Antique mental furnishings, Part I

More

When I visited Oxford, a couple of weeks ago, I made the acquaintance of Ammon Shea, the author of Reading the OED. For his book, Ammon (whose name rhymes with "backgammon," he tells me -- funny how even in print it's hard to get past words and names that one doesn't know how to pronounce) plumbed the dictionary's depths and brought back an assortment of obscure but interesting words.

Ammon would like to see some of these antiques restored and put to use again -- an idea that has a lot of appeal in this recycling-conscious era. Word Fugitives, of course, specializes in shiny new words custom-made to meet current needs; Ammon's is a different approach to the same problems. I challenged Ammon to find old words that would fulfill some recent Word Fugitives requests. Here's one, with more to come in the days ahead:

Sarah Selzer, of Phoenix, writes: "If you hibernate to stay warm during the winter, what do you call it when you stay inside during the summer to stay cool?"


Ammon Shea replies: "Speaking for myself, I call it common sense, never having understood the urge that overtakes so much of humanity and causes them to suffer the afflictions of crowds, beaches, picnics, and the like in the summer.  The OED, however, would likely call it æstivation, which they define as 'The act of remaining dormant or torpid during the dry season, or extreme heat of summer; summer-sleep.  Opposed to hibernation.'"
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In