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Words Is Words, Right?

By Staff | Feb 25, 2016

A compatriot at State Wrestling gave me this piece last week, saying that he knew how much I liked lists of off-the-wall topics. Reading it, he was right on the mark. So, I share this list with you for your next coffee table chat.

It is said that to be reasonably fluent in a language you only need to know about 2,000 words, with those 2,000 words making up about 80% of everything you could ever hope to say. About 5,000 words make up the active vocabulary of people without a college education and those with higher education have an active vocabulary of maybe 10,000. But, to fully understand famous novels you’d probably need to know (be able to recognize) around 20,000 words.

The crazy part of this? English has about a quarter million (250,000) words! This means that even the smartest people among us would only recognize maybe one third of all the words in the English language. That means that there are probably several hundred thousand English words that you have never heard of in your entire life. So, whether you are super smart or not, these are 25 funny words that you won’t believe are actually in the dictionary!

25 – Widdershins: This word basically means to move in a counter-clockwise direction.

24 – Pandiculation: You know how you wake up in the morning, stretch, and your muscles temporarily stiffen? Well this is the technical term for that ordeal.

23 – Wabbit: No it’s not Bugs Bunny! Coming from Scottish, to be wabbit is to be tired.

22 – Quire: One quire is 25 sheets of paper (formerly 24).

21 – Brouhaha: A brouhaha is a noisy or overexcited reaction or response to something. I know of an establishment with a little different spelling of this word in it’s name. It’s actually very fitting for the place, too.

20 – Donnybrook: A donnybrook refers to an uprising or a riot. It originates from the name of a suburb of Dublin, Ireland that was known for its annual fair. Hmm, almost timely, with St. Patrick’s Weekend just around the corner.

19 – Ratoon: Nope, it doesn’t have anything to do with rodents. It’s actually a small shoot that grows off of the roots of a plant.

18 – Bibble: To bibble is to eat or drink noisily.

17 – Bumbershoot: It’s a synonym for umbrella.

16 – Gubbins: Gubbins is basically anything that has little or no value, in other words, it’s rubbish.

15 – Snickersnee: It might sound cute but this is actually a large knife.

14 – Cattywampus: Often used in the Midwest and Southern United States, if something is cattywampus then it is not lined up correctly i.e. it is diagonal. You may recognize similar terms like catty-corner.

13 – Bumfuzzled: It means to be confused or perplexed and used to be very popular below the Maxon Dixon line in the United States.

12 – Taradiddle: A taradiddle is essentially a lie or a tall tale.

11 – Flibbertigibbet: This word refers to someone who is silly and talks a lot. They might be prone to tell taradiddles.

10 – Sialoquent: An adjective describing someone who sprays saliva while speaking.

9 – Nincompoop: Someone who is silly or foolish.

8 – Snollygoster: A snollygoster is someone (usually referring to politicians) that is only guided by personal gain and not consistent principles.

7 – Erinaceous: Here is another strange adjective. It describes someone who looks like a hedgehog.

6 – Yarborough: A yarborough is a hand of cards that doesn’t contain anything above a 9.

5 – Comeuppance: This is a fate or punishment that someone deserves.

4 – Borborygm: A borborygm is when your stomach rumbles because you are hungry.

3 – Nudiustertian: This adjective describes the day before yesterday, as in the nudiustertian episode of a TV show.

2 – Collywobbles: Another word used to describe something related to your stomach, this time it refers to nausea or queasiness.

1 – Absquatulate: If you leave suddenly, then this is what you are doing.

While some of these words probably won’t make it into your daily converstational repetoire, I will adopt Cattywompus, simply because it seems like the perfect description for my workspace….if I could see the top of it.