Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language” as Want to Read:
The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,476 Ratings  ·  199 Reviews
The Horologicon (or book of hours) gives you the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to the hour of the day when you really need them.

Do you wake up feeling rough? Then you’re philogrobolized. Pretending to work? That’s fudgelling, which may lead to rizzling if you feel sleepy after lunch, though by dinner time you will have become a sparkl
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Icon Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Horologicon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Horologicon

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language
Mr Forsyth does it again. If you liked the Etymologicon , or you're just the kind of person who likes tons of out of use or foreign words for everyday things, liberally sprinkled with dry British wit and jokes about being drunk or going to the toilet, then this is the book for you.

Whereas the Etymologicon was a roundabout trip through a sequence of words, each one linking to the next. This is the Horologicon: the book of hours. Each chapter is dedicated to an hour in the life of the mythical, i
Author, Mark Forsyth, warns readers against consuming The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language start-to-finish, cautioning that:
If you do, Hell itself will hold no horrors for you, and neither the author nor his parent company will accept liability for any suicides, gun rampages or crazed nudity that may result.
However, given that the words are organized by hour of the day (hence the title), as opposed to alphabetically, this should be taken with a grain o
Bob Hartley
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I went against Forsyth's suggestion and read this front-to-back, so the only hour I was reading at the appointed time was midnight, when I finished it. I don't care that it's a newspaper endorsed bestseller because the culture sections are heavily opinionated (in the Guardian the report about the new out-of-town wing of the Louvre said it was a mistake) and I don't read them. I also can't be arsed to review it using obscure words because I'm going to bed soon and it's gimmicky.

That's the ungimmi
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too many of the words, imo, are jargon still in use by medical and other professionals (but I imagine that's my impression, and the actual count reveals only a few).

I do know that too many never were known, and are too long to have ever been in common use. I was hoping for more words simply archaic, and not truly 'lost.' And many of the lost words are synonyms for better words we have now.

That being said:

Scuddle - to run with a kind of affected haste or precipitation.
Fisk - to run about hastily
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mark Forsyth has given us several entertaining books about words, reading, drunkenness, and turning a phrase. He's a committed fan of dictionaries and this book digs deeply into wonderful words, going even beyond the Oxford English Dictionary into old studies of dialects and specialized books on jargon used in some professions.

It's the type of book that might best be taken in small bites to learn and take notes, but Forsyth is an interesting enough writer to keep the book entertaining for an end
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I love Forsyth's other books, but this one didn't quite hit the mark for me. It felt like it was trying too hard. The last third of the book is definitely the most entertaining, and it did introduce me to the term "wonderwench", which is now the only form of address that I will respond to, so it was worth it. Lovers of words should still read this, but if you are strapped for time, stick with his other two books.
Here is a book subtitled “A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language”; a “papery child of the Inky Fool blog” (2009) ( In 2016, this is a book which might well be thought to be looking for a selling point in 2016. The author emphatically and unsurprisingly recommends a carefully considered reading of his book of weird words for unusual situations, one ‘day’ at a time. Of course he’s right, his aim is to quomodocunquize (make a living).

Initially, a swif
I loved this author's other language book, The Etymologicon, so once I heard about this one I knew I had to read it.

This is a different sort of book though and doesn't quite hit the mark. The previous book, as the title suggests, is about the origins behind words, a topic I find fascinating. I like to know why we use words the way we do and how they evolved to current standards.

This book though is less about origins, though some are included, and more about obscure and forgotten words for vari
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Drawn largely from the author’s The Inky Fool blog, Horologicon explores the varied terminology English speakers have used the last several hundred years to describe the events and things around them. The book’s title refers to the ancient practice of carrying a “book of the hours” with prayers and readings appropriate for reflect throughout the day.

