Monday, 22 August 2011

Threatened Words, by Leslie Wilson

It's supposed to be the 'silly season', though the awful riots have rather knocked that one on the head. However, I have decided to be silly anyway - or maybe this isn't silly. Who knows?

A browse through your dictionary will reveal the problem the Society for the Preservation of Threatened Words (SOPTW) was set up to combat: there are all these words that are fading away because nobody uses them any more. Words, like dogs, need exercise. They don't need food or water, but someone has to give them a trot, in a nice suitable sentence. They can stand traffic, noise, bad smells, and exercising directly under the flightpath within a mile or so of a major airport - but failure to exercise them is death to them.

Blog-readers, do you want to do this to all these poor words? Condemn them to the awful fate of being OUTSA (Only Useful To Scrabble Addicts)?

However, the following list of words could be useful to Scrabble addicts, I have no problem with that, only do, please, look them up in the dictionary so that subsequent to getting your nice score on the board, you also give them the exercise they crave.

The challenge to my readers today is this: you are all concerned with words, one way or another, or you wouldn't follow ABBA. Please, please, give these words a walk - the Comments section is open below for you to do so. Subsequently, use them in a novel, or in conversation, or whatever. You will not only have done an act of great humanity, but will have enriched the English language (and maybe your Scrabble scores.)

CASTRAMETATION - the art of designing a camp.

GRABBLE - to grope, scramble or struggle.

HYLITHISM or HYLISM - materialism.

MISWEEN - to judge wrongly, have a wrong opinion of.

PONEROLOGY - the doctrine of wickedness

to POMPEY - to pamper

RECKLING - weakest, smallest, youngest of a littler or family, adj puny.

TOLSEY - a tollbooth or exchange

VISNOMY - physiognomy or face.

SEE IF YOU CAN USE ALL THESE WORDS IN ONE SENTENCE!!!! If you can, and the sentence is sufficiently fascinating, you will get a free copy of: My Life in the Fast Lane: The art of Exercising Threatened Words, edited by Jenkinson Hornswoggle, published on recycled dictionary paper, bound in composted leather, by Camera Obscura,$12-00 2007. (The Society's judgement on what is deemed to be fascinating is FINAL)

Disclaimer: The heading of this blog is in no way to be understood that I, Leslie Wilson, have ever in my life threatened a word.

ps. See today's Guardian at I believe it is in other newspapers, too! But this coincidence is clearly serendipitous (or clusionomietous)


Sue Purkiss said...

Very entertaining post! I can't think how I've managed without 'grabble' and I love 'misween'. I must really stop misweening David Cameron and Tony Blair - or maybe not...

Leslie Wilson said...

Well done, Sue! Keep 'em coning.. the words depend on you.

Miriam Halahmy said...

Our blue roan cocker spaniel Trudy,first class pedigree, Kennel Club registered, had 8 pups. But my favourite was Sandy, the reckling; wrong colour, wrong tail, one leg shorter than the other three. I've always favoured the underdog, it seems.

John Dougherty said...

The problem is, if course, that such words may be mere flosculation or even tortiloquy employed by snollygosters to gnathonize - or conversely to pudify or colaphize - the kexy egos of the insecure.

Such blateration may serve only to leave the average foppotee murklins.

( I think I'm addicted.)

Malaika said...

After the castrametation and grabbling to put it into action, he pompeyed me and as I gazed upon his visnomy, I realised I had misweened his ponerology and hylithism at the tolsey and that he was a mere reckling.