Vocabulated

Today’s Zippy, featuring Griffy and Claude:

Floccillation is indeed an attested word in English, though one few people know and few have a use for.

From Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers (2007):

the aimless picking at bedclothes by a patient with delirium, dementia, fever, or exhaustion.

OED2 has the etymology: < Latin *floccillus diminutive of floccus flock n.2 + –ation suffix. And the first cite:

1842   W. T. Brande Dict. Sci., Lit. & Art 457/1   Floccillation, picking the bed-clothes. This is a very alarming symptom in many acute diseases.

The relevant noun flock, from NOAD2:

a soft material for stuffing cushions, quilts, and other soft furnishings, made of wool refuse or torn-up cloth: flock mattresses.

• powdered wool or cloth, sprinkled on wallpaper, cloth, or metal to make a raised pattern.

• a lock or tuft of wool or cotton.

The OED even provides a synonym for the medical term floccillation:

carphology: < Greek καρϕολογία (Galen), < κάρϕος twig, straw, bit of wool + λέγειν to collect.

 

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