Looking to beef up your vocabulary? Wayne State University’s Word Warriors can help.
The school has published its 13th annual list of useful but not commonly-used words that deserve to be revisited and revived.
Our goal is to see if we can bring some of those words back.” — Chris Williams, Wayne State University
Chris Williams, assistant director of editorial services for Wayne State Marketing and Communications and head of the Word Warriors program, curates the list, which is the antithesis of Lake Superior State University’s “banished” words list. He says a lot of great words fade from the English language over time.
“We lose forms of speech that add a lot to our writing and to our speaking,” he says. “Our goal is to see if we can bring some of these words back.”
Williams says anyone can submit a word for consideration.
“If they come across something while they’re reading and think, ‘Wow, I haven’t heard that word, I like that word,’ let’s try to bring it back,” he says.
Williams says the Word Warriors review all entries to determine how common a word is before adding it to the list.
“Sometimes we’ll look back and see how widely it’s being used right now,” he says. “Is it a word that sounds fun? Does it seem like something we’d want to bring back?”
At the end of the year, the group determines which words have gained the most traction on its Facebook page and in conversation before choosing the 10 finalists.
This year’s list includes:
- cacoethes – an irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
- collywobbles – intense anxiety or nervousness
- desiderata – things that are required or wanted
- elflock – hair that appears to have been matted by elves
- foozle – to fumble or bungle something
- fudgel – to pretend to work
- grandiloquent – pompous or extravagant in language, style or manner
- malapert – boldly disrespectful to someone in authority
- otiose – serving no practical purpose
- scurryfunge – to tidy a house hastily
Williams says the Word Warriors are already taking nominations for next year’s list.
Listen: Chris Williams discusses the list of useful but not commonly used words to bring back in 2022.
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