Hello again, folks! Welcome to another episode of Words for the Week, which happens every Sunday. I have so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I’m putting together a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘D’.
Defenestration (noun): The act of throwing someone or something out of a window.
I couldn’t do this week’s list without ‘defenestration’. It’s just the best word. It’s satisfying to say, and it describes something that you wouldn’t think there was a specific word for. It was one of our favourites at uni – not least because we made friends with the neighbour’s cat, who used to defenestrate herself all the time.
Drachenfutter (noun): German. The apologetic gift brought to soothe a lover’s anger.
This was such a pleasing word to discover, but I don’t have enough German to know how much sarcasm is embedded in the usage of this word. Is this the kind of gift that’s given in order to get back into someone’s good books without having to discuss what you did wrong? Or is this a genuine proof-of-remorse kind of a gift? Either way, it’s really pleasing that there’s a specific word for this specific kind of gift.
Drindle (noun): East Anglia. Diminutive run of water, smaller than a currel.
For delightful, obscure water-related context, a ‘currel’ is a small stream, also an East Anglian dialect word. I’m not sure where the line is between a small stream and an even smaller stream, but I love that there’s apparently a set of words for the steadily increasing sizes of streams. Like, no sarcasm. I love it, and I want to know and memorise them all.
Deglute (verb): To swallow.
‘Swallow’ has always felt like a bit of a let-down for me. It’s just not quite onomatopoeic enough for such a recognisable sound. And though ‘deglute’ does sound a little bit like what might happen if a bodybuilder spent too much time sitting on the sofa, it also captures that very precise sound of an audible swallow.
Doppet (verb): Gloucestershire. To play a musical instrument jerkily.
This word is curiously similar to ‘stop it’ – and perhaps that’s where it came from. It feels particularly emphatic, and it’s certainly something I’m familiar with. There’s a kid two doors down who practises the drums in the shed at the weekend. To be fair, I cannot tell how good he is at the drums, but in the absence of any accompanying music, it does sound very doppet-y.
This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Greeks Had A Word For It by Andrew Taylor; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal.