The site Worthless Word For The Day features, as you might expect, a word each day, with explanations (on the money from what I’ve seen) of meaning and etymology as well as illustrative quotes. What do they mean by “worthless”? Here’s their explanation:

1. obscure, abstruse and/or recondite word, especially one not falling into the following categories: medical terms, foreign monetary units, foreign units of measure, legal terms, or professional jargon of any type.

2. obscure, abstruse and/or recondite word, including such falling into the following categories, if deemed to be appropriately ludicrous: medical terms, foreign monetary units, foreign units of measure, legal terms, or professional jargon of any type.

Some recent entries:

scribblative [rare] pertaining to scribbling
sharoosed [Newf. dial] taken aback, surprised; (also) disappointed, disgusted
rumpy-pumpy [Brit/Austral, humorous] sexual activity
isepiptesis (eye-sep-e(p)-tee’-sis) [rare] a line on a map or chart connecting localitites reached at one date by different individuals of a species of migratory bird (an isochronal line)

And today’s word is:

esne [obs. except Hist.] OE designation of a member of the lowest class; laborer: serf

Fun and educational! (Found at Shoepal, who also links to a site called Word Detective, with long and amusing investigations of odd words and phrases.)


  1. Rumpy-pumpy isn’t obscure in the UK. (And neither is the word, ho ho.)

  2. Like Des, I took the link and scrolled down only to discover that I recognised many and have been known to use quite a few of these worthless (sic) words.
    An essay, perhaps, on the impoverished vocabulary of our American cousins when you are next in ranting mode?

  3. Last time I came upon the word “esne” was in a crossword puzzle. The clue was, “crossword worker?” Implying that this was a word for a worker only found in crossword puzzles. A kind of crossword puzzle cliché, like erne, epee, etc…

  4. Rumpy Pumpy is anal sexually activity, not just plain vanilla, as should be obvious.

  5. Well now, my Cassell Dictionary of Slang simply says ‘sexual intercourse.’ I would remind you that the rump pumps pretty much any which way you play it. [NOTE: This comment sexion is restricted to ages 18 and over.]

  6. rumpy pumpy is all sexual intercourse – but in my usage of a particularly middle aged “oh the vicar!” kind.

  7. >all sexual intercourse
    which is the way that Roger Ebert used it in a movie review, which I quoted when it was the wwftd.

  8. Hey, welcome to LH, Michael, and congratulations on a delightful site!

  9. I made the list (linked!) with Silvan Tomkins’ term “dissmell.” Seems to me like it would fall under the rubric of a medical term.
    “Autopoietic,” on my front page, upper left, is also proscribed, at least in its noun form. I have used the word “irony.”
    I am currently considering how to work “firkytoodle” into a sentence.

  10. Well, there’s always the traditional “I’ve been flogging the glass in anticipation of firkytoodling you.” But I must confess to grave doubts as to the authenticity of this alleged word; it’s not in any of my reference books, and I don’t trust Eric Partridge farther than I can throw him. [NOTE: Once again, I must emphasize that this comment thread is R-rated; anyone under 18, please proceed to the next entry.]

  11. Golly, LH, what have we got to do to get an NC-17?

  12. Watch out, or I’ll send you on a tour of Usenet…

  13. Hey, “regolith” is one of my favorites.
    Not a lot of it around here, though.

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