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Welcome to Weird Words
Welcome to a lighthearted look at lexicography. The English language is full of weird words (be they new or old) that are oddly amusing and even a tad confusing at times.
This loopy lens is dedicated to creating an awareness of old, obscure, and perhaps outlandish words plus some nifty new ones that are really quite tame once you make their acquaintance!
Which reminds me, where the heck did I put my "spurtle"? What do you mean you don't know what a "spurtle" is -- it's a stick for stirring my porridge!
Image Credit: www.jamietucker.com
"WEIRD WORDS" WINS BIG IN THE WORLD OF WIT & WONK
A very big thank you to the editors at Squidoo.com for nominating "Weird Words" as a candidate for a 2009 award in the field of humor, and for the many word wonks who voted for "Weird Words"!
When ideas fail, weird words come in handy to fill the dead air space.
Bindle Stiffs Don't Do Burgers!
bindle stiff n. [indle, alter. of bundle] (circa 1901): Hobo, esp. one who carries his clothes or bedding in a bundle
Source: Webster's Ninth Collegiate Dictionary, p. 151
LAST WEEK'S WEIRD WORD: "PERISSOLOGY"
He doesn't take too kindly to being called "A Vaniloquent Vassal of Verbiage". He would prefer the title "Pontificating Prince of Perissology".
Image Credit: firstname.lastname@example.org
"If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur."
-- Doug Larson --
LAST MONTH'S WEIRD WORD - "FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION"
BurpaLurpa's bad habit was "floccinaucinihilipilification", (estimating things as worthless and belittling other's achievements), which is why he consumed such vast quantities of popcorn in order to soothe his cerebellum.
Image Credit: Joe Alterio@flickr.com
LOOPY LEXICON POLL
When someone says, do you want to shazzy on a shanks'-pony, what do you do?
Pray tell, why is the fear of long words called "Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia"?
WONKY WORD HEADQUARTERS
Those who love wayward words will surely love this little gem!
You'll never be at a loss for words any more!
Pray tell what would you do with a dragoman?
For love-struck linguiphiles only!
For those who love to whiffle, waffle and wend their way through the delights of the English language.
"A" IS FOR "ANGLEWITCH"
Anglewitch is neither a bent out of shape, black caped crone with a pointy hat, nor is it bat out of hell on a bad hair day.
If truth be told, an anglewitch is an obsolete word meaning a worm that is used as a lure or bait to catch a fish.
"B" IS FOR "BUNGHOLE"
A bunghole might be something one falls into while searching for heffalumps. On the other hand, mentioning this word at dinner time might get one banished from the table. If that's the case, try offering the dictionary as a peace offering just to placate people who adore pouncing on what sounds like pejorative prose.
Bunghole (circa 1571), is a word meaning a hole for emptying or filling a cask, keg, or barrel.
"C" IS FOR "CRUCIVERBALISM"
One might suppose that cruciverablism refers to the ability to murder the King's English with great ease or perhaps the skillful art of using one's razor-sharp tongue to gore a grumbling grammarian.
These attempts though they may be close to the mark...but experts would say, "they've all missed by a country mile!"
The meaning of "cruciverbalism" is the art of crossword compilation or being a fan of crossword puzzles.
"D" IS FOR "DOODLE SACK"
DOODLE SACK (n.)
No a doodle sack is not a child's backpack full of crayons, a starving artist's pathetic portfolio, or an impolite term for Santa Claus found loafing on the job with a half-empty goody bag.
A doodle sack is an old English word meaning a bagpipe.
Note: Windbags and bagpipes have something in common, most people would just as soon they refrain from polluting the air.
"E" IS FOR "ENCOMIAST"
If you're thinking that an encomiast is an eccentric sort of individual who parts his/her hair in the middle, you might be sadly disappointed to learn the true meaning of this weird word.
You might be closer if you used the synonym "eulogist", one who praises your noteworthy accomplishments after you're six feet under or pushing up the daisies!
"F" IS FOR "FUNAMBULIST"
At first sight, the word funambulist might imply a rather gorgeous gadfly, a glad-handing guru, or a hanky-panky sort of person, on the other hand it might be a complete fool.
