Have you ever looked at something and thought "Man, that looks like rubbish"? Maybe it was an untidy space, a strange work of art, or simply a pile of trash on the side of the road. Whatever it was, you had just labeled it as being Quisquilious. Quisquilious is an adjective that means "of the nature of rubbish or refuse" or "consisting of trash or rubbish." It comes from the Latin quisquiliae, which translates as "waste matter, rubbish, etc." It's first recorded use appears in a letter between the philosopher Jeremy Bentham and a Mr. Koe. This letter was written in 1814, and it stated that:
"I have been consuming two or three days in indexing ‘Bell’s Elements of Tuition.’ But I am all admiration at the genius and talent displayed in the work, (when I came into the marrow of it, which was mismatched by the quantity of introductory quisquilious matter,) and at the inestimable utility of it.” (source)
Now, it's pretty obvious why Quisquilious slid into obscurity. Why use such a long and complicated word when a simpler word like "rubbish" is available? However, depending on the era and tone of your story, Quisquilious could bring a bit of extra flair to your writing. Some other examples may include:
"That piece of art is simply Quisquilious. What's it made from?" "Um, it's made from garbage." "Oh. Well, that explains it, then." "This books was so Quisquilious in nature that I was unable to finish it." "I don't usually struggle with my vocabulary lessons, but Quisquilious might just be the hardest word I've ever had to learn."
There you have it! To learn more about this fancy word for rubbish, visit The Phrontistery, The Free Dictionary, Oxford Living Dictionary, and Words and Phrases from the Past. Oh, and if you're wondering how to pronounce it, check out the Youtube Video below!
The photo of Jeremy Bentham came from Wikipedia.