26 Words to Ponder

Updated on March 23, 2018
Rupert Taylor profile image

I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.

An alphabet’s worth of unusual words. You are invited to spend a few minutes of your precious time that you’ll never get back learning about words you may never use. This is why the Internet was invented in addition to its primary purpose of providing a platform for cat images.

Source

A is for Anthophobia. It is a fear of flowers, which only really makes sense if you are a fly in a world filled with Venus Fly Traps.

B is for Beeturia. This happens after eating beetroot, as a pigment called betanin is not needed by your body so you get rid of it by peeing red. Blackberries and rhubarb can have a similar effect.

C is for Callypygian. We have the goddess of love, Aphrodite, to thank for this word; more accurately, a statue of the lady. Callypygian comes from the Ancient Greek words for beauty and buttocks, and describes a person with an exceptionally well-proportioned rump.

Yes, it's Venus not Aphrodite, but that is still a very shapely rear end.
Yes, it's Venus not Aphrodite, but that is still a very shapely rear end. | Source

D is for Dringle. There is a huge debate among lexicographers about the meaning of this word. Several sources say it describes what you are doing right now; wasting “time in a lazy, lingering manner” (Words and phrases from the Past). Another so-called expert says it’s “the watermark left by a glass of liquid” (Metro News).

E is for Edentulous. This is a word for sloths, armadillos, and the clientele or certain bars you really don’t want to be in. It means having no teeth.

Source

F is for Frumbyrdling. A noun from the 11th century that describes a young lad growing the peach fuzz that will one day become a beard.

G is for Galactophagist. Each and every one of us was once a galactophagist; it is an animal that exists on milk.

H is for Handschuhschneeballwerfer. Those Germans love to create compound nouns to explain the meaning of words. So, handschuhschneeballwerfer means coward. Huh? Okay, it’s not immediately obvious until you break down the components. “Handschuh” is German for a shoe for the hand i.e. glove. “Schneeball” is a snowball, and “werfer” is thrower. Therefore handschuhschneeballwerfer is a wussy person who wears gloves in a snowball fight, when everybody knows the only reasonable outcome should be frostbite.

I is for Incunabulum. This translates from Latin to swaddling clothes but it has come to mean books produced before the 15th century. The word didn’t appear in English until the 19th century when it was applied retroactively to refer to books produced when printing was in its infancy.

J is for January Butter. The letter J only appears in 0.16% of the words in an English dictionary so it poses problems for the creators of compilations such as this. However, thanks to the folks who lived in southwest England in the 18th century, we have January Butter, a slang term for mud caused by the damp weather typical of that time of year (and for the other 11 months).

Source

K is for Kippage. Sir Walter Scott warned us to “dinna pit yoursell into a kippage,” by which he meant don’t get too excited or in an irritated state.

L is for Leint. We are back to the 18th century to find out this means to urinate into beer to make it stronger. Oh Dear God! As someone who likes strong beer, please tell me they don’t that anymore.

M is for Muggle. This meant something completely different from the word J.K. Rowling used in her Harry Potter books to describe people with no magical skills. In the 1930s, muggle was one of the many slang terms for marijuana. The Online Slang Dictionary currently lists 120 words for marijuana including: hippie lettuce, combustible herbage, and whifty, but not muggle.

Source

N is for Napiform. Medicinenet.com says this is “A little-used but useful adjective meaning turnip-shaped. Large and round at the top and tapering down sharply and becoming exceedingly slender toward the bottom tip.” However, the website does not elaborate on why the word is useful; more useful that is than turnip-shaped.

O is for Oligopsony. We get this word from combining the Ancient Greek word “olig” meaning few and “opsōnia” meaning the buying of victuals. So, oligopsony means a buyers market, like when you bought those shares that your cousin Fred’s friend Bernie said were going to shoot up through the roof and when you came to sell them they were worth squat.

P is for Psithurism. The sound the wind makes when it rustles the leaves of a tree. As an added bonus, for no extra charge, here is the word susurration. That’s the sound those leaves make when they have fallen and dried and a breeze makes them skitter across a hard surface such as a patio.

Q is for Querimonious. We’ve all known at least one querimonious person who complains about everything. That’s what the word means - complaining. It’s That Man Again was a British wartime radio comedy show. One of the characters was a constant complainer called Mona Lott. Her catchphrase, delivered in a slow, flat, depressed voice was, “It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going.”

