About two years ago, I started a list on Wordie of fine-sounding words. When I last went to add a word, however, the update function was disabled. I’d probably logged in so infrequently that a defunct-account subroutine kicked in, though I prefer to think of dust gathering on the computers, and a repairman’s sneeze sending words sparkling into the air like motes in a sunbeam.
At any rate, it’s time to plant a new (and hopefully better-tended) list, and to harvest the old. The last intended entry was the name of a flower I photographed on the morning the old list clunked, then looked up. A short-lived perennial member of the Aster plant family, it flowers between May and July, and is formally known as Erigeron philadelphicus. It’s also called fleabane.
Ishkabibble. Not in the dictionary; a slang term meaning “(as if) I should worry!” or “who cares?” that emerged in the United States in the early 20th century. Etymology unknown.
Saxifrage. Any of a genus (Saxifraga of the family Saxifragaceae) of chiefly perennial herbs with showy pentamerous flowers and often with basal tufted leaves. Date: 14th century. Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin saxifraga, from Latin, feminine of saxifragus breaking rocks, from saxum rock + frangere to break.
Hecatomb. An ancient Greek and Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen or cattle; the sacrifice or slaughter of many victims. Date: circa 1592. Etymology: Latin hecatombe, from Greek hekatombē, from hekaton hundred + -bē; akin to Greek bous cow.
Prairie. Land in or predominantly in grass; a tract of grassland. Date: circa 1682. Etymology: French, from Old French praierie, from Vulgar Latin *prataria, from Latin pratum meadow.
Mycorrhiza. The symbiotic association of the mycelium of a fungus with the roots of a seed plant. Date: 1895. Etymology: New Latin, from myc- + Greek rhiza root.
Abstruse. Difficult to comprehend. Date: 1599. Etymology: Latin abstrusus, from past participle of abstrudere to conceal, from abs-, ab- + trudere to push.
Eleemosynary. Of, relating to, or supported by charity. Date: circa 1616. Etymology: Medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from Late Latin eleemosyna alms.
Ocarina. A simple wind instrument typically having an oval body with finger holes and a projecting mouthpiece. Date: 1877. Etymology: Italian, from Italian dial., diminutive of oca goose, from Late Latin auca, ultimately from Latin avis bird.
Amalgam. An alloy of mercury with another metal that is solid or liquid at room temperature according to the proportion of mercury present and is used especially in making tooth cements; a mixture of different elements. Date: 15th century. Etymology: Middle English amalgame, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin amalgama.
Mélange. A mixture often of incongruous elements. Date: 1653. Etymology: French, from Middle French, from mesler, meler to mix.
Axiomatic. Taken for granted, self-evident; based on or involving an axiom or system of axioms. Date: 1797. Etymology: Middle Greek axiōmatikos, from Greek, honorable, from axiōmat-, axiōma.
Arable. Fit for or used for the growing of crops. Date: 15th century. Etymology: Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin arabilis, from arare to plow; akin to Old English erian to plow, Greek aroun.
Cash-cropping. (Not in the dictionary; from memory.) The practice of raising crops for sale, rather than as livestock feed.
Elohim. God — used especially in the Hebrew Bible. Date: 1617. Etymology: Hebrew ĕlōhīm.
Parabola. A plane curve generated by a point moving so that its distance from a fixed point is equal to its distance from a fixed line; something bowl-shaped (as an antenna or microphone reflector). Date: 1579. Etymology: New Latin, from Greek parabolē, literally, comparison.
Globophobia. (Not in the dictionary; from memory.) Fear of balloons.
Ferrous. Of, relating to, or containing iron; being or containing divalent iron. Date: 1851. Etymology: New Latin ferrosus, from Latin ferrum.
Crepuscular. Of, relating to, or resembling twilight; occurring or active during twilight. Date: 1668. Etymology: Latin crepusculum, from creper dusky
Twilight. The light from the sky between full night and sunrise or between sunset and full night produced by diffusion of sunlight through the atmosphere and its dust; an intermediate state that is not clearly defined. Date: 15th century. Etymology: Proto-Indo-European dwo + Proto-Indo-European leuk bright, white light.
Parsimonious. Exhibiting or marked by parsimony; frugal to the point of stinginess. Date: 1598. Etymology: Middle English parcimony, from Latin parsimonia, from parsus, past participle of parcere to spare.
Biophony. (Not in dictionary; from memory). The totality of sounds made by non-human animals in a given environment.
Alpenglow. A reddish glow seen near sunset or sunrise on the summits of mountains. Date: 1871. Etymology: part translation of German Alpenglühen, from Alpen Alps + Glühen glow.
Piebald. Composed of incongruous parts; of different colors, especially spotted or blotched with black and white. Date: 1589.
And because deadlines are pressing, the rest of the words, in one fell swoop: sanguine, tourmaline, paprika, cygnet, anise, vicissitude, Valkyrie, hangers-on, vermilion, pumpernickel, crystalline, chrysoberyl.