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13 Words from the First Dictionary That No Longer Exist

Don't let these obscure words die!

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Close-up of the word "language" in vintage dictionaryPhoto: Shutterstock

We barely knew ye

Language is constantly changing, as new words gain popularity and old ones start to disappear. Often, we don’t really notice when they’re gone, unless they’re specifically describing an object or piece of technology that’s become obsolete. But there are plenty of other words—nouns, adjectives, verbs, and more—that are silly, hilariously specific, or just plain fun to say… and yet we don’t use them anymore! Let’s take a linguistic leap back in time and explore these delightful words that have disappeared from the dictionary.

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snollygosterPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Snollygoster

Why oh why, would a word with such epic possibilities for widespread mockery fall into oblivion? This term may be related to the German word snallygaster, a reptilian beast that hunts kids and farm animals. A snollygoster is an unscrupulous politician—someone generally corrupt, unethical, and shameless. Such a handy term for contemporary times!

Here are the hardest words to spell in the English language.

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jargoglePhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Jargogle

This is one of those terms that kind of performs its own definition. It sounds jarring and gets one a bit agog with curiosity. It means to confuse or bamboozle, and does just that since you’ve probably never heard of this word from the 1690s. Time to pull it back into modern jargon.

Can you pass this quiz of 4th grade spelling words?

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apricityPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Apricity

“April is the cruellest month,” as T.S. Eliot put it in 1922 in The Waste Land. April is still winter weather, but it teases that you’re in spring. The ideal term for this is apricity, or “the warmth of sun in winter.” This term hails from 1623 but hasn’t gotten much modern usage despite its efficient euphony—that is, despite its pleasing sound and awesome reference to April.

Learn the true meanings of these commonly misused words.

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UltracrepidarianPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Ultracrepidarian

Mark Forsyth searched old dictionaries for his book on obscure, forgotten words, The Horologicon. One of his favourites, and rightly so, is ultracrepidarian. It’s a very extra, or ultra, term for your average know-it-all. It’s the perfect descriptor for the person who has vast opinions on topics about which they know nothing—and comfortably yammers on about them.

Check out the words even smart people mispronounce.

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sanguinolencyPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Sanguinolency

This bizarre term has no obvious relation to the more upbeat word “sanguine,” which means “optimistic,” but secondarily, “ruddy.” That must be its tie to “sanguinolency” which has the dismal definition, “addiction to bloodshed.” Because this word is so old and obscure, it likely doesn’t refer to bloodshed of the video game variety. Of all the things to be addicted to, bloodshed seems one of the very worst.

We bet you didn’t know these words are examples of onomatopoeia!

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bibesyPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Bibesy

This is an adorable, possibly 18th-century word that seems to play in a slang-y way on the word “imbibe.” It describes a seriously enthusiastic interest in drinking. Use it when you want to get bibesy with your bae on friyay! It fits perfectly with contemporary night-life argot.

Discover what these English words mean in other languages!

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slubberdegullionPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Slubberdegullion

Here is another beautifully performative term that at its most base refers to one who slobbers. More precisely, however, a slubberdegullion must also be a “dirty fellow,” as well as worthless, careless, negligent, insignificant, and slovenly. Fifteenth-century vocab came at folks hard with the insults! Such a savage burn! Roasted!

Here are the Latin words you use every day without knowing it!

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crinkum-crankumPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Crinkum-crankum

This is basically when you get high key extra with the details. When your outfit or decor makes an over-the-top, elaborate effort to be hyper fancy, it is crinkum-crankum. This mid-17th-century term sounds so lit! Time to get crinkum-crankum back in circulation!

Find out why some English words have silent letters.

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snowbrothPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Snowbrowth

Now that the polar vortexes and other wintergeddon weather are in full swing, it’s time to pull this cute, obsolete term out of cold storage. Snowbrowth is simply melted snow. When you think about it, the fresh melt does look somewhat like a broth or a soupy snow stew covering the ground. Winter needs this word!

Think twice before muttering these old-fashioned words.

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snoutfairPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Snoutfair

It doesn’t even make sense that this word that conjures a pig face actually means “a person with a handsome countenance.” It makes sense that “snoutfair” fell to the wayside, and instead we say “hunk,” “hottie,” “stone cold fox,” “scooby snack,” “sexy beast,” and “cutie patootie.” Those aren’t fantastic, but frankly, “snoutfair,” is worse.

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curlglaffPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Curglaff

Think of a cold, harsh splash, and the strange merge of laughter and gurgling that comes after. Curglaff, of Scottish origin, is the absolute ideal term to describe “the shock felt when one first plunges into cold water.” In fact, it seems perfect for describing any kind of shock.

These slang words from the 1920s are just plain… weird.

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spermologerPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Spermologer

This is not a science word and does not refer to biology! It’s the witty term for a “gossip monger.” You can also use it to describe trivia hounds and those filled with random knowledge. A spermologer is a collector of sorts. Society is probably fine if this word continues its descent into obscurity.

Discover the English words with Gaelic origins!

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elflockPhoto: Nicole Fornabaio/RD.com

Elflock

You know how when the elves tangle up your hair? Back in the 1590s, this hairstyle was called the elflock. Feel free to adapt the term for any of the creatures who matt up your hair. Think of the gnomelock, the yetilock, the dragonlock, the kelpielock, or the wolfmanlock. You get the idea! Remember the term is usually plural, so it requires more than one tangler or stylist.

Next, read on for the best Shakespearean insults!

Originally Published on Reader's Digest