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The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten by Jeffrey Kacirk

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The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten

by Jeffrey Kacirk 3.83  ·  Rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  33 reviews ENTER A GALLERY OF WIT AND WHIMSY
As the largest and most dynamic collection of words ever assembled, the English language continues to expand. But as hundreds of new words are added annually, older ones are sacrificed. Now from the author of Forgotten English comes a collection of fascinating archaic words and phrases, providing an enticing glimpse into the past. With be ENTER A GALLERY OF WIT AND WHIMSY
As the largest and most dynamic collection of words ever assembled, the English language continues to expand. But as hundreds of new words are added annually, older ones are sacrificed. Now from the author of Forgotten English comes a collection of fascinating archaic words and phrases, providing an enticing glimpse into the past. With beguiling period illustrations, The Word Museum offers up the marvelous oddities and peculiar enchantments of old and unusual words. ...more

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Paperback, 234 pages Published September 7th 2000 by Touchstone More Details... Original Title The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten ISBN 0684857618 (ISBN13: 9780684857619) Edition Language English Other Editions (8) All Editions | Add a New Edition | Combine ...Less Detail Edit Details

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Showing 1-30 3.83  ·  Rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  33 reviews
More filters  |  Sort order Jan 22, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it it was amazing Shelves: christmas-2015, 2015 The Word Museum is a collection of words that have gone into disuse. Some of these words are absolutely marvellous. Rather than quote the entire book, I've selected a word for each letter of the alphabet.

abracadabrant - marvellous or stunning
barley-child - a child born in wedlock but in the first six months of marriage
chaser - a ram that has only one testicle
deosculation - kissing
extranean - an outsider
flamfoo - a gaudily dressed female
gallywow - a man destitute of power of begetting children
hag The Word Museum is a collection of words that have gone into disuse. Some of these words are absolutely marvellous. Rather than quote the entire book, I've selected a word for each letter of the alphabet.

abracadabrant - marvellous or stunning
barley-child - a child born in wedlock but in the first six months of marriage
chaser - a ram that has only one testicle
deosculation - kissing
extranean - an outsider
flamfoo - a gaudily dressed female
gallywow - a man destitute of power of begetting children
haggersnash - a spiteful person
infradig - below or beneath one's dignity
jannocks - fairness
kiddliwink - a small shop
leachcraft - the art of medicine or surgery
mastigophorer - a fellow worthy of being whipped
nicknackitarian - a dealer of curiosities
ogerhunch - any frightful or loathsome creature
papmeat - milk for babies
quignogs - ridiculous notions or conceits
repurple - to make purple again
sand-knocker - a man who grinds sandstone into grit
teaty-wad - a small portion of moist sugar tied up in a rag of linen of the shape and size of a woman's nipple
umstroke - the edge of a circle
vorago - gulf
walapang - to disguise oneself in order to commit theft
xanthodont - having yellow teeth
yesterfang - that which was taken, captured, or caught on the previous day
zythepsary - a brew house ...more flag 67 likes · Like  · see review View all 24 comments Jan 16, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing Glory of glories! A book about dead words! HUZZAH!

Some English words are no longer used. Jeffrey Kacirk poured through old dictionaries and found some gems. Let's go already!!! --->>>

Roozles: Wretchedness of mind; the "miserables".

Quanked: Overpowered by fatigue.

Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news; a gossip-monger; what we today would call a columnist.

Beblubbered: Swollen.

Puke-stocking: "Wilt thou rob this…puke-stocking [knave]?" 1 Henry IV Here, puke-stocking probably m Glory of glories! A book about dead words! HUZZAH!

Some English words are no longer used. Jeffrey Kacirk poured through old dictionaries and found some gems. Let's go already!!! --->>>

Roozles: Wretchedness of mind; the "miserables".

Quanked: Overpowered by fatigue.

Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news; a gossip-monger; what we today would call a columnist.

Beblubbered: Swollen.

Puke-stocking: "Wilt thou rob this…puke-stocking [knave]?" 1 Henry IV Here, puke-stocking probably means dark-coloured, perhaps equivalent to puce. That it describes the material of the stocking or hose is less likely.


A few of the words have died, but been reborn…or maybe I mean reincarnated. Have a look...

Spooning: Spooning, in rowing, is dipping the oars so little in the water as merely to skim the surface.

All sorts: A slang term designating the drippings of glasses in saloons, collected and sold at half-price to drinkers who are not overly particular.


Some words could use a more detailed or clearer definition:

Special-bastard: A child born of parents before marriage, the parties afterwards intermarrying.

