Most everyone’s vocabulary can use a little boost now and then, and now’s as good a time as any to top off your talk tank, even if the fuel is phony. Here’s the deal. We probed slightly beyond the normal scoring words in one recent game to scrounge up more faux-cabulary to build out your word wisdom to fantastic new frontiers. Read, digest, and go forth, word warriors. Freely bewilder your friends, captivate or confuse your colleagues, and generally furrow some serious quizzical brow with these newly mined gems. Dubious definitions proffered at no additional cost.
Once upon a time in Saddle Valley
Slape: To drink up with gusto or great thirst. Figurative or literal.
Apard: To/for/with/about each other: Stango and his sidekick Lubbock poured a frothy glass apard and slaped the icy brew with a self-possessed if vaguely detached contentment at the victory, the late afternoon sun ever sizzling just beyond their bullet-chewed brims. (from the buddy adventure Carry On, Westward Riders)
Passuck: A thinnish, heavy cloth or leather rucksack worn on the back, slung over a beast of burden, or straddling a rear bicycle tire: Stango and Lubbock would have enjoyed the drinks more had the airline not sent their passucks to Cincinnati. I mean, vouchers only go so far in the parched desert. Then again, the story did revolve around them making do with what they had, so, you know…
Rotear: Affliction suffered when falling asleep with ill-fitting or overly loud earbuds or earphones, affecting hearing and/or ear shape and/or helmet size: Kyle showed symptoms of acute rotear for years until a reluctant trip to the ENT revealed the culprit within scarcely a minute.
Up with the old
Whether dictionary-real or recommended for reality (every word was uttered or suggested by someone for the first time), new (or new to you) words are well worth the wander. This recent article in The Guardian, besides introducing flapdoodler, yulehole and hogamadog, dropped oldies-but-goodies hullabal(l)oo and canoodle, which we proudly featured here and on our screenshot page (Blu Yonder made it, highlighted on iPad near top right, 297 points). Just let a few of those dandies roll off your tongue at this weekend’s year-end party and see what happens. Or maybe not.
In with the new
And of course there’s John Koenig’s original Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which whimsically but thoughtfully seeks to inform the heretofore ineffable beyond words we already have. Besides the website, the book is a delight. Another book not to be missed is The Deeper Meaning of Liff: A Dictionary of Things There Aren’t Any Words for Yet – But There Ought to Be, by John Lloyd and the late, great Douglas Adams. This story on Upworthy can get you started if this is all new.
Speaking of new, you’ve probably seen the dictionaries have been letting loose with their words of the year, as well as new lexicon entries. We’ll be expanding the game’s acceptable wordlist accordingly in the near future.
Hone your own
Finally, though playing Spell the Beans generates plenty of its own made-up words, another way to DIY is a website called portmanteaur.com. According to Boing Boing, it’s a kind of prefix/suffix verbal sausage machine that cranks out random verbal potluck, a similar process to what Koenig described. You define your creations yourself. Likewise, thisworddoesnotexist.com uses ChatGPT AI to fabricate superb words and meanings, or lets you add your own, as described here by Boing Boing.
Another link we came across (subscription required) offers a downloadable dictionary of lost words of questionable lineage, while someone here seems to have made a set of reviewable flashcards. When !@#$%&* won’t suffice, head here. And although it’s no longer available, the Oxford English Dictionary once had Save the Words, a site created in the same spirit as Koenig’s that let you adopt a word. Even the archive of that has disappeared. Or maybe it’s in Cincinnati.