Friday, August 05, 2005


Since I started blogging, I find my chatty emails to friends have gotten chattier and chattier. Embarrassed about that lately, well, I did not find an answer to the question I was googling (Does the word "logorrhea" properly refer to excessive writing as well as excessive talking?), but I found instead.

Phrontistery: A thinking-place; a place for study. ... No other term is synonymous, and its intellectual if pompous sound merely adds to its charm.

The author collects odd words. For some reason, many of them are from the year 1656, did he run across a book published in that year which was full of words coined by its own author? Anyway, here are a few I liked:

agonarch: judge of a contest or activity
Our competition will require six agonarchs to ensure fairness.

alabandical: barbarous; stupefied from drink
His behaviour after the party was positively alabandical.

amandation: act of sending away or dismissing
His rude amandation of his guests earned him a reputation for curtness

antipelargy: reciprocal or mutual kindness; love and care of children for their parents
Having never received any antipelargy, they wrote their daughter out of the will.

citharize: to play the harp
If you plan to citharize, prepare to build up calluses on your fingers.

egrote: to feign an illness
He was a master of egroting in order to find more time to study for tests.

flosculation: an embellishment or ornament in speech
The speaker's lecture was rendered laughable by ridiculous flosculations.

foppotee: simpleton
What a pitiful foppotee he was, always oblivious to our jeers!

gleimous: slimy; full of phlegm
Its gleimous tongue slipped between its teeth and ensnared the moose.

gnathonize: to flatter
I can tell that you're just trying to gnathonize me, you sycophantic buffoon!

kexy: dry, brittle, withered
The rustling of the kexy leaves alerted the campers to the bear's presence.

lugent: weeping; mourning
After hearing of the attack, her brothers were lugent at first, then enraged.

mitescent: growing mild
You're becoming mitescent in your old age, and can hardly stomach conflict any more.

pessundate: to cast down or ruin
The Roman Empire was pessundated by its economic woes rather than moral decline.

pigritude: slothfulness
Despite the college student's pigritude, he continued to maintain a 'B' average.

prandicle: small meal
In those years, she would take several prandicles during the course of each day.

stagma: any distilled liquor
I will touch neither wine nor stagma, though I do occasionally partake of ale.

tudiculate: to bruise or pound; to work as with a hammer
He was brutally tudiculated by the bullies, so he started to work out.

vultuous: having a sad or solemn countenance
The child's vultuous visage was the key to the team's successful con game.

welmish: of a pale or sickly colour
Her welmish complexion was the first clue that she had become a full-blown addict.

Synchronously included among his very favorite words is one I used this very morning in describing last week's nightmarish find:

Miasma: Foul vapours emitted from rotting matter; unwholesome air or atmosphere. I can safely predict, with the current state of the environment, that miasma may become a much more common word in the next fifty years as it becomes a more common state of affairs. It has an appropriately gaseous and foul-sounding name, adding to its linguistic appeal.

And lastly, his very favorite:
Spatchcock: To insert into a text too hurriedly or inappropriately; a fowl stuffed and cooked immediately after killing. This is probably my favourite word of all time. Though there's little use for it any more as a noun, the idea of hurriedly killing, stuffing and cooking a bird has enormous metaphorical value. As a verb, spatchcock is a term that should be picked up and used by every editor who has ever had to read a manuscript that has been prepared in such a manner.

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At 10:04 PM, Blogger e_journeys said...

Great stuff! Thanks for the link.
I have a book called Lost Beauties of the English Language (Charles Mackay, LL.D., Bibliophile Books, 1987 but originally published in 1874). Its "lost beauties" are from British English; at the time of its publication, several American English words that we still use were considered to have fallen into disuse. (Though I imagine, for example, that "rift" ("a fissure, a break"), considered lost by Mackay, has been revived in Britain as well.)

But then you have gems like "tuz, a knot of hair or wool; an entanglement" -- or "cark, to be fretfully anxious," etc.

Gene Wolfe, in his science fiction trilogy The Book of the New Sun, uses rare and/or discontinued words as part of his society's language. His protagonist wears a cloak that is not black, but fulgin: blacker than black.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Espahan said...


I love your place. My hubby and I heard this word on our car radio several years ago. We always have a laugh when I am 'farding,' applying my lipstick in the window visor mirror of our car.

(fard) transitive verb) to apply cosmetics to the face. To gloss over. from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Oh Pratie! I'm such a word freak. This is my favorite post this week! Thanks for the link!

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Laurie said...

I feel a bit welmish myself this morning. Perhaps it is from being tudiculated from the stagma I drank after only a prandicle last night. My mouth feels positively gleimous. I am lugent about being such a foppotee. What was I thinking about becoming so alabandical?!!

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this site, I am a person who likes to learn but like many other people I do not do well under the pressure of a classroom and "needing to keep up". This informal manner of learning is fantastic. I wish you good health.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger nollij said...

The sad thing is that the phrontistery appears to have gone extinct: when searching for an antiquated word today, I tried to access the website and all that appears is a placeholder for some webhosting service: BOO HOO!

At 5:16 AM, Blogger Swati said...

circa 2009, march.
the site has either re-surfaced in a new avataar, or relocated - it is alive.


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