25 Weird English Words to Expand Your Vocabulary Image

Tired of the same dull, ordinary lingo clogging up your texts, emails, and everyday conversations?

There’s more variety than you might have realized in the English language, including some words you won’t believe are real. But they are! Whether you want to expand your vocabulary or just need a good laugh, these words should do the trick.

25 Words Nobody Knows (But Now You Will)

If you’re looking to spice up your vocabulary, try out some of these 25 uncommon English words.

Some are long, some are funny, and some are just downright unbelievable. But they’re all real words, and here you can find everything you need to know before using them, including their definitions, origins, and examples.

You can also try out these 12 vocabulary builder apps to keep your mind sharp and your wit on point.

1. Poppycock

If someone tries to tell you this isn’t a real word, tell them to stop talking such poppycock.

Definition

noun. Empty talk or nonsense.

Origin: From the Dutch pappekak, meaning “soft dung.”

Synonyms:

  • Foolishness
  • Nonsense
  • Rubbish
  • Baloney

Poppycock in a sentence: Your assumptions are based on pure poppycock.

2. Flummox

flummoxed image

Next time your teacher asks why you couldn’t finish your homework, tell him you were too flummoxed by the lesson.

Definition

verb. To confuse or perplex someone.

Origin: English, mid-19th century.

Synonyms:

  • Confuse
  • Baffle
  • Mystify
  • Bewilder

Flummox in a sentence: She was flummoxed by the lengthy calculus problem.

3. Cattywampus

Equally amusing alternatives include kittywampus and catawampus.

cattywampus image

Definition

adjective. Not lined up correctly; in disarray.

Origin: Unknown. First known use was in the United States in the mid-19th century.

Synonyms:

  • Askew
  • Bent
  • Off-center

Cattywampus in a sentence: The books on my shelf are all cattywampus; I need to reorganize them.

4. Lollygag

No, it’s not when you choke on a lollipop.

Definition

verb. To mess or joke around.

Origin: Unknown. First recorded use was in 1868.

Synonyms:

  • Play
  • Loaf
  • Mess around
  • Dillydally

Lollygag in a sentence: Stop lollygagging around—we have work to do!

5. Brouhaha

Not an alternative to “lol.”

Definition

noun. A loud, uproarious reaction.

Origin: French; believed to be onomatopoeic.

Synonyms:

  • Uproar
  • Hubbub
  • Clamor
  • Ruckus

Brouhaha in a sentence: His controversial speech caused quite a lot of brouhaha.

6. Kerfuffle

Like brouhaha, but it sounds cuter.

Definition

noun. A disturbance or commotion, usually in response to controversy or conflict.

Origin: From the Scottish English fuffle, meaning to dishevel. (16th century).

Synonyms:

  • Commotion
  • Disturbance
  • Pandemonium
  • Clatter

Kerfuffle in a sentence: Start discussing American politics, and you’ll probably start some kerfuffle.

7. Curmudgeon

I definitely feel like a curmudgeon before my first cup of coffee.

curmudgeon image

Definition

noun. A bad-tempered, cranky person, usually an old man.

Origin: Unknown; first known use was in 1568.

Synonyms:

  • Grouch
  • Grump
  • Scrooge

Curmudgeon in a sentence: I didn’t want to go next door to retrieve the ball because our neighbor is a curmudgeon.

8. Ragamuffin

You may be disappointed to learn that this has nothing to do with muffins.

Definition

noun. A ragged person; can refer to their reputation, or way of dressing.

Origin: Middle English, first known use in 1581.

Synonyms:

  • Tramp
  • Vagrant
  • Vagabond
  • Waif

Ragamuffin in a sentence: I need to go shopping for new clothes; I’m starting to look like a ragamuffin.

9. Kakorrhaphiophobia

I’m not even going to try to pronounce this one. (Maybe I have Kakorrhaphiophobia.)

Kakorrhaphiophobia image

Definition

noun. Irrational fear of failure.

Origin: Greek

Synonyms:

  • Atychiphobia (also fear of failing)

Kakorrhaphiophobia in a sentence: His kakorrhaphiophobia stops him from trying new things.

10. Valetudinarian

Consider them the valedictorians of hypochondriacs.

Definition

noun. A person who is unreasonably anxious about their health.

Origin: From the Latin “valetudo,” which refers to one’s state of health.

Synonyms:

  • Hypochondriac
  • Neurotic

Valetudinarian in a sentence: I can’t stop googling my symptoms because I’m a valetudinarian.

11. Borborygmus

What happens in the middle of every exam.

Definition

noun. The rumbling noise produced by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines.

Origin: New Latin, from the Greek borborygmos; 1st known English use was in 1724.

Synonyms:

  • Rumble
  • Gurgle

Borborygmus in a sentence: The room was silent except for the sound of borborygmus from an unknown source.

12. Floccinaucinihilipilification

A very inefficient way of saying that something—like this word, for example—is worthless.

Definition

noun. The evaluation of something as useless. The longest non-technical word in the English language.

Origin: From the Latin words floccus (“a wisp”), naucum (“a trifle”), nihilum (“nothing”), and pilus (“a hair.”)

Synonyms:

  • Depreciate
  • Undervalue

Floccinaucinihilipilification in a sentence: Even after studying more about it, I don’t regret my floccinaucinihilipilification of this word.

