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Dead Words Dictionary

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(+31, -2)
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Every year, at least in the UK, new editions of dictionaries are publicised by means of newspaper stories setting out some of the new words that are included in the new version.

At the same time, Chambers, OUP &c should publish a pamphlet or small book of all the words that are cut from the new edition of the dictionary, for sale to people like me, who can, when the mood takes them, reach for an edition and quietly commemorate the passing of these disappeared, now non-words.

Also, maybe (or not) a range of birthday cards for lovers of language: "Words that died in the year you were born were..."

calum, Dec 03 2006

Compendium of Lost Words http://web.archive....stery.info/clw.html
At the phrontistery, whose domain name registration seems to have expired. How apropos. [jutta, Dec 03 2006]

nonplussed http://www.randomho...pperl?date=19991221
[Ian Tindale, Dec 04 2006]

Kind of Baked http://wordsmith.org/chat/oed.html
See halfway through interview. [jhomrighaus, Dec 05 2006]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary http://en.wikipedia...ce_the_1901_edition
it was leafing through my mum's very old copy of this book that prompted the idea. [calum, Dec 05 2006]

Call My Bluff http://www.bbc.co.u...h2g2/brunel/A455320
[zen_tom, Dec 05 2006]

Definition of dead words http://www.iss.k12....iting/deadwords.htm
Some words in the English language tend to be overused and therefore lose their power. These are called Dead Words. Below is a list of dead words and more interesting alternatives that should be used in their place when you are writing. [webfishrune, Dec 06 2006]


       Zounds! Words actually die?
Ian Tindale, Dec 03 2006

       I thought the dictionary just got bigger and bigger.
Helixthecat, Dec 03 2006

       they die and then they are lexigoners - go on shoot me. It was worth it. (+ for the idea mr calum.)
xenzag, Dec 03 2006

DenholmRicshaw, Dec 03 2006

       I like the idea of a dead word thesaurus.
I think this would make it much easier to find words that you want to know the meanings of without having to read the entire dictionary, or maybe as a footnote to existing thesaurususes...or is it thesuari ?

       (+)good idea.   

       After conducting survey of target buyers (particular region/ continent/ country),dictionary may be published in 3 sections - (1) words most frequently used, (2) words seldom used, (3) dead words.   

       I agree with [2 fries shy of a happy meal] regarding increased ease of using such dictionary and [BrauBeaton] that lots of words may be reawakened.   

       ...and... to each his own. Dictionary is available in existing form for those who don't want classified version.
vedarshi, Dec 04 2006

       I'd like to see another section to vedarshi's list: words that have their meanings changed (not officially but culturally, and in what culture). Words like: gay, fix, loaded, green, crib, etc. It could be a historical dictionary, marking the origins, and also when they changed meanings and to what culture.
twitch, Dec 04 2006

       …and 'nonplussed', as I was reading about only last week.
Ian Tindale, Dec 04 2006

       Hmm... reawakened... so there will be zombie words?... if their guts fell out would they be disemvoweled..
rascalraidex, Dec 04 2006

       Re: nonplussed... I think the writer of the linked article got it entirely wrong. The most frequent usage of that word in modern conversational english has nothing to do with being either confused or fazed. It generally is used to convey that a person has been left with a negative feeling or impression about an event, situation, or presentation, and therefore may be displeased with that outcome. Conversely, someone who is "plussed" has been given a positive feeling or impression about an event, situation, or presentation, and is therefore satisfied. Basically, it's just the introduction of math and science into our everyday language.
jurist, Dec 04 2006

       Opinion seems divided over that.
Ian Tindale, Dec 04 2006

       I've never even heard of the word until mentioned here.
twitch, Dec 05 2006

       See link to learn that the Oxford English dictionary actually tracks words that have become obsolete, which kind of bakes this idea.
jhomrighaus, Dec 05 2006

       [jurist], I have only ever heard nonplussed used in the confused/fazed sense.   

       Very pleased to see spoffish in the Chambers list - that's a word I haven't heard for about 15 years!   

       And I would _love_ a dictionary like this.
salachair, Dec 05 2006

       Flirtnip: Is it either a herbal form of viagra, or the act of pinching someone's bottom?   

       Which reminds me somehow, of Frank Muir from "Call My Bluff".
zen_tom, Dec 05 2006

       Ah yes. The Frank Muir. One of the earliest household products to be manufactured from the then-new material Polyester. A fine mesh net curtain, in varying degrees of transluscence and hole pitch, and in slightly coloured patterning. Today, merely a memory, but to the housewife of the modern post-war household, the Muir range of net curtains was a familiar product to aspire to - whether the 'Frank', the 'Generous' or the 'Gay' Muir, any of the Muirs would grace the modern home's windows with style and panache.
Ian Tindale, Dec 05 2006

       flirtnip: a short snooze prior to (or post?) engaging in sexual activity?   

       Come on, what does it mean?   

       And Ian's description of a Muir is totally wrong. A Franc Muir, as anyone with Gallic connections will be aware, is a type of purse used by the French prior to 2002, containing a glutinous cleaning solution. Coins are squeezed into one end, and are issued, perfectly clean, from a stretchy leather hole at the other.
zen_tom, Dec 05 2006

       zen, you worry me sometimes.
po, Dec 05 2006

       Count yourself lucky, I worry some people all the time.   

       Re nonplussed - I don't see the meaning as having shifted. To be confused beyond words should tend to be a pretty negative experience. And so, in many ways, the alternate meanings overlap.   

