rare words

Chowter

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Chow’ter, v. to grumble like a child or frog.

Word in the Wild: Amitav chowtered at his roommate after she accidentally put his 2014 tax slips through the shredder.

This fun word is obsolete, but let’s not let that stop us from using it anyway. Its etymology is unknown, though chowter is similar to chowre, and chowre may come from the word jower, and both of those words mean much the same thing as chowter. Enlightening, no?

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Babery

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Ba’bery, n. playthings for a child.

Word in the Wild: Receiving nothing but blank looks from her nephews after she asked them to clear the living room of their babery and detritus, Celine tried again: “For pity’s sake, clean up your toys and junk!”

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Apocrustic

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Apocrust’ic, a. having a repelling power; astringent.

Word in the Wild: If you’re planning to make your own dandelion wine, do be sure the blossoms you pick haven’t been sprayed with pesticides, which will result in an unfortunately apocrustic vintage. Oh, and a poisonous one, too.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Zeticula

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Zetic’ula, n. a small private room.

Word in the Wild: After sharing a room with her sister for the past 8 years, Annicka needed a place of her own to gather her thoughts and hide her diary. She claimed the front-hall closet for her zeticula and begged her dad to find somewhere else to put the mound of coats she’d left in the hallway.

The provenance of this one has me stumped. This word doesn’t appear in the OED and it isn’t in Merriam-Webster, either. I wonder if it’s at all related to zetetic—after all, it seems as if a zeticula would make good surroundings for a zetetic conducting important research.

Can anyone out there hazard a guess at where this word comes from? I’d love to know.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Writative

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Writ’ative, a. inclined to write as an author.

Word in the Wild: Vicki used pencils to put up her hair so that she could write at any time whatsoever. She wrote while riding the bus, wrote in her dreams, wrote her own vows, and wrote with the alphabet noodles in her soup. She once tried to go a whole day without writing but inadvertently wrote a journal entry about how hard it was. Vicki is, hands down, the most writative person I’ve ever met.

The OED‘s definition of writative stresses that a writative person doesn’t simply write a lot, but is actually addicted to writing, impelled to put words to paper. I think this is an addiction well worth pursuing.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Viatic

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Via’tic, a. relating to travelling.

Word in the Wild: She’d always been powerless to resist the lure of the faraway. First it was leaving the neighbourhood on her own, then it was biking to the next town over, and now it was the viatic call of a investigative journalism. She just couldn’t hold still.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Ubication

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Ubica’tion, n. relation as to place; whereness

Word in the Wild: Ilya often had trouble determining his own ubication, which is why three of his birthday gifts turned out to be compasses. The fourth was a GPS.

This word has wandered over to English from the modern Latin ubicātio, meaning in “a determinate place.” The root ubi means “place, position or location,” and if you add to it a que, making it ubīque, it suddenly means “everywhere,” which is how we get the word ubiquitous.


You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Salsuginous

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Salsu’ginous, a. a little saltish.

Word in the Wild: I’d really like to recommend that new restaurant on the corner since the owners are so friendly, but everything I’ve eaten there is so salsuginous I just can’t.

The above meaning of salsuginous is obsolete (and even at its height it was generally used to refer to something brackish), but that’s a shame considering how much extra salt is hanging out in food these days. So let’s run amok and start using it as The Vest-Pocket Dictionary suggests—for anything that’s a bit on the saltish side! I’ll start: “Mmm… I sure could go for some delicious salsuginous potato chips about now.”

The OED shows that this word is still, rarely, in use, but only in one particular botanical context: it’s used to describe plants that grow in soil saturated with salt water.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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Quodlibet

by Heather

Vest-Pocket Vocabulary

Quod’libet, n. a nice point for discussion.

Word in the Wild: Their discussion came to a standstill after Monique’s shocking confession, and the party goers looked desperately about for someone to save them from the conversational vacuum that followed. Lucky for them, Punam was in attendance and saved them all by tossing out a fascinating quodlibet.

The word quodlibet comes from Latin and means “whatever you please.” (Quod = what and libet = it pleases.)

And while The Vest-Pocket Dictionary gives us this colloquial use of the term quodlibet, the OED defines it as a specifically academic excercise wherein a student must answer any question an audience member wishes to ask about a particular field of study (which sounds a lot like a modern-day comprehensive exam).

Interestingly, the meaning of this word changes altogether should you add an s: according to The Vest-Pocket Dictionary a quodlibets is a confused or disconnected collection. And according to the OED a quodlibet (without the s) can also be a quibbling point of argument or a musical composition containing more than one melody.

You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.

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