abiogenesis \ey-bahy-oh-JEN-uh-sis, ab-ee-oh-, noun:
Biology. the now discredited theory that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.
“Aristotle would have loved that.” Nancy was standing behind him. “Why Aristotle?” she asked. “He believed in abiogenesis, the idea that living creatures can arise from nonliving matter.”
— Tom Clancy, Games of State, 1996
Oberth, who accurately predicted rocket development on earth, suspects that the prerequisites for abiogenesis exist on other planets in the solar system.
— Erich von Daniken, translated by Michael Heron, Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, 1968
Coined by T. H. Huxley in 1870, abiogenesis comes from the Latin words meaning “birth” and “origin.”
slumgullion \sluhm-GUHL-yuhn, SLUHM-guhl-, noun:
1. a stew of meat, vegetables, potatoes, etc.
2. a beverage made weak or thin, as watery tea, coffee, or the like.
3. the refuse from processing whale carcasses.
4. a reddish, muddy deposit in mining sluices.
"…d’yever eat good old fashioned slumgullion boy, ‘taint nothin but scrambled eggs and potatoes all scrambled up together.”
— Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958
We could not eat the bread or the meat, nor drink the “slumgullion.”
— Mark Twain, Roughing It, 1872
Slumgullion is an Americanism dating back to the 1840s. It is perhaps related to the word cullion, which comes from the Latin term meaning “bag” or “testicle.”
largesse \lahr-JES, LAHR-jis, noun:
1. generous bestowal of gifts.
2. the gift or gifts, as of money, so bestowed.
3. Obsolete. generosity; liberality.
They subsisted by the bounty, or largesse, as it was called, of the princes whom they served, which was one great source of expense to those who embarked in war…
— Sir Walter Scott, “Feudal Chivalry,” Tales of a Grandfather, 1831
Largesse, in the form of odds and ends of cold cream and pomatum, and also of hairpins, was freely distributed among the attendants.
— Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1870
Largesse comes from the Latin largus meaning “abundant.” It shares a root with the word large.
pokelogan \POHK-loh-guhn, noun:
Northeastern U.S. marshy or stagnant water that has branched off from a stream or lake.
They were particularly numerous where there was a small bay, or pokelogan, as it is called, bordered by a strip of meadow, or separated from the river by a low peninsula covered with coarse grass…
— Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods, 1864
He weighted their bodies into the black stagnant water of a marshy pokelogan and watched them sink below the surface, being the last man to ever see them alive or dead.
— Robert Olmstead, Soft Water, 1988
Pokelogan entered English in the 1840s and is of unknown origin.
twain \tweyn, adjective:
Here two gentlefolks whisper together, and there other twain, their swords by their side.
— Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth, 1861
Or one can say that East is East and West is West, and in American literature never the twain shall meet.
— edited by Walter B. Rideout, Sherwood Anderson: A Collection of Critical Essays, 1974
Twain comes from the Old English twēgen, which is the masculine nomiative and accusative form of the word “two.”
pilcrow \PIL-kroh, noun:
a paragraph mark.
Take the trouble to look it up and in most cases the humble pilcrow warrants only a few lines, dismissed briskly as a “paragraph mark” that is “only important when brevity is important.”
— Keith Houston, Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and Other Typographical Marks, 2013
I’m more like a specialized piece of punctuation, a cedilla, umlaut or pilcrow, hard to track down on the keyboard of a computer or typewriter.
— Adam Mars-Jones, Pilcrow, 2008
Pilcrow arose in the 1400s, possibly from the Old French paragrafe meaning “paragraph.”
suppletory \SUHP-li-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee, adjective:
supplying a deficiency.
Every constituent is bound by suppletory rules in the charter, but each constituent is free at any time to alter by contract how a particular suppletory rule will apply to its positions and interests.
— David Sciulli, Corporate Power in Civil Society, 2001
A book of accounts kept by one who has since become insane, and proved to be in his handwriting, is admissible in evidence, on being verified by the suppletory oath of his guardian.
— Massachusetts Digest, 1881
Suppletory comes from the Latin word supplēre meaning “to make complete.”
wight \wahyt, adjective:
1. active; nimble.
2. strong and brave, especially in war.
1. a human being.
2. Obsolete. a. a supernatural being, as a witch or sprite. b. any living being; a creature.
Sir William of Deloraine, good at need / Mount thee on thy wightest steed; / Spare not to spur nor stint or ride / Until thou come to fair Tweedside…
— Sir Walter Scott, The Lay of the Lady Minstrel, 1805
But if there happen to be an unduly slender, clumsy, or timorous wightin the ship, that wight is certain to be made a ship-keeper.
— Herman Melville, Moby Dick; or, The Whale, 1851
Wight is related to the Old Norse word vīgr which meant “able to fight.”
borborygmus \bawr-buh-RIG-muhs, noun:
a rumbling or gurgling sound caused by the movement of gas in the intestines.
"The stertorous borborygmus of the dyspeptic Carlyle!” declaimed Willie Weaver, and beamed through his spectacles. The mot, he flattered himself, could hardly have been more exquisitely juste.
— Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point, 1928
Then her stomach grumbled and spoiled the silence. Quickly, Patsy pressed her hand against her complaining belly, and hoped that Ray had not heard it. “Suffering from borborygmus, I hear,” Ray dead-panned dryly.
— Bonnie Gardner, Sergeant Darling, 2005
Borborygmus comes from the Greek word borborygmós which meant “intestinal rumbling.”
gelt \gelt, noun:
All he wants is some U.S. gelt and a nice pair of elevator shoes.
— James Ellroy, Blood’s a Rover, 2009
Let alone he was always one for a bit of life, you could earn extra gelt in London, for there were always errands to be run, or notes to be delivered, and you got a shilling every time you were sent off to execute such commissions.
— Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax, 1959
Gelt entered English in the 1890s. It came from the Yiddish word which meant “money.”