Compendium of lost words
August 16, 2003 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Compendium of lost words You may have been wondering what "triclavianism" means. You may have been disappointed when couldn't help. Look no further.
posted by adamrice (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've run across this site before, and I'm not sure why I don't find it more interesting than I do. I guess it just seems so arbitrary to select words that don't otherwise appear on the internet (as far as Google can discover). Also, it seems a little bizarre to give "example sentences" (and pretty banal ones at that; why not have some fun with them?) for words that may have been used only once in the seventeenth century. Better to give a quotation from the OED, especially if it's as lively as the one for "acrasial": "‘Acrasial Philogamy? Brother Edward, what is that?’ ‘That,’ replied Edward, ‘is an incurable malady to which young persons are subject.’" As the compiler himself says:
I do not pretend that reviving 'lost words' is ever likely to be successful... Moreover, many of the 'lost words' are really too obscure, or refer to concepts that are too obsolete, to be of much use for anyone. I also believe that the function of language is to be understood, and since these words are extraordinarily rare, to use them in conversation might be construed as pretentious or obfuscatory.
Since they're extremely unlikely either to be used or to be looked up, what's the point? I prefer his Word List of uncommon words in actual use ("Did you ever have an English teacher who told you 'Whenever you read something, and find a word you don't know, look it up in the dictionary and write it down'? Well, I took that advice to heart."); short definitions, no artificial examples, lots of fun. (Not that I mean to disparage your link, which is fun in its own right!)
posted by languagehat at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2003

wait, there are three of them???
posted by quonsar at 1:21 PM on August 16, 2003

wait, there are three of them???

wait, there are III of them???
posted by trondant at 1:57 PM on August 16, 2003

No, there were IV. Pay attention: "Pope Innocent III finally and infallibly determined, that four nails were used, and that the Roman soldier pierced the right side of Christ; a decision, which of course stamped the brand of heresy upon Triclavianism." –G. S. Faber, Inquiry (1838).
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on August 16, 2003

Well, at least the word niggardly is still hanging around.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:02 PM on August 16, 2003

racist bastard.

posted by quonsar at 4:03 PM on August 16, 2003

Fabulous post. Sites like this are infinitely more fun than Flash games. Thanks, adamrice.

Since they're extremely unlikely either to be used or to be looked up, what's the point?

*gasp* Surely your soul is not as kexy as that, languagehat. The sound of these great forgotten words - "nubivagant," "obrumpent," "speustic," "pregnatress," "locupletative" - is more than point enough.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 PM on August 16, 2003

Oh, absolutely—I didn't mean what's the point of bringing old and rare words to public attention, I meant what's the point of segregating a few hundred that happen not to be on the internet (until he puts them there) and adding sample sentences. Sorry if I was unclear. I'm no foppotee, and I'm famelicose for new words to play with!
posted by languagehat at 8:18 PM on August 16, 2003

You all are being way too pandelilofisal about this.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:27 PM on August 16, 2003

Well, I find the lost words of history fascinating. It's a good source of names for made-up things. Maybe I'll change my handle to veteratorian (adj: crafty)
posted by stbalbach at 10:30 PM on August 16, 2003

That site is both kempt, and ept.
posted by Pericles at 6:18 AM on August 17, 2003

Great site! Love it! Best post on Metafitler in a while
posted by ericdano at 1:28 PM on August 17, 2003

OT/ I went and tapped "triclavianism" into google just to see what I would get. I found this website. It's some kind of pastoral philosophy blog that speaks of issue as important as triclavianism. I mention this only in order to cut and paste this following quote, which for whatever reason I found unintentionally hilarious:

"Some have criticized my stance on triclavianism as being counterproductive, arguing that making a point of doctrinal contention over not making a point of doctrinal contention over adiaphora is itself non-salvific. However, my critics are overlooking the dangers of triclavianistic doctrines: allowing adiaphora to creep into our credenda -- while possibly pushing the theologoumenic envelope and providing exciting new opportunities for supererogative works -- will most often serve to muddy the soteriological foundation of Faith, leading in general to ultramontane excesses and, in extreme cases, ebaptization (which is unacceptable pastoral malpractice, however rare it may be.) Doctrinal integrity, and hence salvific effectiveness, is best served by working to end triclavianism and similar erroneous, or simply adiaphoric, doctrines."
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:44 PM on August 17, 2003

posted by pemulis at 5:11 PM on August 17, 2003

elwoodwiles: You've been pranked. That's a Landover Baptist site. (You didn't really think today's pastors, however pious, were concerned about triclavianism, did you?) However, I think somebody should let the Compendium fellow know that it's time to take the word off the Lost Words page.
posted by languagehat at 5:24 PM on August 17, 2003

i remember as if it were yestereve the night i crept into adiaphora's credenda...
posted by quonsar at 5:56 PM on August 17, 2003

Ahh, Ed mentions the Book of the New Sun, the place where dead words were reborn (Infinite Jest has some pretty obscure terminology, but Book of the New Sun goes much farther).

Anyone out there ever read The Castle of the Otter? This was Wolfe's behind-the-scenes look at the writing of BotNS, in which he explains much of his obscure vocabulary, his relationship with his editor, and the dynamics of cavalry battle.

Another pick for lovers of lost lingo: Mrs Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words.
posted by adamrice at 7:48 AM on August 18, 2003

ed: Apparently you haven't read my earlier comment. And I happen to be a big Wolfe fan.
posted by languagehat at 11:59 AM on August 18, 2003

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