Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unusual Words Defined: A - Z

To kick off the new school year I am going to begin featuring a weekly, definition-based post. Each week I will post an unusual word that I have come across either in my readings or in conversations and its definition. To balance out the unusualness of the words, I will stick to the tradition of following the alphabet each week, thus I will commence with an unusual word beginning with the letter "a".

Absquatulate: to make off, decamp, or abscond.

A writer in the New Orleans Weekly Picayune in December 1839 noted that the origin of the word lay in squat, to which had been added the Latin prefix ab– (from abscond), meaning “off, away”, and the verb ending –ulate (borrowed from words like perambulate), so making a word meaning to get up and depart quickly. Or, as a writer in the old Vanity Fair magazine in 1875 elaborated: “They dusted, vamosed the ranch, made tracks, cut dirt, hoed it out of there”.
-excerpted from Michael Quinion's World Wide Words

And from an on-line version of the Oxford English Dictionary (accessed through a private account):

[A factitious word, simulating a L. form (cf. abscond, gratulate) of American origin, and jocular use.]
To make off, decamp.
1837-40 HALIBURTON Clockmaker (1862) 363 Absquotilate it in style, you old skunk,..and show the gentlemen what you can do. 1858 DOW Serm. I. 309 in Bartlett Dict. Amer., Hope's brightest visions absquatulate. 1861 J. LAMONT Seahorses xi. 179 He [an old bull-walrus] heard us, and lazily awaking, raised his head and prepared to absquatulate.

2 comments:

Rimpy said...

What a marvelous idea for a weekly feature, and what a wonderful first week's word!

Laura Payne said...

Thank you Rimpy.

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