Category: On Words And Upwards


noun. The condition of having short legs.

… a distressing pathological condition in which the thighs are suppressed and the buttocks spring directly from behind the knees, aptly described in Steiss’s nosonomy as Panpygoptosis.
Murphy, Samuel Beckett (1938)

This condition is also known as Duck’s Disease. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you have it… if you’re a duck.

Now it’s not a nice thing to make fun of someone because of their physical features. So if you’re trying to be really mean, you’re on the right track. Some one, or thing, that has very short legs can be said to have panpygoptosis.

If the target of your insult reads this blog, they will be offended because the meaning is known. If they don’t read this blog, they will be offended because the meaning is unknown. Looks like panpygoptosis is a a guaranteed offender.

Perhaps you could use a form of this word for less offensive purposes. “Do you have a chair that’s less panpygoptossicky? I’m basically sitting on the ground.”

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adj. Risqué, indecent; also bizarre, unusual.

I can no longer endure this ostrobogulatory behaviour.
Ostrobogulous Pigs, A. Graves (1952)

Ostrobogulatory is derived from ostrobogulous, a word attributed to Victor Benjamin Neuburg, a British writer. According to him, the word meant “Full of rich dirt.” The uses of this word (and derivative forms) in the OED are flavouriferous and make me gumfiate with glee. Here’s my favorite.

‘Ostrobogulous’ was Vickybird’s favourite word. It stood for anything from the bawdy to the slightly off-colour. Any double entendre that might otherwise have escaped his audience was prefaced by, ‘if you will pardon the ostrobogulosity’.
A. Calder-Marshall (1951)

I’m going to preface most of my conversations now with, “If you will pardon the ostrobogulosity.” Or maybe I’ll add some graffiti to public restrooms saying “For an ostrobogulous time, please call…”

Have you had any ostrobogulatory experiences lately? Why not? You can’t get all the ostrobogularity you need from the internet, you know.

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verb. Flabbergast, or perhaps Verklempt.

I lay like a log, Quite flabber-de-gasky’d, as sick as a dog!
New Monthly Magazine (1822)

No, the OED didn’t use Verklempt in their definition. I wish they had. English words are much funnier when they can only be defined in Yiddish. Nu?

This is the type of word that I would be proud to use while sober. Drunk people, like this writer for New Monthly Magazine, have an endlessly entertaining vocabulary.

Flabberdegasky is probably the next step after flabbergast. Coming home to find that your stereo was stolen is flabbergasting. But coming home to find that the entire place has been swept, dusted, vacuumed, and cleaned is flabberdegasky, flabberdegaskifying, and flabberdegaskificatory!

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verb. To live in a remote, rural, or provincial place.

Bankrupt scholars, whose parents had been mofussilising in an inordinate degree.
Qualk The Circumnavigator, George Augustus Sala (1863)

Here’s a word I’d never heard before. Mofussil is an Anglo-Indian word that refers to a rural part of India. Whew knew? I obviously haven’t spent enough time fossicking through my dictionaries.

My research shows that these parts of the country were so called because there was alway’s mo’ fussin’ going on. By research I mean imagination. My teachers never liked my research papers for that reason.

I have never mofussilized but I have traveled to mofussilitory areas, becoming a temporary mofussilizer. Have you traveled to or lived in a mofussil? If so, how did you survive without internet?

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verb. To puff up, to swell.

The inflamed gout of polemical controversy..had gumfiated every mental joint and member of that zealous prop of the Relief Kirk.
The Ayrshire legatees, John Galt (1820)

I hit my shin with a piece of wood last weekend — it immediately gumfiated. The painful gumfiation lasted for a few days, but now it’s back to normal.

This word is related to conflate but they don’t see each-other except at reunions and thanksgiving.

This word’s mouthfeel makes me think that this term can be best used to describe swellings that are particularly gross. To swell sounds logical and pretty straightforward, but to gumfiate sounds so much worse. I attribute that to the “guh” sound. You know, the sound of something gross and swollen.

