When I was younger, I loved to collect words. I'd relish each new discovery, store it away in my memory, and then trot it out for use whenever the opportunity offered. But somewhere along the way, I pretty much quit doing that. It wasn't a conscious decision; it wasn't even something I was aware had happened. I guess I got lazy. Or maybe just distracted.
Then, a couple of months ago, I stumbled across a word (for the curious, it was canard) and thought, That's a word I know, but I never use it. Then, a few hours later, I ran across another such word. And a few hours after that, a third such word presented itself to me. It was obviously a sign. But because my memory is not what it used to be, I knew if I didn't write the words down, they would fade again from my consciousness. So I got out a Post-It note, wrote down the three words, and stuck it up on my monitor with a mental note to stop being so lazy and make it point to move these words from my passive into my active vocabulary.
And then a strange thing happened. I started noticing lots of such words, or words I didn't know at all but wish I did. Soon, my Post-It was covered. I switched to a note card. Now I have two cards covered front and back; I'm thinking about buying a little empty book. But you know what? I'm still not using them. So I thought I'd share some of them, which is sorta like using them, only not quite. So here we go, in no particular order:
A cat lover.
From the people who brought us Schadenfreude, this one means unhappiness at the pleasure of others.
UPDATE A word of warning: a German reader tells me he's never heard of Gluckschmerz, which evidently should be spelled Glücksschmerz if it did exist. But I still think it's a great word and ought to exist even if it doesn't!
If you have favorite little-known or little-used words, feel free to send them in. I'm still collecting!