Vice Hath December

If January's about moderation, then December's about excess. Here's ten words to celebrate overdoing it, before you do it over.

by Ryan Feigenbaum

Vice Hath December
Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

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Vice Hath December

Vice Hath December

January 1 is about resolutions. You resolve to lose weight, to drink less, to be a better person. New year, new you.

December, then, is for the opposite:  gain weight, drink more, and be the worst you possible. It's your chance to do all those things you're thinking about not doing in the new year—and to do them to excess.

Here's ten words to celebrate overdoing it, before you do it over.

1. Crapulous

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Crapulous krap-yuh-luh s adj. To eat or drink to excess, and the shitty feeling that results

Losing weight is a common enough resolution. You'll commonly hear, "I'm cutting out carbs!", or "I'm only eating lettuce that begins with the letter M!", or "I'm gonna eat better and be my best self, just in time for my Spring Break Wedding Dog Adoption!"

The opposite of this, of course, is to eat and drink as much as possible, and there's a word for our December-long overindulgence, for drinking not just some eggnog but the whole carton, for eating not just some Christmas cookies but all of them. That word is crapulous.

Crapulous derives from the Ancient Greek word, κραιπάλη (kraipalē), meaning drunken headache. In exorbitant addition to its first meaning—to eat and drink to excess—this etymology lends crapulous its second meaning: the shitty feeling that results from all that immoderate drinking and eating.

While the diet may start in January, being fabulously crapulous can start right now.

2. Torpor

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Torpor tawr-per noun To not do anything. Frowned upon for humans, considered perfectly fine for non-human animals.

One strategy to lose weight as part of the New Year's resolution is to diet; another is to exercise. You'll commonly hear, "I'm going to go to the gym everyday!", or "I just hired the personal trainer who got Tom Hanks in shape for Toy Story 4!", or "Well, I just hired the guy who kidnapped that woman in the Peloton ad, and she was in great shape!"

Opposed to routinely and vigorously working out is the lost art of doing nothing at all, of minimizing the body's movements so that only the smallest amount of energy is expended. Torpor signifies this lethargy, laziness, and general will to inactivity.

Torpor stems from the Latin word for the torpedo fish (electric ray), which can discharge a numbing sting up to 220 volts. The Ancient Greeks used it as an early anesthetic to numb the pain of surgery, childbirth, and loneliness.

When trying to achieve peak torpor yourself, don't reach for the torpedo fish just yet. Instead, look to some of our other non-human friends for inspiration. Hummingbirds, bears, raccoons, skunks, and the like lower their body temperatures and metabolic activity to survive the extremities of the season. This ability, related to hibernation, is called torpor.

Is there any season more extreme than December? Survive it by indulging in a little torpor. First, you master the weighted blanket, only then will you be ready to take on actual weights.

brown sloth climbs tree
Vision board material. Photo by Kleber Varejão Filho / Unsplash

3. Chantage

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Chantage shahn-tazh noun Fancy word for blackmail

Another common resolution is to make new friends or to strengthen existing relationships. Naturally, then, December is for destroying your existing relationships and alienating yourself from all future chances of companionship and love. Yes, old acquaintances should be forgot.

One method to lose friends and put people off is to threaten them until they yield to your demands. I often find this tactic in my spam folder, where some hacker claims that he'll publicize some indecent selfies of me unless I send him bitcoin. Thankfully, he provides instructions, and that's how I finally learned how bitcoin works.

But I never end up paying this hacker because he never offers up the goods. If he's not going to prove he has those selfies of me, at the very least, he could send one of himself.

Unlike the hacker, though, I'm no amateur. I have the goods: that photo of my Mom she said she would kill me over if I ever posted it on Facebook. So, I send her her an email threatening to post the photo unless she sends me bitcoin. After helping her login into her email so she could read the message, she asks me why I'm trying to blackmail her. I stop her and say, "It's not blackmail, baby, it's chantage." It was our best Christmas ever.

Woman with bitcoin
A real bitcoin. Photo by Icons8 Team / Unsplash

4. Tarantism

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Tarantism tar-uh n-tiz-uh m noun To dance like it's a matter of life or death

Maybe blackmailing Mom isn’t your idea of a good time. Maybe you’re not ready to destroy your family just yet. Maybe you even want to extend your current friend base. But, how do you make friends?


I know every great conversation I’ve ever had began with twerking.

Apparently, Italians from the 15th to the 17th century wholeheartedly agreed, when they were struck by the mania, tarantism, or the uncontrollable urge to dance. The word is thought to derive from “tarantula” because of the spider's unbelievable moves on the dance floor. Imagine what you could do with eight legs.

As you likely guessed, that's not entirely true. Tarantulas are actually terrible dancers, and no spider has ever won Dancing with the Stars. Nevertheless, “tarantism” does stem from “tarantula.” The uncontrollable urge that compelled Italians to dance, sometimes thousands of them at a time, sometimes only stopped by death, was erroneously thought to originate from the spider's bite.

That being said, I know I’ve met some of my best friends through mass psychogenic illness.

You're almost halfway through this post, you've earned yourself a little dance break.

5. Penurious

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Penurious pe-nuhr-ee-uhs adj. Unwilling to spend any money. Straight up scrooging it

Come January, you are locking things down. You're living austerely. No more island getaways or getaway islands for you. You're resolving to save money in the new year.

Only this is one resolution that you should begin immediately. Don't wait until January when December's such an expensive month with the gifts, travel, and all the money spent getting crapulous.

For the month of December, travel nowhere, give no gifts, and instead of Christmas bonuses, just enroll your employees in a jelly of the month club.

