A few weeks ago, we wrote about words that have been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for 2017 and what made those words worthy to be included into the official lexicon of our language. While looking at the new words, we also came across words that have been deleted in 2017, and the reasons why. As intriguing as it is to see fresh new words born of changing culture and technology and seeing how they become officially recognized, it is morose to find words that have become so outdated, obscured, or, in some case, just so unpopular to be officially cut out of the English language; at least as defined by Merriam-Webster. Take a look as we travel the dark seas out to a lifeless spit of sand where useless words rest in peace, with all their meanings sadly forgotten.
Just to recap, there were three qualifications for adding new words: 1) widespread usage, 2) sustained usage, and 3) meaningful usage. So, but what gets a word tossed out of the dictionary. Logically, it would seem the inverse to inclusion, right? Exactly. Words no longer in common use or whose meanings are so obsolete (culturally, technologically, or otherwise) that they can no longer accurately be defined.
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Therefore, as it seems, the editors of the dictionary scour sources to build a case for the retirement of chosen words searching the internet, LexisNexis, and other reference collections. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has been repeatedly published and updated for over two centuries and in that time has cut thousands of words through their once-a-decade revisions. Luckily for lovers of obscure words out there, most of these purged words can still be found in the online unabridged version.
Check out a very brief honor’s list of the fallen in 2017:
1. Frutescent (adj.): “having or approaching the appearance or habit of a shrub; shrubby”
2. Hodad (n.): a word from The Beach Boys’ era meaning “a nonsurfer who frequents surfing beaches and pretends to be a surfer”
3. Nephoscope (n.): “an instrument for observing the direction of motion and velocity of clouds” I had to do an image search for this, seems a shame to toss it on the junk heap of history, beautiful instrument full of brass fittings and axis, probably replaced by those obnoxious satellites.
4. Ostmark (n.): unit of currency in the former East Germany
6. Sternforemost (adv.): “with the stern in advance: backward; old nautical term”
7. Stylopodium (n.): “a disk-shaped or conical swelling or expansion at the base of the style in plants of the family Umbelliferae”
What do you think? Might these words completely fall out of use or should we bring some back for revival? We leave this one open for discussion. A snollygoster might or sternforemost might actually just make the difference when getting your message across, right?