I was always a word freak. Even from my middle school years, I studied vocabulary books to increase my store of words. Imagine my delight when, in 1968, as a graduate student in film at UCLA, I got a job proofreading two computerized transcripts of Merrian-Webster dictionaries.
One interesting wrinkle was that my predecessor in my job, a young lady, was murdered by a graduate student in film at UCLA. (It wasn’t me, honest!)
In the process of proofreading thousands of pages of dictionary entries, I collected a few interesting words that don’t make it into print much these days:
- Septemfluous: “flowing in seven streams,” describing the blood of the crucified Christ.
- Medioxumous: “of or relating to the middle rank of deities”
- Rotl: “any of various units of weight of Mediterranean and Near Eastern countries ranging from slightly less than one pound to more than six pounds”
- And, coming to us from Welsh, cwm and crwth (not misprints), meaning “valley” and “crowd” respectively, and pronounced “coom” and “crooth.”
I have a few words to add to these from the 1755 edition of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language. They don’t seem to have made it into subsequent editions, though the Futility Closet managed to ferret them out:
- Finger-flinger: “a pretender to astrology and prediction,” not to be confused with an irate motorist
- Pissburnt: “stained with urine”
- Centuriator: “a name given to historians, who distinguish times by centuries”
- Longimanous: “long-handed; having long hands”
- Overyeared: “too old,” like the writer of this blog
The illustration above is by the talented BurenErdene at DeviantArt.