To excel as a funambulist, one must be at home on a taut piece of wire rope and preferably be able to dance, walk or turn sommersaults, leap through a ring with ease, not to mention juggle or play on a fiddle at the same time, all while balancing precariously on a tightrope...that's FUNdamentally a foolish thing to do isn't it?
So, if you've always wanted to run away and join the circus, just remember, it's never too late!
Image Credit: clipartguide.com/0511-0810-0315-3348
"G" IS FOR GALIMAUFREY
Now you might be inclined to think that a galimaufrey is just another term for a "gilly gaupus" (a tall, awkward fellow), a "grunter's gigg" (a hog's snout), or an individual who owns far too many "gingamabobs" (toys or baubles) for his/her own good but that won't win you either first prize or a booby prize for that matter.
You would be closer to the mark if you said it was an 18th century term meaning a large helping of hodgepodge consisting of leftovers, remnants, or simply scaps from the larder.
Image Credit: Crawdad Jones@flickr.com
"H" IS FOR "HAGIOLOGY".
What do you mean it has something to do with the study of blithering biddies, cackling crones or horrible hags like one's mother-in-law or boss who wears steel-toed stilettos?
Hint: Hagiology has more in common with myths and magic than superannuated sylphs or testy troglodytes. To be more specific, it is literature that narrates the lives and legends of saints and venerated holy people or, ephemeral events of a supernatural nature.
Note: Superman is not considered a deity, even if he is able to jump buildings with a single bound and to run faster than a speeding bullet.
"I" IS FOR "IMPIGNORATE"
One could jump to the conclusion that by calling someone an impignorate, one implied that the individual was a brainless barnyard beast with a superlative snout and a voracious appetite, but one might be just a tad off the mark, considering the word is not a noun but a verb!
Actually impignorate is an obsolete term meaning to pawn or mortgage something.
Image Credit: Bill Mayer@flickr.com
"K" IS FOR "KISSING CRUST"
KISSING CRUST (n.)
If you think that kissing crust has something to do with a pair of crustacean canoodlers, you might be very mistaken!
An old English term, kissing crust refers to the part where loaves of bread have touched while baking.
Note: Lipstick left behind on a piece of white bread does not fit the definition, so don't even go there.
"L" IS FOR "LIRIPOOP"
Now one might think that liripoop refers to the the plight of a wilderness hiker, rock climber, or sea kayaker trying to figure out how to flush or dispose of their fecal matter in the middle of a fragile eco-system or pristine place, but that might be far from the truth.
Liripoop refers to the tassle found on a graduate's hood, (academic attire rarely worn today). The liripoop hung down the back when the hood was off, and wound around the head like a turban when the hood was on.
Note: It is said that the liripoop was intimidating to others and most uncomfortable for the wearer, (which is probably why another ridiculous piece of headgear was invented called the mortarboard with a vestigial remnant; you guessed it, a floppy tail).
"M" IS FOR "MULLIGRUBS"
While the younger generation might think that mullligrubs are messy monsters or creepy crawlies that live on crumbs and only come out at night to scare the living daylights out of cats or kids, parents probably assume that it's a newfangled word to describe dysfunctional digital devices.
Though neither are correct, the latter might well induce "mulligrubs", commonly known as a case of the blues, or a depressed state of mind.
Image Credit: BitBot at flickr.com
"N" IS FOR "NUDIUSTERTIAN"
Nice try, but nudiustertian is not a clothing-optional alien from outerspace, nor is it a secular soul who devotes his or her entire life to studying nothing but the naked truth.
The fact of the matter is that nudiustertian means "the day before yesterday".
Note: This is a terrific word to baffle bored guests at a formal dinner party, or to break the ice at one of those nauseating name-dropping networking events.
"O" IS FOR "OXTER"
Oxter may sound like a uncomplimentary term for a bumbling buffoon or a blessedly big beast who should stay away from china shops but, that's not even close to the meaning.
Oxter is an oudated word meaning "armpit".
Note: So next time you encounter a putrid perfume or a tumacious town along your jocular journey of life, you can exclaim with glee and certainty, "That's one oxter I'll never forget!"
