Raise your brendice to a new lexicon

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The Independent Culture

That festering colleague slouched in the corner ... leave the fellow alone, he's merely crambazzled.

For anyone who has struggled to find the exact word to describe someone prematurely aged by drink, help is at hand. A baffling but charming book of ostrobogulous (bizarre and interesting) words will be published this week.

The Wonder of Whiffling reveals that the musty, barky smell of fresh rain fallen on the dry earth is petrichor. Walking unsteadily after a few drinks is to "drive turkeys to the market" (19th century). A shot-clog was, in late Tudor times, an unloved drinking companion tolerated for his willingness to get in a round. A brendice: a cup used to drink to another's health.

The author, Adam Jacot de Boinod, a former researcher on the BBC quiz show QI, spent two years scouring hundreds of old dictionaries, dialect books and slang glossaries to amass the collection of obscure English words. His earlier book Toujours Tingo earned him plaudits from lovers of word play.

He said: "English is a really wonderful diverse language, and the growth of interesting words is exponential. There are new words being coined every day and that's fine – as long as the language doesn't lose its clarity."