craziest words

34 of the Craziest Words in English

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.

Want to do something with your love for words? How about make a serious living? Learn more about how to create content and break into the exploding industry of content marketing for a living in Julia’s new masterclass, the 6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy!

craziest words

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 desserts.”

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.

Want to do something with your love for words? How about make a serious living? Learn more about how to create content and break into the exploding industry of content marketing for a living in Julia’s new masterclass, the 6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy!

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52 replies
  1. Yasar
    Yasar says:

    OF course, your blog is full of nice info.
    I just found an article on SiteProNews written by Julia & Saw this post link in the screenshot there. And, When I searched for “craziest words in the English language”, I got this blog post at the first on Google Page.
    I don’t know how you do it?
    It’s a crazy strategy.

  2. Bill
    Bill says:

    Your definition of Gubbins leave a lot to be desired. I would say you are wrong, and wrong because you don’t understand the gubbins of the word gubbins.

    Firstly, you have to be careful in the definition of rubbish

    Secondary, understand better what gubbins actually means to them that use the word as part of their dialect, their internal dictionary.

    Gubbins is used to mean the (usually unseen) workings of a machine or device. From 1760’s Lancashire cotton mills, a loom would have gubbins.
    And today (2018) a computer would have gubbins.

    Look at a internal combustion engine, yes there are pipes, cables, tubes, blocks of meal. Gubbins. And even deeper take the cylinder head off to see the gubbins of the ‘block’.

    An molecule ghas gubbins, atoms, An atom itself has gubbins, protons, electrons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons are both composed of other gubbins, quarks and gluons.

    And before that gubbins would have, and still can mean the insides of an bio-mechanism. When butchering a pig, you’d have quite a few gubbins to deal with.

    Gubbins: In context you are seeing innards of something and are yet to understand what all the component parts do to form the whole working system.

    To say rubbish does not in the context of gubbins mean waste, junk, unwanted byproduct. It’s a phrase only, as in something that is not understood by the ‘speaker’. It is a way the speaker is stating they don’t understand the properties of an object. It’s ‘rubbish’ to them because they don’t (or never will) understand something. It’s both a protest by the speaker and admission of their own lack of knowledge, or ever having the ability to comprehend something.

    For example: A engineering student may be looking at a schematic and their nice-but-dim friend may say look at all that rubbish. A third person may say yes, a load of gubbins to sort out.
    Nobody got upset at the use of the word rubbish. It’s just accepted rubbish means gubbins. It does not mean gubbins means rubbish.

    Thirdly, the English language is more about nuance than one definition fits all. It is a simple language if accept nothing means what you think it means without first understanding it’s all about context, and often deliberately using a word out of context to make a point, and in that being of a timely nature to the discussion. You can’t learn one rule and expect that rule to be the same rule in the next iteration of the same discussion. English is a moving target, constantly evolving. Constantly contradictory except when it isn’t.

    The exception that proves the rule, may be true, false, because it is or isn’t the exception and because it’s not the only case; unless it’s not. There, go work out the gubbins of that.

    e.g. Someone may read this and by annoyed by it. Instead of writing a lot of nasty points they may simply put… “You’re a genius.” It’s called sarcasm. That’s English as used by an English person.

  3. Barry C. Brown
    Barry C. Brown says:

    There is a HUGE difference between “English” and “American English”, that I guess many Americans will not be aware of. “American English” includes corruptions of German, Dutch, Italian, French and so on, which have become included in the American lexicon but are absent from universal “English”. Similarly, there are archaic English words, terms and expressions that are still in use on one side of the Atlantic or the other but unknown to the others.

    “English” is a wonderful, living, continually evolving descriptive language like almost no other. Your previous correspondent is spot-on to include the various inflexious uses to which English can be put depending upon mood, circumstance, irony, sarcasm and so on.

    The English people should not get upset (as they often do) when Americans assert that they speak “English”. It is a compliment. Where attempts have been made to rigidly enforce the standardisation of the French language, for examle (Academie Francais), this has led to a stultifying of the language. The young especially have been instrumental in breaking this mould (English spelling of ‘mold’!) by using “text-speak”, etc., and refusing to obey some imposed rules. Good for them! They’re dragging “French” into the 21st century, a place already occupied by continually evolving “English”.

  4. Thomas Murphy
    Thomas Murphy says:

    Do Americans use adverbs at all?

    The sentence, “Next time you’re tired, try saying, “I’m pretty wabbit at the moment” and see just how many people look at you strange” reads very strangeLY to English eyes.

  5. Rose
    Rose says:

    Kitty corner means across the street, but not directly. Like if you are crossing diagonally, not corner to corner, that is kittycorner. At least up here in the upper midwest. It doesnt mean something askew. Catawumpus we dont hear though, thats a southern thing.

    • Danielle N.
      Danielle N. says:

      I’ve gone wabbit just by reading this haha! Thanks for dropping by 🙂 – Danielle, Content Specialist at Express Writers

    • Cassie B.
      Cassie B. says:

      Are you a silly person then Jayme? Inquiring minds must know! 😀 – Cassie, Content Specialist at Express Writers

  6. Adria Sorensen
    Adria Sorensen says:

    bubbles, swanky, snazzy, igloos, frolicking
    waltzing, fuzzy, cucumbers, cocoons, scribble,
    doodle, tuba, toga, baffled, jolly, boink, squat, dandy,
    gurgle, plop, waddle, blink, blab, scoop
    guzzle, cluck, squabble, pogo sticks, hula hoops, lop sided
    kangaroos, gargoyles, googles, ponchos, albino, polka dotted,
    snorkeling, kooky


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