On Blackadder Vocabulary

It is no secret that one of my all-time favorite television series is Blackadder.

I go back and forth. Sometimes Blackadder II (that being the Elizabethean Blackadder) is tops. But usually, it’s Blackadder the Third (that being the Regency Blackadder).

And my top three episodes — though all six are simply sublime — would be:

  • Ink and Incapacity
  • Sense and Senility
  • Duel and Duality

In the first, “Ink and Incapcity,” Blackadder matches wits with Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of the famed dictionary. Robbie Coltrane is hilarious as the pompous wordsmith.

The second, “Sense and Senility,” has Prince George taking acting lessons from Kenrick and Mossop, two Shakespearean fops.

The third, “Duel and Duality,” has the Prince challenged to a duel by the Duke of Wellington, and Blackadder and the Prince switch places. (The scene where Wellington repeatedly punches the Prince, pretending to be a butler, is hilarious.)

I bring this up, not to talk about my love of Blackadder, but because “Ink and Incapacity” features a wonderful scene where Blackadder attempts to rile Dr. Johnson by inventing words on the spot and using them in sentences:

Allow me to be the first to offer Dr. Johnson my most sincere contrafibularities! I am anaspeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused him such pericombobulation.

What wonderful language! Frasmotic! Compunctuous! Words that should be used every day.

If only we knew what they meant…

Fortunately, I found a website that defines these obscure, 18th-century words.

Unsurprisingly, I feel that work last week has made me a bit frasmotic. And occasionally I do feel compunctuous.

Use these words in health!

While I go and watch some Blackadder the Third. Well, not right now, as I have to go to work. But later, definitively later… ;)

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