Jollification – Let’s start out with a cheerful one today. Here we’re talking party or celebration. This word seemed to get a lot more usage in the 19th and early 20th centuries, having fallen into disuse since then. I first remember running across it in Edward Everett Hale’s The Man Without A Country. I definitely recommend that you memorize this word as part of your course in 30 Days to a More Weird Vocabulary. Try and use it at least once today; it’s sure to make you more popular.
Cavort – Always implies an unsavory association. You can cavort with sinners, sure, but not saints.
Scofflaw – Yes, you can cavort with these too. I hear that this one came out of prohibition, which turned most Americans into scofflaws. Maybe for that reason it generally refers to offenses not much more serious than jaywalking.
Dilapidated – This one gets a lot of use from real estate developers and their paid agents when describing existing dwellings that should be razed.
Ratfink – This word, meaning squealer, was definitely more popular when I was a kid. I don’t think there are fewer of them now; they just call them something else.
Hangdog – While we’re on the subject of two-syllable animal words, there’s also this one. We need to find more ways to use it, so next time anyone asks you a question, just answer “hangdog”. It’s sure to get you more notice.
No-goodnik – Nikita Khrushchev and Boris Badenov come to mind. Or were they really the same person? Hmm… come to think of it, did you ever see them together at the same time? There was a time when the –nik words were popular, probably starting with Sputnik. Then there were beatniks, peaceniks, refuseniks, etc. I haven’t heard any of these terms used in the last 20 years, so they’re due for a comeback.
Bunkum – An old-timer, used when a more profane B-word would have created a scandal.
Charlatan – These used to be more popular. Now we have advertisers of nutritional supplements and infomercials.
Abscond – If you cavort with scofflaws and charlatans, you’re liable to do this.
The family of words ending in “umble” – These have a sort of a dopey sound and generally imply a big, clumsy incompetent… Bumble, Stumble, Fumble, even Grumble. It’s enough to make one humble.
The family of words ending in “igan” – Have a sort of a drunk-and-disorderly sound to them: Shenanigan, and Hooligan
More next time…