The Joy of Words
I used to love flipping through the dictionary to find new words. Not all of them were useable—at least not in everyday conversation—but still interesting to come across.
For example, I remember finding “snickersnee” and thinking it about the greatest word ever—the sound of it, the definition (the art of fighting with knives), the etymology (from the Dutch “steken of snijden,” meaning: “stick or snee,” to cut and thrust in fighting with a knife). How cool is that? If Dickens had a prize knife-fighter for a character, he assuredly would’ve been named Mr. Snickersnee.
Today, an article revision came in from a writer (one I’m thrilled to be able to publish on the D&D website; I’ve been a fan of his blog for several years) that contained another fine word, one I’d never heard of before:
Ironically, it’s a word that itself means tending to use long words, or polysyllabic. Just as good, the etymology from Latin means “a foot-and-a-half” (that’s the “ped” component, as in “pedestrian,” or one who walks by foot). A “foot-and-a-half” word. I love that. The ancient equivalent of a “fifty cent” word, I suppose.
The context for it came from the language appearing in the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks—where, as the writer noted in his article, a good many of us readers picked up a new word or two:
For me, portcullis, stalagmite, and stalactite come instantly to my mind.