Words for the Week: L


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. This week’s words begin with ‘L’. 

Lethologica (noun): The inability to remember a word or call to mind the right word. Derives from Greek lethe ‘forgetfulness’ and logos ‘word’.

Christopher goes on to describe it as an ‘unfairly complicated word’. It reminds me of ‘lisp’ having an ‘s’ in it, or ‘dyslexia’ being hard to spell. How are you supposed to remember lethologica when you can’t remember the word for ‘printer’??

Lucubrate (verb): 1. To write or study, especially at night; 2. To produce scholarly or literary writings; to clarify or expand on a discourse in a learned way.

A verb two weeks in a row! Look at that, folks. All word classes equal, and all that. I feel like if you tried to use this in a sentence out loud, you’d get some odd looks. In fact, I’ve been misreading it all day as ‘lubrucate’, so maybe it’s not so simple written down either. And I’m not even writing this at night – I’m in a cafe in the village, on what’s apparently supposed to be the hottest weekend of the year.

Larmy (adjective): Somerset. Sorrowful. From French larmeaux, ‘full of tears’. The nearest we have to this word in standard English is larmier, an architectural term referring to the coping on a wall that serves to throw off the (drops, ‘tears’ of) rain.

I don’t really have anything to add here, except that I think it’s beautifully poetic in its origins, and its a shame it never made it into standard language.

Lobstropolous (adjective): Northumberland. Loud, mischievous. It’s an adaptation of obstreperous, with the addition of lob ‘lump’, widely used in the North of England to describe someone who was clumsy or idle, especially if they were also well built.

This one’s fun – both in the word and in the meaning. Petition for more excuses to say lopstropolous, please.

Lacustrine (adjective): Geographical. Of or pertaining to a lake or lakes, lake-like.

We couldn’t go a week without a water word, right? And this one describes a whole class of water words. I feel like I’ve gone a bit meta.

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal.

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