What A Wonderful Word Vol. VI: The Relative Minor

Hello Everyone. I am back once again with a new collection of words for your education and amusement.I can’t believe I am doing a sixth volume of this. It’s so cool that once people in my circles find out that these volumes exist, I start getting suggestions for new words to add to the list. I truly cannot thank you folks enough for your input.

The other cool part with this being the sixth volume was that I learned a few things about the number six. The one that I found the most interesting that the the numbers 5 and 6 are part of what is called a Ruth-Aaron pair. As an Atlanta Braves fan, I found it cool that such a term exists. A Ruth-Aaron pair happens when consists of two consecutive integers (such as 5 and 6) for which the sums of the prime factors of each integer are equal. Since math is not my strong suit, I just read this off, shook my head and nodded knowingly. I also understand that there was supposed to an Ruth-Aaron-Bonds triplet but the third number never really matters and is always modified with an asterisk.

For those who may be unfamiliar with these installments, I’ll take a moment to lay out the rules of making such a list. Those of you who ARE familiar can please just smile and nod knowingly. First, it must be a real word that can be found in the dictionary (I used several dictionary sources). Secondly, keeping in the spirit of my blog, it must be family friendly. Lastly, if you could imagine Tigger saying the word, it had a good chance of making the list. The list has exactly 18 words. There are two main reasons for this number. First, the original list had 18 words. Secondly, keeping such a specific number in mind makes the challenge more interesting to me. I’d give a third and fourth reason but I promised you there’d be only two. People from all over send me words to use (and I come up with a few on my own as well). Many of the words I receive comply with the above rules so please feel free to contact me with a word for future volumes. If it lines up with the rules and hasn’t been used before, there’s a good chance I will use it. With that in mind, here is the sixth list.

