What a Beautiful Language #6: The Words That Time Forgot

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One of the things I love most about the English language is that it is full of hidden gems. I’m sure all of you at some point of your lives have experienced the joy of learning a particularly satisfying new word; one which perfectly summarises something that, up until that moment, you never quite had the right words to explain.

Some are borrowed, some are invented, and, sadly, some are lost. Here, I thought I’d list a few of the many words that I think should make a comeback…

Enjoy!


Quomodocunquize

This is something I reckon most of us could relate to To ‘quomodocunquize’ is to make money in any way that you can – a little like hustling, minus the gangster-esque overtones. Scotsman Thomas Urquhart is noted in the OED as coiner of the phrase when, in 1652, he complained about “those quomodocunquizing clusterfists and rapacious varlets.”

(Sidenote: ‘Clusterfists’ is an equally loveable word – so evocative!)

Uhtceare

‘Uhtceare’ is an Old English word which describes the act of waking up before dawn and then not being able to get back to sleep because you’re worried about something. I guess some things never change!

Fudgel

‘Fudgel’ is an eighteenth-century verb, and it refers to the act of pretending to work when you’re not actually doing anything at all. So, the next time you see one of your colleagues secretly faffing online when they should be working, you know you’ve got a fudgeller on your hands.

Snowbroth

A phrase originated from the 1590s, referring to the slush that’s left over once the snow has partially melted.

Cockalorum

Referring to a man of short stature with a disproportionately high opinion of himself – think modern-day Napoleon. Or a shorter Donald Trump.

Callipygian

A term to describe someone with ample and aesthetically-shaped buttocks. Back in the 1640s, this is how they said “DAT ASS”….

Quockerwodger

A ‘quockerwodger’ is a wooden puppet, controlled by strings. It serves rather beautifully as an insult, don’t you think?

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14 thoughts on “What a Beautiful Language #6: The Words That Time Forgot

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