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Monday, June 3, 2013

Are Some Extinct Words Worth Bringing Back?

by brettmerritt (bio)

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I recently read an article (here) that makes a case for bringing back some words that may have perished too soon. According to the writer Carmel Lobello, some are thousands of years old, from before English officially existed. Here is a selection of my favorites from the article:

Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance—"The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten" by Jeffrey Kacirk

Wonder-wench: A sweetheart—"The Word Museum" (Kacirk)

Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe—John Mactaggart's "Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia," 1824

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them—

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram—

Curglaff: The shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water—John Jamieson's Etymological Scottish Dictionary, 1808

Beef-witted: Having an inactive brain, thought to be from eating too much beef.—John Phin's "Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary," 1902

Resistentialism: The seemingly spiteful behavior shown by inanimate objects—

Zafty: A person very easily imposed upon—Maj. B. Lowsley's "A Glossary of Berkshire Words and Phrases," 1888

What do you think? Is there any way obsolete words can make a true comeback? Would you use any of these regularly now that you know them? What of our words will make the list in another 500-1000 years? Read the full article on

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