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#204249 - 01/17/12 05:56 PM Reviving antediluvian words
Jackie Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11605
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Any comments?

Word Warriors' 2012 top 10
Wayne State University launched this website several years ago to retrieve some of the English language's most expressive words from the dank closet of neglect, in hopes of boosting their chances of a return to conversation and narrative. Some of these words once were part of the common speech; others have capered in and out of the language, dazzling and then just as suddenly departing. Others -- the wonderful "truckle," for one -- may never have been heard every day or even every year. Still others, like "erstwhile," have been hidden under layers of misdefinition.

We believe English is filled with words that deserve to be exercised freely and more often in prose, poetry, song and story. Otherwise, we simply aren't painting our speech with a full palette.

So cue the fanfare, please. Here’s the Wayne State University Word Warriors' 2012 list of remarkably useful and expressive words that deserve more chances to enrich our language:

Antediluvian – Antiquated; old-fashioned; out of date. Literally “before the flood,” referring to the Biblical deluge. This company’s vacation policy is positively antediluvian, so I’m giving you three weeks off this year.

Erstwhile– Former; bygone. Rampantly misused. Roger had disturbing reasons to suspect that Rachel, his erstwhile lover, had hacked into his email accounts.

Execrable– Atrocious; wretched; abominable. Alice may have a Ph.D., but her spelling is execrable.

Frisson – Thanks to French for this word meaning that sudden, involuntary shiver we may feel at times of great emotion. Albert knew he’d be glad to see Victoria, but he wasn’t expecting a powerful frisson of pleasure when he took her hand.

Parlous – Dangerous or risky. Variant of Middle English “perilous.” Prospects for Yazoo City grew increasingly parlous as the Mississippi’s record flood rolled southward.

Penultimate– Next to last. Everyone’s heard of the Last Supper, but the Penultimate Supper has been largely forgotten.

Sisyphean– Actually or apparently endless and futile. After Sisyphus, doomed by the gods to roll a stone uphill, only to have it always roll back down. Washington endured a Sisyphean nightmare of whipping raw recruits into shape, only to see them melt away when their one-year enlistments expired (Ron Chernow, in Washington).

Supercilious – Contemptuous; disdainful; condescending. I knew I was about to go into the tank socially when I noticed the supercilious way she was looking at my red shoes.

Transmogrify- To change completely, usually grotesquely, in appearance or form. So Gregor drifted off to sleep, never dreaming he was in a Kafka story and would transmogrify into a hideous insect overnight.

Truckle– Submit obsequiously; be subservient; kowtow. When I’m in the presence of a powerful person, my own concept of equality gets blurry and I have a regrettable tendency to truckle, if only to be polite (Ian Frazier, in Travels in Siberia).


This is from here. Clicking on the word list button will get you a longer list, and if you go to the Home Page you can submit your own suggestion.


Edited by Jackie (01/17/12 09:28 PM)

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#204250 - 01/17/12 06:53 PM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Jackie]
Faldage Online   sleepy
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
Originally Posted By: Jackie
Any comments?



Erstwhile– Former; bygone. Rampantly misused. Roger had disturbing reasons to suspect that Rachel, his erstwhile lover, had hacked into his email accounts.




I don't hear this one very often but I don't believe I've ever heard it misused, much less rampantly misused. Can anyone cite any examples? And examples in the wild, please, not made-up examples.

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#204252 - 01/17/12 07:06 PM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Faldage]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Transmogrify- To change completely, usually grotesquely, in appearance or form. So Gregor drifted off to sleep, never dreaming he was in a Kafka story and would transmogrify into a hideous insect overnight.


This was used in an old sci-fi movie I watched last week.
And of course Calvin and Hobbes uses it.
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#204254 - 01/17/12 08:22 PM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: LukeJavan8]
Faldage Online   sleepy
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
Originally Posted By: LukeJavan8

Transmogrify- To change completely, usually grotesquely, in appearance or form. So Gregor drifted off to sleep, never dreaming he was in a Kafka story and would transmogrify into a hideous insect overnight.

And of course Calvin and Hobbes uses it.


Usually in the form transmorgrify, IIRC.

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#204255 - 01/17/12 09:30 PM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Jackie]
Jackie Offline
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Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11605
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
I always read it as transmogrify, but. I've got all the books; will take a look if I remember.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the previous subject title; I have seldom made such a careless mistake here. My apologies. This thread now has the title I meant for it to.

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#204261 - 01/18/12 08:06 AM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Jackie]
Rhubarb Commando Offline
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Registered: 11/13/11
Posts: 1074
Loc: Lancaster, UK
Most of those words are still in occasional use this side of the pond – I’ve heard or used most of them at some time or another during the past few years. The only one I've never heard used is Sisyphean. I haven’t heard truckle for fifty years (my mother used to use it, now and again) so that probably counts for Wayne Uni.
Oh, and I have always seen it as "transmogrify", too. (Meaning to be changed into a cat! wink )
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#204262 - 01/18/12 08:27 AM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Jackie]
Faldage Online   sleepy
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
Transmogrify is correct. Transmorgrify was Watterson's playful kiddification of the word.

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#204265 - 01/18/12 11:53 AM Re: http://wordwarriors.wayne.edu/2011/ [Re: Faldage]
LukeJavan8 Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6049
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
Glad to know that, Spiff probably is too.
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