Weird Words

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Weird Words

Postby Grandmama » Sep 05, 2019 6:21 pm

I actually thought there was already a thread about words that you just think are weird or strange. However, I looked back 5 pages and couldn't find one and I asked a "senior" member of the forum and he didn't think there was one, so here it is.

So, for my first weird word: Behoove

Our family likes to play a game with the letters on license plates, trying to make a word from the letters in the order given. The other day a car passed me with the letters: BHV on it and "Behooves" was the word I thought of. Then I thought: "That's a weird word". I also thought that it would behoove the driver to slow down since they were speeding and fines are double in a work zone, which we were in. :)

My son, who is in the National Guard, just informed me that sergeants love to use the word "behoove". ;)
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Ryadian » Sep 06, 2019 1:04 pm

What a fun idea for a thread! :)

I have to admit, one word that I've always thought was super weird was "spelunking". Not only does it sound weird, but it's such a specific definition! I Googled it, and apparently "spelunca" is Latin for "cave", and "spelunk" is an obsolete term for caves as a result, and that's where we get the word. I guess that makes sense, but the word is still strange. :P

I've also find, as a writer and reader, I'll get random words stuck in my head. One time I had the phrase "a veritable flotilla of ships" stuck in my head for a solid week. Why, I have no idea - I think I read it in a book and it just stuck. I also had "querulous" stuck in my head yesterday because I was describing a character, and I almost used that word to describe her. It did not actually describe her very well, but the word stuck around anyways. :P
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Re: Weird Words

Postby coracle » Sep 06, 2019 3:21 pm

Some years ago, when I organised my schedule in larger diaries, I used to collect new and interesting words in the front with their definitions.
I wish I still did that in the last 5 years; some of the words were learned in specific work areas.
One I recall straight off is 'riparian' -relating to the banks of a river.
Legalese is full of wonderful words too.
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Re: Weird Words

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 06, 2019 4:18 pm

Ryadian wrote:I have to admit, one word that I've always thought was super weird was "spelunking".


I've known of that word for years, because there are several limestone caves in the nearby Blue Mountains such as the Wombeyan Caves or the Jenolan caves, so that there are even groups of people, calling themselves "spelunkers", who even organise themselves into clubs & organisations to share an interest in exploring caves. I guess it is an interest that isn't for everyone, which is why the term, "spelunk", is relatively uncommon in everyday speech. :D Some of these sorts of people have achieved fame such as the divers who rescued a class of schoolboys trapped in a Thai cave last year. That was an international effort, I think, which isn't surprising, since there are also firefly caves in New Zealand, near a place called Te Anau, (sp?) across the Ditch from us here in New South Wales.

Yes, discussing words like that would be a nice idea, since it spreads knowledge, and it does "behoove" us to do so. :D

The other day I was reading a biography of Captain William Bligh of Mutiny of the Bounty fame, which I found fascinating. Written in the back of the book was a glossary of sailing terms used at the time, but not necessarily today. One was "larboard", which these days has largely been replaced these days by "port", whilst the right hand side has remained as "starboard"? Has anyone here heard anything about why the nautical terms were changed? Larboard somehow sounds more weirdly appropriate for the left hand side, if starboard is the right hand side, than does "port", which might refer to several other items or destinations.
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Arwenel » Sep 07, 2019 11:38 pm

One of my favorite weird words is copacetic. It emerged in the 1920s, meaning "fine" or "okay" --

"How you doing, Jane?"
"Everything's copacetic, Mary, how're you?"

-- but there's no clear linguistic origin for it. Some think it's Hebrew or Yiddish, some say it has its root in African American dialects, and some think it might even come from Chinese. I find it interesting that a word that only emerged a century ago is so hard to trace to its roots.
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Grandmama » Sep 12, 2019 1:38 pm

Speaking of "spelunking", back in my college days I took a Geology class and I signed up for a spelunking field trip for extra credit. The class was winter quarter (in Iowa) and the field trip was canceled due to the weather. Looking back on it, it's probably a good thing it was canceled since I tend to be claustrophobic and I got an A in the class anyway. :)

Coracle, I have to admit that I've never heard of "riparian". I shall have to think of a way to use it in a sentence.

Waggawerewolf, I agree that "larboard" sounds more appropriate than port.

I have heard of "copacetic"! Perhaps that shows my age a bit. :-s

My new somewhat weird word I found while perusing Pinterest: FACETIOUS, which is supposedly the only word in the English language that uses all of the vowels in order.
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Cleander » Sep 12, 2019 3:21 pm

OK, not even sure what exactly this word means, though I think it MIGHT mean something like "decompose"...
DISCOMBOBULATE.

Oh boy. Who else burst out laughing when they first heard/read this word?
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Re: Weird Words

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 13, 2019 8:58 pm

Cleander wrote:DISCOMBOBULATE....Oh boy. Who else burst out laughing when they first heard/read this word?


