Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Neologism needed... for words that are the opposite of neologisms.

I'm a big fan of words for their own sake. I like neologisms a lot (for those of you not familiar with the term, neologisms are literally "new words," which become accepted because they are useful, "blog" is an example).

But I also find underused existing words fascinating, or words that have all but fallen out of use. I was amused, therefore, to come across this site, Save the Words.

The words on this site, some of which are just incredibly fun to use, are all ones that have been dropped from dictionary because they were not used. One can "adopt" words, by promising to use them whenever possible. I have, so far, adopted three, snollygoster, ptochology and jobler.

Snollygoster, which is a wonderfully Dr. Suess-ish sounding word, describes "a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician." We certainly haven't run out of unprincipled politicians, so it's a word worth hanging on to, if you ask me.

Ptochology is the study of pauperism and unemployment. Well... another timely word, and one that speaks to me personally at the moment, which brings us to the third word: jobler.
A jobler is one who does small jobs, which, as any ptochologist will tell you, is a popular way to earn a living when the snollygosters in the government and finance industries have got us into tough times.

I wonder, however, if what a jobler does should be called "jobling" or "joblering." I haven't been able to find a usage for either one online. I'm inclined to say, for example, that I'm a joblering writer, because "jobling" sounds like either a very small job or somebody's last name.

So, I expect to be digging up long-unused words and trying to slip them into my writing here and there. But if I'm going to make this a practice, how should I describe it? Saying "the use of near-obsolete and long-forgotten words" is O.K... once. What I need though, is a good, shiny neologism to describe these words.

A few thoughts: Retrologism, paleologism or archeologism. I'm leaning towards retrologism myself, because it implies a revival of something that had fallen out of fashion, such as in the sense of retr0 fashions.

So, dear readers, what do you think?

1 comment:

Linda said...

Paleologism. I thought of that word as soon as I saw your title!! Swear!! And I'm not a snollygoster, either.

I suppose that great minds think alike.