A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole [7/10]

What a beguiling concept! In “A Word for Every Day of the Year,” Steven Poole brings us 365 words that are “old and half-forgotten, or thoroughly forgotten.” He takes care, he announces at the start, to avoid two categories of words that crop up in similar books or websites, namely “nonce-words” used only once in history, and “dictionary orphans” that have a technical history “without ever being used in anger.” As soon as I opened the book, gratitude flooded me, for I’m forever bemoaning my lack of lexical self-education. Dear reader, in contravention of my contract with you, I have not read the entire book, because in 2020 I plan to work through “A Word for Every Day of the Year,” day by diligent day, and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure and impact. (If interested, check out the Day Zero post.) Instead, I have browsed the first seven entries, from “dringle” to “ultracrepidarian.” This dip of toes into the water is sufficient, I reckon, to report that Poole is a smart, engaging writer with a keen vocabulary curator’s eye. If the book’s very concept interests you, buy it and, I’m sure, enjoy.

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