Lost words of English that we should probably reclaim

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/22/lost-words-of-english-that-we.html


pieces of wood, matting, or similar material used to keep a cargo in position in a ship’s hold.
a person’s belongings, especially those brought on board ship.


I did not know that “Slugabed” was an archaic word. I’ve seen it in relatively recent fiction often enough.


I just flipped through the Google book, and now I will try to incorporate

I was just lying in a zwodder

when I’m talking about my sleepy state of mind just after I wake up.

Or maybe

Sorry, I was in a zwodder

when someone calls me out for not having paid attention to them.

It’s a nice word that describes itself.


>enjoy poetry
You realise that, although the Old English poetry is indeed astoundingly bad, worse things happen at sea, and in fact, at school. With an effort for which Hercules himself would have patted you on the back, you grit your teeth and enjoy the stuff.


Thanks, I’ll def look up this book. Language being history plus language plus social history I enjoy these lists, and descriptions of where and how these words originated, hoping of course they’re not being disconnected from their original context. Because once the context gets jangled around for a long enough time and in enough ways, you end up with things like “all intensive purposes”:


(Is it me, or do grammarians seem to be trying to make “eggcorn” happen? Blecko.)

My Mom used slugabed all the time, but then so did my grandmother. That one has always been a fresh one for me.


If you can see a pale glow in the east, it’s dawn, not the hour before it.

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They’re mostly great (not sure yet tho about lady star). But they missed one that I’d like to see and hear revived, a word for one’s sweetie: dowsabel.

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No “contrafibularity”?


The “false dawn” of zodaical light is v interesting; not much talked about now (light pollution? people not working outdoors as much?), but once part of common knowledge, and so you see it used metaphorically up through the 19th c.

And the word “dawn” itself is confusingly used in English as both “the beginning of sunrise” and “sunrise” itself:

So; not tosh, just English being English.


A few times I’ve heard older management here use the word “dunnage” in talks with the techs. I had to look it up. Flipside: I used “sundry” once in one of my emails to a supervisor here who later asked me what it was and pronounced it “sun dry”.

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Coolest one I’ve come across is windfucker. I refuse to look it up again in case I have misremembered it and in this lunatic world where ‘trump’ is anything other than a small boys sniggering word for crepitation I cannot cope with the potential disappointment. Old word for Kestrel or possibly one of the other small longwing raptors. IIRC it was in the OED. I liked it as an actual polite use of fucker.


I’m going to guess it was written with a big curly “f”.

Update: apparently there was an error, but a very old one, and the direction of the error is unclear.


We still talk about whitearses though.


ultracrepidarian: “Someone who gives opinions beyond their level of expertise”

You’d think that word would be having an exuberant renaissance, given that it basically describes everyone on the internet. (Like the one that “kakistocracy” has had.) I’m surprised “cockalorum” ever went into decline.

Yeah, I thought it was still in regular usage as well. Regional, maybe?

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uhtceare is a hapax legomenon (a term of which only one instance of use is recorded). At least prior to this publication. The internet is ruining all of them :frowning:

I think we should revive scutage for those unfortunate enough not to have bone-spurs.

You can still use bastard wing if you like.