Revealing some of the unique and humorous terms would spoiled the fun, besides most of us wouldn’t know how to pronounce many of the words. “Yule h
Nov 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Somewhat unfortunately, I read this at the same time as the new QI book of 1,227 facts, which included many of the words in this volume, obviously not by total coincidence. It's a fun book, though, with Mark Forsyth's humour as much as or more in evidence than in The Etymologicon. I don't think I'm going to remember many of these words, if any, but they are indeed satisfying and odd, and some of them are undeservedly defunct.
Jo Bennie
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: f
A thoroughly entertaining romp through rare and obsolete words that are appropriate for different times of the day. Forsyth arranges his 19 chapters chronologically from waking to turning in for the night, taking the reader from 6am to 12 midnight, from dawn, dressing, breakfast and commute through work, lunch and procrastination to tea time, food shopping, going out and returning home to bed. This book was to me a delight, light and witty in tone but erudite in knowledge. Forsyth readably conve ...more
Deborah Pickstone
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bloody-funny
An amusing look at obsolete English words set in the context of the reader's day. Almost fiction! Very readable and could be used as a reference book too. I love words and linguistics - Mark Forsyth is a very clever man!
Kent Winward
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you haven't read Mark Forsyth, you are missing out. His self-deprecating humor combines with linguistic reveries so that any lover of the language will relish his thoughts. I don't know if I'll be using many of the lost words in this volume in any of my writing. David Foster Wallace did in Infinite Jest when he brought back "eschaton" to describe the tennis academy's Armageddon game. The arcane words are thick and plentiful and if you need a reference book to keep track of ways to say someone ...more
Veronica Juarez
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I’ve learnt a bunch of out of use English words with this book, unfortunately I can’t think of any other more pompous and well-deserved word than magnificent to describe The Horologycon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language (2012).

Complete review on Medium.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Parrish Lantern
Are you looking for that wonderful gift to present to the individual in your life who appears to have swallowed a lexicon with their mornings repast, and have you been a bit tardy in getting said article? Well fret not here is an awesome nay, Brobdingnagian offering that could easily engender feelings of exuberance and even adoration from said recipient!

In his preambulation Mark Forsyth states that this book is for those words that are..

“To beautiful to live long, too amusing to be taken serious
The Horologicon is a delightful journey through an entire day populated by words that have meandered out of the every day English usage. Forsyth’s tone is cheeky, slightly irreverent and very, very engaging. It is funny because although this is what Louise Rosenblatt would term “efferent reading,” reading The Horologicon doesn’t feel as mentally taxing and as dense as one feel after say, reading something else that demands attention, something that isn’t for fun, per se, but to glean information ...more
*Goodreads First Reads copy*

Horologicon certainly helped me 'rediscover' old, obscure terms that can still be used. It was certainly well researched and documented. However, the author seemed not to be able to decide whether he wanted to write a research tool or a humorous book on language. Sadly, I felt he failed on both accounts.

The layout of the book, while improving on dictionaries in the sense that it is based on when you may need a certain word, is not fully conducive to quickly finding t
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Forsyth likes to hunt through arcane and regional dictionaries for quaint words, which he groups and weaves into a narrative interlarded with outrageous British humour.

When he's not making you laugh, he's making apt observations about words and their origins, their denotations, their connotations, and their connections. It's edifying, and it's a window into the different ways a language evolves.

Tatterdemalion has the lovely suggestion of dandelions towards the end (although pronounced with all
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it
The prologue had me old-man-laughing with tears rolling down my face, which was a little unfair. The rest of the book didn't quite stack up to the beginning but it certainly had it's moments. This little tome managed to sufficiently satisfy my craving for dry random humor as well as my liking for wordiness/nearly obsolete words.
Henrik Havighorst
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
An incredibly humours and worthwhile walkabout through the English language, with interesting explanations, the necessary irony and plethora of sly remarks to make a potentially dry subject a jolly hoot. Absolutely a must-read for fans of language and the English language in particular.
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
The Etymologicon was last year's surprise runaway bestseller. The author has now assembled The Horologicon, or book of hours, to delight his audience with a feast of words appropriate to a precise moment of the day.
Catharine Jones
Dec 08, 2013 is currently reading it
Really interesting book, discovering new words. Trying to find a way of incorporating uhtceara and snollygoster into my everyday vocabulary!!!
Carey Combe
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
This a christmas stocking book aimed at those sitting on the loo for a while.... fun but frivolous
Quite fun, but recommended in small doses, or you'll feel as dirty and exasperated as if you'd swallowed an entire Stephen Fry in one sitting.
Andrea Hickman Walker
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: language, reference
I expected to love this and it did not disappoint. I expect to be reading it (and the etymologicon, of course) regularly until I've memorised all the words it contains. Such wonderful expressions.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
There is an Old English word meaning, "lying awake before the dawn, worrying."

