What A Wonderful Word Vol. VII: The Locrian List

Hello Everyone. I am back once again with a new collection of words for your education and amusement. I have, once again, returned to letting my warped mind wander with a seventh (YES! I SAID SEVENTH!) list of funny sounding words which have legitimate definitions.

First, let me just address something briefly. I realize that many of my last few pieces have had less of a humorous angle and were more along the lines of me purging some emotion and reflecting what I was going through at that time in my life. Needless to say, I have been through a lot in the last six months. It would be dishonest to hide that from my readers. This is less an apology than an explanation. Such writing will crop up again from time to time.  Sometimes, I wear my heart on my sleeveless shoulder. Other times, I like to bend my knees and lean forward because, that’s just how I roll.

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 seventh list. How I have missed those bullets.

  • antimetabole – Looking at this word (pronounced AN-tie-meh-TAH-bow-lee), it looks like a political label. “You gotta watch out for that guy, He’s antimetabole.” Actually, it’s a literary device where words or phrases are presented in reverse order in order to make a point. This device is used to great effect in everything from political speeches to commercial jingles. President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Actress Mae West once stated: “It’s not the men in my life. It’s the life in my men.” You have to hand it to Mae West. She had some mighty fine antimetabole.
  • awry –This is a very commonly mispronounced word when someone reads it for the first time. Many look at the word and read AW-ree. The word is pronounced uh-RYE. It simply means that a given situation had a far different outcome than expected. For example: The villain appeared to be just moments away from collecting the ransom as he held the police commissioner’s daughter as a kidnapped hostage. Unfortunately, his plans went awry when the great superhero came crashing down through the skylight. Why the villain chose a building with skylights and how the superhero didn’t get cut to ribbons is another matter.
  • bizarre – Pronounced buh-ZAHR, I simply just love the sound of this word. It’s hard to go wrong when the word has the letter z in it. It means that something is very unusual or outlandish in appearance or style. I like it even better when you can refer to Middle Eastern marketplace which is called a bazaar (What can I say? I love homophones). To further illustrate: While the villain took great effort to disguise himself with his very bizarre manner of dress. The superhero immediately noticed the very unique ring which the local newspaper mogul, William Christopher Jones, had previously boasted that he purchased at a bazaar in Morocco. That’s right, It was clear that King Bizarre (as the superhero had dubbed him) had been to the bazaar. Bizarre goes to the bazaar. I’m sorry. I know I’m milking the point very badly here. I just love the z words.
  • croupier – Words with a French origin tend to imply an air of elegance. The word, pronounced KROO-puh-yay, refers to an attendant in a gambling casino working at a gaming table. The croupier enforces game rules, accepts bets, and keeps the game in motion.  They also collect lost bets (when the casino wins) or award winnings (when the player wins). For example: The unscrupulous croupier, who had been skimming the casino’s winnings, was accosted by the casino’s security and publicly fired. In an ironic twist, he was also taken to the railway yard where he was beaten with a blackjack and thrown into a boxcar.
  • dubious – Pronounced DOO-bee-yuss, the word means that something is questionable or uncertain. One could have a dubious character. One could even be dubious about their opinion of someone’s dubious character. Example: The villain’s henchmen tried to let their boss known that kidnapping the commissioner’s daughter and hiding in a building with skylights was a dubious plan at best. After all, skylights tend to attract people who like to wear capes and rescue people and (worst of all) defeat villains. When the kidnapping went awry the henchmen knew that the villainous boss did not plan to fail. He simply failed to plan. SEE? I even got to use an antimetabole.
