4

I seem to recall from my youth, when my vocabulary was many times what it is today, learning a word (started with an 'a' I think) whose meaning was "an old, unused, or archaic word" or something roughly to that effect. I believe it was an adjective though it might have been a noun. This would be quite fun as an autological term. Does anyone recall such a word, or am I deceiving myself?

  • There's Antiquated but it's not specifically for words, nor is it archaic so that's probably not it. I'll get my coat. – Frank Apr 19 '14 at 15:57
  • So, you want a rare word that means a rare word? Have you looked in the mathom closet? – tchrist Apr 19 '14 at 20:12
  • @tchrist A (regiftable) trinket closet? – Travis Bemrose Apr 19 '14 at 20:44
8

There are these two ‘a’ words which have a suitable meaning but which are not themselves strictly self-descriptive:

  • archaism, noun : An archaic word or expression.

  • anachronism, noun : Anything done or existing out of date; hence, anything which was proper to a former age, but is, or, if it existed, would be, out of harmony with the present

  • Just pipped to archaism. +1. – Andrew Leach Apr 19 '14 at 16:42
  • I believe archaism was it. It specifically refers to a word or expression, while other terms don't have such a specific connotation. – Travis Bemrose Apr 19 '14 at 16:51
  • Is it, itself, archaic? Hmm, close enough for my purposes. – Travis Bemrose Apr 19 '14 at 16:54
5

If you’re partial to Greek, then depending on what you’re aiming for, you might consider any of:

  • palaeonym (old word)
  • archaeonym (ancient word)
  • cryptonym (hidden word)

Or the more cryptic:

  • spanonym (rare word)
  • lanthonym or xechasmonym (forgotten word)
  • chamaeonym (a lost word, one that’s on the ground)

If you want most people to be able to guess what you mean, use one from the first set; if you don’t, then use one from the second.

If those won’t do, you’ll have to seek out some of those words’ more recherché poecilonyms.

0

There is also the term obsolete meaning no longer used. Oxford's COD has obsolete as disused, discarded, antiquated.

Walter W. Skeat uses the term obsolete in his work on etymology, A Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language.

an obsolete word

-1

Ancient is used quite often, but at least talks about it being old.

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