There’s a Word for That: Decemnovenarianize

atkins-bookshelf-wordsThe definition of the word decemnovenarianize is to act like a person of the nineteenth century; a person who behaves in such a manner is aptly called a decemnovenarian. It is certainly a mouthful; the word is pronounced “dee sem no vuh NAR yan eyes.”

In the 21st-century — call it the “digital era” or the “Google era” — why would anyone want to act like a nineteenth century person? That person would be clueless about modern communication, i.e., texting, snapchatting, emojis, textese, etc. So archaic. So boring. Outside of an actor, for example, playing the role of a character in Victorian England, there isn’t much need for such a word in everyday language. That it is why the word, as lovely as it sounds, is an obsolete word and rarely found in dictionaries — even online dictionaries. The only place the word shows up in print, in the 21st century, is in Erin McKean’s Weird and Wonderful Words, a delightful collection of obsolete words, published in 2003.

But perhaps we have been too hasty with regard to the word — rather than leaving it forlorn in the language vault to collect dust, we should bring it back as an eloquent synonym for a Luddite: “Don’t be such a decemnovenarian — use your freaking phone to text or call me back!” or “Don’t be such a decemnovenarian — use the “find my iPhone” app instead of tearing your house apart looking for your phone!” What the Dickens, fine fellow, the word just might make a comeback!


Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist
There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia
There’s a Word for That: Macroverbumsciolist
There’s a Word for That: Ultracrepidarian
There’s a Word for That: Cacology

For further reading: Weird and Wonderful Words by Erin McKean.

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