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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Re: Weird Words

Postby Grandmama » Sep 16, 2019 7:50 pm

I feel so educated after reading the posts here! And quite amused as well. :D

Here's my weird word for the day: tintinnabulation, which means "the ringing of bells". I learned this word from a book we have entitled "Words You Should Know". While I think it's quite a fun word, I have to say that I've only once or twice actually found a way to use it in a conversation, so I'm not sure it's really a word that I really need to know. :)
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Re: Weird Words

Postby stargazer » Sep 16, 2019 8:39 pm

A related word is tinnitis, a ringing in the ears.

That reminds me of another word I've always found amusing to look at: onomatopoeia - a fancy word to describe words that sound like what they describe (like bark or baa).

Sciences and other specialized fields have their own jargon, and many of those words are probably weird to "outsiders." But I wanted to leave an example of astronomical jargon here just because I think it's such an odd word:
syzygy - meaning three astronomical objects nearly in a straight line, like the earth, sun, and moon during eclipses.

(Imagine how much that word would be worth in Scrabble if the game provided enough letter tiles for it ;)) )
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Grandmama » Sep 25, 2019 5:01 pm

At supper tonight, my son mentioned that he thought "ampersand" was a weird word. I rather like it myself. He also mentioned that there is a name for #, besides "pound sign" or "hashtag". It is also called "Octothorpe", which I think qualifies as a weird word!
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Re: Weird Words

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 25, 2019 7:46 pm

One rather quirky addition to a library where I worked for two decades, was a book called Quirky Qwerty: the story of the keyboard @ your fingertips. {Rats, I probably can't use it in the authors game :ymsigh:} It not only dealt with keyboards & how we got them, but also some of the symbols and accents used with various letters. Umlauts, for example, are the two dots over various letters & names. There is something similar called a dieresis which according to online Merriam Webster is a way of indicating two adjacent vowel sounds which have to be pronounced separately as in the word naïve. Or as in Thaïs (the name of an Ancient Greek courtesan) or Emily Brontë

In French a grave is the name for an accent sloping down from the left, an acute is one rising up from the left, whilst a cedilla is a symbol attached to a letter, usually a letter C at the bottom and a circumflex is the little hat-like symbol at the top of a vowel sound such as in this sentence. The circumflex over the letter ô in the French words for hospital or hotel denote the letter s has been left out of the original French words.

Mon Père et ma Mère boivent des tasses du thé à l’hôpital avec un garçon qui est là pour voire quelqu’un d'autre. (My father & mother are drinking cups of tea at the hospital with a boy who is there to see someone else.)

I wish there was an easier way of doing some of the accented letters, not only the umlauts, I might use, without having to cut & paste all the time, having only a standard English language keyboard. I could do with an English pound symbol as well. :( Does anyone else have the same problem with some words, especially names?

stargazer wrote:syzygy - meaning three astronomical objects nearly in a straight line
The Aborigines might call three astronomical objects in a line the Three ladies dancing, & would make a corroboree out of it. :)
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Re: Weird Words

Postby Wunderkind_Lucy » Sep 29, 2019 1:59 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:In French a grave is the name for an accent sloping down from the left, an acute is one rising up from the left, whilst a cedilla is a symbol attached to a letter, usually a letter C at the bottom and a circumflex is the little hat-like symbol at the top of a vowel sound such as in this sentence. The circumflex over the letter ô in the French words for hospital or hotel denote the letter s has been left out of the original French words.

I remember having a hard time remembering which accent names when I was learning French. The ones I remember most are grave and acute, but I always go them confused. The umlaut and the cedilla were definitely easier to remember. I didn't realize that the circumflex over the letter o denotes the missing S. That's a fun little fact! :)

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I wish there was an easier way of doing some of the accented letters, not only the umlauts, I might use, without having to cut & paste all the time, having only a standard English language keyboard. I could do with an English pound symbol as well. Does anyone else have the same problem with some words, especially names?


I agree with you, wagga. I wish there was an easier way to do accents on the English keyboard. I know that a lot of people spell words like fiancée (yes, I copy-pasted from your post, wagga ;))) without the accent, but I prefer to include them even if it makes more work for me. I'm glad it's easier to use accents on a smartphone or tablet. I'm just glad that I can have the Korean language keyboard without having to change the entire language of my computer!

As for words that I think are weird, one that always amused me was the scientific name for the chicken pox virus, varicella. I remember discovering the term in the dictionary when I was in fourth grade. I was curious about the etymology, so when I googled varicella, I found out that it was a variant of the modern Latin, irregular diminutive of variola which is the technical term for smallpox. Apparently, before the 19th century, chicken pox was not differentiated from smallpox, at least according to Wikipedia!

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Re: Weird Words

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Sep 29, 2019 3:48 pm

@ Wunder: It isn't just diseases that can have weird names. The weirdest medical term I've ever seen, was Otorhinolarygologist, the original name for an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist. Thankfully it has been sneezed down since then to Otolarygologist. Though somebody specialising in just ears & noses, leaving the throats to someone else, might be fairly called an Otorhinchologist. You might find others in the medical field. Of course, like many medical terms, the word is derived from the Greek words for Ear, Nose & Throat, just for the information of pet rhinos & Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, not to mention rabbits & other creatures, including humans. :D

Yes the various diseases called poxes do have a long history, one, called the Great Pox, (syphilis, I think? or was it something else?) having been brought into Europe by returning sailors & others from the New World after 1492. If you read historical fiction, or if you are Cleander on Speak like a Pirate Day you might say "A pox on those landlubbers who don't know a spar from a spear" :ar! :ar! . Smallpox was brought into Europe in the 7th Century AD, by Islamic invaders who were immune themselves, because they were camel herders, who had already suffered from camel pox. Edward Jenner noticed that Smallpox rarely affected dairy maids who had already suffered from cow pox, which is how he discovered immunisation, now called vaccination. That word comes from the French word for Cows by the way. La Vache qui rire (the cow that laughs) was a brand of cheese sold here. Do chickens get chicken pox, by the way?

Grandmama wrote:Here's my weird word for the day: tintinnabulation, which means "the ringing of bells"


Have you ever seen anyone play music, using handbells, either alone or in concert with others? It is quite fascinating & enjoyable to listen to music played this way. We used to have church bells playing music as well as pealing in joy for weddings, & tolling for funerals but not so often these days, or only briefly. A church in London donated its church bells to the City of Perth in 1988, as a Carillon & there is also one in Lake Burley Griffin opposite Parliament House in Canberra. You'd hear much tintinnabulation there. :-$

Otitis is earache by the way, whilst tinnitis is that maddening ringing in one's ears. Years ago I volunteered to work in a medical library where just about all the items there were about medicinal matters, so it was necessary to get a grip on medical terminology to keep them sorted. Latin is also a big contributor to professions like law & medicine. Anything with -ology or - ologist at the end of it refers to study or student in Greek.
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