Words, glorious words

· links ·

Through Green Fairy, I've just discovered Wordsmith's wonderful Word-a-Day site. She mentioned a couple of brilliant words that I hadn't heard of before. I'm now going to have to find excuses to slip them into casual conversation:

Strikhedonia - The pleasure of being able to say 'to hell with it'

Sphallolalia - Flirtatious talk that leads nowhere

Sphallolaliaâ€"it even sounds seductive.

I love words, and one of my favourite books is a dictionary of words for which no words exist: the excellent Deeper Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. All of Douglas Adams' books make me roar out loud with laughter, but this one is useful and funny. For example, haven't you always wanted a word for ‘an agonizing situation in which there is only one possible decision but you still can't take it' (Abalemma, n.)? It's one of those books that makes you constantly read bits out to anyone else who happens to be in the room (there ought to be a word for that but there isn't), so I could quote sections ad nauseam, but I'll try to restrict myself to just a few favourites:

Ardslignish (adj.) Descriptive of the behaviour of Sellotape when you are tired.

Dalmilling (ptcpl. vb.) Continually making small talk to someone who is trying to read a book.

Nad (n.) Measure defined as the distance between a driver's outstretched fingertips and the ticket machine in an automatic car-park. 1 nad = 18.4 cm.

Peoria (n.) The fear of peeling too few potatoes.

Scosthrop (vb.) To make vague opening or cutting movements with the hands when wandering about looking for a tin opener, scissors, etc., in the hope that this will help in some way.

Throcking (ptcpl. vb.) The action of continually pushing down the lever on a pop-up toaster in the hope that you will thereby get it to understand you want it to toast something.

I'm in complete awe of Adams and Lloyd for being so perceptive; I instantly recognised the concepts in this book, but would never have thought of them myself. It makes me even more sorry that Douglas Adams will never write anything else.