Satisdiction, By Ammon Shea
Sunday 09 May 2010
"I collect words," confesses Ammon Shea, who is married to a former lexicographer, and the author of two previous books about obscure words (Depraved English and Insulting English). So obsessed is he with those weird and wonderful words that he read the Oxford English Dictionary from start to finish, with great excitement. To supplement his habit, he has worked as a street musician, gondolier and furniture mover. In pulling together what he sees as the most "spectacularly useful" and "beautifully useless" words for this volume, Shea endured headache and loss of sanity.
So what are those words? We have everything from nouns such as "agelastic" (a person who never laughs) to a "bully-scribbler" (a bullying writer), by way of verbs such as "induratise" (to harden the heart – both figuratively and literally), adjectives such as "osculable" (able to be kissed), and "xenogenesis" (offspring that does not resemble its parents).
Shea finds reading dictionaries "a delightful mix of comfort and anticipation" – and this, too, is the experience felt by the reader of this entertaining book, which is at root one person's celebration of his love of language.
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
One Direction fans campaign to buy the band after Zayn Malik quits
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints Top Gear days are over following Jeremy Clarkson's BBC exit
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest