In a Word

ambilogy
n. uncertain or doubtful meaning; ambiguity

raddled
adj. of a person: confused, fuddled

trilapse
n. a third lapse

recreant
adj. defeated

When a twelfth-century youth fell in love he did not take three paces backward, gaze into her eyes, and tell her she was too beautiful to live. He said he would step outside and see about it. And if, when he got out, he met a man and broke his head — the other man’s head, I mean — then that proved that his — the first fellow’s — girl was a pretty girl. But if the other fellow broke his head — not his own, you know, but the other fellow’s — the other fellow to the second fellow, that is, because of course the other fellow would only be the other fellow to him, not the first fellow who — well, if he broke his head, then his girl — not the other fellow’s, but the fellow who was the — Look here, if A broke B’s head, then A’s girl was a pretty girl; but if B broke A’s head, then A’s girl wasn’t a pretty girl, but B’s girl was. That was their method of conducting art criticism.

— Jerome K. Jerome, Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, 1886

In a Word

volant
adj. engaged in flight

espieglerie
n. impish or playful behaviour; mischief

apopemptic
adj. pertaining to leave-taking or departing

réclame
n. publicity or notoriety

In 1953, 61-year-old British ace Christopher Draper flew an Auster monoplane under 15 of the 18 bridges on the Thames, negotiating 50-foot arches at 90 mph.

“I did it for the publicity,” he told the press. “For 14 months I have been out of a job, and I’m broke. I wanted to prove that I am still fit, useful and worth employing. … It was my last-ever flight — I meant it as a spectacular swan song.” He was fined 10 guineas.

In a Word

scrutator
n. a person who investigates

ambagical
adj. obscure

butyraceous
adj. of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter

delibation
n. a slight knowledge of something

In “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons,” Sherlock Holmes makes an enigmatic allusion: “You will remember, Watson, how the dreadful business of the Abernetty family was first brought to my notice by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day.”

He says nothing more. In The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Leslie Klinger writes, “Numerous pastiches and analyses of the ‘Abernetty business’ have been written and are surveyed in detail in William Hyder’s ‘Parsley and Butter: The Abernetty Business.’ Hyder concludes, without foundation, that no less than murder was involved. Is it not equally likely that a business — perhaps an inn or tavern — run by the Abernetty family was ‘dreadful’ (that is, kept in poor sanitation), and that that condition was first brought to Holmes’ notice by the butter having been left out on a hot day? The connection between this observation and the ensuing investigation remains undetermined. A number of scholars consider whether and how fast parsley will sink into butter. Not surprisingly, they do not agree.”

In a Word

kirkify
v. to make like a Presbyterian church in appearance

(This is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s English Note-Books of 1857: “Then we went to St Giles’s Cathedral, which I shall not describe, it having been kirkified into three interior divisions by the Covenanters.”)

In a Word

res angusta domi
n. straitened financial circumstances

appaumé
adj. having the hand opened out so as to display the palm

mammering
n. a state of hesitation or doubt

manuduction
n. careful guidance

dactylonomy
n. the art of counting on the fingers

belve
v. to roar or bellow

In a Word

arreptitious
adj. liable to raptures

congaudence
n. rejoicing together

nundination
n. buying and selling, trade

melic
adj. intended to be sung

“Selling I. B. M.” to be sung to the tune of “Singin’ in the Rain,” from the 1937 corporate hymnal Songs of The IBM:

Selling I. B. M., we’re selling I. B. M.,
What a glorious feeling, the world is our friend,
We’re Watson’s great crew, we’re loyal and true;
We’re proud of our job and we never feel blue.
We sell our whole line, we’re there every time,
To chase away gloom with our products so fine,
We’re always in trim, we work with a vim,
We’re selling, just selling, I. B. M.!

(Via MetaFilter.)

In a Word

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hamlet_mit_Polonius_auf_dem_Friedhof_1860.jpg

preterlethal
adj. taking place after death

inhume
v. to lay in the grave

janua
n. a door

The principal trap in almost all theatres is known as the grave trap. This is one of the conventionalisms of the English stage, and is a testimony also the enduring influence of Shakespeare. It is well understood that at some time or another the play of ‘Hamlet’ will be performed in every theatre, and Ophelia‘s grave must therefore be dug in every stage — hence the grave trap. It may be that it is not always placed in the right position to suit the ideas of each new representative of the Royal Dane, and it has happened that it has been found too short for the reception of poor Ophelia‘s coffin; but it is never omitted in the construction of a stage.

— Folger Shakespeare Library Scrapbook, quoted in Paul Menzer, Anecdotal Shakespeare, 2015

In a Word

apolactize
v. “to spurne with the heele” (from Henry Cockeram’s English Dictionarie of 1623)

tripudiary
adj. pertaining to dancing

Any stranger behind the scenes at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the opening night of Adeline Genée and the Imperial Russian Ballet would have been amazed (stated The Melbourne Age on Monday) at a little incident that was enacted just before Mlle. Genée made her entrance from the wings. Mr. Hugh Ward approached the great dancer, and, raising his foot, kicked her on the leg. The astonishment would have increased on it being noticed that Mlle. Genée, far from being incensed at this apparent liberty, was greatly pleased at it, and rippled with laughter. Mlle. Genée explained the incident in this way. ‘You see,’ she said, ‘while I am not exactly over-superstitious, there are still some little things I pay regard to, and one of them is that before I make my first appearance anywhere I must be given a ‘good luck kick’ prior to making my entrance. I mentioned this jokingly to Mr. Ward when I arrived in Sydney, and he said it would give him the greatest pleasure to present me with the lucky kick on the opening night of the season. So he has come all the way from Sydney to do so.’

— Adelaide Register, June 25, 1913

In a Word

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_Millet_(II)_014.jpg

ceduous
adj. suitable for felling (as a tree)

Lumberjack argot, from L.G. Sorden and Jacque Vallier’s Lumberjack Lingo, 1986:

two streaks of rust: a logging railroad
cougar milk: Prohibition-era woods liquor
quinine jimmy: a camp doctor
bunch it: to quit work
kegging up: getting drunk
tree squeak: an imaginary bird to which the noise made by trees rubbing together was attributed
she’s a rainbow: What a day!
house of hesitation: a jail
traveling dandruff: lice
iron burner: the camp blacksmith
sawdust city: Eau Claire, Wisconsin

“It’s five a.m. and the gabriel blows. The bark eaters fall out of their muzzle loaders and head for the chuck house to bolt down a pile of stovelids with lots of blackstrap, some fried murphys or Johnny cake and maybe some logging berries. They dunk their rolling stock into their jerk water, growl at the hash slinger, pull up their galluses and head for the tall timber.”

In a Word

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Die_Gartenlaube_(1872)_b_761.jpg

barkable
adj. able to bark

There’s a word for you! Eileen Power’s The Wool Trade in English Medieval History (1941) quotes a 13th-century treatise on estate management:

It profiteth the lord to have discreet shepherds, watchful and kindly, so that the sheep be not tormented by their wrath, but crop their pasture in peace and joyfulness; for it is a token of the shepherd’s kindness if the sheep be not scattered abroad but browse around him in company. Let him provide himself with a good barkable dog and lie nightly with his sheep.

Bonus: hinnible means able to neigh or whinny.