7 Complex Words With Simple Definitions

Updated on July 17, 2018

A Dash of the Unexpected

Large words are often large for a reason. Many of them are highly technical, or are only called for on very specific occasions. However, sometimes a complex looking word can have a very simple definition, like the seven here on this list. These words are a lot like literary paprika; they're versatile, bold, and expand the palate. So without further ado, let's take a look at seven unusual words with surprisingly simple definitions.

Funambulism- A Demonstration of Cleverness

Pronunciation - (Fue-nahm-bue-lism)

Funambulism, in its most literal sense, is the art of tight-rope walking, but today is often used to describe a demonstration of mental quickness. The word has it's origins in Latin, "ambulism" meaning "to walk" and "funis" meaning "rope." Tight rope walking as a form of entertainment has existed since at least ancient Rome, and continues to be a popular act at circus shows, especially as many companies eliminate animal acts from their performances.

Although generally very sharp, a lack of sleep and a broken coffee maker made Chet question whether he would be able to perform his usual acts of logistical funambulism at the office that day.

Ectomorphic: Skinny

Pronunciation - (Ek-to-morph-ik)

Derived from ancient Greek roots, "Ectomorph" is one the 3 major body types. Ectomorphs are generally characterized by skinniness, a dearth of body fat, as well as small amounts of lean muscle. Due to their body type, it can be difficult for ectomorphs to gain muscular development. However, they also generally have high metabolism, leaving them less prone to obesity.

Concerned that he was underweight, given his ectomorphic build, he ran to a buffet, only to find that the restaurant was now just a pit filled with angry crab monsters.

Filipendulous: Hanging precariously (usually, by a single thread)

Pronunciation - (Fil-ip-end-u-lus)

This word first appeared in botany, the study of foliage. Specifically, it was used to describe tiny, thread-like rootlets which sprouted from certain types of plants. The word is derived from latin roots, "fil" which means "thread" and "pend" which means "to hang". Today, the word is very uncommon, but it is not yet listed as archaic. This word is a personal favorite of mine, and I make a point to use it anytime I can.

The way he was hanging on the side of the pit was best described as filipendulous; he continued making the crab monsters very hungry.

Floccinaucinihilipilification: An abstract sense of uselessness.

Pronunciation - (Flok-suh-nah-suh-nay-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-kay-shuh)

This word dates back to the year 1741, when a group of British elites (in jest) made up the longest word they could think of. The word derives from 4 separate (semi-obscure) latin roots, all of which mean "for nothing". Today, it is mainly kept in dictionaries as something of a joke. The word is almost never used in normal conversation, and mainly exists as an example of a very long word with an ironic meaning. This does not mean however, that it is not a good word. On the contrary, Floccinaucinihilipilification is a great way to communicate uselessly with someone who is doing the same thing to you.

Floccinaucinihilipilification overtook Chet as he thought about ways to escape; there was no way out.

Hircus: The medical term for smelly armpits

Pronunciation - Hir-Cuss

Although this word is an accepted medical term, the term's origins were actually somewhat offensive. The prefix "hirc-" is a latin root, but it has nothing to do with the human body. Instead, the words "hircine" and "hircose" mean "goat" and "goat-like," respectively. Apparently, ancient doctors smelled a similarity between bad BO and unwashed goats.

Sweating from anxiety, Chet's hircus became embarrassingly strong.

Honorificabilitudinitatibus: Able to receive honor or rewards

Pronunciation - (On-a-rif-ick-a-bill-ee-too-dee-tart-ee-bis)

This extremely long word, the longest in the English language to consist exclusively of alternating consonants and vowels, is best known for being featured in Shakespeare's "Love's Labors Lost." Used by an extremely pretentious character to demonstrate his academic prowess, the word dates back to the 8th century; it was first used by Latin-speaking pedagogues in Italy. More recently, it was notably used Joyce's famous book "Ulysses" and in the 90s by US News and World Report.

Janet, a passerby, thought she might be honorificabilitudinitatibus if she saved Chet from the crab monsters, so he took a well-placed rope and helped him out of the pit.

Nudiustertian: Something that happened two days ago.

Pronunciation - (Nu-dee-us-ter-ti-an)

Although rarely seen since its original usage in the 17th century, Nudiustertian has solidly founded roots in latin. Coined by famed clergyman and author Nathaniel Ward in 1647, the word was designed to anglicize the latin term "nudius tertius", which itself stems from the phrase "nunc dies tertius est" meaning "now is the 3rd day". Today, the word is generally used for humorous effect rather than as a serious term. In 1963, UCLA professor David Mellinkoff discussed the term in his book "The Language of Law" saying that the word, although amusing became "promptly obsolete". Nevertheless, the word is fair game for describing any event that occurred two days before, and (in moderation) is a personal favorite of mine .

All of the sudden, a nudiustertian thought came to Janet; the day before yesterday, he had seen Chet at a coffee shop, so she decided to invite him out for coffee, an invitation which he accepted.

Want to increase your vocabulary even more? Check out the Grandiloquent Dictionary!

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        willy davies 

        2 weeks ago

        these words are floccinaucinihilipilification and my teacher gave me a good point and i am going to meet the president to hang out with the gang drilling out ere ennit

      • RNMSN profile image

        Barbara Bethard 

        8 years ago from Tucson, Az

        too cool!! I am working on obtaining an ectomorphic build...rode my biycle around the block today.

        HEY I didn't specify how long its going to take me :)

      • alocsin profile image

        Aurelio Locsin 

        8 years ago from Orange County, CA

        Love it. Anyone who thinks of y hubs with floccinaucinihilipilification is hamartithian. Voting this Up and Interesting.


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