Returning to the List of 2700
Bill Long 3/20/07
Some Favorite Words
After my detour through some x-rated words, I thought it best to return to the "tameness" of the list of 2700 words. This is the time for fun wandering. It may take weeks or even months completely to master the list, but if we try to have some fun with a few of the words, the task will be rewarding and even entertaining. Let's begin with a word in the 23,000 word-list but not on my list of 2700: anythingarian.
I like this word because it perfectly captures the philosophy of many in our day: "One who professes no creed in particular; an indifferentist." When it was coined in 1704, it was meant as a term of contempt, something like the word "Unitarian" in the early 19th century. From 1704: "Such bifarious anythingarians, that always make their interest the standard of their religion." By the way, something "bifarious" is "two-fold" or "ambiguous." An anythingarian is not only, like St. Paul, "all things to all people," but is that way precisely because s/he has, like Teddy Roosevelt accused Supreme Court Justice OW Holmes Jr. of having (after an anti-TR opinion by Holmes), a "banana for a backbone."
In Your Face
I was struck by three words that are nearly consecutive on my list or the 23,000 word list, all of which have something to do with cleaning up parts of the face. Let's face 'em. They are collunarium, collutorium and collyrium. Derived from the Latin colluere (to wash), a collunarium is something that "cleans the narium." Ok, what does "narium" look like? Right, naris, a nostril. Two wrongs might not make a right, but two nares maketh the nose. By the way, a creature (including a human, I suppose) with a well-developed proboscis is nasute (nasus is the Latin word for nose; just like a hairy person is hirsute). Back to collunarium. The Unabridged defines it as "a medicated solution for instillation into the nostrils as a wash or spray or as drops." Can't you just hear the guy say to his wife, "Honey, will you please pursue the installation of the medicated solution in the nose?" Right. In any case, you now know what a collunarium is.
Well, a collutorium can be similarly understood. It also cleans something, in this case the mouth. A collutorium is a mouthwash. We even have one online picture of a mouthwash with the following description: "Sankyo has announced that it has brought to market LULU Gargle, a collutorium in its cold remedy series LULU." Interesting it is that it takes a Japanese company to use the English word collutorium to introduce its product. I guess that means it has pretty much faded from our vocabulary. But, not from yours, obviously.
Then we have a collyrium, which is defined as a "salve for the eyes" or "eyewash." Bausch & Lomb has an online product called Collyrium for Fresh Eyes Eye Wash. It claims that it "loosens foreign material" and "soothes and cleanses irritated eyes." I am glad that the product name included the final two words "eye wash" or else people might not have known what to do with the collyrium.
Since you have been so good on this, I will introduce you to two more neighbor-words, one from my list and one from the 23,000 word list. From my list is colluvies, which is derived from the same word (colluere, to wash). Colluvies are, literally, the collection of things washed, dregs, or offscourings. From an early quotation we have: "They..stuff up the Lungs with a greater Colluvies of Recrements." I wanted this quotation to give you recrement, another great word. The OED only has recrementitious (this word has appeared recently in the Kids Bee), but the Unabridged also has recrement, which it defines as "dross, scoria." Scoria, another useful word, along with its neighbor scoriaceous (i.e., having the nature of scoria), is the slag or dross that is the refuse of burned metals.
Actually, we can take a little detail here on scoria and its relatives. Derived from the Greek skoria, meaning excrement, scoria embraces a rather wider field of meaning to include not just dross or slag but also the "rough vesicular cindery usu. dark lava" in a volcano. A scorifier is a crucible-shaped cup in which dross of gold and silver filings are mixed before heating to extract the remaining gold and silver. Something scoriform "has the form of scoria," whatever that really means. The little suffix "form" in English can often be interpreted in a narrow or wide fashion, and it often becomes a way for language to lose its precision but, in the process, possibly to gain imaginative depth. We can scorify something by reducing it to a process of scorification; make sure you don't scorify what you really want to just scarify. Scarify means "to mark with scars; to cicatrize." Well, we can't go down the path of cicatrization this afternoon; I have wandered far enough...
Returning then, and finishing with, colluvies; it is now used to describe a random collection or a "medley, rabble, hotchpotch." Jeremy Taylor, the 17th century Anglican preacher, first used the word in its figurative sense: "A colluvies of Heresies." Not to be outdone, a spiritual writer from the next generation talked about a "colluvies of most filthy lecherous people." Notice that the word is a singular, even though it appears to have a plural form. In this regard it is similar to congeries, a heap of things.
With all these "col"-words having something to do with the face, let's just conclude with something that you get deep in your stomach but tends to have an effect on the mouth--by burping--the collywobbles. It is a "slight intestinal disturbance." Actually, this was a very popular word in my home when I was a boy. My mother was always asking us if we had the collywobbles after dinner. Maybe that says something about her cooking...
I see we didn't get too far, but there are at least a dozen very fine words here that are probably "Bee" material. You now know them, and can even have some fun with them. Let's move on to some more.