U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words Researchers at University of York in the United Kingdom have uncovered 30 words they think need to be used more regularly in the English language, including nickum — a cheating, dishonest person. Lead linguist Dominic Watt runs through the list.
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U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words

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U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words

U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words

U.K. Researchers Look To Revive Forgotten English Words

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/553799173/553799181" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Researchers at University of York in the United Kingdom have uncovered 30 words they think need to be used more regularly in the English language, including nickum — a cheating, dishonest person. Lead linguist Dominic Watt runs through the list.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now we're going to dust off some old words, starting with this one - dotard.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It means an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile. It was popular during Shakespeare's time.

SIEGEL: Last week North Korea's Kim Jong Un called President Trump a dotard. And then Trump fired back, calling Kim a madman.

CHANG: Now, had the president wanted to match Kim's archaic vocabulary, he could have used one of these words.

DOMINIC WATT: Nickum, rouker, losenger.

SIEGEL: Nickum - a cheating or dishonest person.

CHANG: Rouker - someone who spreads rumors.

SIEGEL: Losenger - a lying rascal.

WATT: It's nice to have new ways of expressing old ideas.

CHANG: That's Dr. Dominic Watt, senior linguistic lecturer at the University of York in the U.K. Recently he and a team of researchers combed through historical texts and dictionaries looking for old words they thought could be useful today.

SIEGEL: They came up with a list of 30, including snoutfair.

WATT: George Clooney is very snoutfair.

SIEGEL: Snout as in nose, fair as in handsome - as in, you've got a nice nose. You're a good-looking person.

CHANG: There's also...

WATT: Momist.

CHANG: That's a harsh critic. A momist is always finding fault with things.

SIEGEL: And then there's this old word.

WATT: Betrump.

SIEGEL: Betrump - it's a verb.

WATT: To swindle or to deceive, to cheat somebody.

CHANG: And while it sounds like something a critic of the president might have coined on Twitter, Dominic Watt says betrump actually dates back to the 16th century, found in a Scottish translation of Virgil's epic poem "The Aeneid."

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