“I love finding words that are just beautiful as well as strange,” says self-confessed ‘word geek’ Paul Anthony Jones. “‘Mamamouchi’ is a delight to say out loud.”
It’s one of the words featured in his book The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities (published by Elliott & Thompson), compiling obscure terms Jones has found in long-forgotten lexicons and out-of-print dictionaries. We’ve picked 12 of our favourites for our animation looking at ‘lost words’ with surprising meanings.
From ‘frowst’ – a 19th-Century slang word for ‘extra time spent in bed on a Sunday’ – to ‘shivviness’, ‘the uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear’, they’ve fallen out of use. Jones wants to resurrect them, and he’s found a receptive audience on social media.
“On the one hand, I’m pulling these words out of obscurity and rescuing them from the murkier corners of the dictionary – then through Twitter, which is one of the most modern things going, at the opposite end of the dictionary from the 19th-Century scholars, people are using them. It seems to fill a niche.”
Watch the animation by clicking the play button above.
And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Earth, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.