• NZ Booklovers

The Little Book of Lost Words by Joe Gillard

This is the best little book. It’s like a dictionary, but better. You’ve likely heard almost none of these words before. As the title suggests, they have been lost to the mists of time.


Thankfully, here they are revived, with so much pizzazz that you’re going to love learning them. Encounter ‘froonce’, ‘frumberdling’, and ‘flype’. Some of these words will have you laughing before you even know what they mean, and they are alphabetised for your convenience. It’s actually surprising how relevant these words are, despite the fact that they often come from a couple of centuries (or more) in the past. I finally have a word for being always hungry. And one for the way I fold socks. And a word for the way my flatmate’s cat won’t stop staring at me while I’m eating like he’s the hungriest cat in the world even though he’s literally just been fed. And a word for those times when I just feel plain quanked or ramfeezled (basically, tired). Imagine this. How are you, darling? With hardly a pause, you reply Oh, well, you know, I’m feeling quite ramfeezled today. You might go further and argue at the dinner table that ‘Only a ninnyhammer doesn’t vote’ (and warn your friends not to vote for any snollygosters). The author of this brilliant wee book, Joe Gillard, has gone out of his way to update these words to present situations.


At times I found the mix of old and new a bit befuddling, but the pictures compensated. Among the pictures reproduced side by side with these are words are those of Renoir, Rubens, Van Dyck. Pairing a word with a painting stops the words being overwhelming. It gives the reader a visual reference and adds another point of interest. It also means, with only one word every double page spread, it’s going to be easier to actually learn some of them.


Now, enough of this amphigory. Read this book and even if you only learn one word, it will bring you plenty of fun. I promise it’s not bumfodder. It’s no fandangle. This book will bring you ataraxia. Share it with your compeer. Honeyfuggle your way to the top. No longer will you have to latibulate to hide your ignorance. You won’t regret it.


Reviewer: Susannah Whaley

Allen and Unwin, RRP $22.99


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