Image Credit: Bill Mayer@flickr.com
"P" IS FOR "PILLIVER"
A pilliver is not a pharmacologically-enhanced individual, nor is it a term reserved for one who relishes telling you all about their latest illness (and why you should avoid them like the plague).
A pilliver is an old English word meaning a pillowcase.
Q IS FOR QUONDAM
While it might be clever of you to suggest that quondam describes anyone who tells you nothing is impossible -- and you respond by asking him or her to dribble a football. On second thought, perhaps it's just a politically-correct description for a potent piece of pop-out paraphernalia. Who knows, the latter answer may get you the booby prize!
Actually, quondam is a rather eloquent term meaning, belonging to some prior time. Synonyms: erstwhile, one-time, sometime, former, old.
Image Credit: email@example.com
"R" IS FOR "ROARATORIOS AND UPROARS"
ROARATORIOS AND UPROARS (n.pl.)
No, it's not an entertaining euphemism for "vagrant vulgar winds and fanciful farteurs", but nice try anyway.
According to Francis Grose, an 18th century British soldier, scholar, champion tippler, and publisher of "The Vulgar Tongue - Buckish Slang and Pickpocket Eloquence", the term refers to oratorios and operas (which will intrigue those who appreciate the special talents of titillating trillers, testosterone-gifted tenors, or perhaps even strident shower-singers).
"S" IS FOR "STINKING ROGER" AND "SPONDULICKS"!
STINKING ROGER (n.)
Whilst you might think Stinking Roger refers to a foul-smelling Fido, an unflattering term for a noxious neighbor, or the description of a well-soused football fan wearing a skull and crossbones t-shirt, you might be close...but no cigar!
The Stinking Roger (Osteospermum calendulaceum) is a fetid flower with a distinctive, indelicate fragrance similar to a figwort, henbane or marigold.
Note: Contrary to public opinion, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that talking to or befriending a smelly sprout will enhance its disposition or eliminate its olfactory characteristics.
At first glance one might think this might be a super-duper scoop of indescribably delicious ice-cream used to woo a winsome wench. On second thought, it might be what a "sponger" does who drops in out-of-the-blue, (usually around suppertime), for a free meal.
The latter might be closer to the truth...as spondulicks is an American slang term for money or cash (which the sponger never seems to have enough of in his pocket to pay for his drink, his meal, or your's for that matter.
"T" IS FOR "TITTYNOPE"
Now this rather odd, long-lost word might raise a few eyebrows if mentioned in the presence of mixed company, but you might be a little surprised to learn just exactly what it means.
Tittynope refers to a small quantity of anything left over be it a measly morsel of gristle remaining on a dinner plate, or the dregs of draft beer left nestled behind in the bottom of a tankard at a tailgate party.
While we're on the subject of weird words that begin with the letter "T", we might as well add a few more little lovelies:
Tittup (vb.)...no it's not a descriptive metaphor for a buxum babe but rather something a well-proportioned wench might do such as prance about in an exaggerated manner more akin to "horsing around"...if you catch my drift.
Of course if the individual is tittupped enough, the poor soul may also be twitterpated (adj.) i.e. confused by affection or infatuation which might suggest that someone in such a state is more likely to leave a tittynope behind, especially if he's intrigued by the delightful dish sitting across from his table.
"U" IS FOR "UMQUHILE"
No, the word umquhile has nothing to do with pausing between thoughts, nor is it the technical term for "dead airspace" on TV or radio. Likewise, it is not a little understood or long-forgotten language spoken by dumb bunnies, dumb oxes, or dodo birds. However, we're getting closer to the meaning.
Umquhile is an adverb meaning formerly, previously; or, former, late as in: "The Lady of the umquhile Walter de Avenel was in very weak health in the Tower of Glendearg". (From "The Fair Maid of Perth" written in 1828 by Sir Walter Scott).
"V" IS FOR "VOMITORY"
One might be inclined to think that a vomitory is a pejorative term referring to the throne room in a men's fraternity. Such a notion would undoubtedly offend not only the Greek gods and goddesses but also more than a few Roman gladiators.
A vomitory is a passageway leading to a tier of seats in a theater, (especially a Roman amphitheater), or a stadium.
