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I discovered that esoterica is what you would call a collection of esoteric things. What would a collection of obscure things be called? Obscura is definitely wrong.

The word (a noun) must fit into this sentence:

  • In this room I have a wonderful collection of obscure artifacts – a/an ______.
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  • I'd say [a collection of] exotica Mar 3, 2021 at 15:19
  • The German words Kunstkammer and Wunderkammer are according to Wikipedia loan-words in English for this sort of thing (approximately meaning room of art and room of wonders, but extended to collections in general), but I can't find them in English dictionaries which makes me reluctant to say they're valid. Still, they might be of use if you're not looking for a word that's actually in the English dictionary! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_curiosities
    – Stuart F
    Mar 3, 2021 at 15:33
  • It is not immediately obvious what a collection of obscure things would be, if the nature of the things and of their obscurity is not specified in some further way. Somebody may have a collection of paintings by obscure painters, a collection of sculptures by obscure sculptors, a collection of objects that were once owned by some obscure historical figure, etc., but what is one supposed to envisage when one is told that somebody has a collection of unspecified things that are obscure in some unspecified way?
    – jsw29
    Mar 3, 2021 at 16:29
  • Making the case for obscura is the well-known website and publication Atlas Obscura. atlasobscura.com
    – Jim Mack
    Mar 4, 2021 at 0:11
  • Not sure if the comments are the right place to clarify (if not, can I edit the question?), but the specific reason I was looking for such a word is that I'm compiling a page of programming articles and videos and one section is for obscure things like Temple OS. Mar 4, 2021 at 11:27

3 Answers 3

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Phantasmagoria is quite close.

3: a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage

[Merriam-Webster]

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  • Possibly the best answer, but not the default meaning of the word. Mar 3, 2021 at 14:52
  • It is possible to combine in a bizarre or fantastic way the things that are perfectly ordinary when considered one by one; the OP is, however, seeking a word for a collection of things that are themselves obscure (whatever that is).
    – jsw29
    Mar 3, 2021 at 16:18
  • Yes, it is possible. However, the definition above spans both possibilities. Note: I did say it was close, not dead on. If you have a better word, please answer and I will upvote yours. I really don't have much of a dog in this fight. Mar 3, 2021 at 16:21
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These are some of my most beloved words for when one comes to be the caretaker of the little absurdities in life,

A cabinet of curiosities (or Wunderkammer in German) see here

also known as ‘wonder rooms’, were small collections of extraordinary objects which

A menagerie

a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition. a strange or diverse collection of people or things.

  • Historical apparatuses, from the perspectograph through to today's high-tech menagerie, are on display.

...

  • Their lightning-fast delivery of three-chord tunes, and lyrical menagerie of punks, runts, brats, loudmouths, and jungle queens create the illusion of dumb simplicity.

[Lexico]

Also not distinctly what you are looking for but I always thought the word "pigeonhole" had a "collection of oddities" sense to it, but that may just be me.

Beloved is the eccentric that harvests the beauty in strange things!

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Menagerie

I thought the word only covered animals but I may be wrong

1a : a place where animals are kept and trained especially for exhibition b : a collection of wild or foreign animals kept especially for exhibition 2 : a varied mixture a menagerie of comedians — TV Guide A menagerie of grotesque statues stood in the garden. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/menagerie

Eclectic (mix) of items

Eclectic: deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources. "universities offering an eclectic mix of courses" Google Eclectic

eclectic (adj.)

1680s, "not confined to or following any one model or system," originally in reference to ancient philosophers who selected doctrines from every system; from French #eclectique (1650s), from Greek eklektikos "selective," literally "picking out," from eklektos "selected," from eklegein "pick out, select," from ek "out" (see ex-) + legein "gather, choose," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather." Broader sense of "borrowed from diverse sources" is first recorded 1847. As a noun from 1817.

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=eclectic

Curios

a rare, unusual, or intriguing object. "they had such fun over the wonderful box of curios that Jack had sent from India" Google Curio

1851, "piece of bric-a-brac from the Far East," a shortening of curiosity (n.) in the "object of interest" sense (1640s). Extended by 1890s to rare or interesting bric-a-brac from anywhere.

Curioso (1650s) was a 17c.-18c. word for "one who is curious" (about science, art, etc.) also "one who admires or collects curiosities," from Italian curioso "curious person."

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  • I think if I can't find a more specific word, I'd go with "curios". Although the connotations of the word are around objects rather than pieces of knowledge, it might still work. Mar 4, 2021 at 11:29
  • @BadgerBadgerBadgerBadger . It's interesting that you have included "...pieces of knowledge... Try looking uo the word 'Curia' and its link to 'Curator'. Although, I present thise word, I believe, unlike some of the sources, that Curia used to mean 'Museum' while curator was the person looking after musuem objects which, themselves, were curios: particularly as they came from all over the world!
    – user414952
    Mar 4, 2021 at 13:58

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