I run into the strangest words sometimes…


They say that there is a tree of knowledge. But how did the tree learn the knowledge? Hmmm….and back to Wikipedia I go. Image courtesy of bullboy, Morguefile

Earlier today, I read an interesting and funny post by fellow blogger Marilyn Armstrong. In her post, “Googling Me,” Marilyn wrote about Googling her own name and what she found when she did. Her other selves have received doctorates, died several times, had kids and grandkids, and become an Aboriginal artist.

So I told her about a book written by British comedian Dave Gorman, who not only found others with his name, but actually set out to meet as many of him as possible. His journey took him several months and involved several different countries.

As I did research on Wikipedia to find out the name of the book (it’s called “Are You Dave Gorman?”), I turned up the interesting information that Dave Gorman is a pescatarian. My mind ran amok with what this word means. Does it hurt? Is it 50-Shades-of-Gray kinky? Is it some strange, mind-blowing medical condition? Do I need to don protective gear?

Nope, nope, nope and nope. I clicked on the Wikipedia link. It just means that he eats fish and not other types of meat. (Dave should come to the Delmarva area. We’ve got some seafood restaurants that would knock his Nikes off.)

It’s not often that I run into words that I am completely clueless about, but it happens sometimes. Often, you can tell what a word means by the other words around it, but “pescatarian” got me good.

Long-time readers of my blog are aware that I have an ongoing joke about the obscure word “defenestration”. It’s one of those words you almost never hear, but it’s amusing to use the word at a party and listen to other people try to guess the meaning. (If you’re a newbie and don’t know about this joke, it’s okay. And thanks for following — I have noticed you! ;-))

So tonight, I thought I’d dig up some more obscure words for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

1) aglet – the tiny plastic sleeve or tag at the end of a shoelace

2) longueur – a dull section of a book

3) lepidopterophobia – a phobia of butterflies and moths

4) emmet – another name for an ant

5) hilding – a bad person

6) zibeline – a type of fabric made from camel, alpaca or goat hair

7) splanchic – visceral

8) wittol – a witless person

9) taurine – bovine

Isn’t English marvelous? (Okay, okay. I raided the dictionary for a couple of words. Honestly! The things I do to entertain you, people!)

And now after all of that heavy thinking, I need sustenance. I’m off to Russell Deasley’s blog to snack on his pictures of healthy couscous recipes. Have a good weekend.


Filed under Writing

28 responses to “I run into the strangest words sometimes…

  1. Defenestration is my favorite anti-political word. In college I wanted to start a movement for the defenestration of politicians. I theorized after groups of irate citizens tossed a few bad pols out some windows, others might take notice and shape up.

    I took French in school. The similarity of “fenetre” and “fenestrate” tipped me to the word’s meaning. Probably all romance languages are similar — Latin roots and all that.

    If defenstration gets them out the window, does fenestration put them back in?

    Thanks for the lovely plug 🙂

  2. Impybat

    I’ve Googled my (real) name, and one of my other selves is a doctor. Incidentally, there’s also an Impybat imposter on Blogger. And great word list! Years ago, I had a vocabulary builder page-a-day calendar. One of my favorites that I remember was “exacerbate”, which means “to aggravate”.

  3. Servetus

    I lecture every semester about the main event associated with the word defenestration and I always tell my students that it’s a good topic for a cocktail party! 🙂

  4. I don’t think there are many Debra Kolkkas about, it would be fun to track them down and meet them. I had not heard of any of those words, but I am now happy to know their meanings.

  5. Is it weird that I knew what almost all of the words meant? I had not heard of Zibeline.

  6. The word pescatarian must be more well known in the UK I think because it certainly isn’t a mystery word to me, and I’m no super-wordsmith, plus I see that WordPress, which uses American spelling (I wonder if I can change my settings for that), has underlined it in red on my comment here, so obviously doesn’t like it! The Italian word for fish is pesce, and I believe it all stems originally from the latin word for fish which is pisces (although possibly spelled differently).

  7. travelrat

    The lovely Martha Barnette pointed me at ‘snollygoster’ (a politician who seeks office for its own sake), which describes many of our pollies (esp. those in local government) to a T.

    Defenestration, incidentally, was used by Leslie Charteris in one of the ‘Saint’ books in the way-back-when.

  8. Our ninth and tenth graders learn Greek and Latin roots for their vocabulary. We get some doozies: hippodrome is a fave (I always imagine hippos running around the astrodome).

  9. Lesley

    I’m glad I stopped by – I’ve learned so many lovely new words. 🙂

  10. Of all the words you shared here the one I figured out (without help) was pescatarian. Only because the Spanish word for fish is “pescado”. (Remembering this from the days of studying Spanish! Amazing what we do and do not remember.)

  11. Patricia Mock

    If you had taken Italian or Spanish in High School instead of German, you probably would have guessed what Pescatarian was even if you had never run across the word before!

  12. I’m a word collector, too. You’ve got some great ones! 🙂

  13. I always thought taurine was a word that World of Warcraft made up. Guess it makes sense since it is their cow people. Spell check even thinks it’s not a word!

  14. That tree got its’ root into the core knowledge?
    Great post. Love to romp with words. Just tickled.


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