  • dulcet – Pronounced DUHL-sit, I am not sure why this word strikes me as funny sounding. The word, in its origin, implies sweetness. By definition, it is an adjective that means that something is pleasing (or even soothing) to the senses. Example: The superhero, known as the Night Knight, was relaxing to the dulcet tones of some soft jazz. He was jolted out of his state of serenity when he saw the news alert that the police commissioner’s daughter had been kidnapped. He leapt out of his chair and said: “It’s time to go, Night Knight”. He fought off the involuntary yawning that such phrasing provoked and headed out into that dark, dreary evening.
  • excrescence – Pronounced ik-SKREH-shunts, this word is more scientific or medical in nature. It refers to an abnormal, typically harmless, growth on an animal or vegetable body. Warts on the hands or the eyes on a potato could be considered an excrescence. In a different vernacular, a car that lies in a severe state on disrepair on one’s front lawn could be deemed by the neighbors to be an excrescence on the neighborhood. Example: Pierce Franklin knew that King Bizarre was an excrescence on the beloved town of Hawkville which needed to be eradicated by the Night Knight (at which point he involuntarily yawned).
  • flummox – Pronounced FLUHM-uks, this word means to confuse or bewilder someone. Somehow, the sound of the word seems to perfectly describe the word’s meaning and intended use in conversation. Example: King Bizarre thought for sure he had the perfect plan to abduct the police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovely Diamond Lewis. Even with the huge skylights atop the roof, King Bizarre was flummoxed as how he could be so easily apprehended by the Knight Night (which made Bizarre, Lewis, and the henchmen all yawn involuntarily).
  • gregarious – Pronounced grih-GAIR-ee-us, the word means that a person (or even an animal) prefers the company of others (especially if the company bears similar traits). Imagine having that one boss or colleague that greets every member of the staff daily and says: “Good morning” and you get the idea of their gregarious nature. Example: The villain, known as King Bizarre, attracted many henchmen due largely to his gregarious nature and dulcet tone of voice. King Bizarre acquired these traits during his work as a croupier before things went arise and he lost his job (leading to his world travels and career in journalism).
  • honorific – Pronounced ahn-uh-RIF-ik, the word implies a title or grammatical form that is used to convey honor or respect to someone. Someone who has been knighted by royalty would be given the honorific title of Sir (e.g. Sir Patrick Stewart). Example: Though he did not hold the honorific title of sensei (master), Pierce Franklin taught martial arts to Hawkville teens to encourage self respect and harmony amongst community members. The students had no idea they were being taught by the Night Knight (yet they would involuntarily yawn when discussing the subject)
  • hornswoggle – Admittedly, this word is somewhat slang. I am not quite sure what swoggling is. I don’t know quite how one gets swoggled by a horn. I don’t even know if one is at risk of getting their own horn swoggled (if one had horns to swoggle). I just know that it means to swindle or hoax someone and it is a funny sounding word. Example: Newspaper mogul, William Christopher Jones, knew that the police commissioner’s daughter, Diamond Lewis, loved fancy jewelry.  As Jones allowed Diamond to admire his fancy ring (acquired from a bazaar in Morocco), the henchmen grabbed Diamond and abducted her. Realizing she had been hornswoggled, she screamed: “HELP ME, NIGHT KNIGHT!” As everyone fought the involuntary yawning, Jones (having revealed himself as King Bizarre), ordered the henchmen to take Diamond to his favorite industrial building near the docks because he love the skylights.
