A very short story with 14 words you’ve never seen before

by David Alm on July 11, 2012

This story, which I wrote this morning and for which I do not expect to win any literary awards, contains 14 words that no one (except maybe Vladimir Nabokov) has used in the past 100 years. I found them in a list of “old-timey” words that should be brought back into fashion, and they really are wonderful — both aesthetically and linguistically. If you’re completely unadventurous, you may click here to see what they mean. Or you can be a grown-up about it and test your reading-comprehension skills. If you’re not afraid of public embarrassment, offer your interpretation as a comment below the post.

 

To be perfectly soothfast, I felt a trifle lasslorn. A mere fortnight prior, my pals and I were enjoying pints at the pub when a comely, if not conventionally beautiful, being caught my eye. She palpebrated, and I returned the gesture. Within minutes, we absquatulated for a torrid rendezvous in the backseat of my carriage. She called me elumbated, though to be honest, I have no idea what that means. 

Despite my erotographomania, she never took up her own keelivine in response. I waited and waited, feeling myself sliding widdershins into adolescence. 

When I visaged her again, at the same pub, I was not, at first, diversivolent, and I approached her with only noble intentions. That fussock, whose beauty was far paler than I recalled, replied to my advance with a swift whisternefet to my cheek. And yes, I replied in kind — and then some — but I left alone, with no blood on my hands. 

I ask: whom of you would have acted differently? Lest you all suffer from a toxic, profound case of epicaricacy, you will not seek my ganching. You may call me a mammothrept, a scoundrel, or a rogue. But I am not a killer.

 

Zin Kenter July 11, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hello, I am Zin! I love these things! I subscribe to both Word a Day and Wordsmith so I see all kinds of weird words, but most of these, especially the ones in the last paragraph, are completely unfamiliar! But between roots and context I have made some guesses!

To be perfectly truthful, I felt a trifle lazy. A mere fortnight prior, my pals and I were enjoying pints at the pub when a pretty, if not conventionally beautiful, bawdy young lady caught my eye. She winked, and I returned the gesture. Within minutes, we took off for a torrid rendezvous in the backseat of my carriage. She called me tall, though to be honest, I have no idea what that means.
Despite my spate of passionate letter-writing, she never took up her own pen in response. I waited and waited, feeling myself sliding quickly into adolescence.
When I saw her again, at the same pub, I was not, at first, of two minds, and I approached her with only noble intentions. That fussock, whose beauty was far paler than I recalled, replied to my advance with a swift kiss to my cheek. And yes, I replied in kind — and then some — but I left alone, with no blood on my hands.
I ask: whom of you would have acted differently? Lest you all suffer from a toxic, profound case of excessive bloodlust, you will not seek my execution. You may call me a masher, a scoundrel, or a rogue. But I am not a killer.
Soothfast – forsooth! Truthful; from Shakespeare and so forth!
Lasslom – guessing it has something to do with lassitude, enervation, laziness?
Comely – is this one of the words? Uncommon but not obscure – pretty.
Fussock – some kind of woman, I’m guessing a wench?
Palpebrated – the palpebral fissure has something to do with the eyelid, so winking or batting eyelashes?
Absquatalated – from context, guessing “left in a hurry”
Elumbated – no clue, tall? (from lumbar, back)
Erotographomania – erotic plus graphia plus mania – obsession with writing sexual material?
Keevlivine – no idea, but if context is correct, a pen?
Widdershins – quickly?
Visaged – this is probably not one of the words, but it’s “saw” or “viewed”\
Diversivolent – no clue, diverse= different, volent= character, a dr. jekyl/mr. hyde thing? Ulterior motives?
Whisternefet – from context, a kiss.
Epicaricacy – no clue, excessive, um, bloodlust from context, if “ganching” is right?
Ganching – again no clue, trial? Execution?
Mammothrept – no clue, mammo= breast, someone who appreciates large-breasted women?

This was fun! Thank you! Now I have to go see the answers and I will be back to laugh at how stupid I am!

Zin Kenter July 11, 2012 at 7:47 am

Hello, I am Zin again! I missed eight! I am so chagrined! Particularly “whisternefet,” I should have figured that out from the blood on my hands comment! I give myself half credit for fussock, and full for “keevlivine” but I think I deserve extra credit for “ganching”!

Thank you, this was fun, do this more often please!

David Alm July 11, 2012 at 8:32 am

Thanks for playing, Zin! I’m impressed with how close you got on some of those, and that you nailed others with some pretty keen insights into language. I couldn’t have asked for a better first comment to this post. Nice job.

If I see another list like this, I will certainly post a similar “game” on the blog. Keep an eye out for it, and thanks again.

Ronan L July 11, 2012 at 11:23 am

Doing my best to ignore Zin’s email until after this comment, here is my best set of guesses:
soothfast – truthful (from sooth)
lasslorn – missing female companionship (from lass with a dollop of forlorn); if so, this word is my pick of the bunch!
fussock – girl (from context)
palpebrated – if she had only done it herself, I would guess bat eyelashes – but given he replied in kind, wink?
absquatulated – left (my Latin is poor – abs qua meaning something like from here?)
elumbated – muscular?
erotographomania – enthusiasm for raunchy literature
keelivine – I want to say skirts but that hardly makes sense!
widdershins – I’ve come across this one before; is it something like counterclockwise?
diversivolent – feeling different
whisternefet – slap (from context)
epicaricacy – something fancy like separating oneself from feelings after the fact? (epi- and cari-)
ganching – punishment, possibly a specific one
mammothrept – contemptible human being!

David Alm July 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Nice work, Ronan. Like Zin, you exhibit some damn smart guesswork.

marielle wakim July 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I love this David! You know, there was a first version…

http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/14-old-words-that-should-still-be-used-today-2/

Care to play again? 🙂

Really, thanks for this!

David Alm July 12, 2012 at 7:00 am

Thank you for the words, Marielle! And thanks for commenting. I suspect another story, with the original list of words, is coming…

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