A Few Special Words

We tagged a few other categories of words as we went along.  Remembering that while the Concordance has all 1534 uncommon words entered, I have only had chance to thoroughly examine and make special notes on the 300 which were the most interesting to me and seemed the most likely to be “archaic” or a “gem” or to fit the other ideas I was curious about.  In fact, if you search on the tag “brief”, you will find those words for which I only made a plain concordance entry.

Meanwhile, those special other tags.  There are not many of them, so I concatenated them all onto one graphic for us:

Special Words

The few blue words are tagged “British” – from Scottish, Irish, and Cumbrian.  The green graph shows us the words from outside the most frequent hundred thousand words in the Project Gutenberg corpus, tagged 100K.   I also had a few thoroughly subjective tags.  The red graph shows us words I tagged “funny” (and a few which the OED calls “jocular”), and I’ve been told that my sense of humour is flawed.  For example, I think the word “quoits” sounds funny and that “burglar” is funny for being anti-heroic.  The few delightful plum words are my personal favorites with the “gem” tag (yes, the lovely Cumbrian word “carrock” is also one of my gems). They are the words which I discovered had multiple meanings and nuanced connotations which all contribute to Tolkien’s elegant storycraft.


“Firework”, singular, is outside of The Hundred Thousand.  OED tells us that in its meaning as “a pyrotechnic display” although the plural “fireworks” only is used now, the singular used to be used.  Most instances in The Hobbit are of “fireworks” except one.  The uninflected form could be the older form for the meaning just cited – or could be the form indicating other, obsolete meanings of “firework” (work done in fire, a furnace, and others).  Of course… Tolkien uses it in paragraph 01.091 adjectivally, to describe the glare of the blue light on Gandalf’s staff.  OED admits of no adjectival uses, except as the first element in some hyphenated word phrases.  The word we know is tweaked so very gently off the rails – we can take nothing for granted, yet we do not know consciously that we have been alerted.  Absolutely elegant.

  • 01.017 such particularly excellent fireworks!
  • 01.018 You seem to remember my fireworks kindly,
  • 01.092 in its firework glare
  • 06.030 (even the hobbit had never forgotten the magic fireworks
  • 07.083 I would have given them more than fireworks!’
  • 14.013 No fireworks you ever imagined equalled the sights that night.

“ˈfire-work | ˈfirework, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 5 June 2015.


Not Scottish but Irish in origin, I gave it the Scottish tag temporarily as “from within the United Kingdom, but alien”.  It means, of course, “little smithers”, particles or atoms, and has not been observed as a singular in the wild.

  • 12.101 in a jumble of smithereens,

“smithereens, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.

“ˈsmithers, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.


From the word “scrimp” to meaning fastidious, to stylish, to a word of praise and, in food, deliciousness.  The adverb “scrumptiously” is attested from the 1800s.  I had rather wished that it was a word unique to Gollum, who uses it in an extraordinary blend of odd, alien, ridiculous, word-playful, and cannibalistically horrifying.

  • 05.048 Is it scrumptiously crunchable?

“scrumptious, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.

“scrumptiously, adv.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.