Nonce and other Frobnulated Words

Language is always fun to use to better effect, whether it is to make your point or break your adversary’s point. All natural languages are rich and contain a number of regional, rare or made-up words. French has a number of them and so does English.


Rare, nonce, or simply made-up words show up in comedy, literature, and even programming. As I am not a native English speaker (which I am sure you gathered by now by reading this blog) I do often read books about English to better my grasp of the anglo-saxon language. Not all of them too serious.

In Forgotten English Jeffery Karcirk presents us a few words with surprising meaning. If bugger today mostly designate someone that is fond of bugging people, we discover that it would still be better to keep the horses well locked in the stables. From boanthropy (thinking that oneself is an ox) to phrenologize (practice phrenology on someone’s skull), you are sure to find a word or two amusing.

But choosing one’s words carefully may help frubbish a text, but one should also refrain from abusing gadzookery (as one may find in, say, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell). It is quite uncompuctuously that I urge you to use nonce words—as long as they are perfectly cromulent— to better effect; certainly extending the wealth of words in the English language.

* *

I have a few of my own invention, that I rather like:

  • Expygeous, ·ly. From ex from, out of, and pyge, Greek for butt. Replaces advantageously “out of one’s butt” in polite conversation. The constants in this equation have been chosen quite expygeously. In verb form, it becomes expygiate. He keeps expygiating answers.
  • Gnumplementation. A re-implementation by GNU of an existing piece of software, just for the sake of making it free, regardless of whether or not it is actually useful to do so.
  • frobnulate, ·d. To make needlessly complicated; akin to contrived, but with deliberate obfuscation in mind. This frobnulated example only shows the tenuity of reasoning.
  • upgraditis. The compulsion to upgrade software as soon as a new version comes out. OMG! Ubuntu 10.4 pre-alpha is out! I’m so dist-upgrading!
  • capilotomy, ·omania. The action (or habit) of splitting hairs whenever possible. No, that’s not Frobnisher 4.2, it’s 4.2.012a. (In French, the word would be tétracapilotomomanie, as the expression is “cut hairs in four”)
  • technoodle. Someone devoid of technological acumen (in French, technouille sounds just as funny). Oh, that .exe file? I erased it, it was full of random characters when I looked at the contents. You know, with ‘type’

* *

Further Readings


Jeffrey Kacirk — Forgotten English: A Merry Guide to Antiquated Words, packed with History, Fun Facts, Literary Excerpts and Charming Drawings — William Morrow and Company, 1997

Jeffrey Kacirk — The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable Words Ever Forgotten — Touchstone, 2000

On the web:

2 Responses to Nonce and other Frobnulated Words

  1. […] also use a plain time-domain “mixing matrix” to mix the three channels onto two. Quite expygeously, let us choose the […]

  2. […] frobnulated Words In a previous post, I presented a couple of nonce and other frobnulated […]

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