Saturday, 25 October 2008

It's only words...

I saw this article on the BBC website and it's language related, following on from a recent post. The article has gathered favourite words along with their meaning. A few of them made me laugh and all made me ask the question how and why did these words come about?!

Defenestrate - To throw something out of a window.
Omphaloskepsis - is self-absorbed, naval-gazing.
Mallemaroking - the carousing of seamen in icebound ships [how many jokes could I make about this one?]
Tmesis - To break one word with another. For example: dis-bloomin-graceful, un-flippin-believable.
Ischial callosities - refers to the leather-like pads on a monkey's bum.
Petrichor - the sweet smell of rain on dry earth.
Tintinnabulation - describes a sound made by the ringing of a bell.
Borborygmus - the rumbling sound that comes from an empty stomach.
Slubberdegullion - means a worthless person. [you could imagine Mr Burns in the Simpsons using this and, in fact, when looking this up on the net, he did use it!]


  1. I don't know about ALL of them, but the etymology of "defenestrate" is pretty easy. It's Latin. de (from) + fenestra (window).

  2. Good point - but why did someone think that we needed a word to describe such an event?

  3. There is a more common word for "tmesis", namely "infixing." I'm sure both are equally obscure to the general public, though.

    I like the words for bell-ringing and stomach-grumbling. They illustrate a very beautiful use of reduplication, something English is woefully lacking.