Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weird Words

An interesting collection of weird words, showing both the massive volume (over 600,000 words have been recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary) and the peculiarities of the English language.

Ever wondered what Antejentacular meant? (Before breakfast--adj.) How about Phlogiston? (An "invisible fluid first proposed in 1667 to be possessed by all flammable substances and released when they burn. Antoine Lavoisier debunked the theory in 1777"--noun) Or Ucalegon? (A neighbor whose house is on fire--noun) Have you ever heard of these words before? Or do you have any notion of how to even pronounce them?

While some might see unused and forgotten words as empty or meaningless, I think they are a testament to the intricacies and insanities of the English language. Our past has a rich linguistics history that remains a part of our culture and literature even when individual words fall out of use. I have no doubt our future will continue this practice of vocabulary invention. Today to keep up with new and changing aspects of language the OED is updated every three months; the last update, in December 2011, included more than 1200 newly revised and updated entries.

Get your weekly weird word fix at This week's word is Naufragous, an adjective meaning shipwreck-causing. It would be fun to see if you could find an opportunity to use these weird words each week somewhere in your daily life.

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