The passages of time can render anything obsolete, even these English words which are so delightful I say they deserve to be revived.

#1 Apricity (n.)

Meaning: The warmth of the sun in winter.
Origin: Derived from the Latin apricus which means exposed to the sun. It is not to be confused with apricate which comes from the same root word and means to bask in the sun.
Apricity embraced me in the cool afternoon air.

#2 Bedswerver (n.)

Meaning: An unfaithful spouse.
bed +‎ swerver, said to have been coined by Shakespeare.
I’ve heard he’s a bit of a bedswerver.

#3 Bouffage (n.)

Meaning: An enjoyable or satisfying meal.
Origin: Derived from the Old French bouffage which was defined in a 1611 French-English dictionary as ‘cheek-puffing meat’.
Usage: Susy always cooks up a bouffage.

#4 Callipygian (adj.)

Meaning: Of, pertaining to, or having well-shaped, beautiful or finely developed buttocks.
Origin: From the Ancient Greek kallípugos. Kalli meaning beautiful and pugḗ meaning buttocks.
Usage: Society is obsessed with the quest for the callipygian ideal.

#5 Deliciate (v.)

Meaning: To delight one’s self; to indulge in feasting; to revel.
Origin: Unknown
Usage: I so love to deliciate in chocolate.

 #6 Elflock (n.)

Meaning: A tangled lock of hair, as if matted by elves, hence, in the plural elflocks, it means hair in unusual disorder.
Origin: 1500’s England from elf + lock. Attested in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Mercutio’s speech of the many exploits of Queen Mab and is referenced again in King Lear.
Usage: I like this example from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre:

 “It looked all brown and black: elf-locks bristled out from beneath a white band which passed under her chin, and came half over her cheeks, or rather jaws: her eye confronted me at once, with a bold and direct gaze.” 

#7 Grinagog (n.)

Meaning: One who is always grinning.
Origin: Old English
 Raffaele is such a grinagog.

#8 Gorgonise

Meaning: to affect as a Gorgon; hypnotize; petrify.
Origin: From Gorgon. These were three sister monsters of classical mythology commonly represented as having snakes for hair, wings, brazen claws, and eyes that turned anyone looking into them to stone. Medusa, the most famous and only mortal Gorgon, was beheaded by Perseus.
She has him gorgonised.

#9 Groak (v.)

Meaning: To silently watch someone while they are eating in the hopes of being invited to join them.
Origin: Unknown
Usage: I wish Brielle would stop groaking at me.

#10 Jargogle (v.)

Meaning: To confuse, jumble, bamboozle.
John Locke used the word in a 1692 publication.
Usage: Locke wrote:

“I fear, that the jumbling of those good and plausible Words in your Head..might a little jargogle your Thoughts, and lead you hoodwink’d the round of your own beaten Circle.”

#11 Lunting

Meaning: To walk whilst smoking a pipe.
Origin: Believed to be either from the Dutch word lont meaning a slow match or fuse or possibly the Middle Low German lonte meaning a wick.
Usage: I’m going out lunting!

#12 Monsterful (v.)

Meaning: Something extraordinary or unnatural; an amazing event or occurrence; a prodigy, a marvel.
Origin: 1810s England.
Usage: That concert was monsterful.

#13 Pussyvan (n.)

Meaning: A flurry, temper or a tantrum
Origin: From the 15th century noun pussivanting which means an ineffective bustle.
As in: Every time we miss a deadline he works himself into a pussyvan.

#14 Scurryfunge (v.)

Meaning: A hasty tidying of the house between the time you see company arriving and the moment they knock on the door.
Origin: Old English
Usage: I have to scurryfunge when I see my neighbour on their way over.

 #15 Slubberdegullion (n.)

Meaning: A slovenly, slobbering person.
Origin: 1650s England
Usage: What a good for nothing sluberdegullion! 

#16 Snoutfair

Meaning: A person with a handsome countenance
Origin: 16th century English. Is a compound word of snout and fair.
Usage: John Snow is an absolute snoutfair.

 #17 Snow-broth (n.)

Meaning: Freshly melted snow.
Origin: 1590’s England
Usage: Yesterday the world was covered in a white carpet but now it is just snowbroth.

#18 Twattle

Meaning: To gossip, or talk idly.
Origin: 1600s England
Usage: I can’t wait to catch up with my friends for a good twattle. 

#19 Twitterlight (n.)

Meaning: Was used as an alternative to twilight which is defined as the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the reflection of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere:
Origin: 1600’s England
Usage: We took a pleasant walk in the woods at twitterlight.

#20 Vinipote (n.)

Meaning: A wine drinker (or a wine bibber)
Origin: 1600’s England
Usage: What’s wrong with being a vinipote?

If you’re interested in having more adventures with language and etymology then check out Helen Zaltzman’s podcast, The Allusionist 

What are your favourite obsolete words? Do you think they deserve to be revived? Let me know in the comments.

Krystina Pecorari-McBride

Krystina Pecorari-McBride

Krystina is a writer, lawn flamingo enthusiast & founder of Writing Journey Co. She would love to fall headfirst into a book and live there. Or down the rabbit hole...

Leave a Reply