Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney, 26 October 2001


I’ve always thought of myself as more argute than an apple-knocker, although I do confess to being prone to lollygagging, although I do hope I’m not a toplofty.  Maybe you think I’m a blatherskite but I’d deny any accusation of being a doryphor.  If all of this gives you horripilation, then I’d say you were atrabilious.


“What is he on about?”, I hear you ask.  Well, the good folk who publish the Oxford English Dictionary are publishing a list of some Weird and Wonderful Words that we’ve stopped using.  They suggest that these are both useful and interesting words that are ripe for a come-back.  So when I say I’m argute, I’m shrewd; an apple-knocker is an ignoramus, lollygagging is laziness, and a toplofty is an arrogant man.  A blatherskite is someone who talks nonsense and a doryphor is a pedantic critic.  Horripilation is when the hairs on the back of your arms stand up through fear, cold or excitement, and atrabilious means bad tempered.


Aren’t these delicious words, ripe to roll around your mouth?  I have a private store of words of my own that I hope one day I’ll be able to make use of.  One is “myristicivorous” meaning feeding upon nutmegs and another is “eleemosynary” which means connected to the giving of alms.


It’s funny how words go out of fashion.  When I was a lad, I was severely told off if I used the swear word “ruddy”, but I haven’t heard it used for ages.  And did anyone else with a cold get dosed with “ipecacuanha wine, syrup of squills and glucose” syrup?


There’s another word we hear less and less these days.  There’s been a spate of announcements in Parliament recently, with several ministers correcting things they’ve said, or explaining why unwelcome announcements have been published at a time when everyone’s attention has been elsewhere.  The missing word in most of these statements has been “sorry”.


Sorry is a little word that means a lot yet is incredibly hard to say.  Sorry is a powerful word.  Sorry can restore relationships.  Sorry can increase the sum total of human happiness.  I wonder if there’s someone you need to say sorry to.


Christians know that saying sorry to God is the first step in restoring our relationship with Him.  It’s even got a special theological word, it’s so important.  We call it repentance.  This means thinking again, turning away from wrong things, making a fresh start.  And whenever someone repents and asks for forgiveness, the Bible tells us that the angels in heaven throw a party.  Saying sorry to God can make the welkin ring.  Oh -  the welkin means the heavens!


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