67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation

67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation

67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation

Blog129_EnglishWords_GirlsReading-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next ConversationIn a recent blog post, we looked at 94 obscure foreign words that don’t have a direct English translation. These words can be useful for easily explaining thoughts and ideas that would otherwise come across as clunky and long-winded—and the clunkiness might not even fully convey the meaning you are going for.

As it turns out, English has a pretty rich vocabulary as well. With over a quarter of a million words, English has many similarly obscure terms to the foreign ones we explored earlier—ones that are just not used in everyday conversation. In this post, we’ll look at 67 examples of such words you may not have previously heard of. The next time you’re talking to one of your friends, it might be fun to slip in some of these words.

Blog129_EnglishWords_GirlTyping-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next ConversationFun fact: As I’m writing this post, a large proportion of these entries have the squiggly red spelling error indicator underneath. That certainly speaks to the obscurity of these words!

 

Aa: A volcanic lava that forms jagged masses with a light frothy texture

This is also the first entry of the Oxford English Dictionary.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Abibliophobia-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Abibliophobia: Fear of running out of things to read

Abibliophobia: Fear of running out of things to read

By far my favorite entry on this list. Luckily in today’s day and age, there is plenty out there to read—and unfortunately too little time.

 

Accubation: The act of reclining during a meal

Not sure I would recommend this, but at least we know there’s a word for it.

 

Agastopia: A fascination or love for a particular part of the human body

This word first appeared in the book Depraved English.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Alysm-200x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Alysm: The feeling of restlessness or boredom that comes from being unwell

Alysm: The feeling of restlessness or boredom that comes from being unwell

Sometimes you’re just so desperate to get on with your daily activities, but you can’t because you’re sick and need to stay in bed. That’s alysm for you. But this is a good reminder that we all need to just rest and do nothing sometimes—it’s our mind and body’s way of healing and resetting.

 

Amphibology: A phrase or sentence that is grammatically ambiguous

As a writer and editor, this is one of my biggest pet peeves.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Apricity-300x225 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Apricity: The warmth of the sun in the winter

Apricity: The warmth of the sun in the winter

Such a beautiful feeling.

 

Aspergillum: A device used for sprinkling holy water at religious ceremonies

Stay blessed!

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Balter-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Balter: To dance badly

Balter: To dance badly

Better take some dance classes.

 

Benthos: Flora or fauna at the bottom of a sea or lake

How nice it would be to live under the sea.

 

Bibble: To eat or drink noisily

So annoying!

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Bibliopole-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Bibliopole: Someone who buys or sells books, especially rare books

Bibliopole: Someone who buys or sells books, especially rare books

This has to be the most fun job out there!

 

Blatherskite: A person who talks a lot without making much sense

You just have to nod along and pretend you’re interested.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Borborygm-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Borborygm: Rumbling in the stomach

Borborygm: Rumbling in the stomach

If “I’m hungry” doesn’t suffice, you can always say you have borborygms.

 

Brabble: To bicker loudly about nothing

A common occurrence among many families.

 

Bruxism: Grinding your teeth at night

If you have bruxism, you might want to make a dentist appointment.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Cataglottism-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Cataglottism: French kissing

Cataglottism: French kissing

What a romantic term.

 

Chiasmus: Repeating the words you’ve used in reverse order

For example, John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

 

Coprolalia: Involuntary repetitive use of obscene language

Sometimes it just happens.

 

Dactylomegaly: Abnormally large fingers or toes

I suppose they can come in handy sometimes.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Defenestrate-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Defenestrate: To throw someone out the window

Defenestrate: To throw someone out the window

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt!

 

Deipnosophist: A person skilled in the art of dining and dinner table conversation

Be sure to invite a deipnosophist to your next gathering!

 

Doryphore: A pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic

Definitely guilty of this one.

 

Dunandunate: To overuse a word or phrase you’ve recently learned

You might find yourself dunandunating after reading this post.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Emacity-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Emacity: Fondness for buying things

Emacity: Fondness for buying things

A trait that shopaholics might exhibit.

