Have you ever struggled to find just the right word to describe something?
If so, you may be pleased to hear that language experts have created a list of 30 ‘lost’ English words that have fallen out of everyday use, with a view to bringing some of them back.
The research team at the University of York’s Department of Language and Linguistic Science, working with insurer Privilege, scoured historic texts and dictionaries to create a list of words relevant to the world today.
“As professional linguists and historians of English we were intrigued by the challenge of developing a list of lost words that are still relevant to modern life,” said Dr Dominic Watt, Senior Lecturer in Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York.
The words include ‘awhape’ (a verb meaning to amaze, stupefy with fear, confound utterly); ‘slug-a-bed’ (a noun meaning one who lies long in bed through laziness); ‘coney-catch’ (a verb meaning to swindle, cheat; to trick, dupe, deceive); and ‘ear-rent’ (a noun denoting the figurative cost to a person of listening to trivial or incessant talk).
“We’re constantly presented with new additions to the English language, but we rarely discuss the words that are leaving and becoming obsolete,” said Christian Mendes, head of Privilege home insurance – a company that prides itself on its use of plain English.
“Research like this is important, and it highlights the constantly evolving nature of the English language,” added Mendes.
Members of the public are being invited to vote for the words they’d most like to see returned to modern English. Let’s just hope no one tries to coney-catch the results...