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20 Words That Sound Remarkable and Rare and Have Unexpected Meanings

Updated on September 27, 2018
Dunbar Green profile image

"I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." Rudyard Kipling

Can You Be Fooled About Grandma?

Ever get an earworm you just can’t shake? You hope it won’t be an inappropriate word or song that sticks in your ear, but sometimes. . . .

Sometimes you get unlucky and hemorrhoids stick in your mind. You can’t stop saying hemorrhoids either mentally or under your breath. After you say if a few times, your mind begins to play tricks and you start finding new ways to use the word you can’t shake. Nothing drowns out the word.

Here is our list of earworm words that have a nice, sticky sound but some shocking and funny meanings. Our thinking is that if you had an ongoing earworm and then you read this list, your earworm would be drown out by the others. Let’s try.

Syphilis sounds like a coastal city twinkling across the bay, but means something entirely different. Hrump.

Doddering sounds like the playoff round in golf or croquet tournament or perhaps the real-life game of curling.

Pandemonium sounds like where you go to pet gentle pandas and eat ice cream. Sometimes there is a merry-go-round and music, too. Pandemonium is actually “the capital of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost,” so likely no ice cream or Panda petting there. Instead, Milton most likely took the name from Pandora, the historical unfortunate who opened the box from whence all human misery hails.

Ignoble sounds like you may not have your own royal title but some of your second cousins do and they let you ride with them in the carriage. Ignoble really means you are common without any title or cousins. It’s a bit ignoble-ing to learn what ignoble means.

Lekking sounds like an Alpine Swiss sport that you get hot cocoa just for trying to do because otherwise tourists would never try it. Lekking is very hard to do unless you are Swiss and grew up in the high altitudes.

Children are generally discouraged from lekking.
Children are generally discouraged from lekking. | Source

It Can't Really Mean That!

Lek Paradox. The lek paradox, sounds closely related to lekking, but rather than Alpine origins, the lek paradox sounds like a question on the entrance exam to Space Academy. Can you explicate the well-known lek paradox in 200 words?

Lamster. Hey, you cute little lamster, how about some cookies and milk? Mommy just wants to call you Lambiepie, you little lamster, you. In reality your little lamster is on the run from the law.

Cocksure. Put the lawnmower inside the cocksure in case it rains. Even though cocksure is an adjective that describes an overconfident person. We still think cocksure sounds more like a real safe place for outdoor equipment than an overconfident person. Furthermore, the word “cocky” already has “cock” in it and means nearly the same thing as cocksure. So, realistically, our definition makes more sense.

Vermicular. Don’t get your stubby vermicular item too close to my cocksure. I don’t want mine filled with junk.

Melancholy Suicide. A melancholy suicide sounds like one of those fancy snow cones that have 20 flavors and taste so good you just can’t stop eating them even after the third brain freeze. Take the quiz below to learn what a melancholy suicide really is.

Falanga. We thought we had eaten some falanga last week at the neighbors’, but since it really refers to a type of torture where a person’s feet are beaten with whips or cudgels, we realized we did not. It turns out it was flan.

Chlamydia. My grandmother is growing a big pot of chlamydia on the trellis on her porch. Some of the neighbors say she should cut it down before it grows into the siding, but she says she loves it just as it is and believes it will take many years to penetrate the siding enough to damage it.

Grandma's Trailer
Grandma's Trailer | Source

Oh, No, It Isn't Over Yet

Extemporaneous. Our extemporaneous uncle, the one on my father’s side of course, used to be able to perform magic tricks so well that he made a living as a vaudevillian most of his life. However, since extemporaneous means having an extra limb, he was often heckled while onstage. We loved all of his arms. That guy was awesome.

Oppugn. The Oppugn is rated as the most well-behaved dog by the American Kennel Club. The breed is also noted for its keen ability to find its way through English garden mazes.

Melee. Melee, my friend from Portugal, is coming over to eat cake with me. We may go to the park afterward. It is rumored that the Portuguese love parks.

Hebetude. Due to his hebetude, my extemporaneous uncle, Bosky the Magic Man we called him, was never accused of being clever or sharp. Hebetude means dull or slow.

Bosky. Uncle Bosky was noted for keeping a lovely yard at his home in Portugal, but it never had enough trees to suit us because we are a tree-climbing, tree-loving family.

Turpitude. When grandma redecorated, we had to use turpitude to remove all that old varnish her dining room suite was coated with. We nearly passed out from the fumes!

We can't get enough bosky.
We can't get enough bosky. | Source

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Take Away

Words are infinite fun. Many times, how a word sounds to ours ears can belie its true meaning. When in doubt, look up the word in a good, standard dictionary. Read through all of the meanings until you find the right one for your situation. Next, look the word up in a thesaurus and acquaint yourself with all of the other words that have similar meanings because doing so helps your brain contextualize the information so it is easier for you to recall it later when you need it.

Free Online Word Sources

dictionary.cambridge.org/us. 15 September 2017. Web site. 15 September 2017.

https://www.merriam-webster.com. 15 September 2017. Website. 15 September 2017.

thefreedictionary.com. 6 september 2017. Website. 6 september 2017.

www.dictionary.com. 15 September 2017. Website. 15 September 2017.

Works Cited or Consulted

Works Cited

Donald, Robert B. Models for Clear Writing. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994. Print.

thefreedictionary.com. 6 september 2017. Website. 6 september 2017.

Webster's New World Dictionary. New York: Warner, 2016. Print.

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      13 months ago from The Caribbean

      Very interesting read. We could have fun with these words and suggestive meanings. Your article presents a very good reason for consulting the dictionary.

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