Friday, 14 March 2014

Cavernicolous - Cave New World

A cave entrance
A cave ... a cave ... a cave
(photo by Marcin Szala)


Adjective. Late 19th century.
[from Latin caverna CAVERN noun + -I- + -COLOUS living or growing in or on.]

BIOLOGY. Inhabiting caves.

cavernicole noun a cavernicolous animal. M20

We've all called someone a cave-dweller or a troglodyte, right? However, while these insults may carry the requisite spelaeological grist, they do rather lack the Haddockian oomph and abstrusity of cavernicolous which, especially when used against someone with the typical adaptations of a cavernicole (translucent colouring, elongated limbs, vestigial eyes, etc), is an all the more withering verbal smackdown. Therefore, the next time you're about to call someone a knuckle-dragging cave-dweller or a lichen-licking troglodyte, do consider cavernicolous - you'll look awfully clever.

Have you ever been called a cave-dwelling, subterranean troglodyte?

Do please dig yourself into a hole by leaving a comment in the box below.


  1. Spelaeological? Grist? Vestigial? Oomph?! I suppose I sort of knew I was out of my depth on lexicolatry.

    I'm going to slink back to my ..... to my.......what's the word?...... to my........ I usually refer to it with a placid, nasal grunt.

    Come on! What is it? It's on the tip of my ignorant tongue.

    Concentrate clueless! Use it in context : you're going there with your lovely wife, the sun setting over the Jurassic plains,
    and she says "clueless, couldn't you let me walk back to the {grunt} on my own? Is it absolutely necessary to drag me by the hair to the {grunt}? I mean, you're not a {grunt}man are you?"

    FIRE! IT'S FI....... no, it's not fire it's it.


    1. I did use some rather show-offy words in this post, didn't I?

      I don't mean to - sometimes they just kind of slip out onto the page as I'm merrily typing away. Although, out of your depth you're clearly not, C, as while you may have been bamboozled by spelaeological, grist, oomph and vestigial (and I suspect you weren't really), you didn't even bat (cave pun right there - deserves recognition) an eyelid at troglodyte, Haddockian or abstrusity.

      Oh, and that word you were so ardently searching for (if it wasn't 'pants' - the ending of your comment is somewhat ambiguous) - I think the word you're looking for is 'cave'. Or maybe 'condominium'.

    2. Actually, although they're all new to me, I quietly enjoy those word, as a psychopath without any medical expertise might delight in......


      Anyway, I'm fairly familiar with troglodyte and Haddockian thanks to Tintin, and 'abstrusity' appears twice on my birth certificate.

    3. ....sorry, just checked the birth cert again and the word was 'absurdity.'

  2. No I won't... trust me.
    It's like having to explain the joke you've just told - when you finish not even you find it funny anymore ;)
    (happens to me all the time and then one day you stop telling jokes and when people insist - very much - you "ok" but then you tell them slower so they can catch up and the results is the same :()
    So Sir Ed it will be knuckle-dragging cave-dweller or a lichen-licking troglodyte (really like this. so much proper than just troglodyte).
    Why dwell in foreign territories like your first question? Dangerous! Scary! Nope. Knuckle-dragging cave-dweller or a lichen-licking troglodyte it will be. I might consider troglodyte just among "friends"... might... not so sure. And I certainly hope not to put it to test today as I'm having a great day.
    Hope yours is too.

    1. Well if you really want to score a slam-spelunk (obscure cave pun right there - deserves recognition), you could fire a devastating salvo of all these words:

      "Why you subterranean, cavernicolous, cave-dwelling troglodyte of a cavenicole!"

      The problem is the redundancy, as the various synonyms start to trip over each other. Plus, if one must go down the route of a verbal assault, Lexicolatry favours a measured approach, each noun and adjective hand-picked for a minimum of potential blowback while maximising target obfuscation.

      I think I need to go and have a lie down.