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Definition: To flee, abscond, from a scene or area; to leave abruptly. (It is mostly defunct.)

Pronunciation: ab-SKWAA-chew-late


This word is almost as completely stereotypically “American” as baseball and the Ford Model T. In the 19th Century, there was a time when it was popular in the U.S. to devise “new Latin words” by combining prefixes and suffixes and all manner of in-between-fixes totally willy-nilly, just for funsies. These made-up “Latinate” words have been around since Shakespeare’s day (and we all know how that man is credited for thinking up nearly half of the words found within a modern English dictionary.)

Absquatulate has the Latin prefix ab-, which means “away from”, and the suffix -ate which denotes a state of “acting upon in a specified manner”. The nonexistent body of the term has been assumed to be derived from the Latin squatul (to squat? We’re not very sure), and if correct, brings us to the intention of the word as a whole: to “squat away from”, or “to go and squat somewhere else.”

Why this word?

I’ve always liked the word “squat”. Aesthetically, it looks exotic. Phonetically, it’s a strange jump from the hissing edge of the teeth straight down into the throat all in the span of one quick little syllable. And, English has pulled this word from one extreme to the next– Squat can mean “nothing” (as in an amount or worth); a sort of crouching position curled over one’s haunches, on the feet; or to occupy an area or building (“squatting here for the week”).

What else could be better for someone who already likes the word “squat” than becoming familiar with its groomed, eccentric sibling “absquatulate”? I mean, really. It’s a fun word for a simple movement. (Pretty much the same sort of sensation as “defenestrate”: to throw something out of a window.)

How do you use absquatulate in a sentence?

“We managed to absquatulate from the building before the police released the dogs.”


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Written by Veronica Jacobs

Veronica Jacobs is a fiction writer, blogger, academic editor, and sci-fi enthusiast. Currently working freelance (with a background in English Literature), she spends most of her time writing.


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