Inspired by that good imp the Poemelf, who slinks around putting up copies of favourite poems in unexpected places (library shelves, bus-stops, even a bank ATM)
Gert has decided to set up a Word Club to smuggle neglected words back into the language. All readers of this blog are invited to become Foundation Members. It’s a bit like the Masons- we’ll recognise each other by the secret sign, which in this case is the word for the month. Like the Poemelf, members will go about their normal business taking every opportunity to introduce the word for the month into conversation.
The word for this month is contumely (pronounced with the stress on the first syllable con) (OED: insolent reproach or abuse; insulting or contemptuous language or treatment). Heaven knows there’s plenty of need in the modern world of internet trolls, road rage, bighead sports stars, over-entitled celebrities, and insult-hurling politicians for such an excellent word. But Gert can’t remember ever hearing anyone use it, except for Hamlet:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely…
You can also use the related adjective contumelious, as in
With scoffes and scorns and contumelious taunts (Shakespeare),or
Curving a contumelious lip (Tennyson)
Don’t just sit there goggling at the screen, get out there like Poemelf, and do your bit for the language!