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It’s Time for Super Words! Posted by on Jul 16, 2020 in English Vocabulary

I love to comb through a dictionary, discovering odd and unusual words. I know, it may not be your idea of a good time, but you should try it sometime. I often find myself exclaiming, “I didn’t know that there was a word for that!” Well, guess what? There seems to be a word for everything.

Image by Janos Perian from Pixabay

Here are some words and their definitions in the English language that will improve your Scrabble game, impress your friends, and broaden your knowledge. I call them Super Words.

Agelast – A person who doesn’t laugh. It comes from the Greek word agélastos (“not laughing, or glum.”)

Antelucan – The actual word for the darkness just before dawn. The word derives from the Latin root luc-, meaning light. Ante means before. By adding -an to the end it becomes an adjective.

Brannock Device – Named for its inventor, Charles F. Brannock, this is the tool used by shoe stores to measure the size of feet.

Blatteroon – Someone who talks a lot without making any real sense. This insult, or excellent description of a politician, comes from the Latin blatero, a babbler.

Chrestomathy – A collection, or anthology, of useful essays to help you learn a language. It comes to us from the Greek words khrestos, useful, and mathein, to know, hence useful learning. If I ever collect my blogs into a book, I’ll call it a chrestomathy.

Dysania – There is actually a word for not being able to get out of bed in the morning and this is it. You’re welcome.

Doryphore – A person who delights in proving someone wrong. It was also used as slang in France for the occupying Nazi forces in WWII. More importantly, it’s the formal name of the potato beetle. In other words: a pest.

Gobo – Those of us who work in theater know this word. It’s a metal plate with holes punched in it which is placed over a light to make shapes like stars or trees on the stage.

Gowpen – If you cup your hands together to scoop up water, you’ve made a gowpen. Originally the word came from Old Norse and still exists in some modern Scandinavian dialects. I learned this word years ago and I still think it’s very cool.

Griffinage – Illegible handwriting.

Jumentous – Something that smells like it came from the hind end of a horse. It comes from the Latin word jumentum, meaning something pertaining to a horse or mule. You’re going to use this word a lot, aren’t you?

Lipogram – A paragraph or longer in which the writer deliberately omits one or more letters. It’s no trick if you leave out a Q or a Z, but try doing it without using an A or E. From the Ancient Greek: leipográmmatos, “leaving out a letter.”

McGuffin – In a book, play, or movie, it’s a plot device best described as “the thing that everyone is after.” Attributed to Alfred Hitchcock.

Obelus – This is the classic mathematical symbol for division (÷). And, with that in mind…

Octothorpe – Prepare to have your mind blown. An octothorpe is this symbol: #.

Onychophagist – Someone who bites their nails. Also of Greek origin, the word combines onux/onukh–, a nail or claw, plus –phagia, devouring, or eating.

Pareidolia – This is the word for seeing faces or familiar shapes in things like clouds or rock formations. Yet another word of Greek origin, para-, almost, plus eidolon, meaning image or form.

Peristeronic – A word meaning, “anything having to do with pigeons.” Okay, it’s not a very useful word, but it is unique.

Singultient – Sobbing while making a speech. “I want to thank my parents who always believed in me!” From the Latin singult, a sob, and singultous, the hiccups.

Thaumaturgy – The practice of creating illusions and stage magic. It comes from the Greek word thaumatourgos, miracle working (from thauma, marvel, plus ergos, work).

Zymurgy – The art of fermentation. It is also the last word in many dictionaries.

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