Note: The only thing that one must be aware of in a vomitory is being trampled underfoot in the event of a win by the home team, or being run over by a stampede of patrons heading to the washroom or the bar during intermission.
"W" IS FOR "WINKLEPICKER"
If you were to ask the average person on the street what a winklepicker was, there's no telling what the person might say.
On the other hand, there is something slightly suggestive about those four syllables that might lead one to think it might be slang for something sexy. All of which leads to the next question, just what sort of "winkle" requires a "picker"?
A "winkle" is an English-term meaning a water snail (usually cooked in the shell and sold in pints along with some vinegar by a street vendors). "Winkles" are eaten with a pin or pointed object to get the winkle out of the shell (hence the term "to winkle something out").
However winklepicker usually refers to a style of shoe or boot worn in the 1950s onward by both male and female British rock and roll fans. Reminiscent of medieval footwear worn by jesters and today by pop stars, the feature which gives both the boot and shoe their name is the very sharp and quite long pointed toe.
Life Lesson 42: Beware of men wearing "Winklepicker Brothel Creepers" and women wearing black capes and pointy-hats!
"X" IS FOR XANTIPPE
No, Johnny or Susie, Xantippe is not a flatulence prevention product, but nice try!
Actually, she's the wife of Greek philosopher Socrates who was known for her bad temper. Now the term is used to signify a shrew or surly spouse (who more often than not thinks children should neither be seen nor heard).
"Y" IS FOR "YEUK"
Yeuk is not a made-up word.
It is neither a reference to the odd person who gingerly fingers those long green English cucumbers in the produce section of the supermarket, nor is it the act of surreptitiously placing a distasteful, tough, half-masticated morsel of meat beneath a mound of limp spinach or flaccid broccoli that one wishes to leave on one's plate.
On the contrary, yeuk is a 15th century Middle English word used by the Scots meaning "to itch". When not used as a verb, it is may be used to identify a particular sensation, i.e. the irritation of nerve endings in skin or mucous membrane that provokes the desire to scratch oneself silly if alone or look for a speedy exit if one is in mixed company. It's also a popular name for the parasitic disorder "scabies".
For those with a yen for yaking about yeuks, perhaps it's best to consult an authority on itching and scratching.
"Z" IS FOR ZOUCH
A most interesting and unusual surname of Old French origin.
It is also a topographical name for a dweller by the tree stump, which is why soldier, scholar and champion drinker, Francis Grose, gave it the last spot in his dictionary, entitled "The Vulgar Tongue - Buckish Slang and Pickpocket Eloquence" (first published in 1785).
To avoid any bashful blushing from born-again babes in the woods and hot-to-trot holy rollers, politically-correct pundits who peruse publications for a living today, have redacted this entry to read: "Zound (n.): a differently-abled, experientially-enhanced, non-traditionally ordered Don Juan with temporarily unmet objectives."
INTERESTING INVECTIVES FROM TIMES GONE BY
English, whatever its other merits, has as many disparaging words as one would possibly desire. The example that follows is from Sir Thomas Urquhart's translation of Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel, dated 1653, which draws heavily on vocabulary used in Scotland in his time:
The bun-sellers or cake-makers were in nothing inclinable to their request; but, which was worse, did injure them most outrageously, called them prattling gabblers, lickorous gluttons, freckled bittors, mangy rascals, shite-a-bed scoundrels, drunken roysters, sly knaves, drowsy loiterers, slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubberly louts, cozening foxes, ruffian rogues, paltry customers, sycophant-varlets, drawlatch hoydens, flouting milksops, jeering companions, staring clowns, forlorn snakes, ninny lobcocks, scurvy sneaksbies, fondling fops, base loons, saucy coxcombs, idle lusks, scoffing braggarts, noddy meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddipol-joltheads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, flutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninny-hammer flycatchers, noddypeak simpletons, turdy guts, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets; saying further, that it was not for them to eat of these dainty cakes, but might very well content themselves with the coarse unranged bread, or to eat of the great brown household loaf.
Source: World Wide Words.
WEIRD CANADIAN WORDS
There are some very weird words and entertaining expressions coming out of Canada these days.
If you want to know how to speak like a "Canuck", then pick up Edrick Thay's book entitled, Weird Canadian Words: How to Speak Canadian. (Great Canadian Stories).
