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Nay, if you be no better in the Reare then in the Van I shall make no doubt to vanquish, and vanquash you, too, before we part.
Dick of Devon (c1626)

The OED is boring. The definition there is “To Smash,” but that doesn’t really conjure the meaning I think of when I hear vanquash. It conjured the word vanquish (to deafeat, conquer) along with squash. If something has been vanquashed, it wasn’t just smashed, it was annihilated, (Check out Charles Hodgson’s excellent post/podcast on annihilate), hence my definition of SMASHTICATE.

It’s a very useful word, especially when describing incredible feats and defeats in history. Remember when the Rebels blew up the second Death Star? Empire got totally vanquashed.


noun. Coolness; adj. Cool and crisp

By Cold, and by a kinde of Frescour (as we now-a-days speak).
Bacon’s Life & D. (1627)

OED says noun, but there are some wonderful ways to use it as an adjective as well.

The first four letters of frescour are the same as those in fresh for a reason. Frescura is Italian for “having the quality of freshness.” Frescour is something so fresh that it’s cool. It’s like biting into a fresh cold cucumber. Frescour seems to carry with it the meaning of “crisp” as in a crisp cucumber, but frescour has the lovely coupling of texture and temperature.

Now say “frescour cucumber” ten times fast.

This morning was a rather frescour morning. Fall has finally started; the days are getting colder, the clouds stay in the sky longer, the ugly-sweater-gift-from-last-Christmas is making appearances. The weather channel says it’ll be a frigorific 57°F tonight (very cold for those who have only ever lived in Southern California). Brrrr!


noun. Air travel by hot-air-balloon.

A sort of meditation on future airgonation, supposing that it will not only be perfected, but will depose navigation.
Letters, Horace Walpole (1784)

One who travels by hot-air-balloon is (also used by to Walpole) an airgonaut. Airgonauts airgonate just as astronauts astronate. Have you been astronating lately?

There’s probably not a whole lot of use for this word (airgonauts, please prove me wrong!) but it’ll be a fun one to pull out of your wordsack when next you go ballooning. What do people call themselves when they go in balloons as a hobby or for work? Ballooner, Balloonist, Balloonie, Bologna?

Don’t confuse hot air balloons with cold air balloons. One of those won’t get you very far. Horace Walpole says above that he thinks air travel will eventually replace sea travel. O, his prophetic soul! Do you think he could have predicted the internet’s vast supply of adult content? I think not.


noun. Body.

He had an handsome man-case, and better it had been empty with weakness, than (as it was) ill-fitted with viciousness.
The church-history of Britain, Thomas Fuller (1655)

Hey there Thomas Fuller, are you eying someone’s man-case? You sly devil, you.

No, it’s not a suitcase that’s just for men (following the man-bag pattern). But man-case means body? For seriouslyness? That sounds all kinds of ostrobogulatory. No matter how you parse it, it’s an odd term. The man is the body so the body is the man-case? Is the body the man or is the man IN the body?

I love man-words but this one is too mangled for my taste. Maybe we should find a new meaning for man-case. Any suggestions? I’m sure you can manage to think of one.


adj. Blameless

[the Church] shold be holi and without blemish, or rather Amomous..that is irreprehensible, safeguarded from the bitings of Momus, one of the feined Gods among the Gentils.
Theologica Mystica, John Pordage (1683)

What do you mean, Mr. Pordage, when you say the church should be amomous? Are you saying it isnt!?

Apparently this word is borrowed from Greek word for blameless, amomos; how convenient! It’s a shame it hasn’t been used in so long. So many unamomous people claim to be amomous, you’d expect someone to say amomous. And why not? It’s fun to say!

My parents always thought I stole the cookies from the cookie jar, but I was entirely amomous. It was my imaginary enemy. Damn you, Roderick.


noun. An egotist.

His Works hereafter will be more favourably receiv’ the Meists and Selfists.
Common Sense (1737)

A meist (or me-ist) is someone who subscribes to some form of me-ism. You know the type. Maybe you are the type. I don’t know, you tell me: are you a youist?

Hey, it’s another perfect name-calling word. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Now you can call all the big-headed people you know meists. You can nickname the most meistiest one the meist-meister!

The confusing thing is who you’re referring to when you say it. If I say, “I’m a meist!” that of course means that I’m full of myself. But if I ask, “Are you a meist?” couldn’t I be asking you if you’re full of me? I could say youist, but then it’s unclear if the person I’m referring to is full if him/herself or others.


adv. By the way; in passing.

That such a Doctrine..should be left thus faintly, thus obscurely, and, if I may so say, obitaneously, declared.
Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit, Samuel T. Coleridge (1834)

Last time I obitaneously suggested that infidelity can be humorous. I apologize, it should have been less obitaneous.

Here’s another one of those words that you can season your conversation with quite easily to sounder more smarter. Instead of saying “by the way,” or “B. T. Dubs,” you can say “Obitaneously, you still suck.”

Even if you don’t want to sound smarterer, it’s still a fun word to use. I recommend using it thrice a day after meals for 30 days or until you have received several obitaneous looks of disgust from your friends and family.


noun. ‘Light-heeled’ pranks.

If your wiues play legerdeheele, though you bee a hundred miles off, yet you shall be sure instantly to find it in your forheads.
All Fools, George Chapman (1605)

A play on the word legerdemain, which literally means “light of hand,” used to refer to sleight of hand or trickery and deception. In the citation above, legerdeheel refers specifically to infidelity, not a laughing matter. Except for the times that it is.

If being light of hands is prestidigitation, then being light of heel must be prestipeditation. Perhaps meaning that you can sneak off somewhere else without being noticed, as if by magic. Or maybe it means you can do card tricks with your feet.


noun. An adherent of the ‘kirk’ or Scottish church.

What hath been done by kirkists these last dozen of yeers.
The discovery of a most exquisite jewel, Thomas Urquhart (1652)

Scottish church? BORING! Here at On Words and Upwards! I strive to boldy go where no nonce-word has gone before… but not to Scotland. I chose this word for how it looked, not the definition. Nothing wrong with the Scottish Church, of course. But it just doesn’t seem entertaining. Someone please feel free to enlighten me — I’ve never been to church in Scotland.

I propose that the name Kirkists be applied to all those who feel that Captain Kirk is superior to Picard. That’s right Trekkies, Trekkers and Trekkists, it’s an epic battle for votes and only one Star Trek captain can be the victor. Are you a Kirkist or a Picardist?

Cast your votes in the comments!


noun. Being half in jest, half serious.

Our own poet has lately characterized himself as a jocoserious genius; and in fact this jocoseriosity seems of much the same quality with the eironeia of the Greek.
Browning Society Papers, E. Johnson (1885)

Comedians are well known for jocoseriosity: they’ll point out something ridiculous about our lives to make us laugh, as well as to make us think. I’m sure you speak with jocoseriosity all the time.

This observational approach to stand-up humour is almost always effective. By creating an atmosphere of identifiable situations tied in with humour, we’re given the chance to laugh at both the comedian’s past, and our own. Whether you’re watching Robin Williams tear up the Apollo on YouTube while playing a bit of, it’s easy to spot this particular technique.

“Does this dress make me look fat?” she asked.
“Yeah, so huge!” he said with jocoseriosity.
He was swiftly incapacitated by a strong kick to the groinal region.

Don’t be that guy. Be jocoserious when appropriate, not on a seriosityful occasion. She wasn’t fat, just not as thin as she used to be.

Leave a comment full of jocoseriosity and jocoserious things you’ve said today!