You may not know it, but words are an endangered species. Every year, words that are no longer used are dropped from the Oxford English Dictionary—but presumably they’ve practically disappeared from the English language long before the OED omission. How do we save them? Simple: we use them.
I know I’m often guilty of quibbleism or boreism, but let me avunculize for a moment. This is a locupletative exercise and pigritude is no excuse! Visit SaveTheWords.org and look over these poor words searching for a home. For instance, ptochology (n. study of beggars and unemployment) is surely relevant today, right? You can pledge to adopt a word, promising to use it in conversation and correspondence (or follow the handy tips for how to spread your word). If you’re really serious you can purchase a T-shirt with your word printed on it — and it’s likely to be a one-of-a-kind, comment-generating T-shirt.
I first heard about the death of words a few years ago on The Next Big Thing, when activist lexicographer Erin McKean challenged John Linnell (of They Might Be Giants) to “Use It or Lose It.” She gave him three words which were about to be struck from the OED so that he could use them, in an attempt to hang onto them. The result was “Contrecoup,” the most cheerful song you’ll ever hear about a head injury.
OK, enough of my blatercation. I hope my graviloquence motivates you to help Save the Words!
And a partial glossary:
pigritude – n. laziness
avunculize – v. to act as uncle
boreism – n. behavior of a boring person
quibbleism – n. beating around the bush
locupletative – adj. tending to enrich
blateration – n. blabber; chatter
graviloquence – n. grave speech