to describe the sort that has hands, to distinguish it from the digital variety; yet another is snail mail, which came in as a jokey reference to the old- fashioned stuff written on paper, but which looks as though it is becoming a true retronym to distinguish it from e-mail." - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words
the worthless word for the day is: mudlark [fr. mud + lark] 1) Hist. an urchin who grubs for a living along the tide flats of the English Thames 2) someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value (riverside equivalent of a beachcomber) "I employ a night watchman, for these banks are infested with mudlarks." - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World "The public is allowed to beachcomb on the shores, but serious mudlarks.. must obtain a license (£9 per annum) from the PLA and abide by its rules." - Independent on Sunday, 19 Feb 1995
the worthless word for the day is: menticide [fr. L. ment-, mens; mind + cidium, killing] the undermining or destruction of a person's mind or will, esp. by systematic means such as mental and physical torture, extensive interrogation, suggestion, training, and narcotics: brainwashing "Such an organized system of psychological intervention and judicial perversion, in which a powerful tyrant synthetically injects his own thoughts and words into the minds and mouths of the victims he plans to destroy by mock trial, may well be called menticide." - J. A. M. Meerloo, Amer. Jrnl. Psychiatry, Feb. 1951
the worthless word for the day is: bavin [origin unknown] /BAV un/ Brit. a bundle of brushwood or kindling used for fuel; by extension applied contemptuously to something worthless (see Shakespeare quote) The skipping king, he ambled up and down, With shallow jesters, and rash bavin wits, Soon kindled, and soon burnt.. - Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part 1 "...he was wearing clothes that had gone out of fashion three hundred years ago, and furthermore was bedizened with diverse strange ancient artifacts, viz. some heraldic badges, a tiny peatsaw, and a tiny bavin of scrub-oak twigs." - Neal Stephenson, The System of the World
the worthless word for the day is: lubberland [f. lubber [Swed.], a worthless idler] a mythical paradise for the lazy : Cockaigne There is a ship, we understand, Now riding in the river; 'Tis newly come from Lubberland, The like I think was never; You that a lazy life do love. I'd have you now go over, They say the land is not above Two thousand leagues from Dover. - J. Deacon, An Invitation to Lubberland (1685)
the worthless word for the day is: ylem [f. med. L. hylem, matter] /I lem/ Cosm. in the big-bang theory, the primordial matter of the universe, which existed before formation of the elements "In most of his work Gamow assumed that the ylem consisted entirely of neutrons. In inflationary cosmology, the role of the ylem is played by the false vacuum." - A. H. Guth, The Inflationary Universe
the worthless word for the day is: misprision [borrowed from French as a legal term] /mis PRI zhun/ 1a) neglect of an official duty b) concealing of treason or felony by one who did not participate in the act c) seditious conduct against the governement or courts 2) a mistake, or the mistaking of one thing for another "With the admissions, Bowley pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony by concealing a mail fraud conspiracy..." - The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), June 10, 2005 A fever in your blood! why, then incision Would let her out in Saucers: sweet misprision! - Shakespeare, Love's Labor's Lost (not to be confused with misprision : contempt, scorn; failure to appreciate or recognize the value of something)
the worthless word for the day is: lability [from Latin labilis, prone to slip] /lah BIL ity/ 1) susceptibility to change; instability 2) Chem. unstableness "Frank dispays emotional lability. His mood and affect changed from minute to minute." - Leon Goldensohn, The Nuremberg Interviews "His mood lability and hostility were also improved, and he became able to communicate with his treatment team, albeit to a limited degree." - Journal of Neuropsychiatry Jun 6, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: frankenword [from Frankenstein + word] a portmanteau word; formed by combining two words -- the term used in linguistics is blend
the worthless word for the day is: nouniness [from nouny + -ness] the (excessive) use of nouns or nominal constructions; also, (Linguistics): the state or condition of being noun-like "Avoid nouniness - which Good defines as the use of wimpy, long-winded nouns in place of forceful verbs." - Success (Nexis), Aug. 1990 nouny: having or using many nouns; noun-like "We are trying to define some sorting device which can correctly assign any natural language to the classes of nouny or verby languages." - L. Stassen, Intransitive Predication (1997)
the worthless word for the day is: dystmesis [fr. Gk. tmesis, an act of cutting + dys-, bad] defined variously as: a synonym for tmesis; tmesis at syllable boundaries (as opposed to between parts of a compound word); or, separation at an inappropriate or unlikely position considering the lexemes, it seems like the actual meaning should be closer to the last of these; e.g., unbefreakinglievable (as opposed to the tmesis of unfreakingbelievable). linguists refer to tmesis as a type of infixation.
the worthless word for the day is: pyriform [fr. L. pirum, pear + -form] pear-shaped compare napiform: turnip-shaped "Birds like the murre.. lay triangular, or pyriform, eggs that roll in tight circles." - M. R. Crowell, Greener Pastures (1973) The day itself was one of those prize-winningly crappy days when everything went pyriform. - anon. (with apologies to the R.A.F.)
the worthless word for the day is: rectopathic [fr. L. recto- + -pathic] /rek to PATH ic/ easily hurt emotionally; thin-skinned "Sometimes one needs to tell someone he or she is a pygalgia without telling the person he or she is a pain in the ass. Because, well, many people are rectopathic." - John L. Hoh, Jr., bookideas.com
the worthless word for the day is: ranivorous [fr. L. rana, frog + -vorous] /rae NI ver ous/ frog-eating cf. raniform, frog-shaped "Frenchmen.. were not the ranivorous and capering creatures they supposed." - Fraser's Magazine (1878) "No raniform Labyrinthodonts have yet been discovered." - Aldous Huxley, in Encyclopaedia Britannica
the worthless word for the day is: skainsmate [origin and meaning uncertain] obs. a messmate, a companion(?) "Scurvy knave! I am none of his flirt-gills; I am none of his skainsmates." - Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet Thou rank dizzy-eyed skainsmate! - The Shakespearean Insulter flirt-gill : a woman of light or loose behavior
the worthless word for the day is: hypergolic [fr. hyper-, extreme + Gk. ergon, work] applied to two substances which spontaneously ignite or explode on contact "During the second week of June it was time to start putting hypergolic propellants into the fuel tanks." - Neal Armstrong et al., First on the Moon He was still trying to recall that word when the purple substance detonated, separating his arms and rocking [the facility] so deeply that all the alarms and water sprinklers went off. The word was "hypergolic." - Robert Crais, Demolition Angel [not to be confused with hyperbolic]
the worthless word for the day is: mumping Brit. slang to obtain by begging or scrounging; the acceptance of small bribes Forms of corruption [of the police].. 'mumping' ('mooching' in the U.S.) accepting free meals and drinks or goods and services at a discount. - New Society, 17 Feb. 1977
the worthless word for the day is: metic an alien resident of an ancient Greek city who had some civil privileges In Ancient Greece, the term metic meant simply a foreigner, a non-Greek[sic], living in one of the Greek city-states. It did not have the pejorative sense that it has today in some languages. Etymologically, the word comes from the Greek metoikos, from meta, change, and oikos, house. - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [thanx to maverick & Bingley]
the worthless word for the day is: mirabile dictu [L, wonderful to relate] /muh RA buh lee DIK tu/ incredible Here is a question for which, mirabile dictu, I do not have the answer. It is: How much freedom should a college student be given to say or write what he wishes? - W. F. Buckley Jr., The Lexicon this week: there's nothing I can add... oh wait! p.s. - regarding badaud, Ryan Szpiech adds: Just so you know, which you must already: badaud means "onlooker" or "gawker" in French, or even more harmlessly, "passerby." It is now used to mean someone who reads internet chat without contributing. I think you need to gloss the word "booby" if you want it to mean "gawker" rather than just "dummy". To say a cockney implies he is a dandy, a city man who is seen as effeminate to men of the country, and this is not really within the term itself. thanx, Ryan; this is gloss that E. Cobham and I didn't have.
the worthless word for the day is: badaud A booby. C'est un franc badaud, he is a regular booby. Le badaud de Paris, a French cockney. From the Italian, badare, to gaze in the air, to stare about one. - E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898)
the worthless word for the day is: copoclephily Collectors have had some success in promoting the terms arctophily (teddy-bear collecting, from Greek arktos bear), tegestology (beer-mat collecting, from Greek tegestos a small reed mat), deltiology (postcard collecting, from Greek deltion a little writing-tablet), and copoclephily (key-ring collecting, from Greek kope handle and kleis key). However, these are little known outside the circle of devotees, except as verbal curiosities. - English for Students
the worthless word for the day is: abscondence [fr. L. abscondere] /abs KAN dunce/ fugitive concealment; secret retirement; hiding "With a Stuart king upon the throne, there was no safety for the rebel poet who had used all the power of his wit and learning against the Royal cause. Pity for his blindness might not save him. So listening to the warnings of his friends, [Milton] fled into hiding somewhere in the city of London, "a place of retirement and abscondence."" - H. E. Marshall, Our Island Story (1905)
the worthless word for the day is: murcid [fr. L. murcidus, lazy] obs. rare /MUR sid(?)/ slothful "But I wonder very much, that while they assigned to separate gods single things, and (well nigh) all movements of the mind; that while they invoked the goddess Agenoria, who should excite to action; the goddess Stimula, who should stimulate to unusual action; the goddess Murcia, who should not move men beyond measure, but make them, as Pomponius says, murcid - that is, too slothful and inactive; the goddess Strenua, who should make them strenuous; and that while they offered to all these gods and goddesses solemn and public worship, they should yet have been unwilling to give public acknowledgment to her whom they name Quies because she makes men quiet, but built her temple outside the Colline gate." - Saint Augustine, The City of God {so Anu has no theme this week.. well, perhaps my theme is "forgotten words from the classics"?!}
the worthless word for the day is: indocible [ad. late L. indocibilis] archaic /in DOS i ble/ incable of being taught: unteachable hence indocibility, indocibleness "It renders him indocible of that most useful science of ignorance." - Abraham Tucker, The light of nature pursued The question to be debated was, "whether the YAHOOS should be exterminated from the face of the earth?" One of the members for the affirmative offered several arguments of great strength and weight, alleging, "that as the YAHOOS were the most filthy, noisome, and deformed animals which nature ever produced, so they were the most restive and indocible, mischievous and malicious; they would... commit a thousand other extravagancies." - Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels not to be confused with indocile [fr. L indocilis] /in DOS ile/ unwilling to be taught or disciplined: intractable a large, indocile, irresponsible, domineering man - G. P. Elliott mustang, n. An indocile horse of the western plains. - Ambrose Bierce
the worthless word for the day is: dolorifuge [fr. L dolere, to feel pain, grieve + fuga, flight] archaic /dah LOR ah fyuj/ something that banishes or mitigates grief "The children, who had made use of this idea of Tess being taken up by their wealthy kinsfolk (which they imagined the other family to be) as a species of dolorifuge after the death of the horse, began to cry at Tess's reluctance, and teased and reproached her for hesitating." - Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'Urbervilles "Martina was so heartbroken when her dog died that her dad brought home a new puppy as a dolorifuge." - 2003 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee Consolidated Word List
the worthless word for the day is: roynish [fr. ME. roin, scurf, scab + ish; fr. (assumed) Vulgar Latin ronea(?)] archaic also roinish (and roinous) mangy, scabby; coarse, mean, base "My Lord, the roynish Clown, at whom so oft Your Grace was wont to laugh, is also missing." - Shakespeare, As You Like It "But unlike their black roynish kindred, the Waynhim had devoted their lore to the services of the Land." - Stephen Donaldson, The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant)
the worthless word for the day is: hebetation [ad. L. hebetare, fr. hebes: dull] /heh buh TAY shun/ (see also hebetude) the state of being dull; lethargy; stupidity "..for by intemperancy proceeding from the excessive drinking of strong liquor there is brought upon the body of such a swill-down boozer a chillness in the blood, a slackening in the sinews, a dissipation of the generative seed, a numbness and hebetation of the senses, with a perversive wryness and convulsion of the muscles--all which are great lets and impediments to the act of generation." - Francois Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (trans. by T. Urquhart and P. Motteuxet) "Aphrodite -- sitting graveolent in her royal hebetation, surrounded by all her holouries..." - John Gardner, Jason and Medeia "The robe was too big. Nevertheless, the pattern was so conservative, and the material so fine, that this seemed rather a mark of luxuriance than some deliberate hebetude on the part of the giver." - William Gaddis, Recognitions
the worthless word for the day is: vecordious [ad. L. vecordia, f. vecors: senseless, foolish] /ve KOR dius/ rare senseless, crazy, mad also, vecordy: madness, folly {Blount}
the worthless word for the day is: zemblanity [fr. Zembla, an Artic island to the N. of Russia once used for nuclear testing; thus: zemblanity] the inexorable discovery of what we don't want to know "Along about halfway through William Boyd's amusing seventh novel, Armadillo, the hapless protagonist Lorimer Black decides that his life is governed by the laws of "zemblanity," which he describes as "the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design." By this point in the action, Lorimer has encountered a hanged man; his car has been torched; his job jeopardized; his fastidious private life invaded... His very existence appears to be a prime example of Murphy's Law: if something can go wrong, it will." - Elizabeth Gleick, Time (mag.) Mar. 30, 1998 "What is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth?" asks Boyd in his novel. "Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound... Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity." - from William Boyd, Armadillo (quoted by William Safire, On Language June 04, 2000)
the worthless word for the day is: jeevesian [after Jeeves, of the P.G. Wodehouse novels] usu. capitalized characteristic of the perfect valet: Jeeves-like "A periphrastic and Jeevesian repetition." - The Observer, 24 June 1962 "[Henry] James is a virtuoso of the fade, with a Jeevesian command of strategic tact; he shimmers in and out of rooms, noticing everything and expertly evading all attempts to pin him down." - Laura Miller, salon.com July 7, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: pharos [fr. Gk. after Pharos, an island off Alexandria, Egypt, the site of an ancient lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the World] /FAR os/ any lighthouse or beacon to direct mariners "..he has shone forth like a veritable pharos, rotating a long shaft of light on the seas and reefs all around." - Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station
the worthless word for the day is: sottage [fr. sot: obs. a foolish or stupid person] obs. rare foolishness, folly, stupidity "Hard yron-ages death-declining sottage.." - Chas. Fitz-geffry, Sir Francis Drake (1596)
the worthless word for the day is: deliquescent [fr. L. pr. pple. of deliquescere, to melt away, dissolve, disappear] /de li KWE sunt/ 1) tending to melt away or dissolve 2) having repeated division into branches [also transf. and fig.] "It [the figure] was ghostly because Mrs. O'Callaghan had taken it into her head to give it a vigorous scrubbing.. and this had taken off the paint. It had also taken off most of the left cheek, so that the Virgin now hoved in her shadowy corner, chalk-white, leperous and deliquescent." - T. H. White, The Elephant and the Kangaroo "It was [this] that saved [Proust] from being the Anatole France of an even more deliquescent phase of the French belletristic tradition." - Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station
the worthless word for the day is: divagation [cf. divagate: fr. L. dis + vagari, to wander] /di vuh GAY shun/ a divergence or digression from a course or subject "..as [Marx and Engels] extricated the insights that seemed to them valid from the cobwebs of metaphysics and from the divagations by which the bourgeois thinkers, as a result of their stake in the status quo, were escaping the logical conclusions from their premises." - Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station "Modernism was a brief divagation into difficulty; but Richard was still out there, in difficulty. He didn't want to please the readers. He wanted to stretch them until they twanged." - Martin Amis, The Information
the worthless word for the day is: heteroclite [fr. Gk heteroklitos, irregularly inflected] /HET ur uh klyt/ 1) Gram. irregularly inflected 2) fig. [a] abnormal, anomalous, off the beaten path [n] obs. a person or thing that fits such description; a maverick "Nor could I have dreamed the heteroclite crew..." - Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun (1997) "I am acutely aware that this thesis will meet with some resistance because it is still somewhat unfashionable to assert that any work of literature, no less a work as complex and heteroclite as Ulysses, can be approached as having established a fixed center.. that governs its meaning." - Stephen Sicari, Twentieth Century Lit. Fall, 1997 "Our Parliament would affect to be an heteroclite to all other parliaments." - Henry Brooke, The Fool of Quality (1792)
the worthless word for the day is: edacious [fr. L edax < edere, to eat] /i DAY shus/ voracious; devouring, often said of time "Greece was mendax, edax, furax (mendacious, edacious, furacious)." - De Quincey, Pagan Oracles (1842) Tempus edax rerum [Time devours everything] - Ovid, Metamorphoses "Swallowed in the depths of edacious Time." - Thomas Carlyle
the worthless word for the day is: garderobe [a. F. garderobe, fr. garde-r, to keep + robe] /GA(r)D robe/ now only Hist. properly, a locked-up wardrobe (or its contents); by extension, a private room, a bed-chamber; a privy, built into or extending out from a wall I haue ben brought vp in the garderobe with the noble kynge Arthur many yeres for to take hede to his armour. - Sir Thomas Malory, Le morte d'Arthur "Sometimes [Jack] would get out of bed and hug the cannonball that was attached to his neck- collar by a four-foot length of chain and carry it into the en suite garderobe: a closet with a wooden bench decorated with a hole. Being ever so careful not to let the cannonball fall into that hole--for he'd not quite decided to kill himself yet--he'd sit down and void himself into a chute that spilled out onto the stone cliff-side far below." - Neal Stephenson, the Confusion
the worthless word for the day is: hadiwist [had-I-wist; from (archaic) wit, to know; akin to Latin videre, to see] obs. the awareness that, if only one had known, one must have acted otherwise; a vain regret, or the heedlessness or loss of opportunity which leads to it Tis now too late to wish for hadiwist. Had you withheld your hand from this attempt, Sorrow had never so imprisoned you. - Robert Yarington, Two Tragedies in One (1601) [thanx to Mark Daniel]
the worthless word for the day is: whipsloven [whip + sloven (see below)] obs. ? a sloven who deserves whipping sloven: [ME sloveyn, rascal] obs. a person of low character or manners; a knave, rascal "For thes twayne whypslouens calle for a coke stole:" - John Skelton, Against Garnesche (1529) "By hoke ne by croke." - John Skelton, Colyn Cloute "If thou one manchet dare handle or els touche,.. Then shall some slouen thee dashe on the eare." - Alexander Barclay, Ecloges (1513) [thanx to Pauline] addendum: so what's a coke stole? OED suggests this as an obs. form of cucking-stool, itself now Obs. exc. Hist. An instrument of punishment formerly in use for scolds, disorderly women, fraudulent tradespeople, etc., consisting of a chair (sometimes in the form of a close-stool), in which the offender was fastened and exposed to the jeers of the bystanders, or conveyed to a pond or river and ducked. "To be sett upon the pillorie or the Cukkyngstole Man or Woman as the case shall requyre." - Shakespeare, Henry VIII
the worthless word for the day is: rapparee [Ir. rapaire, ropaire, lit., thruster, stabber] /ra puh REE/ 1) an Irish irregular soldier or bandit 2) vagabond, plunderer Lift your glasses, friends, with mine and give your hand to me; I'm Englands foe, I'm Irelands friend, I'm an outlawed rapparee. - Chorus of The Rapparee {The Celtic Lyrics Collection} "Oh, they won't be caught," Bob assured him. "You forget that before I taught them to be English soldiers, Teague Partry taught them to be rapparees." - Neal Stephenson, The Confusion
the worthless word for the day is: ninnyhammer [app. fr. ninny + hammer (fr. hammer-headed?)] a fool, simpleton; a blockhead "You're nowt but a ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee." - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers "What's it mean? Just give it to us staight, Dad. We're no good at riddles," Jimmy said; at which Danny took offense. "Speak for yourself, ninny-hammer. He's trying to tell us that nothin' succeeds in eatin' this type o' wood." - Neal Stephenson, The Confusion
the worthless word for the day is: picaroon [Spanish picarón] /pik uh ROON/ 1) a rogue or adventurer; a bohemian 2) a pirate, corsair 3) a small pirate ship "Strong exception is taken by the advocates of privateering to such words as corsair, picaroon, and the like being applied to a vessel armed with the authority of a letter of marque." - Daily Telegraph, 21 May 1885 "Now you are legendary Vagabond scum; a picaroon, much talked of in salons." - Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver
the worthless word for the day is: writhen [pa. pple. of writhe, fr. OE writhan] being twisted or contorted "'I'll give my father up,' returned Herrick, with a writhen smile." - RL Stevenson & L Osbourne, The ebb-tide: a trio and a quartette (1894) "The Armenian boy whispered up on slippered feet, bearing on a gaudy silver salver a tiny beaker of coffee clenched in a writhen silver zarf." - Neal Stephenson, The Confusion (I know, some of you are thinking that writhen is nowhere near as worthless as zarf -- but wait; I've already used zarf! [a great Scrabble® word]) zarf: an ornamental metal holder for a handleless coffee cup
the worthless word for the day is: spang [Scot., to leap, cast, bang] 1) to a complete degree: totally 2) in an exact or direct manner: squarely "...the sharp downstream tip of the Ile de la Cite, spang in the center of the Pont-Neuf." - Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver "I was unaware that... when it hit me spang in the face like a dead mackerel. Oh, sorry, fish dudes." - K. O'Conner, Houston Chronicle March 21, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: whilom [fr. OE. hwílum, later] /HWI lum/ archaic [adv] while; formerly [adj] former (see also erstwhile and quondam) "He had set his mind to looking up his whilom Captain. When we reached Portsmouth he began to make inquiries about the fellow--name of Churchill." - Neal Stephenson, The Confusion
the worthless word for the day is: hegemon [fr. Gk. hegemon, leader] /HEJ uh mon/ one that exercises hegemony; a leading or dominant power "Hey, you gonna contradict a guy who uses the word 'hegemon'?" - Kyrie O'Connor, Houston Chronicle Mar. 7, 2005 "Of course China's rise does not portend the downfall of the US or Europe but it does challenge the west's self-perception as the civilisational hegemon in global affairs." - Mark Mazower, Financial Times Mar. 31, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: peristalsis [fr. Gk peristaltikos, peristaltic] successive waves of involuntary contraction passing along the walls of a hollow muscular structure (as the esophagus or intestine) and forcing the contents onward; also fig. & transf. "Eliza's view of these proceedings got better and better, for she was being impelled toward the head of the receiving-line by a kind of social peristalsis." - Neal Stephenson, The Confusion "Hollywood's release schedule is in the dry-heaves phase after a couple of weeks of heavy, Thanksgiving season reverse-peristalsis." - Defamer.com (LA gossip rag), 3 Dec 2004
the worthless word for the day is: impeccant [fr. in- + L. peccare, to sin] without sin; faultless "The hero.. is neither impeccable nor impeccant." - The Standard, 5 Apr. 1890 {while impeccant means without sin, to be impeccable is to be incapable of sin} "Contrary to his impeccant habit, Average Jones bore the somewhat frazzled aspect of a man who has been up all night." - Samuel Hopkins Adams, Average Jones (1914)
the worthless word for the day is: choplogic [fr. chop (obs.), to bandy back and forth + logic] involved and often specious argumentation CAPULET: How now, how now, chop-logic! What is this? 'Proud,' and 'I thank you,' and 'I thank you not;' And yet 'not proud,' mistress minion, you, Thank me no thankings, nor, proud me no prouds... - Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5 "The arguments were nearly always developed with the same chop-logic." - Spectator, 8 July 1960 "In all of academia, there is no shibboleth held in higher regard than the proposition that women are, in all matters involving the intellect, the exact equal of men. Not just roughly equal, you understand, but exactly equal. Nor can there be any choplogic about women possessing higher verbal skills, but men being superior in the sciences, or what have you. Their skills must be understood as, in all respects, identical." - William Rusher, The education of Larry Summers The Decatur Daily Democrat March 2, 2005
the worthless word for the day is: vermicular [fr. Latin vermiculus] 1) resembling a worm in form or motion 2) of, relating to, or caused by worms "Criminals.. are partly men, partly vermin; what is human in them you must punish--what is vermicular, abolish." - John Ruskin, Arrows of the chace (1872) "From various accounts, [Adam Smith] was also a man of many peculiarities, which included a stumbling manner of speech (until he had warmed to his subject), a gait described as "vermicular," and above all an extraordinary and even comic absence of mind." - "Smith, Adam.", Encyclopædia Britannica [thanx to Andree Duffy]
the worthless word for the day is: millihelen [fr. milli-, thousandth + Helen (of Troy, whose beauty supposedly launched a thousand ships)] jocular the quantity of beauty required to launch precisely one ship (Isaac Asimov is said to have claimed credit for coining this -- how's that for being noncommittal?) [thanx to Bingley, and to Giles T. for a reminder]
the worthless word for the day is: consuetudinary [fr. L. consuetudinarius, customary] /con swi TUD inary/ [adj] according to consuetude: customary; (in law) based on custom as opp. to statutory or written law [n] a book describing the customs of a particular group, esp. a religious one "I ask: Is this yet another attempt at cataloguing human language? How is this item different from any other? Might it be closer to perfection? Second, I browse through its pages, caressing them, jumping from one definition to another. My mind sets on a somewhat exotic target: what about the word "percolate"? Or else, "numismatic"? Third, I choose a mundane, consuetudinary word: "water," "fire," "air"... As you know, I have a passion for collecting lexicons." - Ilan Stavans, Translation Journal On Dictionaries: A Conversation with Ilan Stavans
the worthless word for the day is: tetrabard [neologism, fr. L tetra-, four + bard (Shakespeare)] a unit of vocabulary : 60,000 words hence, a tetrabardian vocabulary is one of that size "Steven Pinker in The Language Instinct compared the probable 60,000-word vocabulary of a typical US high-school graduate with the 15,000 words used in the complete works of Shakespeare, thus defining the "tetrabard" as a unit of vocabulary. We suspect that David Ridpath, who reminded us of this, may be a jaded teacher: "I can think of a few centibards I have known," he grumbles." - New Scientist, Feedback, 13 November 2004 "The total number of words found in Shakespeare's collected works and sonnets is 15,000, and some of these are hapax legomena - words used only once in the history of the printed word - such as honorificabilitudinitatibus, which appears in Love's Labour's Lost, act V, scene I. Linguistic studies have shown that the average American high school graduate has a vocabulary of 60,000 words. Steven Pinker has dubbed it a tetrabardian vocabulary." - Verónica Albin, Tanslation Journal, April 2005 On Dictionaries: A Conversation with Ilan Stavans
the worthless word for the day is: lexicographicolatry [neologism, from lexicographic + Gk. latriea, worship] reverence for "the dictionary"* "The writer John Algeo, suggesting that only the Bible is similarly revered, has coined the word "lexicographicolatry" for the concept. That the book became "more venerated than used.. mattered little."" - Jonathon Green, Chasing the Sun *sometimes referred to as the UAD: Unidentifed Authorizing Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: acyrology [ad. L. acyrologia, a. Gk. akyrolgia] obs. rare /ah sir OL uh jee/ incorrect speech or use of language "His work.. was meant to be.. a condensation of all the 'logics' and all the 'ology's'; but, unfortunately, tautology and acyrology were the only ones thoroughly exemplified." - Baroness Rosina Bulwer-Lytton; Cheveley; or the man of honour (1839)
the worthless word for the day is: pluterperfect nonce word, cf. pluperfect [perhaps a corruption of F. plus-que-parfait (ad. L. plus quam perfectum, more than perfect)] (more than?) more than perfect "The pluterperfect imperturbability of the department of agriculture." - James Joyce, Ulysses
the worthless word for the day is: ademonist [fr. Gk. a-, not + daimon, spirit] also adæmonist someone who denies the existence of demons or the Devil "Unitarians, in accordance with the scriptural adæmonists of Germany, maintain that the Bible affords no sufficient evidence of the existence of a being purely malevolent." - Penny cyclopædia of the Society for the diffusion of useful knowledge (1834)
the worthless word for the day is: flatulopetic [fr. L. flatus, blowing + Gk. -poietic, productive] /flach uh lo PET ik/ rare 1) (Med.) pertaining to gas production in the bowels 2) pretentious, pompous, inflated The senator's flatulopetic filibuster went on and on.. - anon (I would like to learn of Mrs. Byrne's source for this word; the citation I take the blame for.)
the worthless word for the day is: malebolge [It., from the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno, Malebolge < L. malus, evil + bolgia, valley] /mal eh BOLGE/ (literary) a pool of filth; a hellish place or condition "There is a place within the depths of hell Called Malebolge." - Dante's Inferno "An infernal malebolge... A pure ordeal, undisguised by any trappings of luxury." - 'Tiresias', Notes from Overground* (1984) *according to bookcrossing.com, a copy of this book, #3,266,873 on the Amazon sales list, was released into the wild at Paddington Railway Station in London, about one year ago.
the worthless word for the day is: vril [coined by Bulwer-Lytton] a mysterious force imagined as having been discovered by the people described in The Coming Race "These people consider that in vril they have arrived at the unity in natural energic agencies, which has been conjectured by many philosophers..." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race (1871) "If so.. we are within hailing distance of the discovery of vril." - Pall Mall Gaz. 27 Dec. 1888 vril: fundamental resonant energy which is inherent to planetary structure - Tesla Society Scientific Dict. --- maxq reminds me that "judder is still in very common use [in NZ], as part of the phrase "judder bars", meaning those concrete road barriers elsewhere called speed.. bumps."
the worthless word for the day is: gunge [of uncertain origin; perh. associated with goo, grunge, gunk, ect.] Brit. slang any messy or clogging substance, esp. one considered otherwise unidentifiable; also, general rubbish, clutter, filth "If you cook, ask yourself how often you have ever required to add bottled sauce to anything. Yet here were the convenience food-makers exploiting its piquant flavour in over 400 diverse versions of gunge." - Ian Bell, Sunday Herald 27 February 2005 "It was true. Goliath had been been attempting entry into the BookWorld for many years with but little success: all they had managed to do was extract a stodgy gunge from volumes one to eight of The World of Cheese." - Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots bonus word: stodgy of a thick, semi-solid consistency of food: thick, glutinous of a meal: heavy, hard to get through
the worthless word for the day is: judder [imitative, probably from shudder] chiefly Brit [v] to shake and vibrate with intensity the engine stalled and kept juddering [n] an instance of juddering "Hopefully, Greenspan has had a similar meeting recently with George W Bush to impress on him the importance of action on the current level of the US deficit. Correcting the problem without a major judder to the whole of the world economy is going to be a problem." - Ken Symon, Sunday Herald 06 March 2005 "Billy's arm was twisted until he bent double and for him reality juddered from the general to the particular." Brian Carter, Nightworld [thanx to abmckay]
the worthless word for the day is: otium [fr. classical L., leisure, ease, peace] now rare leisure; free time; ease "Mr. Morgan was enjoying his otium in a dignified manner, surveying the evening fog, and smoking a cigar." - W. M. Thackeray, The history of Pendennis (1849) otium cum dignitate [fr. classical Latin cum dignitate otium] leisure with dignity; spec. retirement from public life "So we find words and expressions that were much better known on the Continent than in either America or Britain. Under the heading for Haste and Leisure, for instance, we find brusquerie* and its Latin converse, otium cum dignitate. (In the newest, fifth edition of the International, published by Harper Collins in 1992, both these obscure forms have vanished, though the Latin term that was under the Leisure column has been replaced by the Italian dolce far niente, which is amply supplemented by the phrases ride the gravy train and lead the life of Riley.)" - Simon Winchester, The Atlantic Monthly May 2001 *brusquerie: [F] abruptness of manner notes upon retiring: - rusticate has more senses than those I gave; e.g., maxq notes: "Having read way too many English detective novels, I'm pretty sure that "rusticate" is also used to mean "expel" at Cambridge and/or Oxford. If one misbehaves badly enough, or fails to perform, one could get rusticated, apparently." (M-W has: chiefly British: to suspend from school or college) Joe P. writes: "'Rusticate' is also a way to describe the process by which pipes (for smoking tobacco) become rusticated [hand-textured]. This is not to be confused with scraped or sandblasted." - the complete title of Winchester's Atlantic article is Roget and his brilliant, unrivaled, malign, and detestable thesaurus. - Peter Roget compiled his Thesaurus in his retiracy.
the worthless word for the day is: superannuated [fr. L. superannuatus] [adj] of persons: disqualified or incapacitated by age; old and infirm; of things: impaired by age, worn out; antiquated, obsolete, out of date "We shall be either superannuated or dead." - Philip G. Hamerton, The intellectual life (1873) "A nap, my friend, is a brief period of sleep which overtakes superannuated persons when they endeavor to entertain unwelcome visitors or to listen to scientific lectures." - George Bernard Shaw
the worthless word for the day is: rusticate [fr. L. rusticari, to live in the country] [vi] to retire into the country; to stay or sojourn in the country; to assume rural manners, to live a country life "I am so sorry... Lady Elizabeth is not going [to London] this year, so I am compelled to rusticate." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Alice or The Mysteries "So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living. " - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet
the worthless word for the day is: delitescent [fr. L. delitescere, to hide] /del eh TES sent/ lying hidden: obfuscated, latent thus, delitescence: latent state, concealment, seclusion "The immense proportion of our intellectual possessions consists of our delitescent cognitions." - Sir W. Hamilton, Lectures on Metaphysics (1836-7) "The obscuration, the delitescence of mental activities." - op cit
the worthless word for the day is: retiracy [U.S., from retire, after such pairs as conspire : conspiracy] /re TIRE uh see/ 1) retirement, seclusion 2) sufficient means or property to make possible retirement "He left the house, and once more sought the retiracy of the gardens." - Lewis Wallace, The Fair God (1873) "It is said, in New England, of a person who left off business with a fortune, that he has a retiracy; i.e. a sufficient fortune to retire upon." - J. R. Bartlett, Dict. of Americanisms (1848) this week: words of a retiring nature
the worthless word for the day is: brassica [L., cabbage] /BRASS ikuh/ plants of the mustard family, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and turnip "The brassica industry is utilising biological and cultural pest management integrated with chemical control." - Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Queensland, 25 August 2004 "He remembered joining.. The Men Of The Furrow, in some town out in the stalks.*... *In areas more wooded, less dominated by the cabbage and general brassica industry, it would, of course, have been in the sticks." - Terry Pratchett, Going Postal (not to be confused with brass bands, brass knuckles, brass tacks, top brass, etc.)
the worthless word for the day is: disponible [ad. L. disponere, to set in different places, place here and there, arrange, dispose; cf. F. disponible] capable of being assigned or disposed of as one wishes: available "He gave me the names of all the disponible ships with their tonnage and the names of their commanders." - Joseph Conrad, 'Twixt Land & Sea (1912) "One's picture of the higher civil servant -- adroit, informed, disponible, never in the way or out of it." - Punch, 24 Mar. 1965 (not to be confused with deponible)
the worthless word for the day is: puggle [chiefly dial., freq. of pug (poke)] [v] to clear out or stir up by poking "The man gave me a wire and told me to puggle the pipe. I have puggled it several times, but the water does not come." - letter to Rev. C. B. Mount (1899) not to be confused with: [n] puggle, a cross between a pug and a beagle [thanx to abmckay]
the worthless word for the day is: pluviose [ad. L. pluviosus, rainy] /PLU vee ose/ rare marked by or regularly receiving heavy rainfall : a pluviose period fig. tearful "I was moved to vent my pluviose indignation." - Examiner (1824)
the worthless word for the day is: therianthropic [fr. Gk therianthropos, beast-man] 1) combining human and animal form therianthropic deity 2) relating to religions in which the deities worshiped are partly human and partly animal in form thus, therianthropy - a transformation into animal form, such as lycanthropy "A controversial aspect of therianthropy is the subject of shifting, which generally refers to any manner by which a therianthrope's nature may become evidenced internally (to themselves) or externally to others." - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
the worthless word for the day is: coulrophobia [ostensibly fr. Gk. koulon, limb; related to kolobathristes, one who goes on stilts] an irrational fear of clowns "...the show can still evoke chills from anyone suffering even a touch of coulrophobia. (Yes, there is a name for the fear of clowns.) Although a solitary clown painting hanging on a basement wall is easily passed off as kitsch, a roomful of clown paintings is something to behold, if you can handle it." - Charles Sheehan, Tampa Bay Times Sep. 1, 2005 "You want coulrophobia, check out www.ihateclowns.com, where the clown-queasy meet to swap horror stories (and where you can buy a T-shirt that says: "can't sleep, clowns will eat me...")." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Feb 9, 2005 and here's Michael Quinion once again:
the worthless word for the day is: okhrana [fr. Russian oxrana, lit. guarding, protection, security] /ah KRAH nuh/ also okhranka in Imperial Russia: a secret police department set up in 1881 (after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II) to maintain state security and suppress revolutionary activities, and abolished after the February Revolution in 1917 (now Hist.) the security services of the Soviet Union or its successors "The krysha (roof) is the protection racket... The okhrana is the security outfit, official or unofficial... Try telling the two apart." - Guardian (Electronic ed.), 29 Apr. 2000
the worthless word for the day is: lupercalian [fr. L. Lupercus, god of flocks] related to or characteristic of an ancient Roman festival (Lupercalia) celebrated February 15 to ensure fertility for the people, fields and flocks ah, those fun-loving Romans, two festivals on one day; the confusion is somewhat alleviated by this: "After the sacrifice was over, the Luperci partook of a meal, at which they were plentifully supplied with wine. They then cut the skins of the goats which they had sacrificed, into pieces; with some of which they covered parts of their body in imitation of the god Lupercus, who was represented half naked and half covered with goat-skin. The other pieces of the skins they cut into thongs, and holding them in their hands they ran through the streets of the city, touching or striking with them all persons whom they met in their way, and especially women... This act of running about with thongs of goat-skin was a symbolic purification of the land, and that of touching persons a purification of men, for the words by which this act is designated are februare and lustrare. The goat-skin itself was called februum, the festive day dies februata, the month in which it occurred Februarius, and the god himself Februus." - A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875
the worthless word for the day is: februation [fr. L. februare, to purify (cf. L. Februarius, the Roman festival of purification, held on the 15th of this month)] now rare a ceremonial purification or cleansing; a sacrifice cf. februate - obs. to purify "The passing of children through fire without either slaying or burning; a februation by fire." - James Martin, tr. Keil's Biblical commentary on the prophecies of Ezekiel
the worthless word for the day is: dowsabel [from the female name Dulcibella] obs. sweetheart; perhaps first used in some pastoral song, whence applied generically to a sweetheart as a name: To Adriana! that is where we din'd, Where Dowsabel did claim me for her husband: She is too big, I hope, for me to compass. - W. Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (1590) as a noun: "Give me her for my Dowsabel." - Charles Cotton, Scoffer Scoft (1675) sweet-heart itself is very old (predating Chaucer) For-yeue it me myn owene swete herte. - Chaucer, Troylus (c1374) To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. - mad Ophelia, Act 4, Scene 5 of Hamlet
the worthless word for the day is: muffish [fr. colloq. muff, itself of uncertain origin, but see Brewer for muff] Brit. colloq. foolish; incompetent; clumsy hence muffishness - foolishness; awkwardness "By contrast everyone born since 1908 seems squat, indigent, muffish." - Times Lit. Suppl. 14 Feb 1958 "No matter if, in the time of crinolines, she sacrifices decency; in the time of trains, cleanliness; in the time of tied-back skirts, modesty; no matter either, if she makes herself a nuisance and an inconvenience to every one she meets; the girl of the period has done away with such moral muffishness as consideration for others or regard for counsel and rebuke." - Eliza Lynn Linton, from The Girl of the Period (1868) "Muff. A dull, stupid person. Sir Henry Muff, one of the candidates in Dudley's interlude, called The Rival Candidates (1774), is a stupid, blundering dolt." - Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
the worthless word for the day is: gnome [fr. Gk. gnome thought, judgement, opinion] a short pithy statement of a general truth; a proverb, maxim, aphorism, or apophthegm "Many of the sublimer flights of meditation in Sophocles are expansions of early Gnomes." - J. A. Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets gnome is not to be confused with a dwarfish gnome; the connection commonly assumed seems unlikely (per the OED), even though they share the short aspect. gnome [fr. L. gnomus] - an elemental being that inhabits the earth "I send you herewith a Gothic gnome for your Greek nymph; but the gnome is interesting, I think, and he came out of a deep mine, where he guards the fountain of tears. It is not always the time to rejoice. - Yours ever, <signed> R. L. S." - Robert Louis Stevenson, a letter
the Zen koan called "Ganto's Ax" goes on: Both monks continued their meditation as if he [Ganto] had not spoken. Ganto dropped the ax and said, "You are true Zen students."
the worthless word for the day is: koan [fr. Jp. ko, public + an, proposition] /KO an/ a paradox used in meditation for the training of Zen Buddhist monks to abandon dependence on reason and rather gain sudden intuitive enlightenment Now we can do a more advanced exercise, based on a Zen koan called "Ganto's Ax". Here is how it begins: One day Tokusan told his student Ganto, "I have two monks who have been here for many years. Go and examine them." Ganto picked up an ax and went to the hut where the two monks were meditating. He raised the ax, saying, "If you say a word I will cut off your heads; and if you do not say a word, I will also cut off your heads." - Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an EGB
the worthless word for the day is: cogitabund [fr. L. cogitabundus, thinking; fr. cogitare, to think] archaic given to deep thought, having the appearance of being in deep meditation: pensive "Thou art cogitabund; thy head is running upon thy poetry." - Thomas Southerne, The Wive's Excuse (1692) "Is not the humour of them elaborate, cogitabund, fanciful?" - James H. L. Hunt, The Indicator (1821)
the worthless word for the day is: iridology [a. Gk. irido, comb. form of iris, + -logy] in alternative medicine, the study of the iris as a basis for diagnosis "In general iridology is not thought to be as valuable as more orthodox forms of diagnosis." - The Times, 17 Nov 1989 ""The theory is simple. Flecks, streaks, spots, or discolorations within a particular section of the iris indicate that there is a trouble spot, a weakness in a corresponding area of the body. As a diagnostic tool, it far exceeds the reaches of conventional medicine... Iridology is a science that can see the future..." A soothsayer, I think." - Monique Truong, The Book of Salt -logies are a dime a dozen; but I will add one now and again when I find one in actual use.
the worthless word for the day is: aichmophobia [fr. Gk. aichmê(?), spear point] /IKE mo ~/ the fear of sharp or pointed objects "Fencing was a sport I really enjoyed... Some people cannot stand knives, swords, bayonets, anything sharp; psychiatrists have a word for it: aichmophobia. Idiots who drive cars a hundred miles an hour on fifty-mile- an-hour roads will nevertheless panic at the sight of a bare blade." - R. A. Heinlein, Glory Road Aichmophobia's common in tots When it comes time for getting their shots. Immunizing is quick But they're spooked by the prick. Still, it's better than swellings and spots. - Virge, courtesy of OEDILF phobias are a dime a dozen; there's even an extensive list in the OneLook index; but I will add one now and again when I find one in actual use. As to the limerick, this is my initial foray into the OEDILF, and I hope Chris J. Strolin, Editor-in-Chief, will consider this fair usage. (thanx Chris! :)
the worthless word for the day is: desublimation [fr. L. sublimare, to sublime + de-] (to sublime is taken in the sense to convert (something inferior) into something of higher worth) a process by which things are undone that were previously sublimated on a higher level of the cultural scale [after Marcuse] "...certain key notions and images of literature and their fate will illustrate how the progress of technological rationality is liquidating the oppositional and transcending elements in the 'higher culture.' They succumb in fact to the process of desublimation which prevails in the advanced regions of contemporary society." - Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (1964) "Herbert Marcuse's once influential The Aesthetic Dimension argues that aesthetic form allows a given (social) reality (or the reification thereof) to be sublimated and thus transcended. In turn, this process engenders in an audience a rebellious subjectivity -- a desublimation of the audience's perceptions, creating a potential indictment of the dominant ideology. Art is thus a dissenting force." - Words of Art, compiled by Robert J. Belton
the worthless word for the day is: lixiviate [fr. L. lixivus, made into lye; fr. lix, ashes, lye] 1) to impregnate with lixivium or lye 2) to subject to a washing process for the purpose of separating soluble material from that which is insoluble; to leach, as ashes, for the purpose of extracting the alkaline substances "Collect some charcoal ashes from the crucible furnace and lixiviate them." - Michael Faraday, Chemical Manipulation (1827) "The great ocean lixiviates our earth." - Chamber's Journal (1854)
the worthless word for the day is: direptitious obs. rare (after surreptitious, f. L. direption, the sacking or pillaging of a town, f. diripere, to tear asunder) characterized by plundering or pillaging hence direptitiously "The grants surreptitiously and direptitiously obtained." - R. Bowyer (recorded by Strype from 1532)
the worthless word for the day is: disworth obs. rare to deprive of worth; to render worthless or unworthy (from the archaic verb worth; to happen, to become the stem is prob. the same as that of L. vertere, to turn with the sense in Germanic having developed into that of to turn into, to become) "Nothing more disworthes man than Cowardice." - Owen Feltham, Resolves divine, morall, politicall (1627) or, what do you make of this: "My intent is not to render words worthless, or disworth them, but rather to suggest to the reader that some of these most obscure and neglected words may actually be worthy of seeing the light of day." - submitted as suggestion for new wwftd disclaimer
the worthless word for the day is: facundity [f. L. facundus] archaic eloquence; effective communication in speech (not to be confused with fecundity) "Two love sequences.. have a fine poetic facundity, but that is all." - Times Lit. Suppl. 17 Feb. 1921
the worthless word for the day is: propination [f. L. propinatio, a drink to one's health] obs. rare the action of offering drink to another in pledging; the drinking to the health of someone (not to be confused with popination..) "'Props!' barked Kit Seelye, never looking up. I snatched at the possibilities of meanings for the plural noun... That's it: props, coined on the West Coast in the music business, is a slang term for "proper respect" and is now sweeping the country, or at least my newsroom. (Consequently, propination means "a toast to someone's health.")" - William Safire, The New York Times, 30 June 2002
the worthless word for the day is: magiric [f. ancient Gk. magiros(?), cook] obs. rare of or relating to cookery; the art of cooking "From time to time, I actually don a white chef's jacket and toque and, on those occasions, persons who do not hold me in sufficient reverence have been heard to suggest that I look a bit like the Swedish chef. Given my magiric aspirations, I take that as a compliment." - Father Steve, AWADtalk Jan. 15, 2005 [thanx to Fr. Steve] not at all related to magic... but wait
the worthless word for the day is: popination [fr. L. popinari, to frequent eating-houses] obs. rare an outrageous drinking; a haunting of taverns (barhopping, according to Beyond Balderdash®) found in Bailey (1623) and Phillips (1658) "When I first entered the bar, I knew she was into popination." (not related to soda pop, popery, or propination(!))
the worthless word for the day is: sarculate [fr. L. sarculum] rare to hoe, weed (also sarcle) hence sarculation, hoeing "Their Sarculation was used but amongst small Quantities of sown Corn." - Jethro Tull(!!), The new horse-houghing* husbandry (1733) *hoeing (nothing at all to do with circulate/circulation, but..) [thanx once again to Wordwind] addendum: sources claim that sarculate can be found in the "Dictionarie" which was published simultaneously with the 1623 first edition of the Shakespeare Folio (this is the first I've heard of it); but the overarching conceit thereof is "THE POEMS AND PLAYS ATTRIBUTED TO WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ARE PROVEN TO CONTAIN THE ENCI- PHERED NAME OF THE CONCEALED AUTHOR, FRANCIS BACON." Why how now gentleman: why this is flat knaverie to take upon you another mans's name. -William Shakespeare: Taming of the Shrew, iv, 1, 127
the worthless word for the day is: fatiferous [fr. L. fatum, fate + -fer, producing] /fa TIF er ous/ obs. rare fate-bringing; deadly, destructive found in Blount and in Johnson; whence in modern dictionaries (nothing to do with gulous, but...)
the worthless word for the day is: gulous [fr. L. gula, gullet, gluttony] obs. rare gluttonous "She was reading at table, and that was wrong, but her brother sulked and her father and stepmother ate silently and solidly, Mrs Walters urging further helpings on her dim but gulous husband." - Anthony Burgess, Tremor of Intent (1966)
the worthless word for the day is: carious [ab. L. cariosus] /KAR ee us/ decaying, rotten (with dry rot) "The final act to be perfromed accorded better with fleas, foul lavatories, stained and carious wallpaper." - Anthony Burgess, Tremor of Intent (1966) "Analyses from the 2003 survey on dentinal decay, periodontal health and non-carious conditions were published in July 2004." - Child Health News, 20-Dec-2004 (not to be confused with curious)
the worthless word for the day is: proleptic [ab. Gk. proleptikos, anticipative] /pro LEP tic/ of, pertaining to, or characterized by prolepsis or anticipation; anticipative, anticipatory "I know the procedure. A sort of proleptic wraith of poor Roper is already lying on the other bunk of this Bibby* cabin." - Anthony Burgess, Tremor of Intent (1966) "In the meantime, as you prepare yourself for the Times's litany about 1) what a penetrating critical intelligence Sontag wielded and 2) what a "courageous" and challenging "dissident" voice she provided (those quotation marks are proleptic: let's see** if the Times uses those words),.." - Roger Kimball, The New Criterion Jan 3, 2005 --- *a Bibby cabin has a porthole at the end of an interior hallway **this is left as an exercise for the pedant
the worthless word for the day is: stichomythia [ab. Gk., speaking in alternating lines] /stik' uh MITH ee uh/ (also stichomythy) an ancient Greek mode of dialogue in drama, poetry, and disputation in which two actors deliver alternating lines; also applied to modern imitations of this "Take.. the passage of dialogue between Richard and Queen Elizabeth in 'Richard III,' as vivid a piece of stichomythia as the English drama has to show." - Blackwood's Magazine June, 1914 "He trudged up broken cobbles, looking for a right turning. On either side were mean houses, in one of which a blue television screen did a rapid stichomythia of shot and dialogue, the window wide open for the heat." - Anthony Burgess, Tremor of Intent (1966)
the worthless word for the day is: pantarbe [ab. Gk., some kind of precious stone] obs. a precious stone fabled to act as a magnet to gold: the stone of the sun "Far beyond that most orient and excellent stone Pantarbe, celebrated by Philostratus." - John Trapp, Commentary on I Peter (1647) "Try therefor before ye trust; look before ye leap." - ibid. (tracing the saying to St. Bernard)
the worthless word for the day is: catasta [L., scaffold, stage for selling slaves, etc.] Hist. a block on which slaves were exposed for sale; a stage or bed of torture used in early Christian times "Standing an hour on the catasta to be handled from head to foot in the minimum of clothing." - Charles Kingsley, Hypatia, or new foes with an old face (1853)
the worthless word for the day is: galgenhumor [G., Galgenhumor] /GAL gen hyu mor/ gallows-humor "Not a few of these terms show Galgenhumor, e.g., meat-wagon for an ambulance." - H. L. Mencken, The American Language "The Gravedigger's song in Hamlet is.. an expression of the galgenhumor which suits his particular mystery." - W. H. Auden, The dyer's hand and other essays
the worthless word for the day is: powfag obs. rare to tire bodily from overwork; to become worn out in mind from care or anxiety; to work to the point of exhaustion - Francis Taylor's Folk-Speech of South Lancashire (1901)
the worthless word for the day is: flummadiddle U.S. slang also flumadiddle, flumdiddle, etc. [perhaps alteration of flummery] 1) something foolish or worthless: nonsense, trash 2) bauble, frill flummery - something poor, trashy, or not worth having; empty compliment or foolish deceptive language
the worthless word for the day is: anagapesis rare {so rare I have no etymology or citations} [prob. from Gk. agapé, love] /an eh gap EE sis/ a loss of feelings for one formerly loved
the worthless word for the day is: onolatry [fr. Gk. onos, ass] /oh NOL atry/ rare {until discovered by the net} worship of the donkey or ass; also by extension, excessive admiration for or devotion to foolishness "The calumny of onolatry, or ass-worship, attributed by Tacitus and other writers to the Jews, was afterwards, by the hatred of the latter, transferred to the Christians" - The Catholic Encyclopedia The crowd's onolatries Echo that laughter. - Edith Sitwell, Gardeners and Astronomers (1953)
the worthless word for the day is: contumulate [fr. L. contumulare, to entomb] obs. rare buried or entombed together The King and Queen contumulate, and joined as one together, that which before was two by fate is tyed, which none can sever. - quoted in A Suggestive Inquiry into Hermetic Philosophy, by Mary Anne Atwood (1960)
the worthless word for the day is: mollock [Brit. coloq. (an alteration of morlock, to frolic, dance; play about, perhaps after rollick)] to cavort; spec. to engage in sexual play; also fig. "He's off a-mollocking somewheres in Howling." - Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm "It is the lot of the Pellimores, to go a-mollocking for the beastly beast." - Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book
the worthless word for the day is: colure in response to the definition for armillary, David F. of Harvard asks: But what's a "colure"?; and so I resort to OED2: Astron. (kul'(j)u(r), 'kulju(r)) [ad. L. colur-us, Gr. kolouros dock-tailed, truncated as n. pl. kolouroi the colures, so called, according to Proclus, because their lower part is permanently cut off from view (i.e. in Greece, or elsewhere away from the equator). So F. colure. Both pronunciations are found in verse.] Each of two great circles which intersect each other at right angles at the poles, and divide the equinoctial and the ecliptic into four equal parts. One passes through the equinoctial points, the other through the solstitial points, of the ecliptic. 1728 NEWTON Chronol. Amended "Eudoxus drew the Colure of the Solstices through the middle of the Great Bear." OED Second Edition © 1989
the worthless word for the day is: armillary [fr. L. armilla] [a] of or pertaining to bracelets or hoops; [n] an armillary sphere armillary sphere - a skeleton celestial globe or sphere, consisting merely of metal rings or hoops representing the equator, ecliptic, tropics, arctic and antarctic circles, and colures, revolving on an axis "Troup Square residents are asking Santa for something that likely won't fit in his sleigh - an armillary. They don't want a new one. They just want the city to repair the astrological sculpture that was bulldozed by a drunken driver in October." - Savannah Morning News Dec. 12, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: jackanory [UK, from a children's TV show of that name, wherein stories were often read by celebrities] rhyming slang for story, often used in the sense of a "tall story" Unison's Scottish health organiser Jim Devine said such a policy would be impossible to enforce. "It is fantasy and jackanory politics. We now have doubts about whether the Executive is committed to the NHS." - Sunday Herald Dec. 12, 2004 He's got morning glory and life's a different story Everything's going jackanory - Blur, Country House (lyric) here's an interesting verbing of the the word: "I jackanoried you into a book when you were nine but now you must do it for yourself..." - Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book
the worthless word for the day is: conbobberation U.S. colloq. (humorous) obs. rare [con + bobber(?) + ation; perh. from Anglo-Indian bobbery, a "row"] a disturbance "These [New World] expressions were, to put it mildly, often colorful, and a surprising number of them have survived: hornswoggle, cattywampus, rambunctious, absquatulate, to move like greased lightning, to kick the bucket, to be in cahoots with, to root hog or die. Others have faded away: monstracious, teetotaciously, helliferocious, conbobberation, obflisticate, and many others of equal exuberance." - Bill Bryson, Old World, New World root hog or die??
the worthless word for the day is: obflisticate [U.S. colloq. (humorous)] obs. rare humorous alteration of obfuscate, perh. after *flustrate "These Mingoes.. ought to be.. tee-totally obflisticated off of the face of the whole yeath.." - James Hall, Legends of the West (1832) (attributed to Davy Crockett) "He looked obflisticated." - Crockett Almanac (1840) *we learned some while ago that flustrate is an old variant of fluster, dating back at least to 1712: "We were coming down Essex Street one Night a little flustrated." - Richard Steele, Spectator
the worthless word for the day is: spoliate [fr. L. spoliare] /SPO lee ate/ to spoil or despoil; to rob or deprive of something "After having violated and spoliated every other corporation in the country." - John Bull (1839) "I thought I had spotted a nine-letter word, namely "spoliated", but found that although "spoliate" is in both Collins English Dictionary and Chambers, it is not in the Concise Oxford and so is not allowable by Countdown rules.." - Brian Greer, crossword editor of The Times
the worthless word for the day is: quaquaversal [fr. L. quaqua, wheresoever + versus, towards] /kway kwuh VER sal/ mainly Geol. turning or dipping in any or all directions "If the beds dip away in all directions from a centre they are said to have a quaquaversal dip." - A.H. Green, Physical Geology (1877) thus, through transferal: "Stop being so quaquaversal -- you're going off in all directions at once!"
the worthless word for the day is: eminento [modification of Italian eminente] an eminent person (but often used as a disparaging epithet) Hendrik Hertzberg, writing in The New Republic, attacked [R. Emmett] Tyrrell's "verbal dandyism- Chicken McMencken, perhaps":
The formula is simple. First, select a person to attack. If possible, refer to him or her as the Hon. insert surname, the Rev. insert surname, or Dr. insert surname. Second, call the person a nasty name, either a heavily sarcastic one (esteemed eminento, sonorous pontificator, distinguished scholar) or simply a jeering one - bellyacher, buffoon, dolt, dunderhead, galoot, gasbag, greenhorn, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, jackass, loony, moron, nincompoop, pinhead, poltroon, popinjay, quack, rube, sap, simpleton, snot, windbag, wretch, yahoo, yokel, or zealot. Third, add an adjective (optional). Brazen, fuliginous, gaseous, gimcrack, maudlin, meretricious, piffling, portentous, sophomoric, puerile - any of these will do. Fourth, accuse the person of engaging in bibble-babble, claptrap, flapdoodle, flumdiddle, hokum, moonshine, pishposh, rumble-bumble, pronunciamentos, or tosh. Finally, work in a reference to the United States as "the Republic." You will soon be writing, or programming your computer to write, sentences such as this one, from page 21 [of The Liberal Crack-Up]: "There have always been whistle-brained pontificators at large in the Republic, all promising a New Age full of wonder and kookery."

the worthless word for the day is: edentulous /ee DEN chu lus/ [fr. L. edentulus] toothless, edentate, agomphious
While working one evening as a nurse at Wilson Memorial Hospital in 1980, Smirnow followed an oral surgeon, furiously scribbling notes that he dictated as they moved quickly around the ward. "He examined this lady and said, 'Patient edentulous [without teeth],'" Smirnow said. "So I wrote that, and he looked at it, then he looked at me, and said, 'You can spell that?' That did it. I'd had it." Just one course shy of earning her four-year degree, she scrapped nursing and decided to become a physician. - Gerald P. Merrell, Baltimore Sun  Nov. 7, 2004

the worthless word for the day is: obvaricate [fr. L. obvaricator, a person who obstructs another] obs. rare to obstruct (a person or a person's progress) "O the.. obstacles that obvaricate a lovers progresse, O the tristfull casualties." - Robert Baron (1647)
the worthless word for the day is: cormorant [fr. OF, raven-of-the-sea] [n] 1. a rapacious sea-bird 2. a gluttonous, greedy, or rapacious person [adj] greedy, rapacious
the worthless word for the day is: Hobson's choice the option of taking the one thing offered or nothing [after Thomas Hobson (1544-1630), English keeper of a livery stable, from his requirement that renters take either the horse nearest the stable door or none] (also, rhyming slang for voice) "Even for frequent customers, renting a car usually entails something of a Hobson's choice: you get what is available when you show up." - Joe Sharkey, N.Y. Times Oct.26, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: hobson-jobson /HOB sun JOB sun/ 1) a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases 2) the alteration of a word or phrase borrowed from a foreign language to accord more closely with the orthoepy and orthography of the borrowing language; as in English hoosegow from Spanish juzgado, or British plonk (cheap wine) from French vin blanc "Collections of Indian English vocabulary have been around for more than a century. Hobson-Jobson was the first, published in 1886." - David Crystal, Guardian Weekly, Nov. 19 2004 "Now here's an enticing thought: a Hobson-Jobson for post-colonial times..." - The Statesman, Oct. 26 2004
the worthless word for the day is: dyvoury [Scot., fr. dyvour, beggar; perh. related to diver -- drowned in debt?] obs. bankruptcy; beggary "Help your... friends out of beggary and dyvoury if you can." - Robert Baillie (1661) and speaking of beggary: "Like a poor beggar raileth on the rich Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail And say there is no sin but to be rich; And being rich my virtue then shall be To say there is no vice but beggary." - W. Shakespeare, King John
the worthless word for the day is: slaunchwise [U.S. dialect] slanting, oblique, crooked; diagonally, obliquely, crookedly {to be found in the final vol. of DARE} "The fence come up the hill slaunchwise." - Paul Fink, Bits of Mountain Speak
the worthless word for the day is: incogitable [fr. L. incogitabilis, unthinking, unthinkable] impossible to accept or believe: unthinkable, inconceivable "The remarkable, improbable, unbelievable, implausible, inconceivable (I'm running out of adjectives), incogitable (had to look that one up) comeback of Mr. Grant Hill..." - Bill Simmons (The Sports Guy), espn.com
the worthless word for the day is: retrosexual [neologism] the antithesis of the metrosexual: a man with an undeveloped aesthetic sense who spends as little time and money as possible on his appearance and lifestyle "Ms Dent's book also predicts a backlash against the suave metrosexual man in the form of the scruffy retrosexual, who is defined as spending as little time and money as possible on his appearance." - The Times, Oct. 19, 2004 [not to be confused with previous uses of the word]
the worthless word for the day is: disincommodate erroneous (or jocular) mixture of discommodate and incommodate (themselves rather archaic forms for discommode and incommode) "You're too beastly awfully weird for words! I don't think you need over excessively disincommodate yourself in that regard." - James Joyce, Ulysses
the worthless word for the day is: reluctate [fr. L. reluctari, to struggle against] archaic to offer resistance; to strive or struggle against something; to show reluctance "'I would have thee love me, not because thou must but because thou wilt, not as a duty but as a delight. For,' she added, 'we are prone to reluctate against what is imposed, but to take pleasure in what we choose.'" - Antonia Fraser, The Weaker Vessel (1984)
the worthless word for the day is: juvament [f. L. juvare, to help] obs. rare help, aid, assistance (this word may not have been used for several hundred years!)
the worthless word for the day is: lumberly [f. lumber + -ly] clumsy, cumbrous [this word, while fairly rare, can be found on some Scrabble® lists; e.g., one which lists words only found in the Random House Webster's Collegiate Dictionary] "England is stirring, in a slow, lumberly, and timorous fashion." - James Murray, Address to Philol. Soc. (1880)
the worthless word for the day is: anamorphose [f. anamorphosis] rare to represent by anamorphosis; to distort into a monstrous projection anamorphosis - a distorted image (unless viewed in a special manner) "Shakspere might have seen this very picture, or, if not, some other in which a skull was thus anamorphosed; in which 'looking awry,' a 'shape of grief' was found." - James Murray, in Mill Hill Mag. [This is Murray citing himself in the first edition of the OED; it remains so today.]
the worthless word for the day is: abusion [L] obs. misuse, perversion; deceit; [Rhet.] catachresis; outrage, wrong; reviling, insult "One problem was that readers had never bothered to consider with much enthusiasm what might be called the ordinary words of the language... So the supply slips for these banal words was meagre, almost useless. 'Thus of abusion,' writes Murray, referring to an unusual word that means deception or outrage, 'we found in the slips about 50 instances: of abuse, not five.'" - Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything
the worthless word for the day is: scriptorium [Med. L] /scrip TOR eum/ a room in a monastery set aside for the copying, writing, or illuminating of manuscripts and records "[Murray] decided that while everyone else seemed to call this nasty and damp and unhealthy little building 'the Shed', he would dignify it by the name monks gave to the room in which they prepared illuminated manuscripts: 'the Scriptorium'. The name stuck -- to this building in Mill Hill, and later when the project moved to Oxford." - Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: hantu [Malay.] an evil spirit, a ghost [any connection with haunt would seem to be merely coincidental] "They tell me this land is full of hantus, things that ought not to be about; souls now stowed safely away in Gehenna." - H. M. Tomlinson, Gallions Reach (1927) "Police here on Wednesday detained seven "lori hantu" (phantom lorries), called so because they allegedly did not have any records whatsoever with the relevant vehicle authorities." - Daily Express (E. Malaysia) 21 Oct., 2004

the worthless word for the day is: boggard (also boggart) /BOG gehd/ or /BOG geht/ [Brit] a spectre, goblin, or bogy; in dialectal use, esp. a local goblin or sprite supposed to 'haunt' a particular gloomy spot, or scene of violence "He thinks every bush a boggard." - Henry Bohn, A Handbook of Proverbs (1855) "There was a story that a tunnel led from the hall to Rochdale, while tales of the Clegg Hall boggart put the fear of God into many passers by." - Michael Byrne, Rochdale Observer Sep 24, 2004 --- as I was reminded by a faithful reader, boggart is not to be confused with bogart; as in Don't Bogart That Joint.
the worthless word for the day is: boojum /BOO jum/ an imaginary animal, a particularly dangerous kind of 'snark' [coined by Lewis Carroll] " 'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day, If your Snark be a Boojum! For then You will softly and suddenly vanish away, And never be met with again!'" [several Fits later] " In the midst of the word he was trying to say, In the midst of his laughter and glee, He had softly and suddenly vanished away-- For the Snark *was* a Boojum, you see.'" - Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in Eight Fits) (1876) "The dreadful Boojum of Nothingness." - W. H. Auden, The Enchafed Flood (1950)
the worthless word for the day is: ornithorhynchus [shortened from Ornithorhynchus anatinus] the duckbilled platypus "The spiny anteater's close relative, the duckbill platypus, or ornithorhynchus, belongs in the class of animals impossible to maintain alive.." - W. M. Mann, Wild Animals in & out of Zoo (1930) [well, nearly impossible..] "It was [Shaw] who called the thing Platypus, but later the name had to be changed to Ornithorhynchus, because there was already a beetle called Platypus." - groups.google.com, 8/12/2004
the worthless word for the day is: liberticidal destructive of liberty "He is a noble patriot in the first half of his career, and a liberticidal usurper in the second." - Richard Garnett, Life of Thomas Carlyle (1887)
the worthless word for the day is: pseudology [f. Gk. pseudologia] 1) false speaking; the making of false statements, esp. when humorously represented as an art or system; the art of lying 2) the science or subject of false statements; a false or pretended science "Detractory or defamatory lies should not be quite opposite to the qualities the person is supposed to have. Thus it will not be found according to the sound rules of pseudology to report of a pious and religious prince that he neglects his devotions and would introduce heresy; but you may report of a merciful prince that he has pardoned a criminal who did not deserve it." - John Arbuthnot, Treatise on the Art of Political Lying (1714)
the worthless word for the day is: embuggerance [Brit. military slang] a natural or artificial hazard that complicates any proposed course of action "Well, now... it looks like what we have here is an embuggerance which, my lads..., is defined as an obstruction in the way of progress." - Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment
the worthless word for the day is: lanterloo [orig. the unmeaning refrain of a song popular in the 17th c.] used as a meaningless refrain The sun is bright, the grass is green: Lanterloo, lanterloo. The King is courting his young Queen. Lanterloo, my lady. - Auden & Kallman, The Rake's Progress [libretto] (1951) this week: words from Auden
the worthless word for the day is: ingressant [nonce-word] (but probably borrowed from Sp.) entering, ingoing "His Good ingressant on our gross occasions Envisages our advance." - W.H. Auden, Age of Anxiety (1948)
the worthless word for the day is: frore [pa. pple. of freeze] (now only poet.) intensely cold, frosty; frozen "where tarns lie frore under frowning cirques" - W.H. Auden, River Profile (1969)
the worthless word for the day is: olamic [f. Hebrew olam; an age, eternity] (now rare) everlasting, eternal A work of re-presenting The true olamic silence. - W.H. Auden, About the House (1965)
the worthless word for the day is: dedolent [L., giving over grieving] (rare) that feels sorrow no more; feeling no compunction; insensible, callous; apathetic (also dedolant) "A tanker sinks into a dedolant sea." - W.H. Auden, Nones (1951)
the worthless word for the day is: anagogy /an uh GOH jee/ (also anagoge) [from Gk. anagoge] mystical interpretation of words (esp. Scripture)
the worthless word for the day is: erotomane [back-formation from NL erotomania] someone having excessive sexual desire "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
the worthless word for the day is: therblig in time-and-motion study, a unit of work or absence of work into which an industrial operation may be divided [anagrammatic formation by partial reversal of the name of its inventor, F. B. Gilbreth (1868-1924), American engineer and pioneer of time-and-motion studies] "Minimize your therbligs until it becomes automatic; this doubles your effective lifetime -- and thereby gives you time to enjoy butterflies and kittens and rainbows." - from Lazurus Long's notebook (Robert Heinlein) "She was skilled.. in lovemaking, and only now and then did you get the feeling that.. in her mind there was a stopwatch and a work-study chart covered with therbligs." - W. H. Canaway, The Willow-Pattern War [thanx to jvalentine]
the worthless word for the day is: ichthus (also ichthys) a representation of a fish used in ancient times as a pagan fertility talisman or amulet, or as a Christian symbol for the Greek word ichthys interpreted as an acrostic; in modern usage you often see the symbol on the back of cars (so that's what that's called..)
the worthless word for the day is: amplexus [Zool., L] the mating embrace of frogs and toads "Also interesting is the Amplexus Cremant Brut Sparkling Wine, imported from a winery in Limoux, France." - from a review of the Toad Hollow Tasting Room in the August 11-17, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian
the worthless word for the day is: sororal of or pertaining to or characteristic of a sister or sisters; sisterly [cf. fraternal] "In sororal polygynous marriages the men marry all sisters of one family, whereas the wife's sisters do not necessarily marry his brothers. A relic of this custom is the right to marry a deceased wife's sister or a barren wife's sister." - Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs, A Social History of Man "Kids who are dizygotic and produced from separate pairs of non-matching gametes but share a womb can be called fraternal or sororal twins." - J. Kensmark, newsgroup
the worthless word for the day is: librocubicularist one who reads in bed (coined by Christopher Morley?)
"All right," said the bookseller amiably. "Miss Chapman, you take the book up with you and read it in bed if you want to. Are you a librocubicularist?" Titania looked a little scandalized. "It's all right, my dear," said Helen. "He only means are you fond of reading in bed. I've been waiting to hear him work that word into the conversation. He made it up, and he's immensely proud of it." - Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop

the worthless word for the day is: favela [Brazilian Pg. favela, perh. fr. Favela, hill outside Rio de Janeiro] a settlement of jerry-built shacks lying on the outskirts of a Brazilian city
"It was good intentions and probably not irony that led Brazilian authorities to give the name City of God to a doomed housing project not far outside Rio de Janeiro. The favela fast became a lawless territory where even corrupt police officers only rarely ventured, an inferno with its own rules and a dangerous indication of how very fragile civilized society is." - San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 24 2003
"I thought the 12-month suspended sentence [for Irish 
ex-priest Cornelius Horan] was vicious, draconian and 
cruel. They should have shouted him a fortnight in the 
favela of his choosing."
 - Max Quordlepleen [thanx Max]

the worthless word for the day is: ballycumber [neologism, from the British place name] one of the six half-read books lying somewhere in your bed - Douglas Adams & John Lloyd, The Meaning of Liff
the worthless word for the day is: corposant [from Port. and OSp. corpo santo] /KOR peh sant/ an electrical discharge accompanied by ionization of the surrounding atmosphere: St. Elmo's Fire "Upon the main top-gallant masthead was a ball of light, which the sailors name a corposant (corpus sancti)." - Richard Dana, Two Years before the Mast (1840)
the worthless word for the day is: opisthenar [from Gk. opisth- + thenar] the back of the hand "I know that movie as well as I know my opisthenar; now why can't I think of its title?!" - ron obvious, Aug. 19, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: ichnology [from Gk. ichnos, footprint + -ology] that part of palæontology which treats of fossil footprints, or other traces "Our knowledge of the footprints of recent animals, what may be termed modern Ichnology.. is so limited." - Sir W. Jardine, The Ichnology of Annandale (1851) "[Jardine] edited the 'Naturalist's Library,' in 40 volumes, which included the four branches: Mammalia, Ornithology, Ichnology*, and Entomology. " - Charles Darwin, letter (1859) *not really one of the four; see errata up top
the worthless word for the day is: cack-handed [chiefly Brit.] (perhaps from L. caca-re, to void; or from Old Norse keikr, bent backwards) 1) left-handed; back-handed 2) awkward; clumsy "I never met such a kack-handed jackass in all my born days." - Margery Louise Allingham, The beckoning lady (1955) "Sadly, his own idea for reforming state schools -- creating "fast tracks" for bright children -- smacks of cack-handed compromise." - The Economist; February 03, 1996
the worthless word for the day is: draffsack [Brit. dialect] (also draftsack) a sack of draff or refuse; also fig. a big paunch; a lazy glutton "Sleep yer ain sleeps, ye pair o' draft-sacks." - Samuel Crockett, The lilac sunbonnet (1894) "You dozy draffsack!" - anon
the worthless word for the day is: monish [now rare, chiefly literary and archaic] to admonish; to give counsel, warning, or criticism "Giles coolly monished right back." - Gore Vidal, Kalki And it is as though where Agni araflammed and Mithra monished and Shiva slew as maya mutras the obluvial waters of our noarchic memory withdrew, windingly goharksome, to some hasty- swasty timberman torch priest, flamenfan, the ward of the wind that lightened the fire that lay in the wood that Jove bolt, at his rude word. - James Joyce, Finnegan's Wake yep, literary.. : )
the worthless word for the day is: arborescent [L] 1) approaching the size of a tree 2) branching like a tree "At least 35 species [of oak] reach arborescent stature in the South ." {think about it} - Ellwood S. Harrar & J. George Harrar, Guide to Southern Trees "An arborescent grass, very like a bamboo." - Charles Darwin, Journal... of the Beagle [thanx to Theresa]
the worthless word for the day is: venustate [obs, L.] to make beautiful, fair or sightly found in Blount's Glossographia (1656) so, venustation, a making handsome or beautiful (more words found only in old dictionaries)
the worthless word for the day is: effrenate [obs. from L. effrenare, unbridled] of passions: unbridled, ungovernable "Men of effrenate intemperancy." - Abp. M. Parker, Correspondence (1561) thus effrenation, unruliness
the worthless word for the day is: feu de joie [F, fire of joy] the firing of guns as a symbol of joy; also transf. and fig.; [obs] a bonfire "A sudden fusillade of shots brought us to our feet...; it proved to be a wedding in the village, which the guests were celebrating in traditional style with a feu-de-joie." - Peter Kemp, No Colours or Crest "But the book remains a feu de joie." - Times Lit. Suppl., 18 Jan. 1963 this week: joy unconfined
the worthless word for the day is: tripudiate [rare, from L. tripudiare to dance] 1) to dance, skip, or leap for joy; to exult 2) to trample, stamp, or jump upon in contempt or triumph "The Earth did rejoice and tripudiate when the Saviour came forth alive out of the belly of the Grave." - Bp. John Hacket, A century of sermons... (1670) "The people tore down the image, tripudiated on its shattered fragments." - Frederic Farrar, Gathering Clouds (1895)
the worthless word for the day is: macarism [Theol.] a beatitude; [rare] joy in another's happiness "Makarism..is a transliteration of the Greek word meaning 'blessing' (cf. Rom. 4:6, 9; Gal. 4:15)..." - R. N. Soulen, ed. Handbook of Biblical Criticism "To admiration, contempt seems to be the direct contrary; censure to commendation; pity to macarism." - Abp. Richard Whately, Miscellaneous remains...
the worthless word for the day is: conjubilant [L, rare] rejoicing together; shouting together with joy They stand, those halls of Zion, Conjubilant with song. - John Neale, Mediæval hymns (tr. 1851)
the worthless word for the day is: patible [obs., from L pati, to suffer + -ibilis] 1) capable of suffering or undergoing something 2) sufferable; tolerable; endurable (found in Cockerham, Bailey, Johnson) "[Man] is a passive as well as active being: he is a patible agent." - Samuel Coleridge, Literary remains
the worthless word for the day is: synteresis [L, Theol.] /sin tuh REE sis/ that part of conscience which serves as a guide for conduct; conscience as directive of one's actions (also synderesis) not to be confused with: syneidesis /sin uh DEE sis/ that part of conscience which is concerned with passing judgement on acts already performed "That which is called Synteresis, and that which is called properly Syneidesis, or conscience. By the former of which, man having as it were a standard within himself of good and evil, he may guide himself in the choice of his actions; by the latter he is able to reflect upon himself, and..pass a judgment upon himself." - John Goodman, The penitent pardoned (1679) "I have my experience, my knowledge, and the flickering, ashy ember of my synteresis." - Mike Ganopoulos, rec.org.mensa
the worthless word for the day is: clerisy [Introduced by Coleridge to express a notion no longer associated with clergy] the educated and intellectual people considered collectively; the literati "After the Revolution..a learned body, or clerisy, as such, gradually disappeared." - Samuel Coleridge, Literary remains (1818) "The monarchical government of Saudi Arabia, closely allied to a puritanical Islamic clerisy and in fear of provoking an anti-Western reaction in its population, was unlikely to offer the same operational facilities as it had done in 1990-91..." - John Keegan, National Review June 29, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: noyade [F] /nwa YAD/ n. a mass execution carried out by drowning as practiced at Nantes in France during the Reign of Terror; also fig. "Foursquare... for the garrote, the gallows, and the guillotine. Auto-da-fé. Decollation. Defenestration. Drawn and quartered. Disemboweled. Noyade. Bastinado. Lapidation. Impalement. Firing squad. Buried alive. Burned at the stake. Or maybe that's auto-da-fé, I'm not all that up-to-date on the Inquisition." - John Gregory Dunne, Nothing Lost "He and she.. were bound together in a noyade of passion that left them resisting yet clinging as they went down." - Edith Wharton, The Greater Inclination v. to execute by drowning "The wretched Terrorists.. guillotined, and noyaded, and mitrailled, I know not how many." - Theodore Parker (1844)
the worthless word for the day is: spanogyny [from Gk. spanis, scarcity + gyne, woman] /span OJ un ee/ a scarcity of women (contrast spaneria(?), a scarcity of men) this seems like a potentially useful word, but I've not found any citations.
the worthless word for the day is: fosse [from L. fossa] (also foss) ditch; moat We onward went, I and my leader, up along the rock, Far as another arch, that overhangs The foss, wherein the penalty is paid Of those who load them with committed sin. - Dante, The Divine Comedy (translated by Henry F. Cary) "I stripped off several of his garments, which I threw into a fosse." - T. S. Surr, A Winter in London [thanx to jheem]
the worthless word for the day is: panurgic [rare] able or ready to do anything; skilled at all kinds of jobs (from a Gk. word meaning knavish, ready to do anything; see also Panurge, a witty rascal and companion of Pantagruel in Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel, from the same root) "Rousseau bade.. the panurgic one to attend to his own affairs." - John Morley, Rousseau
the worthless word for the day is: bardolatry the worship of Shakespeare; so, bardolater, a worshipper of the Bard; bardolatrous, tending to or characterized by bardolatry "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme. —Sonnet 55 It's been almost 400 years since William Shakespeare made that prediction, and so far so good. Many a gilded monument crumbled while the Bard rose to the rank of first among the greatest. Outright Bardolatry began in the 18th century and continued unabated into our intellectually Balkanized age." — Lela Stromenger, Essayist Displays Grasp of the Bard, The Arizona Republic "Foolish Bardolaters make a virtue of this after their fashion." - G. B. Shaw, Man & Superman "He does us the public service of sweeping away the familiar plea of the Bardolatrous ignoramus, that Shakespear's coarseness was part of the manners of his time..." - G. B. Shaw, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets
the worthless word for the day is: oscitancy [from oscitant, yawning] /OS-i-tan-see/ 1) the act of yawning 2) the state of being drowsy or inattentive; dullness "That they all went astray owing to a coincidence of oscitancy is clearly beyond belief." - F. Hall in The Nation (N.Y.) 15 Feb. 1900 [thanx to Stanley Davenport]
the worthless word for the day is: mooreeffoc a Chestertonian fantasy [coffeeroom seen in reverse] "Mooreeffoc is a fantastic word, but it could be seen written up in every town in this land. It is Coffee-room, viewed from the inside through a glass door, as it was seen by Dickens on a dark London day; and it was used by Chesterton to denote the queerness of things that have become trite, when they are seen suddenly from a new angle." - J. R. R. Tolkien, On Fairy-stories
the worthless word for the day is: eolithic of or relating to the early period of the Stone Age marked by the use of crudely chipped flint "We were short of knives, and, after killing the sheep in relay, had recourse to stray flints to cut them up. As men unaccustomed to such expedients, we used them in the eolithic spirit; and it came to me that if iron had been constantly rare we should have chipped our daily tools skilfully as palaeoliths..." - T. E. lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
the worthless word for the day is: proleptically by prolepsis: by way of anticipation; antecedently "Christians proleptically experience the fulfillment of that promise [the second advent]." - R. J. Neuhaus (in Buckley's Nearer, My God) "How about the noughts decade of the first century CE -- how many years did that (proleptically) have?" - Ken Cox, The year Zero a myth? [Usenet]
the worthless word for the day is: mathesis [archaic; Gk., action of learning] mental discipline; learning or science, esp. mathematics "We may be miles off by now," Dixon's eyes have grown very round. "Save that thro[ugh] some dark miracle of Mathesis," says Darby, "our Errors have ever exactly cancel'd out." - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
the worthless word for the day is: illation [L] 1) the act of inferring or drawing conclusions 2) a conclusion drawn; a deduction (also called illative) "I was not converted... but made my way... through what Newman calls illation -- fragments of truth collecting in my mind through personal experience, conversations... and much reading and meditating." - Russell Kirk (in Buckley's Nearer, My God)
the worthless word for the day is: exnihilation [f. L ex nihilo, out of nothing] something created out of nothing "The psalmists were great spiritual poets, but it is more credible that their words were inspired than that they were exnihilations." - W. F. Buckley Jr., Nearer, My God "Even the language of Finnegans Wake was not created by Joyce ex nihilo." - W. H. Auden, The Dyer's Hand
the worthless word for the day is: debarrass [F] to disembarrass; to disencumber from anything that embarrasses "I was debarrassed of interruption." - C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
the worthless word for the day is: granitic [from granite] having unyielding firmness or austere inflexibility "As a polemicist, Knox was suave but also granitic." - William F. Buckly Jr., Nearer, My God
the worthless word for the day is: ha-ha [from F. haha, an expression of surprise] a ditch with a retaining wall used to divide lands without defacing a landscape: sunk fence "Two marquees had been erected for these two banquets: that for the quality on the esoteric or garden side of a certain deep ha-ha; and that for the non-quality on the exoteric or paddock side of the same". - Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers [thanx to J. Robb]
the worthless word for the day is: sussultatory /suh SAL tuh toe ree/ [from It. sussultare to leap up, heave] characterized by up-and-down vibrations of large amplitude -- used of an earthquake not to be confused with: succussatory characterized by up-and-down vibrations of short amplitude -- used of an earthquake (thanx to J. Rivera & Scripps National Spelling Bee)
the worthless word for the day is: curple [Sc., corruption of crupper] 1. the hind-quarters or rump of a horse 2. transf. the rump, posterior hooray! another word to rhyme with purple! I'd be mair vauntie o' my hap, Douce hingin owre my curple, Than ony ermine ever lap, Or proud imperial purple. - Robert Burns, Epistle To Mrs. Scott Gudewife..
the worthless word for the day is: bromhidrosis

/brO muh DRO sis/  
[from Gk. bromos, bad smell + hidros, sweat]
variant of bromidrosis, the secretion of foul-smelling 
sweat; also known as osmidrosis or kakidrosis

"Morgen suffered from a severe form of bromhidrosis
that left him virtually friendless, often emptied 
corporate board rooms, and on one occasion cleared out 
a well-attended stock-holders' meeting, the hall 
subsequently requiring fumigation."
 - Mark Dunn, Ibid: A Life

the worthless word for the day is: scrimshank [Brit. mil. slang, origin unknown] also skrimshank v. to shirk duty n. (a) an act of scrimshanking (b) a scrimshanker "I was furious with... Gasim*, a gap-toothed, grumbling fellow, skrimshank in all our marches, bad-tempered, suspicious, brutal." - T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1935) "I was just telling Hilary we saw him skrimshanking yesterday." - Iris Murdoch, A Word Child (1975) * this was the fellow that Lawrence rescued from the desert, in spite of the anger shown here, and then subsequently had to ritually execute.
the worthless word for the day is: Bork [US political slang] to defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usu. with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way (an eponym from Robert Bork) "With similar regret, other Capitol Hill veterans insist there truly were better times of partisan disputation focused on ideas--before 'to Bork' was coined as a political attack verb, from the undermining of a Republican Supreme Court nominee." - Francis X. Clines, The New York Times not to be confused with anything said by the Swedish Chef. Bork! Bork! Bork!
the worthless word for the day is: darg [Scot] a day's work, the task of a day (from daywark (daywork) through the series of forms dawark, da'ark, dark, darg) "I have a lang day's darg afore me" - Sir Walter Scott, Heart of Midlothian A gude day's darg may be done wi' a dirty spade. - Scottish proverb
the worthless word for the day is: oofy wealthy, rich; hence oofiness, wealthiness "My oofy maiden-aunt." - Blackwood's Magazine, Dec. 1896 "He just can't figure out how he'll ever be oofy, and opulent." - Norman Mailer, Harlot's Ghost "His amazing oofiness had a tendency to slip from the mind." - P. G. Wodehouse, Luck of Bodkins
the worthless word for the day is: manxome a nonsense word invented by Lewis Carroll to describe the Jabberwock: (perhaps) fearsome, monstrous; (or) related to the Manx cat He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought. - L. Carrol, Through the Looking Glass --- Carl Delo writes: I was in an experimental production of Alice in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass and was lucky to be able to recite [Jaberwocky] during a four-week run. I can’t claim any more insight than one gets from saying the words over and over, but it was always my feeling that ‘manxome’ meant ‘cat-like’ and ‘elusive’, based on the Manx reference. I never came to a conclusion about vorpal, however, i.e. whether it is meant to be a type of sword (e.g. scimitar, foil) or an adjective describing the particular sword.
the worthless word for the day is: zzxjoanw /ziks-JO-an/ a Maori drum [in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary]
The Music-Lovers Encyclopedia by Rupert Hughes (all editions from 1914 to 1956) has this entry: "zzxjoanw (shaw) Maori. 1. Drum. 2. Fife. 3. Conclusion." According to Philip Cohen in Word Ways (Nov. 1976), there are several problems with this entry, notably the fact that it's an impossible Maori word, both in spelling and pronunciation. Cohen suspects that Hughes made up the word as a joke. In his book, Earth, David Brin has a Maori character playing a zzxjoanw. Asked about this, Brin said that he'd gotten the word from Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary.
Kiwis of my aquaintance agree that zzxjoanw is not a 
Maori word, as there are no Z, X or J in the Maori 
language - and the the phonetics aren't right either.

the worthless word for the day is: kwyjibo a nonsense word from the television series The Simpsons made up by Bart Simpson during a game of Scrabble; when Homer asks Bart what a kwyjibo is, Bart replies, "A big, dumb, balding North American ape. With no chin." Marge adds in, "..and a short temper". [h/t to Wikipedia]
the worthless word for the day is: dord [non-word] defined in W2* as "density"; began life as an error made when transcribing a card that read "D or d" (meaning a capital D or small d) as an abbreviation for "density" -- subsequently cited in W3 definition of the term "ghost word." [thanx to Murray Pearce, Word Ways] ghost word - an accidental word form never in established usage; especially: one arising from an editorial or typographical error or a mistaken pronunciation (as phantomnation or dord) *Webster's New International Dict., 2nd ed.
the worthless word for the day is: vigesimation the act of putting to death every twentieth man (cf. vigesimal and decimation) For those who pine for the original meaning of decimation, this obsolete word's for you. vigesimal - relating to or based on the number 20
the worthless word for the day is: pastinaceous [obs. rare] (from L. pastinaca, parsnip) of the nature of or akin to the parsnip "Its root is carnous.. of a pastinaceous sapour." - Richard Tomlinson (1657) bonus words: carnous - fleshy, pulpy (of fruits or roots) sapour - flavor
the worthless word for the day is: listful [archaic] inclined to listen, attentive "Explicit cautions, as they enter a too listful ear, are likely to be suggestive of evil." - Isaac Taylor, essay (1860) bonus word: worthful - having worth or value; valuable; precious "New website coming: worthful word for the day" - apocryful ; ) cf. ruthful, feckful
the worthless word for the day is: spadassin [F, swordsman] a duelist; a fighter, a bully "He was a man of from forty to forty-five years of age, half churchman half soldier, -- a spadassin, grafted upon an abbe; upon seeing that he had not a sword by his side, you might be sure he had pistols." - Alexandre Dumas, Ten Years Later
the worthless word for the day is: jejeunosity jejuneness, naiveté coined by Maureen Dowd, NYTimes: "Even officials with a combined century of international experience can behave with jejeunosity - if they start believing their own spin."
the worthless word for the day is: pot-valiant (also potvaliant) bold or courageous under the influence of alcoholic drink "Her husband was 'pot-valiant,' he feared her not at the moment, nor had he then much reason, for she instantly turned the whole force of her anger another way." - Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria, or The Wrongs of Women "[Drawcansir, in Villiers' play The Rehearsal] was apparently named for his potvaliant tendencies: Draw can (of liquor)." - Anu Garg, A.Word.A.Day thus, drawcansir: a blustering, bullying fellow; a pot-valiant braggart; a bully
the worthless word for the day is: quaggy 1) resembling a marsh; soggy 2) soft and flabby cf. quagmire "In the quelchy quaggy sogmire..." - from a poem by Roald Dahl
the worthless word for the day is: insalubrious not conducive to health; unwholesome "I shouldn't bother. No doubt there's an insalubrious corpse somewhere awaiting your attention." - P. D. James, The Murder Room [just trying to expiate yesterday's nonsense!]
the worthless word for the day is: cromulent [nonsense word] used in an ironical sense to mean legitimate, and therefore, in reality, spurious and not at all legitimate (assumes common knowledge of The Simpsons reference) [thanx to Prof. Bradley Yeats for this definition] "...[embiggens is] a perfectly cromulent word." - Miss Hoover, on The Simpsons and yet you can find cromulent listed in an online Scottish vernacular dictionary as meaning "sensible, well-known, respectable; appropriate" -- submitted by a Mr. Og of the USA. (one does have to wonder about this :-)
the worthless word for the day is: objurgatrix a common scold :) "Objurgatrix comes from the verb objurgate, to chide or rebuke harshly, and means a scolding, sharp-tongued, shrewish woman, a Xanthippe." - C. H. Elster, There's a Word for It!
the worthless word for the day is: trouvaille [F, from trouver, to find] /troo-VYE/ something discovered by chance; a windfall "My dear, you are a perfect trouvaille." - W. M. Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)
the worthless word for the day is: retroussé [F] /re-tru-SAY/ turned up <retroussé nose> "His large brown eyes were wide-spaced, the upper lids heavy, above a retroussé nose and a cleft chin." - P. D. James, The Murder Room
the worthless word for the day is: diapason /dye-uh-PAY-zun/ 1 a) a burst of harmonious sound b) the principal foundation stop of an organ c) (i) the entire compass of musical tones (ii) range, scope 2 a) tuning fork b) a standard of pitch "The diapason of power faded away into clouds." (of a jet taking off) - Arthur C. Clarke, Imperial Earth {harmonious? perhaps this usage is a stretch?}
the worthless word for the day is: accidie /AK-suh-dee/ acedia: apathy, boredom "Wasn't accidie, that lethargy of the spirit, one of the deadly sins? To the religious there must seem a wilful blasphemy in the rejection of all joy." - P. D. James, The Murder Room
the worthless word for the day is: collop 1) a small piece or slice, especially of meat 2) a fold of fat flesh (not to be confused with dollop) "Alan was in excellent good spirits, much refreshed by his sleep, very hungry, and looking pleasantly forward to a dram and a dish of hot collops, of which, it seems, the messenger had brought him word." - R. L. Stevenson, Kidnapped "God knows thou art a collop of my flesh." - W. Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV
the worthless word for the day is: ingeminate [f. L. ingeminare; to redouble, repeat] to repeat, reiterate (a word, statement, etc.), usu. for the purpose of being emphatic or impressive "[Falkland] often, after a deep silence and frequent sighs, would with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word, Peace, Peace." - 1647 E. H. Clarendon, The history of the rebellion and civil wars in England "Here comes Mr. Balfour with his olive branch, ingeminating peace." - 1892 The Pall Mall Gazette
the worthless word for the day is: sialoquent [obs] /sy-AL-uh-kwent/ (f. sialo-, saliva [Gk.] and -loquent, speaking [L.]) spraying saliva when speaking (hence, sialoquence) I once knew a fellow named Fritz, Who spoke with considerable Spritz. Whatever he'd say Came out with a spray -- His sialoquent spurts gave me fits! - C. H. Elster, There's a Word For It!
the worthless word for the day is: pauciloquence [rare] uttering few words, speaking briefly (from L. pauci few, little + loquent-em speaking) "So we resolve to remain chrestomathic and to strive -- dare we dream -- for pauciloquence." - Air West in-flight magazine
the worthless word for the day is: hamartiology a part of theology treating the doctrine of sin; hence hamartiologist, an expert on the subject of sin "Righteousness and sin, soteriology and hamartiology, are the fundamental thoughts in St. Paul's theological system." - Frederic Farrar, Life and work of St. Paul (1879) bonus word: soteriology - the doctrine of salvation
the worthless word for the day is: antelucan
[from L. ante, before + lux, light]
of or pertaining to the hours just before dawn 

And now before the antelucan splendours
  That unto pilgrims the more grateful rise,
  As, home-returning, less remote they lodge, 

The darkness fled away on every side,
  And slumber with it; whereupon I rose,
  Seeing already the great Masters risen.
    - Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

the worthless word for the day is: animadvert [from L. animus, mind + advertere, to turn to] 1) to take notice; to observe 2) to consider or remark by way of criticism or censure; to express censure; -- with on or upon "His head moved minutely every so often as he animadverted on a different corner of the coordinate plane, and admired the exquisitely grotesque situation of each tooth--its paleolithic heft and its long gnarled roots trailing off into parts of his head never charted by anatomists." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon "I should not animadvert on him... if he had not used extreme severity in his judgment of the incomparable Shakespeare." -Dryden
the worthless word for the day is: yestreen [Scot] yesterday evening Yestreen I had a pint o' wine, A place where body saw na; Yestreen lay on this breast o' mine The gowden locks o' Anna. - Robert Burns
the worthless word for the day is: plesiosynchronous nearly simultaneous; happening at the same time (from Gk. plesios, near + synchronous) "Instead he listens, just in case Tom gets tripped up in the briar patch of plesiosynchronous protocol arcana, whence only Randy can drag him out." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
the worthless word for the day is: halal to kill an animal in the manner prescribed by Muslim law; hence, lawful food; also, attrib. and as adj. [from Arab. halal, lawful] "You can get kosher meat next to halal meat." - The Listener, 9 July 1970 "He was about to tell Cantrell about Pontifex, but they are very close to the halal Dunkin' Donuts, and people are looking at them. There's no way of telling who might be listening." - Neal Stephenson, Crytonomicon
the worthless word for the day is: suppedaneum a support for the feet of a crucified person, projecting from the vertical shaft of the cross "To prevent.. a 'quick' death, a small wooden cross-piece called the 'suppedaneum' was often fixed to the vertical post of the cross, for the delinquent to prop himself up as long as his strength allowed. This cross-piece should not be imagined as an oblique board, as it is shown in Byzantine Crucifixion scenes. The 'suppedaneum' was a smaller, horizontal cross-beam, which the victim could actually stand on." - Elmar R. Gruber, The Secrets of Golgatha
the worthless word for the day is: loid [slang] to open a locked door by sliding a thin piece of celluloid or plastic between the door edge and doorframe to force open a spring lock "I knocked off the deadbolt, and loiding the snap lock was more than easy. There was a good quarter-inch of air between the wooden door and its wooden jamb, and a child with a butter spreader could have let himself in." - Lawrence Block, Burglars Can't Be Choosers
the worthless word for the day is: eye-service [arch.] work done only when an employer is watching "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters... not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of the Lord." - Ephesians vi. 5, 6 [KJV]
the worthless word for the day is: saulie [Scot.] (obs. except Hist.) one paid to attend a funeral as a mourner "And then the funeral pomp set forth; saulies with their batons, and gumphions of tarnished white crape." - Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering (1917) bonus word: gumpheon - [Scot.] a funeral banner
the worthless word for the day is: panspermia the theory that microorganisms or biochemical compounds from outer space are responsible for originating life on Earth and possibly in other parts of the universe where suitable atmospheric conditions exist "There are two problems with notions of panspermia, as extraterrestrial theories are known. The first is that it doesn't answer any questions about how life arose, but merely moves responsibility for it elsewhere. The other is that [it] sometimes excites even the most respectable adherents to levels of speculation that can be safely called imprudent." - Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
the worthless word for the day is: ambergris a waxy substance found floating in or on the shores of tropical waters, believed to originate in the intestines of the sperm whale, and used in perfumery as a fixative "The indigestible parts of giant squid, in particular their beaks, accumulate in sperm whales' stomachs into the substance known as ambergris, which is used as a fixative in perfumes. The next time you spray on Chanel No. 5 (assuming you do), you may wish to reflect that you are dousing yourself in distillate of unseen sea monster." - Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
the worthless word for the day is: extremophile an organism that lives under extreme environmental conditions (as in a hot spring) "The discovery of extremophiles in the boiling mudpots of Yellowstone and similar organisms found elsewhere made scientists realize that.. life of a type could range much farther..." - Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
the worthless word for the day is: perseveration [L] continuation of something (as repetition of a word) usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point; hence, perseverate, by back-formation "There is at present a debate whether the phenomenon of perseveration is a behavioural problem or a linguistic one." - Fiona Whyte, Speech and Language Advisor "perseverate, perseverate, perseverate..." - anon
the worthless word for the day is: entasis /EN-tuh-sis/ (from Gk. word for tension) [Arch.] a slight convexity or swelling, as in the shaft of a column, intended to compensate for the illusion of concavity resulting from straight sides "The external lines of the columns are carved also, forming a hyperbolic entasis." - C. C. Felton, Anc. & Mod. Greece (1866) (thanx to S. Davenport)
the worthless word for the day is: ocker [Austral. slang] (from the name Oscar) a rough, uncultivated, or aggressively boorish Australian man (esp. as a stereotype) thus ockerdom, ockerish, ockerism "The bride's mother is worrying.. about her son, who is doing a splendid job as MC. 'He's such an ocker', she whispers apologetically." - Homes & Gardens, Dec. 1989 "This childish way of speaking to others.. is in no way egalitarian. Rather it represents the inverted snobbery of ockerdom." - The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 24 Aug. 1999 (©OED2 new edition; draft entry Mar. 2004)
the worthless word for the day is: osirify to identify with Osiris; (broadly) to deify most big dictionaries limit the meaning to identification with Osiris; my correspondent cites the following: "For this magical operation a cat must be 'made into an Osiris,' that is, killed. The euphemism originates from the belief that Osiris represents the dead Pharaoh and therefore, by extension, any dead creature. To be 'osirified,' therefore means to be given a new life in another world, for, as the spell shows, the dead cat is capable of attracting a daemon." - George Luck, Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds (thanx to M.P. Williams)
the worthless word for the day is: indite [from ME enditen] (also endite) a) make up, compose <indite a poem> b) to give literary or formal expression to c) to put down in writing <indite a message> (a and b give more thought to the wording than the actual writing) My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue [is] the pen of a ready writer. - Psalm 45 (KJV)
the worthless word for the day is: testudinal [from L. testudo, tortoise] of, relating to, or resembling a tortoise (also testudinarious - of a tortoise shell) "A network of parallel roads had collapsed into one single dirt lane; here, men and wagons and animals, moving at a testudinal pace, were thickly sandwiched in between, like debris trapped in a narrow, sluggish stream." - Jay Winik, April 1865
the worthless word for the day is: solfatara [It., sulfur mine] /sole-fuh-TAR-uh/ a volcanic area or vent that yields only hot vapors and sulfurous gases "The immense geophysical turbulence of the East Indies--with twenty-one active volcanoes and ten active solfataras on the island of Java alone--has long played an important part in mystical belief." - Simon Winchester, Krakatoa
the worthless word for the day is: shtoom [Yiddish, from G. stumm (also schtoom, shtum(m), etc.)] [a] silent, speechless, dumb; esp. in phr. to keep (or stay) shtoom [vi] to be quiet, to shut up; [vt] 'shut it' "Rumor has it you knew that vehicle was there three weeks before you said a word. I wonder why you kept so stumm?" - Ruth Rendell, The Babes in the Wood "My partner in crime assured me the butler would keep shtoom: he'd seen it all before - it was that sort of place. Of course, he was right." - The Times Feb. 28, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: resistentialism [humorous blend of the L. res, thing(s), and F. resister, to resist, with existentialism] Paul Jennings's mock philosophy which maintains that inanimate objects are hostile to humans. [OED2] "Resistentialism is a philosophy of tragic grandeur... Resistentialism is the philosophy of what Things think about us." - P. Jennings, The Spectator 23 Apr. 1948 "Things are against us. This is the nearest English translation I can find for the basic concept of Resistentialism." - P. Jennings, Report on Resistentialism (1950)
the worthless word for the day is: quibbleism [rare] the practice of quibbling "The use he may make of the most ordinary words for the purposes of quibbleism." - New Monthly Mag. (1836)
the worthless word for the day is: hylotheism the doctrine equating god to matter, or the universe "All adoration therefore 'becomes pure Hylotheism and self-worship'." - Journal of Science, Jan. 1881
the worthless word for the day is: moeurs [F] the behaviour, customs, or habits of a people or a group of people autres temps, autres moeurs (other times, other customs)
the worthless word for the day is: smatchet [Sc.] an insignificant contemptible person; a chit "Awa' and mird wi' your maiks, ye smatchet, And mint nae mair wi' me!" - Hugh M'Diarmid, The Lucky Bag (1927) (Go away and deal with your likes, you brat; and mess no more with me!)
the worthless word for the day is: entrepôt [F] an intermediary center of trade and transshipment "The head of the entrepôt sent a message to his immediate superior in Goa, on the Indian coast, though more for reasons of diplomatic propriety than of disquiet." - Simon Winchester, Krakatoa "It is this massive boom in poultry that is largely responsible for changing the rural South from a biracial, agricultural culture to a globalized entrepôt." - Russell Cobb, Identify (News and Analysis) Feb. 2, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: sprezzatura [It.] ease of manner, studied carelessness; the appearance of acting or being done without effort; spec. of literary style or performance "Literary fashion and his own aristocratic sprezzatura demanded that he affect an unconcern." - Times Lit. Suppl. 14 Sept. 1973 "The poet and critic Charles Bernstein has argued that poetry should be at least as interesting as, and a whole lot more unexpected than, television. August Kleinzahler's poetry has long met this refreshingly perverse standard. If it sometimes seems that American poets are a humorless lot, lacking a certain sprezzatura, Kleinzahler gives the lie to all that." - Maureen McLane; The New York Times Feb. 22, 2004
the worthless word for the day is: catachrestic [Latin catachresis, from Greek katachresis, misuse] /ka'-ta-KRES-tik/ characterized by the misuse of words for the context Sheridan, Richard Brinsley (1751-1816) - British playwright and politician known for his satirical comedies of manners, including The Rivals (1775), which features the catachrestic character Mrs. Malaprop. [AHD4]
the worthless word for the day is: quacksalver [obsolete Dutch (now kwakzalver)] /KWAK-sal-vur/ a charlatan or quack; also transf. "Brother Zeal-of-the-land is no vulgar impostor, no mere religious quacksalver." - Charles Swinburne, A Study of Ben Jonson
the worthless word for the day is: looby an awkward clumsy fellow: lout, lubber "While I tell the truth about loobies, my reader's imagination need not be entirely excluded from an occupation with lords." - George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)
the worthless word for the day is: subdolous /SUB-du-lus/ (from L. subdolus) [now rare] crafty, cunning, sly "The King was troubled, lest this subdolous and eloquent man should shake his resolution." - Isaac D'Israeli; Charles, Vol I (1828)
the worthless word for the day is: sottise, sottisier [F] /so-TEEZ/ a silly remark or saying; a foolish action; also transf. "The Daily Mail Diary..is not slow to criticize errors and sottises in rival newspapers." - The Times, 23 March 1977 [F] /so-TEEZ-je/ a collection of sottises, esp. a list of written stupidities; also transf. and fig. "Nor is it [sc. Finnegans Wake] a mere sottisier." - Horizon, Sept. 1944 "Oddly missing from this capacious sottisier is any reference to meretricious art talk, a current brain-softener which one would have expected to elicit cries of hogwash and codswallop. Nor is there anything about the excesses of youth culture, though there is a mention of students who cite The X-Files as fact, protesting when challenged, "yes, but it's based on fact"." - The Times Literary Supplement, 12 February 2004
the worthless word for the day is: uglyography bad handwriting; uncouth spelling: cacography hence, uglyographize (to spell uncouthly) [coined and used only by Robert Southey] "I do beseech you mend your uglyography." - Southey, 1804 letter "How it would have been.. uglyographised by Elphinstone.. I know not." - Southey, The Doctor
the worthless word for the day is: logolept /LO-go-lept/ a word maniac; verbivore, logophile also, logolepsy (an obsession with words) "You could call it a logocracy (where words rule), its citizens could be logolept (a word maniac), logologist (one who studies words), logomach (one who fights about words), logomaniac (one who is insanely interested in words)." - Anu Garg, AWAD webmaster
the worthless word for the day is: epiphyte /EP-uh-fite/ [from Gk. epi, upon + phyton, plant] a plant which grows on another plant; usually restricted to those which derive only support (and not nutrition) from the plants on which they grow: air plant (e.g., orchids & bromeliads) "Epiphytes grow on trees, but they're not parasites. They get all their nourishment from the air and rain." - movie adapt. of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief "This is how Epiphyte Corporation came into existence: 'I am channeling the bad shit!' Avi said." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
the worthless word for the day is: haruspicy /huh-RUS-puh-see/ [from L. Haruspex, the title of a lower order of priests who performed the act] divination from the entrails of sacrificial animals (see extispicy) "I wonder how one haruspex can keep from laughing when he sees another." - Cato (the Roman Censor)
the worthless word for the day is: inexpugnable /in-ik-SPUG-nuh-bul/ (L. in- + expugnabilis, capable of being overthrown) impregnable, unassailable, invincible not to be confused with inexpungible /in-ik-SPUN-juh-bul/ (L. in- + expungere, to cancel, obliterate) ineffaceable, indestructible
"Man's chief difference from the brutes lies in the exuberant excess of his subjective propensities--his pre-eminence over them simply and solely in the number and in the fantastic and unnecessary character of his wants, physical, moral, aesthetic, and intellectual. Had his whole life not been a quest for the superfluous, he would never have established himself as inexpugnably as he has done in the necessary. And from the consciousness of this he should draw the lesson that his wants are to be trusted; that even when their gratification seems furthest off, the uneasiness they occasion is still the best guide of his life, and will lead him to issues entirely beyond his present power of reckoning. Prune down his extravagance, sober him, and you undo him." - William James, The Will to Believe--Reflex Action and Theism

the worthless word for the day is: iconodule [Eccl. Hist.] one who worships or serves images (opposed to iconoclast) also, iconodulist iconoduly - the worship of images "The iconodules replied: ..we venerate not the icons but those whom they depict..." - Henry Chadwick, The Early Church
the worthless word for the day is: yowie a large, hairy, man-like creature supposedly inhabiting south-eastern Australia "The 'yowie', a large hairy animal similar to the Himalayan yeti and American Big Foot, has existed in Aboriginal folklore for thousands of years." - Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 4 Jan. 1980 zowie!
the worthless word for the day is: windigo [also wendigo] /WIN-di-go/ (in the folklore of the Ojibwa and other American Indians) a cannibalistic giant, the transformation of a person who has eaten human flesh "Pukwan did not want to enter, fearing the unburied... spirits might seize him by the throat and turn him windigo." - Louise Erdrich, Tracks the wendigo, the wendigo! Its eyes are ice and indigo! Its blood is thick and yellowish Its voice is hoarse and bellowish... - Ogden Nash
the worthless word for the day is: bling-bling [taken from gangsta rap] expensive jewelry and other accoutrements "..this ordinary-looking man with old-fashioned close-cropped hair and a boyish face, an athlete who manages to go through life without the aid of bling-bling or designer sweats is perhaps the most-feared cornerback in football." - Mike Celizic, NBCSports.com
the worthless word for the day is: meme [from Gk. mimema; shortening of mimeme] an idea which spreads coined by Richard Dawkins, in The Selfish Gene: "The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. 'Mimeme' comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like 'gene'. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme... It should be pronounced to rhyme with 'cream'. Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches." Language is a virus. - William S. Burroughs
the worthless word for the day is: floccify to set nought by {Cockerham}; to consider worthless this word is classi... er... floccified by the OED as obsolete, to the point that no citations are given other than Cockerham's dictionary (1623) and Blount's Glossographia (1656) of hard words; even googling turns up only a handful of glossary listings, to which I will now add mine -- but at least I tried to use it. [hi Kevin!] (see also floccinaucinihilipilification)
the worthless word for the day is: metrosexual an urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle (aesthete, bon vivant, epicure, sensualist, Vanity) "[Washington], unlike any other place I've lived, is a haven for the metrosexual. A metrosexual, in case you didn't catch any of several newspaper articles about this developing phenomenon (or the recent "South Park" episode on Comedy Central), is a straight man who styles his hair using three different products (and actually calls them "products"), loves clothes and the very act of shopping for them, and describes himself as sensitive and romantic. In other words, he is a man who seems stereotypically gay except when it comes to sexual orientation. - Alexa Hackbarth, "Vanity, Thy Name Is Metrosexual," The Washington Post, November 17, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: postmodernism genre of art and literature and especially architecture in reaction against the philosophy and practices of modern movements that is typically marked by revival of traditional elements and techniques "...the fact that the word 'postmodernism' occurs in the title given me by the Editors... does not imply that I (or they) know what it means. Indeed, it is my belief that it means nothing at all, except in the restricted context of architecture where it originated. I recommend the following practice, whenever anybody uses the word in some other context. Stop them instantly and ask, in a neutral spirit of friendly curiosity, what it means. Never once have I heard anything that even remotely approaches a usable, or even fairly coherent, definition." - Richard Dawkins, A Devil's Chaplain
the worthless word for the day is: invigilator [chiefly Brit.] someone who watches examination candidates to prevent cheating (cf. invigilate); proctor (U.S.) "And she said that if I sat an A level I would have to have a member of staff looking after me on my own in a separate room. And Father said he would pay someone £50 to do it after school and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. And she said she'd go away and think about it. And the next week she rang Father at home and told him that I could take the A level and the Reverend Peters would be what is called the invigilator." - Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident...
the worthless word for the day is: honeyfuggle [U.S. colloq., from honey + fugle] (also -fugle, -fackle, -fogle) a) to dupe, deceive, swindle b) to obtain by cheating or deception I won't honeyfuggle you about how tight things are. - Gregory Benford, Furious Gulf (1994
the worthless word for the day is: ostent [now rare] (from L. ostentum, something shown, a prodigy) a sign, portent, wonder, prodigy see also, ostend, to show, reveal; to manifest, exhibit The Night waxed wan, As though with an awed sense of such ostent. - Th. Hardy, Wessex Poems
the worthless word for the day is: fugle [archaic, back-formation from fugleman] 1) to act as a model or guide 2) to make signals "The American novelist Jack Kerouac--whose work was characterized by Truman Capote in these unkind words: It really isn't writing, is it? It's... er... typing.--fugled for the entire Beat Generation...." - Norman W. Schur
the worthless word for the day is: deontic(s) [from Gr. deon, that which is obligatory] 1) [a] of or relating to moral obligation: deontological 2) [n] pl. the science of duty: deontology
the worthless word for the day is: eudemonic(s) also eudaemonic(s); see eudaemonism 1) conducive to or producing happiness and well-being 2) pl. the art of applying life to the maximization of well-being
the worthless word for the day is: pettifogulize [nonce-wd, from pettifogger] to quibble; to use contemptible tricks hence, pettifogulizer "So far from seeking to 'pettifogulise'--i.e. to find evasions for any purpose in a trickster's minute tortuosities of construction... I showed so much scrupulosity about the exact value and position of his words, as finally to draw upon myself the vexatious reproach of being habitually a 'pettifoguliser'." - Th. De Quincey, Autobiographical Sketches
the worthless word for the day is: argutation [obs.] cavilling, cavil, quibble; subtle disputation "Their devilish and frivolous argutations.." - Bishop Hall, The Great Mysterie of Godliness "That which this Objection further urges.. is.. a very unlearned and unskilful argutation." - Joseph Glanvill, Saducismus Triumphatus: Or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions
the worthless word for the day is: ergotism [from L. ergo > ergot, to argue, wrangle] a) arguing, quibbling, wrangling b) a logical conclusion "States are not governed by ergotisms." - Sir Th. Browne also, ergotize - to quibble, wrangle "He uses it [the word ratiocinate]... in the sense of to ergotise, implying as it were... a vein of sophistry." - R. L. Stevenson, Treasure of Franchard
the worthless word for the day is: soli-ipsiism [nonce word] (f. L. soli ipsi, selves alone) self-conceit (cf. solipsism) "All foreigners observe that England possesses her due share of soli-ipsiism." - Charles Butler, Vindication of "The book of the Roman Catholic Church"
the worthless word for the day is: parviscient [from L. parvus, small + scientem, knowing] knowing little, uninformed
the worthless word for the day is: shunamitism rejuvenation of an old man by a young woman (also shunammitism) from 1 KINGS 1 (KJV): 1:1 Now king David was old [and] stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. 1:2 Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. 1:3 So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 1:4 And the damsel [was] very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.
the worthless word for the day is: octarine the color of magic (Terry Pratchett) "...the staff flashed into pure octarine along the whole of its length. The eighth color, produced by light falling through a strong magical field, blazed out through bodies and bookshelves and walls." - Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites
the worthless word for the day is: blague /blag/ [F] [n] humbug, claptrap, raillery [vi] to talk pretentiously and usually inaccurately: lie boastfully (not to be confused with blog! :)
the worthless word for the day is: curglaff [Scot. dial.] the shock felt when plunging into cold water psychrolutes don't fear the curglaff!
the worthless word for the day is: psychrolute /SAI kru lyut/ [from Gr. psychrolusia, bathing in cold water] one who bathes in the open air daily throughout the winter; spec. a member of a society formed c 1840 to promote this practice (ergo, psychrolusia - bathing in cold water) "[Sir L. Shadwell] was president of the Society of Psychrolutes, the qualification for the membership.. being the daily practice of bathing out of doors from November to March." - Dict. National Biography (1897)
the worthless word for the day is: hiemal [now rare] /HYE uh mul/ (from L. hiems, winter) characteristic of or relating to winter; wintry (see also hibernal, brumal)
the worthless word for the day is: cymric /KIM ric/ [from W. cymru, Wales] of, relating to, or characteristic of the non-Gaelic Celtic people of Britain or their language; specif: welsh "Beneath them were the Cymric princes." - T. Keightley, The History of England
the worthless word for the day is: modoc also modock [U.S. slang, now rare] (origin unknown, but see quote) a person who takes up aviation for reasons of self- promotion or social prestige; also, a pilot who talks boastfully about flying, but rarely flies "If a person attaches himself to aviation solely for social or publicity reasons... he is called a modock, a purely synthetic term... originally advanced by one Cy Caldwell, aeronautical humorist, who claimed it meant less than nothing in delicatessen Greek." - Technology Review, Nov. 1931
the worthless word for the day is: frondeur /fro(n)-dur/ [F, lit. slinger, from Fronde (from the revolt in which the rebels were compared to schoolboys using slings only when the teacher was not looking)] 1) a member of the Fronde (the name given to the party which rose in rebellion against Mazarin and the Court during the minority of Louis XIV) 2) transf. a malcontent, rebel "Are the French, then, incurable frondeurs? incorri- gible revolutionists, who must attack a Minister simply because he is 'in'?" - Daily Telegraph; 22 Sept., 1880
the worthless word for the day is: dietrologia [It.] the science of what's behind it all "The 26-section lexicon not only advances a synoptic reading of Underworld within DeLillo's work but also constructs a narrative of a contemporary America understood only through the secret subcultural waste or "latent history" which accretes around accepted historical and cultural events as dietrologia." - Decoding DeLillo's Decades of Dietrologia: An Underworld Alphabet, by Anthony Miller "That reasoning is what Italians call 'dietrologia,' the art of finding dark, ulterior motives behind the most obvious decisions." - Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times; September 24, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: nescio [obs, rare] (classical Latin, cf. nescience) taken into thieves' jargon; a claim not to know: I don't know "He sports a Nescio; he pretends not to understand any thing." - P. Egan (1823)
the worthless word for the day is: scortatory pertaining to or consisting in, fornication or lewdness [Webster, 1828] "Twenty years he dallied there between conjugal love and its chaste delights and scortatory love and its foul pleasures." - James Joyce, Ulysses "I hope.. that the Monico made up.. for the absence of one ventripotent scortatory Krut." - Dylan Thomas, 1942 Letter
the worthless word for the day is: mitching [Brit. regional] (from mitch, to pilfer; to lurk or skulk; to play truant) skulking, lurking; playing truant "When I whistled with mitching boys through a reservoir park." - Dylan Thomas, The Map of Love "Two or three mitching schoolkids and a solitary vagrant were mooning about outside." - Iain Sinclair, Downriver
the worthless word for the day is: sargasso a) gulf-weed; also a mass or a species of this; also fig., esp. in sense a confused or stagnant mass b) attrib., as sargasso bed, weed; Sargasso Sea The dry Sargasso of the tomb Gives up its dead to such a working sea. - Dylan Thomas, 18 Poems "It had swept him across the Galaxy, and dumped him... in this celestial Sargasso." - A. C. Clarke, 2001: Space Odyssey "We found ourselves in a veritable Sargasso Sea of uncertainties." - C. H. Hapgood, Maps of Ancient Sea Kings
the worthless word for the day is: linguacious [rare] (also linguaceous) talkative, loquacious [L. linguax, -acis, loquacious, fr. lingua tongue.] "And see, too, in that linguaceous stream, the tall monocled men... who lecture to women's clubs." - Dylan Thomas, Quite Early One Morning
the worthless word for the day is: granfalloon see quote.. [coined by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.] (sing along with Bokonon:) If you wish to study a granfalloon, Just remove the skin of a toy balloon. - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle "A granfalloon is any large bureaucratic figment of people's imagination. For instance, there's really no such thing as the Feds or the General Veeblefeltzer Corporation. There are a bunch of people out there that relate to each other, and there's some structures, and some paper. In fact, there's lots and lots of paper. The people sit in the structures and pass paper back and forth to each other and charge you to do so." - Don Lancaster, The Incredible Secret Money Machine "A granfalloon is the lumping together of many diverse elements into an abstract collection, and to then think and speak as if the abstract collection is one single entity capable of performing actions. This phenomenon leads people to say things like "the government runs the country." I hope you realize.. just how absurd the previous sentence is." - Frederick Mann, The Nature of Government, v.2
the worthless word for the day is: ephebophile [from the Gr. phepius, youth] /ef-FEE-bo-file/ an adult who is attracted to youths who are postpubescent; hence, ephebophilia "Until 1988, this was a void in our vocabulary; it was filled by Tariq Rahman, professor of linguistics at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, with ephebophilia. He noticed its 1980 citation in a paper in French about the ancient Greek treatment of post- pubescent boys written by Felix Buffiere: "les ephebophiles, comme certain les nomment" - "as certain people have named them." An ephebos was an Athenian youth of 18 or so in training for citizenship; the new word is pronounced ef-FEE-bo-file. No dictionary I've seen has it, but the 1999 Merck Manual defines ephebophilia as "attraction to youths" who are "postpubescent."" - William Safire, On Language; The New York Times; April 22, 2002 "As Newsweek's religion commentator Kenneth Woodward put it, "The problem [with ephebophiles] is that they're too hard to tell from everyone else" in this... charged culture." - David Gibson, The Coming Catholic Church
the worthless word for the day is: codswallop [slang, chiefly Brit.] nonsense, drivel; rubbish origin unknown, but see quinion "Just branding a programme as 'rubbish', 'tripe', or--there are a lot of these--'codswallop', gives little indication of what moved the viewer to write." - Radio Times, 17 Oct. 1963 "Raising taxes is impossible politically? Poppycock and codswallop, says the Conference Board." - W. Watson; National Post (Canada); Nov 12, 2003 several folks have suggested this word, so this must indicate a deficiency in our word list...
the worthless word for the day is: surseance [obs, F] cessation or suspension (of hostilities) peace; quiet "A Surseance of War for five or six days was concluded." - Lord Herbert, Henry VIII (1683)
the worthless word for the day is: ephectic /e-FEK-tik/ [from Gr. ephektikos, to hold back] characterized by the suspense of judgement "Montaigne's attitude was ephectic." - G. Saintsbury; Daily News, 20 Dec. 1883
the worthless word for the day is: sloff [from Welsh] to eat greedily or untidily Be not a groak nor a sloffer but a trencherman. - w.m.
the worthless word for the day is: pied-à-terre [F, foot on ground] /pyA-da-TAR/ a secondary or temporary place of lodging "I don't like the act of writing for long periods of time," says the 72-year-old author, half- reclining on a divan in her Manhattan pied-à-terre. - Toni Morrison to John Freeman; Nov 22, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: stupiditarian [nonce-wd] one whose ruling principle is stupidity (from stupidity, after humanitarian etc.) "A heavy-headed stupiditarian in official station, veiling the sheerest incompetency in a mysterious sublimity of carriage..." - Edwin P. Whipple, Literature & Life
the worthless word for the day is: contravivulating [nonce-wd] twisting, convoluted (?) "I finally received your message that responded to my question about WWsFTD. I am curious as to whether you recently re-sent it or if the [e-mail] system just got around to trying again. What I received was a confusing collage of contravivulating conversations concluding in the crux of your response." - John Hedin, email ca. 1994 (This is the only orthographic evidence I have for this word, other than my own use of it in a subsequent email to John; thanx to jmh :)
the worthless word for the day is: murdermongeress [nonce-wd, from murdermonger] a female writer of murder mysteries I repeat that one book by this murdermongeress Will last you as long as the Library of Congress. - Ogden Nash (writing of Agatha Christie)
the worthless word for the day is: fadiddy [nonce-wd] used euphemistically
"The sky felt low and forbidding over the parking lot, and the air was as cold as a witch's fadiddy. The lock was frozen on the Buick, and the windshield was coated with ice. I hammered on the lock, but it wouldn't break loose, so I trekked back to my apartment and got some deicer and a plastic scraper. Ten minutes later, I had my door open, the heater going full blast, and I'd chipped a squint hole in the ice on my windshield." - Janet Evanovich, Three to Get Deadly

the worthless word for the day is: sciurine /sI-yoo-RINE/ (also sciurid, -roid) of or pertaining to the squirrel family of rodents The sheer sciurine briskness of it.. -anon
the worthless word for the day is: twitterpated [nonce word] love-struck, smitten "Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. For example: you're walkin' along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left nor to the right, when all of a sudden, you run smack into a pretty face. whooowhooo! You get weak in the knees; your head's in a whirl; and then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you're walkin' on air." - Friend Owl, Bambi (the movie) [in honor of the Deer Season Opener]
the worthless word for the day is: widdiful [Scot. from widdy, a rope for hanging] n) one who deserves hanging, a gallows-bird; a scamp, rascal adj) fit for a halter, deserving to be hanged; scampish, rascally The Laird was a widdiefu', bleerit [bleared] knurl. - Robert Burns, Meg o' the Mill
the worthless word for the day is: gallionic (usu. capitalized) marked by indifference or easygoing carelessness or irresponsibility (characteristic of Gallio, a Roman proconsul whose refusal to take action is recorded in Acts xviii 17 (And Gallio cared for none of those things), applied generally to one who is indifferent) "Japan seemed Gallionic all the time." - Quarterly Review, Oct. 1920
the worthless word for the day is: scotoma [Path.] /skuh-TOE-muh/ (from Gr. skotoma, dimness of vision; from skotos, darkness) an obscuration of part of the visual field (also fig.) "Everyone misses it," Teabing said. "Our precon- ceived notions of this scene are so powerful that our mind blocks out the incongruity and overrides our eyes." "It's known as scotoma," Langdon added. - Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
the worthless word for the day is: night-foundered distressed for want of knowing the way in the night - James Barclay's Dictionary of the English Language Him haply slumbering on the Norway foam The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff, Deeming some island, often, as seamen tell, With fixed anchor in his scaly rind Moors by his side under the lee, while night Invests the sea, and wished morn delays So stretched out in length the arch-fiend lay Chained on the burning lake... - Milton, Paradise Lost "Yet I'm still night-foundered, still blind so much of the time." - Harper's Magazine, March 1997
the worthless word for the day is: cryptozoology /KRIP-tuh-zoe-ah'-luh-gee/ the study of the lore concerning legendary animals, esp. in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence Cryptozoology is, literally, the study of hidden animals. It is the study of such creatures as the Australian bunyips, Bigfoot, the chupacabra, and the Loch Ness monster. It is not a recognized branch of the science of zoology. - the Skeptic's Dictionary
the worthless word for the day is: avernal (also avernian) infernal, chthonic /ah-VERN-ul/ or /ah-VER-nee-un/ from L. Avernalis, of Avernus, a lake near Pozzouli, Italy (now Lago Averno); reputed because of its depth and stench to lead to the underworld
the worthless word for the day is: horrisonant sounding horribly; of terrible sound [from L. horrere + sonant] also horrisonous [f. L. horrisonus] "To exact implicit and profound belief by mysterious and horrisonant terms." - Robert Southey, The Doctor "I listened to the ululating wail and horrisonous mewl." - Len Deighton, The Ipcress File
the worthless word for the day is: feuillemort /fu-ya-MORT/ [F. feuille morte, dead leaf] the color of a faded leaf The shadow of a cloud Falls on the gnarled and boulder-buttressed oak Beneath whose boughs I pause, Noting the mistletoe Already pearled with wintry berries white 'Mid leaves of mottled bronze and feuillemort. - from Hesperian Fall, by Clark Ashton Smith
the worthless word for the day is: chronotherapy treatment of a sleep disorder by changing sleeping and waking times in an attempt to reset the patient's biological clock "Only in the past few years, however, have chrono- biologists begun to seriously challenge the medical community to recognize the importance of body time. Once considered an emerging field, chronotherapy -- diagnosis and treatment based on the body's biological rhythms -- is now being used to treat a range of ailments, from sleep disorders to depression, and even, in some cases, cancer." - Molly Knight, The Baltimore Sun Sept. 26, 2003 suspicions confirmed: this whole Spring Ahead, Fall Back thing is just another government conspiracy (I hope you used your borrowed hour wisely.. you'll have to pay it back come spring.)
the worthless word for the day is: eglomerate [obs., faux L. from e- + glomerare, to wind or gather into a ball] to unwind, as thread from a ball the kitten proceeded to once again eglomerate the yarn note: this serves to remind me that ravel and unravel are both synonyms and antonyms...
the worthless word for the day is: mole [Chem.] the molecular weight of a substance expressed in grams; gram molecule Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. - Happy Mole Day!
he worthless word for the day is: lucripetous [obs. from L. lucripeta] /loo-KRIP-eh-tous/ eager for gain (money-hungry?) "When he was made a Bishop no man was less lucripetous, he desired to hold nothing in commendam." - Thomas Plume, Life of John Hacket (1675)
the worthless word for the day is: zeptosecond one sextillionth of a second not to be confused with a yoctosecond, one septillionth of a second "Of course, one day, perhaps not so very far in the future, even the speedy attosecond will fail to satisfy. Electrons will look downright poky. "As you go into smaller structures of matter, inside the atomic nucleus, processes become even faster," Krausz says. "In nuclear physics, the natural time- scale is several orders of magnitude faster -- in the realm of zeptoseconds," or sextillionths of a second." - Alan Burdick, DISCOVER (June 2003) cf. femtosecond (not to be confused with attosecond)
the worthless word for the day is: aroint [archaic, origin unknown] verb imperative: begone -- used with reflexive thee <aroint thee, witch - Shakespeare> trans. verb -- to drive away by or as if by an exclamation or curse <the Yankees duly arointed the Red Sox>
the worthless word for the day is: extropian an advocate or adherent of the theory of extropy; a person who believes that cultural and technological development tends to oppose, and will overcome, entropy
I want to believe the cryonicists. Really I do. I gave up on religion in college, but I often slip back into my former evangelical fervor, now directed toward the wonders of science and nature. But this is precisely why I'm skeptical. It is too much like religion: it promises everything, delivers nothing (but hope) and is based almost entirely on faith in the future. And if Ettinger, Drexler and Merkle are the trinity of this scientistic sect, then F. M. Esfandiary is its Saul. Esfandiary, on the road to his personal Damascus, changed his name to FM-2030 (the number signifying his 100th birthday and the year nanotechnology is predicted to make cryonics successful) and declared, "I have no age. Am born and reborn every day. I intend to live forever. Barring an accident I probably will."

Esfandiary forgot about cancer, a pancreatic form of which killed him on July 8, 2000. FM-2030--or more precisely, his head--now resides in a vat of liquid nitrogen at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., but his legacy lives on among his fellow "transhumanists" (they have moved beyond human) and "extropians" (they are against entropy).

This is what I call "borderlands science," because it dwells in that fuzzy region of claims that have yet to pass any tests but have some basis, however remote, in reality. It is not impossible for cryonics to succeed; it is just exceptionally unlikely. The rub in exploring the borderlands is finding that balance between being open-minded enough to accept radical new ideas but not so open-minded that your brains fall out. My credulity module is glad that some scientists are devoting themselves to the problem of mortality. My skepticism module, however, recognizes that transhumanistic-extropian cryonics is uncomfortably close to religion. I worry, as Matthew Arnold did in his 1852 poem "Hymn of Empedocles," that we will... feign a bliss / Of doubtful future date, / And while we dream on this / Lose all our present state, / And relegate to worlds yet distant our repose. - Scientific American; Sep 2001; Michael Shermer

the worthless word for the day is: miridically [obs. rare] (from L. miridicus, from mirus, wonderful) amazingly, remarkably "Those things that are miridically done by the Devil, and Magicians." - John Gaule (1652) bonus word: miribilist (from L. miribilis, wonderful) one who works wonders - from James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1908
the worthless word for the day is: dotterel /DAH-teh-rel/ or /DAH-trel/ [from ME; related to dote, dotard] also dottrel 1) a species of plover (said to be very easily caught) 2) [Brit] a silly, foolish person, esp. one who is easily duped
the worthless word for the day is: bovarism (domination by) a romantic or unreal conception of oneself: conceit; hence, bovaristic - conceited "The French philosopher, Jules de Gaultier, has said that one of the essential faculties of the human being is the power granted to man to conceive himself as other than he is. He calls this power bovarism after the heroine of Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary." - Aldous Huxley, The Olive Tree
the worthless word for the day is: legerity [from OF leger, light] /le-JER-i-tee/ lightness; quickness or agility of mind or body And when the mind is quickend, out of doubt, The organs, though defunct and dead before, Break up their drowsy grave, and newly move With casted slough and fresh legerity. - William Shakespeare, The Life of King Henry the Fifth, Act 4, Sc. 1
the worthless word for the day is: haecceity {Scholastic Philos.} [from L. haec, this] /hek-SEE-ih-ty/ that which gives something its unique quality: thisness (compare quiddity, whatness) "Of course, if provision is made only for his general humanity and not for what makes him hic or ille, not for his haecceity as the schoolmen used to say, a man will have cause to complain." - Journal of Education (1890)
the worthless word for the day is: bdellotomy /del-LOT-eh-my/ [from Gr. bdella, leech] the surgical application of leeches; the practice of cutting leeches to empty them of blood while they continue to suck "When the little blood-sucker has taken his fill and is about to release his bite.. a small incision is made in his side that serves as an outlet for the blood, and he goes on sucking... Bdellatomy [sic] is the name given to the practice." - Daily News 30 July, 1868 bonus word: bdellometer - a mechanical leech (for that purpose)
the worthless word for the day is: offscum [archaic] that which is skimmed off; scum, dross, refuse; fig., that which is rejected as vile or worthless "The offscum and the offscouring of the very dregs of your society..." - Frances Anne Kemble, Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation 1839
the worthless word for the day is: yirn /yurn/ to whine; to pout or show petulance an abecedarian insult, from The Superior Person's Book of Words, by Peter Bowler: Sir, you are an apogenous, bovaristic, coprolalial, dasypygal, excerebrose, facinorous, gnathonic, hircine, ithyphallic, jumentous, kyphotic, labrose, mephitic, napiform, oligophrenial, papuliferous, quisquilian, rebarbative, saponaceous, thersitical, unguinous, ventripotent, wlatsome, xylocephalous, yirning zoophyte. (Sir, you are an impotent, conceited, obscene, hairy-buttocked, brainless, wicked, toadying, goatish, indecent, stable-smelling, hunchbacked, thick-lipped, stinking, turnip-shaped, feeble-minded, pimply, trashy, repellant, smarmy, foul-mouthed, greasy, gluttonous, loathsome, wooden-headed, whining, extremely low form of animal life.)
the worthless word for the day is: omnisufficiency [obs., rare] the quality of being 'all-sufficient' "To find an Omnisufficiency in ourselves is an Intrusion, an Usurpation upon God." - John Donne, Sermons (1622) "In the sermons, as in the poems (where it has led to occasional corruptions of the text), he uses words that, if not obsolete, were growing rare-- "bezar," "defaulk," "triacle," "lation"--but, more often, he coins or adopts already coined "inkhorn" terms--"omnisufficiency," "nullifidians," "longanimity," "exinanition." (of John Donne) - The Cambridge History of English and American Lit.
the worthless word for the day is: peregrinate [adj, rare] (from L. peregrinatus) having the air of one who has traveled or lived abroad: foreign HOLOFERNES: ...his humour is lofty, his discourse peremtory, his tongue filed, his eye ambitious, his gait majestical, and his general behavior vain, ridiculous, and thrasonical. He is too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it were, too peregrinate, as I may call it. SIR NATHANIEL: A most singular and choice epithet. - Love's Labours Lost, Act 5, Scene 1 the OED says: A purposely pedantic term put by Shakespeare into the mouth of Holofernes; thence taken by Lytton. "Imagine this figure, grotesque, peregrinate, and to the eye of a peasant, certainly diabolical." - Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, My Novel
the worthless word for the day is: nympholepsy [from Gr. numpholeptos] /NIM-feh-lep'-sy/ 1) a frenzy supposed by ancient peoples to have been induced by nymphs 2) an emotional frenzy, as for something unattainable
"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 Sprachgefuhl and orexis wlll find more than fugacious fulfillment among its felicific pages." - from the forward to the first edition, New York Times Everyday Reader's Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, and Mispronounced Words, by Laurence Urdang

the worthless word for the day is: rampallian [origin unknown] /ram-PAL-yen/ (also rampallion) a good-for-nothing scoundrel: wretch “Away, you scullion! you rampallian! you fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.” - Shakespeare, 2 Henry IV "[Did you have to] raise that rancescent rampallion's rabid rantings to mind?" - maverick, 9/27/03
the worthless word for the day is: exonumia [NL] /EK-su-nOO-me-uh/ objects that resemble money but are not designed to circulate as money; e.g., medals, tokens, badges, scrip, etc. (also includes the sort of stuff the Franklin Mint issues) "This year the editorial department of The Numismatist is pleased to introduce a monthly series reporting on the vast and varied gamut of exonumia." - The Numismatist, Jan. 1977
the worthless word for the day is: fewterer [obs, from F. veltre, greyhound] a keeper of dogs, esp. greyhounds "The fewterer was the keeper and handler of the greyhounds in medieval and Renaissance society... While being a fewterer was a peasant's position, it was a well-respected one." - from www.fewterersguild.org
the worthless word for the day is: abderite /AB-de-rite/ usually capitalized (from the Greek city Abdera, whose inhabitants were reputedly stupid) 1) a native or inhabitant of Abdera 2) simpleton, scoffer (so called from Democritos, the laughing philosopher) You have no more mind than an Abderite. An Abderite saw a eunuch talking with a woman and asked him if she was his wife. When he replied that eunuchs can't have wives, the Abderite asked: "So is she your daughter?" - from the jokebook Philogelos (The Laughter Lover, 4th/5th century CE) oh, those abderian, fun-loving Greeks..

