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.
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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!
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!
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.
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!
Nice work, Ronan. Like Zin, you exhibit some damn smart guesswork.
I love this David! You know, there was a first version…
Care to play again? 🙂
Really, thanks for this!
Thank you for the words, Marielle! And thanks for commenting. I suspect another story, with the original list of words, is coming…