Spoops: At Harvard College, a weak, silly fellow, or one who is disliked on account of his foolish actions is called spoops, or spoopsy.

Biggening: Uprising of women. SEE Crying-cheese.

All righty…

Crying-cheese: Cheese given to neighbors and visitors on the occasion of the birth of a child.

…and that helped clear up biggening how?


Whereas some words mean just what you suspect (E.G. Egg-wife-trott: An easy jog, such a speed as farmers' wives carry their eggs to the market.), others do NOT (E.G. Babyshed: Deceived by childish tales. [I was sure it meant a place where babies were kept.]


The Word Museum is…scrumtrulescent! A must-read for wordies!


Rating Note: This is a ridiculous 5 stars. This book is not perfect. It's not even great. But it's just right for me, because I like words.


Here's a crusty old video I just re-uploaded for this review. It's of me reading and reenacting some of the words within this book. [www.youtube.com]

...more flag 30 likes · Like  · see review View all 23 comments Apr 23, 2019 Annie rated it it was amazing Essentially, this book is a dictionary enumerating some unusual and antiquated words. Some, like “aquabob” (an icicle) or “belpharon” (a guy with great eyebrows), we could use today. Others, like “chamber-lye” (fermented urine used for cleaning purposes) no longer have any application.

Some words are funny or lewd (like “fishfag,” which is like a shrew wife, or “green gown,” which is when your clothes get grass-stained from rolling in the hay with your lover), while others are pure poetry (like “ Essentially, this book is a dictionary enumerating some unusual and antiquated words. Some, like “aquabob” (an icicle) or “belpharon” (a guy with great eyebrows), we could use today. Others, like “chamber-lye” (fermented urine used for cleaning purposes) no longer have any application.

Some words are funny or lewd (like “fishfag,” which is like a shrew wife, or “green gown,” which is when your clothes get grass-stained from rolling in the hay with your lover), while others are pure poetry (like “chryme,” the mournful sound made by birds, especially when they’re collected together before a storm).

There’s no plot, so rather than a standard review, I’ll just give you some of my favourites.

Abracadabrant: marvelous or stunning
Accubitus: lying together in the same bed, but without any sex
Antipodes: people who lie on the other side of the earth, with their feet directly against ours
Aquabob: an icicle
Babies-in-the-eyes: miniature reflection of yourself when you look into another’s pupils. Poets talk about lovers searching for them in each others’ eyes.
Barley-child: when a child is born in wedlock but conceived before marriage. Alludes to the time that elapses between barley sowing and barley harvest.
Bedswerver: adulteress, one who “swerves” from the fidelity of the marriage bed
Biggening: uprising of women
Belpharon: he that hath great eyebrows
Burdalone: last surviving child in a family—the “bird alone” or “lonely bird”
Carry-castle: Elizabethan term for an elephant
Cataglottism: thrusting of the tongue while kissing
Chimble: to gnaw like a mouse or rat
Chryme: the mournful sound made by birds, especially when collected together before a storm
Crapulous: when you’ve overeaten or gotten too drunk
Croodle: to snuggle, as a young animal snuggles against its mother
Dansey-headed: giddy, thoughtless (as in, a person growing giddy and lightheaded from dancing)
Day-spring: the dawn
Deosculation: the act of kissing
Doattee: the act of nodding when you get sleepy while sitting up (“noticeable in church”)
Enthasy: a soft, quiet passage out of this world (dying peacefully)
Exlex: an outlaw; from Latin ex (out), and lex (law)
Eye-waiter: employee who performs his duties diligently only while the boss is watching
Fillemot: the colour of a faded or dead leaf
Fleshquake: tremor of the body
Glox: sound of liquids when shaken in a container
Green gown: “a roll in the hay” essentially. When you get your clothes all grass-stained from hooking up in the fields.
Grimgribber: a lawyer. Also used like “legalese.”
Haspenald: a tall youth, betwixt a man and boy, who has shot up like an aspen (“ald” is a diminutive)
Heart’s attorney: the tongue
Hurrion: a slut. So-called because they “hurry things on”
Mawmsey: sleepy or stupid, as from want of rest or over-drinking
Minnie: a grandmother
Minnock: a favorite daring, or person who is the object of one’s affection
Mirknight: the darkest hour of night
Mollynogging: frequenting the company of immoral women
Nerled: ill-treated, as by a step-mother
Nicknackitarian: a dealer in curiosities
Nightfoundered: distressed because you’re lost at night time
Nighttripping: going lightly in the night
Pannade: the prancings of spirited horses
Peccable: liable to sin
Pixilated: led astray, as if by pixies; confused, bewildered, intoxicated
Pornocracy: the rule of prostitutes
Prinkle: a tingling sensation (“my ankle prinkled when I stood up”)
Prunk: proud, vain, saucy
Quackle: to choke, interrupt breathing (originated from the noise your throat makes when you’re getting choked)
Quanked: overcome with fatigue
Queachy: shaking, quivering
Quidnunc: an inquisitive or nosy person
Quother: talk in a low and confidential tone
Repurple: to make purple again. (This reminds me of a word I read in Paradise Lost: “impurpled”
Rudesby: a rude person
Ruly: obedient (today we use the “unruly” often; “ruly,” though, not so much)
Ruth: pity, compassion (same as above: we see “ruthless” far more often)
Snirtle: to try to suppress one’s laughter
Snow-bones: patches of snow seen stretching along ridges, in ruts, or in furrows after a thaw
Snow-broth: snow melted and trodden into slush
Somewhen: at some time or other
Soul-case: the body (this reminds me of the modern “meatsuit” expression)
Traveltainted: fatigued with travel
Trilemma: a choice between 3 alternatives
Trinkle: eavesdrop
Twychild: an elderly man or woman (i.e. “in their second childhood)
Unsoulclogged: not weighed down in spirit
Waspish: peevish, irritable (I’m pretty sure JK Rowling has used this word)
Whelm: to overturn, upset, push over
Witworm: one who feeds on or likes wit
Wordify: to put into words
Wuther: an onomatopoeic word to signify the rustling of the wind among branches
Xanthodont: having yellow teeth, like a rodent ...more flag 4 likes · Like  · see review View 1 comment Oct 19, 2015 Margaret rated it did not like it Shelves: 2015-challenge, words-words-words Didn't enjoy.

