Absquatulate; Carphology; Deasil; Gaberlunzie; Semordnilap. No, they’re not new life forms; neither are they aliens. They are among a collection of English words that you can find, with their definitions, in the Weird Words Index of Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words website.
Quinion’s site is definitely a place for word lovers. He adopts the OED style (more on that in a future post) of tracing back an expression or definition through dated quotes cited from published works, that define the word/expression. Here’s an example:
Relating to dinner or supper.
This is one of 22,889 words and senses marked in the Oxford English Dictionary as being both obsolete and rare. The OEDâ€™s only record for it is from a work of 1646 by the physician Sir Thomas Browne. Heâ€™s immortalised in the OED by 3792 other citations, which include many equally rare words, such as bicipitous (having two heads); elychnious (having the nature of a wick); latirostrous (broad-beaked); stillicidious (falling in drops); and zodiographer (a person who writes about animals).
Cenatory isnâ€™t quite so rare as the OED entry might suggest. It turns up, for example, in Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field, by Thomas W. Knox, published in 1865: â€œOn one line of boats, the cold meats on the supper-table were from carefully selected pieces, cooked and cooled expressly for the cenatory meal.â€ And itâ€™s in James Branch Cabellâ€™s Chivalry (1921), in a passage that follows a description of a meal: â€œRichard was replete and contented with the world. He took up the lute, in full consciousness that his compliance was in large part cenatory.â€
Cenatory is from Latin cenatorius, relating to dinner. It has a similar meaning to prandial (Latin prandium, meal), which the OED describes as â€œaffected or jocoseâ€ and which usually appears in the compounds pre-prandial, before dinner (sometimes also ante-prandial), and post-prandial, after the meal. (â€œHe went through dinner talking on such events of the time as usually form the subject of prandial conversation.â€â€”The Man Who Bought London, by Edgar Wallace, 1915.)
Go for a visit and feast your eyes and your brain.