Obsolete Words

My husband alerted me to this delightful article on obsolete words. It’s understandable that some of these have fallen out of use, what with some suggestive word roots in there. But “beef-witted”? That one needs to be reclaimed and put back into use.

I did have the idea, years ago, to compile Shakespearean insults, as there were so many of them and they were so imaginative—but I never got around to actually doing it. Luckily, someone else did. So, don’t be boring. If someone cuts you off in traffic and you simply must yell something, try calling the driver a “vile one” or a “mouldy rogue” or a “puppy-headed monster.” It might add some entertainment and humor to an otherwise frustrating situation.

Typo of the day

Science can lend itself to some very entertaining misspellings, especially when you’re working with nonnative English speakers. Today’s fun typo was, however, from a native English speaker, who spelled hydroxyapatite (aka hydroxylapatite, the main ingredient of bone) as hydroxylappetite. He may have been hungry while writing; I’m not sure. If you’re talking about a hydroxyl as a building block of H2O, though–well, maybe he was thirsty?

Words I Love

gubernatorial. Any word that sounds like “goober” is good in my book.

temporomandibular. Rolls nicely off the tongue. And it’s easier to say than “that joint that connects your lower jaw to your upper jaw, right in front of your ear.”

uvuloglossopharyngeal. You’ll notice I really enjoy these long ones; they’re very common in medical texts, of course. I’m all in favor of long words that are truly needed—as opposed to the 50-cent words that are common in what we editors call “Scholarspeak”—that style of writing that could have used half as many words with many fewer syllables to actually say a great deal more.

Words That Bug Me

Part 1 in an ongoing series on an important topic (!). Those of us who work with words all days have our pet peeves. Here’s one of mine: ARTISANAL.

These days, it seems like everything is  “artisanal.” Webster’s says an artisan is someone who produces something “in limited quantities, often using traditional methods.” Do you really believe that that loaf of bread at your giant Kroger supermarket is made in limited quantities? Using traditional methods? Just because it’s in a fancy bag and looks like real bakery bread?

Yeah, me neither. (I still like those loaves of bread, though.)

End of rant.