  • impregnable – Pronounced im-PREG-nuh-bull, the word means that something or someone is able to withstand an attack or invasion. I think it is the hard G in the word but, the word just sounds like a silly way to describe someone’s level of invulnerability (or lack thereof). Plus, I have never heard of anyone or anything being pregnable (because this is a family show). Example: King Bizarre thought he had the perfect hideout to kidnap the police commissioner’s daughter, Diamond Lewis. After all, he paid good money for the electronic security system. Unfortunately, his beloved skylights proved he was not as impregnable as he thought.
  • obsequious – Pronounced uhb-SEE-kwee-us, the word means that someone is being very obedient or compliant to someone else. The word typically implies a submissive and falsely flattering tone. Example: King Bizarre’s obsequious henchmen hailed his superiority as a leader. One even exclaimed: “You’re even better than the Night Knight!” Once everyone stopped yawning, the flattery continued.
  • panacea – Pronounced pan-uh-SEE-uh, the word means that a particular solution can solve all problems (i.e. cure-all). I simply love the sound of this word as using it in a phrase or sentence sounds so…well…wordy. Example: The superhero, known to the public as billionaire Pierce Franklin, knew that his alter-ago and vigilante justice would not be a panacea for the city’s ills. Still, he know that his beloved town of Hawkville needed the Night Knight (as he fought off the involuntary yawning).
  • pettifogger – Pronounced PET-ee-fog-er, This word, thanks to the wonderful hard letter g, is just wonderful to say. A pettifogger is one who one who debates over trivial matters. What’s even better is that it can be used as a verb. A pettifogger can be said to pettifog or committing the act of pettifoggery. How can you NOT love that? A pettifogger can also refer to a shady lawyer who takes on unimportant cases (or what is also know as an “ambulance chaser”). It is also one of those words that definitely describes its actions well. To describe one’s rhetoric as a petty fog is just hilarious. Example: One only needs to listen to the speech of William Christopher Jones (also known as King Bizarre) to know that he has earned his position a mighty media mogul. He is more than just a former crafty croupier. His is more than just a pedantic pettifogger. He is quite the worthy adversary for the Night Knight (Please, forgive me for yawning).
  • rigmarole – Pronounced RIG-muh-roll, This word can be somewhat synonymous to pettifoggery and refer to meaningless talk. Typically, however, it refers to a complex or elaborate procedure to accomplish a task. As a Southern man, it sounds to me like a made up word because it just sounds funny to my ears. Still, it is an actual word. Example: The superhero, known as the Night Knight, yawned involuntarily and pondered the rigmarole of overriding King Bizarre’s security system and stealthily overcoming the henchmen one by one. Instead, he simply chose to save the police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovely Diamond Lewis, by crashing through the skylights on the roof.
  • tantamount – Pronounced TAN-tuh-mount, the word means that one thing is of equal significance or value to another thing. I love the word because I love the way the consecutive syllables of t’s make the word pop out. Example: Despite the henchmen’s legitimate concerns, they knew that pressing the issue of the skylights with King Bizarre would be tantamount to challenging Bizarre’s authority and intelligence.
  • tenebrific – Pronounced ten-uh-BRIH-fik, I LOVE the sound of this word. It definitely has a “Tigger” quality to it. It means that something causes gloom or darkness. Example: The police commissioner’s daughter, the young and lovey Diamond Lewis, is safe again to eh relief of the entire town of Hawkville. King Bizarre, who had hoped to swim in a river of jewels, is, instead, headed up the river without a Diamond How’s that for antimetabole?). The superhero, hiding in the tenebrific shadows of the evening, pauses a moment to ponder his daring rescue then says: “It’s time to go, Night Knight.” He yawns involuntarily and disappears.

