POSSLQs and Hoodlums

March 23rd, 2010

Many of you responded enthusiastically to my use of the word “POSSLQ” in Sunday’s column, and Molly was delighted by the use of “Hoodlum” in the bad spam I received yesterday.

So what are some other underused, archaic, or eccentric words you are fond of?

I use the word “interlocutor” a lot, which Mr. Improbable says he has never heard anyone use it in conversation before. But it’s such a useful word: it basically means “someone you are having a conversation with.” And since I often talk in a meta- kind of way about conversational strategies, it does save me sometime.

What odd words do you like?


13 Responses to “POSSLQs and Hoodlums”

  1. Molly on March 23, 2010 7:48 am

    Not exactly an answer to your question, but I’ve created a couple inadvertent portmanteaus that have entered our vocabulary (we seem to be developing our own dialect):

    “Snop”: a combination of “no” and “stop”, gives an indication of indignation in the request for something to stop

    “Squid”: yes, this is already a word, but in this case, it’s a combination of “squeal” and “skid”, as in “Did you just squid the tires?” Also useful when the cats go squidding down the hall.

  2. Dmajor on March 23, 2010 9:17 am

    I favor “nincompoop”. Nobody every calls anyone that anymore, but it’s so dismissive, and yet goofy. As in, “What did that nincompoop Glenn Beck say today?”

    And it’s an insult that isn’t obscene. Usually. Except for extreme cases. When it is. As in, “Aw geez, what did that f***ing nincompoop Glenn Beck say today?”

    See, it’s flexible. And it alliterates nicely with “nitwit”. Also “numbskull”. Neither of which has really been used much since the passing of Moses Horwitz (b/k/a “Moe Howard”) — a fella who new how to put the “grate” in “denigration”.

  3. CharleyS on March 23, 2010 1:38 pm

    I can’t see or hear the word “interlocutor” without thinking that it’s the “Interocitor” from This Island Earth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interocitor).

  4. Geri Sullivan on March 23, 2010 6:04 pm

    In the last 50 years, “jalopy” seems to have fallen by the wayside, much like the fate of the cars it describes.

    My dad used to lovingly call my brother a “hobbledehoy.” I thought it was a great word then, and don’t think I’ve heard it more than once since.

  5. Chris on March 23, 2010 8:10 pm

    Masticate. Sounds a lot worse than it is.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Masticate

  6. diane on March 23, 2010 11:27 pm

    Travel “by shank’s mare.” I get some strange looks when I say it. It just means to walk. I saw a reference to it recently in a memoir by a British man whose nanny said “by shank’s pony” in the 1930s. Where did I pick it up? No idea. No one else in my family says it.

    Another one I have to be careful of is “blowhard.” It just means someone who blows hot air (loudly and ignorantly opinionated). The word seems to have picked up a sexual connotation over time.

  7. liza on March 24, 2010 7:50 am

    peripatetic, as in the peripatetic Wally Ballou (from Bob and Ray)

  8. Robin on March 24, 2010 12:10 pm

    Oooh, I thought of two more good ones:

    Weisenheimer (meaning smart-aleck), which I don’t use, but should, and “sword side,” which I do use and no one knows what it means. Most people are familiar with “distaff side,” which means the women’s side (e.g., the wife’s side of the family). “Sword side” means the men’s side.

  9. ATF on March 24, 2010 6:37 pm

    Ishkabibble. I get that one from my grandmother. It basically means worry wart but it’s SO much more fun to tell someone to stop being an ishkabibble.

  10. diane on March 25, 2010 10:57 am

    Oh oh oh, ATF, you triggered a memory. My mother used to call me Ishkabibble the Witch when I misbehaved (while my brother was more often called Michel L’Archange, meaning Michael the Archangel, so you can imagine how that rankled.) If you told me to stop being an ishkabibble, I’d think you’re telling me to stop being a witch!

    Plumping. I got a lot of flack for using that one in an email recently. We were picking a day for something, and I said I was plumping for Tuesday. I had to send the Webster definition.

  11. Jay on March 25, 2010 1:16 pm

    I just told someone that our new computer “works a treat”, and they looked at me very oddly. I guess it’s a Britishism (I am a native USer, living in the US) and I suspect I picked it up from reading British children’s books back in the day. I like it.

  12. Robin on March 25, 2010 1:32 pm

    I say “works a treat,” too, Jay!

  13. Dmajor on March 26, 2010 12:29 pm

    Wasn’t Ish Kabibble a comedian with Kay Kyser’s band?

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