Lost Words


Roman Ondák’s room of heights

I’ve been perusing my six inch thick 3,210 page 1930s Webster’s New International Dictionary, as well as my smaller 1,000 page 1910 Webster’s New Modern where the word Holocaust is defined simply as: a sacrifice wholly consumed by fire, because the holocaust that would come to define the term had not yet occurred. Reading old dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazines, etc. gives a person a greater and more nuanced point of view. You’d think the existence of a digital, world-wide encyclopedia/dictionary at our fingertips 24/7 would result in some seriously intimidating intelligence. You may be able to locate every Chinese food restaurant within a ten mile radius with map, reviews and pictures in the next 5 seconds, but would you know how to react if your doctor suggested you need a Strabotomy (no, spell-check does not recognize that word). Reading old dictionaries, with entire sections devoted to Radio and Wireless Terms like cam friction, arc lamp, antenna, grid, relay and quenched spark, can be a remedy for hubris. Though a surgical operation for the removal of squinting (see Strabotomy) seems kind of arcane, isn’t fun just to know the word?

A few lost, or obscure, words to add to your vocabulary:

Fishify: To change to fish, to make like a fish.  (I have no idea what context this would be used in)

Dry Beard: One having a withered beard.

Anak: An old testament race of giants.

Birr: Strong wind, Force as of the wind or an onslaught in battle.

Grinagog: A perpetual grinner.

Fistiana: Pugilistic anecdotes.

Grig: A dwarf or little creature

Local Option: The restriction of the sale of intoxicating liquors by the majority of the voters of a district

Grimalkin: A she-cat, an old woman.

Haemalopia: A disease of the eye in which objects appear red.

Oakum: Untwisted ropes

Birth Controller: An advocate of birth control.

Cassette: A casket

Foy: A feast or gift given at a departure or the termination of harvest or fishing season.

Laureation: Receiving an honor, act or crowning with laurels.

Latrobe: A Baltimore heater.

Phrasy: Addicted to the use of phrases.

Spall: The shoulder.

Bayonet Leg: A deformity of the leg due to a backward displacement of the tibia and fibula.

Xyster: An instrument for scraping bones.





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