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Rare words and their meanings

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#1 alexander


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Posted 05 May 2008 - 05:39 PM

so after a bit of a dissapointment with the "Great words" thread, i decided to dedicate a thread to rather rare and mystique and rarely used words and their meanings. This time, its like Great words, but posting a meaning is a MUST DO.

i will start you off with the list of words i have defined in the other thread, also i will add definitions to words i have posted today, and lastly i will add a few more words just to tickle the linguists :confused:

Oh, these are all real words, to my best belief i have not come up with any (in this list) but feel free to call me on that :hihi:

epeolatry - worship of words

acquiesce - satisfy

- swamp

atrabilious - bad-tempered or irritable

absquatulate - depart

- good or even excellent

alexipharmic - having a nature of an antidote (i like this one cuz it has my name in it :P )

esculent - edible

empasm - a powder-like ancient medicine used to take the smell away...

pinguescence - the process of becoming fat :)

kerfuffle - commotion

nychthemeron - period of one day (24 hrs)

yclept - by the name of, as in "there lives a mechanic yclept Willy"

triscadecaphobia - fear of the number 13

haptic - in relation to a touching or feeling sensation

oyez - call to attention

thaumaturgy - performance of miracles

onomasticon - dictionary of names

hypnobioscope - device for learning while asleep (fictional)

jingoism - war-like or aggressive patriotism

zymurgy - the art or practice of fermentation (can you say mmm beer)

umquhile - word relating to others being erstwhile and quondam (which are two more words for you) meaning formerly, previously

quondam - having been formerly, former, sometime

erstwhile - former, archaic

epopoeia - a type of epopee, an epic poem

quocker-wodger - a wooden pupet on a string (perfect for swearing)

anfractuosity - a channel, canal or passage full of windings and turns

floccinaucinihilipilification - an estimation of something as being worthless

scopperloit - rude or rough play

depone - testify under oath

amblygon - obtuse triangle

nihilarian - person who deals with unimportant things

selcouth - rare, strange, marvelous, wonderful

exude - emit

quidnunc - gossip

agnomen - nickname

doppelganger - someone resembling a person (usually evil)

I dunno if anyone has been waiting for the definitions, but here is the list of today's words definitions:

culiage - the right of the lord to spend the first knight with his subject's new bride

- relating to public speaking

- having the texture of sand

- fear of supernatural powers

- lazy (adj)

- The science of imaginary solutions

- To make something obtuse, dull or blunt

- excessive appetite; greediness, voracity

and finally a few more to tickle the brain a little more ;)

noology - study of intuition and comprehension

solecism - error in grammar or wording

makari - archaic Scottish term for poet

sauterne - a sweet wine

scabiosa - a not-so-nice way of saying "pretty flower" (mainly due to words roots)

blarney - flattery designed to gain favor

vernorexia - a romantic mood inspired by Spring

enjoy, post your own wonders, and untill next time :P
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#2 mynah



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Posted 06 May 2008 - 07:47 AM

The common name of Scabiosa is scabious, probably because it was once used to treat scabs and other skin problems. If it were still as popular as formerly it would no doubt have been renamed for marketing purposes - an important consideration, as the producers of borage oil and rapeseed oil realised when they repackaged them as starflower and canola respectively. :turtle:

#3 Nootropic



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Posted 24 June 2008 - 04:04 PM

otorhinolaryngology--the study of the ear, nose, and throat

#4 alexander


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Posted 07 July 2008 - 07:44 AM

lethonomia - inability to recall names
apodyopsis - the act of mentally undressing someone
dysania - state of finding it hard to get out of bed

here are some cool 3 letter words that are rather rarely used :naughty:

