Wednesday 2 October 2013

The American Horologicon

The Horologicon is coming! Wearing a fifteen gallon hat and playing a steel guitar, The Horologicon is published in America today. Thus many great words will be returned to the land of their origin: from snollygoster, a C19th American term for a dishonest politician, to nurdle, the industry name for the little bit of toothpaste you squeeze onto your toothbrush in the morning.

For those of you who don't know, The Horologicon is about all of the strangest and most useful words in the English language that nobody knows. All of them exist in the dictionary, but for some reason they've fallen out of use. And they must be brought back.

Moreover, they're arranged by the hour of the day when they might come in useful. So nurdle is in the chapter for seven a.m. when you're busy scrubbing yourself in the bathroom. It sits next to duffifie, an old Scots term for leaving a [shampoo] bottle on its side to get the last bit out, and go to siege, a Medieval term for taking a crap.

Each chapter has its words and subject. There's commuting, and office life and lunch and shopping and drinking getting ready for bed (again there's an American word ecdysiast)

America and Britain have long been united by a common language. Now they can be united by an uncommon language; an extraordinary one.

All of the finest words in the language are hidden away in The Horologicon. So run out and buy it! Or stay in and buy it! Here are some links:

The Horologicon at Amazon
The Horologicon at Barnes &Noble
The Horologicon at Indie Bound

And look at the pretty, pretty cover provided by the lovely folks at Berkley Penguin.

And for The Etymologicon:


  1. Fantastic - is this an identical edition to the UK version or are there changes for the American market?

    I have to say, your books are DELICIOUS - thank you!

  2. "Each chapter has it's words and subject."

    OMG! OMG! OMG! I hope with all the fervor at my command that you did not intend that apostrophe as an example of an Americanism.

  3. Yay! I can't wait to get it! Etymologicon was so fun and enlightening, and this one looks to be the same. I love the concept for organizing it along the times of day / activities most appropriate for each time. It emphasizes how useful and practical these words can actually be despite our unfamiliarity with them. Thanks! I'll definitely be consulting it as I continue working on my illustrated dictionary!

  4. "And look at the pretty, pretty cover provided by the lovely folks at Berkley Penguin."

    You're being satirical, right?

    How could even a cloth-eyed Leftpondian publisher hope to improve on the covers of the original editions?

  5. Start reading from the word ICON, downwards. Unabashed autolatry. Love it.