So begins The Horologicon. I happened to hear that line read as I was lying in bed around 4:30 in the morning, unable to sleep. I was amused. And hooked.
Uhtceare is not a well-known word even by Old English standards, which were pretty damn low. In fact, there is only one recorded instance of it actually being used. But uhtceare is there in the dictionaries nonetheless, still awake and waiting for dawn.

Uht (pronounced
Jon Margetts
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A lovely book within which the charm, erudition and wit of Forsyth's writing shines through to a degree equalling that achieved in The Etymologicon and Elements of Eloquence. In covering hundreds of lost yet inquisitively fascinating words, Forsyth demonstrates a Brysonesque quality of style, magpieing from dictionaries ranging from staple classics like Dr Johnson's and the OED to more obscure dust-gatherers, including tomes covering early 20th century jive culture and the less-hip East Anglian ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to this one audiobook and while I really enjoyed it, I think I need the physical book handy for reference! I know I would have highlighted the heck out of this book! It was such fun listening to this as the narrator, Don Hagen, used perfect inflection and tone. I seriously laughed more than one time, much more than one time. Not only at the words, but the writer sense of humor. I like how he set the book up based on the hour of the day and where your typical employee might be during t ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Fun Linguistic Books? 3 12 May 28, 2013 12:02PM  
  • Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
  • The Stories of English
  • The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English
  • Red Herrings and White Elephants
  • Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors
  • The Science Magpie: Fascinating Facts, Stories, Poems, Diagrams, and Jokes Plucked from Science
  • Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
  • Chasing Odysseus (Hero Trilogy, #1)
  • Shakespeare on Toast: Getting a Taste for the Bard
  • The Antiques Magpie:  	A Fascinating Compendium of Absorbing History, Stories, Facts and Anecdotes from the World of Antiques
  • The Burglar Caught by a Skeleton And Other Singular Tales from the Victorian Press
  • The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate
  • Bag in the Wind
  • Muddle Earth Too (Muddle Earth #2)
  • Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks
  • In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language
  • London: The Autobiography
  • Howl's Moving Castle, Vol. 2 (Howl's Moving Castle Film Comics, #2)
Mark Forsyth is a writer, journalist and blogger. Every job he’s ever had, whether as a ghost-writer or proof-reader or copy-writer, has been to do with words. He started The Inky Fool blog in 2009 and now writes a post almost every day. The blog has received worldwide attention and enjoys an average of 4,000 hits per week.

Mr. Forsyth currently resides in London.
More about Mark Forsyth...

Nonfiction Deals

  • Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
    $8.24 $1.99
  • A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
    $27.00 $2.99
  • Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Room of One's Own
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Life in a Medieval City
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Too Close to Me: The Middle-Aged Consequences of Revealing A Child Called "It"
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
    $13.99 $2.99
  • How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Heart of Christianity
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Hidden Figures
    $4.09 $1.99
  • Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man
    $7.24 $1.99
  • Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures
    $11.99 $1.99
  • K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
    $10.49 $1.99
“The problem with the alphabet is that it bears no relation to anything at all, and when words are arranged alphabetically they are uselessly separated. In the OED, for example, aardvarks are 19 volumes away from the zoo, yachts are 18 volumes from the beach, and wine is 17 volumes from the nearest corkscrew.” 15 likes
“So familiar are eggs to us, however, that in the eighteenth century they were referred to as cackling farts, on the basis that chickens cackled all the time and eggs came out of the back of them.” 9 likes
More quotes…