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Old Forgotten English Words We Should Start Using Again

Language is always in a state of flux. It hardly ever happens that archaisms stage a comeback in languages. However, lately, people have d...

Language is always in a state of flux. It hardly ever happens that archaisms stage a comeback in languages. However, lately, people have developed an inexplicable nostalgia for English words that have fallen into disuse. This trend started several years back, but last week stood out in the number of articles published on the Internet wishing that certain English words were back in our active vocabulary. 

This week’s column assembles some of the words some linguists are nostalgic about.
The first 20 words were provided by Lana Winter-Hébert who wrote for the Lifehack website in an article titled “20 "Forgotten" Words That Should Be Brought Back.” The last 10 words were taken from a Business Insider article by Drake Baer titled, “15 olde English words we need to start using again.” Enjoy:

Languages are living things that shift and evolve over time. If you look at the history of the English language, from Anglo Saxon through the Great Vowel Shift to what we consider Standard English today, you’ll notice that it has undergone some spectacular changes over the centuries. Some basic words have stuck around through the ages, like “father”, “house”, “egg”, “boat” and so on, but just as new words developed over time, other words were discarded along the way.

Many others from Shakespeare’s time through to the early 20th century have fallen out of common usage, and we are undoubtedly the poorer for it. Here are 20 words that could only serve to add a bit more colour to our daily lives if they happened to come back into regular use.

1. Bunbury. Noun. An imaginary person whose name is used as an excuse to some purpose, especially to visit a place.

Example: “Auntie Jane the cottage dweller” was my go-to bunbury whenever I wanted to take a day off to go play in the forest.

2. Scurrilous. Adjective. The description of something said or done unfairly to make people have a bad opinion of someone.

Example: Mrs. Mumford had spread rather scurrilous gossip about Miss Violet in the hope of tarnishing her reputation. Honestly, who would do that sort of thing with a llama?

3. Gallimaufry. Noun. A hodge-podge, or jumbled medley (can also refer to an edible dish).

Example: Lydia’s casserole was a veritable gallimaufry of beans, raisins, cauliflower, sausage, cheap wine, and cabbage. Guests never asked for second helpings.

4. Thrice. Adverb. Three times.

Example: I’ve told you twice not to eat raw pork with mustard or you’ll get sick—don’t make me say it thrice!

5. Blithering. Adjective. Talking utterly and completely foolishly, OR used to describe a foolish person.

Example: The blithering idiot was blithering on about something or other, but I tuned him out.

6. Pluviophile. Noun. A person who takes great joy and comfort in rainy days.

Example: Your average pluviophile will be in utter glory when thunder roils, as she can curl up with blankets and books while rain pours down outside.

7. Librocubularist. Noun. One who reads in bed.

Example: When you’re married to a librocubularist, you can rest assured that you’ll have to compete with a stack of books for nighttime attention.

8. Febricula. Noun. A slight and transient fever.

Example: Attending the opening of Twilight’s 17th sequel gave Arabella a mild febricula, but the air-conditioned cinema interior cleared it up quickly.

9. Starrify. Verb. To decorate with stars.

Example: The student council would starrify the high school gym every year in preparation for the homecoming dance.

10. Sophronize. Verb. To imbue with sound moral principles or self-control.

Example: It’s vital that parents sophronize children, not just expect them to behave properly of their own volition—you know what havoc they’d wreak.

11. Mullock. Noun. Rubbish, nonsense, or waste matter.

Example: I don’t know what kind of mullock you’re gibbering on about today, but you really need to stop reading those conspiracy magazines.

12. Uglyography. Noun. Poor handwriting, and bad spelling.

Example: His uglyography was so heinous that his essay was used as kindling, but the flames extinguished themselves rather than be tainted by association.

13. Namelings. Plural noun. Those bearing the same name.

Example: There were six boys named Jason in that particular class, prompting the teacher to address them all by their last names. When faced with namelings who both answered to “Jason Birch”, she called them “Birch” and “tree”, respectively.

14. Ultracrepidarianism. Noun. The habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge.

Example: Child-free people who try to give parenting advice are often guilty of the worst kind of ultracrepidarianism.

15. Pannychis. Noun. An all-night feast or ceremony.

Example: Edmund took another energy drink, hoping that its caffeine content would help him survive this raucous pannychis.

16. Guttle. Verb. To gobble greedily; to cram food into one’s gut.

Example: The dinner guests watched in horror as Lord Penderquist guttled an entire roasted boar into his maw.

17. Snollyguster. Noun. A person, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles.

Example: The snollyguster who won the mayoral election just lines his pockets with cash to support his drug habit.

18. Welkin. Noun. The upper sky; “vault” of heaven.

Example: Icarus would have passed through the welkin on his legendary flight, but we all know how that turned out for him.

19. Barbigerous. Adjective. Characterized by having a beard.

Example: I had wanted to compliment him on his fiancee’s beauty, but her barbigerous aspect was so dominant that I had to remain silent.

20. Eventide. Noun. The end of the day, just as evening approaches.

Example: Moonflowers only bloom at eventide, opening their petals as the sun slips below the horizon.

21. Overmorrow: on the day after tomorrow.

Example: "I'll have that report to you overmorrow."

Why: Overmorrow was in Middle English but fell out of the language. So instead of having this word, we have the wordy "day after tomorrow." German still has this very useful word: übermorgen.

22. Twattling: Gossiping.

Example: "I knew I was in for it when they stopped twattling soon as I walked in the room."

Why: Because 'twattling' is one of those words that sounds like the thing it describes: twattle, twattle, twattle.

23. Fortnight: A period of two weeks.

Example: "We have a meeting with sales every fortnight."

Why: Because biweekly is woefully confusing — is it twice a week or every two weeks? Fortnight — and its sibling fornightly — help cure that ambiguity.

24. Anon: Shortly.

Example: "I'll see you anon."

Why: Because it would be nice to have a classier version of see you soon. Plus it always sounds dope when Shakespeare's characters use it.

25. Antetaste: The opposite of aftertaste.

Example: "The opening band was an antetaste of the rock to follow."

Why: Because there should be symmetry in tastes.

26. Coldrife: Easily cold.

Example: "My coldrife Californian coworkers start complaining how cold New York is starting in September."

Why: Because there needs to be a word for this disorder.

27. Mugwump: Someone who acts like they're above conflict.

Example: "My sister always played the mugwump in family disputes."

Why: Because we need a word to describe the self-righteous condescension of the pacificist.

28. Zwodder: A hazy state of mind.

Example: "He was in a zwodder all day after last night's party."

Why: Because the word "hangover" is a catchall for all sorts of physiological debts we end up paying by pushing ourselves too hard. It would help to have more precise words.

29. Snollygoster: A smart person not guided by principles.

Example: "That snollygoster might end up in the White House."

Why: Because we need a name for the people who don't recognize that with great power comes great responsibility.

30. Bedward: heading toward bed.

Example: "I'm bedward, putting this group text on mute."

Why: Because it treats your bed as a cardinal direction. As it should be.

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