15 unusual words that make writers swoon

Always opt for simple language over the complex—unless you’re dealing with one of these arcane words. Think you could work one in to your copy?

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Though I strive to use simple, clear terms in my own writing, there are some words that I am just dying to use. Archaic, unusual words that I have stumbled upon in fiction. Words that have drawn me in. I like the ways these words sound. I like the way they look.

If I could only find a way to work them into my next article on surgical checklists.

Vex. To cause someone to feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried.

Example: You take delight in vexing me by deliberately using bad grammar.

Portmanteau. A large suitcase or trunk that opens into two equal parts.

Example: That portmanteau will not fit in the overhead bin and must be checked.

Naught. Means zero or nothing. It can also mean to ruin, disregard, or despise.

Example: Her behavior tends to set propriety at naught.

Foible. A weakness or eccentricity in someone’s character.

Example: She loved him in spite of his foibles.

Parvenu. A person who has suddenly risen to a higher social or economic class, but who has not gained social acceptance in that class.

Example: He was treated like a parvenu at the country club dinner.

Sentinel. A soldier or guard who keeps watch; to keep guard or watch.

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