Words that should be used more often…

I was reading someone’s comment on a review, and I thought “THAT is a great word. More people should use that.” So I thought I’d make a list of words that seem to have fallen out of usage and perhaps we can have one of them forge a comeback.

The word in question was the terrific word:

Nincompoop

  • Def: a fool or simpleton
  • Origin: 1670-80, origin uncertain
  • Forms of the word: nincompoopish; nincompoopery

Here are 14 more words that you don’t see often but I like.

Persnickety

  • Def: Over-particular or fussy
  • Origin: 1885–90;  orig. Scots,  variant of pernickety
  • Forms of the word: persnicketiness

Passel

  • Def: a group or lot of indeterminate number
  • Origin: 1825–35;  alteration of parcel

Skedaddle

  • Def: to run away hurriedly; flee
  • Origin: 1860–65,  Americanism; compare dial. ( Scots,  N England) skedaddle to spill, scatter, skiddle  to move away quickly

Spiffy

  • Def: spruce; smart; fine.
  • Origin: 1855–60;  dial. spiff  well-dressed (origin uncertain)
  • Forms of the word: spiffiness, spiffily and verb spiffing

Whimsy

  • Def: a capricious idea or nothing; light fanciful humour; something quaint or unusual
  • Origin: 1595–1605; whim

Dolt

  • Def: a dull, stupid person; blockhead.
  • Origin: 1535–45;  variant of obsolete dold  stupid, orig. past participle ofMiddle English dollen, dullen  to dull
  • Forms of the word: doltish, doltishly, doltishness

Ennui

  • Def: a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety orlack of interest; boredom
  • Origin: 1660–70;  < French:  boredom; Old French enui – displeasure;

Calamity

  • Def: a great misfortune or disaster
  • Origin: 1375–1425; late Middle English calamite  < Middle French  < Latincalamitāt-  (stem of calamitās ), perhaps akin to incolumitās  safety

Rapscallion

  • Def: a rascal; rogue; scamp.
  • Origin: 1690–1700;  earlier rascallion,  based on rascal

Nifty

  • Def: attractively stylish or smart; very good; fine; excellent:
  • Origin: 1860–65,  Americanism; of obscure origin
  • Forms of the word: niftily

Swoon

  • Def: to faint; lose consciousness.
  • Origin: 1250–1300;  (v.) Middle English swo ( w ) nen  to faint
  • Forms of the word: swooningly

Thrice

  • Def: three times, as in succession; on three occasions or in threeways.
  • Origin: 1150–1200; Middle English thries,  equivalent to obsolete thrie  thrice (Old English thrīga

Lick (a smidgeon)

  • Def: a small amount
  • Origin: before 1000; Middle English; Old English liccian,  cognate with OldSaxon liccōn, Old High German leckōn;  akin to Go bilaigon, Latin lingere,Greek leíchein  to lick (up)

Swell

  • Def: first-rate; fine
  • Origin: before 900; Middle English swellen  (v.), Old English swellan;  cognatewith Dutch zwellen, German schwellen, Old Norse svella;  akin to Gothicufswalleins  pride

So share with me your favourite words and which ones you’d like to see make a come-back.

Just for fun, here is a paragraph using all 15 of my fave words.

Callum knew he had to skedaddle before Mark saw him. He’d been a dolt and didn’t have a lick of sense to think it would be a swell idea to approach a swoon-worthy guy like that on a Friday night. His nifty plan, to put on an air of ennui as he rapped thrice on Mark’s door, turned out to be a calamity when his nerves got to him, and he decided to vanish into the night like a rapscallion. He was a nincompoop, he could admit that. It had been a flight of whimsy to think that a spiffy new sweater would be enough to impress Mark and his passel of persnickety polo-loving friends. If he could get Mark alone… maybe. He’d have to work on that.

Sexy Argentinian polo player Ignatio Figueras.

The polo playing thing came out of nowhere in my brain, but when I went to look for a pic, I found this guy, so must have been destiny. :-)

9 thoughts on “Words that should be used more often…

  1. Jenre says:

    I love your words! I even use some of them from time to time, skeddadle and nincompoop in particular.

    I like the word numpty which has the same meaning as dolt or nincompoop :).

    • Tam says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard that one. Maybe a British word. It’s fun when I’m reading something and go “Oh, great word.”

  2. Chris says:

    Great list! I use nifty, swell, spiffy, and ennui a fair amount.

    Trying to think of words I wish were used more… or at all. Hmm. Pusillanimous – Lacking courage; cowardly. The only vocabulary word I remember from college freshman English. :)

  3. Laurie says:

    I love these. I think I’m going to try and sneak one into each new review I write. I tend to use the same words over and over.

  4. […] Check out Tam’s post about words she thinks need to be used more often. […]

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