R is for Ricockulous. When ridiculous doesn’t get the job done then kick it up a notch to ricockulous.

S is for Snudge. “To stride around looking terribly busy when in fact you’re doing nothing” (BBC Quite Interesting). But wait, there's more. “The inner glow that heterosexual men feel toward each other after a carton of beer. Touching is optional” (The Urban Dictionary). “A niggardly, miserly fellow” (Merriam-Webster).

T is for Tåfis. We have to travel to Norway for this one. It refers to smelly feet and means, literally, “toe fart.” Further confirmation as to why Norway has been ranked by the United Nations the best country in the world in which to live 13 years in a row.

U is for Ughten. Word by Letter has gone to the trouble of finding words starting with U that have 14 or more letters in them. There are 141 of them but they missed ultracrepidarian. That’s someone who passes judgement on a subject about which they have little knowledge, such as the 50,000 spectators who knew the quarterback should have called a running play rather than a pass. Where were we? Oh yes. Ughten. This is the part of the night just before the Sun rises. It comes from the German “uchten.” It is always darkest before the dawn offers hope that a desperate situation is going to end. Only five letters left, and you wouldn’t want to miss X, before you get your life back.

V is for Vibrissa. “Any of the long stiff hairs growing around the mouth or elsewhere on the face of many mammals, used as organs of touch; whiskers” (Oxford Dictionaries). Why does this conjure up memories of Great Aunt Madge?

W is for Wamblecropt. You knew that goat vindaloo looked a bit dodgy. But you have a cast iron stomach and you had in mind Marilyn Monroe’s advice that “Have you noticed how often ‘What the Hell’ is the best choice?” Sadly, now you are a wamblecropt, someone disabled by indigestion, or you would have been in the 17th century, which is when the word was popular. Mark Forsyth of The Guardian writes “It’s the most beautiful word in the English language to say aloud. Try it.”

Source

X is for Xyresic. Now we come to the nemesis of all who venture into an alphabetical list of words. All those early readers for children wimped out with xylophone, we shall not back down from the challenge. Xyresic means razor sharp. Bit of a let down really after the build-up in the letter U. Sorry.

Y is for Yonderly. To be emotionally distant or absent minded. Like being in a room and not having a clue why you are there.

Z is for Zeugma. This comes from the Greek word for yoke and is “… a figure of speech in which a word, usually a verb or an adjective, applies to more than one noun, blending together grammatically and logically different ideas” (Literary Devices). Charles Dickens had a black belt in creating zeugmas: “Miss Bolo rose from the table considerably agitated, and went straight home in a flood of tears, and a sedan-chair” (Pickwick Papers).

Bonus Factoids

Aegilops is a member of the grass family and is the longest word in English in which the letters appear in alphabetical order.

In the 18th century, chickens were known as cacklers and their eggs were called cackle farts.

In the early days of hurtling down a mountainside on a sled, the racers bobbed their heads forwards and backwards in an attempt to go faster. Hence, the word bobsledding. It didn’t make any difference in the sled’s speed. Similarly, ski jumpers used to flap their arms like birds in an attempt to aid flight. It didn’t work either.

Sources

Dictionaries by the dozen, loads of lexicons, and glossaries galore.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Rupert Taylor

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Susan SJ profile image

        Susan SJ 

        8 months ago

        Loving it!

      • Rupert Taylor profile imageAUTHOR

        Rupert Taylor 

        8 months ago from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

        Thanks Threekeys and Chris.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 

        8 months ago from Hartford, CT

        Interesting, funny, and intelligently written. Congratulations on coming up with an alternative to xylophone. A xyresic hub.

      • profile image

        threekeys 

        8 months ago

        Just loved! loved! these new words. I may just pluck out a few of these words to use in my future poetry. From time to time I do have fun with writing poetry that can be read cryptically. Cheers!

      • Rupert Taylor profile imageAUTHOR

        Rupert Taylor 

        8 months ago from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

        I love words and poking about in their origins. I just collect them as I stumble across them.

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        8 months ago from Norfolk, England

        These are all words I've never heard of. But my favourite one is kippage!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)