10 Funny (Peculiar) English Words You Don't Know

by Robin Bloor on November 11, 2009

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs, we’re off in search of funny – meaning odd – English words. I’ll explain the beginning of that sentence in a while, but first let’s all celebrate the awfulness of the English language. English is an unapologetic delinquent and criminally inspired language, most likely spawned by the devil and distributed by demonic snake oil salesmen. The language is designed to terrorize foreigners, and it’s almost impossible to understand how children ever learn it.

How you or anyone else can actually read this stuff is beyond mortal understanding. The key feature of English is that all words are spelled irregularly and there are no rules that have ever or will ever be enforced to regulate its antisocial behavior. So this collection of words is devoted entirely to the anarchic nature of English. Let’s begin with anomia.

1. Anomia. Anomia is what every person who grapples with the English  language suffers from – a difficulty in finding the right words. To tell the truth the word anomia is really psychological, referring to the inability to recall the right words or to remember names well, so its not exactly the word I’m searching for. But that’s because I suffer from anomia, like everyone else who speaks this cursed language. I just couldn’t find an English word that meant “the logical inability to find words because the language you’re trying to write in is so badly broken.”

And it is. It’s horribly irregular in almost every way you can imagine. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the irregularity of some words is the same as the irregularity of other words. The truth is that a few English words party together every now and then, get drunk and try to form a rule of some sort. But while they’re doing that, another set of words have got together, snorted coke and agreed on something quite different. And in another part of town there are words dropping acid, taking ecstasy and making omelettes with magic mushrooms. There’s no chance any one of them is going to agree with the coke heads and the drunkards.

Even the only rule of English I was ever taught, which relates to spelling, doesn’t work:

“It’s ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’.”

Well of course it is, unless you take into account words like weird, neighbor, being, rein, reign, therein, etc. Errr. Is there a rule in here somewhere? I think not.

Just imagine the hopelessness Johnny Foreigner feels when he comes across any of the following:

  • “There’s no denying he’s a handsome man. It’s an attribute I attribute to good breeding.”
  • “The archer stood beside the bow of the ship, bowed and then fired his bow.”
  • Or “He moped around on his moped.”

I could have provided 20 more examples of this easily enough. These are all examples of heteronyms – words that are spelt the same, but pronounced differently and have quite different meanings.

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