The Superfluous Lexicon #1

8 words you don't need to know

Sax Carrby Sax Carr

While doing edits for these articles (that's right, it goes through a process, and it's harder then it looks, blah de blah), I kept receiving the same criticism. Apparently, what I consider the English vernacular actually includes a lot of words that nobody uses, and many people don't even know. Aghast at this dismal status quo, I will now conciliate that which a sagacious man would surmise is anathema to me. In other words, the thesaurus is a useful resource. Let's start easy and take a stab at the title.

 

The word superfluous is defined in the dictionary as unnecessary or excessive, but I feel the word is more interesting than that. The thesaurus states is synonyms are as diverse as gratuitous, useless and redundant. I think the elegance of the word is that it is pieces of all these words, but it remains unique. When something is superfluous, it is so redundant, or so gratuitous, that it exceeds sense. It's a giant spoiler on a Honda Civic. It's putting sunglasses on while you walk away from an explosion in slow motion. It's knowing the word superfluous. That is superfluous.

Example: I thought the brakes on a car were superfluous, but apparently they are not.

 

Originally the term for dictionary, or any book of words, lexicon has evolved to mean any collection of words, limited by any parameters. All of the words in the English language are the English lexicon. In the same way, a list of military jargon or cool terms white people stole from black people would become that subject's lexicon. You and your friends have a lexicon of words that mean something specific to you. Sidenote: I got the dictionary to talk about it's daddy.

Example: The fact that the word google is in the American public's lexicon is asinine.

 

Now that we've gotten past the title, I thought I might define a word that describes this article. I've chosen asinine, which I just found out is actually defined as 'of or like an ass'. And I thought that joke I made in 4th grade was so smart. Oh well. The way it's generally used is to mean foolish or silly. But again, it has it's own… je ne sais quois. Like, when someone is foolish, they step on a rake and it hits them in the face. It's asinine when Sideshow Bob does it thirty times in a row. It's foolish to think people care about expanding their vocabulary. It's asinine to write this.

Example: That donkey is trying to make a pass at his reflection in the pond. How asinine.

 

This is the first of two words that it shocks me when people don't know it. Fortnight is, without a doubt, the coolest way you can say two weeks. That's all it means. Two weeks. But just say it. Fortnight. It makes me feel like a duke.

Example: I hope you remember some of these words a fortnight from now.

 

This is the other one. And I don't mean the coin from Harry Potter. A galleon was a ship used back when armadas were the 'thing to do' when it came to protecting your citizens from the mean other European countries. They were characterized by having multi-level decks and a large number of sails. But the reason it surprises me is because pretty much every pirate ship in every movie and TV show is a galleon or something similar. And we Americans love us some pirates. So impress your friends with a rousing "Avast, ye mateys, this be she, my lovely galleon." I mean, if you own one.

Example: The galleon used to be hot shit, but modern submarines could blow them out of the water.

 

Even if you've never heard the word before, I bet you can guess what circuitous means. You're correct! It means indirect. That's the awesome thing about this word. People are impressed that you know it, but when you say it in context, they never have to ask what it means, because they can guess. Suddenly, you look smart, they don't feel stupid, and they learned a word. Brilliant! Protip: It's pronounced ser-kyoo-i-tuhs, if you can follow that. 'Cause if you pronounce it wrong, it loses all it's sparkle.

Example: Instead of the highway, I took the circuitous route over the hills and through the woods to grandma's house.

 

Again, a word that means something simple but sounds so great. Erstwhile just means former, of the past. So your erstwhile hobbies are things you used to do. But doesn't erstwhile lover sound so much better than ex? And erstwhile friend is way better than backstabbing jackhole. Just a thought.

Example: My erstwhile automobile is now forever stuck over the hills and through the woods.

 

Finally, as this is the first Superfluous Lexicon, I put in a little bonus. Two fantastic words that mean the same thing! Both prestidigitation and legerdemain are words for sleight of hand. Mainly used in the magician community, both of these words do not get nearly enough daily use. Every time I get the opportunity to refer to sleight of hand, I fluster, because both words are just so much fun to say. Prestidigitation has that wonderful pseudo-scientific sound, while legerdemain is just so mysterious and beautiful. They're just… excuse me, I'm sorry, I have to start a conversation about magic with a stranger. Have a good day.