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. An eighth list is already in the works.Until then, boys and girls, listen to your parents, do well in school, and brush your teeth after every meal. Remember, the beloved town of Hawkville remains safe for another day thanks to the watchful eye of….THE NIGHT KNIGHT! (OMIGOSH! WHY do I keep yawning?)

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.

What A Wonderful Word Vol. IV: The Return of the Son of the Bride.

Howdy! Howdy Howdy, Folks! Here we are, once again’, gathering and learning words. What kind of words, you ask? That’s a good question, folks. We are here to learn words that are worth learning to increase your wordy wealth. This is the fourth installment in the series (and I’ve passed the savings onto you).

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 just sit and relax for a moment. 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 fourth list.

  • abligurition – This one was sent to me by a long time friend. While the word’s use IS somewhat outdated, I still couldn’t resist using this word in the list because it just sounds WAY too funny. Anyway, abligurition refers to spending lavish amounts of money on fine foods. It describes a fondness for delicacies. A person who is showing abligurition will choose to have foie gras on a cracker in lieu of a liverwurst sandwich. He will choose pheasant under glass over a bucket of chicken. “The two friends decided not to have breakfast after work. One had an abligurition for quails eggs and potato galettes. The other just wanted to go to the Waffle House and get a ham and cheese omelette with his hash browns covered and chunked”.
  • attitudinal – When I first heard my daughter use this word, I honestly thought she was just making it up. My daughter is an intelligent woman, she is just not a word nerd like her father. As the word implies, this adjective simply means that a person’s behavior or actions are based on their particular feelings on an issue (ones attitude if you will). “I feel that the senator’s decision to propose a harsh leash law is not based on the concerns of her constituents. Her stance is likely attitudinal due to the fact that she was bitten on the ankle by her neighbor’s chihuahua.
  • befuddle – This is definitely a word that is hard for me to use or hear without giggling a little bit inside. It seems to me that if someone is using the word “befuddle” they are quite possibly, deliberately trying to sound funny. It simply means to confuse someone with one’s words or action. Salesmen befuddle consumers to make a sale (some salesmen not all). Politicians befuddle their constituents in press releases (most politicians not all). Athletes use sports jargon and double talk to befuddle reporters and spectators to explain why they just lost a playoff game (every single, solitary one of them). But that’s not the cool part, the cool part is that the word can also mean to stupefy one with alcohol. This means that a malicious  soul can create a circle of befuddlement by getting someone intoxicated then using a bunch of double talk to confuse them. It’s a terrible thing to do but the point is that you can befuddle someone then befuddle the already befuddled individual again. “The senator tried to befuddle her constituency by using bunch of bleeding heart legal jargon to explain her attitudinal stance on the proposed new lease law.  Still, one couldn’t help but notice the tiny, canine teeth marks on her ankles”.
  • brouhaha – I LOVE this word. It sounds like someone is laughing when they are saying it (“You just said it, didn’t you?”) A brouhaha is great excitement or concern about something. It can also be used to describe an uproar. “The senator’s proposed new leash law created an extraordinary brouhaha among her constituents. Many outraged citizens marched with their chihuahuas to the capitol steps to express their disapproval. Unfortunately, this also resulted in many protesters receiving fines for violating the litter laws”.
  • effulgent – This was another word that was provided for me by a someone else. A colleague learned this one from one of her word of the day calendars. The word refers to brightness or radiance. The hard G in the word makes it sound less than complimentary which is probably why it made its way onto this list. “The young man gazed into the lady’s eyes and said he could not help but be exhilarated by her pulchritudinous effulgence. His friend walked up and told her she looked pretty in the dress she was wearing. The former young man received a wedding invitation from the new couple a year later.”
  • elation – This word has a very special meaning to me right now. The word means to be filled with joy and happiness. Someone I know recently had a bit of a scare medically speaking. He got word from his doctor that the situation was not as severe as they thought it could have been. When he told me this he said that he could not truly describe his elation. I was beyond happy for him. I also love that fact that cannot truly use the word without being somewhat elated. “Imagine my elation to open my refrigerator at 3 AM and discover 3 pieces of leftover fried chicken.”
  • knickerbocker – It was my younger daughter, Brianna, who insisted that I include this word. She absolutely cannot hear or say the word without laughing. The word refers to a descendant of the Dutch settlers of New York. It can also refer to any New Yorker. It has also been abbreviated to knickers to describe pants that reach just below the knee. Kickerbocker was actually, at one time, the team name for the New York Knicks. I am sure the reference is geographical and not one of fashion. If YOU want to ask Ama’re Stoudemire about it, you go right ahead. I assume no responsibility for the outcome. I won’t use this one in a sentence as it is primarily used by ignorant tourists and historians.