  • andragogy – OK this word sounds funny to me, in part, because it sounds like the word is still partly lodged inside the throat. Phonetically is sounds like AN-druh-GAH-jee. The word refers to the methods or practices of teaching adult learners (such as yours truly at the present time). Every time, I here this word, I imagine a professor introducing herself to a classroom of education majors: “Hello, I am Andrea Gahjee. Why are you all giggling?”
  • bumfuzzle – This is a verb that means to confuse or perplex someone. It sounds made up but it truly is an honest to goodness, real word. My warped sense of humor makes me want to go out of my way to confuse someone badly enough that the other person will say that they are bumfuzzled. “Stop for a minute! You’ve got me all bumfuzzled!” OMIGOSH! YOU SAID IT! [I am now rolling on the floor cackling with laughter.]
  • cattywampus – I should clarify that there is an alternative spelling: catawampus. You hear this adjective a lot from Southern ladies (which is one of the reasons I like it so much). It can refer to something being placed in a diagonal position (“kitty cornered”). However, it usually refers to a situation that has gone quite awry. “Everything went all cattywampus after that storm took down my shed and the insurance adjuster, bless his heart, may as well have been speaking in gibberish and I got all bumfuzzled.”
  • diphthong – No, this has nothing to do with sandals or uncomfortable unmentionables. This is a phonetic term. It literally means “two tones”. A diphthong is what happens when two vowels are placed together in a word to form a single, one syllable sound. The word sound is one example. the “ou” in sound form an “ow” sound. So, when little Jimmy leaves a tack on his sister chair, his sister will scream: “OW!” Then Jimmy says: “Hey Mom, Sally used a diphthong!” Then when Mommy grounds Jimmy for his behavior, Jimmy uses another diphthong: “Aww! Gee! That’s at least two diphthongs with one tack. You’re welcome, Mom and Dad (and NO MORE TACKS, JIMMY!)
  • eenui – While, I know that this is a real word, part of me feels that it is a word that a promotes some circular thinking. Phonetically, the sound is AHN-wee. It refers to the restlessness or dissatisfaction one feels when they lack  mental simulation or amusement. In other words, the person is quite bored. However, they are SO incredibly bored that they do not wish to just use the word boredom. So when Jimmy’s mommy is explaining to him why it is not acceptable to put a tack in his sister’s chair (or anyone else’s for that matter), Jimmy’s eyes begin to roll. Jimmy’s mommy then lectures him about eye rolling during her lecture. Jimmy then asks: “Mommy, can we just forgo this incredible ennui of your superfluous lecture and consider me duly reprimanded?” Jimmy then utters more diphthongs as he is now eating supper in his room (with NO ELECTRONICS) while his bumfuzzled mother is perusing a dictionary and wondering how the lecture went cattywampus.
  • flabbergasted – I LOVE this word. It means to be greatly astonished by something or caught off guard. It’s also one of those words that you usually only hear one way. You hear about a person being flabbergasted but you seldom hear someone say: “I’m gonna flabbergast that dude.”
  • foppish – This is just one of those funny sounding words to me. I am not sure I would use it much personally. The term foppish refers to a person (men especially) that are unduly concerned about the manner of dress. I used to be stationed on a Marine Corps base in the 1980’s. Marines are some squared away individuals from top to bottom. Their everyday uniform is the epitome of sparkle and shine. As such, the uniforms require some proper daily maintenance in order to keep that proper uniform appearance. Still, there was always that one Marine that EVERY time you looked at them, they were inspecting their shoes, buffing their belt buckle for the 20th time in 30 minutes and adjusting their hat. Even in civilian circles, I would always run across a guy who would spend 20 minutes in front of the men’s room mirror adjusting their tie, tugging at their shirt cuffs, and checking the part in their hair. Some would call such a man foppish. I would simply tell him he has a loose thread on his shirt cuff and walk away.
  • huzzah – This word is used as an interjection to expression great joy or acclaim. Having said that, even a word nerd such as myself seldom uses such an interjection.  You are unlikely to hear someone say: “HUZZAH! Lebron James just won the NBA Finals.” Actually, you have likely NOT heard that FOUR TIMES!
  • largesse – No, I am not going to make a Jennifer Lopez joke here. This is a family show. Phonetically, it sounds like lar-JESS. It refers to the trait of giving away money or extreme generosity. I have a colleague who usually insists on paying for meals or movie tickets, for example, and would not accept reimbursement. He’s not doing this to show off. He simply finds the exercise of such largesse to be very rewarding. He even occasionally lets me buy lunch.
  • lollygag – I like this word not only because of the way it sounds. It just sounds to me like a word that would come from a stuffed shirt nanny or a gentleman’s gentleman. It simply means to wander around aimlessly or to be idle. I was going to use Mr. French as as example but many of you may be too young to get the reference. Besides, I want to use Alfred Pennyworth because Batman beats Family Affair any day of the week. Anyway, Alfred walks into the room where Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward, Dick Grayson, are talking about an upcoming dance at the high school. Aunt Harriet reminds the young ward that the dance ends promptly at 11:00 PM and he is to come straight home. Alfred them chimes in by stating that while he may feel free to spend five minutes mingling and meandering before heading home. He should not loiter or lollygag. He then whispers to Bruce: “It’s the Batphone, sir.” Bruce and Dick make up an excuse about needing to buy special socks for the sock hop and hurriedly leave the room. SEE? You can’t get that from Family Affair.
  • nonplussed – I see this word a lot when I am reading books for pleasure. The word refers to being surprised to such a degree that one does not quite know how to react. For example, a young man is in very good standing with his job. His boss offers him this once in a lifetime promotion. The new job is high paying, in a great location, and has tremendous opportunity for further growth. It’s also 500 miles from where they currently live. The young man and his wife are ecstatic. Their parents are nonplussed at this news. While they are all very happy for the young couple. They are also heartbroken. by the distance this will create. They are all simply so surprised by the news that they are unsure how to react. However, let’s say the parents DID know exactly how to react. No one would ever suggest that they were plussed. Weird, huh?
  • pedagogy – This is, of course, related to the first word in this volume (andragogy). This simply refers to the method or practice of teaching. Phonetically, it’s PED-uh-goh-jee. As a communications major, I look for excuses to use this word in essays so that I can hear its amusing pronunciation in my head. I wonder if my Learning Styles professor has the same amusement.
  • pshaw – This is another interjection. It sounds just like it is spelled (the p is not silent). It is used to express disbelief, impatience, or contempt. For example, Little Jimmy’s mommy is explaining to him that, while she is very proud of his ever expanding vocabulary, he must not use such words in a way that is disrespectful to his parents. Jimmy curtly responds: “Pshaw, Mother! Must you continue with this incessant rebuke of my verbiage?” Jimmy’s mother was initially nonplussed. When she collects her thoughts, she then sends him to his room and warns him that if he says one more word to her, he will need a laser surgeon to remove the diphthong from his verbiage. It’s about time Little Jimmy got his comeuppance.
  • pumpernickel – Yup, we are talking about a course dark bread made from rye. I am really not a huge fan (not as much as my son is). Still, I will occasionally go into a deli and order a pastrami on pumpernickel with a side spear pickle…just because I would enjoy saying it. It doesn’t take much to amuse me sometimes.
  • pundit – This word has a pretty simple meaning. It refers to someone who is considering to be an expert on a particular subject and is, therefore, sought out to give their opinion on that same subject. A movie critic, for example, might be sought out to offer an opinion on which movie will win the Academy Award for best picture. I also find it amusing that synonym for pundit is “talking head”. I prefer pundit because that way I won’t have the lyrics to And She Was stuck in my head.
  • quinoa – Quinoa, pronounce “KEEN-wah” is a grain that is becoming very popular due to its purported nutritional benefits. It’s just popular with me because the word sounds so funny. Because of this, I will change my deli order to a pastrami on pumpernickel with a spear sliced pickled and a side of quinoa. As a matter of fact, I might drag out the pronunciation as “KEEN-wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”. The initially nonplussed customers will soon start ordering it the same way (in five part harmony).
  • syllogism – This is another one of those academic terms. It refers to a logical argument which contains two statements and a conclusion. The conclusion is proven true if the preceding two statement are also true and correct. For example: a) A spider has eight legs. b) A spider is an arachnid. c) All arachnids are spiders. Mind you in this example, the conclusion is incorrect as scorpions are also arachnids. Still, this example allows you to say: “”SILL-oh-jiz-um” That hard G sound just makes it sound funny.
  • zarf – OK, this word jumped out at me during a search. A zarf is an ornamental holder for a hot coffee cup that has no handle. I love this word. Now, I am going to change my deli order for the final time to a  pastrami on pumpernickel with a spear sliced pickle, a side of quinoa and a zarf for my triple mocha, soy, half decaf cappuccino. As I leave the deli, the customers will begin chanting: KEEN-waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! ZARF!” The deli proprietor and I will start a social media campaign and share the profits on the t-shirt sales proceeds.

Well, there you have it, folks – another list of funny sounding words with legitimate uses. If you found that I omitted words from this list (or the previous volumes). Feel free to chime in as long as they meet the guidelines (funny and family friendly). I hope you enjoyed this list. I also hope that Little Jimmy is learning when to keep his little diphthongs to himself.