There’s a Word for That!

One of my favorite things about the English language is how friggin’ huge it is. For a variety of reasons, English devours new words voraciously while holding on to old words forever. The result is a massive, freakish, glorious chimera that includes a word for just about anything you can imagine.

For instance…

You misheard the Jimi Hendrix line “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky” as “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.” Hearing a phrase that was never spoken? There’s a word for that: mondegreen.

A guy on the street has three cups, puts a ball under one, and mixes them all up. He wants you to bet on which cup the ball’s under. The three-cup swindle? There’s a word for that: thimblerig.

Calling in sick when your only symptom is an aversion to work? There’s a word for that: malingering.

The symbol for division, this guy right here: ÷  Yeah, there’s a word for that: obelus.

The floppy hat Link wears in the Legend of Zelda games?

Like a boss.

No, Nintendo didn’t invent that. There’s a much older word for it: Phrygian cap.

And finally, something we’ve all encountered at one time or another: a dude (or lady!) who writes crappy poems. There’s a word for that, even if they probably don’t know it: poetaster.

Learned any cool words lately?

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4 responses to “There’s a Word for That!

  1. I recently began keeping a journal of new words I encounter while reading. I’ve got words like garrotte, desultory, affidavit, consanguinity, perfidious, fecund, and concomitant. I’ve also had fun filling the journal with random words I pull out of the dictionary.

    I particularly like the word I just learned, “rill”. It’s a small word, and I almost looked over it because it didn’t catch my eye as easily as some of the larger words. And it’s meaning is nice- just a small brook. That’s it. Simple and beautiful.

  2. You might be interested in “The Story of English in 100 words” by David Crystal. It’s a nice overview of all the different influences on English language throughout the centuries.

    • Sounds cool. I’ve actually got a book languishing on my shelf now called “Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way.” Just need to make time to read it…and work on the AI, and spend time with my friends, and, and… But thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

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