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Words That We Should Use Again

by Cendrine Marrouat 25 days ago in list · updated 23 days ago
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You'll love the 11 words in this list!

Photo credit: Cendrine Marrouat -

I started reading classic literature in English in high school. That year, most of the students in my class gave the teacher we had a very hard time; they had no interest in learning anything. So, when I approached him to discuss my dream of becoming an English major, he was ecstatic. He gave me a box full of books from classic authors, so I could prepare myself for my first year at university.

(Even though I have forgotten this teacher’s name, I am still very grateful for his support. Not only was he a very kind person, but he is also one of the few people who believed in my abilities to do well in English.)

In the 25 years since my graduating high school, I have read thousands of books in English and learnt many archaic and fascinating words. Today, I'd like to share 11 of them with you.

1. Apricate

Apricate is such a rare term that my etymological dictionaries do not even mention it. Why would I choose it then? Because I love its meaning!

Apricate comes from the Latin apricus (‘full of sunlight’, ‘sunny’, ‘warmed by the sun’), which in turn is derived from the Latin verb aperiō (‘to open, uncover’). It simply means ‘to bask in the sun’.

The Dictionary of Early English, compiled by Joseph T. Shipley, gives more details about the verb. Apparently, it was first used officially in the 1690s.

Related terms include apricity (‘the warmth of the sun in winter’) and aprication (‘the act of basking in the sun’). Beautiful, isn’t it?

Do you like apricating? I know I do, especially in the fall.

2. Aretaloger

Aretaloger was mainly used during the early- to mid-17th century. It is now considered a lost word.

Aretaloger has Latin roots: aretālogōs, an inflection of aretālogus (‘boaster’, ‘prattler’). The suffix -er stands for ‘someone who performs an action’.

An aretaloger (also aretalogon) is a braggart, a person who boasts about his or her own accomplishments or virtues.

I feel that the word is appropriate for our times. Social media offers a perfect stage for the aretalogers of the world. What do you think?

3. Bedward

Bedward or bedwards means exactly what you think it means: “Towards / heading for bed” or “towards bedtime”. The word comes from Middle English.

What time to you usually go bedward?

4. Cosmogyral

Cosmogyral stands for ‘whirling / traveling around the universe’. The word started being used in the 19th century and continues its journey to this day. It is even mentioned in the Urban Dictionary!

My research into etymology has not yielded any results. However, the definition makes it easy to figure out. Cosmogyral can be divided into three parts:

- ‘Cosmos’ from the Latinized form of Ancient Greek kósmos, meaning ‘world, universe, order’.

- ‘Gyre’ from Latin gyrus (‘circle, circular course’) and Greek gyros (‘circular motion’).

- ‘-al’ (‘of, like, related to, pertaining to’ or ‘act of _ing’). This suffix is used in English to create: nouns of actions from verbs; and adjectives from nouns or other adjectives.

Example of use:

She..whirls forth her globe in cosmogyral course.

(Source: A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles: Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by the Philological Society, Volume 2, Part 2)

5. Curglaff

When I came across this word a few days ago, I tried to guess the meaning without looking at the definition. It was intriguing because it looked Scottish. There seems to be no Latin or Greek involved.

I was right! Curglaff is a dialectal word from Scotland meaning “the shock felt when one first plunges into cold water.” It was used in the 1800s.

Etmologically speaking, Curglaff can be divided into two parts:

- "cur", an intensifying prefix; and

- “gloff” (variant spelling of “gliff”), which stands for ‘surprise’, ‘startle’, or ‘fright’.

So, now I have a word to express how I feel when I turn on my shower!

6. Erewhile

According to Merriam-Webster, erewhile (or erewhiles) means: "A while before, formerly." Its first known use was in the 13th century.

Erewhile comes form Middle English from ere (‘before’) and while.

Examples of use:


What, can you do me greater harm than hate?

Hate me? Wherefore? O me! What news, my love?

Am not I Hermia? Are not you Lysander?

I am as fair now as I was erewhile.

(Source: William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Act 3, Scene 2)

I, WHO erewhile the happy Garden sung

By one man’s disobedience lost, now sing

Recovered Paradise to all mankind

(Source: John Milton, Paradise Regained)

7. Erstwhile

Erstwhile stands for ‘in the past, formerly’ (when used as an adverb) and ‘former, previous’ (when used as an adjective). It dates back to the 16th century.

Etymologically speaking, erstwhile originates from Old English (“ærest” (‘soonest, earliest’) + “hwil”) and can be divided into two parts: “erst” (‘at first, once, long ago’) / “while”.

8. Expergefaction

If you have never heard this word before but like etymology, you have probably guessed that expergefaction has Latin origins.

Deriving from “expergisci” (‘to become awake’) and “facere” (‘to make or do’), expergefaction was originally used in the 17th century. It stands for ‘an awakening’ or ‘the state of being awakened / conscious’.

Expergefaction is not fun for most of us, especially when expergefactors like alarm clocks are involved!

9. Jargogle

The verb jargogle means ‘To confuse, jumble, mix things up’. I was not able to find any etymological information, but I read that its originator seems to be John Locke in the 17th century.

10. Pannikin

A pannikin is a small drinking cup or pan made of metal. Its first recorded use was in the 19th century. The word derives from “pan” + “-kin” (‘resemblance or likeness to’ / ‘having qualities of or belonging to a particular kind’).

If you like the way the word sounds, you will enjoy saying pannikinful (‘the quantity a pannikin will hold’) out loud even more!

11. Slimikin

Slimikin is used both as an adjective (‘small and slender’ / ‘gracefully thin’) and as a noun (‘a slender person’), and dates back to the 18th century.

An extended adjectival form of “slimness,” the word derives from Low German “slim” (‘slender’); and diminutive suffix “-ikin” (‘little’).

Example of use:

You know I am a little slimikin thing, not unlike a perch or an eel, both which they like, and might easily mistake and pick my bones in a moment; so I chous to stay and be broyled at Fulham.

(Source: The Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany)

I like this word a lot! For some reason, it feels and sounds very Lord of the Ring-ish. What do you think?

By the way, do you know that the adjective “slim” was also occasionally used to mean “sly /cunning /crafty” in the 17th century?

Do you feel jargogled by today’s list? If not, what is your favorite word?

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts about this poem with me on Twitter. I'm @haiku_shack.

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About the author

Cendrine Marrouat

Artist⎜Multi-genre Author⎜Co-founder of Auroras & Blossoms / PoArtMo⎜(Co-)creator: flashku / kindku / pareiku / reminigram / sixku / vardhaku⎜Podcaster


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