A baker’s dozen terms you (probably) never knew existed

Wait a minute, there’s a word for that?

Several of my previous posts have been dedicated to the power of words. I’ve written about words that describe words, confusing word pairs, and words that make writers swoon. Let’s dive down even further by looking at examples that will make you say, “There’s a word for that?” Hypergraphia: a compulsion to write, sometimes uncontrollably.

She was disappointed that her hypergraphia did not yield anything worthy of being published.

Mysophobia: an abnormal fear of dirt.

Don’t let a little mysophobia keep you from enjoying the camping trip.

Lissotrichous: having straight or smooth hair.

Looking in the mirror at the frizzy mass upon her head, she wished to be lissotrichous.

Schadenfreude: pleasure derived from the misfortunes of another person.

Was it Schadenfreude I felt when I heard about his car problems?

Avuncular: having to do with an uncle; characteristic of an uncle.

His avuncular tone undercut the value of his valuable advice.

Penultimate: next to last.

She reached the penultimate check in her checkbook and panicked when she realized she hadn’t ordered more.

Esprit d’escalier: a French term that means a witty remark thought of too late. The literal meaning is “wit of the staircase.”

My esprit d’esalier came to me the next morning.

Plurale tantum: a noun that appears only in a plural form and does not have a singular form.

Many languages have plurale tantum, such as the terms trousers, feces, and entrails in English.

Aglet: the plastic or metal tube on the end of a shoelace.

Those laces have lost their aglets; throw them in the trash.

Defenestrate: to throw out the window.

I am ready to defenestrate this worthless manuscript.

Callipygian: having well-shaped buttocks

The gym is full of people on a callipygian quest.

Nullibiety: the state of being nowhere.

After 12 years, Jack had reached nullibiety on his career path.

Sesquipedalian: containing or measuring a foot and a half; a long word or a tendency to use long words.

Let your writing be free of sesquipedalian words.

Readers, any other words to add to the list? Laura Hale Brockway is the author of the writing and editing blog Impertinent Remarks.

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