"Umbriferous" Used in Area Sentence


BARTONVILLE -- "Stop 'n' Go Again" convenience store clerk Martin Haley deftly used the adjective "umbriferous" last Tuesday to describe a tree just outside his employer's parking lot, much to the consternation of his co-workers.

The adjective, which means "casting or making shade," is a slang distortion of the Latin root word "umbrifer." Coined by an inessential British playwright, the word enjoyed extremely brief common usage between 1610 and 1620. Although Haley's use of the word was well-planned and thoroughly researched, his fellow convenience store employees remain unimpressed with his vocabulary skills.

"So I told him his '86 Probe was parked in the 'Customers Only' section," said Stop 'n' Go Again manager Peter Bentley, "and he says, "Oh, I think I'll park under that big willow over by Arby's. It's positively umbriferous.' I mean, who talks like that anymore?"

"Umbriferous," added Bentley in a mocking intonation.

Recently hired Stop 'n' Go Again employee Jane Simon, who was stocking Fig Newtons nearby, overheard the conversation.

"Just between you and me, [Haley] has got something up his craw," said the thirty-year-old Illinois Central College graduate. "The other day he says to me -- with no provocation at all -- 'I wonder why we need all these security mirrors in here. This building is already a veritable panopticon.' The guy's a total fruit basket."

In the past month, Haley has made several other strange choices of diction, including his recent use of the Islamic noun "hanefiyeh" (a fountain for ritual washing in the courtyard of a mosque) to refer to the sink located in the rear quarters of the convenience store.

Despite the antagonism of his colleagues, Haley plans to continue to use outdated and pretentious words in everyday conversation in order to enlighten his fellow man.

"If I don't remind people that 'zugzwang' is a situation in which a chess player is limited to moves that have a damaging positional effect, or that an 'impresario' is a person who organizes or manages operettas, then these words might go completely out of use," fumed the socially awkward, unwed clerk to no one in particular.

"My coadjutors are so jocosely ribald, it drives me to perturbation," he added.