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The Horologicon is a compilation of the lost words of the English languageLast Christmas, a dear friend gave me Mark Forsyth’s Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language. It’s delightful, filled with “the most extraordinary words in the English language, arranged according to what hour of the day you might need them.”

How handy!

I came across a word that reminded me of a stage our son went through when he was about two or three years old:

Many children go through a phase of being frightened of monsters under their beds

When bedtime arrived, he became concerned that somehow, monsters would slither from their lairs and ooze squishily under his bed. No amount of explaining or reassuring soothed him.

According to an article I found in Parents magazine, this is fairly normal behavior for toddlers, who “don’t always understand everything in their environment.” Parents are encouraged to be creative, which we were: I bought a can of rose-scented bathroom spray, printed out a photo of a monster I found online, and typed the words “MONSTER SPRAY” at the bottom. The whole thing got taped cleverly to the can, and we doused the underside of Steven’s bed with this gaggy concoction. Take that, monsters!

If only I had known, had owned Horologicon back then! Instead of the scary-sounding monster, I could have called this imaginary creature by its rightful name:


According to Horologicon, a snudge is “one that lurks under a bed, to watch an opportunity to rob the house.” (1699)

Our creativity seemed to work, because soon after, our son’s fears subsided and our Monster Spray found its proper home in the bathroom. The snudges were banished, and our son’s room stopped smelling like a flower shop!

Calvin and Hobbes often deal with monsters under the bed

by Bill Watterson