English Language Blog

Some Funny English Words Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 in English Language, English Vocabulary

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, CCO

I recently had a conversation with someone who is much younger than I am (that’s not hard to do, at my age), and I happened to say that something flummoxed me. She laughed and said, “Flummoxed? I’ve never heard that word before!”

Ah. I had entered the anachronous zone, where the common language of someone of an older generation crosses paths with a younger generation. It happens in reverse, too, of course. I remember earlier this year hearing someone use the word flex in a context that I’d never heard before. So, yeah. It flummoxed me!

To be flummoxed is to be confused by something to the point of being distracted and speechless. When that person you’ve been crushing on suddenly strikes up a conversation, you’re probably going to be flummoxed.

In contemporary terms, to flex is to show off something in a way that draws way too much attention to yourself. If your friend shows up in his new car with the sound system blaring, that’s flexing way too hard.

So, this got me to thinking – what are some words that can be both funny-sounding and maybe a bit outdated?

I have always liked the word discombobulated. Similar in meaning to flummoxed, to be discombobulated is to be distracted and fumbling around. If you have too many things going on at one time, you might be discombobulated.

A donnybrook is a fight which got way out of hand. Instead of two people throwing punches, many more people got involved and now many punches are being thrown.

A brouhaha is similar to a donnybrook in that a lot of people are yelling and arguing, but it may not necessarily involve punching. Both should be avoided, however.

If you want to run away from something, you can skedaddle.

If you take too much time leaving a place, you are lollygagging.

If something is cockamamie, it is absurd and unreasonable. If someone suggests that climate change could be solved by blocking out the sun a few hours per week, that is a cockamamie idea.

If someone babbles endlessly without making any sense, that is a rigmarole. For further understanding of this word, please see your local representative in Congress.

A doozy is tremendous. A doozy of a lie is often told by a politician.

Payola is a bribe.

A politician, or anybody, who is planning to do something which is inappropriate and illicit is engaging in skullduggery.

If that same person has been arrested, then he or she is going to the hoosegow. Some people know it as jail or prison.

If you are a member of the hoi polloi, then you are an average citizen.

If you are a muckamuck, then you are a celebrity.

Someone who is ornery is mean-spirited and unpleasant.

On the other hand, someone who is a namby-pamby is weak and has no character.

I once went to an event being held by some muckamuck politician, not a member of the hoi polloi like the rest of us. He got caught telling a real cockamamie doozy of a lie at this public hearing, which led to a brouhaha between his supporters and members of the press. The press accused him of engaging in some form of skullduggery to cover up a history of accepting payola. You could tell that the politician was flummoxed because everything he now said was a bunch of rigmarole. Soon, this ornery crowd began throwing punches and a real donnybrook broke out. I got discombobulated with everything going on around me. I’m no namby-pamby kind of guy, but I decided to skedaddle. This was no time to lollygag around!


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About the Author: Gary Locke

Gary is a semi-professional hyphenate.


  1. Sandy Jo Mack/ Starelli:

    Is the quieting sound spelled Ssss or Shss?