10 Words You Don't Know

by on April 11, 2009

Some people who find this web page will surely know one or two of these words, because that’s just the way of the world. But most of you will not know these words and, to be honest, you will not find them hard to forget. Here’s the list of ten, randomly selected from a much longer list of obscure and strange words:

  1. Anopisthography. This refers to the practice of writing on just one side of the paper. When I have a notebook that opens left-to-right I’m not an anopisthographist, but when the pages are bound at the top, I convert to anopisthography immediately. I’ll bet most of you are the same. I’ll also bet that all of you suffer from “post-it anopisthorgraphy.” Only a curmudgeonly pinchpenny would fail to do so.
  2. Quomodocunquize. Quomodocunquize is a word for recessionary times. I’m hoping it will see much greater usage now that so many of us are impecunious. It means: to make money by any possible means. Naturally that includes both immoral and amoral means, but could also include ingenious means, such as making money from Google Ads by doing nothing more than blogging about unusual words.
  3. Jentacular. What could be more jentacular than the smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the stove and the rustle of cornflakes as you pour them into the bowl. The answer is: nothing, really, as long as you live in America or the UK. However, if you live in Scandinavia, such things are not jentacular at all – although the sight of sliced cheeses and cold meats on a plate certainly are. Jentacular means relating to breakfast.
  4. Pigmentocracy. From the presidential perspective, 2008 saw the end of pigmentocracy in America – pimentocracy being government by those of one skin color. To noone’s surprise, pigmentocracy tends to be the rule in most countries. The US is now one of the few exceptions.
  5. Squaliform. This means shaped like a shark. It’s the kind of word you don’t get to use very often, even if you know it. All sharks are, by definition, squaliform. But not many other denizens of the deep are similarly shaped. Also, should you actually be sailing in shark infested waters, and you see the cliché sharks fin sticking out of the wave, you’re more likely to explete the presence of the shark than calmly pronounce “I believe there’s something squaliform out there.”
  6. Quickhatch. A quickhatch is not what it sounds like (to me); a relatively premature chick emerging from its egg. It’s something else entirely. Hugh Jackman portrays a human quickhatch in the X-Men movies, with the latest movie in the series being very specifically about Hugh Jackman’s acquisition of his quickhatchness. A quickhatch is a wolverine. Apparently the word derives from an American Indian word.
  7. Gossypibom. I love really really specialized words and gossypibom is a great exemplar. A gossypibom is: a surgical sponge accidentally left inside a patient’s body. It’s a surprising fact that patients occasionally leave the operating theater with a little souvenir from the surgical team. Statistics suggest that it occurs about 30 times per week in the US and a couple of times a week in the UK (but they do more operations per person in the US.) Things left behind include swabs, clips, screws and surgical implements. Only the first on this list is actually a gossypibom.
  8. Noxal. When people discover, to their dismay, that they are the proud owner of a gossypibom, they are likely to regard it as a noxal thing. As a word, “noxal” has, on occasion, been used to mean noxious, but the meaning of this adjective is properly a little more specialized than that. It pertains to damage or wrongful injury from an object (or possibly an animal belonging to someone else.)
  9. Hypothecary. I’m sure you’re well aware what an apothecary is. It’s an alternative word for pharmacist. A hypothecary, however, is not a hyperactive pharmacist. It’s much more topical than that. A hypothecary is a mortgagee – someone who loans money to house buyers. Under normal circumstances hypothecaries simply make a living by gathering interest payments from the mortgage. In recent times hypothecaries bundled up tranches of property loans into derivatives and sold them to banks all over the world. This created an unsustainable financial bubble. The bursting of the bubble gave rise to a stock market crash and a huge increase in unemployment. This left many people with little option but to quomodocunquize.
  10. Xenobombulation. I’ve got a white paper to write right now, and I really should get on with it, but I’m xenobombulating again. Xenobombulation is the act of avoiding ones duties, malingering, even feigning illness or pulling some stunt like writing a blog post when you really should be getting on with real work.

See also:

10 Curse Words You Don’t Know
10 Insulting Words You Don’t Know
10 Nonsense Words You Don’t Know
10 Words You Don’t Know With Limericks
10 Units of Measure You Don’t Know

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