Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgottenby Jeffrey Kacirk
As the largest and most dynamic collection of words ever assembled, the English language continues to expand. But as hundreds of new words are added annually, older ones are sacrificed. Now, from the author of Forgotten English comes a collection of fascinating archaic words and phrases, providing an enriching glimpse into the past. With its beguiling period illustrations, The Word Museum ranges from engaging tidbits of everyday life to the extraordinary.
The Word Museum differs from a dictionary in that most of its entries are unfamiliar, and even the familiar looking ones are rich with unexpected twists. For instance:
- Gumbled: Upon awakening in the morning the eyes are said to be gumbled
- Sirloin: The sirloin of beef, so called from its being knighted by one of our kings in a fit of good humor
- Thrunched: Very angry, displeased.
Readers can savor the wonderful oddities of old and unusual words as they gain insight into a cross-section of life from hundreds of years. Perfect to dip into, read aloud from, or keep next to the bed, The Word Museum is a kaleidoscope of humor, education, and enchantment from bygone times.
Barbara Wallraff author of Word Court What fun The Word Museum is. It is a bouffage an absolute yeepsen for word-peckers, and that's no scaum.
Justin Kaplan and Anne Bernays authors of The Language of Names It's an absolutely delicious book, a ten-course banquet for anyone with an appetite for words, dictionary games, and just plain fun.
- Sterling Publishing
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.02(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.86(d)
Read an Excerpt
abbey-lubber A slothful loiterer in a religious house, under pretence of sanctity and austerity. Compounded of abbey and Danish lubbed, fat. [Fenning]
abcedarian A person or book that teaches the alphabet. [Sheridan] A word formed from the first four [or five] letters of the alphabet. [Whitney] SEE hornbook
abortive Fine vellum made from the skin of a cast [stillborn] calf or lamb. [Kersey]
abracadabrant Marvelous or stunning; from abracadabra, a magic word used as a spell in the United States. [Barrère]
accubitus Lying together in the same bed, but without any venereal commerce. [J. Coxe]
Adam's ale Water. [Smith] From the supposition that Adam had nothing but water to drink. In Scotland, water for a beverage is called Adam's wine. [Brewer]
admiral's watch A good night's sleep, especially at night; a favorable opportunity to rest. [Irwin]
adulterine A child born of an adultress. [Sheridan] Adulterine children are more odious than the illegitimate offspring of single persons. [E. Chambers]
adventurers upon return Those travellers who lent money before they went [abroad], upon the condition of receiving more on their return from a hazardous journey. This was probably their proper title. [Nares]
aflunters In a state of disorder. "Her hair was all aflunters." Yorkshire [J. Wright]
aforcing Stretching the amount of a dish to accomodate more people, usually by adding eggs, grain or cheese. [Shipley]
a-gatewards This is a very common and, I may add, very remarkable expression. To go a-gatewards with any one is to accompany him part of his way home. Gate is the public highway; wards denotes direction, as in home-wards, towards, &c. To go a-gatewards was therefore to conduct a guest towards the high-road, the last office of hospitality, necessary both for guidance and for protection, when the high-way lay across an undisclosed and almost trackless country, amidst woods and morasses. [J. Hunter]
agglutinants Those medicines which have the power of uniting parts together. [Sheridan] SEE colleticks
album nigrum The excrement of mice and rats, formerly used both externally and internally as a remedy but now, very properly, abandoned. [Hoblyn]
alectromantia Divination by a cock. Draw a circle, and write in succession round it the letters of the alphabet; on each side of it lay a grain of corn. Then put a cock in the centre of the circle, and watch the grains he eats. The letters will prognosticate the answer. [From] Greek alector, cock, manteia, divination. [Brewer] SEE gyromancy
alegar A hybrid word springing from the Saxon ale, and the French aigre [sour]. It is ale or beer which has passed through the acetous fermentation, and is used as a cheap substitute for vinegar, in imitation of which this word has been formed. [J. Hunter]
ale-score A debt at an ale-house. According to Wedgwood, score was originally a "notch, then from the custom of keeping count by cutting notches on a stick, account, reckoning, number, the specific number of twenty being the number of knotches it was convenient to make on a single stick. When that number was complete, the piece on which they were made was cut off [French, taillée] and called a tally." [Jackson] SEE milkscore
ale-taster An officer appointed in every court-leet to look to the assize and goodness of bread, ale and beer. [Kersey] Whatever might be their use formerly, their places are now regarded only as fine-cures [financial punishment] for decayed citizens. [Johnson]
allecter To wamble as a queasie stomacke dothe. [Cotgrave]
allemang Mixed together; a Wiltshire saying, when two flocks of sheep are accidentally driven together. [Grose, PG]
Copyright © 2000 by Jeffrey Kacirk
Meet the Author
Jeffrey Kacirk is the author of Forgotten English, The Word Museum, and Altered English, as well as a daily calendar based on Forgotten English. He can be found on the web at www.forgottenenglish.com and lives in Marin County, California.
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