13. Tittynope

I’ll let this one speak for itself.

tittynope image

Definition

noun. A small amount left over (usually food).

Origin: English, 1700s. From the word “tittle,” meaning “tiny.”

Synonyms:

  • Leftovers
  • Scraps

Tittynope in a sentence: So many people showed up for Thanksgiving dinner that when they left, there were just a few tittynopes remaining.

14. Widdershins

This will make giving directions much more interesting.

Definition

adverb. Counterclockwise; opposite of the sun’s course.

Origin: From the Old High German “widar,” meaning “against.” First used in English in 1545.

Synonyms:

  • Counterclockwise

Widdershins in a sentence: It was once considered bad luck to walk around a church widdershins.

15. Tergiversate

The favorite verb of certain politicians.

Definition

verb. To make conflicting statements or abandon a principle.

Origin: From the Latin tergiversatus, meaning “to show reluctance.”

Synonyms:

  • Equivocate
  • Weasel
  • Renounce
  • Apostacize

Tergiversate in a sentence: He shamelessly tergiversates, changing his position every time he is approached by a reporter.

16. Snickersnee

A lot scarier than it sounds.

snickersnee image

Definition

noun. A large knife.

Origin: From the Dutch words snijden and steken and, meaning “cut” and “thrust.” First known use recorded in 1775.

Synonyms:

  • Knife

Snickersnee in a sentence: If things get ugly, at least he’s got his snickersnee.

17. Bibble

SO. ANNOYING.

Definition

verb. To eat or drink noisily.

Origin: From the Middle English bibben, possibly from the Latin bibō (“I drink.”)

Synonyms:

  • Slurp
  • Munch

Bibble in a sentence: Her greatest pet peeve was the sound of others bibbling at the table.

18. Acnestis

The reason that back-scratchers were invented.

acnestis image

Definition

noun. The area of an animal’s skin that it cannot scratch on its own.

Origin: From the Ancient Greek knetsis, meaning “spine.”

Acnestis in a sentence: My dog rolls around on the floor when her acnestis itches.

19. Amatorculist

A new word to throw at your ex.

Definition

noun. An insignificant lover.

Origin: From the Latin amatorculus, or “pitiful lover.”

Synonyms:

  • Lousy lover

Amatorculist in a sentence: All of her former partners were amatorculists.

20. Winklepickers

Add these to your #ootd for a total #vintage look.

winklepickers image

Definition

noun. A style of shoe popular in the 1950s and 60s among British rock fans.

Origin: England, named for periwinkle or “winkle” snails, which are extracted using a sharp pin that resembles the shoe’s pointed toes.

Synonyms:

  • Pointed shoes

Winklepickers in a sentence: My dad had a collection of Winklepickers inspired by his favorite band, The Beatles.

21. Erinaceous

The word you never knew you needed.

erinaceous image

Definition

adjective. Resembling or relating to a hedgehog.

Origin: From the Latin erinaceus, meaning “hedgehog.”

Erinaceous in a sentence: Whenever I try to wake up early and look nice for work, I still end up looking erinaceous.

22. Chivy

Asking your significant other to stop chivying you might sound nicer, but you’ll have to explain what it means if you want it to be effective.

Definition

verb. To annoy or tease with petty attacks; to nag.

Origin: Possibly from the 15th-century English ballad Chevy Chase, which describes the 1388 battle of Otterburn.

Synonyms:

  • Badger
  • Bait
  • Heckle
  • Hound

Chivy in a sentence: She chivies her husband about finishing the household chores.

23. Mellifluous

Unlike many other words on this list, this one might actually impress your date.

Definition

adjective. Having a smooth flow; pleasing to the ear.

Origin: From the Latin mel, meaning “honey” and fluere, meaning “to flow.” First known use in English occurred in the 15th century.

Synonyms:

  • Euphonious
  • Lyrical
  • Melodious

Mellifluous in a sentence: Her mellifluous voice was like music to his ears.

24. Syzygy

This might also impress your date, if she doesn’t assume you’re having a stroke.

Definition

noun. The near-perfect alignment of 3 celestial bodies (like the sun, moon, and earth during an eclipse).

Origin: From the Late Latin syzygia.

Synonyms:

  • Euphonious
  • Lyrical
  • Melodious

Syzygy in a sentence: Syzygy of the moon, Earth, and sun occurs when there are new and full moons.

25. Octothorpe

The hashtag’s less basic sister.

octothorpe image

Definition

noun. The symbol #, also referred to as the hash or pound symbol.

Origin: “Octo” refers to the 8 points found on the symbol; the origin of “thorpe” is still unknown. The term is said to have started between telephone workers in the 1960s.

Synonyms:

  • Hashtag
  • Hash
  • Pound

Octothorpe in a sentence: Unfortunately, “octothorpe” just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like “hashtag.”

Weird Words in English

Add some variety to your vocabulary with these 25 fun English words. Or, you can simply marvel at how diverse the English language is.

If you want to study up on some foreign words, check out our tips on how to learn a new language.

Do you have a favorite English word? Share it with us in the comments below!

 

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Kaelyn Barron

As a blog writer for TCK Publishing, Kaelyn loves crafting fun and helpful content for writers, readers, and creative minds alike. She has a degree in International Affairs with a minor in Italian Studies, but her true passion has always been writing. Working from home allows her to do even more of the things she loves, like traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.