As I knew many of the words as they are STILL IN USE IN MY VOCABULARY I found it hard to consider the words "forgotten".

I think the book would have benefited from more research, more explanation of word derivation, and detailed reasoning as to why the words were chosen. Would have made for a longer book and probably a more interesting one. flag 2 likes · Like  · see review Sep 09, 2011 Bagtree rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction Probably not meant to be read cover-to-cover, but I did anyway. By my rough estimate, the words included are:
50% alcohol
25% bizarre forms of divination
12.5% hunting
12.5% prostitutes
95% excellent names for bands flag 2 likes · Like  · see review Jul 06, 2018 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition Shelves: z-format-book, cultural-tongue This is one of those types of books that I enjoy getting lost in since the words are so archaic yet interesting. It makes it seem when you open books like this that even though this is how the world was seen that it must have been thousands of years before your language became what it was from what you are reading.

As a result I noticed that there was a heavy amount of words that described women mostly in the negative. And if it wasn't women it was normally about some illegitimate child or a ch This is one of those types of books that I enjoy getting lost in since the words are so archaic yet interesting. It makes it seem when you open books like this that even though this is how the world was seen that it must have been thousands of years before your language became what it was from what you are reading.

As a result I noticed that there was a heavy amount of words that described women mostly in the negative. And if it wasn't women it was normally about some illegitimate child or a child with some questionable heritage such as preemies (although technically they could just have had early starting parents also).

At the same time you get a wonderful wedge and selection that captures what some parts of life was like for the ancestors that spoke this type of English. Which is the reason why I am not offended by its blatant discrimination as some other would be.

The author did a great job of finding interesting words and then making a dictionary format for them. As such they are organized in alphabet then given a definition, which sometimes spills into sayings that include the mentioned word. At the end and in italics are some other similar used words that are mostly found in the book although one or two couldn't be found at least by me.

There are a few illustrations, some of which weren't on the same page as the actual word they were captioned for. The illustrations were black-and-white although strangely weird enough that they were a bit creepy to me. One at least had to come from some variation of Aesop and one from the Alice in Wonderland books.

This was definitely one of those books that I did enjoy while those who are into linguistics and/or cultural history would probably enjoy it at least once as well. ...more flag 1 like · Like  · see review Aug 03, 2012 GoldGato rated it really liked it Shelves: reference, year-round, language Jeoparty-trot. I finally have the name for the half-run my poor legs undertake when I'm dreaming. For that knowledge alone, I truly enjoyed this book. It's full of English words that seemed to have been prevalent in various British villages since medieval times, until the rapid progress of 20th century Americanisms wiped out such eccentric language.

Ramfeezled...'I am absolutely ramfeezled at work. They're giving me too many accounts to handle.'

Knevel...'His knevel is so manly. I wonder if he bru Jeoparty-trot. I finally have the name for the half-run my poor legs undertake when I'm dreaming. For that knowledge alone, I truly enjoyed this book. It's full of English words that seemed to have been prevalent in various British villages since medieval times, until the rapid progress of 20th century Americanisms wiped out such eccentric language.