       Those who are unaware of the 'correct' meaning would be forgiven for looking at the context in which it is used, and making the mistake that the word is referring to some generally negative experience, rather than one brought about by confusion.
zen_tom, Dec 06 2006

       Ah...thank you for so diplomatically correcting me, [z]. I'm sorry that you and Ian and Calum's sister didn't get the memo we sent out several years ago which updated the old-fashioned meaning of *nonplussed* which the OED and Webster's continue to perpetuate. I will be sure to add you folks to the circulation listings when we change the meanings of new words and sayings in the future.   

       I am tempted to liken it to the usage of "pissed". When using that adjective in the presence of a Brit, you would naturally think I was merely talking about having imbibed more than my capacity in the pub. On this side of the Atlantic, however, it is more likely to convey that I'm so apoplectically angry I can't properly formulate a sentence. At the risk of being resoundingly contradicted by my countrymen, I'm inclined to posit that a true understanding of the word is a matter of who said what and when and in which circumstance.   

       In the meantime, I will continue to be *nonplussed* about the reception my explanation of the word's etymology has received, but definitely in favor of a *Dead Words Dictionary*, even if it has already been published as a "Compendium of Lost Words".
jurist, Dec 06 2006

       I thought that the OED never deleted words in the full edition, however, must people pwn the Concise OED which naturally has words dropped to keep it concise.
webfishrune, Dec 06 2006

       That's a brilliant thought, the ever expanding dictionary. Keep the project up long enough and the ratio of practically (rather than dictionarily defined) dead words to live words would be massively skewed. I'd love that, just let a volume drop open at any page, and be confronted with remnants of past ages.   

       Incidentally, salachair totally pwns the Shorter OED and it is a thing of great awesomeness.
calum, Dec 06 2006

       Wouldn't a 'dead words' dictionary be self-defeating? If you put such words in a book and then publish it, people will start using the words again making the dictionary inaccurate. By all means put the words in a book but then bury it in a big hole and fill it up with concrete (or perhaps put it high up on a shelf in the darkest corner of the British Library) so that nobody will ever know what it contains.

Also, the word was originally pronounced 'Frank-a-Moor'. It dates from the 8th Century AD, around the time of the Battle of Poitiers (or Battle of Tours as it is sometimes known), and refers to mercenaries who fought in the pay of the Ummayad Caliph and the Frankish king during the Islamic invasions into Western Europe. These mercenaries were notable for often changing sides. These days the word has been condensed into 'FrankMuir', and denotes a person of dubious veracity; someone whose word is not to be trusted.
DrBob, Dec 06 2006

       Surely glad that "FrankMuir" sounds nothing like "jurist".
jurist, Dec 06 2006

       Words die. They are replaced, become redundant, fall out of fashion and in these processes, are understood by a diminishing subset of the population. When the subset of comprehending speakers tends to dodo, they become dead. But simply publicising the passing of such words in the very limited way proposed will not pull them back from the brink of extinction any more than a soft gust can help a guttering candle to do more than burn brightly for one last moment. A dictionary is not a zoo, it does not - cannot - preserve words from lexicographical extinction. It describes the lexicon.   

       But I do like the idea of a book I (yes, me!) invented being tucked away in the darkest corner of the British Library, a corner where I can spend my hunched dotage, poring over the catalogue of the fallen, warming myself with a smuggled thermos of tea, occasionally muttering "Oh yes... Ah. Oh" and chuckling phlegmily.
calum, Dec 06 2006

       [calum], your new name shall be:
"J. R. Hartley"
Jinbish, Dec 06 2006

       I vote we try and resurect one dead word in each idea posted.
webfishrune, Dec 06 2006

       This may be of interest; quoted from www.askoxford.com:   

       "The first edition of COD had entries for words that few people will know today, such as 'hedgehoggy', 'impaludism', 'impanate', and 'imparadise'. More recently, in COD10 we took out entries for 'cowabunga' [an exclamation expressing delight], 'cassingle' [an audio cassette with a single piece of music on each side], and 'Chunnel' [informal term for the Channel Tunnel]. Although it originated in the 1960s, 'cowabunga' was popularized by the children's characters the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, enthusiasm for whom has now waned. 'Cassingles' enjoyed some popularity in the 1980s and 1990s but have now generally been superseded by CD singles. 'Chunnel' (which dates from 1928!) is still occasionally encountered, but is used less now that the Tunnel is a reality. No entries are ever taken out of the OED, however."
webfishrune, Dec 06 2006

       This could form the basis of a new way to purchase dictionaries, rather than simply buying a big fat one-time COD, you could purchase a dictionary subscription - perhaps start with a 'baseline' dictionary dated currently (though versions based on birth-dates might be fun) and then receive on an annual basis, addenda that contain additional words, ammenda that contains changes to existing words, and deddenda that contain words to be deleted. As the years go by, you can leaf through your collected endaii and marvel at the ebb and flow of the lexicographical tides.
zen_tom, Dec 01 2008

       May I offer my most compunctuous, nay, frasmotic contrafibularities on this most anaspetic of ideas?
coprocephalous, Dec 01 2008

       Mantequilla con queso!
calum, Dec 01 2008

       The dead words could be printed fainter than the other words in the dictionary. Over time, some words would be harder and harder to see, while new words like "meh" and "D'oh!" would be super bold-faced.
phundug, Dec 02 2008

       How does "D'oh" rate an apostrophe ?
FlyingToaster, Dec 03 2008

       D'ont know.
zen_tom, Dec 03 2008

       "D'oh" is short for "of the Oh", invented by the French humorist Aumer Simsonne.
phundug, Dec 03 2008


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