Just For Fun Friday: Lost Words

It will come as no surprise to you that I love words. Give me some fabulous wordplay and I will be entertained for hours. So when a trip to a brilliant secondhand bookshop in Hitchin had me fall upon Lost Words: A Feast of Forgotten Words, Their Origins and Their Meanings by Philip Howard, I knew I was onto a winner. For this Just For Fun Friday, I thought that I would share my favourites. Do let me know if you manage to work any of these into general conversation. You will deserve an award.

ACNESTIS – “That part of the back between the shoulder blade and the bum (loins) that an animal cannot reach in order to scratch. Adapted from the Greek for the spine or backbone.”

ASPECTABUND – “Expressive in the face. Showing one’s feelings as an extravert. Rhyme, approximately, with ‘Your specs are found’. After the Latin lacrimabundus, weeping, osculabundus, kissing, moribundus, dying: –bundus creates a verb with active force. So aspectabund means exhibiting one’s aspect or feelings.”

BOUFFAGE – “An enjoyable or satisfying meal. Adoption of the Old French word. Rhyme, approximately, with ‘You’re large’.”

DESIDERIUM – “An ardent desire or wish; longing or wish, properly for a thing you once possessed and now miss; a sense of loss. A material sister to the geographical nostalgia. The Latin word means longing, sense of want; from desiderare, which we have rendered into stiff-collared English as ‘desiderate’. Rhyme, roughly, with ‘Daisy, Mary, Tom’.”

FUBSY – “Words die because nobody uses them. This does not always mean that they are useless. Fubsy means (of the figure, limbs etc.) fat and squat. As a noun, a fubsy is (was) a small, chubby persons. Perhaps it comes from a blending of ‘fat’ and ‘chubby’ (presumably from the rotundity of the chub fish).”

LETABUND – “Full of joy. Adaptation of the Latin laetabundus, from laetari, to give joy. Pronounce, pushing it a bit, to rhyme with ‘Peter Hound’.”

OBLOQUY – “Evil-speaking, directed against a person or thing; abuse, detraction, calumny, slander. Also, with ‘an’ or in the plural, an abusive speech or utterance. Thence, public condemnation, abuse or detraction, evil fame, bad repute; a reproach or disgrace. Adaptation of the late Latin obloquium, a contradiction; obloquy, to speak against, contradict, gainsay. Rhyme, with difficulty, with ‘Bob, rock we?’

QUAKEBUTTOCK – “A humourously scathing word for a coward. Quake is derived from the Old English stem group, cwac– , implying instability. Buttock is a derivative of ‘butt’, meaning the thicker end of an instrument.”

SKIRR – “A sound of a whirring, grating or rasping character. Onomatopoeic. Useful for twitchers and other birdwatchers. Possibly from the Latin excurrere, to run hastily (away), by way of the Old French escorre, but I shouldn’t bet your Barbour on it.”

UTINAM – “An earnest wish or fervent desire. Pronounce to rhyme (roughly) with ‘Phew! This ham.’ Adoption of the Latin for ‘Oh that!’, ‘Would that!’, ‘I wish!’; the optative.”

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