Vice Hath December

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

That means that December is for getting wild. It's your chance to do all those things you're thinking about not doing come January 1. And to do them in excess. Here's ten words to celebrate overdoing it, before you do it over.

1. Crapulous

(krap-yuh-luh s), adjective.
Definition: To eat or drink to excess and the shitty feeling that results.

Losing weight. Possibly the Holy Grail of New Year's resolutions. "I'm gonna eat better and be my best self, just in time for Spring Break."

The opposite of this, of course, is to eat and drink as much as possible. To overindulge all December long is the meaning of crapulous. To drink not just some glasses of eggnog but the whole carton, to eat not just some Christmas cookies but all of them.

Crapulous derives from the Ancient Greek word, κραιπάλη (kraipalē), meaning drunken headache. This gives crapulous its second meaning: feeling shitty from all your excessive drinking and eating.

While the diet may start January 1, being fabulously crapulous can start right now.

assorted cookie lot
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2. Torpor

(tawr-per), noun.
Definition: To not do anything. Frowned upon for humans, considered perfectly fine for non-human animals.

A correlate to losing the weight is the resolution to exercise. “I’m gonna put in more time at the treadmill” or “Come January 1, yeah, I lift, bro.” Opposed to routinely and vigorously working out is the fine art of doing nothing, minimizing the body's movements so that the smallest amount of energy is expended. Torpor signifies this lethargy, laziness, and general will to inactivity. The word stems from the Latin 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 and childbirth.

When trying to achieve peak torpor yourself, you needn't catch a torpedo fish, but only look to some of our other non-human friends for advice. Hummingbirds, bears, raccoons, skunks, bears, 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, before taking on that StairMaster in January.

Or February, we’ll see.

brown sloth climbs tree
Photo by Kleber Varejão Filho / Unsplash

3. Chantage

(shahn-tazh), noun.
Definition: To extract bitcoin from someone through the threat of posting embarrassing photos. Fancy French word for blackmail.

Another common resolution: make new friends and strengthen existing relationships. That means that December is for destroying them. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

One method is by threatening to release embarrassing or incriminating information about someone until they yield to your demands. You often find this tactic in your spam folder, where some ingenious hacker or other has extracted naughty photos of you from your computer and will send them to your colleagues unless you send him $701 in bitcoin. Helpfully, he provides instructions, so you can finally learn what bitcoin is. Thank you, hacker.

But his method is clumsy. He doesn't show you any of the saucy photos to prove that he has them or give any indication that there's any real threat in his email, aside from the one to English grammar.

But you have the goods. The embarrassing photo of your friend from that one night, that photo of your mom that she said she would kill you if you posted. So, use it. Send them a note threatening to post the photo unless they send you bitcoin. When they ask why you're trying to blackmail them, stop them and say, "It's not blackmail, baby, it's chantage."

Matrix movie still
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

4. Tarantism

(tar-uh n-tiz-uh m), noun.
Definition: To dance like it's a matter of life or death.

Maybe destroying your previous relationships isn't your modus operandi. Maybe you just want to extend your current friend base. Maybe you're not keen to demolish your family. How do you make friends (asking for a friend)? Dancing. Because there's no better way to get to know someone than twerking. Mom agrees.

Apparently, Italians from the 15th to the 17th century also 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. As everyone knows, tarantulas are terrible dancers and could never be a symbol for dancing. 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 thought, erroneously, to derive from the spider's bite.

But who says you can't make friends through a mass psychogenic illness?

Photo by Ahmad Odeh / Unsplash

5. Penurious

(pe-nuhr-ee-uhs), adjective.
Definition: Unwilling to spend any money. Straight up scrooging it.

Come January, you are locking things down. You're living austerely. No more alt-milk lattes or medieval calligraphy lessons. You are resolving to save money in the new year.

