A Word In Your Ear

Many years ago, I had a boss who had an amazing command of the English language.  He could write a letter to an obnoxious client which, on the surface, looked full of praise until you looked the words up in a dictionary.  Then you realised he was saying the complete opposite.  I always admired his knowledge and asked him how he knew so much.  His simple answer was reading a dictionary!


Over the years I have always looked for the more obscure words within our language and their derivation.  This has come about because of my academic background in Landscape Archaeology.  so much can be learnt from delving into the names of old settlements.

My fascination with words and language got me thinking about old and unusual words to describe walking and similar activities.  These are just a few of them and I hope you enjoy what I have uncovered.

Coddiwomple – To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.  It is an English slang word of unknown origin.


Gallivanter – A person who likes to travel a lot and goes around from one place to the another in pursuit of amusement, fun or pleasure.

Peripatetic – Is an adjective that describes someone who likes to walk or travel around. Peripatetic is also a noun for a person who travels from one place to another or moves around a lot.  From the Greek word Peri meaning ‘around’.

Wanderlust – A strong, innate, impulse or desire to travel the world


Hodophile – One who loves to travel. From the Greek ‘hodos’ meaning travel and ‘phile’ meaning love

Solivagant – One who wanders alone.  From the Latin word ‘solivagus’, meaning lonely or solitary.  Solivagant describes anyone who enjoys meandering around new countries, alone, in order to take it all in.

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Resfeber – The relentless race of the traveller’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together.

Fernweh – A German word for “farsickness,” the opposite of homesickness.  It comes from ‘fern’ meaning far and ‘weh’ meaning pain, misery or woe.

Hope you enjoyed the few words I have uncovered.  If there are any more that you know or have discovered, then please let me know.


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