There are approximately 470,000 words in Webster’s Dictionary.  Only 6% of these words are regularly used by native English speakers.  An average adult’s working vocabulary is around 30,000 words, plateauing around middle age.  I think my working vocabulary tends to be in the upper percentiles, thanks to being a weird kid who liked to casually read the dictionary and was obsessed with the Windows 95 Encarta Mindmaze Game. I love collecting interesting words.  Below are some of my favorite lesser known words for things, listed alphabetically:

1. AGLET

As in:

Son of a bitch, I didn’t realize my shoes were untied, and I broke the aglet.  Now my shoelaces are all frayed.

aglet

In other words:

The end of my shoelace broke, and now I can’t lace up my shoes.

2. AKIMBO

As In:

I’ve been trying to stand with my hands akimbo while at work in an effort to appear confident and command respect.

akimbo

In other words:

It’s been proven that standing in the power pose for as little as two-minutes a day increases testosterone levels, and lowers cortisol levels, which builds power and confidence.

3. AGRAFFE

As In:

If you take a champagne cork, and flip the agraffe over, it looks like a hot air balloon.

agraffe

In other words:

I went on a hot air balloon ride, and we celebrated a safe ride with a champagne toast at the end.  The captain took the cork and wire cage thingy and made me a mini-hot air balloon souvenir.

4. BALACLAVA

As In:

Did you hear that the corner store was robbed by a man wearing a balaclava?

balaclava

In other words:

I had a hankering for some baklava on a snowy day, so I grabbed my ski mask, and walked to the local Greek restaurant for the scrumptious treat.

5. BOLLARD

As In:

Bollards are not permitted on sidewalks 8-feet or less, and must be 12-inches from the face of curb.

bollard

In other words:

Dammit, I scrapped up the front of my car when I was trying to parallel park next to a concrete post that was too close to the curb on a narrow street.

6. CRASH

As In:

A crash of Rhinos sought their revenge by stampeding the poachers who were after their coveted horns.

crash

In other words:

Herds of rhinoceros are being decimated to the point of extinction by poachers supplying the expanding Asian black market for their horns.

7. CRAPULENCE

As In:

Miller Lite always gives me the biggest crapulence the next day. I’ll be stuck on the toilet all fucking day.

crapulence

In other words:

If I keep playing flip cup with this shitty beer, I am going to have the biggest hangover tomorrow.  It always gives me the runs.

8. CURIO

As in:

I went on a tour of the mansion that barbed-wire built, and the wife had a whole separate little house dedicated to her curios from travels abroad, something to aspire to.

curio

In other words:

I have a collection of little trinkets from my world travels that I keep next to my childhood globe.

9. CYGNET

As in:

The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson is a story about a sad cygnet who was accidentally born to a duck family.  He proved them all wrong by growing up into a beautiful swan.

cygnet

In other words:

Baby swans are really ugly when they are born, especially compared to cute yellow ducklings, but they grow up into a beautiful white bird.

10. DEWCLAW

As in:

My dog is so cute when she scratches her head with her dewclaw.

 

dewclaw

In other words:

Many mammals have a rear appendage sort of like a thumbnail, and the function is up to some debate.

11. FERRULE

As in:

There are few sounds worse then when your pencil has no eraser and the bare ferrule scrapes the paper instead.

ferrule

In other words:

I hate when you need to erase something and the pencil is old and out of eraser, but you try anyway, and that metal part scraps your error away by leaving a hole in the paper instead.

12. MONDEGREEN

As in:

My favorite mondegreen is “Hold me closer Tony Danza.”  It is completely feasible for Elton John to write that line.

mondegreen

In other words:

My sister mistook the lyrics to Pinball Wizard, and thought it was song about a mean pit bull.

13. OBELUS

As in:

The perfect symbol for the current state of our union is the obelus.

Girl Holding a Division Sign

In other words:

The division sign is two dots with a plain line in between, which pretty much sums up in one simple symbol what it means to divide .

14. OCTOTHORP

As in:

She always uses way too many octothorps in her Instagram posts.

octothorpe

In other words:

When I was a kid, we called it a number sign or a pound sign, but the most popular term these days for the miniature tic-tac-toe board symbol is hashtag.

15. POLYMATH

As in:

I don’t consider myself an expert in any one subject, but I do like to consider myself a bit of a polymath, but no where near the genius of Leonardo da Vinci.

polymath

In other words:

My dad always told me that its better to know a little about a lot, than a lot about a little.

16. PHILTRUM

As in:

The operation smile surgeon did such a wonderful job repairing her philtrum, that you can’t even tell she had a cleft palette.

philtrum

In other words.

Without that groove between our nose and lips, our face would look totally different.

17. TITTLE

As in:

Don’t forget to put tittles on all your eyes and jays and cross all your tees.

tittle

In other words:

I have historically bad handwriting, and regularly forgot to dot my i’s when I was little.

18. TMESIS

As in:

Philadelphians can frequently be heard using the tmesis, “a-whole-nother”.  Do I myself use it?  Abso-fucking-lutely.

tmesis

In other words:

Some grammar snobs might suggest that interjecting one word into another word is in proper English, I however think it can add great effect to what you say.

19. SCUTTLEBUTT

As in:

I heard a scuttlebutt that he got fired because he sent her dick pics.

scuttlebutt

In other words:

I was casually getting a drink from the water cooler when I heard the craziest rumor from the ladies gossiping at lunch.

20. WATTLE

As in:

A turkey would be a much prettier bird without that wattle.

wattle

In other words:

That red fleshy neck skin on a turkey is really ugly.

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