Word of the week – Wosbird

My family bought me a copy of David Crystal’s The Disappearing Dictionary for my last birthday. We spent the next couple of hours coming up with descriptions of each other drawn completely from that book. ‘Wosbird’ is one of the gems contained within that compilation of lost English dialect words and, I have to say, one of our favourite words…

Wosbird or wuzbird: a noun which is a term of abuse for a good-for-nothing person. Also means an ‘illegitimate child’ as it is a local pronunciation of whore’s brood.


Word of the Week – Otiose

I appreciate when I come across a new word in situations that are not known for new and exciting language choices. That happened with the word ‘otiose’. A reviewer had written on a report that some of the content was otiose. Being a biologist, and not having come across this word before, I assumed that it was related to ‘otic’: being of the ear, which confused me no end as the report had nothing to do with body parts. How wrong was I…

Otiose: an adjective meaning that something serves no practical purpose or result, or indolent or idle (Source)

… which I think it is an incredible word but, as yet, haven’t had much opportunity to use it in general conversation.

Word of the week – Prestidigitation

Have I mentioned I love words? I was one of those nerdy kids who read the dictionary. Yes, I literally read the dictionary when I was growing up. Not your everyday kids’ dictionary with 16pt font and about 250 words. In the one I had the font was lucky to have been 8pt. And the volume was so thick it was sold to lucky readers in instalments that were compiled over months, if not years, until it reached its magnificent completion as a tome that must have weighed 5kg if not more. It was a great dictionary. Granted, you can look up anything on the internet now, but there is nothing as satisfying as poring through a real, tangible book and feeling its weight holding you firmly in the chair as your head flies into the clouds…

Anyway, on to today’s word:

Prestidigitation. A noun that means juggler or conjurer.

Not as catchy as juggler or conjurer, but could this not-so-simple word be the source of the oft-used “hey presto”?