 

Epeolatry: The worship of words

And the reason I’m writing this post!

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Fudgel-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Fudgel: Pretending to work but actually goofing off

Fudgel: Pretending to work when you’re really goofing off

Pretty easy to do in today’s work-from-home climate.

 

Grawlix: Substituting punctuation marks for curse words

For when you have to keep it family friendly.

 

Griffonage: Sloppy handwriting

Sounds prettier than chicken scratch.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Groak-200x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Groak: To stare silently at someone while they eat, hoping they will invite you to join them

Groak: To stare silently at someone while they eat, hoping they will invite you to join them

Anyone guilty of this?

 

Growlery: A place you can retreat from the world when you’re in a bad mood

This word was invented by Charles Dickens. My growlery is the playground.

 

Gwenders: The tingling feeling you get in your fingers when they’re cold

Better get yourself some gloves or mittens to protect yourself from the gwenders.

 

Hallux: The big toe

Which, ironically, isn’t always the big toe.

 

Huckmuck: Confusion that comes from things not being in their right place

Sometimes this happens when you’re in the middle of a move or you’ve shifted some things when you’re cleaning your house.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Jentacular-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Jentacular: Relating to breakfast

Jentacular: Relating to breakfast

May you enjoy a jentacular cup of coffee or tea.

 

Jillick: To skip a stone across a surface of water

Such a fun activity!

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Levament-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Levament: The comfort someone has of their wife

Levament: The comfort someone has from their wife

When it first appeared in The English Dictionaire in 1623, the definition was “the comfort which one hath of his wife.” Thanks to progress in marriage and gender equality, that definition can now be modified to the comfort someone has from his, her, or their wife. Interestingly, there does not seem to be a corresponding word for the comfort someone has from their husband.

 

Mytacism: Excessive or wrong use of the sound of the letter “m”

Apparently this was a common speech impediment back in the day.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Nesh-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Nesh: More than usually susceptible to the cold

Nesh: More than usually susceptible to the cold

This definitely describes me.

 

Nibling: A gender-neutral term for niece or nephew

Such a useful word to have.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Nikhedonia-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Nikhedonia: The feeling of excitement that comes from anticipating success

Nikhedonia: The feeling of excitement that comes from anticipating success

If you’re playing a game and you just know you have what it takes to crush your opponent, or you’re watching your favorite team play and the championship is all but theirs, you might experience nikhedonia.

 

Obelus: The division symbol

There is indeed a name for this symbol.

 

Palimpsest: An old document in which the original writing is scraped off so that new words can be written over it

Today this word is used more in a metaphorical sense than a literal one.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Petrichor-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Petrichor: The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell

Petrichor: The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell

A delight for all the senses.

 

Pilgarlic: A bald-headed person, usually one you’re mocking or feel sorry for.

That poor pilgarlic!

 

Pogonotrophy: The act of growing a beard

There might be some pilgarlics practicing pogonotrophy out there.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Poltophagy-203x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Poltophagy: Chewing something until it becomes like porridge

Poltophagy: Thorough chewing of food until it becomes like porridge

This definitely makes for easier digestion.

 

Pyknic: A stocky physique with a rounded body and head, thick trunk, and tendency to fat

Coincidence that this sounds like picnic?

 

Sciapodous: Having large feet

“No, I’m not thumping, I’m just sciapodous!”

 

Sesquipedalian: Having many syllables or using many long words

Like this blog post.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Shivviness-232x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Shivviness: The feeling of discomfort that comes from wearing a new underwear

Shivviness: The feeling of discomfort that comes from wearing a new underwear

Sometimes it takes some time to break it in! This old Yorkshire word comes from “shive,” which means a tiny splinter or fragment of something or a loose thread sticking out of a piece of fabric.

 

Sialoquent: Someone who spits when they talk

Such a pretty sounding word for a not so pretty situation.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Sylph-200x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Sylph: A slender, graceful young woman

Sylph: A slender, graceful young woman

 

Taradiddle: Someone who lies or exaggerates

Most of us know at least one of these.

