Brave new words
Is vernalagnia making you yonderly?By Fe B. Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We all know Z is for “zebra,” “zoo” and “zygote.” But ever heard of “zugzwang”?
No doubt you are familiar with xylophone and xenophobia. Yes, X is for those words. Of course Q is for “quick,” “quack” and “quiver.” And V is for “victory.”
But is your vocabulary so wide you can use the words “xenization,” “quockerwodger” and “vernalagnia” in a sentence?
No, I am not an ultracrepidarian. Neither am I sowing welter here. I do admit to bouts of tantarism and episodes of scripturience. But don’t take me seriously because, frankly, this is nothing but fanfaronade.
There … I’ve just used some words from the really odd and somehow wonderful vocabulary rendered visually by artists James and Michael Fitzgerald of The Project Twins (http://www.theprojecttwins.com) in Cork, Ireland.
The duo’s “A-Z of Unusual Words,” a bold and graphic interpretation of a collection of unfamiliar, unusual and even lost words was spotted by Brain Pickings (http://www. brainpickings.org), a weekly digital digest curated by Maria Popova.
The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com) picked up from Brain Pickings on July 6, and, before long, the “odd and wonderful vocabulary” became viral overnight.
The “A-Z of Unusual Words” begins with “acersecomic,” which means “a person whose hair has never been cut.”
If you’ve met such a person, check out the artwork for the word. I’m almost sure the acersecomic you know doesn’t look nearly as good as the acersecomic on the Twins’ print on cotton rag.
“Biblioclasm” under B means the “practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media.”
This is an atrocious deed, if you ask artists and writers, but it would be an unforgivable sin if the Twins’ graphic interpretation of it were to be subjected to biblioclasm.
In the meantime, here is the list of the wonderfully strange words in the collection:
A – acersecomic (a person whose hair has never been cut)
B – biblioclasm (the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media)
C – cacodemonomania (a pathological belief that one is inhabited by an evil spirit)
D – dactylion (an anatomical landmark located at the tip of the middle finger)
E – enantiodromia (the conversion of something into its opposite)
F – fanfaronade (swaggering; empty boasting; blustering manner or behavior; ostentatious display)
G – gorgonize (to have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect on; stupify or petrify)
H – hamartia (the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall)
I – infandous (unspeakable or too odious to be expressed or mentioned)
J – jettatura (the casting of an evil eye)
K – ktenology (the science of putting people to death)
L – leptosome (a person with a slender, thin or frail body)
M – montivagant (wandering over hills and mountains)
N – noegenesis (production of knowledge)
O– ostentiferous (bringing omens or unnatural or supernatural manifestations)
P – pogonotrophy (the act of cultivating or growing or grooming a mustache, beard, sideburns or other facial hair)
Q – quockerwodger (a rare 19th century word for a wooden toy
which briefly became a political insult)
R – recumbentibus (a knockout punch, either verbal or physical)
S – scripturient (possessing a violent desire to write)
T – tarantism (a disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to dance)
U – ultracrepidarian (a person who gives opinions or advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge)
V – vernalagnia (a romantic mood brought on by spring)
W – welter (a confused mass, a jumble, turmoil or confusion)
X – xenization (act of traveling as a stranger)
Y – yonderly (mentally or emotionally distant, absent-minded)
Z – zugzwang (a position in which any decision or move will result in problems)
Do visit http://www.theprojecttwin for a delightful slide show.