Two words I never dreamed existed:
1) “The wooden library, or xylothek (from the Greek words for tree, xylon, and storing place, theke) … is generally speaking a collection of simple pieces of wood specimens placed together in some kind of cupboard. In a refined form it is in the shape of ‘books’ where you can find details from the tree inside, everything arranged as a ‘library’.” More here, with pictures. It’s not in the OED, but it should be. What a wonderful phenomenon! (Via wood s lot.)
2) “mongo (MAWNG.goh) n. Objects retrieved from the garbage.” The earliest citation is from James Brooke, “Sanitation art showings brighten workers’ image,” The New York Times, September 10, 1984. (A couple of years ago, the Times reviewed a book by Ted Botha called Mongo: Adventures in Trash.) I ran across the word while reading a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece by Ben McGrath on the “san men” of New York City and Robin Nagle, who studies them:
Nagle’s interests lie more with the trash collectors than with the trash, although the two intersect on the subject of “mongo”—sanitation lingo for “redeemed garbage” or the act of collecting it. (Nagle consulted a lexicographer, looking for help in tracking down the etymology, to no avail.) “Within the department, if you mongo or if you don’t—there’s kind of a dividing line,” she said. “ ‘He mongos.’ ‘Do you mongo?’ ‘Oh, mongo, are you kidding? I wouldn’t mongo.’ ” She paused. “Hell, I mongo, absolutely. And I have some pretty nice things.”
No, that one’s not in the OED either, though they do have Mongo “A Bantu language spoken by an African people living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)” and mongo “A monetary unit of Mongolia, equivalent to one-hundredth of a tugrik.” I hope they’re busy working on that etymology while they prepare an entry.
Unrelated to language, but a very sobering fact from later in the piece: “nationally, fatality rates for sanitation workers, owing to the risks associated with loading trucks in the midst of moving traffic, are roughly three times those for firemen and policemen.” I tip my hat to sanitation workers everywhere, who never get enough respect.