Books: Adoxography


by Paul Dickson

Delacorte; 366 pages; $13.95

You may know that a moirologist is a professional mourner, that an anthracomancer tells fortunes by means of burning coals, and that a mumpsimus is someone who refuses to correct an error (this last being derived from a 16th century priest who kept using that word when reciting the Mass even though he had been repeatedly told that he was supposed to say sumpsimus). But how many people are aware that pizzlesprung is a Kentucky word to describe the weary, or that nutation is the wobble in the earth's axis caused by the pull...

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