Rescued from a recycling bin by Yours truly: a dog-eared copy of a book by Paul Dickson called Words: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Old and New, Weird and Wonderful, Useful and Outlandish. How could the writer in me resist a book with a title like that? Leafing through it, I found that the book more than fulfilled its lengthy title: It contained a ton of strange and strangely fascinating words.
Among its chapters: “Magic Words,” “Prophetic Words,” “Word words,” and “Soused Synonyms: Exactly 2, 231 Words and Phrases for Drunk.” After spinning through the book, I decided that one of my favorite chapters is called “Human Conditions: A Congregation of beliefs, Customs, and States.” Here are a few terms to jiggle your brain cells:
Agathism: “Belief that everything works toward ultimate good, no matter what the short-term consequences.”
Anomie: “A situation in which a society is not governed by the norms that generally regulate behavior. A period of upheaval and disorganization.”
Autolatry: “Worship of oneself.”
Bardolatry: “Excessive worship of Shakespeare.”
Eunomia: “The state of being well governed.”
Floromancy: “The belief that flowers have feelings and will respond to kindness
as well as cruelty.”
Hylozoism: “The belief that all matter has life.”
Jumboism: “The admiration of things simply because of their largeness”
Kleptocracy: “Government by Thieves.”
Pantisocracy: “Situation in which all are truly equal and all govern: a Utopian ideal.”
Pelagianism: “Belief in the basic goodness of nature, including human nature. Named for a heretic of the fifth century named Pelagius.”
Timocracy: “The ideal state in which the love of honor is the ruling principle.”
How about trying a few of these the next time you play Scrabble with friends? Write on!