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.
If someone tries to tell you this isn’t a real word, tell them to stop talking such poppycock.
noun. Empty talk or nonsense.
Origin: From the Dutch pappekak, meaning “soft dung.”
Poppycock in a sentence: Your assumptions are based on pure poppycock.
Next time your teacher asks why you couldn’t finish your homework, tell him you were too flummoxed by the lesson.
verb. To confuse or perplex someone.
Origin: English, mid-19th century.
Flummox in a sentence: She was flummoxed by the lengthy calculus problem.
Equally amusing alternatives include kittywampus and catawampus.
adjective. Not lined up correctly; in disarray.
Origin: Unknown. First known use was in the United States in the mid-19th century.
Cattywampus in a sentence: The books on my shelf are all cattywampus; I need to reorganize them.
No, it’s not when you choke on a lollipop.
verb. To mess or joke around.
Origin: Unknown. First recorded use was in 1868.
- Mess around
Lollygag in a sentence: Stop lollygagging around—we have work to do!
Not an alternative to “lol.”
noun. A loud, uproarious reaction.
Origin: French; believed to be onomatopoeic.
Brouhaha in a sentence: His controversial speech caused quite a lot of brouhaha.
Like brouhaha, but it sounds cuter.
noun. A disturbance or commotion, usually in response to controversy or conflict.
Origin: From the Scottish English fuffle, meaning to dishevel. (16th century).
Kerfuffle in a sentence: Start discussing American politics, and you’ll probably start some kerfuffle.
I definitely feel like a curmudgeon before my first cup of coffee.
noun. A bad-tempered, cranky person, usually an old man.
Origin: Unknown; first known use was in 1568.
Curmudgeon in a sentence: I didn’t want to go next door to retrieve the ball because our neighbor is a curmudgeon.
You may be disappointed to learn that this has nothing to do with muffins.
noun. A ragged person; can refer to their reputation, or way of dressing.
Origin: Middle English, first known use in 1581.
Ragamuffin in a sentence: I need to go shopping for new clothes; I’m starting to look like a ragamuffin.
I’m not even going to try to pronounce this one. (Maybe I have Kakorrhaphiophobia.)
noun. Irrational fear of failure.
- Atychiphobia (also fear of failing)
Kakorrhaphiophobia in a sentence: His kakorrhaphiophobia stops him from trying new things.
Consider them the valedictorians of hypochondriacs.
noun. A person who is unreasonably anxious about their health.
Origin: From the Latin “valetudo,” which refers to one’s state of health.
Valetudinarian in a sentence: I can’t stop googling my symptoms because I’m a valetudinarian.
What happens in the middle of every exam.
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.
Borborygmus in a sentence: The room was silent except for the sound of borborygmus from an unknown source.
A very inefficient way of saying that something—like this word, for example—is worthless.
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.”)
Floccinaucinihilipilification in a sentence: Even after studying more about it, I don’t regret my floccinaucinihilipilification of this word.
I’ll let this one speak for itself.
noun. A small amount left over (usually food).
Origin: English, 1700s. From the word “tittle,” meaning “tiny.”
Tittynope in a sentence: So many people showed up for Thanksgiving dinner that when they left, there were just a few tittynopes remaining.
This will make giving directions much more interesting.
adverb. Counterclockwise; opposite of the sun’s course.
Origin: From the Old High German “widar,” meaning “against.” First used in English in 1545.
Widdershins in a sentence: It was once considered bad luck to walk around a church widdershins.
The favorite verb of certain politicians.
verb. To make conflicting statements or abandon a principle.
Origin: From the Latin tergiversatus, meaning “to show reluctance.”
Tergiversate in a sentence: He shamelessly tergiversates, changing his position every time he is approached by a reporter.
A lot scarier than it sounds.
noun. A large knife.
Origin: From the Dutch words snijden and steken and, meaning “cut” and “thrust.” First known use recorded in 1775.
Snickersnee in a sentence: If things get ugly, at least he’s got his snickersnee.
verb. To eat or drink noisily.
Origin: From the Middle English bibben, possibly from the Latin bibō (“I drink.”)
Bibble in a sentence: Her greatest pet peeve was the sound of others bibbling at the table.
The reason that back-scratchers were invented.
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.
A new word to throw at your ex.
noun. An insignificant lover.
Origin: From the Latin amatorculus, or “pitiful lover.”
- Lousy lover
Amatorculist in a sentence: All of her former partners were amatorculists.
Add these to your #ootd for a total #vintage look.
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.
- Pointed shoes
Winklepickers in a sentence: My dad had a collection of Winklepickers inspired by his favorite band, The Beatles.
The word you never knew you needed.
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.
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.
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.
Chivy in a sentence: She chivies her husband about finishing the household chores.
Unlike many other words on this list, this one might actually impress your date.
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.
Mellifluous in a sentence: Her mellifluous voice was like music to his ears.
This might also impress your date, if she doesn’t assume you’re having a stroke.
noun. The near-perfect alignment of 3 celestial bodies (like the sun, moon, and earth during an eclipse).
Origin: From the Late Latin syzygia.
Syzygy in a sentence: Syzygy of the moon, Earth, and sun occurs when there are new and full moons.
The hashtag’s less basic sister.
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.
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!