Top Five Craziest English Words (That You’ve Never Heard Of)

Pimsleur Approach • June 20, 2011 • Language HistoryComments (1)

1. Levalloisian: The definition of this word is quite esoteric, but it would be fun to pretend it’s not, especially if you find yourself at a dinner party full of, say, neurobiologists, actual rocket scientists, or any other group of people of whose professions you have no in-depth knowledge. If you’re ever in that situation, just say “I was looking at a set of cutlery recently that looked positively Levalloisian.” And when they ask you what the word means, you say “Uhmmm… are you serious? It means of or relating to a Middle Paleolithic culture characterized by a technique of manufacturing tools by striking flakes from a flint nodule. DUH!”

2. Pecksniffian: “Unctuously hypocritical”
Now here is a perfect example of a word that we really ought to be using each and every day. What a perfect description for a huge group of people we call politicians. Surely you can think of a few recent examples of folks who deserve to have this moniker attached to them. All news organizations, interviewers and reporters should adopt this wonderful word immediately, as in: “After speaking with you at length about your stance on family values and then coming to find out that you were recently arrested for drug scandal/sex scandal/fraud/embezzlement/ it has come to my attention that you, Sir, are nothing but a Pecksniffian!”

3. Whigmaleerie: “An odd or fanciful contrivance”.
The next time your boss starts in on you about a new project, just pull this gem out in a sentence. It’s almost guaranteed to make him or her stop in their tracks. And because they won’t want to admit that they have no clue what you’re talking about, they’ll back away slowly instead of continuing to pile work on your desk. As in: “Not to interrupt you, Boss, but that new project seems like it’s a whigmaleerie.”
Pimsleur Approach: Macbeth / Bildungsroman
4. Bildungsroman: “A novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character.”
Imagine sitting in English Lit class in high school, or even college. Your teacher has been giving you a hard time all semester with pop quizzes and tons of homework. It’s time to raise your hand and say “Ms. So-And-So, I’ve really enjoyed reading all the Shakespeare plays, with all of the intrigue, murder, deceit, and soap-opera-like qualities of the plots, especially MacBeth. But, pray tell, when are you going to choose a bildungsroman for us to read and discuss?” Then listen for the crickets to start chirping.

5. Oxyphenbutazone: “a phenylbutazone derivative C19H20N2O3 having anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects.” You may not have much opportunity to use this word in common every-day interactions, but it just had to be included for one very special reason-it can get you 1,778 points in Scrabble given the correct board circumstances. Imagine the look on your opponent’s face when you trounce them so soundly!

One Response to “ Top Five Craziest English Words (That You’ve Never Heard Of) ”

  1. ELBSeattle says:

    Yep. Often when some page claims ‘Five ______ you never knew about __________’ I find I usually know them. But these words are all new to me.

    ‘Pecksniffian’ highly deserves to be brought back into the quotidian lexicon.

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