Lost Words

I just re-discovered a wonder web site that I had seen a few years ago and utterly forgotten about. Have a look at The Phrontistery:English Word Lists and Language Resources, and in particularly the Repository of Lost Words. What is a Lost Word, you ask? The definition is as follows:

1. The word must have a header entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

2. The word may not appear in its proper English context on any readily accessible web page.

3. The word must have been used in Modern English.

4. The word must have been used in a standard English variety rather than simply in a regional dialect.

5. The word must not be a simple variation in spelling of another word.

Each word is presented with a basic definition and period of recorded usage (courtest of the fantastic OED, which I am utterly convinced is the greatest dictionary existant of any Earthly language), the page’s maintainer (who goes by the name of Forthright) has also cleverly provided a modern example sentence for each lost word. While the words run the gamut from the no longer particulary useful

sputcheon n 1842 -1878
metal lining of the mouth of a scabbard
The blade rang against the sputcheon as he drew it, eliminating the element of surprise.

to the utterly obscure

krioboly n 1850 -1882
sacrifice of many rams; bath in blood of rams
Contrary to rumour, pagan rituals do not involve krioboly or baby-eating.

or overly technical technical

zygostatical adj 1623 -1656
pertaining to a market official in charge of weights
His zygostatical training allowed him to cheat the scales undetected for decades.

you can also find some that, in the context of current events, are probably due for a comeback.

psephograph n 1906 -1907
machine for automatically recording votes
These newfangled computers are no more reliable than an old-fashioned psephograph.