the worthless word for the day is: skerrick [UK slang] a small amount; a small fragment; the slightest bit "If I had paid you a skerrick of attention it would have been all over Gilly in record time." - C. McCullough, The Thorn Birds "...I realize I'll miss dastardly Richard, with his flashing eyes and tightening mouth. He's the only Coro[nation Street] bloke with a skerrick of imagination." - Jane Clifton; The Dominion Post, 29 August 2003
the worthless word for the day is: boohai [NZ] /boo-hai'/ an out of the way, remote or non-existent place; often in up the boohai to mean lost, or up the boohai shooting pukakas meaning lost, possibly in the head here's a Newsgroup signature I found: going up the boohai to shoot pukekos with a long-handled shovel (pukekos are NZ wading birds)
the worthless word for the day is: burd-alone [obs. Scot., a rare archaism in modern poetry] also burd-alane all alone; friendless perhaps burd is from bird, like a sparrow all alone on the house tops -- Jamieson says the word 'is used to denote one who is the only child left in the family', but citations show a much more general sense. When thou a maiden burd-alone, Hadst eighteen summers! - William Morris, Earthly Paradise (1870) it's not obvious why this word is a frequent target (miss) at OneLook.
the worthless word for the day is: bada bing (also bada-bing, bada-boom) exclamation to emphasize that something will happen effortlessly and predictably - Oxford Dictionary of English (popularized by the US television show The Sopranos) "Once the news hit the market that maybe we had actually surpassed the worst part of this recession -- bada-boom, bada-bing -- the bond rates edged up and our record level low interest rates vaporized." - M. Anthony Carr; Reality Times, Sept. 5, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: trepidacious fearful; agitated; trembling: trepid this neologism has yet to be recognized by lexicographers; in fact it is on the Vocabula Review's Worst Words list -- but it gets a few hundred Google® hits, and lots of folks attempt to look it up at OneLook®. I'd say, if you need something that means not intrepid, and can't bear fearful, why not go back to the root? trepid is a far better choice in many ways.
the worthless word for the day is: confusticate [colloq., fantastic alteration of confound or confuse] to confuse, confound, perplex "He would at once begin to talk in schoolboy slang... interlarding his remarks with such words as 'awfully', 'confusticated'." - C. L. Graves, Hubert Parry (1926) "Confusticate and bebother those dwarves!" - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)
the worthless word for the day is: bibliophagist /bi-bli'-uh-fa-jist/ (from biblio-, book + Gr. phagos, devouring) a devourer of books: bookworm (also bibliophage) "That eminent bibliophagist, and printer of scarce tracts..." - Sunday at Home; Aug, 1881
the worthless word for the day is: porrect [Zool.] stretched out or forth; extended, especially forward <porrect antennae> (from L. porrectus, stretched out) (not to be confused with correct)
the worthless word for the day is: nundination [L, archaic] an act or instance of bartering: sale "The nundination of indulgences and the oecumenic authority of the pope... are the characteristics of popery." - Isaac Taylor, Ancient Christianity (1840) (not to be confused with inundation)
the worthless word for the day is: oytser /oy'-tser/ (from Hebrew o-tsar, treasure) 1) a treasure "Our child? An angel, an oytser to us both." 2) ironically: by no means a treasure "Such an oytser I wish my worst enemies." thanx again to Leo Rosten's Joys of Yiddish
the worthless word for the day is: farblondjet [Yiddish] /far-blawn'-jit/ also farblondzhet lost (but really), mixed up "Double your pleasure, double your fun with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as mismatched siblings, the product of a genetics experiment that went farblondjet." - from the synopsis of the movie Twins
the worthless word for the day is: meshugaas /mish-eh-goss'/ lit., insanity, madness; usu. used in a lighter vein "Durst is pleased we have retrieved the reputation for political insanity back from the state of Florida.... 'Gray Davis missed the page by not invading Oregon.'... The entries on the recall contest are fascinating. There is Michael Jackson -- but not THAT Michael Jackson... There is S. Issa -- not related to the lugubrious Darrell Issa, who started this whole mishegoss." - Bruce Bellingham, The Examiner August 13, 2003 as with most Yiddish words, transliterations abound; in this case, also mishegas and mishegaas
the worthless word for the day is: khazeray /khoz-zair-eye'/ or chazeray, also chozzerai (Yiddish, from Heb. khazir, pig) 1) food that is awful 2) junk, trash 3) anything disgusting, even loathsome Chozzerai could do us all a great service, I think, if it replaced the.. popular "in" word, "crap." - Leo Rosten, the new joys of yiddish "...somewhere in all this chazeray, these explosions, these illegally imported assault rifles, these payments to a mole... these foreign agents with their plots and plans, their machinations and manipulations, somewhere in this unholy un-American mess, there had to be some sort of Federal crime... that they could pin on Josh Redmont, just so they could feel a little better, a little less like biting somebody's head off." - Donald E. Westlake, Money for Nothing
the worthless word for the day is: razoo [Austral. and N.Z. slang] An imaginary coin of trivial value, a 'farthing'; used only in neg. contexts (also in phr. brass razoo) "I wouldn't give a brass razoo for his chances out there." - J. Cleary, A Flight of Chariots (1964) "I could be depressed about this. I could dispair that we won't be contributing a single brass razoo to the estimated $6 billion that Australian couples and investors will spend on home renovations in the coming year." - Sydney Morning Herald; Aug 13, 2003 bonus word: razoo [N. Amer. slang] ridicule; the arousing of indignation, provocation; a sound of contempt, a 'raspberry' (also in phr. to give the razoo: to ridicule) "My information is Apartment 301, but all I get there is the big razzoo." - R. Chandler, The Big Sleep (1939)
the worthless word for the day is: bleezy [Scot] affected in the eyes, as by alcohol also, bleezed - a little flustered, as by drink [Jamieson] "Their faces grew red, and their eyes bleezy." - Fraser's Magazine (1833)
the worthless word for the day is: gobsmacked [UK slang] (ppl. a.) flabbergasted, astounded; speechless or incoherent with amazement (prob. from Irish/Gaelic gob, mouth + smack; literally smacked in the mouth) "Some of these people have to turn to the paper to know what day it is. This has left them gobsmacked." - Independent, 15 Sept. 1990 "Dr Smith said he was "gobsmacked at the audacity of local iwi claims." - Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand - Aug 14, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: sitooterie [Scot] (sit-oot-ery) a summerhouse or gazebo; generally, a place to sit and contemplate Belsay House
the worthless word for the day is: rote [US, prob. of Scand. origin] the sound of the surf crashing on the shore "Often have I heard a Maine man say, 'Sea's making up. Hear that rote!'" - Samuel E. Morison, The American Neptune --- this week: some four-letter words : )
the worthless word for the day is: kepi (kep'-ee) a French military cap with a flat top which slopes towards the front, and a nearly horizontal visor
the worthless word for the day is: esne [obs. except Hist.] OE designation of a member of the lowest class; laborer: serf "Theow [thrall] and Esne art thou no longer." - Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
the worthless word for the day is: gork [medical slang] a patient with unknown ailments (god only really knows) "I would not want to do a search on a name or hospital and come across a description of a loved one as a 'gork' or a 'sundowner' or worse." -anon
the worthless word for the day is: oche [of uncertain origin] /(h)a' key/ (formerly hockey) darts : the line behind which a darts player must stand; the throwing-line "I needed to get more side-on to the board. I needed to place my leading foot parallel to the oche, rather than front it with my toe." - Giles Smith, telegraph.co.uk, 21/12/2002
the worthless word for the day is: stramineous /struh-min'-ius/ [from L. stramen, straw] 1) consisting of or relating to straw; fig. worthless 2) [Bot.] straw-colored; dull pale yellow "He not only seems to be dealing with men of straw, but answers them with.. a most 'stramineous' argument." - George Saintsbury, A History of Criticism
the worthless word for the day is: nudzh (nooj, or perhaps nooj-eh) also nudge nooge [n] one who persistently pesters, annoys, or complains [vt] to annoy persistently; pester [vi] to complain or carp persistently "Nudzh is a Yinglish word descended from "nudge". But where a nudge is open a nudzh is surreptitious, a kick under the table, a widening-of-the-eyes-accompanied- by-a-slight-tilt-of-the-head to indicate that the recipient of the nudhzh is being reminded: of a job to be done, or a nicety that has been overlooked, or the gaucheries commited by a third party, or the impossibility of swallowing what was just said. Nudzheh (verb): means to bore, pester; to nag. A person who nudzhes you is a nudnik. If he annoys you long enough, you can say, "Stop nudzhing me!" - Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yiddish
the worthless word for the day is: autarchic marked by autocratic rule not to be confused with autarkic, self-sufficient Buckley does it again: "The challenge was electrically there: to argue persuasively the postulates of the war crimes trial against the challenges of the defense. It had to be more than an autarchic recital of its self-constituted authority." - William F. Buckley Jr., Nuremburg: The Reckoning "Although some authorities consider these homophonic words interchangeable, they mean different things, are differently derived, and should be kept separate... Both words are derived from Greek: autarchy from autarchia (self-rule).. autarky from autarkeia (self- sufficiency)... Although their use is not common, it is well to understand their difference in meaning and derivation on the rare occasion of meeting one or both of them." - Norman W. Schur, 1000 Most Challenging Words
the worthless word for the day is: lobstick [Canada] (var. of lop-stick] a tree with branches trimmed so that it may serve as a landmark or memorial "Many of the lobstick trails in the Canadian woods, marked by Indians long since dead, can be followed to this day." - S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought & Action "There was a tradition among the Northern Indians that a lobstick honouring an individual would fall when its sponsor died." - Islander (Victoria, B.C.) 18 Oct. 1964
the worthless word for the day is: soi-disant [F] /swa di-za(n)/ self-proclaimed, self-styled; so-called "Perhaps if she had lived in a mobile home, the grown-up Randy would have sunk his money into a mutual fund, instead of paying ten thousand dollars to a soi-disant artisan from San Francisco to install leaded-glass windows around his front door, like at Grandma's house." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
the worthless word for the day is: faust [rare] happy, lucky (from L. faustus) The Emperor.. ascending the Capitol amidst faust acclamations in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues. - E. Johnson (1890)
the worthless word for the day is: catasophistry [obs, rare] quibbling, deceit (from a Gr. word meaning to outwit, to evade by quibbling) Greater craft.. and catasophistry were never used. - J. Melvill (1609) /cat' a sof" i stre/ (?)
the worthless word for the day is: peirastically in the way of attempt or experiment, tentatively [Gr. peirastikos, tentative] "Whether, in his interior mind, he was at all influ- enced, either by the consideration that it would be for the credit of his cloth, with some of his vice- suppressing neighbours, to be able to say that he had expostulated; or by curiosity, to try what sort of defence his city-bred friend, who knew the classics only by translation, and whose reason was always a question, on which the learned may differ: but, after having duly deliberated on two full-sized casts of the Uranian and Pandemian Venus, in niches on each side of the chimney, and on three alabaster figures, in glass cases, on the mantelpiece, he proceeded, peirastically, to open his fire." - Thomas Love Peacock, Crotchet Castle
the worthless word for the day is: phreaking [vbl. n.] the use of a telephone network without payment; now, generally, to use an electronic device to invade some type of network or system (U.S., coined in the 60s - from modified spelling of freak, under the influence of phone) "I was telling Tom Howard about Van Eck phreaking a few weeks ago. Tom said is sounded like [bs]. He bet me ten shares of Epiphyte stock that I couldn't make it actually work outside of a laboratory." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon "Bling-bling, if you haven't heard, is now an officially recognized word according to the [OED] folks, who also allowed phreaking, Ord and khazi. I bet William Safire had to increase his medication when he heard the news." - Michael S. Miller, Adrian Daily Telegraph June 29, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: antithalian (anti tha' lian) [from anti- + Thalia, the Muse of Comedy] disapproving of festivity and laughter "She was finishing her education in a German convent, but Mr Toobad described her as being fully impressed with the truth of his Ahrimanic philosophy, and being altogether as gloomy and antithalian a young lady as Mr Glowry himself could desire for the future mistress of Nightmare Abbey." - T. L. Peacock, Nightmare Abbey (Ahrimanic ~= materialistic)
the worthless word for the day is: exordium /eg-zor'-dee-um/ [L.] a beginning or introduction especially to a discourse or composition "..opportunities which I would seize, gently but manfully, as exordium to more violent pleasures." -Donna Tartt, The Secret History "Justice Kennedy's exordium celebrates the grandeur of individual autonomy and spontaneity both in and outside the home..." - Bruce Fein, The Washington Times; July 1, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: liminal /li'-mi-nal/ (from L. limen, threshold) 1) of or relating to a sensory threshold 2) barely perceptible "Liminal... [her analyst's] word for certain states: thresholds zones of transition. Does she feel liminal, now, or simply directionless?" - William Gibson, Pattern Recognition "In England during the middle ages, couples were married in the church porch and not in the sanctuary -- a practice that eloquently revealed the liminal status of matrimony in the Christian worldview...." - The Guardian; June 30, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: inficete [rare] (in-feh-seat') unfacetious; not witty (from L. inficetus) MR EAVESDROP Sir, you are very facetious at my expense. THE REV DR FOLLIOTT Sir, you have been very.. inficete at mine. - Thomas Love Peacock, Crotchet Castle
the worthless word for the day is: apophenia the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things; seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist this word was coined by K. Conrad in 1958 in a Jungian context, but has regained currency due to William Gibson's recent novel, Pattern Recognition. (you may remember Gibson as the author of the seminal cyberpunk tale, Neuromancer.)
"There must always be room for conicidence, Win had maintained. When there's not, you're probably well into apophenia, each thing then perceived as part of an overarching pattern of consipracy. And while comforting yourself with the symmetry of it all, he'd believed, you stood all too real a chance of missing the genuine threat, which was invariably less symmetrical, less perfect. But which he always, [Cayce] knew, took for granted was there." - William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

the worthless word for the day is: excubant [rare (pedantic)] (ex'-cu-bant) keeping watch (from L. excubare, to lie on guard) "The enemy may be still excubant; and we had better not disperse till daylight." - T.L. Peacock, Crotchet Castle
the worthless word for the day is: digladiation (dai-gla-di-a'-tion) [from L. dis + gladius, a sword] 1) fighting or fencing with swords 2) fig. strife or bickering of words; wrangling, contention, disputation
In this manner they glided over the face of the waters discussing every thing and settling nothing. Mr Mac Quedy and the Reverend Doctor Folliott had many digladiations on political economy: wherein, each in his own view, Doctor Folliott demolished Mr Mac Quedy's science, and Mr Mac Quedy demolished Doctor Folliott's objections. We would print these dialogues if we thought any one would read them: but the world is not yet ripe for this haute sagesse Pantagrueline. We must, therefore, content our selves with an échantillon [fragment] of one of the Reverend Doctor's perorations. - Thomas Love Peacock, Crotchet Castle (1831)
"The noblest Digladiation is in the Theater of our 
selves." - Sir T. Browne (1682)

the worthless word for the day is: omerta [It. dial.] (o-mer'-ta) refusal to give evidence by those concerned with Mafia activities, code of silence ECCLESIASTICAL OMERTA June 17, 2003 -- It's hardly surprising that former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating created quite a stir the other day when he compared Catholic bishops who've refused to cooperate with the watchdog panel on.. abuse with Mafia dons practicing a code of silence. - New York Post, archives There is.. the belief that it is unmanly to tell anything about a fellow countryman which could get him into trouble. It is called Omerta in the Sicilian tongue, which means manliness. - Evening Sun (N.Y.) May 13, 1909
the worthless word for the day is: carneous (from L. carneus) 1. consisting of flesh, fleshy 2. [obs.] flesh-colored, pale red: incarnadine "The one with a carneous, the other.. a blew flower." - John Ray, Observations.. of the Low Countries.. (1673)
the worthless word for the day is: schistaceous choose one: a) of a dark-brown color b) flesh-colored c) slate-colored, blue-gray [this is known is the quiz-biz as a dead giveaway]
the worthless word for the day is: cumatic (from Gr. kumat, wave; after L. cumatilis) [obs.] sea-colored, blue at last, a clue to the etymology of kumatage!
the worthless word for the day is: minacious
[now rare]  /meh-nay'-shus/
(from L. minax, threatening)

meanacing, threatening: minatory

"Reinhardt.. began his recording with a weirdly
minacious intro that seemed to augur a train piece."
 - Village Voice; Aug. 8, 2000