You're now full-on penurious—that is, stingy, penny-pinching, parsimonious, tightfisted, curmudgeonly, miserly, costive—and, before you complain about using so many words when just one would do, please know the more modern meanings of costive are being constipated and being slow in coming up with ideas. It's such a great word.

You thought you'd just be learning one new word in this section, but you've now learned two for the price of one! Put that in your penurious pocket, you cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit.

6. Malinger

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Malinger ma-ling-er verb It's ... cough ... when ... ugh ... sorry, too sick to finish ...

Self-care is another popular resolution, and for good reason. They say every time you get eight hours of sleep, you add eight years to your life. Sleep well for one week, and you're looking at an extra 56 years. I'm always surprised more people don't know this!

If self-care is the goal of January, does that mean that December is the time for self-harm? No, too dark. Then, making yourself sick? No, too gross. Faking that you're sick to get out of work? That's it. That's to malinger or to feign illness to escape your responsibilities.

"Sorry, Bob, I can't come in today. I'm really coming down with something. Tell Karen she'll need to pitch the Anderson account by herself." Now, what do you do with all this newfound free time? Dance like a tarantist, eat yourself into a crapulous torpor, and concoct an elaborate chantage to bring down Karen, that penurious, basic bitch.

A pile of multi-colored pills in a male hand. A man holds pills in his hand. The concept of medicine, illness, health
These pills are purely recreational. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko / Unsplash

7. Oblivescence

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Oblivescence ob-luh-ves-uh ns noun To forget or the process of forgetting

In the new year, many will resolve to learn a new skill. Karen is taking pottery courses in jail, Sam is joining a break dancing crew, Rhonda is learning to mine bitcoin, and Juan is going back to Princeton to finish his vajazzling degree.

Since January is the time to learn something new, December is clearly the month to forget something you've known for a long time. Maybe you'll start slowly by forgetting your email password, then move on to leaving your wallet at the movie theater, and then graduate with forgetting the names of your children and which hand is the left one. Oblivescence is this process of forgetting. It stems from the same root that gives us words like oblivious and oblivion, a root which literally means a smoothing over, as in wiping away memories of the past. Forever.

Unlike oblivious and oblivion, oblivescence is likely a word you'll soon forget. Which is what December is all about.

8. Bibliomania

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Bibliomania bib-lee-oh-mey-nee-uh noun To love getting books, like really love getting them

To read more is another popular resolution. 2019 will be the year I finally read Infinite Jest, finish that BuzzFeed 84-point listicle, or just make it to the bottom of my CVS receipt.

To read more, you need things to read. Once upon a time, before Kindles, iPads, and phones, there were something called books. Buying lots of books and wanting to buy more is bibliomania, which is great for increasing your knowledge of the world, but less so when you have to move those tomes to another part of that world.

Though the origin of the word is older, it came to prominence in the 19th century via Thomas Dibdin's Bibliomania, or, Book-madness: A Bibliographical Romance (1809). In the work, Dibdin ribs his fellow bibliomaniacs, whom he diagnosed as also afflicted with the disease, and assigns them symptoms depending on what kind of books the gentlemen desired. As one might expect of a bibliomaniac, the book itself is both quite luxurious and tediously long, clocking in at over 600 pages.

It's rumored that Dibdin's distant heir has just completed a new work, eBibliomania, or, eBook-madness: An eBibliographical Romance. It can only be read on top of the line ebook readers and clocks in at over 2 GBs. Look for it wherever you buy your ebooks.

Book cover of Bibliomania (1842) by Thomas Frognall Dibdin, self-confessed bibliomaniac
Bibliomania (1842) by Thomas Frognall Dibdin, self-confessed bibliomaniac

9. Nimiety

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Nimiety ni-mahy-i-tee noun Too much, excess, overkill, overabundance

In general, New Year's resolutions are about cutting back, moderating your eating, drinking, spending, screen time, etc. December, then, is your last hurrah. It's where you find out just how far the human body can go. How quickly can I eat a 3 lbs. bag of Twizzlers? Is it possible to watch every Star Wars movie in one day? How many bottles of wine per person is too many? Does the equation change if I'm drinking the wine with Twizzlers straws?

December is a time for nimiety, which is a completely unnecessary, redundant, and excessive word for excess. There's absolutely no reason to ever use it in a million years, so it's the perfect word for the final month of 2019.

person coated with gold colored liquid posing
Is this a nimiety of self-tanner? Photo by Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

10. Abulia

Word Pronunciation POS Definition
Abulia uh-byoo-lee-uh noun Inability to decide

The fifth most popular resolution, according to my research, is not to plan on making New Year's resolutions. Take that, 2020.

Not to rain on the parade, but not planning on making a resolution is still a choice. Just ask Jean-Paul Sartre: “In not making a choice you are still choosing not to choose. And you thought you were so cool.

In not making a choice you are still choosing not to choose –Jean Paul Sartre

Really, the only way out of this is not to be able to choose at all, to not even choose not choosing, a real psychiatric condition called abulia. It is the loss of your free will, an inability to choose. Abulia stems from Ancient Greek, being a combination of alpha privative and boulē or will. (Alpha privative is when you stick an "a" or "an" at the front of the word to negate it, like "atypical" or "abulia.")

It is unknown whether the term actually existed in Ancient Greek, and, if it did, it  likely had a different meaning. A German physician, Johann Christian August Heinroth, has the first recorded use of the word in his 1818 medical textbook on the disorders of mental life.

In the textbook's fourth chapter, Heinroth reports that patients suffering from abulia were all observed to avoid the question, "What's your New Year's resolution?", in the same way.

"Is this year really not over yet?”

Their response provides a perfect slogan for what was 2019. Happy New Year!

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