Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Forgotten English

One of my fun Christmas gifts was this little daily calendar - Forgotten English: A 365-Day Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary and Folklore.

Each day, it has a weird old word or custom - some of them are highly entertaining. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Gilravage - To hold a merry meeting, with noise and riot, but without doing injury to anyone. It seems generally to include the idea of a wasteful use of food and of intemperate use of strong drink...(John Jamieson's Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, 1808)

Ackenpucky - Any food mixture of unknown ingredients. (Harold Wentworth's American Dialect Dictionary, 1944)

Ear-Biting - This odd mode of expressing pleasure, which seems to be taken from the practice of animals who, in a playful mood, bite each other's ears, is very common in our old dramatists. "I will bite thee by the ear." Romeo and Juliet (Rev. Alexander Dyce's Glossary to the Works of Shakespeare, 1902)

Affray - A skirmish or fighting between two or more. It is oft-times confounded with Assalt. But they differ in that an assalt is only a wrong to the party, but an affray may also be without words or blow given, as if a man sew himself furnished with armour or weapons not usually worn, it may strike fear into others unarmed. (Thomas Blount's Law Dictionary and Glossary, 1717)

Bowssening - Casting mad people into the sea, or immersing them in water until they are well-nigh drowned, have been recommended by high medical authorities as a means of cure. (James Pettigrew's Superstitions Connected with Medicine and Surgery, 1844)

This is a fun little calendar - I will probably share from it throughout the year.

No comments: