This week’s grammatically incorrect title takes its inspiration from the Bee Gees’ 1967 hit song, “Words,” which informs us that “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.” Who knows? If the Gibbs had sung “They’re only words,” they might never have had their hit. Words are indeed powerful and provocative things, and they are in fact all we have when it comes to language. I use them every week, of course, and have never wondered if they’re taking anyone’s heart away. A nice thought, nevertheless.
Every year I devote a column or two to new words that are presented for our inspection by Websters and dictionary.com. This week, however, let’s take a look at some much older, even antiquarian words. The January 26 edition of BuzzFeed, an admittedly sometimes rather strange website, offers us some very obscure and generally unfamiliar words that are deemed “old-timey” by columnist Ali Velez. I must say I was not initially aware of these words, and am looking forward to using them whenever the occasion arises. Be on the lookout for a few of them in the weeks to come. Interestingly enough, some of these words have special application to my life.
Let’s start with ULTRACREPIDARIAN, which refers to “a person who offers opinions and advice on subjects they know little to nothing about.” I have been writing this column since 1989 and must admit that I have been guilty of being an ultracrepidarian on more than one occasion. I often treat this column as a learning experience and look forward each week to what I might discover from the writing experience. So, in many ways I am rather proud to be a UC.
Although I seldom write about the volatile subject of politics in this column, we might speculate from time to time if we might be a little skeptical about the people we choose to represent us. The definition of KAKISTOCRACY is “government by the least qualified or worst people.” While we undoubtedly are fortunate enough to have many well-qualified and responsible people representing us, we should entertain the possibility that we sometimes don’t. And this reminds me of the advice I received “back in the day”: Never trust anyone over 30.
A word I can’t pronounce is UHTCEARE which describes “lying awake and worrying before dawn.” Even if I could pronounce it, I don’t like the way it looks. I guess we could say it is unprincipled. Some words are just not very attractive and might indeed cause sleep-disruptive anxiety.
No doubt we have all met our share of SNOLLYGOSTERS, those “shrew, unprincipled” people who make our lives less pleasant. Closely related to this is a GROKE–”someone who stares at you while you eat, hoping you will share your food with them.” Needless to say, I have been a groke at times, and vow never to be like that again. And, yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I have been a SLUGABED, “someone who stays in bed after the usual or proper time to get up.” I am sure I am not alone in being guilty of this transgression.
Although I don’t have a full beard, I do sport a mustache and a goatee, so I guess that semi-qualifies me as being BARBIGEROUS, or “having a beard; bearded.” Hopefully this not the same as being barbaric or barbarous.
I don’t generally spend “lavish amounts of money on food and drink,” I happy to report that I don’t indulge in ABLIGURITION. Another rather awkward looking word. However, I am proud of being a LIBROCUBICULARIST, “a person who reads in bed.” Of course, I can never use this word. Just imagine what someone might think if I described myself as such. A somewhat frightening prospect.
What can I say about FUDGEL, which is “pretending to work while not doing anything productive.” Obviously I don’t want to incriminate myself with that one. Hopefully, we can’t say that about this column. And I have never had “the irresistible urge to do something unadvisable,” which is described as CACOETHES. Try pronouncing that one.
And, now we have my favorite word on the list–CRINKUM-CRANKUM, which means “full of twists and turns.” A very apt description of life, don’t you think? And with that, I will bring this twisting and turning column to an end while you go in search of new words to add to your vocabulary. Better yet, why don’t you try and create a sentence using all the words listed above? Just excuse me while I transform into a slugabed.