Dead words that want reviving

Here's Death and Taxes's collection of 18 obsolete words that would be handy (or at least funny) to use today, compiled by Carmel Lobello from a book called The Word Museum and a blog called Obsolete Word of the Day. Some of my favorites:

Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them –

Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news, a gossip monger, what we would today call a columnist — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram —

18 obsolete words, which never should have gone out of style


  1. Surely the world would be a better place if all instances of the word “blogger” were replaced by the word “spermologer”.

  2. resistentialism, a programmer’s new best word.
    i have noticed quite a bit of resistentialistic behaviour from my programs at time…and my compiler…and whatever the fuck makes segfaults!

  3.  Man, the sheer malevolence of inanimate objects, sometimes makes my blood boil.  I’ve always chalked up the mishaps (in the kitchen, where I work), to some corollary of Murphy’s Law.  But now I have restitentialism to blame things on.  Much better.

    1.  I’ve always been a little miffed that the term (whatever)-wright is considered obsolete.  Always wanted to be a wheelwright. Some of my jobs have included computerwright and foodwright. 

  4. Wait a minute,
    You can’t even hang on to your helping verbs, and you want to dig up a bunch of old adjectives?
    First things first.

  5.  I have a personal campaign to resurrect “rebound tumbler” which was the original name for a trampoline before “Trampoline” became a genericised trademark.

  6. “Won’t you be my wonder-wench? ” is going on next year’s Valentine’s card, assuming my memory works that long.

    For truly I am beef-witted.

  7. I think there is every chance of reviving “queerplunger” and “spermologer”, but probably not with their original meanings.

  8. The term ‘resistentialism’ was coined by the English humorist Paul Jennings, in his piece “Report on Resistentialism”, which introduces readers to the new philosophy of ‘resistentialism’ as proposed by the French philosopher Pierre-Marie Ventre. Any resemblance to the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre is, I am sure, entirely coincidental.

    You can find the complete text of Jennings’ “Report” online in various places:

  9. As long as peeps stop using ‘porn’ as an adjective to describe things that clearly don’t involve seedy sex acts then  I’ll be happy.

  10. May I share another source of such wonderful words? The poet Melissa Green dug a great number of toothsome examples out of her research into medieval culture, when working on her book-length sequence of poems dealing with Heloise’s life after Abelard; some appeared in an issue of The Charles River Journal when we published an excerpt from that work: 

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