Language is constantly evolving as word meanings shift, new words emerge and others go out of style.
This fluidity is due to several factors. First, language changes along with our needs. As new technologies and experiences arise, we label them and create new words to describe them — like texting and Googling.
The creation of communication technologies like the Internet can even lead to entirely new sociolects — social dialects associated with certain groups — like lolspeak and leetspeak.
We also borrow words from other languages (sushi, kayak), combine them to create new words (motel, brunch) or shorten them to make new ones (phone, gym).
Language also evolves because no two people have the exact same language experience. Our lexicon can vary depending on our location, culture, occupation and education, and age can play a significant role as well.
How we lose words
The most widely used words in our daily language are the ones that have the most staying power, according to research by Harvard University and the University of Reading, and these are also the ones that evolve at the slowest rate.
The words that disappear from our vocabulary and become obsolete are simply those we no longer speak or write. In other words, if we don't use them, we lose them.
Unfortunately, this means that some truly inventive words have slipped from our minds and tongues and are rarely seen outside the pages of a dictionary.
Below, take a look at some wonderfully descriptive words that are now obsolete and see if you can work them into your daily speech. You’ll find that some are quite fun to say!
Apricity: noun. The warmth of the sun in winter
My cat enjoys napping by the window even in cold months because of the apricity.
Callipygian: adjective. Having shapely buttocks
Cicisbeo: noun. A married woman’s male companion or lover
Cockalorum: noun. A boastful person
Crapulous: adjective. Lack of restraint in eating or drinking, sick from excessive indulgence in liquor
My crapulous uncle is always a sight to behold on Thanksgiving.
Deliciate: verb. To enjoy oneself, to luxuriate, to indulge in feasting
After she finished her vegetables, she delicated in twice as many desserts.
Frigorific: adjective. Chilling, causing cold
The frigorific blast of wind left me chilled to the bone.
Fudgel: verb. Pretending to work
Our boss blocked access to Facebook out of suspicion we were fudgeling.
Gorgonize: verb. To have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect
Her sudden appearance gorgonized the crowd, leaving them awestruck.
Jirble: verb. To pour carelessly
Ludibrious: adjective. Ridiculous
Quidnunc: noun. An inquisitive, gossipy person
You can't tell him anything personal because he's such a quidnunc.
Slugabed: noun. Lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for rising
Snowbroth: noun. Newly melted snow
Younker: noun. A young person
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