 

Tittle: The little dot above a lowercase “i” or “j”

Lots of little tittles in the above definition.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Tittynopes-300x169 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Tittynopes: Scatterings of crumbs or food pieces left on the side of the plate or bottom of the bowl or the few remaining drops in a glass

Tittynopes: Scatterings of crumbs or food pieces left on the side of the plate or bottom of the bowl or the few remaining drops in a glass

If only it were easier to wipe the plate, bowl, or glass clean of the tittynopes.

 

Tmesis: Cutting a word in two and sticking another word in the middle

Such as fan-freaking-tastic. This comes from the Greek word for “cutting.”

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Tyrotoxism-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Tyrotoxism: To poison with cheese

Tyrotoxism: To poison with cheese

Probably a vegan or lactose intolerant’s worst nightmare.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Ulotrichous-200x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Ulotrichous: Having curly hair

Ulotrichous: Having curly hair

For when simply saying someone has curly hair just doesn’t get the point across.

 

Ultracrepidarian: Someone who gives their opinions on something beyond their knowledge

There are many of these on the Internet.

 

Widdershins: Moving counter-clockwise or in the wrong direction

Like a car going the wrong way on a one-way street.

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Winklepicker-300x300 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Winklepicker: A pointy shoe

Winklepicker: A shoe with a particularly sharp point

Winklepickers seem to go in and out of style.

 

Wittol: A man who knows of and tolerates his wife’s infidelity

He must really love her.

 

Xertz: Quickly gulping something down

Not recommended, as you might give yourself a stomach ache from too many xertzes.

 

Zeugma: Using a word in more than one of its senses at the same time

An example of this would be “She stole his heart and his wallet.”

 

Blog129_EnglishWords_Zoanthropy-300x200 67 Obscure English Words to Use in Your Next Conversation
Zoanthropy: Having delusions of being a form of an animal or having changed into an animal

Zoanthropy: Having delusions of being a form of an animal or having changed into an animal

Sometimes I wish I could magically turn into another animal.

 

Zopissa: A medicinal preparation made from wax and pitch scraped from the sides of ships

Hope the medicine actually works!

 

What are your favorite words on this list? Which ones are we missing? If you want to improve your English, teach it to others, or connect with other people across countries and cultures, you ought to be on Konversai. Konversai is a global online marketplace connecting knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through live video conversations. What distinguishes Konversai from similar platforms is the human interaction element. In addition to being able to get bespoke knowledge on exactly what you’re looking to learn on a particular topic, you can also form meaningful and authentic connections that have the potential to enrich your life—connections that may not have otherwise been possible. All users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. As a knowledge provider, you can charge as much as you want for your sessions, and you don’t have to be an expert—whatever knowledge, skills, or experiences you possess have value on Konversai and may be exactly what someone else is looking for. Whether you’re on Konversai as a knowledge provider or knowledge seeker, you are sure to have a transformational experience. Get in on the fun and join Konversai today!

 

By Pavita Singh

 

Sources:

  1. Brooks, Richard. (2016). 14 Obsolete English Words that Deserve Another Chance. K International.
  2. C, Kelly. Obscure Words.
  3. Chivers, Tom. (2019). 29 Obscure Words That Everybody Needs To Know. BuzzFeed.
  4. Jones, Paul Anthony. (2019). 15 Obscure Words for Everyday Feelings and Emotions. Mental Floss.
  5. Weird and Wonderful Words.
  6. (2015). The 15 most unusual words you’ll ever find in English. Cultures Connection.
  7. McCoy, Julia. (2014). 34 of the Craziest Words in English. Express Writers.
  8. Merriam-Webster. 10 Obscure Words That Are Somehow Real.
  9. (2011). 26 Weird English Words from A to Z.
  10. Westmaas, Rueben. (2019). Have You Heard These 25 Obscure English Words? Grammar Book.

 

 

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