Word lovers take delight in using rare words to describe everyday things and people. The more arcane, the better. This was the inspiration for lexicographer David Grambs dictionary of rare and unusual words for people, titled Dimboxes, Edopts, and Other Quidams: Words to Describe Life’s Indescribable People. Grambs dusted off some old dictionaries and word books from the 1800s to find some fascinating specimens for his “bestiary of people words.” In chapter ten, Grambs list some very rare words for troublemakers (annoyers, meddler, intruders, upstarts, and bores):
agitprop: a vociferous propagandistic agitator, particularly now with leftist or Marxist sympathies.
ami de cour: (from the French, meaning “friend at court”) a fair-weather friend; an insincere friend.
bashi-bazouk: an out-of-control, undisciplined person who is oblivious to laws; a wild person.
bitter-ender: a very stubborn person who refuses to compromise or apologize.
blateroon: a chatterbox.
crosspatch: a person who is disagreeable and ill-natured.
Dogberry: (derived from a character from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing) a smug official who is dumb and inept.
marplot: a person who interferes, well-meaning or not, and ruins things.
mauvais sujet: (from the French, meaning “bad subject”) a thoroughly untrustworthy person
quidnunc: a gossip and newsmonger.
scattergood: a person who wastes time or money (or both).
smell-feast: a person who invites himself to a meal.
stormy petrel: a person who instigates a fight or an argument.
Once you learn them, you can start dropping these words into your conversations or texts and enjoy the reactions.
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4 thoughts on “Rare Words to Describe People”
I had an uncle who was both a smell-feast and a stormy petrel!
Hi Christine: I am sorry for you and your family. Sadly, it seems these two obnoxious qualities are linked; and the latter requires the former. As Thanksgiving approaches, people need to be on the lookout for these types. Cheers. Alex
Great post! Thanks for sharing!
Hi May-Lynn: Thanks so much for your note and support of Bookshelf, written for people like you who are eternally curious and love the idiosyncrasies of the English language. I own more than 1,000 dictionaries and specialized word books. Always fun to dive in and find rare words and phrases. Cheers. Alex