I came across a literary article from one of my cousin's numerous English books. The author, in what I presume to be an effort to showcase their vocabulary and command over English, seems to have largely (ab)used outdated English terms, forcing me to flip pages in dictionaries every few sentences. One such instance would be the use of "betimes" instead of "early". While learning new words is always a good thing, I would have preferred less use of antiquated terms.

My questions

  • Is there an adjective or noun to describe such practice?

  • Are archaic expressions and words more preferred (than simple, everyday words) by authors of English literary articles?

  • Did you check the date of publication? It could be it was written in the 1950s by someone who was born in the 1900s. If instead it is a recent publication then you have a stronger case for complaining.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 31, 2015 at 8:13
  • If you can, and I don't see any reason not to, could you cite the author's name and the literary article?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 31, 2015 at 8:15
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA - I had read the article a few years ago in one of the English Text books. I have been a member of EL&U for less than a month. I am not entirely sure about the author/title and date of publication. Off the top of my head, the article was about the British Empire and it's influence across the Indian subcontinent. The time period ranges from late 15th century to early 1970s, when the constitution of India was still being amended. Nonetheless, let me check for the article and update my question when I get hold of it. Cheers
    – BiscuitBoy
    Dec 31, 2015 at 9:11

2 Answers 2


Consider, archaist.

archaism: the use or conscious imitation of very old or old-fashioned styles or features in language or art. ODO

archaist (also, archaizer): a person who archaizes Wordnet by Farlex

archaize: v.intr. to use archaisms, as in prose, to suggest the past. archaizer n. AHD


Relating to the first part of your question:

Tending to use big or obscure words, which few understand.

(of a person, their language or writing) given to using language in a showy way by using an excessive amount of difficult words to impress others.

A person who uses long words.

Of a speech or piece of writing: too complicated; elaborate; with grandiloquent expressions; bombastic; verbose.

(of language or style) Overly complex and difficult to understand; grandiloquent; bombastic.

There's nothing wrong with focusing on the details, but someone who is pedantic makes a big display of knowing obscure facts and details. Pedantic means "like a pedant," someone who's too concerned with literal accuracy or formality. It's a negative term that implies someone is showing off book learning or trivia, especially in a tiresome way.

marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects

  • You could say their writing has a high level of diffusion, although this may be misinterpreted for the more common scientific meaning:

prolixity of speech or writing; discursiveness.

  • They or their writings may be inkhorn:

Affectedly or ostentatiously learned; pedantic: inkhorn words.

In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself. Purple prose is characterized by the extensive use of adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.

  • 1
    'purple prose' describes the text.
    – Mitch
    Dec 31, 2015 at 15:37
  • @Mitch That would make a great answer of its own.
    – user116295
    Dec 31, 2015 at 17:05
  • Please feel free to add it to yours (it sort of goes a long with all yours). Unfortunately, I don't feel like it captures what the OP is looking for (these aren't necessarily archaic words being used). However, 'archaist', while a legitimate construction from root and suffix, does not sound right at all.
    – Mitch
    Dec 31, 2015 at 17:11

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