Words That Sound Naughty But Are Not

alex atkins bookshelf wordsIf you grew up in the 60s, you might recall the hilarious comedy album, National Lampoon’s That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick, released in 1977. The album contained 27 short comedy sketches featuring the voice talents of John Belushi, Richard Belzer, Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill Murray, and Christopher Guest. One skit, titled “Confession,” was very memorable. During confession, a parishioner and a priest engage in a war of words, specifically slang synonyms for vagina. (You’ll have to listen to the full confession to hear how they got on that subject.) At each turn, the words get more offensive. Finally, the parishioner uses a term, rhino-clit, that apparently crosses some line of decency for the priest; he is immediately appalled: “That’s disgusting! That’s terrible! Nice mouth! You kiss your mother with that mouth? You eat with that mouth? Garbage mouth!” (The skit ends with the two of them exchanging slang synonyms for garbage mouth.)

The “Confession” comedy sketch underscores the fact that there are some words in the English language that are taboo because they are so crude and offensive. Clearly, as the parishioner learned there are some words that should never be spoken in polite society. But leave it to those fun-loving, mischievous folks at dictionary.com to mine the dictionary to find words that may sound naughty or disgusting, but actually are completely proper and devoid of salaciousness. Here is their list of titillating — excuse me, I mean, scintillating — words that sound dirty but are actually anodyne. Feel free to use them in any business or formal situation without eliciting gasps of shock or disgust.

carnificial: of or related to a butcher or executioner

copula: in linguistics, a linking verb

Diptych: in art, two painted or carved surfaces that are hinged together

erotetic: in linguistics, denotes subject matter pertaining to an interrogative, like rhetorical questions

futtock: the curved timber used in a ship’s frame

invaginate: to put into a sheath (eg, a sword)

macerate: to soften food by soaking it in liquid (Oreo cookie anyone?)

manal: an adjective describing or related to the hand

masticate: to chew

penetrance: in genetics, how a particular gene is expressed

pusillanimous: lacking courage

sextile: in astronomy, the position of tow heavenly bodies that are 60 degrees from one another

succulometer: a device that measures the moisture content of a vegetable

thallus: a blobby plant that lacks leaves, stems, and roots

titivate: to smake smart or spruce

tittle: the dot above the lowercase “i”

uranic: of or relating to astronomy; in chemistry, containing uranium

Uranus: the seventh planet from the sun

vagitus: a newborn baby’s first cry

For further reading: An Alphabet of Rare Words
Rare Anatomy Words
Words for Collectors
Words for Collectors 2
Wittiest Comebacks of All Time
Top Ten Insults Using Archaic Words
Top Ten Literary Insults
There’s A Word for That: Espirit de l’escalier

For further reading: youtube.com/watch?v=HRvrVhXY3ug

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