Reading the Oxford English Dictionary: One Man, One Year, 21730 Pages (book #77)

Ammon Shea, 2009.

My favourite words from the ones he quotes:

Antisocordist – an opponent of laziness or idiocy [because it suggests that one can be _for_ these things]
Antithalian – opposed to fun or merriment [my father, in other words]
Futilitarian – one who is devoted to futility
Bouffage – an enjoyable meal; “cheeke-puffing meat” [Cotgrave – see below]
Deteriorism – the attitude that things will usually get worse
Elucubration – studying or writing by candlelight
Exfamiliate – to exclude from one’s family
Fard – to paint the face with cosmetics
Latibulate – to hide oneself in a corner
Materteral – having the characteristics of an aunt
Peristeronic – suggestive of pigeons
Yepsen – the amount that can be held in two cupped hands; the cupped hands themselves

The reaction to this books seems to be to list one’s favourites like this. Someone else’s. And another.

Interview with Ammon Shea. His first article on the OED site.

Having had the fun of listing the words, however, it’s worth being cynical about whether they’ve actually ever been in use, or whether they are ink-horn terms. Shea quotes “bouffage” (see above) and the OED’s citation of Cotgrave’s 1611 dictionary. Having looked this up, though, it looks as if Cotgrave thinks bouffage is a French word – see the facsmile (the word is towards the end of the second column). I suspect no-one’s ever said “I exfamiliate you!” but that some pedant has thought if one were to want to say it, what would be the appropriate Latin-derived term.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to find online the research by Sarah Ogilvie he mentions (“World English and the OED Supplements: the mysterious case of the vanishing tramlines”).

Two more word links:

Most frequently looked up words on the NYT, 2010, and notes on this.

Article on the Dictionary of American Regional English. Some of the words sound like things J’s mother might say.


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