Wayne State University

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Word Warriors' 2015 top 10

In May, the words "hashtag," "selfie" and "tweep" were among 150 new words and definitions added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, proof of how our culture continues to expand our communication.

Still, we think some old words deserve a bit more love.

As part of its initiative to draw attention to some of the English language's most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words, Wayne State University has released its annual list of the year’s top 10 words that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose.

Now beginning its seventh year, Wayne State’s Word Warriors series promotes words especially worthy of retrieval from the linguistic closet.

The Word Warriors’ extensive list is composed of submissions from both administrators of the website as well as the public; logophiles worldwide have seen their favorite words brought back from the brink of obsolescence at wordwarriors.wayne.edu. New entries are posted there, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, each week.

"The English language has more words in its lexicon than any other," says Jerry Herron, dean of WSU's Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the website’s editorial board. "By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons."

And now, the Word Warriors' 2015 list of eminently useful words that should be brought back to enrich our language:

  • Caterwaul
    • A shrill howling or wailing noise.              
    • As the storm raged on, the caterwaul from the wind as it whipped through the trees kept me from getting any sleep.
       
  • Concinnity
    • The skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something.
    • As the choir sang in the vast cathedral, I couldn't help but marvel at the concinnity of Handel's "Messiah."
  • Flapdoodle
    • Nonsense.
    • His talk show was a collection of flapdoodle about politics and conspiracies.
       
  • Knavery
    • A roguish or mischievous act.
    • His presidency was founded on malice, lies and knavery.
       
  • Melange
    • A mixture of different things.
    • Her painting was a melange of colors and shapes that dazzled the eyes.
       
  • Obambulate
    • To walk about.
    • During our vacation, my wife and I would wake up early and obambulate around the empty beach.
       
  • Opsimath
    • A person who begins to learn or study only late in life.
    • Uninterested in anything intellectual for most of his life, my father turned into an opsimath after retirement, attending lectures and always carrying a book.
       
  • Philistine
    • A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.
    • Ever the philistine, my dad never understood the joy I found in foreign films and classical music.
       
  • Rapscallion
    • A mischievous person.
    • April Fools' Day was better than Christmas for the young rapscallion.
       
  • Subtopia
    • Monotonous urban sprawl of standardized buildings.
    • As the city grew outward, our charming small town became a subtopia overrun with franchise pharmacies and strip malls.