Those of you who have had the misfortune of meeting me will know that I do tend to speak a smidgeon like someone from the Victorian era at times. Despite my feigning looking vexed I do take hidden pride in my antiquated vernacular even if it does nullify the effect of the hundreds of dollars I blow on LUSH products to maintain my youthful glow. With The Horologicon in hand and weekends ahead of interpreting for tour groups around Japan I feel that I should take some time away from serious linguistics for this week and focus on something that I always get a private chortle out of; these so-called obsolete words.
Below are a few words that are now on the endangered list that I have compiled from the above mentioned sources as well as my own personal favourites found after scouring old books over the years. Join me in the fight against their extinction by utilising them in a sentence this week.
“bell, book, and candle” – the popes of old’s favoured way of excommunicating someone, but also a fancy way to intensify your retelling of screeching or railing at someone.
Example: After that horrid chap cut in front of my automobile I cursed him with bell, book, and candle!
“with squirrel” – pregnant. If someone could explain this one to me I should be ever so grateful.
Example: Heavens Margery, your complexion is simply glowing despite your being with squirrel!
“balderdash” – once an adulterated wine, also an en mode way of saying that something is untrue.
Example: Balderdash! The malady that prevents you from coming to work is nothing but dysania.
“pussyvan” – yes, this was the old way of describing what we would now call “throwing a tantrum”.
Example: For goodness sakes, Johnny! Must you pussyvan every time we go to the shops?
“ahoy” – the original and – as far as I’m concerned – only way to answer the phone. Alexander G. Bell himself endorsed this phrase. Are you the kind of person to squitter (loudly take a dump) on a deadman’s request?
Example: Ahoy? No I’m afraid this is not the haberdashery. I believe you are mistaken. Tah.
“rum-peeper” – a splendid way of referring to a simple, everyday mirror. Inspirational quotes seem to have less impact when it is used in place of “mirror”.
Example: If you want to see the person who can turn your day around take a good look in the rum-peeper.
“ejaculate” – you filthy, filthy wenches! How dare you assume that I am referring to snuggle time! This is a phrase that was used to mean “exclaim”. Unloved though it may be, I certainly pray for its return to modern use.
Example: “Why, I have every right to be upset!” he ejaculated at the police officer.
“flustered” – you use this often, I’m sure. However, years ago it was not used to mean “confused” or “frantic”, but instead to mean “drunk”. It sounds much softer than exclaiming that one is crunk. Many rap songs and pop songs would sound far more respectable if this word were used in its stead.
Example: Er’body gettin’ flustered, flustered!
“gentleman of three outs” – without money, wit, and manners. Just because the target of your abuse is so this does not mean that you should resort to their antics.
Example: Tony Abbott is truly a gentleman of three outs.
“strip me naked” – one of my favourite beverages and one fully deserving of the name, gin.
Example: He always fancied a strip me naked with tonic before supper.
Of course, being the chronic word hoarder that I am I have tomes more of this, but for today I’ll leave you with this. I hope that you enjoy my upcoming posts revealing more of my favourites.