(reference: Word List: Three-Letter Words)
aba - garment of camel or goat hair; camel or goat-hair fabric
abb - yarn used for warp
aby - to make amends; atone; pay a penalty
ait - small island in lake or river
ala - membranous outgrowth on a plant or animal
alb - long white robe worn by priests
alk - sap or resin from turpentine trees
alt - high musical tone
ama - a Japanese pearl-diver
ana - in equal quantities
ard - plough used to scratch top surface of soil
awn - beard or similar bristly growth on stalk of grain
bar - unit of pressure of one million dynes per square centimeter
bee - hardwood on either side of bowsprit through which forestays are reeved
bel - unit of noise intensity equal to ten decibels
bis - twice; in two places
bot - larva of a botfly that infests horses
cep - brown edible mushroom
cog - single-masted, square-sailed ship with raised stern
col - depression or pass in a mountain range
cwm - valley or glen
dag - dirty tatted tuft of sheep's wool
dah - short heavy Burmese knife
dal - a dried legume, such as lentils, beans or peas
dap - to dip gently into water; to fish with a surface fly
daw - simpleton; bird of the crow family
dit - poem; words of a song
dol - unit for measuring intensity of pain
dop - copper cup for holding a diamond while cutting it
eft - again; afterwards
eft - newt
eke - in addition; also; likewise
ell - old unit of length equal to 45 inches
ere - before
erg - unit of work measuring force of one dyne applied over one centimeter
eth - old English letter for voiced 'th' sound
fid - conical wooden pin used to splice strands of rope
fie - expression of disgust or disapproval
fub - to put off; to fob
fug - hot; close; smoky state of atmosphere
gad - to wander about idly or in pursuit of pleasure
gal - unit of acceleration of one centimeter per second per second
gar - mild oath
gat - opening or strait between two sandbanks
gib - wedge-shaped piece of metal that holds another in place
gid - brain disease suffered by sheep
gig - light two-wheeled one-horse carriage
hoc - card game, now obsolete
hod - V-shaped trough for carrying bricks or mortar on the shoulders
hoy - large one-decked boat
ife - tropical African fibrous plant
iff - if and only if
ist - one who holds to an 'ism'
ivi - Tahitian chestnut tree
jib - small triangular sail extending from the head of the foremast
jow - to ring a bell; a stroke of a bell
jud - mass of coal ready for final removal
jug - sound of the nightingale
jus - law; legal right
keb - ewe that gives birth to stillborn lamb
ked - wingless fly that feeds on livestock
kef - state of dreamy or drug-induced repose
kep - to catch an approaching object or falling liquid
ket - carrion; matted wool
kex - dry hollow plant stalk
kif - drug like marijuana smoked in North Africa
kip - skin of a young animal
kip - unit of weight equivalent to 1000 pounds
kir - drink of black currant syrup and white wine
kit - a small pocket violin
kop - bank of terracing at a football field
lac - dark red transparent resin used to make shellac
lar - local god of a house
lea - arable land left fallow or used for pasture
lev - monetary unit of Bulgaria
ley - mystical straight line between features of landscape
lux - unit of illumination equal to one lumen per square meter
mel - honey
mew - to shed, moult or change
mho - unit of electrical conductance
mil - unit of 1/1000 inch used for measuring thickness of wire
mim - prim, demure
mon - Japanese family crest
mor - humus layer formed by slow decomposition in acidic soil
mow - to make a grimace
neb - bird's beak
nef - ornamental stand in shape of ship for holding salt or cutlery
nim - to steal; to pilfer
obi - broad sash worn with a kimono
ord - point of a weapon; a beginning
orf - viral infection of sheep
ort - scrap of food; morsel
pam - card game in which jack of club has highest value
pax - tablet decorated with sacred figure and kissed by participants in mass
ped - naturally formed mass or aggregate of soil
per - through; according to; by means or agency of
pro - in favour of; for
pug - ground clay mixed with water
puy - small volcanic cone
pyx - box or vessel in which coins or consecrated Eucharist are kept
qat - leaves chewed or brewed in tea as a stimulant
qua - in the capacity of
ras - headland
rep - plain-woven fabric with crosswise ribs
ret - to expose to moisture; to soak; to soften by soaking
rev - to run an engine before bringing it into use
ria - normal drowned valley; long wide creek
roc - enormous legendary Arabian bird
rom - a gypsy man
rya - colourful Scandinavian knotted-pile rug
sal - a salt
saw - saying or proverb
say - delicate woollen fabric
seg - stud or metal plate in sole of a shoe to prevent wear
sic - thus
suq - Middle Eastern marketplace
taj - crown or head-dress
taw - to prepare skins by soaking, salting, stretching and paring
ted - to spread grass for drying
teg - a sheep in its second year; the fleece of such a sheep
tej - Ethiopian honey-mead
tex - unit of measurement of fineness of fibres and yarn
tod - old unit of weight of wool equal to 28 pounds
tog - unit of measurement for insulation properties of fabric
ton - unit of cooling power equal to 12,000 BTU per hour
tot - bone or other object retrieved from garbage pile
tow - bundle of untwisted natural fibres
tup - ram; pile-driver; striking face of steam hammer or jackhammer
tye - inclined trough for washing ore
ure - use; custom
vis - force; power
vug - small cavity in a rock
wen - enormously congested city
wey - old measure for dry goods usually equal to 40 bushels
wis - to know, to believe
wye - a Y-branching pipe or railroad track arrangement
wyn - old English rune having value 'w'
yad - rod used by readers of the Torah as a pointer for following text
yag - synthetic diamond made of yttrium aluminum garnet
yam - posting-house along a road
yaw - to move unsteadily side to side; to rotate about a vertical axis
yen - craving or yearning
yeo - stream or drain used in mining
yew - to rise, as a layer of froth in a boiling liquid
yex - to hiccup, belch or spit
yok - pejorative Jewish term for a non-Jew
yon - yonder; that over there; those over there
zek - inmate of prison labour camp
zel - form of Oriental cymbal
zho - cross between a yak and a cow
zug - waterproof leather used for boots

