15 obscure words to delight linguists

Flex your verbal muscles with these lesser-known terms.

Considering that there are an estimated 250,000 distinct English words, those who love to write about words have a plethora of material.

Favorite articles I’ve written include words that describe words, confusing word pairs and words that make writers swoon.

Let’s continue our exploration of that linguistic trove and look at terms that make us say, “There’s a word for that?” (Definitions below are from Oxford Dictionaries Online, World Wide Words, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.)

Abibilophobia: The fear of having nothing to read.

If I can’t get to the library before a long flight, I suffer from abibiliophobia.

Absquatulate : To leave abruptly.

I might need to absquatulate from the party if Jack and Ginny start talking about politics.

Acersecomic: A person whose hair has never been cut.

Now that my son is a teenager, he wants to look like an acersecomic—but I think his scraggly locks require a trim.

Bardolatry : Excessive admiration of Shakespeare.

Is it bardolatry to take every Shakespeare class at the university?

Borborygymus : A rumbling or gurgling noise in the intestines.

We found it hard to concentrate in the pre-lunch meeting given Jayden’s borborygymus.

Cryptozoology : The study of and search for animals whose existence has not been proven.

Cryptozoology classes are offered through the Folklore Department.

Defervescence : The reduction of a fever.

Even without medication, defervescence should occur 24 to 48 hours after the rash appears.

Lycanthropy: The supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf.

“The Shaggy Dog” was one of the first movies about lycanthropy.

Nudiustertian: Of or related to the day before yesterday.

The article had a nudiustertian deadline, and I’m hoping to finish up today so I’m not three days late.

Omophagia (also omophagy): The eating of raw food, especially meat.

Omophagia, such as consuming steak tartare, might increase the chances of contracting a food-borne illness.

Pandiculation: A full-body stretch.

The aerobics instructor had us perform several pandiculations before our workout.

Scripturient : A violent desire to write.

The keyboard was on fire—I was feeling scripturient.

Slangwhanger: One who attacks others with words.

With his scathing passages, Oscar Wilde is my favorite literary slangwhanger.

Sternutator: Something that causes sneezing.

In addition to being tormented by common seasonal allergies, I have an unusual sternutator: a draft hitting my elbows.

Ultracrepidarian : A person who gives opinions and advice on matters outside his or her scope of knowledge.

With all the Dr. Oz articles she sends me, my marketing friend Shirley is the perfect example of an ultracrepidarian.

PR Daily readers, what are your favorite lesser-known words that you would add to the list?

Laura Hale Brockway is writer and editor from Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at Impertinent Remarks.

(Image via)


PR Daily News Feed

Sign up to receive the latest articles from PR Daily directly in your inbox.