Apricity: The warmth of the sun in winter. (ah-PRISS-uh-tee)
I came across this useful word in the first chapter of Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, by Ammon Shea. The title is no hyperbole: Shea did in fact undertake the heroic task of reading all 20 volumes of the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989. His own book is a far more manageable 223 pages, every one of them a delight.
Shea describes Reading the OED as "the thinking person's CliffsNotes to the greatest dictionary in the world. It is also an account of the pain, headache, and loss of sanity that comes from spending months and months searching through this mammoth and formidable dictionary—and pulling togeter all of its most beautiful and remarkable words."
Here is Shea's entry for apricity:
A strange and lovely word. The OED does not give any citation for its use except for Henry Cockeram's 1623 English Dictionarie. Not to be confused with apricate (to bask in the sun), although both come from the Latin apricus, meaning exposed to the sun.
Nor is apricity related to apricot. Apricot came to English via a circuitous route winding through Byzantine Greek, Catalan, and Portuguese back to its source in Arabic al-birquq.
Here is Shea on the letter B:
I find B wildly entertaining. It's possible that I feel this way simply because of the enormous number of words that being with be-, a sort of superprefix descended from Old English which has the power to form intensive and derivative verbs, turn substantives and adjectives into verbs, and do your laundry for you in its spare time. Stretching on for hundreds of pages, be- is responsible for such gems of the language as bedinner (to take to dinner), bespew (to vomit on), and bemissionary (to annoy with missionaries.)
If you are stumped for a gift that will please the most demanding and insatiable word-lover on your holiday list, you could hardly do better than Reading the OED.