I have always enjoyed learning new words. Some of this is due to the fact that from as early as I could remember, my mother would advise me to “look it up”. I’d grab the family dictionary. This great tome of reference was handy for increasing vocabulary and killing cockroaches. I think my parents figured I would either acquire a large vocabulary and become a great orator or develop huge biceps and play running back for the University of Georgia. Let’s just say no one’s ever confused me for Herschel Walker.
There are some words that I just find amusing. They are legitimate words with legitimate uses. Nonetheless, they sound funny to my ears. Some words even sound like you are deliberately trying to be funny when you use them. I have asked some close family and friends what words sound funny to them. I had no idea such a subject would result in sitting with my two sons; one holding a dictionary and the other holding a thesaurus. My older son even noted the irony that A-OK, alley-oop, and wassup are all in the dictionary but newb is not. I therefore present the following words with the reason why I find them amusing.
- Annotate – This word came up because my daughter coincidentally called while my sons and I were involved in our vocabulary summit. The word simply means to provide explanatory notes on a subject. Still, I get the image of a 1970’s medicine commercial: Having trouble remembering things? Talk to your doctor about Annotate. Write it down.
- Behoove – This word simply means that something is potentially advantageous or beneficial. I hear this word and get one mental image: insect shoes. Would it behoove a bee to wear shoes? How can a bee be behooved?
- Carafe – This word sounds funny to me because a carafe typically has a long neck. It is defined as “a bottle with a flaring lip used to hold beverages” (according to Merriam-Webster). I don’t know what sounds funnier; the word or its definition.
- Defenestrate – This means to throw someone out of a window. It sounds like a health condition. Mind you, one who has been defenestrated quickly acquires a health condition.
- Guano – The word simply means bird droppings. I guess the scientific powers that be thought it would not sound offensive if they used a Spanish word. They were right. Now, it just sounds funny.
- Juxtapose – Come on, now. Why not just say “side by side” and be done with it?
- Ointment – Chicken pox is not funny. You should at least get a giggle trying to relive the itching. Salve just isn’t funny enough.
- Onomatopoeia – This is the use of words to represent a sound (The thunder crashed. The snake hissed). Go ahead. Say it to yourself. You just giggled didn’t you.
- Persnickety – This implies someone is fussy about minor details. If you don’t find this word funny. I might suggest you are a persnickety, picayunish, fussbudget. Say THAT without a giggle.
- Phlegm – I don’t know why this word sounds so funny. It just does. It’s not a shame to have phlegm. It’s just a shame to share it.
- Pomegranate – This is a tasty fruit. It brings the image of a magic trick. The magician made the rock disappear when he learned how to pomegranate.
- Quiche – Real men don’t eat it because they can’t stop laughing.
- Rubric – A rubric is the way that something can be categorized. To me, it sounds like a word you’d hear Scooby Doo say.
- Scabies – Once again, the scientific powers that be went for the funny bone. It sounds a lot funnier than saying someone has parasitic mites. Those jerks are snickering as we speak as they develop a new ointment for scabies.
- Similarly – OK let’s review some of what we covered so far: After insisting that the pomegranate and the ointment be shelved similarly, the persnickety store manager was defenestrated.
- Spelunker – This hilarious sounding word defines a cave explorer. What strange however, is that in spite of what the word implies there is no verbal component to this noun. A spelunker does not spelunk. He can however be defenestrated.
- Sycophant – A sycophant is a social parasite; a person who users flattery or a self-effacing appearance to gain an advantage or favor. Again, this word brings a twisted mental image to my mind. The college-aged pachyderm told his parents: Mom, Dad, I’m a sycophant.” OH NO! WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK?
- Wiki – A wiki is a web site that allows visitors to make contributions or corrections for the purpose of reference on a particular subject. From what I understand, the word wiki is Hawaiian for quick. Of course, I read that on a wiki web page so that’s probably not true.
There you have it folks: a list of words which sound funny to me in spite of their legitimate usage. I am certain as time goes on. People will point out words I omitted. They’re just being persnickety.