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.
26 thoughts on “Thanks, nodgecomb”
The random stuff we learn…..all good.
You can’t get more random than this. 🙂
Posilutely? Well, it has possibility. I wonder if it will work in “Hanging with Friends”?
I need to see the animated movie that the word came from.
Among the lost words I mourn is “denizel.” Look it up, and then think of Denzel Washington, and then speculate that his parents were OED browsers! (I’m sure their inspiration was more contemporary, but I like my theory just the same…)
On a less romantic note, look up “merkin” and then think about Ole LBJ addressing the nation as “Mah fellow Merkins.” (This is not meant as mockery of Texas, just a comment on dialects and the lexicon.) This tickled the hell out of me and my fellow pinko students back in the day!
I have had no luck finding denizel, but I did find merkin. More than one Texan president has called us Merkins. Interestingly, the picture of the merkin on Wikipedia is pink. 🙂
I’m SURE I remember “denizel,” but I can’t find it either. Maybe I read it in some “dictionary of medieval terms” or something–my grad school experience involved a lot of looking in dictionaries! Interestingly, the word the OED does list, which means what I recall denizel as meaning, is even closer in spelling: DONZEL (also, donsel). A young gentleman not yet knighted; more or less the male equivalent of “damsel.” So my Denzel Washington fantasy can continue!
Thanks for the word, donzel. Very close in spelling and meaning to Denzel.
Oh, just realized that I might be thought to be saying that MERKINS tickled the hell out of me….no, pretending LBJ MEANT “merkins” did. Sorry, as you know, we English majors are obscene….
Interesting and humourous. So relate to this kind of humour.
Thanks for reading, HaLin.
Oh my, I use posilutely and absotively but only when necessary!
I figured that your cat would be familiar with the terms.
Shame nodgecomb died it is a nice sounding word.
If we keep using it, it will eventually show up in the search engines.
I can not think of a word to add to this lively discussion……maybe my brain has gone to where nodgecomb lives.
That’s where my brain lives all the time.
As you may, or may not, know I love words. I think, posilutely, I am not a nodgecomb for this. And I am looking forward to the day when these words do not have little red squiggly lines under them.
It’s amazing the perfectly good words that have squiggly lines under them.
Nodgecomb’s brother, Coxcomb didn’t fare too well, either. Sad.
They were cousins. Nodgecomb’s twin was nodgecock. There’s something about a rooster strutting around the barnyard that seems to be associated with foolishness.
Thank you for expanding my vocabulary. I’ve learned lottsa new words today. Truly a wondersome thing…
Words are yummy – they expand your vocabulary not your waistline.
haha you should have been my English teacher in school 😛
I would like to teach a class on the history of obsolete words.