"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 31 January 2011


An aureola (plural aureolae) is a halo, the area of glow surrounding any bright object, the radiance of luminous cloud which, in paintings of sacred personages, surrounds the whole figure.

I would have illustrated this word but I discovered no one I know has a halo!

Friday, 28 January 2011


An ort was a scrap of leftover food; any remainder. The word is no longer in general use.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


An aptronym is a name that suits its owner; a name that fits a person's nature or occupation.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


To mew means to shed, moult or change. It also means to cry like a cat or to utter a high-pitched cry like that of a gull.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Eudaimonia means wellbeing: a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous. A nice place to be.

Monday, 24 January 2011


Eft was an old-fashioned name for a newt.

In olden times it also meant again or afterwards.

As an acronym EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Technique, Electronic Funds Transfer, or Electronic File Transfer.

Sunday, 23 January 2011


A kvetch is a constant complainer The word comes from the Yiddish.

To kvetch is to complain; express complaints, discontent, displeasure, or unhappiness

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Misosophy is the hatred of knowledge or wisdom.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Eclectic / Eclecticism

Eclectic means selected by what seems best of various styles or ideas; made up of things from different sources.

Eclecticism is making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.

Thursday, 20 January 2011


Gymnosophy was the doctrine of a sect of ancient Hindu philosophers who practiced meditation in the nude.

GB posted recently about dancing naked in the rain (or something along those lines) - I wonder if he is a gymnosophist?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


An oven-peel was a pole with a broad flat end for thrusting loaves, pies, etc into a baker's oven and withdrawing them from it. Not knowing any bakers I don't know if the word is still in use.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


A congeries was a term once used for a collection of things merely heaped or piled together.

Monday, 17 January 2011


A sluggard is an idle slothful person.

"'Tis the voice of the sluggard;
I heard him complain,
You have waked me too soon,
I must slumber again."

Watts - the Divine Songs

Sunday, 16 January 2011


A deipnosophist was one of an ancient group of philosophers, who engaged in learned dialogue at meals. The word is now occasionally used for a person skilled at informal, across-the-table small talk.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


I knew that an alb was a long white priet's robe; a white linen liturgical vestment with sleeves worn by priests.

But I didn't know until the other day that an alb is also a flat or gently inclined shelf high in a glaciated mountain valley.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Blood libel

Blood libels are allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism. Its use is nearly always with regard to sensationalized accusations and high emotions. Throughout history, these claims have been frequently made against Jews living in Europe and even resulted in lynching and persecution of whole Jewish communities.

It has recently been used by our modern Mrs Malaprop (she who coined refudiate last year) Sarah Palin. Pundits say that the reason this phrase has provoked so much anger is because Palin is using the phrase “blood libel” just to refer to verbal criticisms, implying an equivalence between both circumstances. The famous linguist Deborah Tannen has speculated that Palin and her advisors are totally unaware of blood libel’s proper meaning.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


To misqueme is an obsolete verb meaning to displease or offend. I wish it were stil in use. I think "You misqueme me, my dear!" sounds wonderful.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


A phrontistery is an establishment for study and learning (sometimes including modern universities); a thinking place.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Many people will know that sulky means huffish, sullen or moody.

But did you know that a sulky was a form of one-person horse-drawn light carriage in Victorian times or a low two-wheeled cart sometimes used in harness racing.  I have mentioned a few carriages in the past on this blog but I have just come across a great list for anyone who is interested on a site called phrontistery.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Prolix means tediously prolonged speech or writing; tending to speak or write at great length. I suppose I should go on at great length about prolix and make this a suitable posring. However, as I am not normally inclined to wordiness, verbosity and garrulousness I'll finish now...

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Logorrhea is pathologically excessive (and often incoherent) talking.

Saturday, 8 January 2011


A quidnunc is a busybody; someone who attempts to know all that happens, but who is not careful of the facts. The word is now out of fashion - a pity!

Friday, 7 January 2011


Wanweird means having an unhappy fate.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Tachyphagia is excessively rapid eating; bolting of food.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


A slubberdegullion is a filthy, slobbering person; a sloven; a villain; a fiend; a louse. In other words it isn't ver complementary!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


A mammothrept is a spoiled child (or should it be 'spoilt' child?)

Monday, 3 January 2011


This is something I suffer from a times - Lethologica is a psychological disorder that inhibits an individual's ability to articulate his or her thoughts by temporarily forgetting key words, phrases or names in conversation; the inability to remember the correct word.

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Allegedly - i.e. according to one website but I cannot find it in a dictionary - matronolagnia means being attracted to older women, especially those with children. A strange word and a strange concept!

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Jumentous means smelling strongly of a beast of burden; smelling like horse urine.

What a lovely word to start the new year!!!