“Omnifarious” means “of all kinds or sorts” and describes the fondness for wordplay shared by all my family. Funny words, well-turned words, words of interesting origin, in fact omnifarious words, all are grist for our banter.
As a result, most rooms in our house have a resident dictionary, and we’re well-stocked with word-based games. This fascination is fed by my long-standing subscription to the Word.A.Day free online service (www.wordsmith.org), which provides daily fodder for dinner-table conversation.
Recent examples include “virga” (”rain or snow that evaporates before hitting the ground”), “titivate” (”to make smarter; to spruce up”), and “triskaidekaphobia” (”fear of the number thirteen”), but “vomitorium” is more our style.
It doesn’t mean what you think, although it is Latin. The Oxford English Dictionary says the ancient Romans had vomitoriums, but, contrary to a legend started by Aldous Huxley in 1923, these weren’t rooms for regurgitating while feasting in order to make room for more hummingbird tongues.
Coming from the root word, “vomere,” meaning “to discharge,” the vomitorium was actually “a passageway leading to the rows of seats in a theater.”
Rome’s Coliseum vomitoriums were so spacious and well-designed that 50,000 people could be seated or disgorged in 15 minutes.
As the retrieval of these nuggets of knowledge led to descriptions of sickbagging, the hobby of collecting airline air sickness bags (http://www.airsicknessbags.com/), and dictionaries of regurgitative euphemisms (http://www.realbeer.com/fun/burps/vomit_dictionary.php), I began wondering how many words there are in our sprawling, inclusive language.
... not much Classical after that, but interesting ...