Word History…

First, I was inspired to look up some of the words in the Save the Word image that I used yesterday.

Sparsile (according to what I found) means a star that is not in a constellation. However, the source that had that definition said it was used a single time in 1871 and has not been used again. Looking for the word on Google’s ngram viewer, it did not show up.

I learned, however, that traduce (see my post from yesterday–but if you are checking it means to speak negatively about someone in order to damage their reputation) was most popular in 1810 and has gone steadily downhill since.

Because I was looking up words and it is the Thanksgiving holiday, my son asked when we define words as archaic. I did not know, so I looked that up. I was not sure that Google would be able to parse the question; however, it seemed to have had no difficulties.

Merriam-Webster says this:
“The temporal label obsolete means that there is no evidence of use since 1755…
The temporal label archaic means that a word or sense once in common use is found today only sporadically or in special contexts…”

I like archaic words. I am also pleased to find that I may employ them without being told they do not exist as words any more.

Of course, when I give my students quizzes, sometimes we have a vocabulary discussion because I assume they know more words than they do. A recent quiz had the following words that students within the class asked for definitions:
timorous
debonair

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