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

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

Among the million words that the English language supposedly possesses, there are some that sound very strange, others that are written in an unexpected way and, furthermore, these words are never taught in an English language course. Here are the fifteen most unusual words in the English language.

1. Serendipity

This word appears in numerous lists of untranslatable words. It refers to a happy and unexpected discovery.

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 qualify a text riddled with official jargon and particularly complicated sentence structures.

3. Scrumptious

This word is virtually an onomatopoeia and designates an especially delicious morsel or dish.

4. Agastopia

If you are familiar with ancient Greek roots, this word should not present any problem … 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 the book Depraved English…

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 hypothecate” or “to mortgage”, but not “to impignorate”. This word certainly has all the charm of another era that truly makes you want to pawn something…

7. Jentacular

If when you are getting out of bed in the morning, 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

You may have a friend of Armenian origin with that name, but this isn’t about him or her: nudiustertian simply refers to two days ago (the day before yesterday, in fact). Unfortunately, this expression has fallen into disuse, although it is far more melodious than the day before yesterday.

9. Quire

You must have surely, at one time or another, wanted to order 24 or 25 sheets of paper in English 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, particularly, 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 dozen or so 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: men and women (particularly women) who are ulotrichous don’t want to be like this while those (women) who are not, would like to be. 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 thought it? This is not the name of the villain in a bad science fiction movie, but the act of gulping something down in haste.

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