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Names of Things You Didn’t Know Had Names

atkins bookshelf wordsWhat makes the English language so amazingly fascinating is not the words you know — it’s the words you don’t know. In the vast restaurant of the English language, the most delicious words are the ones off the menu, the ones you didn’t even know existed. Those are the words that you truly savor and evoke the response, “Really, there’s actually a word for that?” And word lovers all over the world recognize that cherished moment — just a few seconds, really — when they take delight in the knowledge of an obscure word that very few people know. You know the look — a knowing smile comes over their face, revealing the satisfaction of acceptance into some elite club or secret society. Herewith, Bookshelf presents a list of rare but delightfully delicious morsels for the indulgence of logophiles everywhere:

accismus: when a person pretends to refuse something when they really want it (eg., “I have no room for this appetizing piece of chocolate cake.”)

apthong: the silent letters in words like “know” or “naught”

armsate: the hole in a shirt or jumper through which you put your hand and arm

borborygmus: stomach growling

brannock device: that funky-looking metal device that measures your feet

chanking: food that a person spit out

diastema: the gap between front teeth (famous gap-toothed actors include: Madonna, Woody Harrelson, Jack Black, Elijah Wood, Anna Paquin)

fillip: the technical term for snapping fingers

grawlix: a sequence of typographical symbols to represent a swear word (eg., “What the #*%&!? happened here?!)

griffonage: very bad, illegible handwriting

lalochezia: swearing to relieve pain or stress (used disproportionately by parents of teens)

lemniscate: the infinity symbol

mucophagy: eating the boogers that one picks from their nose (see rhinotillexis)

ophyron: the space between the eyebrows

popliteal: the hollow area behind the knee

rasceta: the creases  on the inside of the wrist

rhinotillexis: nose-picking

sillage: the faint smell of perfume of a person who passes by

tittle: the dot above the letter “i”

tragus: the small lump of flesh just before the ear canal

ucalegon: A neighbor whose house is on fire or has burned down

ullage: the empty space between liquid and the bottle top

What other obscure words should be added to this list?

Read related posts: Top Ten Insults Using Archaic Words
Words Invented by Book Lovers
How Many Words in the English Language?
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
What is the Longest Word in English?
There’s a Word for That: Epeolatry

For further reading: Words by Paul Dickson
The Whatchamacallit: Those Everyday Objects You Just Can’t Name by Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum
There are Tittles in this Title by Mitchell Symons

Word Drops by Paul Anthony Jones

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