World Wide Words logo

Abditory

Pronounced /ˈæbdɪtərɪ/Help with IPA

In Stout Fellow: A Guide Through Nero Wolfe’s World, published in 2003, O E McBride lists 60 words Rex Stout uses that “fall outside the average vocabulary”. Visitors to this site mostly have vocabularies that also fit this description and so will be easy with words such as egregious, fatuous, mendacity and sapient.

However, few will ever have come across abditory, which leads the alphabetical listing. It’s a hiding place, from Latin abditorium, a hiding place, whose source is abdere, to put away or hide. It appears in the story Instead of Evidence, in which explosive devices were found in an abditory in a factory.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes its first example from 1658, but it has never been in common use. Oddly, it is now more often employed than at any time in its history, not only because of Rex Stout but also by SF and fantasy authors, who have occasionally found it useful to help build a sense of otherness:

That abditory, the one in the buffet at home, contained a set of spare passports and other papers that might be useful under extraordinary circumstances. Other abditories, like the compartment under the front hall stairway, contained survival kits, or weapons, or money, or things as prosaic as the emergency roll of toilet paper.

The Crimson Sky, by Joel Rosenberg, 1998.

[Thanks to Art Scott for telling me about this word.]

Page created 10 Oct. 2009

Support World Wide Words and keep this site alive.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA Buy from Amazon Canada Kaufen Sie bei Amazon Deutschland

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-abd1.htm
Last modified: 10 October 2009.