July 27, 2006

 

Thirteen words I won't ever use, vol. I

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As a writer I am, of course, fascinated (read obsessed) by words, and being a speaker of English has me amazed by the sheer volume of what's available for my native tongue. But I am more astounded by how many English words are completely unneccessary, and nothing illustrates this better than my e-mail subscription to Dictionary.com's Word of the Day.

While I try to read them as often as I can, these things can pile up on you, so I created a folder and filter to keep them sequestered (see, its starting already) and where I can read them at leisure. Hey, I reach for the thesaurus as often as any inkslinger, and I believe everyone should seek to improve their vocabulary throughout life. But in scrolling through my collection, I came across a plethora (a word that goes on my "favorites" list) of silly mots for which I cannot see ever having a need. Forthwith, I offer these thirteen most ridiculous, droll, absurd, farcical, risible and unusable appellations:

agog \uh-GOG\, adjective: Full of excitement or interest; in eager desire; eager, keen.
Derives from Middle French en gogues, "in mirth; lively."
This is not a happy word. Sounds menacing, in a biblical sort of way.

billingsgate\BIL-ingz-gayt; -git\, noun: Coarsely abusive, foul, or profane language. So called after Billingsgate, a former market in London celebrated for fish and foul language.
None but some utterly arseholed and pretentious Anglophile would call cussing by this fucking bullshit term.

Brobdingnagian \brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn\, adjective: Of extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous. From Brobdingnag, a country of giants in Gulliver's Travels.
Methinks thou wouldst be considered too Swift should ye spake the likes of this word.

brummagem \BRUHM-uh-juhm\, adjective: Cheap and showy, tawdry; also, spurious, counterfeit. An alteration of Birmingham, England, from the counterfeit groats produced there in the 17th century.
I'm not positive what "groats" refers to - Birminghamians either made fake coins or bogus cracked barley. Anyway, it says enough about a word when it's used frequently by William F. Buckley, Jr.

consanguineous \kon-san(g)-GWIN-ee-us\, adjective: Of the same blood; related by birth; descended from the same parent or ancestor. From Latin consanguineus; from com-, con-"with, together" + sanguineus, from sanguis, sanguin-, "blood."
Too DaVinci Code. English is hurtin' when it ADDS a letter to the Latin.

contumely \kon-TYOO-muh-lee; -TOO-; KON-tyoo-mee-lee; -too-; KON-tum-lee\, noun: 1. Rudeness or rough treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt; scornful insolence. 2. An instance of contemptuousness in act or speech. From the Latin contumelia - outrage, insult.
What could be more awkward than a noun in adverb's clothing?

eleemosynary \el-uh-MOS-uh-ner-ee\, adjective: 1. Of or for charity; charitable; as, "an eleemosynary institution." 2. Given in charity; having the nature of alms; as, "eleemosynary assistance." 3. Supported by or dependent on charity; as, "the eleemosynary poor." From medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from Late Latin eleemosyna, "alms," from Greek eleemosyne, from eleemon, "pitiful," from eleos, "pity."
Too many "froms"

emolument \ih-MOL-yuh-muhnt\, noun: The wages or perquisites arising from office, employment, or labor; gain; compensation. Derives from Latin emolumentum, originally a sum paid to a miller for grinding out one's wheat, from molere, "to grind," which is related to molar, the "grinding" tooth.
I can't hang with something that sounds like three, possibly four, words jammed together.

execrable \EK-sih-kruh-buhl\, adjective:1. Deserving to be execrated; detestable; abominable. 2. Extremely bad; of very poor quality; very inferior. Derives from Latin exsecrabilis, "to execrate, to curse."
Or perhaps from excrement, "to be shitty."

pleonasm \PLEE-uh-naz-uhm\, noun: 1. The use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; as, "at this moment in time" for "now" 2. An instance or example of pleonasm.3. A superfluous word or expression. From the Greek pleonasmos, from pleon, "greater, more."
Oh, the irony...

rebarbative \ree-BAR-buh-tiv\, adjective: Serving or tending to irritate or repel. From the French rébarbatif, "stern, surly, grim, forbidding," from Middle French rebarber, "to be repellent," from re- (from the Latin) + barbe, "beard" (from Latin barba).
Too lawyer-sounding and too French. The Latin suggests we just stick with, "He's really kinda stubbly."

sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective: 1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words. 2. Long and ponderous; having many syllables. noun: A long word. From the Latin sesquipedalis, "a foot and a half long, hence inordinately long," from sesqui, "one half more, half as much again" + pes, ped-, "a foot."
Six inches over? The Horror! Also could be confused for meaning a native of Sesquipedalia, and we wouldn't want that.

simulacrum \sim-yuh-LAY-kruhm; -LAK-ruhm\, noun; plural simulacra, 1. An image; a representation. 2. An insubstantial, superficial, or vague likeness or semblance. From the Latin simulare, "to make like, to put on an appearance of." From similis, "like." It is related to simulate and similar.
Wherefrom comes the "crum?"

Comments:
Where would super-villains like Doc Ock and Lex Luthor be without words like "execrable" and "simulacrum"?

I have to admit, I kind of like the word "eleemosynary". I don't know why.

I was surprised, though, that I didn't see the word "pulchritude".
 
Well, it IS just vol. I...
 
Personally, I use simulacrum a lot ... I really like that word. Though it isn't my all-time favorite word.

What is my all time favorite word, you ask?

Of course you ask.

Okay, Ill tell you.

My all-time favorite word is:

Homunculus.

Now that is a great, great word.

None of you can use it, either. Damn rat-thieves.

Ook ook
 
Fine, I'll just move in next door with Homy. Midget-lover.
 
Brobdingnagian is a perfectly good word. I use it on occasion.
 
You got some linkylurve at Irene's, dude!
 
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