From The Book of Unknowably Obscure and Overly Specific English Words, a work-in-progress by Laura Trethewey. She lives in Toronto.
AIR PUSHER Noun A person who, while moving through a revolving door, only pretends to push and thereby shirks the weight of the door onto those in front of or behind her: At high-traffic business towers, air pushers are routinely rounded up and bitch-slapped.
BIBLIOSPORIA Noun The massive and irretrievable dispersion of overdue library books around the world: Librarian lobbyists descended on Ottawa, determined to push for action on bibliosporia.
BOREPORIZE Verb Retell a story multiple times to the same person, with fatal results: Candidate speeches are vetted for any possible threat of boreporizing the crowd.
BLUFFBLAST Noun A threatening storm that never arrives: The captain hopped out of the boat, cursing the bluffblast that scared him off the water.
CRALPH Noun The persistent but untraceable smell of dog feces: The shipment of books was ruined by cralph.
DOWINNOW Noun A disparaging term for a woman who is believed never to have married due to impossibly high standards: For the rest of his life, he woke from his sleep screaming about dowinnows.
FLATUMIATE Verb Revel in the smell of one’s own flatulence: Not only did he flatumiate nightly, he chose tight, enclosed spaces, such as elevators and the insides of drainage pipes, to enhance the experience.
HERMICHOLIA Noun Profound feelings of guilt caused by staying inside on a pleasant day: August shows the highest rates of hermicholia in women between the ages of 24 and 36.
MEFLECT Verb Startle at the appearance of one’s own reflection: I meflected in the glass and spilled tea down my doublet.
RHIJECT Verb Blow liquid through the nose, often caused by a sudden urge to laugh or cry while drinking a beverage: We shared a common love of rhijecting milkshakes at the opera.
PUBLIDORMIATE Verb Sleep in public transitory spaces, such as moving buses and flying planes: The publidormiating woman had her bag of cucumbers stolen on the subway.
SAPOPHOBIA Noun Irrational fear of residual soapy feeling remaining on hands indefinitely, common after hand-washing delicates in the sink. Also known as “having the Lady Macbeth.”
SCHNITTKAPUTT Noun A completely unnoticeable haircut: The hair salon catered to older ladies who paid high prices for schnittkaputts.
WRITER’S RUSE Phrase The condition of believing one’s most recent writing is one’s best writing, while simultaneously fearing that novelty is its only charm: Halfway through the reading of his short story, he looked out over the crowd, overcome with writer’s ruse.