Words, Wonderful Words

written by David
March 03, 2021

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Welcome to the first edition of Inkwell, the WellBrand blog! Over the coming weeks you’ll be introduced to the subjects that excite us: from awe-inspiring art to the horizons of wellness, from clever, eye-catching design to thought-provoking spirituality, from the written word to the unspoken beauty of Nature. We’re hoping these topics excite you as well!

I couldn’t think of a better place to start off than with words. To put it succinctly, I love words! This may have arisen from the fact that I’ve always been an avid reader and one who has found poetry to be his favourite form of meditation, but words have never ceased to bring me joy. Their origins, their meanings, their cadence – all fascinate me and there’s a palpable tingle of joy when I discover a word I’m not familiar with. Off to the dictionary (app) I go… 🙂

So it’s not terribly surprising that one of the first ideas that popped into me head when I was brainstorming blog topics was to feature one of my favourite books of the last couple of years “The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities – A Yearbook of Forgotten Words“ by Paul Anthony Jones. The title alone pretty much meant that this was going to be a book that I had to purchase, and Mr. Jones does not disappoint. Within it’s pages you’ll find a year’s worth of unique, often peculiar, but always fascinating words – one for each day. These words have been meticulously chosen because their definition or etymology (origins) connect with that specific date or time of year, and the story of that connection accompanies each word.

TWB bookshelf

Now, these aren’t words that you’re going to find yourself using in everyday conversation (though I certainly try), but, seriously, how can you resist juicy words like evanidness (short-lived or transitory), eucatastrophe (a sudden and unexpected fortuitous event – coined by J.R.R. Tolkien), fedifrageous (promise- or oath-breaking), umbratical (disguised, cloaked), dactylogram (a fingerprint) or epistolisable (worthy of writing in a letter).

CoLC page - Melliturgy

Other gems include:

  • melliturgy (bee keeping: the production of honey by bees) which is derived from the Greek word melissa (yes, that’s where the name comes from) and is from the same word family as mellifluous & mellifluent (flowing like honey).
  • nyctograph (a device for writing at night) which was invented by Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame so that he could write in the dark – the device used a made-up alphabet designed solely for this purpose.
  • siderodromophobia (a fear of rail travel) which is derived from the Greek words for iron (sideros), road (dromos) & fear (phobia)
  • polyanthea (a literary collection or anthology) which comes from the  Greek word for flower (anthea). I quite like the idea of a library as a ‘collection of flowers’.

As I said, fascinating stuff! 

(You may note from the photo above that the page corner has been folded over. I do this with any book I have to mark the place of a particularly wonderfully-written passage or an intriguing word. Let’s just say that this book has a plethora of folded-over corners…)

As tempting as it was to read the whole book at once (or at least over a few days), I restrained myself and savoured it over the course of 2018. Each day yielded its own little lexical treasure and it became like a daily meditation practice for me. Even now, every now and then, I’ll take the book down off the shelf (the hardcover version with it’s robin’s egg blue cover with gold embossing looks fabulous on any bookshelf! See above…) and remind myself of a few of the words that I MUST somehow work into a conversation soon.

In the end, inspiration often comes from being immersed in what we treasure, what brings us joy. For me, expanding my vocabulary and learning a bit of history of which I was previously unaware definitely checks both boxes!

Until next time, I certainly hope you found this first InkWell entry to be epistolisable!

Namaste & Be Well,

David InkWell blog signature

PS

If this intrigues you like it does me, support your local independent bookstore and pick up the hardcover, purchase a digital version from an online source (which has the added benefit of being searchable & ‘highlightable’), or like me, get both. If you want a regular sample of the linguistic treasures you’ll find in the book, you can follow Paul Anthony Jones on Twitter @HaggardHawks for daily new words to add to your vocabulary (or visit Mr. Jone’s website).

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