BY RHIANNON TOWELL
Learning new words is always kind of interesting. Sometimes the meanings are fascinating, other times you just want to sound smart. This list consists of ten odd words that don’t quite seem to fit their somewhat odd meanings.
1. COZEN: Meaning to deceive through trickery “cozen” sixteenth-century term which was then considered ‘plain English’. The term is derived from the Italian word “cozzone”, which means horse-trader, a prominent aspect of sixteenth century life. Such trades often involved compromising negotiations, which explains why it became associated with unfairness and sly deceit.
2. DITTY: Despite sounding like a synonym for ditsy, or a phrase you would use to describe someone who is about to fall over, a “ditty” is actually a type of short, poetic song. Coming into use as early as the 1200s, the word’s origin combines Old French “ditie”, meaning poem, and Latin “dictāre”, which means dictate. Though it sounds a little out of place, this aligns with the verb definition of “dictate”, which describes reading aloud for a transcription or recording.
3. FILIPENDULOUS: Though it sounds rather ludicrous, “filipendulous’ actually has a rather simple meaning: hung by a thread. With Latin roots, the term combines “filum”, meaning thread, and “pendere”, meaning to hang. It is also said to be derived from the Indo-European root-word “pen”, which is also seen in “pendulum”.
4. GARRULOUS: Know someone who loves the sound of their own voice or lives for gossip? Want to sound smart while calling someone out on their rambling? That is exactly what “garrulous” is for. Originating in the 1600s from the Latin phrases “garrulus” and “garrire”, it is generally used to describe uninteresting and tedious rambling; like the unnecessary, repetitive kind that just gets really annoying but doesn’t seem to stop, so you just kind of zone out…
5. HIPPOPOTOMONSTROSESQUIPPADALIOPHOBIA: The best thing about this word, it that if you’re unfortunate enough to actually have the phobia, you will never be able to tell anyone about it. That’s right, this insanely long and complicated assortment of letters translate into the fear of long words. While it also has an alternative, “sesquipedalophobia”, you have to feel for anyone who actually is afraid of long words.
6. MISNOMER: Going along the lines of being ‘politically correct’, “misnomer” refers to the application of incorrect or inappropriate names. Derived from the Anglo-French term “misnomer”, meaning to misname, and Latin term “nomen”, meaning “name”, the phrase came about in the 1400s. Misnomer’s often arise because a term has gone out of fashion and is no longer socially correct. Common misnomers we’re all guilty of include the misleading terms ‘koala bears’, as they’re not actually bears, and ‘king crabs’, as they’re not actually crabs.
7. RECALCITRANT: In other words: a rebel. “Recalcitrant” means to refute control, authority or restraint. The term originated in the nineteenth century, originating from the Latin word “recalcitrare”, which was introduced to describe mules and horses who would “kick back” in protest to their masters.
8. NUDNIK: Smart insults are always entertaining. “Nudnik” is a great word to say, and just the kind of mellow, won’t-get-me-in-trouble kind of insult for siblings who get on your nerves. Meaning “nuisance” and “bore” the 20th century phrase originated from the Polish term “nudzić”.
9. POWWOW: It sounds like the noise a superhero punch would make in a comic book, but bizarrely enough, “powwow” means to meet at a social gathering. The American Indian phrase has been in use since the 1600s and usually refers to their traditional gatherings.
10. VACUOUS: Like “vacuum”, “vacuous” means empty, but like nudnik, it also carries insulting implications, indicating a lack of thought or intelligence. Coming into use in the 1600s, the term is of Latin origins, derived from “vacuus”.
Whether you end up using any of these is up to you, but if you ever want to get creative, you’ll at least be able to powwow with your most garrulous and recalcitrant friends and compose a ditty about misnomers.