What makes your eyes widen, the hair stand up on the backs of your arms, and all of your senses come to life?
For me, it’s…..the unexpected use of, or in this case, discovery of….a word.
I’ve had the word “impeccable” for all of my life. But today, for the first time, I saw the word………PECCABLE. (Chrome’s showing it as a misspelled word)
Which is, quite naturally, the opposite of IMPECCABLE. How could I not have known?
The first place I quick-check a word is my desktop WordWeb app. Not a “real” dictionary, but good for quick checks. There it is. So I spin my chair around and grab the New Oxford American Dictionary (2001) from my reference shelf. And there it is.
“Capable of sinning”, with the delightful derivative “peccability”. And right below it, “peccadillo”, which is a “small, relatively unimportant offense or sin”. Then we go to a word that is in my passive vocabulary (that which we know but don’t use in speech), but never connected the dots: “peccant”, which is having committed a sin.
It is NOT in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 10th edition, nor the New Edition, though it is in my 1970 Webster’s New World Dictionary. Seems Webster is killing words, eh? Random House 1985 has it (very surprised, but kudos Random House!). The copy of Compact Oxford English Dictionary (2008) that I have doesn’t list it, though it does have “peccadillo”.
This really falls into line with the video I shared earlier, of the young woman who is a lexicographer. Lexicographers are not, as Samuel Johnson said, “harmless drudges”. When I find a word that is here and there but not everywhere, I know it’s in danger of dying, if it’s not already dead. What a relief to find it in my Oxford American. I really wish I had access to the OED. The fact that search engines and Microsoft Word (yes, I checked) see it as a misspelled word also is a red flag.
At times like this, I wonder, how could this have been???? How has this word slipped by me? Anyhow, I have it now. We can’t let this word die.
So, we are all peccable. Everyone say that 10 times tomorrow. Or peccability. I’m definitely prone to peccability. Let’s keep this word alive.
Hope you enjoyed this little stroll through my mind. Heh.