Some Lost Words in Dungeons & Dragons

April 3, 2020

A quick look at some forgotten words from an unusual book that made their way into Dungeons & Dragons books.

 

Dungeons & Dragons’ co-creator, Gary Gygax, liked using obscure words in his writings. One source of these words is from a book titled, "Poplollies & Bellibones: A Celebration of Lost Words", by Susan Kelz Sperling and published in 1977.

Here are some of the words he gathered from this book that ended up in a number of D&D publications:

 

Croodle: To creep close. Appears in the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.

 

Dretch: To torment. A type of demon from Monster Manual II.

 

Dweomer/Dweomercraft: The magical arts. Used often in the 1st edition Players Handbook.

 

Eyebite: To bewitch with the eye. A magic-user spell.

 

Flatchet: A sword. Rutterkin demons use them.

 

Magsman: A swindler. An 8th level thief.

 

Rutterkin: A swaggering gallant or bully. A 2nd level assassin, and a type of demon from Monster Manual II.

 

Titivillus: The devil in in monks’ mystery plays. A devil from Monster Manual II.

 

Verme: A legendary giant fish. Appears in Monster Manual II.

 

Waghalter: A rogue likely to swing in the gallows. A 3rd level assassin.

 

I always loved the names of the pre-generated characters in the classic AD&D module, G1-3 Against the Giants. It appears that Gygax got these names from Poplollies & Bellibones. I find it infinitely hilarious that most of these names are insults. Here are the characters' names and their meaning:

 

Beek (to bask in a fire) Gwenders (disagreeable tingling from the cold) (ranger)

 

Cloyer (a pickpocket’s accomplice) Bulse (a package of diamond or gold dust) (thief)

 

Faffle (to stammer) O’Dweomercraft (magical arts) (magic-user)

 

Flerd (a fraud) Trantle (article of little value) (cleric)

 

Fonkin (a little fool) Hoddypeak (a simpleton) (fighter/magic-user)

 

Frush (to crush or strike) O’Suggill (to beat black and blue) (fighter)

 

Gleep (one-eyed or crooked; the word is actually ‘gleed’) Wurp (to glance in the eye) (magic-user)

 

Redmod (hasty) Dumple (to bend into a dumpy shape) (fighter)

 

Roaky (not clear) Swerked (troubled or gloomy) (cleric)

 

 

 

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