Ramfeezled...'I am absolutely ramfeezled at work. They're giving me too many accounts to handle.'

Knevel...'His knevel is so manly. I wonder if he brushes and waxes it each day?'

Wrine...'She must be using Botox. That wrine is suddenly gone.'

I had great fun with all of the words, though a great lot of them seem to have originated in Gloucester. And that's my summation of Gloucester.

Book Season = Year Round (dazzle the professor in your life)
...more flag 1 like · Like  · see review Jan 09, 2018 Joanna rated it it was amazing If you love words, especially fun-sounding, old, weirdly-specific words, then this is a book right up your alley. From literally every form of strange divination (using a rooster, using mice, etc.) to the phrase that means to cough and fart at the same time, The Word Museum will puzzle you while making you laugh. You might find yourself even attempting to resurrect some of the more fun words (be mine, cowfyne?). flag Like  · see review Mar 13, 2018 Steven rated it it was amazing I love books about words and their history. This book carries the fine balance of those two likable elements. flag Like  · see review Feb 05, 2018 Starling Whistler rated it really liked it I will forever be grateful to this book for introducing me to the word "dendranthopology". flag Like  · see review Jan 15, 2009 Anna rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: word lovers Shelves: read-in-2009, library-book, reference Never take a drink of all sorts.

I admit it. I gave this book a 5-star rating because of the coolness factor, and because I'm a word geek.

Here are a few of the words that have been forgotten over the centuries:

Adam's ale: Water. From the supposition that Adam had nothing but water to drink.

all sorts: A slang term designating the drippings of glasses in saloons, collected and sold at half-price to drinkers who are not overly particular.

cat-Latin: Incoherent or idle talk.

maffle: To stammer; to stut Never take a drink of all sorts.

I admit it. I gave this book a 5-star rating because of the coolness factor, and because I'm a word geek.

Here are a few of the words that have been forgotten over the centuries:

Adam's ale: Water. From the supposition that Adam had nothing but water to drink.

all sorts: A slang term designating the drippings of glasses in saloons, collected and sold at half-price to drinkers who are not overly particular.

cat-Latin: Incoherent or idle talk.

maffle: To stammer; to stutter.

upknocking: The employment of the knocker up, who went house to house in the early morning hours of the nineteenth century to awaken his working-class clients before the advent of affordable alarm clocks.

Like the author, I had never thought about life pre-alarm clocks before reading this entry.

More than just a old-world dictionary, this book is a fascinating glimpse into life pre-20th century. ...more flag Like  · see review Apr 21, 2011 Mary rated it liked it Recommends it for: Any who loves words and the English language A very interesting book filled with words that have been forgotten. A couple of favorites would be:

Quidnunc (Bill O'Reilly words of the day for those of you who are Fox News Fans) - An inquisitive person, always seeking for news. The Latin words translated simply signify "What now?"

Quockerwodger - a wooden toy figure which, when pulled by a string, jerks its limbs about. The term is used in a slang sense to signify a pseudo-politician, one whose strings are pulled by somebody else. Sound familia A very interesting book filled with words that have been forgotten. A couple of favorites would be:

Quidnunc (Bill O'Reilly words of the day for those of you who are Fox News Fans) - An inquisitive person, always seeking for news. The Latin words translated simply signify "What now?"

Quockerwodger - a wooden toy figure which, when pulled by a string, jerks its limbs about. The term is used in a slang sense to signify a pseudo-politician, one whose strings are pulled by somebody else. Sound familiar, per chance Spooky Dude's favorite Left wing Progressive Politician? ...more flag Like  · see review Jan 03, 2017 Julia rated it liked it It wasn't as interesting as I hoped, mainly because of the repetition of different words used for "drunkards, lazy people, weak people, women, women who have sex, men/women who cheat, etc."
Still, a few of them were very entertaining and I wish we could bring them back:
"flesh tailor" - a surgeon
"vomitory" - a door of a large building by which the crod is let out
"tongue-fence" - debate, discussion, argument
"soul-case" - the body
"planet-ruler" - an strologer; a person who professed to tell fortunes It wasn't as interesting as I hoped, mainly because of the repetition of different words used for "drunkards, lazy people, weak people, women, women who have sex, men/women who cheat, etc."
Still, a few of them were very entertaining and I wish we could bring them back:
"flesh tailor" - a surgeon
"vomitory" - a door of a large building by which the crod is let out
"tongue-fence" - debate, discussion, argument
"soul-case" - the body
"planet-ruler" - an strologer; a person who professed to tell fortunes by the aid of the stars