Er, not myself, exactly. I mainly tried to remember several other words like it, such as disconcert, disconsolate, confuse (its actual meaning), or disgruntle which is more like disappointment, that the appointment did not happen to my convenience, & therefore to my inconvenience. ;) . Some wit or other on Internet or in the paper made up a whole conversation of similar words where the "dis" at the beginning is usually taken as an antonym to a word such as appear, but where the word it is antonym of doesn't actually exist.

The trouble with discombobulate, is that it works the same as a word like disgruntled, & possibly disconsolate. If I am disconsolated at my fading memory, am I consolated when I am able to remember, after all? And if I am disgruntled if you don't remember that I, too, am trying to be facetious, (grandmama's word) just a little, by writing this post, how is it I can't be gruntled at finding out that I am not as discombobulated as I thought I was? I know this is a bit confusing, but was I too disinterested or uninterested in the question not to find an answer I could be interested in? :ymblushing:

You can make a concerted effort not to become discombobulated, but how is it you can't make a disconcerted effort to become combobulated? However disconsolate you might feel, that I didn't burst into laughter automatically, how is it we can't also feel consolated to agree that the word you nominated was uproariously funny & weird? Let alone gruntled? :D Yes, discombobulated is a weird word & do have fun with trying to find those similarly weird words I have forgotten. I would be ever so gruntled & combobulated to be reminded of them. =))

I think next time I will just find its dictionary meaning after all. ;;)
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Ryadian » Sep 14, 2019 9:44 am

Arwenel wrote:One of my favorite weird words is copacetic. It emerged in the 1920s, meaning "fine" or "okay" ... but there's no clear linguistic origin for it.


That's really fascinating! Honestly, I've only heard "copacetic" in one context (it was a show that loved to play with words, and it came from a character you wouldn't expect to have a vocabulary that expansive ;)) ), but I guess I kind of assumed it was Latin in origin or something. Especially with the "tic", that just feels like other adjectives like "mystic" or "hectic".

Cleander, I love "discombobulate"! I mean, it just sounds like a word describing utter confusion. ;)) Honestly, one of things I love about saying "discombobulated" when I'm discombobulated is that it buys me time to think of what else I want to say. Plus it's just so fun to say. :P

wagga, to add to your list, there's also "disaster". :P This one I at least know the etymology of - "aster" is roughly "star", so "disaster" is basically saying "bad star". The funny thing about "disgruntled" is that, if Google is to be believed, it basically comes from "grunt" (yes, the same grunt we still use), but in this case "dis" is supposed to intensify "grunt" instead of mean "the opposite of". Why we use "dis" to both mean "intensify" and "the opposite of" is a question for smarter people than me. :P

Okay, and I have a personal favorite weird word: "Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window." =))
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Re: Weird Words

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 14, 2019 10:47 pm

Ryadian wrote:wagga, to add to your list, there's also "disaster". :P This one I at least know the etymology of - "aster" is roughly "star", so "disaster" is basically saying "bad star".


Thank you for all of that. Now that you mention where "dis" comes from as a prefix, yes, this is also a feature of French, with "disappeared" looking quite similar to the French equivalent to this day. Legalese was mentioned somewhere, & having done jury service some time ago, being a "disinterested" person is being unbiased, rather than uninterested. C'est interessante, n'est ce-pas? :D

Ryadian wrote:The funny thing about "disgruntled" is that, if Google is to be believed, it basically comes from "grunt" (yes, the same grunt we still use), but in this case "dis" is supposed to intensify "grunt" instead of mean "the opposite of". Why we use "dis" to both mean "intensify" and "the opposite of" is a question for smarter people than me. :P


Speaking of "grunt" that has become a word often used of a car that works well. Around here they say: That is a car that has plenty of "grunt". But then there is no accounting for weird motoring terms, which include torque, marque, & can change as quickly as the price of a new car once all the added on features are included. ;)

Ryadian wrote:Okay, and I have a personal favorite weird word: "Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window." =))


There are similar words to defenestration, which include guillotined, garroted, & much else. All are euphemisms in which the method of state disposal of enemies, is being used rather than plain old execution. The Defenestration of Prague was an actual incident in the Seventeenth century Hapsburg Empire. :-? :ar!

A particular word has puzzled me for ages. I associate corroborees with our native people who staged such events frequently to meet up with other tribes, to tell stories, exchange information, dance, feast & to perform ritual ceremonies like coming of age or marriages. The participants dress up with paints, feathers, leaves & goodness knows what, to act their parts. I found this definition on Internet: It is an appropriated English word that has been reappropriated to explain a practice that is different from ceremony and more widely inclusive than theatre or opera.

I kept wondering if there was any connection between an Aboriginal corroboree & the word to corroborate, eg to claim with corroborating evidence, with corroborating witness accounts or laboratory tests, whichever is appropriate. It appears that it might not be the case.
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