Wayne State University in Detroit aims to bring back words “worthy of retrieval from the linguistic closet.” (What a great line!) Thus its Word Warriors produce a list each year of some of the English language’s “most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words.”
“A decade in, and we’re just scratching the surface of weird, beautiful words that have sadly fallen out of use over the years,” says Chris Williams, assistant director of editorial services in Wayne State’s Office of Marketing and Communications, and head of the Word Warriors program. “The English language is so versatile and unique, and it’s been especially fun to see Word Warriors from around the world bring so many of these words to our attention.”
In other years, the list included some words I agree deserve wider use, like boondoggle (“work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value”) and rumpus (a noisy, confused or disruptive commotion).
Yet, as with 2018, I find most of the words that made the 2019 list are more likely to cause confusion than enrich our language:
- Anhedonia: Inability to feel pleasure.
- Coadunation: The union (as of dissimilar substances) in one body or mass.
- Fubsy: Fat and squat.
- Lickpenny: Something that uses up money.
- Salubrious: Health-giving; healthy.
- Slonk: To swallow greedily.
- Trenchant: Vigorous or incisive in expression or style.
A couple are precise and fitting words, but will still need some explanation even if you’re writing for word nerds:
- Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but no one is listening.
- Logorrhea: Excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness.
The one word that probably doesn’t need more explanation (and the lone one on the list I’ve ever used) is this:
- Slugabed: A lazy person who stays in bed late.
Well, nice try, Word Warriors. I’m not sure how much traction this list will get, at least among people who want their writing understood. What do you think?
Like the idea of resurrecting uncommon words? You can check out the full list (including my own suggestion of “convivial”) or nominate words. No slang, jargon, offensive, truly obscure or recently invented words, nor words in fairly common use. Don’t forget the definition.
Image by analogicus and Pixabay.