Imagine it or not, groak is a verb that indicates “to stare at another’s food stuff in hopes that he or she will provide you some, in the way of canines and specified people we know.” But you won’t obtain groak in normal dictionaries.

The human passion and electric power to title anything is nowhere greater demonstrated than in our means to label virtually every little thing we face. By means of the wabe of our phrase-bethumped English language gyre and gimble extra than a million words and phrases, by much the most Brobdingnagian vocabulary in the background of humankind. These a prosperity of words and phrases produces a situation of inconspicuous non-consumption. Thousands of vibrant but no for a longer time vibrating English phrases lie unused in the arcane crannies of enormous or obscure dictionaries and close up buried in the bone yards of obsolescence. There are far more phrases, light reader, than are dreamt of in your philosophies.

You in all probability really don’t know that a one term can explain the rosy mild of dawn, the cooing of doves, the artwork of writing in the dark or (in the manner of Georges Simenon and Isaac Asimov) the act of constant composing, but individuals text — rosicler, roucoulement, scoteography and scriptitation — repose in archaic dictionaries.

Are you, like me, a water drinker and booze-shunner? Then you are, in a term, an aquabib. Do you, like Shaquille O’Neal and me, have substantial ft? You are in a different word, scipodous. Possibly Macbeth and his hen-pecking, buzzard-battering woman would have lived and ended their lives significantly less bloodily if they had recognised that they were equally dretched. You’d be dretched too if you endured from a star-crossed mixture of sanguinolency and illutibility.

Arcane text allow you to insult enemies with impunity. By creatively combining chosen labels of disparagement, you can manufacturer your nemesis a badot battologist, a foisonless cumber-ground, an illepid windlestraw, a furciferous zizany, a balatronic hoddypeak, a trichechine jollux, an infendiate volpone, a testudineous huderon, a scolecophagous stadafor, a drumbling gilly-gaupus or a scelestious, roinish, uliginous drazel.

Remembrance of words and phrases past also raises the art of the euphemism to its loftiest stratum. Which is not a double chin you sport, it is a choller. If you are fixated on the care and upkeep of your hair, you are not narcissistic you are, much more mysteriously and significantly less judgmentally, philocomal. If you have a mate who used to share your interests but for a longer period does, he or she evidences ageustia, the decline of the feeling of style. If your family are bugging you about your condition of singlehood, clarify that you are pleased to be agamous, and they might come to share your joy.

Then there is the crackling logophony of phrases, ear-rinsing text that tingle all over the tongue, ricochet off the enamel and palate and shoot from the mouth like a watermelon seed. Merge with the collide-o-scope of their sounds: Bogglish. Camstairy. Flambuginous. Impluvious. Infrendiate. Jirble. Kakistocracy. Rixation. Sardoodledom. Whistness. Winx. Zizany.

Belief me. It’s not inaniloquent morology and balbutiating galimatias driveling from my fingertips massaging the keyboard when I convey to you that there are lots of points and concepts in the universe that do have names, even however hardly any one is familiar with them. Noticed owls, snail darters and monarch butterflies are not the only treasures on our endangered record. Scores of our most vibrant and precise phrases are on the verge of extinction soon after generations of support. We have to attempt to preserve these charming and serviceable specimens of logodiversity. We can have archaic and try to eat it, much too.


Pricey RICHARD: As I try to remember from my early (really outdated) days, the only phrase in the English language with three pairs of two letters strung together is bookkeeper. Do you know of any many others? —John Zentmyer, Lakeside

Bookkeeper is in truth the only widespread English phrase with a few consecutive pairs of double letters. The assistant to the bookkeeper would be the subbookkeeper, a word with 4 consecutive double letters that, alas, does not exist. Bookkeeper also evokes me to fantasize about a biologist who maintains raccoon habitats: a raccoon nook keeper — 6 consecutive sets of double letters!

I also aspiration of yet another biologist who scientific tests the secretions inside of chickadee eggs. I contact this scientist a chickadee egg goo-ologist — and into the earth are born a few consecutive clusters of triple letters!