A few weeks ago I wrote an article on the hardest English words in terms of pronunciation. I am very enthusiastic about English and I love the language very much. After all, it is my field of study and I would never devote so much of my time to something I do not like. Sometimes though, we do tease our beloved about their peculiarities. (And don’t tell me you don’t, I know you do!)
Also, working on a dictionary, no matter how interesting it is, gets sometimes a little weird, especially when you have to translate strange things you never knew that existed. Anyway, I have decided to share with you some of the words I came across and involuntarily learned in the past few months. I can’t wait to use these words in a conversation to see the reactions of other people, preferably native speakers!
Serendipitously: “by a happy accident“. In my understanding of the world, accidents are never happy. And I’m sure the word luckily is sad that to be replaced by a younger (I think) and more stylish word.
Erinaceous: “hedgehog-like” or “Oppan hedgehog style“. No, I don’t think so.
Fartlek: “a form of running (road or cross country)“. I’d say that everything that includes “fart” is highly suspicious. Maybe it was not fair to include this word in the list as it comes from a foreign language, Swedish. Sorry, fartlek!
Cruciverbalist: “a person who makes up crosswords“. Yes, I know, instead of six words we can only say one so we save our time and breath. But honestly, how many times do we need to use this word? There should be a name for people who make up Sudoku as well.
Aglets: “the metal or plastic end of a shoelace“. Does the middle part of the shoelace have a name, too? I want to know it!
Floccinaucinihilipilification: “The act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless.” (cited from Wikipedia). Trying to read the word floccinaucinihilipilification is indeed an act of floccinaucinihilipilification. I don’t have anything against new words in any language but I suspect that this one was created as a response to the question: “What is the longest English word you know?” By the way, the spellchecker on my computer suggested the word “oversimplification”. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the word floccinaucinihilipilification is not an oversimplification.
Philtrum: “the line or wrinkle between nose and upper lip“. Do medical students have to learn this word along with all the bones and muscles?
Tintinnabulation: “sound of the bell“. Thank you, Edgar Allan Poe, for giving us a great new word to learn and to love and cherish. As if an interjection wasn’t enough!
Allen key: “the Z-shaped Ikea tool”. Did you know that this word has a name, too? It’s probably better known as “the devil tool“.
Nutation: “a type of rocking or swaying motion“. The whole explanation includes axes and words such as “gyroscope”, “planet” and “spacecraft dynamics”. Certainly a word Sheldon Cooper would use. And no matter how much I like The Big Bang Theory, I always switch my brain off when Sheldon gives one of his speeches.
And what are your “favorite” English words? Share them with me, I am eager to learn more!
P.S.: Please do not take this article too seriously. I love English, I really enjoy reading Edgar Allan Poe and I always listen carefully when Sheldon speaks.