By Curtis Honeycutt
Do you ever hear yourself use a word or phrase that makes you say, “I am becoming my parents?” It happens to me all the time. The biggest example is when something surprising happens and I blurt out, “Golly!” It sounds like I’m from the black-and-white “Leave It to Beaver” days.
While “golly” is still hanging in there like a loose tooth, I’ve been collecting a list of words that no one uses anymore – but I think they should. Here are some defunct words I think we should make re-funct.
This first word is one that holds a special place in my heart, seeing as I do this action all the time. The word is “latibulate,” which means to hide in a warm corner to escape the harsh conditions of the outside world. I feel like I’ve been latibulating since March 2020.
How about “uglyography”? It’s a 19-century word that means “poor, illegible handwriting, and bad spelling and grammar.” Doctors are notorious for illegible handwriting, but I feel sorry for people who suffer from all the symptoms of uglyography – in a “bless your heart” kind of way.
We should definitely bring back “snollygoster,” as it has plenty of modern applications. The word means “a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician.” A snollygoster has an unquenchable thirst for power but lacks the competence to fill the shoes of the office he desires. Do you have a snollygoster representing your district?
The word “tarrydiddle” means “pretentious nonsense.” Have you heard a load of tarrydiddle come out of a D.C. snollygoster’s mouth? I’m sure you have. Synonyms for tarrydiddle include flim-flam, poppycock, bunk and balderdash.
Have you ever suffered from “apanthropy”? I certainly have. After all, apanthropy is the aversion to human company. It’s the desire to be by yourself. Since I have three kids and a dog, my apanthropy will never be satisfied.
I love this next one: hufty-tufty. I’m not sure if it ever took off in popular usage, but this late 16th-century word means “swaggering or bragging.” Hufty-tufty can be used as a noun or an adjective. If you’re ever playing a pick-up game of basketball at your local YMCA and you want to talk trash to your opponent, you can say something like, “Look at you over there feeling all hufty-tufty; you don’t have the skills to back it up.”
Are there any words you want to bring back from dictionaries past, or do you think this is all a bunch of tarrydiddle?
—Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life. Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.