Lost Words: the holiday edition

Looking to spice up your holiday vocabulary? Try out these gems from the Compendium of Lost Words, courtesy of one of my favorite language resources, The Phrontistery. Though these words exited everyday use centuries ago, they have a certain flair and specificity that more common words are simply unable to express.

For the wintry outdoors:

  • Albedineity (noun, in use 1652): Whiteness.

The albedineity of the snow-covered streets was soon disrupted by the grimy snow plow.

  • Gelicide (noun, in use 1656-1681): A frost.

Be careful walking down the front steps – we had an unexpected gelicide last night.

  • Stiricide (noun, in use 1656): Falling of icicles from a house.

The stiricide from the eaves to the sidewalk below caused a terrific crash, frightening the slumbering cat.

For awkward office parties:

  • Alabandical (adjective, in use 1656-1775): Barbarous; stupefied from drink.

After one too many eggnogs, the accountant’s behavior went from slightly silly to absolutely alabandical.

  • Boreism (noun, in use 1833-1839): Behavior of a boring person.

Trapped next to the punch bowl, the unfortunate intern was forced to endure the boreism of his manager, a devoted stamp collector.

  • Speustic (adjective, in use 1656-1658): Made or baked in haste.

Having forgotten the date of the office party, the harried secretary prepared a speustic cheese and cracker tray during her lunch break and hoped for the best.

Regarding Christmas goodies:

  • Tragematopolist (noun, in use 1656-1658): Confectioner, seller of sweets.

Between teacher gifts and stocking stuffers, tragematopolists do a brisk trade during the Christmas season.

  • Famelicose (adjective, in use 1730-1775): Often or very hungry.
  • Pamphagous (adjective, in use 1702): Eating everything; all-consuming.
  • Prandicle (noun, in use 1656-1658): Small meal.

To avoid being famelicose and approaching the potluck at the neighborhood Christmas party with a pamphagous appetite, I recommend consuming a prandicle before you leave the house.

At church:

  • Hymnicide (noun, in use 1862): Killing of hymns through alterations.

Some of the older members of the church considered the praise band’s rock adaptation of “Silent Night” to be blatant hymnicide.

  • Phalerate (adjective, in use from 1656-1702): Ornamented, decorated.

Thanks to the efforts of the congregation, the sanctuary was appropriately phalerate for the Christmas holiday.

Regarding Christmas cards:

  • Uglyography (noun, in use 1804-1834): Bad handwriting; poor spelling.

Those challenged with uglyography may want to have their Christmas cards professionally printed – and proofread.

What are your favorite words on this list? Are there other lost or unusual words you think would be fun to slip into your holiday vocabulary?

– Teresa Santoski


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