Did you know there are 171,476 words in the latest edition of The Oxford English Dictionary? That’s a lot of words for one language, far more than we can use in any one day. In most cases we use just a fraction of the words to communicate on a daily basis repeating the same words over and over again, but what about those words that we never seem to use, hear or write? Well there are some pretty interesting ones out there. So here’s our weird/interesting English word alphabet.
A – The aphelion is the point of orbit where a planet or comet is furthest away from the sun.
B – To be a Bacchanal is to be a participant in drunken riotous celebration or to be a follower of the roman god of wine Bacchus from where the drunken revelry definition was derived.
C – Cataplexy is the sudden temporary paralysis bought on by sudden emotion and can last from just a few seconds to up to five minutes.
D – Demiurge is a conceptual name given by some philosophies to the creator of the world pointing to an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe.
E – Eidolism is the belief that ghosts still walk this world after death, something a lot of people tend to believe in.
F – Flibbertigibbet is a Middle English word which sounds like a Disney creation meaning to be a flighty and gossipy person.
G – Galeanthropy is the belief that you are a cat acting out the mannerisms of a feline (purring etc.).
H – To sing Hosanna is the cry of praise and adoration in worship.
I – Many of us may be hesitant about going to the Doctor but Iatrophobia is the irrational fear of going to the doctor’s surgery.
K – The Kukri is a heavy, curved Nepalese Ghurkha knife similar to a machete. Popular culture has created the legend that once unsheathed the knife cannot be put back until it has drawn blood.
L – A Lychgate or Lichgate is the roofed gate of the churchyard you may walk through before entering the grounds of a church or graveyard.
M – Mechanolatry is the worship of machines.
N – Nihilism is the rejection of all religions, opposition to all authority, governments and moral principles which leads to rejection of local laws and authorities.
O – You may have never heard of it, but you may certainly have used an octothorpe. That’s because it’s more commonly known in everyday life as the ‘Hash’ sign or ‘#’.
P – A Parthian shot is a hostile remark or gesture delivered when departing from a particular situation or venue, something I’m sure we’ve all done without knowing what it was called.
Q – We may all know someone who is Querimonious, that is someone who is querulous and very often complains.
R – The Rhumb line is an imaginary line that intersects all time meridians at the same angle across the globe.
S – A sobriquet is a nickname sometimes assumed by the individual but more often than not given by others and used with such familiarity that it becomes the norm i.e. Genghis Khan is rarely known by his real name, “Temüjin”.
T – In Catholicism, transubstantiation is the religious doctrine that the substance of bread and wine will change into the substance of Christ’s body when consumed at Holy Communion.
U – Uranophobia is the fear of Heaven, derived from the Greek for heaven “Uranos”.
V – Vexiollogy is the study of domestic, international and heraldic flags once owned by aristocracy to be raised on the battle field as a muster point.
W – Wyrd is a concept of Anglo-Saxon culture corresponding to fate and destiny, the word is the relation of the modern English word “weird”.
X- An Xanthippe is an ill mannered, nagging irritable woman. The word was derived from an Athenian woman called “Xanthippe” who was also Socrates’s, the Athenian scholars, wife.
Y – A yegg is American slang for someone who is a safecracker or burglar thought to have derived from a famous American safecracker with the surname “Jäger”, German for hunter.
Z – Zoomemetic is the mimicking of animals or parts of animals, something we have all probably done at some stage.
Do you have any favourite words that don’t get used in everyday conversation?