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weird word list

Weird and wonderful words in Oxford Dictionaries

The third Monday in January is allegedly the most depressing day of the year. We can see why: Christmas festivities are but a memory (apart from maybe an extra inch or two round the waist), we’ve just given up on our New Year’s resolutions, it feels like a long time since payday, and it’s been cold and miserable for as long as we can remember. (If you live in the Southern hemisphere, please don’t write to us to tell us that it’s warm and sunny where you are…)

So, assuming you feel as bleak as we do, we thought we’d try cheer you and ourselves up by contemplating the endless inventiveness of the English language. We bring you (ta-da!) the Oxford Dictionaries team’s unofficial A-Z of weird and wonderful words to make you smile in January:

Anguilliform

Anguilliform: shaped like or resembling an eel

Shaped like or resembling an eel

Blatherskite

A person who talks at great length without making much sense.

Callipygian

Having well-shaped buttocks.

Doryphore

A pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic.

Erubescent

Erubescent: reddening; blushing.

Reddening; blushing.

Fugacious

Tending to disappear; fleeting.

Gallus

Bold, cheeky, or flashy.

Hallux

A person’s big toe.

Illywhacker

A small-time confidence trickster.

Jungli

Jungli: uncultured; wild.

Uncultured; wild.

Kenspeckle

Easily recognizable; conspicuous.

Lycanthropy

The mythical transformation of a person into a wolf.

Mamaguy

Try to deceive (someone), especially with flattery or untruths.

Nugacity

Triviality or frivolity.

Orrery

Orrery: a clockwork model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon.

A clockwork model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon.

Paraph

A flourish after a signature, originally as a precaution against forgery.

Quipu

An ancient Inca device for recording information, consisting of variously coloured threads knotted in different ways.

Rubiginous

Rust-coloured.

Sesquipedalian

(Of a word) polysyllabic; long.

Thalassic

Thalassic: relating to the sea.

Relating to the sea.

Umbriferous

Providing shade.

Velleity

A wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.

Wabbit

Exhausted or slightly unwell.

Xenology

(Chiefly in science fiction) the scientific study of alien biology, cultures, etc.

Ylem

Ylem: the primordial matter of the universe, originally conceived as composed of neutrons at high temperature and density.

(In the Big Bang theory) the primordial matter of the universe, originally conceived as composed of neutrons at high temperature and density.

Zetetic

Proceeding by inquiry.

The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.