Words we don’t use


By Mattie Lennon.

 Probably having discovered a number of unworn multicoloured ties and unopened boxes of handkerchiefs in my wardrobe, my long-suffering spouse bought me a present with a difference. It is called The Superior Person’s Second Book of Words,  By Peter Bowler.

   She doesn’t see me as a superior person and   I have no idea what the ”first” book was like but this one is a dictionary of words that I and (maybe even you dear erudite reader) have not heard or read before.

   Shortly after my first perusal of this novel lexicon, I visited a friend of mine who keeps Greyhounds.

I was at the receiving end of a funny look when I referred to his Laaba. It’s a storage platform high enough to be above the reach of animals.

   Now when reminiscing about my intense, teenage, desire to run away from home I speak of my Drapetomania.

   During the same decade I had a habit of mistaking things for my own but it seems harmless enough in hindsight, especially when described as a tendency to Nostrificate.

   Speaking of teenage years I’ll bet you were, at some stage, guilty of Contrectation.  It’s caressing someone against their will. It is not from the same stable as Gynephobia which is defined as, “ a morbid dread of the company of women”. Of course if you like to nibble on a woman’s earlobe you are a Gynotikoloobomassophile. Speaking of which, you might not be all that pleased with the term Obsolagnium, if applied to yourself. Surprisingly enough Pfizer don’t use it in any of their advertising slogans. It means waning sexual desire due to age. And did you know what Opsigamy was?  Well ,it’s marriage late in life. Which, I’m sure, in some cases could lead to Clinomania which is an excessive desire to stay in bed. And what about a morbid fear of marriage? That’s Gamophobia. I’ll leave the subject after this; Undinism is the association of water with erotic thoughts.

   Not so long ago I would have been underwhelmed if you spoke of me as Saxicolous. But all Wicklow people are obliged to put up with the term; it’s defined as “living among rocks”. On the other hand if you are an outsider living in Wicklow the chances are that you are a Remontado ; someone who has fled to the mountains and renounced civilisation.

   The next one seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron. The word is Jeopail  and it is , “ a mistake made by a lawyer and acknowledged as such by her in court”.

   The next time you are at a book-launch or some such where there is finger-food  you may get a chance to tell your friend that he or she is Nucivorous.  It means nut-eating. (A fastidious eater is an Osophagist).

   Those people in the estate down the road are no longer toffee-nosed or even stuck-up. Group conceit is called Nosism.

I’m not suggesting that you suffer from Sophomani but I bet there will be at least one sufferer at your next coffee morning. It is a state of delusion in which the sufferer believes that he or she is a person of exceptional intelligence.

    That fellow who sneaked out of the office early could well be indulging in a spot of  Halieutics. It sounds better than fishing, especially if you catch nothing.

Then of course there is that disorder which is rampant in Local authority Human Resources; Teleophobia,  Fear of definite plans.

   In all those years you have been reading my stuff did you know that I have Hypobulia.  It’s not contagious

it simply means difficulty making decisions ( not just the right decisions; any decisions). I have been ignorant of my own skills for decades now. When I worked picking stones for a local farmer I didn’t know that I was engaged in Elapidation.  That’s the clinical term for the clearing away of stones.

   In future if I hear my son discussing a Gerontocomium  in hushed tones I’ll know what he’s up to. It means an institution for the care of the aged.

   That friend of yours in the Civil Service more than likely suffers from Panophobia. That’s a morbid fear of work.

There is a word to describe the ability to withstand heavy and continuous rain ( Donkeys and Traffic wardens?): Ombrophilious. Not to be confused with Obambulate, which is to wander about aimlessly.

   The next time you hear racing commentator Ted Walshe saying, “He only won by the black o’ your nail” think of the word, Hyponychial  meaning “under the fingernails or toenails”.

   I doubt if my old schoolmaster knew the word Indocile, if he did he would have used it. It means unteachable.

   And for those of you who don’t know which way a tap turns for “on”, it’s Laevorotatory. But that isn’t much help if you didn’t know that it turned on counterwise anyway


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