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verb.  To take part in a boozing party, to booze.

Never boozify a second time with the man whom you have seen misbehave himself in his cups.
Blackwood’s Magazine (1824)

What a fun intransitive verb! And useful too. Use of this and related words would help solve the ambiguity of the word drink. Drink refers to both all beverage as well as those that contain alcohol. And used as a verb, to drink means to ingest a beverage, as in “to drink a glass of water,” but also the alcoholic version “to drink an Irish car bomb.”

I submit that we should separate the two meanings. To go out drinking is now to boozify. There’s a word for it, let’s use it! Perhaps we change drinking [alcohol] to boozification. Next time you go to Las Vegas for a wild time you can call it a boozification vacation. If it’s too wild the janitors will be doing some swabification.

Maybe we can’t change or separate the meanings but I can dream, can’t I? It would sure make some interactions easier.

“Do you drink?”
“Everyone drinks. Otherwise we’d die.”
“Shut up.”

That must be why I don’t boozify too often.

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noun. Mopping

Here a large puff and blow, and a swabification of the white handkerchief, while the congregation blow a flourish of trumpets.
Tom Cringle’s log, Michael Scott (1833)

My floor is in dire need of a swabification. Really. It’s not clean at all. Though what will happen (due to lack of a real mop) is probably closer to swifferification.

Thinking about this word made my realize how silly the word swab is. Say it a few times. Swab swab swab swab swab. Fun, right?

Alright, enough fun. Now it’s time to go swabificate the floor. I’m now a swabificator, the hallway will be the first swabificatee. What should I do after I have swabificated?

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noun. The state of having an ache.

O, the Pope could dispense with his Cardinalate, and his achage, and his breakage.
Queen Mary, Lord Alfred Tennyson (1878)

My stomache, dude, major achage. I did a little Googling to see if this word is actually in usage… not really. Sure it’s a nonce-word according to the OED, but some of these words sound like slang that the young folks are using. I saw a couple uses spelled “acheage” but not a whole lot as it is listed in the dictionary.

I thought it would be more common. The “-age” (as in blockage, baggage, plumage) ending isn’t all that rare. I was wrong. I admit it. I had a thought and it was incorrect. I apologize. I’ll try to never be wrong ever again.

Consider using this word the next time you need to call in sick. “Sorry, can’t come to work today. I have some achage in or around my epididymis.”

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noun. One who has scientific knowledge of lice.

Mineralogists, astronomers, ornithologists, and lousologists.
A memoir by Lady Holland, Sydney Smith (1835)

Of all the disrespected professions, lousologists are at the top of the list. Or perhaps the bottom. No one else devotes themselves so selflessly to the study of a creature that the rest of the world is trying to kill.

But seriously folks, it’s a seriously serious problem. Make sure to check yourself and your children for lice as often as humanly possible.

I think you know how much I love name-calling… this is a great word to use for that noble purpose. Call someone a lousologist, not because they study lice (who the heck does that anyway?), but because you don’t care what they do!

It might also be a good one to use when you meet people at a bar and need something silly to talk about. “What do I do? Oh, I’m a lousologist.”

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verb. To hit or smash with a fist.

For though your beard do stand so fine mustated, Perhaps your nose may be transfisticated.
The letting of humours blood in the head-vaine, Samuel Rowlands (1600)

Talk about a bad-ass word. I have a sudden urge to make a western-style movie solely for the purpose that the hero can say “You best be leavin’ now, or I might hafta transfisticate yer face in.”

If ever you threaten someone, always aim for the bigger word. That’s like slapping someone in the face with a dictionary. Figuratively.

If you literally slapped someone in the face with a dictionary you’d have no need to actually speak any words after. Unless you used a pocket dictionary… that wouldn’t do much damage. Be sure to use at  least a collegiate, unabridged is preferred.

Sometimes using your language can be a better solution than your fists.

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