Have you ever worn “winkle-pickers” or “salopettes”? Is the saying about French women and their “oxters” true? Has someone called you a “ninnyhammer” before? Do you know someone who is experiencing “zoanthropy” and is convinced he is an elephant?
If you’re confused as to how to answer any—or all—of these questions, never fear! I’ve created this confusion, and I’m here to clear it up with this alphabetical list of 26 weird English words and their meanings.
Do you have a favorite weird word in English or any other language? Drop the word and definition in the comments section below.
Admiration of a particular part of someone’s body
Boondoggle (n. and v.)
n.—Work of little or no value
v.—To deceive or attempt to deceive
Trade or transport in coastal waters, airspace or between two points within a country
What it’s not: To sabotage with cabbage and/or Vermont Cabot Cheese
Of, pertaining to, or resembling a hedgehog
Although she won’t know what it means, never tell your date, Erin, that she is “looking quite erinaceous this evening.”
An edict or administrative order issued by, or in the name of, a Middle Eastern sovereign
A tax or excise; a French tax on salt abolished in 1790
A platform of a staircase where the stair turns back in exactly the reverse direction of the lower flight
To pawn or pledge something
What it’s not: To impregnate a pig
A stupid fellow, a blockhead
Abnormal fear of failure
This is the last word that someone with kakorrhaphiophobia would want to encounter in a spelling bee.
Loudness and clarity of voice
Having a good sense of smell
A fool or simpleton; ninny
What it’s not: A creature that is half ox, half otter.
Uttering few words; brief in speech
If you had to figure out how to use this word in context, you probably wouldn’t say much either.
A set of 24 or 25 uniform sheets of paper; four sheets of paper folded once to form a section of 16 pages.
Ratoon (n. and v.)
n.—A small shoot growing from the root of a plant.
v.—To put forth or cause to put forth ratoons.
What it’s not: The offspring of interbreeding rats and raccoons
Quilted skiing pants that reach up to the chest and are held up by shoulder straps
A boned turkey stuffed with a boned duck that is stuffed with a small boned chicken, sometimes also containing a breadcrumb or sausage stuffing.
This word was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, as mentioned here.
Belonging to a group of people having wooly, crispy or curly hair.
First time you’ve heard this word? It’s probably a good indication that you don’t have wooly or crispy hair. Or that you do, and nobody uses this word anymore.
An invalid, or someone who is excessively concerned about his poor health and ailments.
Think “the valedictorian of hypochondriacs.”
A style of shoe or boot with a pointed, narrow toe, popular in the mid-20th century
To gulp a beverage enthusiastically, heartily and quickly
A hand of cards containing no card above a nine
A mental disorder in which one believes oneself to be an animal