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The 15 most unusual words you’ll ever find in English

Some expressions in English sound plain weird. Discover fifteen English words that you had never heard before.

Among the million words that the English language supposedly includes, some of them sound very strange, others words are written in an unexpected way. Of course, it will become easier to write an essay with the most unusual words if you know how long a 500 words essay is. Moreover, these words are never taught in an English language class. Here are the fifteen most unusual words you can find in the English language.

1. Serendipity

This word appears in numerous lists of untranslatable words and is a mystery mostly for non native speakers of English. It refers to a happy and unexpected discovery or event.

2. Gobbledygook

The word was invented by Maury Maverick —a United States politician— and was first used in 1944 when he gave a speech to describe a text riddled with official jargon and extremely complex sentence structures.

3. Scrumptious

This word is practically an onomatopoeia and refers to a delicious dish.

4. Agastopia

If you are familiar with ancient Greek roots, the meaning of this word should be clear… It expresses fascination or love (we could even speak of fetishism without mincing words, much less in an article like this) for a particular part of the human body. It first appeared in this book: Depraved English. You may not find it in a dictionary.

5. Halfpace

It is a landing, certainly, but not just any landing. It refers to that small landing at the top of a flight of stairs where you have to turn and take another flight of stairs whether going up or down.

6. Impignorate

Why make life difficult when it could be easy? One could say “to mortgage” or “to hypothecate”, but not “to impignorate”. This word certainly has all the charm of another era that truly makes you want to pawn something…

7. Jentacular

When you are getting out of bed in the morning, if you are offered a “jentacular” cup of tea, don’t be offended: it means just about anything (in this case, tea) related to breakfast.

8. Nudiustertian

To make it simple, the word nudiustertian refers to two days ago (that is to say the day before yesterday). Unfortunately, it has fallen into disuse, although it is far more melodious than the day before yesterday.

9. Quire

You surely must have, at one time or another, wanted to order in English 24 or 25 sheets of paper without having to say “I would like 24 or 25 sheets of paper, please”. Right? Problem solved: Ask for a quire.

10. Yarborough

Another particularly useful term for daily life, especially if you play bridge, in which case you may already be familiar with it. At all events, you probably know that unpleasant feeling of having a hand where no card is higher than 9. That’s a yarborough hand.

11. Tittynope

Let us be precise: the scattering of crumbs left on one side of the plate, the few grains of rice sitting at the bottom of the bowl, the few drops remaining in the glass, are not mere leftovers and dregs. They are tittynopes.

12. Winklepicker

If someday you ever manage to prepare mollusc skewers using pointy shoes, this will illustrate perfectly the sense of a winklepicker. Not clear about this yet? Winklepickers are shoes with such a sharp point that they evoke the utensils used to prise winkles from their shells.

13. Ulotrichous

It’s always the same story: men and women who are ulotrichous don’t want it this way while those who are not, would like it to be this way. Of course! Ulotrichous refers to people with curly hair.

14. Kakorrhaphiophobia

If you suffer from this, then you would very much rather not have this word appear in a spelling bee, since it describes the fear of failure.

15. Xertz

Who would have imagined it? This is not the name of the villain in a bad science fiction movie, but the act of gulping something down in haste. Another word that you may not find in a dictionary.

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This article has been written by Mathieu

Mathieu was born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. After studying Literature and Linguistic Research, he moved to Argentina where he is currently a translator and a web editor.