For example, complimenting your neighbor on his "Molson Muscle" might not be such a great idea, as it has more in common with a beerbelly than a set of bar bells!
And, Poutine, Bangbellies and Beavertails are not terms of endearment but rather the names of some rather rare Canadian delicacies found cookbooks and in eating establishments.
When someone tells you that "Nanaimoites like to sip double-doubles while planning what to do at this year's May Two-Four", you might be left scratching your head? Of course if you had your Canadian Oxford Dictionary in hand, you'd be able to look up 2,200 other made-in-Canada words.
Well, alright, if you really must know, "Nanaimoites" are folks who live in Nanaimo, B.C. (a midway town on Vancouver Island highway). "Double double" is a coffee expression made famous by the Tim Horton's coffee and donut franchise meaning, double cream and double sugar added to every Canucks famous morning beverage. And "May Two-Four" is synonymous with "Victoria Day", an annual Canadian holiday held on May 24th, commemorating Queen Victoria's birthday.
Sasquatch, Ogopogo, Cadborus, and Gougou may be strange names, but they are even stranger in the flesh as they are rarely seen creepy creatures, (more akin to ghouls and ghosts), that are said to live deep in the woods, or beneath the water's surface in lakes, rivers and oceans.
"Sockeye" and "Oolichan", are not euphemisms for a bad dude or a thick-headed individual, but rather refer to some very tasty West Coast fish!
And last but not least, if the Aussies can have "dingos" (reddish brown wild dogs), then the Canucks can surey have "pingos"! Discovered in the late 1930s, pingos are found only in the Arctic; they are low hills or mounds forced up by hydrostatic pressure in an area underlain by permafrost.
So next time you're stuck on those wonky words from Canada, pick up a pithy pocketbook by Bill Casselman next time you're visiting the Land of Poutine, Polar Bears and Pristine Wilderness!
ODD WORDS & DELIGHTFUL DICTIONARIES
WORDORIUM - a ripsnorting repository of wonky words and weird wordbirds that desperately need the light of day to be appreciated.
- OUTDATED WORDS
A rather fine collection of outdated words and from the English language that need a new home in today's conversation.
- WORDS AND PHRASES THAT SHOULD EXIST BUT PROBABLY DON'T
A terrific tome of newfangled words full of witty if not sometimes wicked words and phrases.
- WORLD WIDE WORDS
Michael Quinon's list of obscure, outlandish, or very odd words that will tickle your funnybone!
The surprising history of a word you thought you knew by Charles Hodgson.
- DROLL DICTIONARIES
Have you ever wanted to peruse the puckish pages of "The Vulgar Tongue" and "The Devil's Dictionary"?
- WORDS THAT NEVER MADE IT INTO THE DICTIONARY
Time to take a wee peek at Kimberly Dawn Wells' delightful dictionary - "Security Word Thesaurus".
A rather fine "create your own word" game for merry-minded munchkins!
- BANISHED BUZZ WORDS
Here's a rather fine list of buzz words that should be banished (published by Lake Superior State University).
- THE WONDER OF WHIFFLING
For anyone who is passionate about the extraordinary delights of the English language, and why one might not wish to dine with a vice admiral of the narrow seas.
WIT AND WONK WITH WORDS
There's something rather appealing about ressurecting weird words from the 14th century that few people know, and weaving them into a wonky story.
As Delilah Doolittle, a devil-screeching dingthrift (spendthrift) grabbed her dingdoulers (fine attire) off the dripping-horse (a wooden frame to hang wet clothes on) before digging into her usual dew-bit (first meal of the morning), she became diswitted (distracted) if not a tad dretched (tormented) by the sound of a dreadful dinderex (thunderbolt) emanating from a nearby dingle (a hollow between the hills) which shook the doddering dickies (quivering heads of quaking grass).
As Delilah peeked out of her dream-hole (opening left in the wall of a building to admit light), she had to admit that it was neither helpful to dringle (dawdle or waste time) nor to desklaundar (blame) her discombobulatead state of mind on the doleful dropping-time (rainy weather).
If truth be told, she had much to do and places to go!
