Lexicon Big Year: July 12

July 12: “A custom or notion that has been shown to be unreasonable but nonetheless persists,” Steven Poole tells us, “is a mumpsimus,” and doesn’t it sound mellifluous? Apparently it arose in the 1600s and died out as an active word sometime through the 2000s. If I could resurrect it, I’d slap mumpsimus onto all those circulating Covid-19 conspiracy ideas, and all those dingbat “climate change doesn’t exist because …” tropes.

My word of the day is mizzle, something I stumbled across, yet again, in a podcast. I’d never heard of it but the dictionaries do include it. The verb (I’m not sure a noun is allowed) mizzle means ” to rain in very fine drops.” One dictionary seemed to derive that meaning from a German word, but when I heard it, the speaker said it means halfway between mist and drizzle.

Source: A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole.

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