the worthless word for the day is: juste milieu /zhust mil-yoo'/ [Fr., lit. 'the right mean'] the happy medium, the golden mean; judicious moderation, esp. in politics "I suppose between the extremes there must be a juste milieu, but as to where it is I am at sea." - E. W. Hamilton, Diary (1882) "One looks in vain in their history for a juste milieu, for common sense." - A.J.P. Taylor, The Course of German History (1945)
the worthless word for the day is: ca'canny moderation, caution, spec. the practice of 'going slow' at work (a slowdown) "The teaching staff defends itself skilfully from battle to battle with cynicism and ca'canny." - The Economist, 29 Nov. 1958 this originates in the Scot. verbal phrase to ca' (call) canny; to go cautiously, quietly, gently, carefully, warily -- see Burns and Scott.
the worthless word for the day is: minatory having a menacing quality: threatening (from L. minari, to threaten) "Number 3, Lauriston Gardens wore an ill-omened and minatory look." - Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet "He plays upon men round a table like the chords of a musical instrument... now pleading, now persuasive, stern, playful and minatory in quick succession." [of Lloyd George] - Margaret Macmillan, Paris 1919
the worthless word for the day is: tegestology /tedje STOL edji/ (from L. tegetis - covering, mat) the collecting of beer mats or coasters; thus, tegestologist "Are phillumeny, meadophily, tegestology and fromology as popular as they were?" - News Chronicle, 18 Feb. 1960
the worthless word for the day is: pig's ear [rhyming slang] beer "Now, Jack, I'm goin' to get a tiddley wink of pig's ear... What does it mean? Simply this... a workman.. goes to get a drink of beer. Had our friend wished for something more potent than the pig's ear aforesaid, he would have substituted the phrase.. Tommy get out, and let your father in, thereby meaning gin." - D.W. Barrett, Life & Work among Navvies
the worthless word for the day is: lick-spigot [obs] one who licks the spigot; a contemptuous name for a tapster or drawer (tavern keeper) also, a revolting parasite --- COOK Sir, the mad Greeks of this age can taste their Palermo as well as the sage Greeks did before 'em. Fill, lick-spigot! DRAWER Ad imum, sir. - Thomas Middleton, The Old Law (1599) --- "Parasites.. whom the Germans call Schmorotzer and Tellerlecker, that is, smell-feasts and lick-spickets." - Topsell's History of Four-footed Beasts (1607)
the worthless word for the day is: cervisial also cerevisial [humorous] of or pertaining to beer (from L. cervisia (cerevisia), beer + -al) Cervisial coctor's viduate dame, Opins't thou his gigantic fame, Procumbing at that shrine; Shall, catenated by thy charms, A captive in thy ambient arms, Perennially be thine? - mock ode in Boswell's Johnson
the worthless word for the day is: otosis mishearing; alteration of words caused by misappre- hension of the sound (from the Gr. word for ear + -osis, condition) this word, which may be of use to those interested in mondegreens, malaprops, etc., was coined in 1860 by Professor Samuel Haldeman: "Otosis is a change in words, due to misconception of the true sound, influencing consonants of the same quality." - Haldeman, Analytical Orthography
the worthless word for the day is: aurivorous /au-ri'-ver-us/ gold-devouring, feeding on gold [L. aurum gold + vorare to devour] "Man is an aurivorous animal." - Henry Walpole (letter, 1783) --- for a wonderful example of how typos get propagated on the 'net, google suritorous and you get several hits on "All articles that coruscate with resplendance are not truly suritorous." it seems obvious that the word should be auritorous (gold in nature).
the worthless word for the day is: epicaricacy /ep"-i-kar-ik'-i-see/? taking pleasure in others' misfortune: schadenfreude this word, as defined in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual... Words, has caused a lot of discussion recently on a couple of forums that discuss these sorts of things. where in the world did she find this English word for a concept that isn't supposed to have a word in English? this question has yet to be answered in full, but I can quote you this from Nathan Bailey's An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, which is a very olde dictionary indeed (1721): Epicharikaky - from the Greek words or roots for "upon", "joy", and "evil": "A Joy at the Misfortunes of others". the Minnesota Historical Society has a 1751 edition of Bailey; unfortunately it was too brittle for me to photocopy.
the worthless word for the day is: nulliverse a world devoid of any unifying principle or plan (from L. nulli-, nullus, no, in contrast to universe) "The world... is pure incoherence, a chaos, a nulliverse, to whose haphazard sway I will not truckle." - William James, in Mind (1882)
the worthless word for the day is: stumer [Brit. slang, origin unknown] /stju'-me(r)/ 1) a bad check; counterfeit money; a sham 2) generally: something which is worthless; a failure, a flop, a dud 3) (also stuma) a state of agitation; a sweat or 'stew' "The agony of having put his little all on a stumer that hadn't finished in the first six." - PG Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves "There is no good in me... You've pitched on a stumer." - John Galsworthy, Swan Song "Poor old Ma in a perfect stuma." - WH Auden, in The Review of English Studies
the worthless word for the day is: inusitate [obs, rare] /in-yew'-si-tate/ unwonted, unusual, out of use, unfamiliar (hold me back, I feel a tautology coming on..) The word 'inusitate' is dangerously inusitate. -tsuwm, worthless word for the day (2003)
the worthless word for the day is: philocalist (from Gr. philo- + kalos, beautiful) [rare] a lover of beauty "This poor.. creature was a philocalist: he had a singular love of flowers and of beautiful women." - John Brown, Horæ subsecivæ (1861)
the worthless word for the day is: charientism (from Gr. charientismus, expression of an unpleasant thing in an agreeable manner) [obs] a gracefully veiled insult "...that Species of an Irony, which couches a Disagreeable Sense under Agreeable Expressions." - The British Apollo, 1709
the worthless word for the day is: nugacity /noo-gas'-i-ty/ (from L. nugacitas) 1) trifling, triviality, futility 2) a trifling or frivolous idea <Throat-choking.. nugacities of hyper- grammatical.. absurdity. - R. Southey>
the worthless word for the day is: quonking also quonk (imitative) noise (as from conversation) that disturbs or disrupts a television or radio program because of its proximity to the microphones or cameras or, noise from the sidelines that interrupts an athlete's (or a performer's) concentration (both are officially accepted Scrabble® words) "At a tennis match or golf tournament.. even the mildest disturbance is considered a gross breach of ettiquette. Such interference is dubbed 'unsportsmanlike quonking.'" - Charles H. Elster, There's a Word for It!
the worthless word for the day is: rabiator [Scot, rare] (of obscure origin, perhap assoc. with rabid) A violent, noisy, greedy person. - Jamieson "They a' barkit at me, like sae many rabiators." - Watch-house, in New British Theatre (1814)
the worthless word for the day is: franion [obs] (of obscure origin) a gay reckless fellow, a gallant, paramour Fine merry franions, Wanton companions. Charles Lamb; Poems, Going or Gone
the worthless word for the day is: vagrom (vay'-grom) [alteration of vagrant, in modern use only after Shakespeare] 1) vagrant, vagabond, wandering "You shall comprehend all vagrom men." - W. Shakespeare, Much Ado.. 2) eccentric, erratic "Words lose their character and have their history obscured by being spelled after the vagrom devices of the phonetic people." - Saturday Review, 1882
the worthless word for the day is: cunctipotent [rare] (from L. cunctus, all + potens, powerful) all powerful, omnipotent "O true peculiar vision of God cunctipotent." - John Mason Neale, Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix (hymn)
the worthless word for the day is: pigritious [obs. rare] (from L. pigritia, sloth) slothful; so, pigritude & pigrity - slothfulness Out! misbegotten monster! with thy brood, The obscene offspring of thy pigritude.. -unknown
the worthless word for the day is: obvelation [rare] a veiling over, a hiding or concealing (from L. obvelare, to cover over) "Every revelation of God must also be an obvelation; there must be a a veiling of his infinite spledour if anything is to be seen by finite beings." - Charles H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David Ps. xcvii [thanx to wwh]
the worthless word for the day is: fnese [obs] to breathe heavily; to snort; to sneeze "He speketh in his nose And fneseth faste." - Chaucer, The Manciple's Prologue here's a bit of fanciful etymology for you: sneeze is apparently an alteration of fnese due to misreading or misprinting it with the old-style s (which looked like an elongated f) after the initial combination fn- had become unfamiliar.
the worthless word for the day is: effigiate [rare] (ef-fig'-i-ate) to form as an effigy; hence, to fashion; to adapt "[He must] effigiate and conform himself to those circumstances." - Jeremy Taylor, ca. 1650 (thanx to wwh)
the worthless word for the day is: gilderoy [Newf. dial.] (gil'-de-roy) a proud person see Gilderoy Lockhart of Harry Potter (as played by Kenneth Branagh in the 2nd movie) [thanx to Faldage]
the worthless word for the day is: parfilage the unraveling of gold or silver thread from laces, epaulets, tassels, etc.; fashionable as a pastime among ladies, esp. in France, in the latter part of the 18th century "This company, which devoted hours to the new French diversion of the parfilage, and spent the evenings in drinking lemonade and playing basset for small stakes, found its chief topic of conversation in the only two subjects safely discussed in Turin at that day--the doings of the aristocracy and of the clergy." - Edith Wharton, The Valley of Decision
the worthless word for the day is: esprit d'escalier also, esprit de l'escalier [F.; lit., spirit of the staircase] a retort or remark that occurs to a person after the opportunity to make it has passed; cf. treppenwitz "One might be allowed a bit of poetic licence-- make the esprit d'escalier happen at the same time as the romantic affair." - Aldous Huxley, Eyeless in Gaza "This mixture of clairvoyance and spleen, esprit de l'escalier, noble inspirations, poetry and nonsense." - Saul Bellow, Herzog
the worthless word for the day is: lant the wwftd quiz returns for a guest appearance.. choose one: a) to walk bent into the wind b) to control the flow of water in a sluice by means of a sluicegate; to send down a sluice, as of logs c) to mingle ale with stale urine to make it strong d) to dance and frolick; to party: as on the village green on May Day or at harvest-home e) [Chem.] to introduce a miniscule portion of an ingredient to a formula; add a pinch (click on lant for the answer..)
the worthless word for the day is: pucelage [F] (pu'-cel-age) [obs] the state of being a girl; maidenhood, virginity ...she challenges a word, 'pucelage'. To her husband's patient explanation that it means 'virginity,' she retorts, "Why didn't you just say so! Nobody will know what it means." - Southern Literary Journal; Fall, 1999
the worthless word for the day is: isepiptesis (eye-sep-e(p)-tee'-sis) [rare] a line on a map or chart connecting localitites reached at one date by different individuals of a species of migratory bird (an isochronal line) NL, from is- + epi- + Gr. ptesis, flight
the worthless word for the day is: novio [Sp.] sweetheart; lover "..millions can watch [her] tell how she shot and killed her billionaire novio last New Year's Eve..." - Ross Thomas, Voodoo, LTD.
the worthless word for the day is: defi [F] (day'-fee) challenge, defiance "Tom Wolfe had published The Painted Word, a defi hurled in the face of the art critics, challenging their taste, questioning their originality, and lamenting their power." - William F. Buckley
the worthless word for the day is: sinter [G, dross] v. to form a coherent mass by heating without melting "Attendants blow whistles and gesture with their white gloves, vectoring cars into the parking lot, where they are sintered into a tight mosaic." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon (yet another odd usage..)
the worthless word for the day is: exigible [F]that may be exacted, non-optional; repairable [rare] "..the exercise of the student in the University classes, should be partly exigible, partly ultroneous." - Sir William Hamilton (1852)
the worthless word for the day is: ultroneous [obs] (ul-troh'-nee-ous) made or offered of one's own accord; spontaneous, voluntary b) [Scot. Law] of witnesses: relating to testimony given without citation "Na, na.. thank ye for naething, neighbor--that would be ultroneous evidence, and [he] suld hae had me ceeted debito tempore" - Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Midlothian
the worthless word for the day is: primaveral [rare] (from It. primavera, springtime) of or pertaining to the earliest springtime; also fig. "An aspect of morning brightness and primaveral gaiety." - Daily Telegraph; Apr. 3, 1887 "Pastel colors and Easter bonnets bloomed like flowers at the luncheon, which is always an anticipated primaveral social highlight." - The Times-Picayune; Apr. 3, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: oeillade [F] /uh(r)'-yahd/ a glance of the eye; esp: ogle "Bellmer and Hugnet responded to the double meaning of oeillade --'bunches' and 'glances'-- especially since an oeillade can be an ogling glance, a leer." - The Art Institute of Chicago (essay) "See, there is fat, handsome Captain Fitzblazer.. the rogue has one eye on Mrs. Woffington Pegley.. The Pegley is aware of the Fitzblazerian oeillade, I wager, though she makes-believe to be listening to young Martinmas..." - George Augustus Sala, Twice Round the Clock (1859)
the worthless word for the day is: Waikikamukau [NZ slang] (why-kick-a-moo-cow) mythical town that is so remote it makes Eketahuna look like a metropolis: Podunk (just because I've had comments that the words have been très ordinaire of late..)
the worthless word for the day is: Delphic 1) of or relating to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi 2) obscurely prophetic; oracular (del'-fik) "This sets me back even further. I thought Maxine left me at sea, but this must set some kind of record for the most Delphic Reply." - Stephen L. Carter, The Emperor of Ocean Park "Bush, who appears to value tension among his top advisors, 'has been very Delphic on this and hard to read'.. a Bush advisor said." - The Washington Post; March 31, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: huffduff [from HFDF, for High Frequency Direction Finder] a device for determining the direction of shortwave radio signals, enabling their source to be located when bearings are obtained by two or more such devices "They used decoy subs to befuddle the Huffduff." - Ladislas Farago, The Tenth Fleet "Now it contains a Hallicrafters Model S-27 15-tube superheterodyne radio receiver.. including a signal strength meter which would come in handy if they were really operating a huffduff station here, which they aren't." - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
the worthless word for the day is: Geltungsbedürfnis [G] a craving for recognition, egotism "Can anyone tell me," he inquired.. "how I translate Geltungsbedürfnis?" "A need to assert oneself," de Lisle suggested... - John Le Carre, A Small Town in Germany
the worthless word for the day is: foible n. var. of F. faible; see feeble 1) the weaker part of a sword blade, from the middle to the point: cf. forte [1648] 2) a minor weakness; a slight frailty in character [1673] --syn: fault "[His] book is full of ways to exploit the analysts' strengths and foibles." - Business Week; March 31, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: niddering [archaic] a cowardly person; a wretch (from a misreading of nithing in an early text) "He who can be called niddering shall never be crowned king!" - Bulwer-Lytton, Harold "..the inner man is revealed as timid and niddering, lying to the last firm handshake and as sickly yellow as a poisonous toadstool." - Paul Johnson; The Spectator; May 22, 1999
the worthless word for the day is: steganography the art of hidden writing but steganography is more than just cryptography in that it keeps the message secret by hiding the fact that it exists at all; e.g., microdots and invisible ink. more recently, a message could be hidden within a digital image by changing the least significant bits to be message bits.
the worthless word for the day is: ketchcraft the hangman's craft [from Jack Ketch, an infamous London executioner] "..in like manner he thinks that the history of such investitures should be written by people directly concerned, and not by admiring persons without, who must be ignorant of many of the secrets of Ketchcraft. We very much doubt if Milton himself could make a description of an execution half so horrible as the simple lines in the Daily Post of a hundred and ten years since, that now lies before us -- herrlich wie am ersten Tag,.." - W.M. Thackeray, Catherine
the worthless word for the day is: ecdysis (ek'-di-sis) the shedding of an outer layer of skin, as by insects, crustaceans, or snakes; molting from Gr. ekdusis, a stripping off "[Neonatal rattlesnakes] typically remain at the natal site until their first ecdysis and then disperse." - The American Midland Naturalist; Jul 2002 "..he was once bleeped out on one of the radio talk shows for describing a particular candidate's shift to the right during the Republican presidential primaries as an act of ecdysis." - Stephen L. Carter, The Emperor of Ocean Park
the worthless word for the day is: compotation [L] the act of drinking or tippling together "How few are there comparatively that spend those Holidays (as they are called) after an Holy manner. But they are consumed in compotations, in Interludes, in playing at cards, in Revelings, in excess of wine, in mad mirth." - Increase Mather*, Testimony Against Prophane Customs (1687) "Avoid the vulgar banquets, revels and compotations." - John Healy, The Manuell of Epictetus (1636) *Cotton Mather's father
the worthless word for the day is: galliard [archaic] 1) gay, lively 2) stouthearted "Thank you, my galliard friend, let's go and drink." - Anthony Burgess, The End of the World News
the worthless word for the day is: shot-clog [obs, rare] an unwelcome companion tolerated only because he pays the shot, or reckoning, for the rest Thou common shot-clog, gull of all companies. -Chapman "Alas I hadn't a farthing to buy me some grog, So I knew it was time to find a shot-clog." - C. H. Elster, There's a Word for It!
the worthless word for the day is: gowpen (gau'-pen) [Scot] a double handful A hanfu' o' trade is worth a gowpen o' gold. - old Scottish proverb
the worthless word for the day is: perendinate (puh-ren'-din-ate) [rare] a) trans. to put off until the day after tomorrow, to defer from day to day b) intr. to stay from day to day, to make an indefinite stay (from L. perendie, on the day after tomorrow) "The Master and Scholars are not to permit any one to perendinate within their walls for a longer period than a fortnight." - Willis & Clark, Arch. History of.. Cambridge
the worthless word for the day is: eudaemonia (also eudemonia) a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous; a feeling of well-being and happiness from Gr. eu-, good + daimon, spirit
the worthless word for the day is: agathism (ae'-gath-ism) the doctrine that all things tend towards ultimate good, as distinguished from optimism which holds that all things are now for the best (from the Gr. agathos, good) "The agathist is like an optimist, but more rational and profound. Like the inane 'happy face' we see everywhere today, the optimist sports an unflappable smile and blithely believes things will work out or that good will triumph over evil. The agathist, on the other hand, accepts evil and misfortune but believes it is the ultimate nature of things to tend toward the good and improve." - Charles Harrington Elster, There's a Word for It!
the worthless word for the day is: solifidian one who holds that faith alone without achievement or personal merit is sufficient to insure salvation - compare nullifidian; also, cf. antinomian solifidianism - the doctrine thereof <I have no truck with solifidianism, Marxist or ecclesiastic. - Peter McLaren> (from L. soli-, alone + fides, faith)
the worthless word for the day is: cabala or cabbala or cabbalah or kabala or kabbala or kabbalah also qabbala or qabbalah /keh BAH leh/ or /KAH beh leh/ 1) a medieval and modern system of Jewish theosophy, mysticism, and thaumaturgy marked by belief in creation through emanation and a cipher method of interpreting Scripture 2a) a traditional, esoteric, occult or secret matter b) esoteric doctrine or mysterious art of the several cabalas the most prominent are the mystic and the psychoanalytic, while the Marxist method... itself at times threatens to expand to the nebulousness of a cabala -- Charles Neider this week we delve into the occult; keep your fingers crossed..
the worthless word for the day is: hermetic from Hermes Trismegistus 1. mysterious, occult; recondite 2. sealed airtight "She was not going to make any explanation, and something about her hermetic expression made it, yet once again, infuriatingly, seem vulgar to be curious." - John Fowles, The Magus "They decide as a game to feed all the hermetic plots that ever were into their computer. The results go beyond even paranoid fantasy..." - Foucault's Pendulum, a review by Geoffrey Sauer "But in this centennial year of Wolf's death at age 42, Daniel Barenboim is exploring the com- poser's supposedly hermetic musical world in three song recitals. The second... made it perfectly clear that Wolf's sound universe is no more forbidding or eccentric than that of any composer determined to go his own way." - Chicago Sun Times Feb 17, 2003
the worthless word for the day is: sibylline oracular, occult, mysterious (pertaining to one or more of the Sibyls) "She hesitated a moment, as if she knew she was being too cool and sibylline." - John Fowles, The Ebony Tower "I am not one of those die-hard leftists who regard Marxism as a religion that explains everything that needs to be known about humanity. Marxism is not a faith; it is not a sibylline discourse. I have no truck with solifidianism, Marxist or ecclesiastic. In fact, Marxism puts its stock in good works rather than in faith." - Peter McLaren (interview, 2001)
the worthless word for the day is: gramarye /GRAM er ee/ occult learning, magic, necromancy Whate'er he did of gramarye Was always done maliciously... - Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel "Moreover, she ensorceled the city with all its streets and garths, and she turned by her gramarye the four islands into four mountains around the tarn whereof thou questionest me." - Arabian Nights, translated by Sir Richard F. Burton cf. grimoire
the worthless word for the day is: goety [archaic] witchcraft or magic performed by the invocation and employment of evil spirts; necromancy /GO ed y/ from Gr. goeteia She paused, holding her breath, before whispering, "And goety..." "The art of communicating with the devil." "Yes." She leaned back..., deliciously shocked by it all. - Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Club Dumas "But the later Jesuit's uneasiness is well grounded, for Kircher significantly chose to project super- natural images, and in this, he comes perilously close to the goety, or black magic, denounced by the Inquisition in his own day." - Marina Warner; Raritan, Spring 2002
the worthless word for the day is: chuffed [Brit] proud, satisfied 'It's down. 155 over 65.' That means nothing to me, but apparently the haematologists were chuffed to pieces. They did a lap of honour round the hospital carpark. - Lloyd Evans; The Spectator, Dec. 2002 (from Eng. dialect chuff - pleased, puffed with fat)
the worthless word for the day is: tabescent progressively wasting away (from L. tabes, a wasting away) thanx to jmh, who provided the following context for this word: "The top left corner of page 1482 of my dictionary contains the word 'tabescent'." but he could have found something such as this: "At this weak, pale, tabescent moment in the history of American literature, we need a battalion, a brigade, of Zolas to head out into this wild, bizarre, unpredictable, hog-stomping Baroque country of ours and reclaim it as literary property." - Tom Wolfe, ranting against the minimalists, Harper's, 1989
the worthless word for the day is: frogmarch to carry (a prisoner) face downwards; now usually, to march a person against his will by any method after seizing him from behind "He.. took me by the collar and the seat of my pants and frogmarched me the length of the café." - R. F. Delderfield, Come Home Charlie and Face Them
the worthless word for the day is: deponent one who gives evidence "According to the deponent there were no survivors but himself, who was saved by knowing how to swim and finding the skiff the brigantine had launched when combat began..." - Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Nautical Chart "I reported to the Nasdaq office to swear in deponents -- mostly stock brokers, flanked by their Wall Street lawyers." - Mary Vincent, Washinton Post; Dec. 5, 2002
the worthless word for the day is: bebeloglyphic profane, unholy writing "...the words themselves sank down into the ink crimped paper and perversely seemed to have an existence only on the other side of the page: a bebeloglyphic of revolt and refusal, backwards in dead black." - Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat --- is it just me, or does it seem like this word (if it truly exists outside of AT's imagination) should be bAbeloglyphic?
the worthless word for the day is: misodoctakleidist someone who hates to practice the piano this word actually gets a few Google hits, but every one of them is a list of obscure words; as with all of this week's words, use this at your own risk. (miso-, hatred; kleid, key; doctus, learned)
the worthless word for the day is: anophelosis a morbid state brought about by extreme frustration this word comes from the cartoon show Pinky and the Brain, which would embed obscure words in the show credits. the only clue I've found for the origin of this is the Greek word anopheles = useless, hurtful (the anopheles mosquito is a transmitter of malaria).
the worthless word for the day is: macroverbumsciolist 1) a person who is ignorant of large words 2) a person who pretends to know a word, then secretly refers to a dictionary this word comes from the comic strip Robotman; I suspect it is completely fanciful, but I like it. --- several folks pointed out the similarity of yesterday's word, abscotchalater, to absquatulate; Mrs. Byrne actually has both in her Dictionary, yet doesn't make the connection. not that this means anything one way or another..
the worthless word for the day is: abscotchalater one hiding from the police this week I'm going to feature some words that I've found in only one source, typically a list of obscure words--I have no citations for these, so we'll just have to come up with our own usage. this one can be found in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary. (yes, it does seem as though it's related to absquatulate..)
the worthless word for the day is: motch to eat little, slowly, quietly and secretly; to consume or waste imperceptibly hence, motching, fond of dainties, with the idea of eating in secret; (also) slow, quiet eating, with the idea of fondness for good living; imperceptible use, with the notion of thriftlessness - Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dict. 1896-1905
the worthless word for the day is: mataeotechny [obs] an unprofitable art or science (from Greek roots meaning 'vain art')
the worthless word for the day is: bosthoon [Irish] an awkward fellow; a tactless, senseless person: boor, dolt /bas THUN/ "Are you the ignorant bosthoon that's banging and hammering away at my knocker?" - Denis Johnston, The Moon in the Yellow River
the worthless word for the day is: anencephalic /an en' ce PHAL ic/ characterized by partial or total absence of the brain I could while away the hours Conferrin' with the flowers Consultin' with the rain And my head, I'd be scratchin' While my thoughts were busy hatchin' If I only had a brain. - The Scarecrow (of Oz)
the worthless word for the day is: volentine [obs, rare] collect. birds, fowls (alteration of OF volatile, perhaps influenced by volant) - New England Dict. 1928 not to be confused with valentine :^)
the worthless word for the day is: querida [Sp] a sweetheart, darling: freq. used as a term of address (also querido, the male equivalent) "In every placeta in the Pecos some little señorita was proud to be known as his querida." - Walter N. Burns, Saga of Billy the Kid "In the low voice she so loved, he said, "Querida, it's a secret." - Karen Regen-Tuero, Wonderful, Horrid, Divine; The N. American Review, Mar/Apr 2002
the worthless word for the day is: patootie [U.S. slang] /pa TOO tee/ a sweetheart, girl-friend; a pretty girl suggested by sweetheart and sweet potato(?) "You like to shake a leg with a hot patootie now and then, do you?" - Peter De Vries, Mackerel Plaza (1958) "She was, successively,.. the wife and/or sweet patootie of the quartet." - New Yorker; Sept. 26, 1977 ...and yet this too has become corrupted! "Nearest the crime scenes... few of us... give a rat's patootie why the shooters shot." - The Weekly Standard; Nov. 4, 2002
the worthless word for the day is: rumpy-pumpy [Brit/Austral, humorous] sexual activity "While most of Britain was sniggering into its corn- flakes.. about the John Major and Edwina Currie rumpy- pumpy, there was one man--other than Major--who nearly choked on his cereal." - Sunday Times "Then she follows him home and hides in his closet while the faithless louse does the rumpy-pumpy with another woman." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
the worthless word for the day is: sharoosed [Newf. dial] also sharooshed, sharoused taken aback, surprised; (also) disappointed, disgusted His wife must be some sharoosed when it all come out. -Dillon
the worthless word for the day is: enallage /e NAL la gee/ [L] 1. Gram. - the substitution of one grammatical form for another; e.g., the 'editorial we' for 'I' 2. Rhet. [obs] - a figure whereby we change or invert the order of terms in a discourse
the worthless word for the day is: palaverous /pa LAV erous/ full of or given to palaver: wordy, verbose I don't wish to become palaverous about it, but over the last couple of days I've had serious mail server problems--resulting in lost mail, badly delayed mail and one disgusted mailer. In the unlikely event this has troubled you, the web site is a bit more complete, although we're about 24 hours behind here as well.
the worthless word for the day is: scribblative [rare] pertaining to scribbling /SKRIB la tiv/ "He did not see anything that hundreds and thousands of professors of the arts gaddative and sribblative have not seen before him." - Saturday Review, 1881
the worthless word for the day is: largiloquent [obs, rare] /lar GIL oquent/ full of words; grandiloquent '...liberal of his tongue' - Thomas Blount, Glossographia (1656)
the worthless word for the day is: irregardless [non-standard] regardless this all-time favorite is thought to be a blend of regardless and irrespective, but it can be found in both AHD and MWCD, with usage notes; and see Quinion last week we looked at some commonly misused expressions.
the worthless word for the day is: gist the main point or part: essence the gist of an argument this one's not as commonly misused, but I got this in the company e-mail a few days ago: > While these are not perfect rules I believe > you all get the jest. NB: 'get the jest of it' does score 112 Google hits; the first ten are all misspellings...
the worthless word for the day is: moot point originally, a matter open for debate; but through a sense shift, a matter not worth debating... and, since moot is otherwise archaic and unfamiliar, we see 'mute point' all too often Quinion NB: 5860 Google hits for 'mute point'
the worthless word for the day is: wreaking havoc /REEK ing/ causing devastation in a violent and often uncontrolled fashion The recent storms have been wreaking havoc on crops. The oil spill wreaked havoc with wildlife and the fishing industry. Changes in the climate have wrought havoc with our usual weather patterns. NB: 'wreck havoc' (sic) and inflections (wrecking, wrecked) get 20,860 Google hits
the worthless word for the day is: begging the question taking for granted the matter in dispute, assuming without proof Begging the question is when the thing to be proved is assumed in the premises. - Thomas Reid, A Brief Account of Aristotle's Logic The vulgar equivalent for petitio principii is begging the question. - Francis Bowen, A treatise on logic but for modern takes on this expression, see: Quinion and The Word Detective
the worthless word for the day is: momist /MOM ist/ a fault-finder [obs] from Momus, the Greek god of ridicule, who for his judgments of the gods was banished from heaven; hence a fault-finder, a captious critic a daughter, disciple or son of Momus is a facetious or humorously disagreeable person; a wag, a buffoon
the worthless word for the day is: sowl [Brit. dial.] to pull by the ears; to drag about (from G. zausen; to tug, drag) "He'll go, he says, and sowl the porter of Rome gates by the ears; he will mow all down before him, and leave his passage polled." - W. Shakepeare, Coriolanus
the worthless word for the day is: claustration a) the action of enclosing or confining in a cloister b) transf. and fig. [cf. exclaustration] "In the earlier days of Islamic civilisation the claustration of women did not in the least imply their ignorance." - Pall Mall Gazette; Mar. 1908 "Barbara halted, enchanted to emerge from the claustration of the forest and breathe a more spacious air." - 'Lucas Malet', Dogs of Want, 1924
the worthless word for the day is: morigerous [from L. morem gerere, to humor or comply with the wishes of a person] obedient, compliant, submissive and, morigeration - obedience, compliance, obsequiousness "He had early acquired the character of a morigerous and well disciplined monk." - Joseph Berington, A Literary History of the Middle Ages; 1814 morigeration is required of the wwftd minions - w.m.
the worthless word for the day is: lenitive [adj] capable of easing pain or discomfort [n] anything that softens or soothes; a palliative "[Joseph] Conrad related true work to life rather than to inscrutable existence, to conviction rather than to love, to a fixed code, rather than to ethical impon- derables. His "Ars Poetica" rested upon proleptic "truth dipped in a lie" as lenitive for despair, a sustaining fiction that men are unlimited in ability to match their ideals." - G.W. Stephen Brodsky, Conradiana; Summer, 1999 Approach, ye Minstrels, try the soothing Strain, Diffuse the tuneful Lenitives of Pain: No Sounds alas would touch th' impervious Ear, Though dancing Mountains witness'd Orpheus near. - Samuel Johnson
the worthless word for the day is: mook an incompetant or stupid person, a gullible person; a contemptible person (esp. with reference to low social status); cf. moke "Even ordinary mooks like you and me have been stuffing their blotters and backs of envelopes in safe deposits for posterity." - S.J. Perelman, The Judge, 1930 JOHNNY (Interrupting) We won't pay.. because this guy (pointing to Jimmy) is.. a mook!.. Nobody knows what a mook is... JIMMY (angrily) A mook. I'm a mook. (pauses) What's a mook?.. You can't call me a mook. - Martin Scorsese, script for Mean Streets "Call them knuckleheads or young white guys; Spin magazine lambasted them with the term mooks, a label which has since been picked up as a badge of honor." - N.Y. Times Magazine, Aug. 6, 2000
the worthless word for the day is: craic [Irish] /crack/ the combined sensation of good conversation, good company, good times etc.: great fun On and on, over the hill and the craic is good Heading towards Coney Island - Van Morrison, "Coney Island"
the worthless word for the day is: yentz [Yiddish, from yentzen, to copulate] to cheat, to swindle (also, to fornicate) cf. screw "The faintness one characteristically experiences on discovering that he has been yentzed." - S. J. Perelman, Holiday, Mar. 1969
the worthless word for the day is: quidnunckery [nonce word] also quid-nunc-ism curiosity, love of news or gossip (from L. quid nunc, what now) "His attachment to quidnunckery is as constant as ever." - Spirit of the public journals, 1804 "The ne plus ultra of disappointed religious quid- nunc-ism." - John Cairns, 1847 letter
the worthless word for the day is: expiscatory [chiefly Scot] tending to expiscate or 'fish out': searching "I was moved thereunto by an expiscatory curiosity." - Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine, 1829
the worthless word for the day is: kedogenous [inkhorn term] brought about by worry, or anxiety (from Gr. kedos; care, anxiety, grief + -genous, produced by)
the worthless word for the day is: exinanition /eg zina NISH en/ 1) [archaic] an emptying or enfeebling: exhaustion 2) humiliation, abasement "He was to take upon him all the affronts, miseries and exinanitions of the most miserable." - Jeremy Taylor, 1649
the worthless word for the day is: tartarean [from Gr. Tartaros] of or relating to Tartarus: infernal, hellish the Tartarean gloom in which he found himself -Edith Sitwell "Tartarus: A region of the underworld, where Zeus imprisoned the Titans and sent the worst of sinners for punishment; a place darker than night, surrounded by three walls and the river of fire, Phlegethon. The name was also used poetically for the Lower World (Hades) as a whole." - Dictionary of Classical, Biblical, & Literary Allusions
the worthless word for the day is: empyrean [n., from Greek roots] 1a) the highest heaven or heavenly sphere in ancient and medieval cosmology usually consisting of fire or light b) the true and ultimate heavenly paradise 2) firmament, heavens 3) an ideal place or state "Then in 1962 [Karpinsky] joined the empyrean of the adult Communist world. He was promoted to Pravda's editorial board heading the department of Marxism- Leninism. He had made it." - David Remnick, Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire
the worthless word for the day is: auspicate [from L. auspex, bird augur] 1) [archaic] to indicate in advance as though by an omen: portend, augur 2) to begin or inaugurate with a ceremony intened to bring good luck <auspicating the trip with a cocktail> "You can read the future in the flight of birds? I've heard of that, but I forget what it's called." "If you want a word to impress your friends, auspicatory. If you're seeking knowledge for yourself, it is simply augury, the original form of augury, now much neglected." - Gene Wolfe, Return to the Whorl
the worthless word for the day is: avunculate [L. avunculus] n. 1) a special relationship obtaining among some tribal peoples between a nephew and his maternal uncle 2) authority of a man over his sister's family affairs but especially over her children and the reciprocal rights and responsibilities associated therewith-- compare amitate "The Omaha are patrilineal now, but their having the avunculate proves that they once traced descent through the mother, for on no other hypothesis can such a usage be explained." - R. H. Lowie, Primitive Society
the worthless word for the day is: firstfoot [Brit] 1) the first person entering a house on New Year's day, such a person being popularly believed to bring good luck to the household if brunet and bad luck if blond 2) the first person met on the way to a special event (as a christening or wedding)
the worthless word for the solstice is: brumalia a pagan festival held at the winter solstice from which some features of the celebration of Christmas seem to have originated
the worthless word for the day is: theriomaniac [nonce word] one who has a mania for hunting wild beasts (from Gk. combining form; dim. of ther, wild beast) Portraits of theriomaniac Austrian royalty. - Richard Ford, Handbook for Spain (1845)
the worthless word for the day is: loxodrome /LAK suh drome/ a rhumb line, a curve that appears to be a straight line on a Mercator projection back-formation from loxodromic; (from Gr. loxos, oblique + dromos, course) "He steers a Loxodrome for the cabinet where ardent spirits are kept for Guests of the Wet Persuasion, and pretends to weigh his Choice." - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon a sailor who has chosen a direction on the compass and keeps it steadily is following a loxodrome - Hugo Steinhaus
the worthless word for the day is: dizzard [archaic] a foolish fellow, idiot, blockhead from a list of some things to remember before applying to a writer's workshop: 19) "There are millions to be made, and your only competition is idiots," as the famous telegram said. Well, no. Wrong. In fact, you're paying (there are scholarships available) and giving up six weeks of your life, and your competition is pretty much folks just like you. (If you're a dizzard or a genius, con- sider: there are three or four more dizzards and genii sending in stuff the same time you are.) - Crimea River #9: How not to write SF Summer 2002; Howard Waldrop
the worthless word for the day is: Tardis [< TARDIS (acronym < Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), the name in the science-fiction BBC television series Doctor Who (first broadcast in 1963) of a time machine outwardly resembling a police telephone box, yet inwardly much larger.] allusively. Something resembling or likened to Doctor Who's TARDIS; specif. a) a thing seemingly from another time (past or future) b) a thing which has a larger capacity than its outward appearance suggests; a building, etc., that is larger on the inside than it appears from the outside. (another recent addition to OED! see link above) A portable hard disk drive. What does it do? Like the internal hard disk in your PC, it stores data. Lots of it - the smallest model is no bigger than a Palm Pilot, weighs an anorexic 230g but boasts a Tardis-like 20GB capacity. That's equivalent to 14,000 floppy disks. - Management Today; Sept. 2002
the worthless word for the day is: bathycolpian (also bathukolpian) deep-bosomed [from Gr. bathukolpos] "Dog Days" (Mondays, 10-11 p.m. EDT, on the Animal Planet channel) is a dog-and-owner "reality" show that chronicles the comedy and pathos of pet ownership in New York City. (The relentless Bataan March of the reality genre is a sight to behold, a revolution to reckon with: first the Osbournes; then the bathycolpian Anna Nicole Smith; and now dogs. I'm told that in Argentina they have embarked on a blacker version of the genre: realidad TV featuring the unemployed competing for jobs and benefits.) - Wall Street Journal Oct 11, 2002; Tunku Varadarajan
the worthless word for the day is: piacular 1) sacrificial, expiatory 2) requiring expiation: sinful, heinous a few years ago, James J. Kilpatrick wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times: Once I collected stamps. Now I collect words. This week I acquired "piacular," which means "sinful or wicked," and have no more use for it than I have for the 10-cent airmail of 1947. Why keep the word? Why keep the stamp? Words and stamps are fun to play with, that's all. well, James just didn't try hard enough; witness...
Only later do I understand what I've done. Deck-10 porter had his head just about chewed off by the (also Lebanese) Deck-10 Head Porter, who had his own head chewed off by the Austrian Chief Steward, who received confirmed reports that a passenger had been seen carrying his own bag up the port hallway of Deck 10 and now demanded a rolling Lebanese head for this clear indication of porterly dereliction, and the Austrian Chief Steward had reported the incident to a ship's officer in the Guest Relations Department, a Greek guy actually came around to [my cabin] after Saturday's supper to apologize on behalf of practically the entire Chandris Shipping line and to assure me that... Lebanese heads were even at that moment rolling down various corridors in piacular recompense for my having had to carry my own bag."
      - David Foster Wallace, Harper's Magazine

the worthless word for the day is: maritorious [nonce word, humorously from L. maritus, husband] our good friend Mr. Buckley expanded the sense (as is his wont) of the word uxorious when he wrote as follows for the National Review on Feb 5, 2001: "After the Senate failed to ratify the House's impeachment Clinton gradually transformed the case against him. Beginning immediately, Mrs. Clinton classified it all as the workings of a vast right- wing conspiracy. We could smile at that kind of thing as nothing more than uxorious docility..." the following was received in response: "Dear Mr. Buckley: Regarding the appropriateness of your use of "uxorious" in describing Mrs. Clinton's docility, the Oxford English Dictionary offers "maritorious," and defines it as "fond of one's husband." The usage example provided--dames maritorious ne'er were meritorious--would seem to incorporate sufficient verbal spandex to accommodate the concept of an excess of devotion." - Mark Kearney
the worthless word for the day is: encephalophone an apparatus that emits a continuous hum whose pitch is changed by interference of brain waves transmitted through oscillators from electrodes attached to the scalp and that is used to diagnose abnormal brain functioning "The way to handle Clinton is to get rid of objective requirements to pay him notice. It would be ideal sim- ply to close him off as an overexposed public-policy encephalophone, but there is no way to put Bill Clinton in Coventry; he commands too many legions." - National Review, Feb 5, 2001; W. F. Buckley Jr.
the worthless word for the day is: pahoehoe Geol. /pa HO eh HO eh/ lava with a smooth glassy surface [Hawaiian] The eruptions of this period include two... which produced pahoehoe instead of the more normal aa flows of Etna. - Nature, May 1975 "Some of the variation is due to the different insulating properties of the rock. You have so much here: light basalt and heavy granite, pahoehoe flows and aa flows, all a chronological jumble." - Nancy Kress, Probability Moon
the worthless word for the day is: alterity /al TER ity/ the state of being other or different; diversity, otherness (from F. altérité) "Outness is but... alterity visually represented." - Samuel T. Coleridge, Notes on Shakespeare The alterity of the other... is an alterity that defines me as much as it defines the other. - Gail Weiss, Hypatia Fall 2002 (compare ipseity)
the worthless word for the day is: ipseity individual identity: selfhood (from L. ipse self, himself) those heavenly moments... when a sense of the devine ipseity invades me -- L.P. Smith It is in enjoyment that one is aware of one's own happiness and unhappiness, thus aware of one's own ipseity. - Philosophy Today, Spring 2000
the worthless word for Thanksgiving Day is: engastration the stuffing of one fowl inside another Engastration of stuffed pies, one bird within another.. The passion for engastration seems to have had its admirers in all ages. - The School for good living; an essay on the European kitchen 1814 a case in point: turducken
today's classic wwftd is: spizzerinctum /spiz' er INK tum/ 1) ambition; the will to succeed 2) gimcrackery; cheap, vulgar decoration this word has been adopted as an epigram by the BJ Palmer school of chiropractic, with the meaning "excitement for cause-and-effect chiropractic". one has to wonder if BJ was aware of the second sense.
the worthless word for the day is: swedge /swedj/ to leave without paying "Seems kinder unneighbourly to let 'em swedge off like this," Salters suggested, feeling in his pockets. - R. Kipling, Captains Courageous
the worthless word for the day is: torschlusspanik [G, lit. 'shut gate panic'] a sense of alarm or anxiety (said to be experienced particularly in middle age) caused by the feeling that life's opportunities are passing (or have passed) one by; spec. that manifested in an aging woman who longs to discover the excitement of youth, and who fears being left 'on the shelf' "The random housewife is often prone to Torschluss- panik, or fear of being locked in the park at night, after the gates are closed." - Peg Bracken, I Hate to Housekeep She was haunted by Torschluss-panik (mid-life crisis). - Time, 8 Aug. 1977
the worthless word for the day is: preantepenultimate that precedes or stands immediately before the ante- penult; the last but three defined most often as fourth from the last(?), and applied to syllables
the worthless word for the day is: moanworthy [rare] worthy of moans; lamentable I haven't found anything particularly harrowing or moanworthy about it... It's just pure pleasure. - Guardian, 15 May, 1999
the worthless word for the day is: pessimal worst, or least ideal; maximally bad (from L. pessimus, worst; after optimal) If they wish to avoid the ultimate absurdity of building Utopia in the pessimal image of the National Union of Journalists. - Times, 14 April, 1977 Conditions for the launch were not optimal; in fact, they were closer to being pessimal. file under: words recently added to the OED
the worthless word for the day is: spamming for a weekend bonus, here's a new category: words recently added to the OED [computing slang] The practice of sending irrelevant, inappropriate, or unsolicited postings or e-mails over the Internet, esp. indiscriminately and in very large numbers; an instance of this. "Boldt lists the e-mail addresses of people responsi- ble for junk e-mail and Net spamming so you can easily add them to your kill file or mail bomb 'em back." - Wired, March, 1995 and it's even being used figuratively:
Let's set the existence-of-God issue aside for a later volume, and just stipulate that in some way, self replicating organisms came into existence on this planet and immediately began trying to get rid of each other, either by spamming their environments with rough copies of themselves, or by more direct means which hardly need to be belabored.
   - Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon

the worthless word for the day is: gazunder [U.K. colloq.] to arbitrarily reduce the offered price for a pro- perty, esp. near the date of exchange of contracts; cf. gazump (from gazump + under) If one of them is nearing exchange of contracts there may be no alternative but to accept, to prevent the collapse of the chain. The vendor will have been gazundered. - Gloucestershire Echo, 29 Dec. 1988 --- Three Aussie subscribers have written to inform me that a gazunder is the chamber pot that "gazunder" the bed after you've used it in loo of the out-back outhouse. Another says that this is "not to be con- fused with guzunder"; and I find that yet another variant of this is gozunder. All of this in spite of what Michael Quinion has to say about gazump and gazunder.
the worthless word for the day is: sciolist /SY uh list/ (from late L. sciol-us) a superficial pretender to knowledge; a conceited smatterer It was Barnai who first called me a sciolist, then wrote to define the word. "In your column today about your art collection and your Christmas- present book.. you mention your love of superficial knowledge and your facile gift for pretending to more knowledge than you have. Ah, Mr. Smith! Welcome to the club. You are a sciolist." - Los Angeles Times, April 30, 1991 "I don't believe you. You are an unaccomplished fake. An academic sciolist." - W. F. Buckley
the worthless word for the day is: hornswoggle to get the better of; to cheat or swindle; to hoodwink, humbug, bamboozle [colloq.] Henry Rathvon and Emily Cox are a husband-wife team who have spent their adult lives trying to hornswoggle others. They produce diabolical puzzles and elaborate word games for the Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times and other publications. - Washington Post, December 19, 1998 Bush has shown "how easy it is to hornswoggle liber- als," said Anne Coulter, an author and political commentator. "All you have to do is go around calling yourself nice. He treats liberals like small children having nightmares. Darn if it doesn't work." - Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2001 dictionaries mark this word "origin unknown", but if you go in for fanciful explanations try The Word Detective.
the worthless word for the day is: psephologist someone who pursues the scientific study of elections Tukey, a professor of statistics at Princeton Univ., was -- among an astonishingly long list of other credits -- a psephologist (se-FA-lo-gist), an expert on the mathematical prediction of elections. Every fall, he would sit down to plan how to predict the outcome of that season's election.... - Washington Post, November 5, 2000 "I announce that the psephologists have just completed a study that reveals that the participation of Princeton volunteers was the very thing that brought brother Jim over the edge of victory." - William F. Buckley On behalf of the Amalgamated Psephologists & Pundits Union, Messrs Malcolm Mackerras and Anthony Green have already protested that this move would cause them severe economic distress, with only two or three mammoth tallyroom broadcasts each decade. - The Zeitgeist Gazette, 24th January 2000 [from Gr. psephos, pebble, ballot (from the ancient Greeks' use of pebbles for voting) + -logy]
the worthless word for the day is: shambolic chaotic, disorderly, undisciplined [colloq.] (from shamble, after symbolic?) Even worn and frayed, at 53 Richards remains the prototype for the modern rock guitarist and almost every imaginable rock guitar mannerism. Gaunt and frazzle-haired, immutably plugged in to his instrument, slouched in shambolic indolence, he seems both oblivious and impervious to time. - Washington Post, October 19, 1997 Boyle's later novels tend to meander, as in the rather shambolic grotesqueries of The Road to Wellville and Riven Rock, but his short fiction remains among the very best published in the last few decades. - Washington Post, September 16, 2001
the worthless word for the day is: sciomancy /SAI uh man sy/ divination by communication with shades of the dead There are hundreds of -mancies, as mankind has used virtually anything to try to foretell the future. This one is a bit hard to grasp, as it stems from a Greek root meaning shadow; so it seems to have initially meant, literally, divination by shadows. These days there doesn't seem to be a lot to choose between sciomancy, psychomancy and necromancy. necromancy - the practice of communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future psychomancy - divination by means of spirits sciomancy - divination using ghosts or a spirit guide, a method generally employed by channelers
the worthless word for the day is: Samhain /saun/ or /SAW in/ [Irish] The first day of November, celebrated by the ancient Celts as a festival marking the beginning of winter and of the new year according to their calendar; All Saint's Day or Hallowmass (cf. Beltane) Samhain Eve became known as All-Hallows' Even, corrupted to Hallow-e'en and now spelled Hallowe'en or Halloween
the worthless word for the day is: coenaculous /ke NA cue lous/? that eats suppers; supper-loving (from L. cenaculum (erroneously spelt coen-), dining- or supping-room) "People grossly coenaculous." - Leigh Hunt, Bacchus in Tuscany She groaked whillim as they gulched and guttled. Fackins! She was an opsophagist, coenaculous and cuppendous - pabulous commesations were an ephialtes for the deipnetic. It was niminy gulosity, she wiste it, but they begat swilk an increment in her recre- ment, a cupidity that was ineluctable - it was the flurch of post-jentacular flampoints and licious lozens. - anon. (from Kate Burridge)
the worthless word for the day is: refragable [obs] that may be refuted or gainsaid (from L. refragabilis) [not to be confused with refrangible]
the worthless word for the day is: sciamachy /sye AM uh kee/ a futile battle with an imaginary foe; fighting with a shadow (from Gr. skia, shadow + mache, battle) Shadow-boxing, against an imaginary opponent in training for the ring, is a specialized form of sciamachy. When Don Quixote de la Mancha tilted at windmills, he was engaging in sciamachy. Paranoids, in mental conflict with the imagined hostility of others, are involved in sciamachy of an involuntary sort. - Norman W. Schur
the worthless word for the day is: hodiernal /ho di UR nal/ of or belonging to the present day (from L. hodiernus) cf. diurnal "For all these of course are exceptions, and the rule and hodiernal life of a good man is benefaction." - Ralph Waldo Emerson bonus word: transdiurnal - that which is beyond the confines of day [nonce-word] "C[arlyle] shows you how every-day matters unite With the dim transdiurnal recesses of night,-- While E[merson] in a plain, preternatural way, Makes mysteries matters of mere everyday." - James Russell Lowell, Fables for Critics
the worthless word for the day is: hesternal pertaining to yesterday (from L. hesternus, of yesterday) "In enervating slumbers from the hesternal dissipation or debauch." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Pelham; or the adventures of a gentleman bonus word: hesternopothia - a pathological yearning for the good ol' days (from L. hesternus, of yesterday + pother(?), mental tumult) :^)
the worthless word for the day is: apopemptic [adj] /ap uh PEMP tic/ pertaining to dismissal; valedictory (from Gr. apopemptikos, to send away) The advice of Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet is one of the most eloquent (if long-winded) apopemptic speeches in literature. Good advice too. Apopemptic describes messages to, rather than from, those taking leave. Thus it does not apply to a farewell address. Today's practically automatic apopemptic message is "Have a nice day!" to which Russell Baker says he once thought of replying, "I will, if I can find one." - Norman W. Schur bonus word: pentapopemptic - divorced five times ;^)
the worthless word for the day is: miminy-piminy (see also niminy-piminy) [adj] ridiculously delicate or over-refined; finicky [n] a finicky or affected compostion "A miminy piminy, Je-ne-sais-quoi young man." -W. S. Gilbert, Patience
the worthless word for the day is: slugabed one who stays in bed out of laziness; broadly: sluggard Why Lambe, why Lady, fie you slugabed. --Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
the worthless word for the day is: schlub [Yiddish] (also shlub) a worthless person, a jerk, an oaf (from Polish zhlób, trough, blockhead) "When a man... doesn't know the facts and nobody will tell him... and people keep throwing apples and unkind remarks at him, he has no choice but to look like a shlub." - Donald Westlake, Up Your Banners
the worthless word for the day is: effutiation [nonce word] twaddle, balderdash (from L. effutire, to prate) "The plotlessness, still-life, puling effutiation... of modern plays." - J. Lacy in London Magazine, 1823
today's classic wwftd is: muliebrity womanhood; the characteristics or qualities of a woman (from L. mulier, woman) "This tall.. woman.. possessed a refined muliebrity superior to mere liberality of contour." - Bret Harte, A Phyllis of the Sierras "She was one of those women who are wanting in--what is the word?--muliebrity." - H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli
the worthless word for the day is: filipendulous hanging or having the appearance of hanging by a thread (from mod. L.) [in Webster's 1864 Dict.] the filipendula (a member of the rose family) has filipendulous roots.
the worthless word for the day is: runcible [nonsense word] from the phrase runcible spoon; (conjecture has it that this is a spork*) They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon. And hand in hand on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon.. - Edward Lear, The Owl & The Pussy-Cat (1871) * Lear's own illustrations do not support this, and the spork seems to have come along a bit later (1909?) [a spork is a proprietary name for a piece of cutlery combining the features of a spoon and a fork -- think fast food plasticware.]
the worthless word for the day is: faff [Brit] to spend your time doing a lot of unimportant things instead of the thing you should be doing "I wish you'd stop faffing about and do something useful!" Cambridge International Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs
the worthless word for the day is: habromania [Psych] a morbid impulse toward gaity from Gr. habros, graceful, + mania, insanity
the worthless word for the day is: pootle [Brit. colloq.] to move or travel about in a leisurely manner (a blend of poodle and tootle, which both are used in the same sense of leisurely motion) Kelp pootled around a while longer, found a parking place. - Donald Westlake, Nobody's Perfect
the worthless word for the day is: microlipet choose one: a) a portion b) a small portion c) a very small portion d) a nitpicker e) perhaps c and d lipe comes from French and means a (significant?) portion; lipet adds the diminutive, making a small portion; so by extension, microlipet... but wait, Charles Harrington Elster and Mrs. Byrne give it as someone who gets all worked up about trivial things.
the worthless word for the day is: engastrimyth choose one: a) a rumbling in the bowels b) butterflies in the stomach c) a stuffed Phoenix d) a ventriloquist
the worthless word for the day is: pumpkinification choose one: a) apocolocyntosis b) a parody of deification c) an apotheosis d) what happened to Cinderella at midnight e) all of the above, but especially b)
the worthless word for the day is: vaticination choose one: a) to put or transfer into a vat b) purporting the doctrine of papal supremacy c) a prediction; a prophecy d) oh no, not another round of hogwash®!
the worthless word for the day is: kumatage a bright appearance in the horizon, under the sun or moon, arising from the reflected light of those bodies from the small rippling waves on the surface of the water - The American Practical Navigator, by Nathaniel Bowditch, 24th Edition (1854) This has been festering in our backlog for over a year, when someone responded to moonglade with "A poeticism for sure. The more scientific term for moon light shining on water: kumatage." [ed. note: we are clueless as to the etymology or pronunciation of this one. edit: but see cumatic]
the worthless word for the day is: autopoiesis the process whereby an organization produces itself; literally, self-production -- not to be confused with allopoiesis, which is the process whereby an organ- ization produces something other than itself An example of the former is a cell or an organism; the latter is exemplified by an assembly line. -from Klaus Krippendorff's Dictionary of Cybernetics
the worthless word for the day is: wayzgoose a printer's annual dinner or excursion This is the name for an entertainment given by a master printer to his workmen each year on or about St. Bartholomew's Day (24 August), marking the end of summer and the beginning of the season of working by candlelight. "The members of the typographical staffs of the Surrey Advertiser (Guildford) and the Surrey Mirror (Redhill) had their wayzgoose on Saturday last, when they journeyed to Brighton." - Surrey Mirror, Aug. 1895
the worthless word for the day is: vivisepulture burying alive "As in most hot climates so in Egypt the dead are buried at once despite the risk of vivisepulture." - footnote to Arabian Nights "They are a superstitious brood and have many cruel practices--human sacrifices and vivisepulture." - R. F. Burton, City of Saints for those of you who suffer from taphephobia, I suggest this invention.
the worthless word for the day is: etaerio [Bot.] an aggregate cluster of fruit derived from a single flower; e.g., raspberry, blackberry Scrabble people claim that this is the most likely seven-letter word to appear on your rack.
the worthless word for the day is: stercoration the act of spreading manure; generally, the excrement of animals (how about this for a tautology:) Manuring with dung. --Bacon
the worthless word for the day is: friscalating "Friscalating. Wes [Anderson] made up that word. It's what you see on the horizon at sunset with the light kind of shimmering." - Owen Wilson "'Vamanos, amigos,' he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddle- cock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight." - Wes Anderson, The Royal Tenenbaums
the worthless word for the day is: questuary (also quæstuary) [obs] [n] one who seeks for gain [adj] concerned with gain; money-making (from L. quaestus - gain, profit) "Gerson and Dominicus à Soto are asham'd of these prodigious indulgences, and suppose that the Pope's Quæstuaries onely did procure them." - J. Taylor, 1664
the worthless word for the day is: plotz [Yiddish] 1) to sit down wearily, to flop; to slouch, loaf (around) 2) to burst; usu. in fig. senses, esp. to explode in anger "He just kind of plotzed around waiting to fall into some sort of cushy job." - J. Kirkwood "So Pincus broke into a run, and he ran and he ran until he thought his heart would plotz." - Leo Rosten, Joys of Yiddish
the worthless word for the day is: firkytoodle [archaic] to pet, caress (cf. canoodle) from the Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, by Eric Partridge
the worthless word for the day is: hwyl /HU il/ [W] an emotional quality which inspires and sustains impassioned eloquence; also, the fervor of emotion characteristic of Welsh gatherings "What a true leader needs is flair, personality and sheer, damn hwyl." - Mathew Engel, The Guardian
the worthless word for the day is: retiarius a Roman gladiator armed with a net for entangling his adversary (and a trident for despatching him) [from L. rete, a net] "Another lamp in the same collection has a retiarius holding his trident." - Birch, Ancient Pottery (file under: so that's what that's called)
the worthless word for the day is: farraginous consisting of a hodgepodge (of materials) "Thou art, I vow, the remarkablest progenitor barring none in this chaffering allincluding most farraginous chronicle." - J. Joyce, Ulysses
the worthless word for the day is: sgriob ...and the Gaelic-speaking Scots have the word sgriob, which describes the itchiness that comes upon the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey. - Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue
the worthless word for the day is: bogosity [jargon] the degree to which something is bogus (i.e., bad) bogosity is measured with a bogometer, which is strictly a conversational device: when a speaker says something bogus, you might respond "My bogometer just triggered" or "You just pinned my bogometer". /bog OS ity/ /bog OM eter/
the worthless word for the day is: farb a re-enactor of battles who is not authentic "You understand," Robert said, "reenactors are serious people. I mean whether they all the way hardcore or not. They go to the trouble to get to the place, put their uniform on, sleep in a tent on the ground, cook their food over a fire, they're serious people do that. They have no patience with farbs wearing Speedo skivvies under their wool pants. You know what I'm saying?" - Elmore Leonard, Tishomingo Blues
the worthless word for the day is: au fait being well instructed in, thoroughly conversant with, expert or skillful in; also in const. to or (most frequent in recent use) with I hope... to run up first to Feisal and so put you au fait with his intentions. - T. E. Lawrence (1916 letter)
the worthless word for the day is: double entente There is no use pointing out that double entendre does not exist in French and that the proper [French] phrase for a double meaning, one of them usually indelicate, is double entente. - B. & C. Evans, A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage
the worthless word for the day is: bodger [n] a chair-leg turner [Brit. dial.] [adj] inferior, worthless; (of names) false, assumed [Austral. slang]
the worthless word for the day is: matriotism [nonce-word] love of one's mother country or of one's alma mater "I am delighted with your matriotism 'Rome, Venice, Cambridge!'" - James Russell Lowell, Letters
the worthless word for the day is: crabbit [Scot. dialect] [adj] ill-tempered, grumpy, curt, disagreeable, in a bad mood (esp. in the morning) often used in Ken this, yer a crabbit get, so ye are. [n] (see crab) one who by their nature or temperament conveys an aura of irritability
the worthless word for the day is: zucchetto [It.] (R.C. Church) (also zuchetta, -etto) the skullcap of an ecclesiastic; the pope's is white, a cardinal's red, a bishop's violet, a priest's black
the worthless word for the day is: plonk /plongk/ [chiefly Brit. slang] cheap or inferior wine short for earlier plink-plonk, perhaps alteration of French vin blanc is all cheap wine plonk? (thanx to WaP revelers :)
the worthless word for the day is: diaphone a foghorn with a two-toned, penetrating sound (so that's what that's called)
the worthless word for the day is: confabulate 1) to talk familiarly together, converse, chat 2) [Psych] to fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for memory gaps The children's testimony was worthless because of the coercive and leading methods used to confabulate it.
the worthless word for the day is: cryptoscopophilia the urge to look through the windows of homes you pass (so that's what that's called :) this one is of a rather dubious nature, but is cited in Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue (it is spelled crytoscopophilia in the paperback edition that I have -- both spellings turn up via Google, attributed to Bryson...)
the worthless word for the day is: kibosh (slang) [origin obscure, possibly Yiddish or Anglo-Hebraic] 1) in the phrase to put the kibosh on: to dispose of finally, finish off, check or stop 2) nonsense, rot, stuff, humbug 3) the proper style or fashion (senses 2 and 3 are mainly archaic)
the worthless word for the day is: semordnilap a word, phrase or sentence that spells a different word, phrase or sentence when reversed; e.g., desserts <> stressed (probably only of interest to palindromists)
the worthless word for the day is: bespoke [adj] 1) custom-made 2) making or selling custom-made clothes: a bespoke tailor "Even very, very rich women don't buy bespoke clothes in Paris anymore...." - Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon
the worthless word for the day is: dumbledore 1) the bumblebee; "the most good-natured of God's Insects" -Southey 2) the dung-beetle [Brit dial.]
the worthless word for the day is: quodlibetarian someone who engages in elaborate arguments about theoretical fine points on any subject (perhaps for the sake of argument) [rare] from L. quod, what + libet, it pleases (one)
the worthless word for the day is: tetragrammaton [Greek, four-letter word] /tetra GRAM maton/ spec. the Hebrew word written YHWH or JHVH, vocalized as YaHWeH or JeHoVaH; often substituted for the ineffable name of God
the worthless word for the day is: stoush [Austr. or NZ slang] [v] to thrash or beat (a person); to fight [n] fighting; a brawl or fight, a scrap (possibly from Scot. stashie, uproar) "He's a good man in the stoush, no doubt about that." - Australian rules football commentary
the worthless word for the day is: pygephanous showing one's buttocks: mooning "Whilst he was exposing his Hind-Parts to the Gaze of those in the Fort, prudent Dot... remove'd a Sap from her Stocking, and bestow'd the Pygephanous Tar a Memento, from which he did not awaken until the next day, by which time he'd been convey'd to...." - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon
the worthless word for the day is: termagancy a scolding disposition, habitual bad temper: shrewishness (Termagant was an imaginary Muslim deity represented in Medieval mystery plays as a boisterous, brawling character) "It was a sound he had never heard, not once, in all his nights in Dog-town, because the ordinary wailing and tergamancy of the dogs drowned it out." - Michael Chabon, Kavalier & Clay
the worthless word for the day is: jentacular [obs] pertaining to breakfast (from L. jentare, to breakfast) Nothing more.. can be expected from those jentacular confabulations.
the worthless word for the day is: degringolade [F] /day gra[n] go lahd/ a rapid decline or deterioration; downfall "The hero.. underwent a convincing but totally unsensational degringolade, taking, not to drugs or drink, but to an increasing sluggishness." - Encounter, Sept. 1959
the worthless word for the day is: bricoleur [F, handy-man] someone who continually invents his own strategies for comprehending reality "Joe had that authentic air of the solitary bricoleur, the potterer of genius, like the Facteur Cheval..." - Michael Chabon, Kavalier & Clay
the worthless word for the day is: aetataureate of or pertaining to a golden age evidently coined as a nonce-word by Michael Chabon, (Kavalier & Clay) in the phrase: the usual hallmark of the aetataureate delusion from aetat, of the age of + aureate, golden
the worthless word for the day is: tetchous [U.S. dial.] easily irritated or made angry; short-tempered; peevish, irritable; testy: tetchy "A respectability that delicate and tetchous that wouldn't nothing else suit." - W. Faulkner, The Mansion
the worthless word for the day is: arras 1) a wall hanging or tapestry 2) a curtain or wall hanging, esp. one of Flemish origin "The night was moonless, and a fog lay over the river like an arras drawn across by a conjuror's hand." - Michael Chabon, Kavalier & Clay
the worthless word for the day is: favonian of or pertaining to the west wind (or zephyr): mild, gentle, favorable [from L. favonius, the west wind] Softly tell her not to fear Such calm favonian burial! -Keats
the worthless word for the day is: cathect [Psych] to charge with mental energy; to give (ideas, etc.) an emotional loading [back-formation from cathexis] "A repressed instinctual impulse can be activated (newly cathected) from two directions." - Freud's Inhibitions (tr. by A. Strachey) "Frau Dr. Anna Kavalier was a neurologist by training who.. had gone on to treat, on her paisley divan, the cream of cathected young Prague." - Michael Chabon, Kavalier & Clay
the worthless word for the day is: cautelous [obs. or arch.] deceitful, crafty, artful, wily --your son Will or exceed the common or be caught With cautelous baits and practise. -Shakespeare, Coriolanus Act 4, Scene 1
the worthless word for the day is: owling the practice of smuggling wool or sheep out of England formerly illegal, and done chiefly by night; by extension, to carry on any contraband trade
Owling, in English law, the offence of transporting wool or sheep out of the kingdom, to the detriment of the staple manufacture of wool. The name is said to owe its origin to the fact that the offence was usually carried on at night- time, when the owls were abroad. The offence was stringently regulated by a statute of Edward III, while many subsequent statutes also dealt with it. In 1566 the offence was made punishable by the cutting off of the left hand and nailing it in a public place. By a statute of 1660 the ship and cargo were to be forfeited. In the reign of George I the penalty was altered to transportation for seven years. The offence was abolished in 1824.
    - The 1911 Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica

the worthless word for the day is: mycterism [fr. a Gk word meaning to sneer at] /MIK ter izm/ rare a disdainful gibe or scoff "...the Greeks call certain kinds of allegory sarcasm, asteism, [etc].. to which it may be well to add mycterism, a kind of derision which is dissembled, but not altogether concealed." Saintsbury, 1900 A History of Criticism
the worthless word for the day is: zabernism [obs] the misuse of military power or authority; bullying, aggression 1921 E. Weekley, Etym. Dict. Mod. Eng. Zabernism (hist.), military jackbootery. From an incident at Saverne (Ger. Zabern) in Alsace (1912), when an excited Ger. subaltern cut down a lame cobbler who smiled at him. 1918 H. G. Wells Both countries have been slaves to Kruppism and Zabernism. 1916 G. B. Shaw, Heartbreak House ...the army they rescued is busy in Cologne imprisoning every German who does not salute a British officer; whilst the government at home, asked whether it approves, replies that it does not propose even to discontinue this Zabernism when the Peace is concluded, but in effect looks forward to making Germans salute British officers until the end of the world.
the worthless word for the day is: satisdiction [nonce word] saying enough They desire not satisfaction, but satisdiction, whereof themselves must be judges. - Nathaniel Ward
the worthless word for the day is: fossarian one of the clergy of the 4th century who dug graves (or, as Mrs. Byrne has it, a clergyman moonlighting as a gravedigger) [from L. fossa, a ditch, trench]
the worthless word for April 1, 2002 is: gyascutis an imaginary large four-legged beast with legs on one side longer than on the other for walking on hillsides (would I kid you?)
the worthless word for the day is: cacographer a bad writer or speller [James Murray] quoted himself by name once [in the OED], as the only authority for the word cacographer, condemning a development in medieval spelling brought about by "Norman cacographers".
the worthless word for the day is: alethiology the doctrine of truth, that part of logic which treats of truth (from Greek aletheia, truth + logy) The first part [of logic] treats of the nature of truth and error, and of the highest laws for their discrimination, ~. - Sir W. Hamilton, Logic 1837
the worthless word for the day is: megatherial resembling the megatherium*; fig., ponderous unwieldy *an extinct, giant slothlike creature A vast edifice.. with which a Megatherial key was identified. - H. G. Wells, Certain Personal Matters
the worthless word for the day is: banjax to batter or destroy (a person or thing); to ruin; to confound, stymie [Anglo-Ir. slang] "Lucky might get going all of a sudden. Then we'd be banjaxed." - S. Beckett, Waiting for Godot (rev. ed.) (I wonder why it was changed from ballocksed?)
the worthless word for the day is: doch-an-dorris \dakh-un-DOOR-us (kh as in Bach)\ a parting drink [Irish/Sc., a drink at the door] Just before they parted, the guests at Mary's St. Patrick's Day party ended the evening with a doch-an-dorris and a toast to each other's health.
the worthless word for the day is: ides in the ancient Roman calendar, the eighth day after the nones, i.e. the 15th of March, May, July, October, and the 13th of the other months; cf. calends the days after the nones were reckoned forward to the ides, counting inclusively; hence expressions such as the sixth of the ides [or the sixth ide] of June = June 8.
the worthless word for the day is: perpilocutionist [jocular] someone who talks through his hat Don't pay John any heed -- he's a perpilocutionist.

the worthless word for the day is: stocious [Irish slang] drunk, intoxicated "She's stocious," Rafferty said. - M. Kenyon, 100,000 Welcomes
the worthless word for the day is: omninescience /omni NES (i)ens/ ignorance of everything, universal ignorance The astounding pretensions to universal knowledge and real omninescience displayed in all his writing...
the worthless word for the day is: nimious overmuch, excessive; inordinate now chiefly as a Sc. legal term <The action was ex facie so nimious and unrea- sonable as to excite prejudice against it>
the worthless word for the day is: hedonics the doctrine of pleasure; that part of ethics which treats of pleasure bonus wwftd: hedonometer - an apparatus for measuring pleasure Who is a competent judge, and where is his 'hedonometer'?
the worthless word for the day is: gombeen [Irish] usury chiefly used attributively as gombeen-man, a money-lender, usurer -- What's the best news? Mr Dedalus said. -- Why then not much, Father Cowley said. I'm barri- caded up, Simon, with two men prowling around the house trying to effect an entrance. -- Jolly, Mr Dedalus said. Who is it? -- O, Father Cowley said. A certain gombeen man of our acquaintance. - James Joyce, Ulysses
the worthless word for the day is: endomusia silent recall of a melody; endomusia often appears as a type of obsessive thought (Psychiatric Dictionary, 4th ed., Hinsie and Campbell) -- for those of you with a tune stuck in your head
the worthless word for the day is: argle-bargle (also argy-bargy) disputatious argument, bandying of words, wrangling [chiefly Brit., from argue and by reduplication]
the worthless word for the day is: conjobble to chat together to concert, to settle, to discuss: a low cant word -Johnson just the word needed to apply to those execrable on-line chat rooms
the worthless word for the day is: nikhedonia the pleasure derived from anticipating success from Nike, the goddess of victory + hedoné, pleasure
the worthless word for the day is: platypygous [Zool.] having broad buttocks /plaetiPAIgus/ just because I haven't added to the pyg family lately
the worthless word for the day is: chatoyant [F] changing in luster or color (like a cat's eyes) "The reflected sunlight from outside shone on the pale gold heavy falling swerve of her hair, in the depths of the chatoyant grey eyes and on the glint of white teeth between half parted lips." - Ian Fleming, Diamonds Are Forever
the worthless word for the day is: objurgation a harsh rebuke
And so Dr Pessimist Anticant became Popular. Popularity spoilt him for all further real use, as it has done many another. While, with some diffidence, he confined his objurgations to the occasional follies or shortcomings of mankind; while he ridiculed the energy of the squire devoted to the slaughter of partridges, or the mistake of some noble patron who turned a poet into a gauger of beer- barrels, it was all well; we were glad to be told our faults and to look forward to the coming millennium, when all men, having sufficiently studied the works of Dr Anticant, would become truthful and energetic.  - Anthony Trollope, The Warden

the worthless word for the day is: gasbaggery somewhen in the '90s this got thrown out in reference to garrulous politicians; it seems to be catching on. And if the academic establishment, with all its theoretical gasbaggery, is not going to teach history,... - Jewish World Review, 1999 This is nonfalsifiable gasbaggery. - The New Republic, 2000 ...I couldn't care less whether the pooh-bahs of gasbaggery are all atwitter that Nebraska could actually end up in the... Rose Bowl. - Huskers HQ, 2001
the worthless word for the day is: hoodoo [U.S., of African origin] 1) a body of practices of sympathetic magic traditional esp. among blacks in the southern U.S.: voodoo 2) a natural column of rock in western No. America often in fantastic form 3) something that brings bad luck I had wanted to go to the Yellowstone River region -- wanted specially to see... the hoodoo or goblin land of that country. - Walt Whitman, 1879 This is what humor boils down unto - Are you him who doeth, or him who it's done to? If a friend is dogged by some awful hoodoo, Why naturally, he doesn't laugh, but you do; If the puppy is sick on your new Tuxedo, Why, naturally, you don't laugh, but he do. - Ogden Nash
the worthless word for the day is: patavinity the use of local words or expressions; local pronunciation [from the peculiar style or diction of Livy, a Roman historian, who was born in Patavium (now Padua - cf. Paduanism, the use of patois)] Pete Saussy writes: hey, i call foul; i can actually use that word. i live in a state where nothing is pronounced like it looks like it ought to be. used to know a family in Georgetown whose name was spelled COUTU but pronounced Koochee, go figure. HUGER is you-gee, GERVAIS is jer-vay. I spoot on your pata- vinitee, mon-sewer!!
the worthless word for the day is: mysterium a hypothetical substance to which a galactic radio emission at 1665 megahertz was attributed until it was identified as an exceptionally strong component of a set of four lines emitted by the hydroxyl radical, OH
the worthless word for the day is: anacampserote [from Gk to bend back love] a herb feigned to restore departed love; hence, something which can bring back a lost love
the worthless word for the day is: piepowder [F, pied-poudreux] 1) [adj] 'dusty-footed'; wayfaring, itinerant 2) [n] a. a traveling man, a wayfarer, esp. an itinerant merchant or trader; chiefly used in Court of Piepowders, a summary court formerly held at fairs and markets to admin- ister justice among itinerant dealers and others temporarily present b. attrib. Piepowder Court = Court of Piepowders (in a.), of which the steward of him who owned the land or had the toll was the judge
the worthless word for the day is: Barmecidal providing only the illusion of abundance [from Barmecide, a wealthy Persian, who invited a beggar to a feast of imaginary food in a tale of The Arabian Nights' Entertainments; cf. Barmecide] "What a promising feast. But it turns out to be Barmecidal." - Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
the worthless word for the day is: wimble-wamble [Brit. dial, redupl. of wamble] to roll about in walking [n] the ordinary crowd "They will observe how they resemble each other and how they differ from the wimble-wamble of the common world." - H. G. Wells
the worthless word for the day is: stroppiness [UK] obstreperousness, unruliness, rebelliousness "It anyhow seems to me {perhaps out of stroppiness) that the good toys aren't all necessarily the ones that teach how to count or measure." - New Statesman, 1969
the worthless word for the day is: dol a unit of intensity of pain from L. dolor, pain A psychological torture instrument, a dolorimeter, which measures pain in units called dols. - Sense & Nonsense in Psychology, HJ Eysenck
the worthless word for the day is: impinguate /im PING gwate/ [obs] to make fat; to fatten from late L. impinguare, f. pinguis, fat
the worthless word for the day is: treppenwitz [G] wit of the stairs: l'esprit d'escalier [F] one only thinks on one's way downstairs of the smart retort one might have made in the drawing room cf. afterwit
the worthless word for the day is: conflate 1a) to bring together: fuse b) confuse 2) to combine (as two readings of a text) into a composite whole "Now, nobody is going to be able definitely to establish what happens for every million dollars a state spends on a national service program. Too many questions have to be conflated to permit a responsible prediction." -WFB
the worthless word for the day is: velleity the lowest degree of volition; a slight wish, inclination "People get annoyed when you use words that do not come trippingly off the tongue of Oprah Winfrey, but how else than to designate it as a velleity would you describe President Bush's fair-weather call for landing some people on Mars?" -WFB, 1989
the worthless word for the day is: usufruct 1) the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another 2) the right to use or enjoy something "...it is we... who have produced the greatest share of the world's material goods, in order that others should indicate how best they might be enjoyed in usufruct." -WFB, 1964
today's classic wwftd is: afflatus a creative impulse; a divine inspiration "...resist kindly, but no less firmly, the ministra- tions of those who would reach into your very shower to adjust the temperature of the water according to their most recent afflatus." -WFB, 1963
the worthless word for the day is: organon an instrument for acquiring knowledge; specifically a body of principles of scientific or philosophic investigation "Those liberating perceptions Norman Mailer has been wrestling to formulate for lo these many years are like the purloined letter, lying about loose in the principles and premises, the organon, of the movement the Left finds so fashionable to ridicule." -WFB, 1962
the worthless word for the day is: catillate 'to lick dishes' [from L. catillare, to lick a plate] this week we delve into treasures from the first dictionary to have the word dictionary in its title: Henry Cockeram's The English Dictionarie: or, an Interpreter of hard English Words. published in 1623, it is credited as being the third English dictionary and contains words found nowhere else -- most of these seem to have been formed directly from Latin by Cockeram himself.
the worthless word for the day is: condorm to sleep together (with one) [obs] [from L. condormire]
the worthless word for the day is: depalmate to give one a box on the ear [obs] [f. ppl. stem of L. depalmare]
the worthless word for the day is: bulbitate to befoul one's trousers [obs. 'to befilth one's breech']
the worthless word for the day is: adstupiate greatly to esteem riches [obs]
the worthless word for the day is: tubster one who preaches from a tub; a dissenting preacher or minister (cf. tub-thumper)
the worthless word for the day is: aweless (also awless) 1) without dread; fearless, undaunted, unappalled 2) without awe; irreverent, presumptuous, rude 3) that inspires no awe [obs] Against whose fury... The awless Lion could not wage the fight. -WS, John I (sense 1) Insulting Tyranny begins to jut upon the innocent and aweless Throne. -WS, Richard III (sense 3)
the worthless word for the day is: swinkful [obs] 1) full of toil or trouble; disastrous; troublesome, irksome; painful, distressing 2) hard-working, industrious, diligent And the same year there was a very heavy season, and a swinkful and sorrowful year in England.... - The Anglo Saxon Chronicle (A.D. 1086)
the worthless word for the day is: gambrinous being full of beer [mythical] Flemish King Gambrinus is revered by some brewers as a patron saint. reputed to have invented hopped malt beer, the legendary Gambrinus may actually have been Jan Primus, Duke of Flanders, Brabant, Louvain and Antwerp in the late 13th C. Primus, according to the Enclyclopedia of Beer, is credited with intro- ducing the custom of toasting. although there is no evidence of him in the church listings of saints, Gambrinus continues to be celebrated by brewers as the King of Beer and patron saint. (thanx to Theresa, Mrs. Byrne and beerhistory.com)
the worthless word for the day is: fuzzle [obs] to intoxicate, make drunk, confuse, muddle (a conflation of fuzz and fuddle) Paul Dickson's Words has a chapter with 2,231 terms for being intoxicated -- it's in the Guiness Book of Records -- I wonder if he has fuzzled?
the worthless word for the day is: fasgrolia according to Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, this is an abbreviation of the FASt GROwing Language of Initialisms and Acronyms
the worthless word for the day is: bafflegab official or professional jargon which confuses more than it clarifies: gobbledegook coined in 1952 by Milton A. Smith, assistant general counsel for the American Chamber of Commerce, and defined by him as follows:
Multiloquence characterised by a consummate interfusion of circumlocution or periphrasis, inscrutability, incognizability, and other familiar manifestations of abstruse expatiation commonly utilised for promulgations implementing procrustean determinations by governmental bodies.

the worthless word for the day is: zob a weak or contemptible person; a fool
Which of them said which has never been determined, and does not matter, since they all had the same ideas and expressed them always with the same ponderous and brassy assurance. If it was not Babbitt who was delivering any given verdict, at least he was beaming on the chancellor who did deliver it. "At that, though," announced the first "they're selling quite some booze in Zenith. Guess they are everywhere. I don't know how you fellows feel about prohibition, but the way it strikes me is that it's a mighty beneficial thing for the poor zob that hasn't got any will-power but for fellows like us, it's an infringement of personal liberty. - Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt

the worthless word for All Hallows' eve is: ghastful 1) full of fear, timid, scared 2) dreadful, frightful, terrible 3) ghastly "Goblin shapes... grinning and gibbering in ghastful fashion." - H. C. Halliday, Someone must suffer, 1891
the worthless word for the day is: coolth (as in warmth) the state or occasion of being cool: coolness "The current coolth, which shows signs of losing its facetiousness, and may claim part of the territory of cool." [or not] - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Year's Work in English Studies (1924)
the worthless word for the day is: accinge /ak SINJ/ to gird up one's loins, apply oneself This task, to which I have accinged myself, is arduous. - T. L. Peacock, 1829
the worthless word for the day is: autopoietic "[This concept] is... autopoietic, that is, it runs by itself." - Alan Wolfe, The New Republic from poietic - creative, formative, productive, active OED2 comments: so spelt and pronounced* to differentiate the sense from poetic, of identical origin */poi ET ic/
the worthless word for the day is: oxter [Scot] armpit "Many a good man went to the penny-a-week school with a sod of turf under his oxter." - Joyce, Dubliners
the worthless word for the day is: perdurable enduring continuously, lasting, permanent; everlasting, as measured by human life or human history: eternal; imperishable there are certain perdurable human truths and values -NYTimes
the worthless word for the day is: Ollendorffian in the stilted language of foreign phrase-books [f. the name of Heinrich Gottfried Ollendorff, German educator and grammarian (1803–65) + -ian] "You never bleed nor weep. The Master does not bleed or weep." "Ollendorffian beggar!" said Montgomery, "you'll bleed and weep if you don't look out!" - H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau
the worthless word for the day is: crudification the process or result of making something crude; an example of this Reading... can also be an occasion for mind-breaking failure, for stultifying confusion, for crudification. - I. A. Richards, Times Literary Supplement, 1965
the worthless word for the day is: flane [cf. flaneur] to saunter, to laze "In Paris, in London I have been a happy flâneur; I have flâné-d in New York and Washington and most of the great cities of Europe." - H. G. Wells, Apropos of Delores, 1938
the worthless word for the day is: jawbation [cf. jobates] a rebuke, reproof, esp. one of a lengthy and tedious character; a talking to, a lecture; also a long discussion "They aren't happy until the hand's been played [at bridge] and the jawbation begins." - H.G. Wells, Apropos of Dolores, 1938
the worthless word for the day is: longevous (also longaevous) long-lived; living or having lived to a great age He begins to feel dignified and longaevous like a tree. - R. L. Stevenson, An Inland Voyage
the worthless word for the day is: fillip 1)a: a blow or gesture made by the sudden forcible straightening of a finger curled up against the thumb (cf. fyerk) b: a short sharp blow: buffet 2) something tending to arouse or excite as a: stimulus b: a trivial addition: embellishment c: a significant and often unexpected development: wrinkle You fillip me o' the head. - Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (verbing the noun)
the worthless word for the day is: patzer an inept chess player So Fischer after beating off a ferocious attack... ‘played like a patzer’, said one American Grandmaster, ‘went to sleep on the job’, said another. - Daily Telegraph, July 1972 He appears (or perhaps pretends) to be as tempted as the average patzer, by any old poisoned pawn, and has to have his folly explained to him. - The New Statesman, Oct. 1978
the worthless word for the day is: coof [Scot] a dull spiritless fellow; one somewhat obtuse in sense and sensibility: dolt, lout Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord Wha struts an' stares an' a' that Tho' hundreds worship at his word He's but a coof for a' that For a' that, an' a' that His riband, star and a' that The man o' independent mind He looks an' laughs at a' that - Robert Burns
the worthless word for the day is: barratry 1) the purchase or sale of ecclesiastical preferment, or of offices of state 2) the acceptance of bribes by a judge 3) fraud, or gross and criminal negligence, on the part of the master or mariners of a ship, to the prejudice of the owners, and without their consent 4) the offence of habitually exciting quarrels, or moving or maintaining lawsuits; vexatious persis- tence in, or incitement to, litagation I set me to practice barratry. -Longfellow, Dante's Inferno
the worthless word for the day is: perdu [F, lost] [adj] remaining out of sight: concealed [n] a soldier assigned to very hazardous duty [obs] "seek shelter in a cavern, stay there perdu for three days" - Thomas Carlyle To watch, poor Perdu With this thin helme. -Shakespeare, King Lear
the worthless word for the day is: paraph a flourish at the end of a signature, originally as a kind of precaution against forgery (so that's what that's called)
the worthless word for the day is: levant to steal away, to bolt; now esp. to abscond, to run away from a debt [chiefly Brit] (f. Sp. levantar el campo, to break up the camp) "One day we shall hear of one or other levanting." -Thackeray, 1848
the worthless word for the day is: furphy a false report or rumor; an absurd story [Austral. slang] Furphy was the name of the contractor which was written large upon the rubbish carts that he supplied to the Melbourne camps. The name was transferred to a certain class of news item, very common since the war, which flourished greatly upon all the beaches. Anzac Book, 1916
the worthless word for the day is: squiffy 1) [Brit] intoxicated; drunk 2) [Austral] askew, skew-whiff You're a bit squiffy, aren't you, Dick? No, I'm as sober as a water-spout. - G.W. Appleton, 1894 I never associated it with an orgy, a term I felt to imply a Roman profusion of grapes, wine, buttocks, breasts, marble chaises-longues, and squiffy laurel crowns. - G. Melly, Rum, Bum & Concertina, 1977
the worthless word for 9/11/2001 is: trepidity apprehension "It was with some trepidity that... one looked out of the window." - Western Gazette, 1898
today's classic wwftd is: bumf [Brit. from bum fodder] toilet-paper; hence, paper (esp. with contemptuous implication), documents collectively: paperwork Is this letter written upon Bumf? It looks like it. - V. Woolf, 1912 letter I shall get a daily pile of bumf from the Ministry of Mines. - E. Waugh, 1938, Scoop Matthews is bringing the bumf... He says be sure and type it on Army Form A2. - M.K. Joseph, 1957, I'll Soldier No More
the worthless word for the day is: masculinist 1) an advocate of men's rights, opp. feminist; cf. hominist 2) a A person of the female sex who adopts or affects characteristics or qualities usually thought of as masculine He [Milton] was the first of the masculinists. - 1918, V. Woolf, Writer's Diary
the worthless word for the day is: rowdy-dow [v] to be noisy or boisterous She collided with a gang of guided tourists come rowdy-dowing out of a Volkswagen bus. -Pynchon, Crying of Lot 49
the worthless word for the day is: woodshedding [vbl. n.] a) the dispensing of punishment b) the practice or rehearsal of music c) spontaneous or improvised barber-shop singing No head falsetto here but complete, out of the honest breast, a baritone voice brought over years of woodshedding up to this range. -Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
the worthless word for the day is: crotchet [n] a highly individual and usually eccentric opinion or preference
Everyone else in the firm packs a Sten you know. The Mendoza weighs three times as much, no one's even seen any 7mm-Mexican Mauser bullets lately.... Am I going to let the extra weight make a difference? It's my crotchet.... - Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

the worthless word for the day is: ambit 1) a circuit, compass, or circumference 2) esp. a space surrounding a house, castle, town, etc.; the precincts, liberties, verge 3) the confines, bounds, limits of a district 4) fig. extent, compass, sphere, of actions, words, thoughts, etc.
All at once, out of the Murk, a dozen mirror'd Lanthorns have leapt alight together, as into their Glare now strolls a somewhat dishevel'd Norfolk Terrier, with a raffish Gleam in its eye - whilst from somewhere less illuminate comes a sprightly Overture upon Horn, Clarinet, and Cello, in time to which the Dog steps back and forth in his bright Ambit. - Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon

the worthless word for the day is: gyrovague a monk who was in the habit of wandering from monastery to monastery The gyrovagues, or vagabonds, who strolled about from one monastery to another, gratifying too freely their inclinations and appetites. - A. Ranken, History of France 1801
the worthless word for the day is: epimyth the moral of the story (of fables) ...a brief fictional narrative... with a generalized moral lesson usually made explicit in a proverb-like epimyth. - The Grove Dictionary of Art The way of putting it is so neat as to require no epimyth. - Saturday Review, 1869
the worthless word for the day is: wittol a round of hogwash™, choose one (or more): a) an undershot water wheel with buckets fixed to its rim b) a stupid person; a person with no wits, not even a half-wit c) a woman whose husband is unfaithful d) a husband who accepts his wife's infidelity e) mounds of earth regurgitated by nightcrawlers
the worthless word for the day is: encumbrous cumbersome, distressing, troublesome [obs] note to Bill Buckley self: Harde langage... ys encombrouse for to here. -Chaucer, c. 1384
the worthless word for the day is: gravaminous grievous, annoying, distressing [obs] The parliament made new and gravaminous laws. - J. Wodrow, 1721
the worthless word for the day is: tunket [U.S. dial.] euphemism for hell; as what in tunket I cannot forego the use of harsh language when I think of him; he makes me madder'n tunket. - H. A. Smith, The View from Chivo 1971
the worthless word for the day is: mountebank 1) a person who sells quack medicines from a platform 2) a boastful unscrupulous pretender: charlatan Sir, in a word, he was Jack-pudding to a mountebank. - G. Etherege, 1644
the worthless word for the day is: agenbite of inwit from The Ayenbite of Inwyt a 14th century treatise on the "again-biting" of the inner wit, the remorse of conscience; borrowed by Joyce and made a part of Leopold Blooms's character in Ulysses (he used it "at least eight times", according to Words@Random).
the worthless word for the day is: infracaninophile a champion of the underdog
Those of us in our earliest boyhood gave our hearts to Conan Doyle, and have had from him so many hours of good refreshment, find our affection unshakable. What other man led a fuller and heartier and more masculine life? Doctor, whaler, athlete, writer, speculator, dramatist, historian, war correspondent, spiritualist, he was always the infracaninophile -- the helper of the underdog. Big in every way, his virtues had always something of the fresh vigor of the amateur, keen, open-minded, flexible, imaginative. If, as Doyle utterly believed, the spirits of the dead persist and can communicate, there is none that could have more wholesome news to impart to us than that brave and energetic lover of life. - Christopher Morley, from the preface to The Complete Sherlock Holmes

the worthless word for the day is: malefic 1) having an unfavorable or malignant influence: baleful 2) malicious; evil the film critic Richard Corliss describes Humbert in the movie Lolita: "The agenbite of inwit gnaws at him, robs him of the malefic majesty that makes screen villains entertaining."
the worthless word for the day is: equifinality the property of allowing or having the same effect or result from different events
In their DNA itself, different individuals vary greatly; nature tolerates and (in an evolutionary sense) even values diversity. That of course is why we can distinguish among individuals by testing the DNA of blood samples and other bits of body.... An earlier generation of developmental biologists coined a name, equifinality, for the phenomenon they uncovered when they (starting with Driesch) saw how much abuse embryos could stand without affecting the viability of the complex organism that resulted. The word equifinality isn't much used anymore. Words may be poor substitutes for understanding, but this one did call attention to how nature, using elaborate feedback control, makes machines only crudely similar in structural detail yet exquisitely similar in performance. - Steven Vogel, Cats' Paws and Catapults

the worthless word for the day is: explaterate

to talk continuously without stop; 
to run off at the mouth  [slang]

the worthless word for the day is: rowel [n] a revolving disk with sharp marginal points at the end of a spur [v] 1) to goad with or as if with a rowel 2) vex, trouble
the worthless word for the day is: porlock to interrupt an artist engaged in aesthetic creation
"The Coleridge story, upon which the idea entirely rests, and not on the characteristics of people in Porlock generally(!), is of course that Coleridge "dreamt" Kubla Khan and on awakening started to write it down but was interrupted by the person on business from Porlock -- and later could remember no more of his 'dream poem'. Strictly, to porlock should mean to interrupt an artist engaged in aesthetic creation. One might extend it to the interruption of any sustained serious theoretical or scholarly reflection or activity. I would be against weakening it to mean any sort of unwelcome interruption."

