The Forgotten: Words that Have Been Lost to Time

In terms of historical records, you can tell a lot about how society has changed by the things that it’s left behind. In general, we keep the things that we use and completely forget about the things that we don’t have any use for. Be it music, movies, or science, it’s a universal principle that affects all aspects of human life — and the English language is no exception.

The thing is, not all the words on this list should have been forgotten. There are a lot of gems on here that definitely deserve a spot in your day-to-day vocabulary. Today, we pour a shot of alphabet soup on the curb in honor of the words that have been lost to time.

Crapulous

Remember when I said that a lot of the words on the list deserve mouth-to-mouth? I rest my case.

Derived from the Latin word crapula, crapulous describes getting sick from the excessive indulgence of food or liquor. The word was first used in writing in 1536, probably to describe my great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandpa.

It’s a wonderful adjective that’s currently out of circulation. However, I plan on spearheading its comeback in the not-too-distant future.

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Snow-broth

No, snow-broth isn’t a hearty, wintertime soup. It’s so much more than that.

You know that wet, muddy, half-melted puddle of snow that gathers in the gutters following a heavy snowfall? These days, we like to call it slush. At least, that’s what we call it in Canada. Back in 1590, people used to call it snow-broth.

Snow-broth is way better than slush. I mean, it’s not even in the same ballpark. Oh, the good old days.

Gorgonize

Gorgonize may sound like an ancient technique for grinding slabs of meat. Actually, it’s a verb that describes the act of hypnosis or petrifaction. To gorgonize your enemy is to freeze them up to a point of inaction.

The word was co-opted from Greek mythology. The Gorgons, much like the more famously known Medusa, were three sisters that had the power to turn onlookers to stone.

While the words date back to the 1600s, it doesn’t see much sunlight today. Despite that, I still feel like Cops would be much better if the officers yelled “gorgonize” instead of “freeze”.

Cockalorum

Ignore that nervous feeling you got when reading the header and relax. This part of the list is still safe for work.

Cockalorum isn’t just fun to say, it’s also a hilarious way to insult someone. That’s right, cockalorum is a 1700s era insult. It describes a boastful and self-important person.

I’ve certainly met a few cockalorums around town. Or is it cockalori? Anyways, it’s suspected that cockalorum is a modification of a word from an obsolete Dutch dialect used to describe a rooster crow.

Callipygian

The first known use of callipygian was in 1831. It can by etymologically tied to the language of the Ancient Greeks.

According to wiktionary.org, popular synonyms for callipygian include bootylicious, bumtastic, and rumpalicious. I’m not joking.

That’s right! Callipygian is a lost word that was once used to describe a person with beautifully shaped buttocks.

What? Did you think society’s obsession with a perfectly formed bum was a new thing? For shame.

Snollygoster

We have yet another goofy-sounding word that’s a damning insult. To call someone a snollygoster is to accuse them of being shrewd and unprincipled. That’s quite the accusation.

The obsolete word is suspected to have been inspired by the snallygaster, a mythical beast that preys on poultry and children. Shrewd and unprincipled indeed.

The first known use of the word dates all the way back to 1845. Though I’d love to say it’s no longer in use today, I just called my landlord a snollygoster, so there’s that.

Barbigerous

No, barbigerous isn’t the stuff that your hairdresser uses to disinfect their combs, but it does have a little to do with hair.

The word barbigerous is a hilariously clunky alternative to describe a man with a beard. Hipsters, for example, are barbigerous. TV legend Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation is the most barbigerous.

I’ve never heard this word before, so it’s safe to say that it’s long out of print. However, much like the handlebar mustache, everything old will one day be new again.

Zwodder

You’ve probably never heard it used in a sentence, but the feeling and personality type that the word “zwodder” describes is universal. If you’ve ever woken up too early or eaten too much food, your drowsiness and dullness may render you a zwodder. Conversely, a person with a dull and drowsy personality — say my former history professor — could also be called a zwodder.

The term dates back to the early 1800s. If you’re looking to secretly insult a boring person, you certainly have my permission to dust it off.

Stanislav Photographer / Shutterstock

Woofits

Not to be confused with the popular 1980s British children’s books, the word woofits (or woefits), was at one time used to describe an unwell feeling, a moody depression, or even a hangover.

Did Michael Parkinson, British television personality and creator of The Woofits, know that he named his family of happy-go-lucky cartoon dog characters after alcohol sickness? It’s hard to say. What I can say is that a cartoon series detailing the ups and downs of a family of hung-over dogs sounds intriguing indeed.

fizkes / Shutterstock

Groak

And the award for the creepiest word on our list goes to groak!

This obscure verb is native to the Scottish language. It describes a person that silently watches another person eat.

You know, like when you take a steak off the grill, set it on your plate next to some vegetables, sit down at the dinner table only to be met by your dog’s yearning stare. Yup, that’s a groak. Which is cute when it’s a dog. However, when it’s a stranger sitting alone at a table nearby, not so much.

Susan Schmitz / Shutterstock

Jargogle

I’m just going to go out and say it, I absolutely adore this world. Not only is it super fun to say but it also fits its definition so darn well.

First used by philosopher John Locke in 1962, jargogle means “to confuse or jumble.”

Accidently mistype a word? That’s a jargogle. Write down the wrong phone number on a cocktail napkin? Classic jargogle. Accidentally call your boss Mom? You better believe that’s a jargogle.

Freck

Not to be confused with the faux-freckle cosmetic company or the grade-school staple frick, freck is a dialectal British term meaning eager and ready.

Freck can be traced back to the Old English word frec, meaning greedy, eager, bold, and dangerous. It’s a word that’s seen a lot of growth over the years. But, to be honest, I still prefer the word frick.

WAYHOME studio / Shutterstock

Guttle

The word guttle has been around since roughly the 1650s. But, the action that it describes has certainly been around forever. To guttle is to eat voraciously, swallow greedily, to gorge, to wolf down, to eat an entire large pizza to oneself.

The word’s exact origin is unknown. However, I like to think that a common farmhand was asked to take notes during a particularly hearty feast and decided on the word “guttle” to describe all the gross sounds their keeper was making.

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