From “Beef-Witted” to “Zafty”

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The lists of obscure vocabulary passed around among word nerds can get kind of repetitive (we all know what “schadenfreude” means by now, thanks very much), but this one from Death and Taxes is great the whole way through.

It catalogs “18 obsolete words which should never have gone out of style,” and each one is a serious linguistic loss.

Like “jirble: [t]o pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand,” or “pussyvan,” which doesn’t mean what you think/hope it means. Or “queerplungers.” Hoo boy, “queerplungers.”


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →