Thanks, nodgecomb



That great Word Census, known as the OED, keeps records on the words populating the minds and mouths of English speakers. Some words, like “double,” have been around since 1290 doing twice the work of most verbs. Others die young.  For instance, “nodgecomb,” called both a simpleton and a fool, grew up in England in the 1500s and then suddenly died. We have no record of why he died, so there’s no way to dispute my claim that he was killed when he was caught poaching. At that time, most of the forests in England belonged to the royals, and under the sumptuary laws of Elizabethan England, unless you were granted a royal license, you could not hunt. Punishment for poaching included hanging, castration, and blinding. Few people know this (and I didn’t even know myself until I thought of it), but since the price for poached deer was so high, the English peasants began raising chickens and poaching their own eggs instead. If you had poached eggs this morning, you have nodgecomb to thank.


At this point, I probably should insert a line of little asterisks, but I’m not sure, so please just go the next paragraph. It also has something to do with the OED.

In the December census, the OED listed “posilutely” as a newcomer. Although it was born in 1988 in a dog’s mouth (Dodger in the movie “Oliver and Co.), it’s now safe to put in your mouth; it has the OED seal of approval, so you won’t get germs. I don’t know if its counterpart, “absotively,” is in the OED because I don’t have a bookshelf big enough to hold that many volumes or a bank account big enough to buy it.


They have an online subscription that I am considering. I hope by the time I sign up “nodgecomb” has been revived. We have a lot in common; not the poaching part, the simpleton part.