Top 10 Really Obscure Words

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When Hamlet said, “Words, words, words,” he spoke to the Top Ten of our souls. Yes! What better Top 10 than one that’s both educative and fun!? None! So strap on those thinking caps, everyone, and learn these remarkable words!

10. Haligraphy n. a treatise or dissertation on salt. I’ve seen so much salt melting the snow off our roads that I think I could write a haligraphy!
9. Panurgic adj. Skilled in all kinds of work. Bertha is simply panurgic! There’s not a thing she’s incapable of.
8. Villeggiatura n. one’s stay in a country. Our week-long villeggiatura in Argentina was very relaxing.
7. Facinorous adj. incredibly wicked. She’s so facinorous, Dorothy, that I’m afraid she’ll unleash her troop of flying monkeys on us!
6. Jackanapes n. a mischievous child or insolent guy. Oh no, I don’t want to babysit that jackanapes again! He’s a nightmare!
5. Obnubilate v. to cloud over or obscure. This word has obnubilated my thoughts. I can’t think of a good example.
4. Milquetoast n. a very unassertive, timid person. If you like this word, don’t be a milquetoast – let us know!
3. Abactor n. one who steals and herds away cattle in droves. Sheriff, you must find that abactor immediately! How can I run a milk business with that bully taking my livestock?
2. Cachinnate v. to laugh immodestly or loudly. The man in front of me at the cinema was cachinnating during every sad scene. I felt like throwing a Junior Mint at him!
1. Whilom adj. former. Now that he discovered the word cachinnate, whilom is his whilom favorite word.

What’s your favorite obscure word?


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  1. Avatar
    Brianna 02/16/2010 at 9:22 pm #

    evanescent adj. – brief, fleeting, ephemeral, short-lived
    The band Evanescence’s fame has been the opposite of evanescent.

    somnambulism n. – sleepwalking!!!
    Sometimes, because of somnambulism, my brother will find his room rearranged.

    loquacious adj. – wordy, verbose, talkative, rambling
    I apologize if this comment has been too long-winded and loquacious.

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    Katharine 02/16/2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Jackanapes & milquetoast are not as obscure as they might be. I often call people jackanapes or occasionally “trollop” or “baggage.” (Baggage = hussy)

    But then again, I study 18th century literature for a living, so….

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    Arielle 02/16/2010 at 10:19 pm #


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    Arielle 02/16/2010 at 10:26 pm #


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    Emily 02/17/2010 at 12:15 am #

    Milquetoast is one of my favourite words! And incrdible fun to say. 😀 I saw it first on my Grampys, ‘New Word A Day’ tear off calender.
    I believe it was also a cartoon character at some point.

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    Sophie 02/17/2010 at 1:01 am #

    jackanapes is hilarious! I’ll be using that one soon.

    I’m a personal fan of “zounds!” which is a general exclamation (a la “whoa!”)

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    anita 02/17/2010 at 1:39 am #

    This is quite funny for me because I am a Spanish student of English and some of these words are the same in Spanish (coming from Latin, I suppose), meanwhile other normal words you use everyday are much more difficult for me to remember/guess their meaning. 🙂

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    Rachel 02/17/2010 at 3:49 pm #

    Ha, ha, this reminds me of Bill O’Reily’s show!

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    Peechas 02/18/2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Obscure doesn’t really need to mean large or wordy, so much as unusual. I think ichthyology which is the study of fish fits the requirement of obscure more readily. Or, my current favorite word of the week; Sepulchral meaning suggestive of a tomb, hollow and deep. As in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s lead side character Slartibartfast’s voice is often referenced as being sepulchral.

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    And this is why I read localhost/modcloth. Love the post.

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    Susanne Song 05/30/2010 at 8:10 am #

    If only more people could read this!

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