Language is an evolving force, and lexicographers have a damn hard job keeping track of the nuances and trends of our words. By definition, a word gets into the dictionary by being used (irony not intended). The average person probably collects less than 0.1% of the million plus available words, even excluding archaic and outdated ones. The problem is—what do you do with so many, and where do you start?
Try diving in where the nonsense begins and then work your way towards sense, as Lewis Carroll might say. You could spend a day at the local library with the gigantic dictionary on the wooden pedestal that few people use, flicking through those delicate pages in search of some obscure gem. Or, if you don’t fancy a trip outside, online dictionaries also have some pretty outrageous “word of the day” selections, gratuitously presented below.
- galumph: to move in a clumsy, ponderous, or noisy manner.
- snickersnee: a large, sword-like knife.
- tintinnabulation: the ringing or sounding of bells.
- tommyrot: nonsense, rubbish.
- blarney: talk that aims to charm, pleasantly flatter, or persuade; amusing and harmless nonsense.
- well-nigh: almost.
- panjandrum: a powerful personage or pretentious official.
- rigmarole: a confused, rambling talk or story.
- jackanapes: a monkey/ape; a mischievous child.
Adopt a word today! We often nudge toward popular words (think SAT vocabulary, everyday slang, etc.) because we want to be understood—that is, after all, the objective of language, to communicate. Yet we mustn’t forget those rarer words, the ones that fade into print after leaving the realm of verbal talk, the ones that make us furrow our brows and chuckle and smile.
P.S. Apologies to those who are subscribed via email: I may have gotten too excited about sporks and accidentally pressed the “publish” button instead of “draft.”