Patricia Sierra writes on ROBUST: “Here are some words to add to our vocabularies today: 20 obsolete English words that should make a comeback. Andre is probably using all of them routinely already.”
I used deliciate in an after-dinner speech last year. Sadly, everyone in the room (mostly college teachers) knew it, or at least thought they knew it, from the familiar root.
Brannigan I used once to describe a fistfight that broke out in a rugby scrum which resulted in four players (all on the other team) being carried off, and the disciplinary committee let me off on the grounds that, if they couldn’t understand what I was saying, I was likely preparing to make fools of them again if they presumed to discipline me. When one of them asked me later what it meant, I described it as, “An action approved by Duke Wayne,” and he nodded his head briskly in wise agreement.
Quagswagging I used once in a novel as quagswagged for grabbing a miscreant by the shoulders and shaking him until his teeth rattle. The commissioning editor knew better than to argue with me, but three copy editors went in cabal to the publisher who called me and said, “Over my dead body.” I knew when I was beat. It deserves to be revived and recast for my purpose.
I also know and occasionally in the right company use jargogle, pronounced with two hard gees as jargoggle, corrade, kench (which Sharon Tillotson suggests we use in place of LOL), brabble, bibesy (because it shares a root with bibulous and is thus semi-familiar to the educated), widdendream, twitter-light for twilight.
Ludibrious is likely to be mispronounced by Americans as bry- whereas it should be bree- and is anyway superfluous when we have risible.
Sanguinolent is pompous when we have bloodthirsty.
Jollux doesn’t mean just fat, it means a buffoon. Falstaff in the Shakespeare two-parter about King Hal is jollux.
Malagrug shows promise if we need a neologism to replace grim or dismal. Malagrugrous just sounds too inelegant for words. Don’t do it.
Freck sounds too much like genteel form of f*ck.
Perisollogy and hoddypeak are just too prissy for words.
Scriptitation too is prissy, but could usefully encapsulate my mantra, “A writer writes” as scriptitatum scriptitator for those with, or pretensions to, a classical education.
A teacher who tells a student he is yemeles (pronunciation yeemless) deserves what he gets. Better perhaps to misuse the harmless word casual to mean careless, heedless, negligent.
Illecebrous is one of those words whose sound is contrary to its meaning. It doesn’t sound alluring, enticing or attractive to me at all. Perhaps we can revive it with a new meaning to describe those D-grade celebrities who are celebrated only for being criminal or crooked or plain nasty.
Copyright ©2012 Andre Jute
Andre Jute is a best-selling novelist and, through his non-fiction books, a leading teacher of creative writing, graphic design and engineering. He was previously an adventurer, advertising executive, political and military advisor, and performing arts critic. He is currently editorial advisor to the micropublisher CoolMain Press. He is the founder of the notorious free-for-all discussion group ROBUST, which those who read this article all the way through will probably like.