Research finds last charabanc has gone

Aerodrome and charabanc are among the words presumed to have become extinct in the past year, according to new research.

Collins Dictionary experts have compiled a list of words which have fallen out of use by tracking how often they appear.

Others on the list include wittol – a man who tolerates his wife’s unfaithfulness, which has not been much used since the 1940s.

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The terms drysalter, a dealer in certain chemical products and foods, and alienism, the study and treatment of mental illness, have also faded from use.

Some of the vanished words are old-fashioned modes of transport such as the cyclogiro, a type of aircraft propelled by rotating blades, and charabanc, a motor coach.

The stauroscope, an optical instrument for studying the crystal structure of minerals under polarized light, is also no longer used.

Dr Ruth O’Donovan, asset development manager at Collins Language Division in Glasgow, said: “We track words using a very large database of language which is a very large collection of various texts from spoken and written language, including books, newspapers and magazines so we can track language change over time.

“We track new words but we can also track for the frequency of existing words and when they get below a certain threshold we see them as being obsolete, though they may be used in very specialist circumstances.

“Such words are in our largest dictionary but we’ve categorised them as obsolete, as although they go out of general use they are still of interest to historians so it’s useful to have them in the dictionary. But we would exclude them from our smaller dictionaries.”

Other words which have passed out of use include supererogate which means to do or perform more than is required.

The data was discovered as part of research for the publication of the next Collins English Dictionary in October 2011.