Thursday, 9 July 2015

namely: absquatulate

I came across a new, perfectly cromulent word—as it’s not marked up by teacher’s red ink when put out there in the æther, in absquatulate. Although the term to abscond is more classical and synonymous to a degree, to absquatulate—suggestive of not only fleeing or to decamp, taking the money and run, it also implies abdication, shirking one’s duties, like some tinpot dictator—came into colloquial use in American English around the 1830s, as part of a larger, slightly baffling wave of pseudo-Latin vocabulary that lasted for a few decades. Other examples from this trend include perambulate (to have a stroll), discombobulate (to confuse), bloviate (to speak boastfully) and infamously sockdologising (an ambiguous word for something rude or to make a back-handed compliment, a corruption of doxology) which made the audience at Ford’s Theatre burst into laughter and was the cue for John Wilkes-Booth to assassinate president Abraham Lincoln. No wonder some vocabulary has gone the way of hornswoggle and skedaddle.