A to Z of Weird Words

What does 'panjandrum' mean? How about 'tregetry' or 'quidnunc'?  To celebrate the Wheeler Centre's Adopt a Word drive, we challenged celebrity cryptic crossword compiler David Astle to take some endangered words out for an overdue spin. He incorporated 25 weird words into one very strange poem.

acnestis.

A is for Acnestis, that itchy bit of your back
Built to block every scratching gesture;
B is for Begrutten, alias tear-stained,
Like an emo moper’s Manchester;
C stands for Contumacy, the stubbornness
Lasting from here till kingdom come;
D is for Dactylonomy, or maths by reliance
On the counter’s fingers and thumb;

E is for Eyesome, a ten-dollar synonym
Of drop-dead gorgeous, or exquisite;
F gives Fugacious, meaning fleeting,
In contrast to an irksome lodger’s visit;
G stands for Griseous, the steely grey
Implicit in a Kimberley pearl’s lustre;
Next is H for Hoyden, a robust girl
Whose calling is brawling with knuckleduster;

Meantime, should you sidestep doctors
You suffer a case of Iatromisia;
Versus J for Jejunator, an epicure
Eschewer of foods fatty and greasier;
K is for Kalon, the kind of beauty
Transcending Hollywood’s superficial;
Alongside L for Lucubration,
Or overnight swotting by lights artificial;

fugacious

M is for Merrythought, the wishbone
Present in duck, chook or pheasant;
N stands for Natant, afloat like a boat
Or strongly swimming as Thorpedo;
Moving onto Olid, describing pongs,
Or any airstream most unpleasant;
P is for Panjandrum, a stuffed-shirt
Pooh-bah prowling in two-bit tuxedo;

Q stands for Quidnunc, a gossipmonger
Deriving from ‘what now’ in Latin;
R offers Ramify, to break into branches
Like porcelain’s craquelure pattern;
S is for Scaramouche, a dastardly braggart
In the venal vein of Ebenezer Scrooge,
Perhaps a person prone to Tregetry,
Otherwise outbreaks of sly subterfuge;

natant.

U stands for Ululate, to howl or yowl
Like a lonesome Dakota coyote;
Or moan or groan like a stoner
Pwned by potent cones of peyote;
V delivers Velleity, a timid desire
So slim it will seldom transpire;
Meanwhile W is a wanton lacuna
In the Wheeler Centre’s list,
Obliging me to nominate Wheeple:
A weak bid to whistle, wisest to desist;

X is for Xesturgy, the act of polishing
As briskly shown by a shoeshine’s brush;
While Y yields Yare, the sort of eager
No bully can beleaguer or ego-crush;
Ushering us on to Z for Zetetic,
From Greek to seek – an inquisition;
Question being, which word will you pick
In this alphabetical exhibition?

 

Portrait of David Astle

Discussion

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