Just like facts and flies, English words have life-spans. Some are thousands of years old, from before English officially existed, others change, or are replaced or get ditched entirely.
Here are 18 uncommon or obsolete words that we think may have died early. We found them in two places: a book called “The Word Museum: The Most REmarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk, and on a blog called Obsolete Word of The Day that’s been out of service since 2010. Both are fantastic— you should check them out.
Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
Pussyvan: A flurry, temper — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
Wonder-Wench: A sweetheart — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe — John Mactaggart’s “Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia,” 1824
California Widow: A married woman whose husband is away from her for any extended period -John Farmer’s “Americanisms Old and New”, 1889
Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them
Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram —
Is this the same as "Meathead"?: Beef-Witted: Having an inactive brain, thought to be from eating too much beef. — John Phin’s “Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary”, 1902
This made me laugh: With squirrel: Pregnant — Vance Randolph’s “Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech”, 1953
Actually I could do without these words, thanks.
Some of these look like single-use words recorded in only one source and likely made up for that one time, such as "snoutfair." Actually that sounds like a Scot protesting: "It's snoutfair."
Quit groaking me, you slubberdegullion.posted on March 25, 2013 at 7:43am EDT
Meaning: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them.
As in: It’s hard to enjoy your meal, when the guy opposite is groaking you the whole time.
Meaning: To act in a secretive manner.
As in: I’m sick of all these sneaky types, creeping around and hugger-muggering the whole time.
Meaning: To feel ill because of excessive eating/drinking.
As in: Blerg. The morning after St. Patrick’s Day. I feel crapulous.
Meaning: Sullen. An alternative to grumpy.
As in: I’m hungover, and I’ve got a ton of work to do. Think I’m allowed to be grumpish.
Meaning: Freshly melted snow.
As in: Yesterday we woke up to a perfect carpet of white, but now it’s just snowbroth :-(
Meaning: To confuse, bamboozle.
As in: I don’t get string theory. It utterly jargogles my brain.
Meaning: The sun’s warmth on a cold winter’s day.
As in: Even in darkest December you sometimes get a moment of beautiful apricity.
Meaning: To gossip, or talk idly.
As in: I wish you’d quit twattling and get on with your work.
Meaning: Tangled hair, as if matted by elves.
As in: Jeez dude, look at the state of those elflocks, have you not heard of a comb?
Meaning: To have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect on someone.
Origin: Early 17th Century.
As in: Don’t look into his eyes. He’s so charismatic, you’ll be gorgonized.
Meaning: A little man with a high opinion of himself.
As in: He’s a boastful shortarse. Total cockalorum.
Meaning: A good-looking person.
As in: : Alison Brie? Total snoutfair.
Meaning: Slang term for a fat person.
As in: Time to go on a diet, I’m getting to be a right jollux.
Meaning: The shock one feels l upon first plunging into cold water.
Origin: Scots, 1800s.
As in: Those outdoor swimmers must have balls of steel, to cope with that kind of curglaff.
Meaning: To argue loudly about something inconsequential.
As in: I can’t stand Question Time, it always descends into brabbling.
Meaning: An alternative to twilight.
Origin: Early 1600s.
As in: London is at its most beautiful by twitter-light.
Meaning: Walking while smoking a pipe.
As in: I’m off for a post-lunch lunt, anyone care to join me?
Meaning: Stupid, imbecilic.
As in: The Only Way Is Essex is a TV show for the terminally beef-witted.
Meaning: Wonderful and extraordinary.
As in: The Breaking Bad finale was every bit as monsterful as I’d hoped.
Meaning: Having beautifully shaped buttocks.
As in: I admire Beyonce for her musical talent. The fact she is highly callipygian is neither here nor there.
Meaning: To make drunk, intoxicate.
As in: It’s never a good idea to operate heavy machinery while fuzzled.
Meaning: A wooden puppet, controlled by strings.
As in: The President has no real power, he is a mere quockerwodger.
Meaning: The seemingly malevolent behaviour displayed by inanimate objects.
As in: That water bottle looks like it wants to kill me. It exhibits resistentialism.
Meaning: The fear of oblivion.
As in: I'm terrified the world is about to end. I am lethophobic.
Meaning: A slovenly, slobbering person.
As in: Look at that sluberdegullion, sprawled on the sofa with his tongue lolling out.
Meaning: A low rumbling sound produced by the bowels.
As in: Nothing worse than audibly curmuring during a job interview.
When I think of Groakers, I think of dogs.
Exactly what I thought of, too.