A post by aldiboronti at Wordorigins.org highlights a word the OED is apparently planning to include—not a new word at all, but an old one that’s missing a couple of centuries of documentation. From the OED’s Appeals list:
tipitiwitchet, tippitiwitchet, etc. (US, = Venus fly-trap):
Aldi also turned up a site called “Tippitiwitchet explained: from Aphrodite’s Mousetrap, a biography of Venus’s flytrap with facsimiles of John Ellis’s original pamphlet and manuscripts, by E. Charles Nelson and Daniel L. McKinley,” which has a long discussion of the possible origin of the word (first used in print, apparently, by John Bartram, a remarkable botanist and writer whose Observations are online here):
My foray in search of the roots of the word Tipitiwitchet is first into what Eric Partridge calls ‘slang and unconventional English’. A few terms seem particularly enlightening, not all of them slang. ‘Tippet’ is a fur collar, in ordinary English, and Marlowe’s ‘Hempen tippet’, a hangman’s rope, is a poetic embellishment. Farmer has ‘Tippet’ alone meaning a hangman’s rope, with further play on the word in the phrase ‘to turn tippet’. A ‘Twitch’ is a noose for recalcitrant horses. ‘Twitchers’ are either pincers or tight boots; and, of course, ‘Twitchety’ is nervous, fidgety, jerky. Additional uses of ‘Twitch’ and variants of ‘Tippet’ and ‘Tippity’ in the Scottish dialect are recorded. All these terms, coupled with Ellis’s overworked idea of a trap for mammals, to be mentioned later, parallel the term ‘Snatch-box’ that Partridge records as used for vulva in popular parlance. Some aspect of the ‘Toothed Vagina’ may be relevant, as can be traced out in Stith Thompson’s Motif Index of Folk Literature.
Further, more specifically American, although the technique must be more widespread, a ‘Twitch‑up’ is a trap for small animals especially rabbits, consisting of a noose attached to a bent stick or sapling that springs upward when tripped.
Again, Vance Randolph, in his volume of Ozark folk stories, records in no less than seven different tales, the more or less current (early twentieth century) use of the term ‘Twitchet’ for vulva or associated part of the female pudendum. Finally, vestiges of Elizabethan (and later) English, not yet stifled by radio and television, are heard from senior citizens at a mid-coast Maine hamlet – far from Tipitiwitchet country. They speak of ‘Twitchet Avenue’, disregarding both its present sanitized label and its presumed current lack of saleable feminine attractions.
Thus, Bartram’s ‘little tipitiwitchet’ was a vulva-like grasper that wrestled its prey into submission. One might add, for a touch of surrealism, the illusions generated among the distant, imaginative English naturalists, when they had both sportive names and Dobbs’ fox‑trap hyperbole to spur them on (and no plants at hand, to correct perspective!). Ellis gave a fervid enough account, after he had seen living plants, although he was correct to impute a deadly aim to the plant’s behaviour. While Linnaeus might innocently romanticize that the trapped insect was innocuously released as soon as it became quiet, Ellis correctly surmized that the hapless prey had no such fate in store for it. He aptly referred to the plant as a ‘machine to catch food’.
It’s a great word and deserves to be restored to circulation.