Posted by: episystechpubs | December 23, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Winter Words

Happy holidays to everyone!

I have been trying to figure out what I might be able to give you that is related to our language and your holiday. Whether you celebrate Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanza, Festivus, the winter solstice, or some other event, I found this list of long-lost words that fits the bill. For the full list, see the article at Mental Floss.

CRUMP

That crunching sound you make walking on partially frozen snow is called crumping. [KC – Not to be confused with
krumping,
which is a type of dancing. And no, I cannot demonstrate it for you.]

HIEMATE

Hibernate is sleeping throughout the entire winter; hiemate is to spend winter somewhere.

YULE-HOLE

The yule-hole is the (usually makeshift) hole you need to move your belt to after you’ve eaten a massive meal.

BELLY-CHEER

Dating from the 1500s, belly-cheer or belly-timber is a brilliantly evocative word for fine food or gluttonous eating.

DONIFEROUS

If you’re doniferous then you’re carrying a present. The act of offering a present is called oblation, which originally was (and, in some contexts, still is) a religious term referring specifically to the presentation of money or donation of goods to the church. But since the 15th century it’s been used more loosely to refer to the action of offering or presenting any gift or donation, or, in particular, a gratuity.

POURBOIRE

Speaking of gratuities, a tip or donation of cash intended to be spent on drink is a pourboire—French, literally, for “for drink.” Money given in lieu of a gift, meanwhile, has been known as present-silver since the 1500s.

TOE-COVER

A cheap and totally useless present? In 1940s slang, that was a toe-cover.

SCURRYFUNGE

Probably distantly related to words like scour or scourge, scurryfunge first appeared in the late 18th century, with meanings of “to lash” or, depending on region, “to scour.” By the mid-1900s, however, things had changed: perhaps in allusion to scrubbing or working hard enough to abrade a surface, scurryfunge came to mean “to hastily tidy a house” before unexpected company arrive.

CRAPULENCE

Once all the festive dust and New Year confetti has settled, here’s a word for the morning after the night before: crapulence, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, is an 18th-century word for “sickness or indisposition resulting from excess in drinking or eating.”

Again, happy holidays!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her

Technical Editor, Advisory

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