  • parameterize – This one definitely sounds made up but ,lo and behold, it’s a real word. It refers to breaking down or expressing things by using limits or boundaries. I, personally get the impression that if someone is using this word, they are either putting to much thought into something or they are trying to muddy up an issue. “When he explained that he was going to parameterize his music collection by their respective genres, sub-genres, and release dates; I immediately realized he needed to get out of the house and bought two tickets to the tractor pull”.
  • pinking shears – Yes, I know its two words but at the end of the day, I make the editorial decisions. Pinking shears are scissors that are used for cutting cloth. The blade edges form a zigzag pattern for the cut. I only learned recently that the purpose behind this zigzag pattern is to reduce fraying and damage to the woven cloth. “My roommate realized immediately that I was not a gifted cook when he saw me used pinking shears to separate a chicken. However,  I could not explain why I owned pinking shears since I do not own a sewing machine.”
  • prognosticate – This is definitely one of those word nerd words. To prognosticate is to foretell of an upcoming event using present signs or conditions. A meteorologist,  for example, can prognosticate an impending storm based upon current and recent weather patterns. “Given the public’s outcry over the senator’s proposed new leash law, her staff were able to prognosticate the repercussions during the forthcoming elections. They were also able to advise the best route home (e.g. avoid the capitol steps).”
  • puzzlement – This word alludes to a previous word in this list. It simply refers to the state of being puzzled by something. “The senator was completely oblivious to the sentiment of her constituency. Her puzzlement was very apparent on the news bulletin which shows dozens of barking robotic chihuahuas all yapping in unison on her front lawn.”
  • quixotic – This is a word I absolutely love. It is a reference to the novel of Don Quixote which was written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Actually, the full title is The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha. The character of Don Quixote is one who passionately pursued his endeavor no matter how hopeless, no matter how far (Did you really think I was going to let that one get by me?) He was also portrayed as one who was a couple of bricks shy of a full load. The term quixotic describes one’s actions as being somewhat impulsive or idealistic and could have devastating outcomes. I personally think that if one is being told their plans are quixotic, they should look the word up to give more time to consider their decisions. “The senator’s advisors told her that her proposed new leash law was unduly harsh and rather quixotic. The senator scoffed at their remarks and walked away with a noticeable limp.”
  • skullduggery – This word describes underhanded dealings or deceit. I like it because it makes one sound like a pirate every time it is uttered (You just said it, didn’t you?) “Several on the senator’s staffed resigned immediately when she accuse them of skullduggery and sympathizing with a pro-chihuahua lobby. Another advisor was terminated when the senator discovered a hand drawn picture of her likeness wearing an eye patch”
  • smarmy – This word is clearly negative in its connotation. It refers to one that is insincerely flattering in their speech and actions. Imagine a hotel bellhop who compliments patrons that tip generously and you get the idea. “The senator’s smarmy assistant was clearly trying to protect his job when  he gushingly complimented the way the senator’s ankle bandage accessorized her fashion ensemble.”
  • snarky – This word will be forever lodged in my brain. It refers to speech or actions that are disrespectful or critical in tone.  I became rather irritated with someone at work once. In an effort to control my irritation, I fired off an email to this person that was very short and to the point (or so I thought at the time). My team manager (who was included in the email exchange) privately told me that my email was “…rather snarky and not very helpful.” I (eventually) took his criticism in the spirit in which it was given. Even today, we still occasionally joke about responses have certain “levels of snark”. This is especially important for me to consider the lesson I learned from that email as I am now also a team manager. “The senator gave a very snarky response to the journalist who asked if she was considering levying a tax on chihuahua owners.”
  • spatchcock – I want to buy a grill just so I can use this word more often. I picture speaking to my food like a brilliant English director while I grill it. “Good eeevening, Mr. Chicken. My name is Captain Spatchcock”. Anyway, the word means to dress and split a chick for the purpose of roasting on a spit. “While his friend has an abligurition for spatchcocked fowl. He prefers to just fire up his grill and roast some chicken”.
  • unctuous – This is another one of those words that alludes to a previous word in the list. Like smarmy, it also refers to words or actions that are complimentary but insincere in tone. I like it because the hard C in the word makes it sound rather accusatory. “Having greeted him (along with her now husband), the newly wedded bride could not help but notice the gentleman’s unctuous tone as he complimented how lovely she looked in her bridal gown. She also couldn’t help but notice that, once again, he did not have a date.”
  • wonky – I had to end this list with a word that I could say over and over again ALL DAY LONG. It’s a word I want to teach to five year olds so that they can say it ALL DAY LONG (You’re welcome, Mom and Dad). It means that something or someone is off center or off kilter. It can refer to someone’s or some thing’s irregular or problematic behavior.  In short, it says that something isn’t quite right. “The senator’s behavior became quite erratic in the wake of the leash law scandal. Most authorities concluded that she simply couldn’t handle the stress anymore. Still, many rumors were circulating that the senator’s maniacal laughter and wonky smile were due to having contracted rabies”.

