Undergroping into crapulence!

Jennifer Balderma does just that and more in her piece at Paper Cuts:

“Crapulence” — that word appeared this month in our review of Scott Spencer’s book “Willing,” and when I came across it during an edit, its first four letters sent me straight to the dictionary. The Times’s bearers of standards wrinkle their noses at words excremental, and I was pretty certain I’d have to make a note to the author (“Sorry, bud, no ‘crapu-etc.’ in The Times”). But to my delight, the word turned out not to be unsavory at all, and was instead an unusual way of referring to “excessive drinking” (or, in the context of the review — in which it appeared as “sexual crapulence” — excessive anything). Excellent! I wrote a very different note: “This is my new favorite word.”

But it may not hold that designation for long. Just the other day, a colleague handed me a prettily bound volume called “Foyle’s Philavery,” published to raves last year in the U.K. and released in this country in February by Houghton Mifflin. Compiled by Christopher Foyle, chairman of the famous Foyles Bookshop in London, the philavery* (pronounced fil-a-vuh-ri) features hundreds of the “overlooked gems” of the English language — selections apt and obscure, euphonious and quirky. “Crapulence” (or rather “crapulous or crapulent”) is indeed here, on Page 47, but, as I said, the luster it held only a couple of weeks ago is quickly fading. I mean, just at a skim, I discovered exsibilate (to hiss off the stage), undergrope (to delve into), fabiform (shaped like a bean), noctivagous (wandering in the night) — how’s a girl to choose?

Included here is a fair sampling of the multisyllabic: aprosexia (an abnormal inability to pay attention), dangleation (dallying with girls; flirtation), mellisonant (sweet-sounding; pleasing to the ear). But you’ll also find snappy little bites slightly easier to work into conversation — beek (to warm), sessle (to fidget), groak (to stare at longingly, especially at someone who is eating) — even if your use of them does confound friends.

Have fun!

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