They just sound so much cooler, no? ...more flag Like  · see review May 27, 2016 dejah_thoris rated it really liked it Shelves: science-fiction If you love collecting rare English words like I do then this is the book for you! I wrote down at least 60 new words that I'm going to try to bring back and I learned many more. WARNING: The book is basically a dictionary, so if reading words and their definitions even sounds boring, don't bother trying it. Each definition is a nice little etymological history within itself, so if you do love words there's LOTS to learn even if you choose a slower method of absorption, like reading a page or a If you love collecting rare English words like I do then this is the book for you! I wrote down at least 60 new words that I'm going to try to bring back and I learned many more. WARNING: The book is basically a dictionary, so if reading words and their definitions even sounds boring, don't bother trying it. Each definition is a nice little etymological history within itself, so if you do love words there's LOTS to learn even if you choose a slower method of absorption, like reading a page or a section a day. ...more flag Like  · see review Apr 12, 2010 Michaela rated it liked it Shelves: dictionaries Some of the words are lovely and amusing, but I do think "most remarkable" is a stretch. This collection has a handful of remarkable words, but there is a reason most of the words included are obsolete - the actions or nouns they refer to are also obsolete, referring to outmoded ways of life. It is more a history in the guise of a dictionary. That being said, there are a few gems in here, to be found with patience, and to be mourned for their absence in our modern lives. flag Like  · see review Oct 26, 2015 Fraser Sherman rated it liked it Shelves: nonfiction A fun book collecting a variety of oddball archaic words and terms (though some, such as "resurrectionist" for grave robber I wouldn't have thought that obscure). However I was annoyed that individual entries don't give any dates for when the word was in use, and I've read too many mythbusting discussions of language to take all the "this word was derived from ..." theories seriously. A fun browse, but not deep. flag Like  · see review Mar 03, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing These are all lost words that we no longer use, but they have incredibly bizzare meanings.
Some of my favorites:
abracadabrant: marvelous or stunning
feff: a bad smell or stench
hurple: to shrug against the cold flag Like  · see review Nov 24, 2008 Rebes rated it really liked it This was a gift that I read a bit at a time (I think I"m on "N" now) and it's just a lot of fun to read. Lots of goofy words and words for goofy things that thankfully we don't do as a culture anymore! flag Like  · see review Mar 30, 2013 Maria Catherino rated it liked it I wish the author would have gone more into depth about what these words (and their exclusion from the present day vernacular) say about society. He begins on these lines in the introduction before abandoning this line of thought entirely and simply piecing together a small dictionary. flag Like  · see review Sep 30, 2007 brian tanabe rated it really liked it Another great book for word lovers. flag Like  · see review Apr 21, 2009 Alaina rated it liked it A decent collection of archaic words. The author clearly cites his sources, which is nice, but sometimes I would have liked some scholarly interpretation.

My favorite: camelopardal. Look it up. flag Like  · see review Jun 17, 2010 G.M. Burrow rated it it was amazing Shelves: logophilia Some truly fun words in here. flag Like  · see review Jul 16, 2009 Sandy D. rated it it was amazing Shelves: history, non-fiction, books-about-books-words-writing, great-britain-ireland A fun book, perfect for browsing. My take on it is here. flag Like  · see review Jan 05, 2017 Seema Rao rated it really liked it Shelves: thought-provoking, nonfiction Kind of a nerdy beach book. You feel drunk on knowledge but then completely forget your knowledge when you close the cover. flag Like  · see review Apr 18, 2008 Heather the Hillbilly Banjo Queen rated it really liked it Here are some of my favorites: Flurch, as in a flurch of cheerios. Cark, to be fretfully anxious. Ninny-broth, a name for coffee. flag Like  · see review Aug 29, 2012 Storyheart rated it really liked it Fun way to learn new words like "pettilashery" "flamfoo" and "carfumish" flag Like  · see review Jan 31, 2013 Hannah rated it really liked it Fun! I'll enjoy reading it again. flag Like  · see review Jan 06, 2016 Annette McIntyre rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction, historic, folklore, literature A short book with lots of very interesting old English words. Some very weird, some that should be revivied and some I know very well as they are still used in New Zealand flag Like  · see review Jan 21, 2009 Douglas Wilson rated it really liked it Shelves: wordsmithing Fun. flag Like  · see review Apr 17, 2013 Joanne rated it liked it Fun to go through. My favorite is "aflunters" which is how my hair looks when I wake up. flag Like  · see review « previous 1 2 next »

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