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 fervently hope that the senator gets 400 hours of community service caring for rescued chihuahuas.

What A Wonderful Word Vol. II: A Sequel of Deformed Discourse

Not quite three years ago, I once again let my mind go wandering. One thing lead to another and I began to muse over words that sound funny but are real words with legitimate uses. I reached out to my sons for input. This resulted in one son scouring a dictionary and the other son combing through a thesaurus. My two daughters even got involved. I came up with a list of 18 words and wrote my feelings about each word on the list. I had a wonderful time doing this and wanted to revive the piece. I reached out to friends on the Internet as well as colleagues from work, I also, of course added a few words of my own.

The conditions of the list are pretty simple. First, it had to 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 had to be family friendly. Lastly, if you could imagine Tigger saying the word, it had a good chance of making the list. With that in mind I submit to you the following 18 words:

  • absquatulate – This word means to flee, to abscond, to vamoose, or to leave as if your britches are on fire and your backside is beginning to spark. I discovered that if the word is a verb that had the –ate suffix, it has a good chance of sounding funny enough to make the list (annotate, defenestrate). Given this, if your britches are on fire and your backside is beginning to spark, it would be wise to absquatulate to the nearest fire station. Once you arrive, you should stop, drop, roll, and politely ask the first fireman you see for a remedy to your anomaly.
  • cacophonous – This is an adjective that describes a harsh or discordant sound. I only know what this word means because, in the 1980’s (when guitars were properly tuned), there was a band called Cacophony that included Jason Becker and Marty Friedman. I rather enjoyed there ne-classical guitar work. Still, the name was GREAT marketing. I imagine the poor souls whose britches are on fire and with a sparking backside let out quote a cacophonous sound as he absquatulated to the nearest fire station.
  • crepuscular – This adjective refers to the twilight hours of the day. Lightning bugs, for example, are crepuscular creatures. The word also implies dimness. Politicians are often said to have crepuscular logic on an issue. I am challenged to find a more appropriate adjective for the average candidate. This is an election year with an abundance of examples. It makes a man want to absquatulate with a cacophonous cry of frustration.
  • curmudgeon – This refers to a ill-tempered, cantankerous person. The curmudgeon in question is usually, at least, middle aged. I have yet to meet a 22 year old curmudgeon. One of my colleagues offered the following observation: ‎”You know what I like about Shane’s blog? You see, I act curmudgeonly. Shane only does that WHEN HE WRITES”. With THAT kind of back-handed compliment, I HAD to include this word. I just wish those unruly hoodlums next door would turn down their Brittany Perry music (or whatever her name is) so I could hear myself think.
  • depone – This is a verb meaning: to testify under oath. Sometimes, when such testimony involves a politician it leads to another word – perjury (followed by some crepuscular logic on the part of the politicians lawyer). I also find this word amusing because pone is a type of flat cake bread. If one’s flat cake bread is stolen, are they then deponed?  This would eventually lead to the victim deponing about the alleged thief who stole his pone and then allegedly absquatulated.
  • falafel – Be honest, now. Do I REALLY have to explain why this word made the list? For those who do not know falafel is a dish of Arabic origin. It consists of a spicy mixture of ground vegetables (often chick-peas or fava beans) that are formed into balls or patties and then fried. This sounds awfully good. Even if I didn’t like falafel, I’d get a big kick out of telling people I had it served to me. I could have a waffle for breakfast and a falafel for dinner. I’d be too tired from laughing to eat either.
  • finagle – This verb means to acquire something by trickery or manipulation. For example: The old curmudgeon finagled the neighborhood kid into mowing his lawn. Shortly thereafter, the old curmudgeon absquatulated on his new Harley Davidson.