 - Iris Murdoch, in a letter to Norman W. Schur

the worthless word for the day is: irony
I tried to find out what irony really is, and discovered that some ancient writer on poetry had spoken of Ironia, which we call the drye mock, and I cannot think of a better term for it: the drye mock. Not sarcasm, which is like vinegar, or cynicism, which is often the voice of disappointed idealism, but a delicate casting of a cool and illuminating light on life, and thus an enlargement. The ironist is not bitter, he does not seek to undercut everything that seems worthy or serious, he scorns the cheap scoring-off of the wisecracker. He stands, so to speak, somewhat at one side, observes and speaks with a moderation which is occasionally embellished with a flash of controlled exaggeration. He speaks from a certain depth, and thus he is not of the same nature as the wit, who so often speaks from the tongue and no deeper. The wit's desire is to be funny, the ironist is only funny as a secondary achievement. - Robertson Davies, The Cunning Man

the worthless word for the day is: nullifidian [n] 1) one of no faith or religion; a skeptic in matters of religion 2) [transf.] one who lacks faith; a disbeliever [adj] having no faith or belief Celia was no longer the eternal cherub, but... a pink-and-white nullifidian. -G. Eliot, Middlemarch
the worthless word for the day is: anthropophuism the ascription of human nature to God or to the gods
the worthless word for the day is: aptronym a name that is aptly suited to its owner e.g., Les Plack, DDS
the worthless word for the day is: hagseed the offspring of a hag Hag-seed, hence! Fetch us in fuel; and be quick... -Shakespeare, The Tempest
the worthless word for the day is: loganamnosis /LAHG an um NOH sis/ an obsession with trying to recall a forgotten word (so that's what that's called... too bad I won't remember it!)
the worthless word for the day is: heterological non-self-descriptive used by Hofstadter to describe words such as monosyllabic and long
the worthless word for the day is: haplology the contraction of a word by the omission of one or more similar sounds or syllables (as in mineralogy for hypothetical mineralology or prob-ly for probably)
the worthless word for the day is: cruciverbalist a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles
the worthless word for the day is: colluctation a wrestling or struggling together; strife, conflict, opposition [archaic] "Faustus's last scene... is indeed an agony and a fearful colluctation." -Lamb
the worthless word for the day is: adscititious /AD si tish' us/ not inherent or essential; derived from something extrinsic "...Good old Biff." "It won't last. It's a thoroughly adscititious sobriquet." "I shan't give you the satisfaction of asking you what adscititious means." "Irrelevant." - Peter DeVries, Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
the worthless word for the day is: anatidaephobia the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you - Gary Larson, The Far Side
the worthless word for the day is: bathysiderodromophobia the fear of subways, undergrounds or metros
the worthless word for the day is: hugger-mugger [n] 1) disorderly confusion; muddle 2) secrecy; concealment "...and we have done but greenly, In hugger-mugger to inter him..." -Shakespeare, Hamlet
the worthless word for the day is: gubbins a collection of unimportant objects [Brit] "Many machines flying have a vast illicit complement of rivets, nails, nuts, bolts, torches, pliers and half-eaten sandwiches.... One of the modern test pilot's less enviable jobs is to fly new aircraft upside down and try to catch the gubbins as it hurtles past his face." - Sunday Times, 1965
the worthless word for the day is: unseven [obs, rare] to render other than seven; to reduce from seven in number "He much decryed the necessity thereof, (though not so far as to un-seven the Sacraments of the Church of Rome)." - T. Fuller, The Church History of Britain, 1655
the worthless word for the day is: exogamous relating to or characterized by marriage outside a specific group, especially as required by custom or law "I am allergic to exogamous comparative dollar figures, so widely used in workaday polemical chitchat, such as, 'For the cost of landing a man on the moon, we might have built one million one hundred thirty-seven thousand and eight low-middle class dwelling units.'" this week: Bill Buckley strains The Lexicon
the worthless word for the day is: decoct to figure out by deduction what the true meaning is of a statement, a symbol, or an oblique communication "It isn't easy to decoct the machinist's message from the picket signs or from public pronouncements." this week: Bill Buckley abuses worthless words
the worthless word for the day is: caravanserai an inn where caravans rest at night; usually a large bare building surrounded by a court "Although Tito was prepared to spend cold nights in the trenches with his troops, he was manifestly happier in the caravanserai of the mighty." this week: William F. Buckley attempts to use worthless words
the worthless word for the day is: tracasserie [F] a state of disturbance or annoyance; a turmoil, bother, fuss; an embroilment, a petty quarrel, a tempest in a teapot (chiefly in pl.) "...this very church... a hotbed of tracasseries and dissent." - Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat
the worthless word for the day is: imperscrutable not capable of being searched out; inscrutable [obs] "The imperscrutable winds of autumn, blowing leaves across the porch, had almost stripped the tree...." - Alexander Theroux, Darconville's Cat
the worthless word for the day is: embolalia the use of... um... virtually meaningless filler words, phrases, or... er... stammerings (or so-called hesitation-forms) in speech, whether as... you know... unconscious utterings while arranging one's thoughts or as... like... a vacuous, inexpressive... um... mannerism
the worthless word for the day is: molligrant [Scot] a wailing lamentation: complaint "th molligrant bae named gin th finder o such molligrant an whoever sinks hit can say fur instance, 'i sunk columbus, ohio!'" - Principia Discordia
the worthless word for the day is: rocambolesque [F] incredible, fantastic "An exemplary surrealistic life... which included a rocambolesque episode... in which he kidnapped his Bulgarian mistress from her husband." - 1976 New Society
the worthless word for the day is: croodle to cower or crouch down; to draw oneself together, as for warmth; to cling close together, or nestle close to a person: snuggle
I will confess to you, though, that in those first heats of youth, this little England -- or rather this little patch of moor in which I have struck roots as firm as the wild fir-trees do -- looked at moments rather like a prison than a palace; that my foolish young heart would sigh, "Oh! that I had wings" not as a dove, to fly home to its nest and croodle but as an eagle, to swoop away over land and sea, in a rampant and self-glorifying fashion, on which I now look back as altogether unwholesome and undesirable. But the thirst for adventure and excitement was strong in me, as perhaps it ought to be in all at twenty-one.  - Charles Kingsley, My Winter Garden

the worthless word for the day is: mastigophorer a fellow worthy to be whipped [obs.] bonus words: mastigophoric - whip-wielding mastigophobia - fear of being whipped (or punished) He would beat his drum in Grub Street, form a mastigophoric corps of his own. - 1816 T. L. Peacock, Headlong Hall
the worthless word for the day is: bushonics nonstandard English which features tangled syntax, mispronunciations, run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers and a wanton disregard for subject-verb agreement
the worthless word for the day is: opprobrious 1) expressing contemptuous reproach: scurrilous opprobrious epithets 2) bringing disgrace; shameful or infamous opprobrious conduct Stern Menelaus first the silence broke, And, inly groaning, thus opprobrious spoke. - Pope, Iliad 1720
the worthless word for the day is: vituperate to abuse or censure severely or abusively: berate The incensed priests... continued to raise their voices, vituperating each other in bad Latin. - Scott, Ivanhoe 1819
the worthless word for the day is: poshlost [Russian] /POSH lust/ a well-rounded, untrans- latable whole made up of banality, vulgarity and sham; it applies not only to obvious trash (verbal and animate), but also to spurious beauty, spurious importance, spurious cleverness
Corny trash, vulgar clichés, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic and dishonest pseudo-literature -- these are obvious examples. Now, if we want to pin down poshlost in contemporary writing we must look for it in Freudian symbolism, moth-eaten mythologies, social comment, humanistic messages, political allegories, over-concern with class or race, and the journalistic generalities we all know. - Vladimir Nobokov

the worthless word for the day is: doolally characterized by an unbalanced state of mind [spoken form of Deolali, India; from 'doolally tap']
"Time-expired men sent to Deolalie from their different units might have to wait for months before a troop-ship fetched them home. The well-known saying among soldiers when speaking of a man who does queer things, he's got the Doo-lally tap, originated, I think, in the peculiar way men behaved owing to the boredom of that camp." - F. Richards, 1936 Old-Soldier Sahib

the worthless word for the day is: emunctory 1) [adj] of or pertaining to the blowing of the nose; that has the function of conveying waste matters from the body 2) [n] a cleansing organ or canal; a term applied to the excretory ducts and organs of the body "The nose is the emunctory of the brain." -New Monthly Magazine, 1821
the worthless word for the day is: mezzobrow a middlebrow, in a fashionable and superior way (coined in the US in the 1920s) The search for a term to designate persons neither high-brows nor low-brows has led to the suggestion of mizzen-brow and mezzo-brow... but they have not caught on. - 1945 Mencken Amer. Lang. Suppl. I. 325
the worthless word for the day is: circumfloribus [humorous nonce-word] flowery and long-winded "Much circumfloribus stuff was talked of on the Court side." - Mary Granville, Autobiography
the worthless word for the day is: prastuphulic "My mother always thought I'd turn into a raggedy, prastuphulic woman, with a severe drinking problem." -paraphrased from Egg Dancing by Liz Jensen
the worthless word for the day is: babblative given to babbling; prattling, prating, loquacious Professors of the arts babblative and scribblative. - Robert Southey, 1829
the worthless word for the day is: forficulate to have a creeping sensation, as if a forficula {earwig) were crawling over one's skin [nonce-word] "There is not a part of me that has not... crept, crawled, and forficulated ever since." -Bulwer-Lytton, Caxtons 1849
the worthless word for the day is: capelocracy the shopkeeping interest, or class "A millener's house (shop, to outward appearance, it was not), evincing... its degree above the Capelocracy, to use a certain classical neologism, by a brass plate." -Bulwer-Lytton, Night and Morning 1841
the worthless word for the day is: appellatived having an appellative: named "Mr. De Warens, the nobly appellatived foot-boy, was laying the breakfast cloth." -Bulwer-Lytton, Disowned 1828
the worthless word for the day is: alamodality the quality of being a la mode, or of following the fashion of the time; fashionableness "Doubtless it hath been selected for me because of its alamodality, a good and pregnant word." - Robert Southey
the worthless word for the day is: magnisonant high-sounding "...that strange and magnisonant appellation." - Robert Southey
the worthless word for the day is: resorb 1) to absorb again: reabsorb 2) [Biol] to dissolve and assimilate Human souls, which like sparks... were borne aloft, and then... were resorbed into the pit. - Robert Southey
the worthless word for the day is: graphospasm writer's cramp cf. chirospasm, mogigraphia "Pleonasm causes graphospasm." -C. H. Elster
the worthless word for the day is: deuterogamist someone who remarries after a spouse's death; also called a digamist (not to be confused with deuteragonist)
the worthless word for the day is: omphalopsychite /om pha LAHP si kite/ one who contemplates his own navel; a name given the Hesychasts
the worthless word for the day is: rouleau /roo LOW/ a roll of coins, wrapped in paper [F] (so that's what that's called...) "How beauteous are rouleaus! how charming chests Containing ingots, bags of dollars, coins." - 1823 Byron, Juan
the worthless word for the day is: metonymy a figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated, as in the use of 'Washington' for 'the United States government' or of 'the sword' for 'military power' "Virgil slouched in, a sheaf of problems under one arm." - Nichols, The Magic Journey
the worthless word for the day is: apocolocyntosis /apo COE lo cyn TOE sis/ from Seneca's satire on the apotheosis of the Emperor Claudius, rendered by Robert Graves as pumpkinification (to transform into a pumpkin) - extravagant or absurdly uncritical glorification "The writer.. has.. given us, not an apotheosis, but a pumpkinification of the Emperor William II." - 1904 Spectator as a figure of speech,a more accessible definition might be outrageous description - I have seen the following given as an example of apocolocyntosis, although I question this broadening of the usage: "They had stopped in a flat place, upholstered with moss. It was secluded there, in the blackest part of the forest, although moon rays were strewn through the pine boughs like rolls of toilet paper hurled from the upstairs windows of some primeval fraternity house." - Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All, p. 66
the worthless word for the day is: enantiosis the rhetorical device of stating the opposite of what is meant, often ironically; affirmation by contraries, e.g., Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (Psalm 1:1)
the worthless word for the day is: aporia a rhetorical device of pretending not to know what to do or say; a passage expressing a doubt or difficulty (e.g., Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy)
the worthless word for the day is: emberlucock to bewilder, confuse
"Ha, for favour sake, I beseech you, never emberlucock or inpulregafize your spirits with these vain thoughts and idle conceits; for I tell you, it is not impossible with God, and, if he pleased, all women henceforth should bring forth their children at the ear." -Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
[F emburelucocquer, a nonce-wd. of fanciful formation]

the worthless word for the day is: agathokakological composed of good and evil "For indeed upon the agathokakological globe there are opposite qualities always to be found." - Robert Southey
the worthless word for the day is: perestroik [back-formation from perestroika] to reconstruct (?) "Mr. Gorbachev charges Mr. Shcherbitsky with failure to perestroik." -William Safire, New York Times, Apr. 1989 "Don't verb nouns." -William Safire, Fumblerules, 1990 Calvin: I like to verb words. Hobbes: What? Calvin: I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs. Remember when 'access' was a thing? Now, it's something you do. It got verbed. Verbing weirds language. Hobbes: Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
the worthless word for the day is: vagulate [iv] to wander in a vague manner; to waver used only in the writings of Virginia Woolf: 1918 V. Woolf Diary 3 Nov. Emphie vagulates in & out of the room. 1921 Ibid. 6 Mar. All is too soft & emotional. Now for writing or anything I believe you must be able to screw up into a ball & pelt straight in people's faces. They vagulate & dissipate.
the worthless word for the day is: smifligate
At the theatre entrance there was more banging and more bustle, and there were also Messrs Pyke and Pluck waiting to escort her to her box; and so polite were they, that Mr Pyke threatened with many oaths to `smifligate' a very old man with a lantern who accidentally stumbled in her way--to the great terror of Mrs Nickleby, who, conjecturing more from Mr Pyke's excitement than any previous acquaintance with the etymology of the word that smifligation and bloodshed must be in the main one and the same thing, was alarmed beyond expression, lest something should occur. Fortunately, however, Mr Pyke confined himself to mere verbal smifligation, and they reached their box with no more serious interruption by the way, than a desire on the part of the same pugnacious gentleman to `smash' the assistant box-keeper for happening to mistake the number.

- Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

the worthless word for the day is: logopandocie a readiness to admit words of all kinds [nonce-word] The system of admittance to these hallowed grounds, by reason of its logopandocie, may deservedly be referred to as adfenestration.
the worthless word for the day is: anaphora repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect "we cannot dedicate - we cannot cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground" (not to be confused with epistrophe)
the worthless word for the day is: epistrophe repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect; as government of the people, by the people, for the people (not to be confused with anaphora)
the worthless word for the day is: lexiconophilist a collector of dictionaries and word books
the worthless word for the day is: logogogue a person who lays down rules about words; a language dictator
the worthless word for the day is: shaconian someone who is convinced that Bacon ghosted Shakespeare's plays
the worthless word for the day is: pygalgia /py GAL jee uh/ a pain in the buttocks (not to be confused with rectalgia or proctalgia :)
the worthless word for the day is: hominist someone who advocates equal rights for men coined by G.B. Shaw in the preface to Man and Superman (1903): "The wildest hominist or feminist farce is insipid after the most commonplace ‘slice of life’."
the worthless word for the day is: growlery a retreat for times of ill humor "This, you must know, is the growlery. When I am out of humour, I come and growl here." - Charles Dickens, Bleak House
the worthless word for the day is: gobemouche /gobe MUSH/ [F, a fly catcher] a credulous person; esp. one who believes everything he hears
the worthless word for the day is: hand-ahin the answer to the question "what is the back, left-hand horse of a plow team called?" [cf. furrahin]
the worthless word for the day is: feracious producing abundantly: prolific, fruitful a world so feracious, teeming with endless results - Thomas Carlyle (not to be confused with furacious)
the worthless word for the day is: furacious given to thieving; thievish "Greece was mendax, edax, furax (mendacious, edacious, furacious)." - 1842 De Quincey, Pagan Oracles
the worthless word for the day is: polynya [Russian] /pul EEN yuh/ an area of open water amidst sea ice, as in the Arctic
We found a suitably large polynya—which is the proper name for a lagoon in the ice—and...the Captain began surfacing procedures." - 1974 L. Deighton, Spy Story

the worthless word for the day is: flyting a dispute or exchange of personal abuse in verse form "Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner" - Robert Burns
the worthless word for the day is: dehortation advice against something: dissuasion [marked rare in 1913]
Exhortation and dehortation is counsel, accompanied with signs in him that giveth it of vehement desire to have it followed; or, to say it more briefly, counsel vehemently pressed. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)

the worthless word for the day is: bumbledom the actions and mannerisms of pompous but inefficient government officials a strain of mild obstinacy exquisitely calculated to infuriate the self-important bumbledom of that time -G. M. Trevelyan
the worthless word for the day is: psychomachy a conflict of the soul (as between good and evil) A good man... can now be good only as a result of a successful psychomachy. -1936 C. S. Lewis
the worthless word for the day is: mancinism the condition of being left-handed
the worthless word for the day is: lebensfreude [G] keen enjoyment: zest (not to be confused with schadenfreude!)
the worthless word for the day is: sipid 1) having a taste or flavor; savory 2) by extension, tasteful: sapid "The music was... gay, rattling, sipid, voluptuously melodious." 1908 Saturday Review
the worthless word for the day is: ruly disciplined, orderly "And truly he Flows to the strand of flowers like the dew's ruly sea." 1952 Dylan Thomas
the worthless word for the day is: defatigable apt to be wearied; capable of being wearied or tired out: fatigable "Then they lost interest. I did too. I was always the most defatigable of hacks. - 1949 E. Waugh, Loved One
the worthless word for the day is: vapulatory of or relating to flogging [rare] "I am not... arguing in favour of a return to these vapulatory methods." -1886 Lowell
the worthless word for the day is: inconcinnity lack of suitability or congruity: inelegance cf. concinnity
the worthless word for the day is: thanatophilia an undue fascination with death (not to be confused with necrophilia!) "Romantic cults seem to spring up rapidly round poets who die young. An element of thanatophilia enters into the worship of such poets." -Time, 1974
the worthless word for the day is: tump [regional] to tip or turn over esp. accidentally; to cause to tip over: overturn, upset -- usually used with over
the worthless word for the day is: spanghew [dial.] to throw or jerk violently; spec. to cause (a toad or frog) to fly into the air
the worthless word for the day is: zwischenzug

/TSVI s@n tsuk/
[G] in chess, a temporizing move
 (i.e., a delay in capturing, usually via a check)

"Carl thought about the move for thirty-five minutes, 
and then made a temporising move, a zwischenzug, 
checking with his Bishop." 
  1969 A. Glyn, Dragon Variation

the worthless word for the day is: yomp to march with heavy equipment over difficult terrain; to cover a certain distance in this way [Brit, from the Falklands War] 1983 Guardian "Our boys... who yomped all those miles in the Falklands."
the worthless word for the day is: booboisie /boob wa ZEE/ boobs as a class; the general public regarded as consisting of boobies coined by H. L. Mencken..
the worthless word for the day is: batrachomyomachia /ba TRAK o MY o makia/ a storm in a puddle; much ado about nothing this word is the title of a mock heroic poem, which means "the battle of the frogs and mice" in Greek
the worthless word for the day is: recumbentibus a knockdown blow the advantage of inflicting upon an assailant a ~ -J. R. Newman not to be confused with circumbendibus
the worthless word for the day is: stercoranist a nickname given to one who holds that the consecrated elements of the Eucharist undergo digestion in and evacuation from the body of the recipient
the worthless word for the day is: ambisinistrous clumsy, maladroit (the opposite of ambidextrous) ambilævous, having left hands only
the worthless word for the day is: tushery writing of poor quality distinguished esp. by the affected choice of archaic words cf gadzookery
the worthless word for the day is: devenustate to deprive of beauty or comeliness; to disfigure, deform
the worthless word for the day is: humdudgeon /hum DUH jun/ [Scot] 1. a loud complaint or noise 2. an imaginary pain or illness
the worthless word for the day is: nihilification the action of setting aside or slighting [rare] not to be confused with floccinaucinihilipilification
the worthless word for the day is: tufthunter someone that seeks association with persons of title or high social status: snob; a toady [Brit] from tuft, a gold tassel formerly worn by titled undergraduates at Cambridge and Oxford
the worthless word for the day is: fustilarian a low fellow; a stinkard; a scoundrel "Away you scullion! you rampallian! you fustilarian!" -Shakespeare, Henry the Fourth, Part 2
the worthless word for the day is: Cockaigne an imaginary land of great luxury and ease "Everyone was seeking renewal, a golden century, a Cockaigne of the spirit." - Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum
the worthless word for the day is: moonglade the bright reflection of the moon's light on an expanse of water
"Then there are the Twin Sailors. They don't live anywhere, they sail all the time, but they often come ashore to talk to me. They are a pair of jolly tars and they have seen everything in the world. . .and more than what is in the world. Do you know what happened to the youngest Twin Sailor once? He was sailing and he sailed right into a moonglade. A moonglade is the track the full moon makes on the water when it is rising from the sea, you know, teacher. Well, the youngest Twin Sailor sailed along the moonglade till he came right up to the moon, and there was a little golden door in the moon and he opened it and sailed right through. He had some wonderful adventures in the moon but it would make this letter too long to tell them." - L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

the worthless word for the day is: saudade "The Portugese have a word saudade that means yearning or longing but, more than that, describes the mixture of feelings that swim in the heart... best described through example, what a man feels at his daughter's wedding." - Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Evening Sun
the worthless word for the day is: hypercorrect this refers to a linguistic construction or pronunciation produced by mistaken analogy with standard usage out of a desire to be correct, such as "open widely" or "between you and I"
the worthless word for the day is: hyperurbanism use of hypercorrect forms in language; also: such a form e.g., pronouncing the 't' in often
the worthless word for the day is: agelast /AJ uh last/
Agelasts? They are, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, people who never laugh, but I think in the main I would call them unfortunates without any option but to look on the universe realistically. - Davis Grubb,  Ancient Lights

the worthless word for the day is: hirple [Scot] to walk lamely: hobble (rhymes with purple!)
the worthless word for the day is: piscicapture the capture of fishes, as by angling: fishing (and, by extension, piscicapturist) Although Princeton's claim to being the finest university in the country is intact, it appears that finer facilities exist overseas at Oxford University. Oxford has just accepted one Miguel Hilario Manenima, an Amazonian Indian from Peru who is the first of his tribe ever to study abroad. His skills include fishing for piranha and hunting armadillo. It is sad that Princeton lacks the resources to attract such students, and very clear that until it begins to restock Lake Carnegie, piscicapture here will never be able to compete with that in the River Cherwell. - The Princeton Spectator
the worthless word for the day is: expiscate to learn through laborious investigation; to search out; literally, to fish out
the worthless word for the day is: foetor /FEE tor/ an offensive odor: stench (also fetor) Dearest comrades, all is over and long gone, But love is not over - and what love, O comrades Perfume from battle-fields rising, up from the foetor arising. - Walt Whitman, from "Ashes of Soldiers"
the worthless word for the day is: excruciate 1) to inflict intense pain on: torture 2) to subject to intense mental distress
the worthless word for the day is: pickthank one who strives to put another under obligation; an officious person; hence, a flatterer As, in reproof of many tales devised, which oft the ear of greatness needs must hear, By smiling pick-thanks and base news-mongers, I may, for some things true, wherein my youth Hath faulty wander'd and irregular, Find pardon on my true submission. -Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part i
the worthless word for the day is: chalcenterous having bowels of brass, tough "Sir James Murray added to his linguistic acumen and his tireless industry (which did not scruple to tire less chalcenterous workers) a Scotsman's hard, keen sense of the practical." - R. W. Chapman, Lexicography
the worthless word for the day is: kalopsia the delusion that things are more beautiful than they really are
the worthless word for the day is: pataphysics "The science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments" - Alfred Jarry Joan was quizzical studied pataphysical science in the home... -Lennon/McCartney, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer"
the worthless word for the day is: jocoserious combining jocular and serious matters
"Was the guest conscious of and did he acknowledge these marks of hospitality? His attention was directed to them by his host jocosely, and he accepted them seriously as they drank in jocoserious silence Epps's massproduct, the creature cocoa." - James Joyce, Ulysses

the worthless word for the day is: vaward the foremost part: forefront
You that are old consider not the capacities of us that are young; you do measure the heat of our livers with the bitterness of your galls: and we that are in the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are wags too. - Shakespeare, Henry IV, part ii

the worthless word for the day is: katzenjammer [German] 1) hangover 2) distress, depression or confusion resembling that caused by a hangover 3) a discordant clamor
the worthless word for the day is: einfühlung /INE fu lung/ [German] understanding so intimate that the feelings, thoughts, and motives of one person are readily comprehended by another
the worthless word for the day is: schwarmerei \shver ma RYE\ [German] excessive or unwholesome sentiment
the worthless word for the day is: luftmensch [Yiddish] an impractical dreamer having no definite business or income
the worthless word for the day is: mokita [Papuan] the truth that everyone knows but no one talks about
the worthless word for the day is: réchauffé /ray show FAY/ [F, warmed over] 1) something that is rehashed 2) a warmed-over dish of food
the worthless word for the day is: garboil a confused disordered state: turmoil "She's dead, my queen: Look here, and at thy sovereign leisure read the garboils she awaked; at the last, best: see when and where she died." Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
the worthless word for the day is: fap intoxicated; fuddled "And being fap, sir, was, as they say, cashiered..." Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor
the worthless word for the day is: carlot a peasant, in the pejorative sense "And he hath bought the cottage and the bounds That the old carlot once was master of." Shakespeare, As You Like It
the worthless word for the day is: discalced unshod; barefoot discalced friars and nuns Miss Gibletts was now handspringing naked and discalced through the shrubbery.... -Theroux, Darconville's Cat
the worthless word for the day is: pot-walloper 1) a person who qualified to vote in parts of England by having boiled (walloped) his own pot for six months, thereby establishing residency 2) one who cleans pots; a scullion [U.S. slang]
According to Morris, the railroad trip west wasn't worth taking until a young Englishman, Fred Harvey, began providing food along the way. Harvey, who started out in New York as a ``pot walloper'' (dishwasher), longed for his own first-class restaurant. When he took a job as a railroad freight agent to finance his dream he saw a chance to replace the notoriously bad station cafe food with fine fare in quality restaurants. ``Harvey Houses'' on the Santa Fe line became legendary.... -from Kirkus reviews

the worthless word for the day is: graustark 1) an imaginary place of high romance 2) a highly romantic piece of writing (from a 1901 bestseller, Graustark)
Ellen Kushner is a throwback. I think she's doing it on purpose, in fact. Her first novel, Swordspoint, was a marvelous Graustark novel, in that wonderful tradition of nonmagical imaginary kingdoms that was almost buried in the avalanche of Tolkien-ish middle-earths in the last two decades. - Orson Scott Card

the worthless word for the day is: swingeing [Brit] whopping, capital /SWI njin/ or /SWIN jeen/
The lord chief justice then applied the only sentence that was available to him -- a sentence still passed occasionally today, and that has a beguiling charm to its language, despite the swingeing awfulness of its connotations. - Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

the worthless word for the day is: sin-wat "A sin-wat," she cried. "A man who wants all of somebody's love. That's very bad." -Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
the worthless word for the day is: quotinoctian occurring every night, nightly phony latinate? cf. quotidian from quot (many) + dies (day)
the worthless word for the day is: boanthropy the delusion that one is an ox (cf lycanthropy) bonus delusions: cyanthropy - delusion that one is a dog galeanthropy - delusion that one is a cat zoanthropy - delusion that one is an animal
the worthless word for the day is: waveson wreckage floating on the sea: flotsam (note that jetsam is stuff thrown overboard to lighten the load in time of distress and sinks or is washed ashore)
the worthless word for the day is: caseifaction "...built at the outskirts of town especially for this unprecedented caseifaction...." Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon or as Monty Python put it, "Blessed are the cheesemakers."
the worthless word for the day is: bibliobibuli
"There are people who read too much: bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing." —H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks

the millenarian word for the day is: eschatology a branch of theology concerned with the last days

the worthless word for the day is: tetrapyloctomy "What's tetra...?", I asked. "The art of splitting a hair four ways. This is the department of useless techniques. Mechanical Avunculogratulation, for example, is how to build machines for greeting uncles. We're not sure, though, if Pylocatabasis belongs, since it's the art of being saved by a hair. Somehow that doesn't seem completely useless." - Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum yesterday: wergild - money paid by a killer's family to the family of the victim to prevent a blood feud
the worthless word for the day is: jugulate to slit the throat

the worthless word for the day is: lapidate to stone to death
the worthless word for the day is: ornithocopros the dung of birds: guano
the worthless word for the day is: frass debris or excrement produced by insects
the worthless word for the day is: philogynist a lover or friend of women; one who esteems women as the higher type of humanity
the worthless word for the day is: dendrochronology the study of growth rings on trees (so that's what that's called)
the worthless word for the day is: obdormition numbness caused by pressure on a nerve, like when your foot is asleep (so that's what that's called)
the worthless word for the day is: furrahin [Scot] the right-hand hindmost horse that walks in the furrow in plowing

the worthless word for the day is: octothorp(e) the symbol # on your telephone or keyboard (hash mark, pound sign, number sign)
the worthless word for the day is: enantiodromia the changing of something into its opposite here's an article proposing that words which have developed diametrically opposed meanings be referred to as enantiodromic [this interesting article seems to be no longer available online, probably due to the publication of Julain Burnside's Wordwatching] I have long sought a word to describe this phenomenon; unfortunately this one doesn't cover the special case where two different words with opposite meanings have come to have the same spelling -- cleave is an example of this.

the worthless word for the day is: discobolus choose one: a) a tree frog b) a sucking, -feeding fish c) bad dance music d) a discus thrower e) an infection of the spine krambo writes to me as follows:
i was a discobolus back in high school. i was actually good enough to set the school record early in the season my senior year ('76), break it again late that season, and take first place in the "district" finals (which sent me off to the "state" finals). i won all but one dual and triangular meet that season -- missing first place in that one event by a mere three inches -- as well as most invitational meets. the record still stands today...
wow, the worthless stuff I learn by sending out 
these words!  I really had no idea that they kept 
records in  feeding!!

the worthless word for the day is: epeolatry the worship of words

the worthless word for the day is: quisquilious of the nature of rubbish or refuse; trashy, worthless

[wwftd dictionary]

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