abjure - renounce or turn away from
aught - anything
belie - give a false impression
bight - curvy races at the edge of a geographical feature
bivouac - a temporary camp, usually without a tent
cairn - mound of stones used as a marker, such as a roman road marker or a tombstone
descry - to catch a sight of
ell - a measure of distance, that is no longer used for some reason, equal to 45in or 114 cm
ewer - large, wide-mouthed water jug
eyot - small island usually found in a river
furlong - 1/8 of a mile
hame - hide or pelt
louver - a dome structure on the roof with side-opennings help smoke escape
niggard - mystery person, one that gives gifts, but in a grudging manner (probably not used due to it's similarity with another certain word)
passward - something granting passage of a guard (and you know where another certain misspelled word originated from)
quail - be intimidated by, give way to
tithe - 1/10th
tryst - an arranged meeting
tumult - a noisy disturbance
upbraid - criticize

commonly misused, at least i have had to correct a few people in the last couple of months

wroth vs wraith vs wrath

wroth - adj (angry, wrathful)
wraith - ghost apparition
wrath - fierce anger (as an adjective meaning archaic)

yeah people commonly misspeak that one

another one that i come in contact with even more oftenly is the phrase "I could care less".... seriously, people, get it straight, its "I couldn't care less" if you could care less, then you obviously care some about that subject....

#5 Not half- but whole!

Not half- but whole!


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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:07 AM

While not specifically a rare word, but cleave is one of my favorites.
A common meaning to mean to split.
An older usage means to stick together.

Fun to be your own antonym.
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#6 C1ay



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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:40 AM

A few uncommon two letter words:

AA rough, cindery lava
AI three-toed sloth
AL East Indian tree
BA eternal soul in Egyptian mythology
EM printer's measurement
EN printer's measurement
JO sweetheart
KA Egyptian spiritual self
KI vital life-sustaining energy
OD hypothetical force of natural power
OE Faroean wind
QI vital life-sustaining energy

#7 alexander


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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:48 AM

actually there are a few words that are their own antonyms, also the term for that is contronyms:

here's a list from Fun With Words: Contronyms

anabasis - military advance, military retreat
apology - admission of fault in what you think, say, or do; formal defense of what you think, say, or do
aught - all, nothing
bolt - secure, run away
by - multiplication (e.g., a three by five matrix), division (e.g., dividing eight by four)
chuffed - pleased, annoyed
cleave - separate, adhere
clip - fasten, detach
consult - ask for advice, give advice
copemate - partner, antagonist
custom - usual, special
deceptively smart - smarter than one appears, dumber than one appears
dike - wall, ditch
discursive - proceeding coherently from topic to topic, moving aimlessly from topic to topic
dollop - a large amount, a small amount
dust - add fine particles, remove fine particles
enjoin - prescribe, prohibit
fast - quick, unmoving
first degree - most severe (e.g., murder), least severe (e.g., burn)
fix - restore, castrate
flog - criticize harshly, promote aggressively
garnish - enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)
give out - produce, stop production
grade - incline, level
handicap - advantage, disadvantage
help - assist, prevent (e.g., "I can't help it if...")
left - remaining, departed from
liege - sovereign lord, loyal subject
mean - average, excellent (e.g., "plays a mean game")
off - off, on (e.g., "the alarm went off")
out - visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)
out of - outside, inside (e.g., "work out of one's home")
oversight - error, care
pitted - with the pit in, with the pit removed
put out - extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)
quiddity - essence, trifling point
quite - rather, completely
ravel - tangle, disentangle
rent - buy use of, sell use of
rinky-dink - insignificant, one who frequents RinkWorks
sanction - approve, boycott
sanguine - hopeful, murderous (obsolete synonym for "sanguinary")
screen - show, hide
seed - add seeds (e.g., "to seed a field"), remove seeds (e.g., "to seed a tomato")
skinned - with the skin on, with the skin removed
strike - hit, miss (in baseball)
table - propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)
transparent - invisible, obvious
unbending - rigid, relaxing
variety - one type (e.g., "this variety"), many types (e.g., "a variety")
wear - endure through use, decay through use
weather - withstand, wear away
wind up - end, start up (e.g., a watch)
with - alongside, against
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#8 alexander


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Posted 09 September 2008 - 01:29 PM

Someone told me this one today :singer:

phantasmagoria - a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or as created by the imagination.