  • gobbledygook – This a a great word that refers to jargon that is usually wordy and often unintelligible. For example, a supervisor may tell his superiors that he helped one of his team members thoroughly investigate multiple development opportunities in order to facilitate improvement of the respective team member’s quality of life. Simply stated, the supervisor told the team member he stinks at his job in multiple ways and will risk an abrupt update to his resume if he fails to improve. Through all the gobbledygook, five words rise to the top: Shape up or ship out.
  • inundate – Again, we have a word with a prefix of –ate. This means the word has already made it through the first auditions and got a callback. The word means to flood with water. It can also refer to being overwhelmed by something. For example, when the old curmudgeon insulted his gourmet neighbors about the smell of their cooking, he woke up to find his front lawn inundated with falafel. This was especially unfortunate because the old curmudgeon was unable to finagle the neighborhood kid into more lawn work.
  • luciferin – Previously, we discussed the crepuscular insect known as the lightning bug (or firefly). Luciferin is the pigment that causes the lightning bug to…well…light up. Still, I can’t but think of some 1970’s hospital drama where a doctor might say: “Nurse, get me an ampule of luciferin. STAT!” It won’t cure the poor fellow’s cardiac emergency but his abdomen might light up at night.
  • osculate – This word is, at its origin, a geometric term. It refers to when a curve touches another curve at the same point of contact (sharing the same tangent. The word also means to kiss because that is what happens, geometrically speaking, during a kiss. This is funny to me. The reason why is that I can’t even fathom even the nerdiest guy on the planet telling his girlfriend: “Baby, when I see you, I plan to osculate you as if such were prohibited by the Volstead Act and we would have to wait another 11 years for the Blaine Act for a repeal.” Talk about your smooth operator.
  • outré – This refers to something that is bizarre or violates accepted conventions. I mainly find this word funny because it makes people think that using a French word makes a person sound smarter or more sophisticated. I, personally, find such behavior to be rather gauche.
  • pajamas – I don’t need to explain what these are. I included because the word sounds funny to me whether you pronounce them as puh-JAH-muhs  or puh-JEH-muhs or PJ’s.
  • pedantic – This works smacks of irony. It refers to making a show of one’s knowledge. This is ironic because using the word pedantic in a sentence is usually pedantic. Many consider pedantic behavior to be outré and ostentatious.
  • perturb – I really like this word. This verb refers to upsetting or agitating someone. The problem is that the word sounds too funny to hear. If someone tells you they are perturbed. You start giggling. This causes an aggravation to the perturbation. I giggled just writing that.
  • protuberant – This adjective refers to something that protrudes outward from an adjacent surface. The best example I can come up with is the late actor Don Knotts aka (Barney Fife or Ralph Furley or Mr. Limpet). Knotts had protuberant eyes. It actually added a lot of comic effect to his characters. I can watch Barney Fife while whispering the word protuberant and giggle through an entire episode of “The Andy Griffith Show”.
  • usurp – You don’t really have to have any idea what this word means for it to sound funny. It refers to taking over something by force or without proper rights. Even funnier, one who does so is a usurper. A usurper’s action is called a usurpation. The more you follow this word grammatically, the funnier it gets. I offer the following (with apologies to any educated historians): The Russians consider Napoleon’s attempted usurpation to be a mere perturbation. Therefore, it behooved Napoleon to absquatulate back to France as if his little britches were on fire and his backside was beginning to spark.
  • zephyr – The person who submitted asked me the following question: “Why can’t they just call it a breeze or a wind?” To her, the use of the word zephyr appears a bit pedantic. Further investigation revealed that the word zephyr refers to a breeze from a west wind. It comes from the name Zephyrus – god of the West Wind. This is not to be confused with the Oklahoma blues guitarists J. J. Cale. They called him The Breeze because he kept blowin’ down the road.

Once again, folks, there you have it – another list of funny sounding words with legitimate uses. If you found that I omitted words from this list (or the first volume). Feel free to chime in as long as they meet the guidelines (funny and family friendly). I hope you didn’t find it too pedantic or crepuscular (however, I WILL accept being described as curmudgeonly).

What a Wonderful Word

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.