The English language is, quite possibly, one of the strangest languages out there.
Contradicting rules, incredibly unique words, and confusing idioms are just a few reasons why.
Do you suffer from abibliophobia?
Do you bloviate and carry a bumbershoot with you while you lollygag?
Let’s find out in today’s blog that explores some of the craziest words in our living language.
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34 of the Zaniest, Craziest Words in the Dictionary (Anything Missing? Add It In the Comments!)
Shakespeare is known for creating some “crazy” words, but most of those words are now so common that we don’t notice. These words range from “hurry” to “zany” and in the 1400s they were quite strange.
Today, we are going to delve into some of the craziest words, many of which have been around about as long as some of Shakespeare’s “gibberish” and some from the early 1940s and 1950s. Some of these words are used regularly in many places around the English-speaking world, whereas other places haven’t even heard of them.
Let’s see which of these craziest words you already know and which ones are new to you:
1. Bumfuzzle. This is a simple term that refers to being confused, perplexed, or flustered or to cause confusion. You’ve probably heard your grandma or grandpa use this phrase, especially if they are from the East Coast or below the Mason-Dixon Line. This word is derived from the Old English dumfoozle.
2. Cattywampus. This is a term that you will find in the Midland and Southern United States. It is referring to something that is in disarray, that is askew, or something that isn’t directly across from something. For example, a post office might be cattywampus from the library. You might actually know this word by the terms catty-corner, kitty-corner, or catawampus.
3. Gardyloo. This is actually a Scottish term, but it sounds really nifty! The definition is a funny and gross one; this is what people living in Edinburgh shouted out their windows as a warning before dumping their slop buckets out of their windows. At least they gave a little bit of a warning to those below!
4. Taradiddle. This word references someone or something that is filled with pretentious nonsense or something that is a lie. A great example of this is that classic fisherman’s tale of how big the fish he caught was. Usually the fisherman is lying or at least exaggerating about the fish, especially if he (or she) didn’t keep the fish.
5. Snickersnee. While this word sounds like something funny or possibly cute, it is actually referring to a long, dangerous knife. It was first used in reference to cut-and-thrust fighting in the 1700s and is still occasionally used when referencing the knife, though it is becoming more and more obsolete.
6. Widdershins. This is another way to say something is moving counter-clockwise or something is moving in the wrong direction. It is a much more fun way to say counter-clockwise and is most likely something you heard one of your grandparents or great-grandparents say. Many people do still use it in many poems and newly published books.
7. Collywobbles. This refers to a weird feeling in your stomach or an overall bellyache. It is derived from the Latin phrase cholera morbus, meaning it came from the disease we all know as cholera. This is a word many people still use especially older individuals, and the background is quite dark! Many don’t realize the dark background much like many being unaware of the origins of “Ring around the Rosie.”
8. Gubbins. This is an object that has little or no value and is also referring to a gadget or device. It can also refer to odds and ends or rubbish and, oddly enough, can be used to describe a silly person. We don’t know about you, but it seems a little strange that a word describing something with little to no value also refers to someone who is silly.
9. Abibliophobia. Now this is a word that perfectly describes many people and you may be one! This refers to someone who is afraid of running out of things to read. We’re guessing that you are probably going to start using this word to describe yourself as you head out the door to the nearest Barnes and Noble or local bookshop.
10. Bumbershoot. Here is a fun word that most people know. This is referring to an umbrella and is something we have heard in many a Disney film or in many different books. It is quite fun to grab your umbrella and say in a fun voice, “I think I need my bumbershoot today!”
11. Lollygag. The origin of this word is unknown, but it first surfaced around 1868. The definition of “lollygag” is someone who is messing around or wasting time. It also refers to someone who is doing something that isn’t serious or useful. This could be a good word to use when procrastinating, “I’m just lollygagging.” Are you a lollygagger?
12. Flibbertigibbet. This is another fun word! This refers to someone who is silly and who talks incessantly. The first known usage of this word is the 15th century and used to be spelled flepergebet. This word also refers to a person who is flighty.
13. Malarkey. This refers to words that are insincere and talk that is particularly foolish. This is a word that we can thank the 1920s and 19030s for and it is still used by many people. It is a fun word to say, as well.
14. Pandiculation. This is what happens when you wake up in the morning and stretch. As you stretch, your muscles might go rigid for a short time, which can sometimes be uncomfortable. It also describes that wonderful, or terrible, combination of being extremely sleepy, stretching and yawning at the same time. Now, when this happens to you, you’ll know what to call it!
15. Sialoquent. Do you remember being the eager student in high school or college who sat on the front row? Do you remember how much the professor spit while talking? Well, this is what that action is called. This is such an eloquent word for such an uncomfortable front row sensation.
16. Wabbit. No, this isn’t referring to a wascally wabbit. It is a Scottish term for being exhausted. Next time you’re tired, try saying, “I’m pretty wabbit at the moment” and see just how many people look at you strange.
17. Snollygoster. This is something many people already call many politicians, but it happens to be a nicer sounding term. This refers to a politician who does or says things for their own personal advancement instead of following their own principles. Try saying this in your next political discussion and see people’s reaction.
18. Erinaceous. This is a strange one; it refers to something or someone who resembles a hedgehog. If someone ever says that you are looking quite erinaceous today, you know now to give them a penetrating, evil glare.
19. Bibble. You know those people in your favorite restaurant who drink and/or eat noisily? What they are doing is referred to as bibble.
20. Impignorate. How about using this word when you want to say that you’re pawning something? It is a much fancier term and quite a fun one at that. This phrase doesn’t only mean to pawn but also to mortgage something.
21. Nudiustertian. Have you ever wished that you had a word for the day before yesterday? This is that word! It might be a little bit more convoluted to say, but it sure is an interesting sounding word. This word is sure to confuse, and eventually astound, people. Now that you know this word, try teaching it to your friends!
22. Quire. You can always say “two dozen sheets of paper” or you can say “quire.” It means the same thing! Interesting, huh? There are quite a few single words for many phrases.
23. Ratoon. Don’t worry, this isn’t referring to a raccoon and rat mix breed or an ROUS (rodents of unusual size), it is, in fact, referring to that small shoot or growth that comes from the root of a plant. You will see a lot of these in the spring and summer as things are growing.
24. Yarborough. This refers to when you are playing a game of cards and the dealer deals a hand without any numbers above nine. This can really be unfortunate or great, depending on which game you are playing.
25. Xertz. You’re outside in the summer heat moving heavy furniture or other items, making you super thirsty. As soon as you’re able, you grab a tall glass of water, lemonade, or iced tea and gulp it down quickly and/or greedily, helping to quench your thirst and cool yourself down. When you do this, it is called xertz. This also refers to eating food quickly and/or greedily.
26. Zoanthropy. This is an interesting term! It refers to a person who has delusions that they are a form of animal or that they have changed into an animal.
27. Pauciloquent. If you are a person of few words, then this is the term for you. It refers to someone who doesn’t say much or who, when giving a speech, gives a very short one. This is a great way for you to tell people you are a person of few words, without having to say that whole long statement. Give this a try next time and see what happens.
28. Bloviate. This is the opposite of pauciloquent and refers to people who talk for a long period of time or who inflate their story to make themselves sound better. This also refers to someone whose words are empty and have no meaning.
29. Borborygm. You know that rumbling you sometimes get in your stomach? Well, this is one term for that sensation! It might be a little bit more difficult to say than saying, “I’m hungry,” though.
30. Brouhaha. This is a word we are sure many people have heard and it is still used a lot today. This refers to an uproar or big event. We guess you could say the latest sports team to win at something sure did cause a brouhaha!
31. Absquatulate. This refers to yourself or someone else leaving suddenly. It can also mean that someone has absconded with something, as well. It is more a form of slang, but it isn’t something you hear every day!
32. Comeuppance. This is definitely a word you probably heard your grandparents use at some point and it is used in many films set in the 1920s to the 1950s or 60s. This is a fun word and it should be used more than it is. It means that someone will get what they deserve or will “get their just deserts.”
33. Donnybrook. This is a fun little word for an uprising, a melee, or a riot. It can also refer to an argument. If you search Google for this particular term, you will not only find the definition but also learn that it is a place called Donnybrook, which is part of Dublin, Ireland. Very interesting!
34. Nincompoop. This is another word that we are sure you have heard at some point and you probably know the definition. This refers to someone who is silly, foolish, or just downright stupid. It was used regularly in the 1950s and 60s but is still quite a fun word to say!
In the End…
Isn’t the English language unique and interesting?
Many of these words are still in use but are used in different parts all across America. We have different terms and phrases for different things and it is pretty awesome to learn more about our language. It is also fun to learn how much it differs between Missouri and New York or California and Texas.