Cool New Words for National Day on Writing

image descriptionToday, October 20th, is National Day on Writing, which follows World Dictionary Day that just passed on October 16th. As one who not only loves to write, but also believes strongly in the power of words (and actually enjoys reading dictionaries), I wanted to take a moment to honor language by sharing some long-forgotten and cool words from Webster’s nineteenth-century dictionary.

Noah Webster, the great American lexicographer, published his first dictionary in 1806. However, in 1828, at the age of 70, Webster released his American Dictionary of the English LanguageThe work defined 70,000 words – more than any dictionary in history – and nearly 17% of the words listed had never before been seen in a dictionary. Still today, Webster’s dictionary is recognized as the first comprehensive dictionary of American English, and one of the most important dictionaries in the history of the language.

Here are 26 interesting, unique, and obscure words from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, an A to Z of new vocabulary:

  • AFTER-WISE (adj): the feeling of knowing exactly what one should have said or done, after the opportunity to do so has passed
  • BABBLEMENT (n): senseless prattle; unmeaning words
  • CYCOPEDE (n): a term for the entire circle of human knowledge
  • DAGGLED (adj): dipped or trailed in mud or foul water; befouled
  • ELENCH (n): a vicious or fallacious argument that is apt to deceive under the appearance of truth; a sophism
  • FOPDOODLE (n): one who is insignificant
  • GLOZE (n): flattery; adulation
  • HORRISONOUS (adj): sounding dreadfully; uttering a terrible sound
  • ILLAQUEATION (n): the act of ensnaring; something that has been caught or entrapped
  • JACKPUDDING (n): one who jokes around and acts foolish to make other people laugh
  • KEECH (n): a mass or lump
  • LONGINQUITY (n): remoteness or isolation; any vast distance in space or time
  • MAFFLE (v): to stammer or stumble on your words
  • NUNCUPATORY (adj): something that exists in name only; relating to a verbal rather than written agreement
  • OBEQUIATE (v): to ride around on a horse
  • PACKTHREAD (n): the strong string or twine used to wrap parcels
  • QUADRIN (n): any tiny amount of something; an insignificant amount of cash
  • RAKESHAME (n): a vile, dissolute wretch of a person
  • SHEEP-BITE (v): to practice petty thefts
  • TARDIGRADOUS (adj): slow-paced; moving or stepping slowly
  • UPTRAIN (v): to educate or train
  • VERNATE (v): to become young again
  • WRANGLESOME (adj): quarrelsome; contentious
  • XEROPHAGY (n): the eating of dried meats such as beef jerky
  • YOKE-MATE (n): an associate or companion
  • ZUFFOLO (n): a little flute or flageolet, especially one used to teach birds

If you’re interested in learning some more words and reading about Webster, check out the online version of Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I’m going to challenge myself to start working these new words into my lexicon, and I challenge you to do the same!


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