U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now we're going to dust off some old words, starting with this one - dotard.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
It means an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile. It was popular during Shakespeare's time.
SIEGEL: Last week North Korea's Kim Jong Un called President Trump a dotard. And then Trump fired back, calling Kim a madman.
CHANG: Now, had the president wanted to match Kim's archaic vocabulary, he could have used one of these words.
DOMINIC WATT: Nickum, rouker, losenger.
SIEGEL: Nickum - a cheating or dishonest person.
CHANG: Rouker - someone who spreads rumors.
SIEGEL: Losenger - a lying rascal.
WATT: It's nice to have new ways of expressing old ideas.
CHANG: That's Dr. Dominic Watt, senior linguistic lecturer at the University of York in the U.K. Recently he and a team of researchers combed through historical texts and dictionaries looking for old words they thought could be useful today.
SIEGEL: They came up with a list of 30, including snoutfair.
WATT: George Clooney is very snoutfair.
SIEGEL: Snout as in nose, fair as in handsome - as in, you've got a nice nose. You're a good-looking person.
CHANG: There's also...
CHANG: That's a harsh critic. A momist is always finding fault with things.
SIEGEL: And then there's this old word.
SIEGEL: Betrump - it's a verb.
WATT: To swindle or to deceive, to cheat somebody.
CHANG: And while it sounds like something a critic of the president might have coined on Twitter, Dominic Watt says betrump actually dates back to the 16th century, found in a Scottish translation of Virgil's epic poem "The Aeneid." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.