December, tho? Treat yo self. Buy that terry cotton robe, that deluxe vajazzaling package, those Balenciagas that look like socks, that bottle of dark rum, because you're gonna be drinking mulled cider all month long.

If only. The resolution to begin saving begins right now. Don't wait until January because who knows if we'll even have an economy left by then. (Maybe that's reason to spend it all?).

Here's what to do. Sell all your clothing, except the robe, and wear that purloined hotel loungewear exclusively. It worked for the Dude. Skip the vajazzling (somehow) and Balenciagas and socks for that matter. For the month of December, you'll be drinking mulled water, but without the spices and without the warming. Text out notices that because of cutbacks in your household, you won't be giving out gifts this year. Suck it, Crotchit.

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.

You thought you'd just be learning one new vocab word for number five, but you've now learned two for the price of one. Put that in your penurious pocket.

coins on gray surface
Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

6. Malinger

(ma-ling-er), verb.
Definition: 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.

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, so you get out of work and look like a pillar of health come January? That's it. That's to malinger.

"Sorry, Bob, I can't come in today. I'm really ... cough cough cough ... coming down with something. Tell Karen she'll need to finish those TPS reports by herself." Now, what do you do with all this newfound free time? Dance like a tarantist, so you work up an appetite. Then, eat yourself into a crapulous torpor, concocting all the while an elaborate chantage to bring down Karen, that penurious, basic bitch.

aerial view photography of person holding arm while pressing blood pressure machine
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7. Oblivescence

(ob-luh-ves-uh ns), noun.
Definition: To forget or the process of forgetting.

In the new year, many will resolve to learn a new skill. Karen is going to learn to make pottery, Sam is joining a break dancing crew, Rhonda is learning to mine bitcoin, and Juan is finally going to finish his vajazzling certification.

Since January is the time to learn something new, December is the month to forget something you've known for a long time. Maybe you'll begin 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.

closeup photo of elephant
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8. Bibliomania

(bib-lee-oh-mey-nee-uh), noun.
Definition: To love getting books, like really love getting them.

To read more is another one of the more popular resolutions. 2019 will be the year you finally read Infinite Jest, finish a BuzzFeed 84-point listicle, or just make it to the bottom of your CVS receipt.

To read more, you need things to read. Once upon a time, before Kindles, iPads, phones, etc., these things were called books. Buying lots of books and wanting to buy more is bibliomania. A more flattering way to describe it is a passion for collecting books, and a creepier way is by calling it an extreme fondness for them. Bibliomania is great for increasing your knowledge of the world, but less great 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 is both quite luxurious and tediously long, clocking in at over 600 pages when you count the end matter.

And, in the end, if what matters is the journey, not the destination, as the wise are keen on saying, then reading the book is hardly the point. It's the acquisition of it that matters. Go forth and buy books. At the very least, you'll have something on hand to read if charging your device slips into oblivescence. (In case you already don't remember, this means you forgot to charge your iPad and now it's dead and you're stuck reading Kroger ads in the bathroom.)

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

9. Nimiety

(ni-mahy-i-tee), noun.
Definition: 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 can find out just how far the human body can go. How quickly can you eat a 3 lbs. bag of Twizzlers? How many seasons of Friends can you binge before it's removed from Netflix? Seriously, tho, how many Twizzlers are too much (asking for a friend)?

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 2018.

person coated with gold colored liquid posing
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10. Abulia

(uh-byoo-lee-uh), noun.
Definition: Inability to decide.

The fourth most popular resolution is not to plan on making new year's resolutions. Take that, 2019.

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.

Really, the only way out of this is not to be able to choose at all, not even to choose not choosing, which is a real psychiatric condition called abulia. It is the loss of your free will, an inability to choose. Abulia stems from the 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, even 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 respond to the question, "What's your New Year's resolution?" in the same way: "Ich kann nicht einmal." This phrase roughly translates to "I can't even," and it provides a perfect slogan for the year that was 2018.

fireworks display
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