Origin of ‘tump’ (verb) and ‘tumpline’ (noun)

OED says the origin of both ‘tump’ (transitive verb, US, to “drag or carry by means of a tump-line”, OED) and ‘tump-line’ (noun, “local U.S.”, op. cit.) is “obscure”. ‘Tump-line’ means a line or strap passing across the forehead and attached to a pack on the back thus aiding the burden bearer. — From a … Read more

About the word ‘finewirer’ and researching obscure words

I can’t seem to find anywhere where I can look up reliably the meaning and etymology of this word: finewirer. A quick search on Google gives you uses of this word in texts such as Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic: Brilliant constellations shone down on the Discworld. One by one the traders shuttered their … Read more

Etymology of “Caleb Quotem”

I came across this expression while reading Dickens’s American Notes. In context it seems to mean something similar to “all-purpose” or “catch-all,” and seems to appear most in English/Welsh writing from the mid-19th century. It’s new to me. There are few words which perform such various duties as this word ’fix.’ It is the Caleb … Read more

People that rejoice in others’ suffering

I would like to know what terms can be used in English to refer to people that rejoice in other people’s suffering (as opposed to empathizing with such people). What are some of the motivations that would cause people to feel this way? Is it an inborn trait? Is it that people suffer so upon … Read more

Does this type of watermark have a more specific name?

Companies often put a URL watermark on their images to prevent reuse/abuse, as shown in the following two images: Image A Image B This seems different than the watermark often added to professional photoshoots because the purpose of this watermark is to promote the photographer’s business, and because it’s typically URLs instead of logos: Image … Read more

Antiquated appellations for marks of punctuation

I was in the mood for A room with a view last night, and I came across the expression “note of interrogation” for “question mark,” which I found quite pleasing. It seems “note of exclamation” has also been used for “exclamation mark.” As far as I know, these are no longer in vulgar usage. For … Read more

Is vigenary a real word?

I was interested in determining words to describe ordinal Latinate series numbering above orders of 10 (i.e., “denary”). I found “duodenary”, which makes sense based on the latin root duodecim, meaning ‘twelve.’ (see also etymology of the duodenum of the small intestine — duodeni, meaning ‘in twelves.’). However, I found no evidence of other ordinal … Read more

One word for a thing that doesn’t make sense

Is there a word for a thing that doesn’t make sense, a shiny alternative to ‘nonsense’? I want to use it like: <-new-word>> politics, meaning stupid, nonsense politics. Update: by ‘shiny’ I mean’t non-vulgar, non-tongue-twister word. Answer Depending on what you want with shiny, rare words with funny pronunciation and euphemisms could be used. With … Read more