Well, it was pretty hilarious sitting around the Wilson Center with 20-odd other word geeks making up definitions for words even we had never heard of–parbuckle, tinchel, sciolist???  A parbuckle, someone wrote, must be a berry jam popular in Scotland or a verb meaning “to fold lengthwise.” A sciolist, someone else suggested, is a stonemason outranking the foreman but subordinate to the master carver. A tinchel, obviously, means having sharp edges, as a blade of grass. A skelp is an 18th century Scottish dance involving skipping. A geason, of course, is a very elderly goose pair; a calepin the whalebone rim on the top of a lady’s corset, or, come to think of it, a hairless Asian marsupial. My personal favorite of the invented definitions: turbillion means “having several billion of something–example: ‘I have a turbillion forks in this drawer!'”

Great words and definitions. For the correct definitions, see below. In the meantime, geek and web site guru Erin McKean joined the fun, supplying the words and wearing one of her handsewn vintage full-skirted dresses. If you hung around afterwards, you even got a Wordnik sticker.

For the sticklers among you who insist on knowing what these crazy words really mean:

geason- rare, scarce, or uncommon

calepin-another word for a dictionary

turbillion-a whirlwind; a whirling storm (of forks?)

parbuckle-a rope, cable, etc., arranged like a sling, used to raise or lower heavy objects vertically

skelp-a slap or smack with the flat of one’s hand

tinchel-when a wide circle of hunters drives together a group of deer by gradually closing in on them

sciolist-someone who pretends to have a lot of knowledge

desparple-to scatter, disperse, drive in different directions; to sprinkle

And the winner of Fictionary, April 6, 2011 is (drum roll) Virginia Johnson, director of the Reading Writing Center. Somehow, I’m  not surprised. Virginia is NOT a sciolist; she really does have a lot of knowledge. Congratulations, Virginia!


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