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Do You Know What These Weird English Words Actually Mean?

It's time to find out how well you really know the English language.

Originally posted on
Updated on

These are all words that can be found in a current dictionary. Without looking them up, try to guess the correct meaning of the following:

  1. 1. Trumpery

    Luggage designed for carrying an instrument
    Worthless nonsense
    The act of being more important than someone else
    A place where trumpets are serviced

    Trumpery means worthless nonsense or junk.

  2. 2. Koumpounophobia

    Fear of buttons
    Fear of crocodiles
    Fear of raccoons
    Fear of sharp objects

    Koumpounophobia is the fear of buttons.

  3. 3. Bumfuzzle

    A cluster of honeybees
    The act of tripping and falling
    To confuse or fluster
    To flourish or grow

    Bumfuzzle means to confuse or fluster.

  4. 4. Borborygmus

    A mythical horned sea creature
    A rumbling sound in the intestines
    A lump on the skin due to excessive growth of fibrous tissue
    A scarring of the bronchial tubes

    Borborygmus means intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas.

  5. 5. Callipygian

    Having a shapely booty
    A person who has beautiful handwriting
    A person who has big eyes
    One with extensive knowledge of firearms

    Callipygian means having shapely buttocks.

  6. 6. Pilgarlic

    A cruciferous vegetable
    A jokester
    A tool used for carving rocks
    A bald-headed man

    Pilgarlic means a bald-headed man.

  7. 7. Mumpsimus

    One who steals things that are not very valuable
    A notion that is held even though it's unreasonable
    Talk that is not important or meaningful
    The dead body of someone who has voluntarily donated an organ

    Mumpsimus means a traditional notion that is obstinately held although it is unreasonable.

  8. 8. Frippery

    Something that is not necessary or serious
    Something that is added to make something else more attractive
    A temporary or second lodging
    An elusive concept

    Frippery means something that is not necessary or not serious.

  9. 9. Gardyloo

    A collection of tulips
    A guest outhouse
    An herb that grows in tropical climates
    A warning cry

    Gardyloo refers to a warning cry used in Edinburgh when it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets.

  10. 10. Tommyrot

    A bacterial skin infection
    A joke made in poor taste

    Tommyrot means utter foolishness or nonsense.

  11. 11. Abecedarian

    A person learning the rudiments of something
    A former magician
    One who studies clay or clay minerals
    A person who is especially prone to illness

    Abecedarian means one learning the rudiments of something (as the alphabet).

  12. 12. Tmesis

    An infection caused by tick-borne bacteria
    An ability to learn and understand things gradually without much effort

    Tmesis means separation of parts of a compound word by the intervention of one or more words (e.g., "what place soever" for "whatsoever place").

  13. 13. Crapulence

    Sickness caused by excessive eating or drinking
    A rupturing of the intestines
    Ownership of excessive amounts of jewels
    A gambling addiction

    Crapulence means sickness caused by excessive eating or drinking.

  14. 14. Skosh

    To strike down
    To forgive
    To sweep something under the rug
    A small amount

    Skosh means a small amount; a smidgen.

  15. 15. Slubber

    To fumble with one's words
    To lose confidence
    To lose focus
    To perform carelessly

    Slubber means to perform hastily or carelessly.

  16. 16. Folderol

    A kitchen tool used to crush garlic
    Excessive confidence
    Foolish words or ideas
    A medicine used to treat stomach cramps

    Folderol means foolish language, behavior, or ideas.

  17. 17. Quodlibet

    A piece of music containing several different melodies
    A flat outdoor area for recreational activities
    A geometrical shape
    The act of going to a far extent

    Quodlibet means a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts.

  18. 18. Yclept

    An archaic name for a bartender
    To confuse one person for another
    A heinous crime
    To call or be named

    Yclept is the past tense of the archaic word "clepe," which means to call.

  19. 19. Jiggery-pokery

    A type of dance
    Dishonest or suspicious activity
    A game once played at casinos
    Quiet conversation

    Jiggery-pokery means dishonest or suspicious activity.

  20. 20. Usufruct

    The right to use or enjoy something
    An area where trains park
    A citrus fruit found in cold climates
    The act of breaching a contract

    Usufruct means the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another.

Do You Know What These Weird English Words Actually Mean?

Weird Words Aren't Really Your Thing, But That's OK

The good news: You're not some weirdo who sits around memorizing words no one uses. Good for you! The bad news: The next time someone does decide to whip one of these guys out, you might not get the joke when everyone else does, and you'll just have to chuckle along like you do OR ask someone what they mean, ruining the vibe for everyone. Unless you have friends who aren't really into using obscure English words, in which case there is no bad news.

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You'll Probably Do OK if You Have to Take the SATs Again

So maybe defining obscure English words isn't your forte of fortes, but guess what? It's not really that important, and you're going to be just fine! You did well enough, and you're probably a good person and will go far in life anyway. Congrats!

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You Are an Illustrious Linguist and All Your Friends are Probably Jealous

OK, so you're obviously some sort of savant or you maybe majored in arcane English words in college. Wow! You're amazing! Go you. You should probably consider being a dictionary editor or weird-word quiz maker.

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Want more fun word trivia? BuzzFeed's former copy chief, Emmy Favilla, wrote a book, and you can preorder it now!

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Inside A World Without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age, out November 14, you'll find thoughts on language, memes, and emojis, and even snippets from BuzzFeed quizzes and lists! Get it from Amazon for $17.68, Barnes & Noble for $18.02, or a local bookseller through IndieBound here.


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