Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Few Choice Words

I think these forgotten words should be resurrected.

comfoozled: overcome, exhausted

all-overs: the shivers, the creeps, nervousness; Southeastern U.S.

scroyle: a mean wretch, probably applied to one afflicted with kingsevil (a swelling of lymph nodes in the neck).

ill musick: said of any unwelcome or unpleasing news

churchyard cough: a bad, chronic cough

logolatry: worship of words; unreasonable regard for words or for verbal truth...hence logomaniac, one who is insanely interested in words.

pissing-while: short time. The phrase was formerly common enough. He had not been there—bless the mark—a pissing while, but all the chamber smelt of him.

cluttery weather: describes rainy weather with thick clouds all around

spending cheese: cheese of a middling quality used for family consumption in the dairy districts of Suffolk, considerably superior to the Bang or Thump but by no means equal to Gloucester.

sawdust parlance: circus language, in allusion to the sawdust strewn in the arena of a circus

I don’t know if I could be clinically diagnosed as a logomaniac, but I would say I am borderline insane about words. What I love about a lot of these words is how extremely specific and rich in character their meanings are, e.g., spending cheese and scroyle. Sadly, my brain seems not up to the task of storing gems like these for future use. There are just so many terrific words in the English language--it is a shame I don't get more use out of them.

I hate to admit it, but I have been tempted on occasion to get one of those (spending) cheesy “Improve Your Vocabulary” books. The only thing really stopping me is that I feel that with all the reading I do (and have done) exposure should be enough. Why isn’t my brain doing a better job of absorption and storage? I wish all the cool words I come in contact with would ensconce themselves in some back alley of my brain and present themselves to me at opportune moments. There are people whose brains operate that way, and it just dazzles me!


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