Thursday, March 3, 2011


I like words and I recently discovered Save the Words, a website which allows you to adopt words that have faded from the English lexicon and are endanger of being dropped from the Oxford English Dictionary.

When you adopt a word, you agree to use it in conversation and writing in an attempt to re-introduce said word back into regular usage.

It is exactly as geeky as it sounds.

And I love it.

A latibule is a hiding place.

Use it in a sentence, please.

After my son goes to bed, I pull out the good chocolate from my latibule and have a "mommy moment".
The perfect latibule was just behind the northwest corner of the barn, where one had a clear view during "Kick the Can".
She tucked the movie stub into an old chocolate box, her latibule for sentimental souvenirs.

I like the sound of latibule, though I think I would spend more time defining it and defending myself than actually using it. Come to think of it, I'm not really sure how often I use the word "hiding", so the occasions for working latibule into conversation are probably few and far between.

Nevertheless, it's worth thinking about words and their lifespan. They come into being and are used for a few years or decades or centuries and then fade away.

In a book I was reading recently, the author used the words "forestall" and "pitfall" in their medieval contexts. When people were lined up on market day, occasionally they would conduct their business in the line and then leave. This was "forestalling"- they did the business before they reached the stalls, thus depriving someone (somewhere) of the taxes or additional profits from the sale or trade. A pitfall was dug between opposing armies, probably under the cover of night, so that the charging army would stumble or fall during a charge at the light of day.

Those words are used in entirely different contexts today. (But they're still in use, unlike poor latibule.)

Can words be "saved"? (A unique use of that word on this blog.)

Should they be?

We know that our language evolves based on usage, changing definitions, and different linguistic needs. And other parts of our lives do as well.

There is no latibule big enough to keep change out, away or from happening. How do we handle it?

Is there anything that doesn't change?

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

There's no latibule to keep him out either.


Cookie said...

I thought of you today while reading an article on Yahoo. It was about changing words in the latest American edition of the Bible because they have come to mean different things in our modern language (namely booty and holocaust). I was curious if you were aware of the changes and what you thought of them.

Crimson Rambler said...

Latibule. Hum. I'm pretty sure I had at least one, as a child -- perhaps one that was treasure-sized and one that was inside the knobs on a brass bedstead...something more to think about, thank you!