#9 Eclogite



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Posted 11 September 2008 - 04:56 AM

Then there is the combination of pretentious and unusual words to paraphrase well known sayings:

Refrain from a proximal and intensive exploratory scrutiny of the oral cavity of an equine quadraped acquired through a gratuitous action.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

#10 Kriminal99



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Posted 08 February 2011 - 10:04 AM

This thread is funny because referring to these words as rare is pretty accurate and says something about IQ tests at the high end. I always ace every number, pattern, spacial reasoning etc based IQ test (haven't taken REALLY hard ones) but always score around 140 iq on verbal tests. I don't spend a lot of time around people, don't watch much tv, don't spend a lot of time around really brainy pipe-smoking people that use big words.

Most of these words serve no real purpose for communication and are not used 99% of the time. They are used when they hail from a certain culture and that culture is being represented, or when someone is trying to use words as an art form etc.

At low - avg - slightly above average levels verbal IQ tests are supposed to measure your vocabulary size based on the belief that people are constantly bombarded with words and their meaning and only intelligence limits how many of those words a person learns. But you can't test IQ above a certain point just by having more and more rare words on the test. At some point the fundamental assumption fails and the person simply hasn't heard or seen those words before.

#11 writingmum


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Posted 08 February 2011 - 10:41 AM

Great for crossword enthusiasts.

Personally, as a writer, I would use just a small percentage of these words in prose form. However I could envisage developing a 'bright spark' character and using them in dialogue. I feel a short story coming on...

Thanks Alex

#12 Turtle



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Posted 27 November 2011 - 04:12 PM


clew of worms

murder of crows

gam of whales

drey of squirrels

dule of doves

hurtle of sheep

warren of rabbits

haras of horses

clowder of cats

dissimulation of birds

covey of quail

farrow of piglets

nye of pheasants

sord of mallards

rake of colts

cast of hawks

gaggle of geese

skulk of fox

mute of hounds

sedge of herons

kine of cows

cete of badgers

kindle of kittens

turn of turtles
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#13 jab2



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Posted 28 November 2011 - 07:36 AM

kerfuffle - commotion

Interesting. I grew up with an Afrikaans word, karfoefel, which loosely meant what a boy and girl do, which they should not do, when out of sight of the elders. Acts not necessarily of the sexual kind yet, but definitely leading to it.

Could it be related, as listening to some people, one can call their bedroom antics a commotion. :)
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#14 C1ay



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Posted 28 November 2011 - 09:29 AM


clew of worms

murder of crows

gam of whales.....

....cete of badgers

kindle of kittens

turn of turtles

I'll take this opportunity to mention a congress of baboons with the U.S. political machine on the move :D
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#15 Eclogite



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Posted 28 November 2011 - 10:02 AM

Adding to Turtle's list, I was assured by a former assistant that the collective noun for secrataries was a knowledge of secretaries.

There is an interesting one page article in the current National Geographic about new words ot be added to the Oxford English Dictionary. I don't have it with me, but one that caught my eye was one that described the tendency to overuse a word that was new to you. Which I would assuredly be guilty of if I could remember what the word actually was.
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#16 Turtle



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Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:28 PM

protologism - a newly coined word or phrase defined in the hope that it will become common; a recently created term possibly in narrow use but not yet acknowledged.

used in a sentence:
mikhail epstein hopes his word "protologism" doesn't remain one.

#17 Turtle



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Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:34 AM

from the world of botany. :bouquet:

alate - winged

sulcate - marked with longitudunal grooves

hirsute - pubescent with rather course or stiff but not pungent hairs

mesic - moist; neither very wet nor very dry

verticil - a whorl of leaves or flowers

flabellate - shaped like a fan

castaneous - chestnut-colored; dark reddish-brown

didymous - developing in pairs

umbo - a blunt or rounded elevation or protuberance on the end or side of a solid organ, as on the scales of many pine cones

pyriform - shaped like a pear

erose - irregularly notched, toothed, or indented margin, as if gnawed