First of off, she had to awaken her dilly drooper, (a moody male carriage-chauffeur) from his droupnynge (slumber) which was no small task.
Second, she had to gather a handful of dove's foot and dropwort (herbs) from her garden to give her a little oomph for the long day ahead.
And third, she realized she needed to whip up some dog's nose (a cordial consisting of warm porter, moist sugar, gin and netmeg), and some delightful dogsturds (candied sweetmeats) to take along to the dog-hanging (a wedding feast where money is collected for the bride) in the nearby dorp (village or hamlet).
The only thing left to do was to tell her darling husband, a daring member of a dweomercraeft duo (juggling and magic arts) to take out the dibble-dabble before heading off to entertain a dozen dozepers (noblemen)!
Life Lesson 39: Always carry a "Dictionary of Archaic & Provincial Words" around with you, it may come in handy some day when you least expect it!
Weird Old Words for the Holiday Season
BEWARE OF "HICKSIUS DOXIUS HANKTELOS" (18th century term for hickupping, tipsy, light-headed fellows) with a penchant for knocking back far too many "nogs" (either a strong ale or a cold drink containing a beaten egg and milk mixture with whisky) than hospitality would demand.
These "Huckle My Buff" folks (those who consumed hot beer, egg and brandy in mugs) were most conspicuous on festive occasions such as "first footing", (when custom dictates that the first person to cross the threshold of a Scottish home after midnight on New Year's Eve will determine the homeowner's luck for the new year).
Apparently the ideal visitor would be a man with a dark complexion bearing gifts -preferably whisky, lumps of coal for the fire, small cakes, or a coin-and should be a man with a dark complexion. Why? The answer hearkens back to the 8th century, when the presumably fair-haired Vikings invaded Scotland -- an a blond visitor was not a good omen.
Although less commonly practiced today, friends celebrate "first footing" by visiting each other's homes shortly after midnight. They share food and drink and exchange small gifts. It is also customary to sing "Auld Lang Syne", the traditional song famously transcribed by Scottish poet Robert Burns.
CURIOUS CHRISTMAS CUSTOM
This image above is of "el Caga TiÃ³" or "the pooping log."
The Catalan custom is still celebrated in Spain, where you can buy your own "el Caga TiÃ³", or you can hollow out a log plus add your own legs and face.
Then, you must "feed" him every day beginning, December 8th. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, place your "pooping log" in a fireplace and beat him with sticks until he poops out small candies, fruits, and nuts, (it's best to grab them before they all go up in smoke). The final object dropped on the "pooping log" is a salt herring, a garlic bulb, or an onion.
Whilst whomping the "pooping log" word has it that a traditional song must be sung to encourage the purging process.
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don't poop well,
I'll hit you with a stick,
Greetings From a Gruntled Guy?
Image Credit: bcanada92 at flickr.com
Welcome to the wonderful world of weird words. And, at this time of year, it's especially important to use words correctly so as not to offend any grand pooh bahs or persnickety people of substance and consequence.
Normally one would think of a Santa as a man of good humor, or at least a merry man who could be "gruntled" at the prospect of a good meal and good conversation (minus the misbegotten munchkin peeing on his knee and yanking his long white beard).
But, since the world wide economy has been going to heck in a handbasket of late, it's no wonder that the man in the red suit might be in a pickel or possibly over/in the proverbial barrel.
"If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled." -- P.G. Wodehouse
MERRY MADE-UP WORD...
Amusing ad...but will you actually sign up?
Wonderful World of Words
Veritable verbivores will have a field day with this one!
Not recommended for leather-ears or chawswizzled folk.
Who knew that ancient mother tongues could be so merry?
For those who adore breathtakingly bodacious bits of the English language to curl up with at bedtime.
A perfect addition to your Little Loo Library!
Note to Readers: Beware of "whangdoodles", (no they're not a euphemistic term for one's "private parts")! They're super-duper, fanciful, four-legged creatures (said to be the wisest, kindest, most-loving things in the world until people stopped believing in them according to American folklore and literature). "Whangdoodles" should not be confused with oodles of ordinary "doodles" (who acccording to scientists are simply fanciful fools inhabiting the remaider of the globe together with some fearsome furry yet invisible critters known as "heffalumps").