Wednesday, 23 February 2011

100 Whimsical words

Reiner sent me these today and I thought they were lovely and worth sharing.

The English language can be maddening to native speakers and learners alike, but is also delightfully rich, especially for those who seek to convey a lighthearted tone in their writing. Here are 100 words it’s difficult to employ without smiling. Though their meanings may be obscure, they each present a challenge — I mean an opportunity — for you to paint a vivid word picture. Imbue your musings with mirth by incorporating these terms:
absquatulate: to flee, abscond
abstemious: restrained in consumption of food and alcohol
balderdash: nonsense
ballyhoo: commotion, hype
bindle stiff: hobo
bodacious: remarkable, voluptuous
borborygmus: sound of intestinal gas
cahoots (in the expression “in cahoots with”): scheming
callipygian: possessing a shapely derriere
cantankerous: irritating, difficult
carbuncle: pustule
caterwaul: to wail or protest noisily
cattywampus: in disarray
cockamamie (also cockamamie): ridiculous
comeuppance: just desserts
concupiscent: possessed of erotic desire
copacetic (also copasetic, copesetic): satisfactory
curmudgeon: ill-tempered (and often old) person
debauchery: sensual gratification
doohickey: gadget or attachment
effluvium: unpleasant smell
factotum: all-around servant or attendant
farrago: confused mixture
festoon: to decorate; dangling decorative chains
finagle: to trick
fisticuffs: fighting with fists
flabbergasted: dumbfounded
flagitious: villainous
flibbertigibbet: flighty person
flummoxed: confused
foible: fault
folderol: nonsense
foofaraw: flash, frills
fusty: moldy, musty, old-fashioned
gallimaufry: mixture, jumble
gallivant: to jaunt or carouse
gobbledygook: nonsense, indecipherable writing
haberdasher: men’s clothier; provider of sundries
harridan: shrewish woman
higgledy-piggledy: in a disorganized or confused manner
high jinks (also hijinks): boisterous antics
hodgepodge: mixture, jumble
hokum: nonsense
hoodwink: to deceive
hoosegow: jail
hornswoggle: to dupe or hoax
hortatory: advisory
hullabaloo: uproar
ignoramus: dunce
imbroglio: confused predicament
jackanapes: impudent or mischievous person
jiggery-pokery: deceit
kerfuffle: disturbance
lackadaisical: bereft of energy or enthusiasm
loggerheads (in the expression “at loggerheads”): quarrelsome
lollygag: to meander, delay
loquacious: talkative
louche: disreputable
lugubrious: mournful, dismal
malarkey (also malarky): nonsense
maleficence: evil
mendacious: deceptive
oaf: clumsy or stupid person
obfuscate: confuse, obscure
obloquy: condemning or abusive language, or the state of being subject to such
obsequious: flattering
orotund: sonorous, or pompous
osculate: to kiss
paroxysm: convulsion or outburst
peccadillo: minor offense
periwinkle: light purplish blue; creeping plant; aquatic snail
perspicacious: astute
pettifogger: quibbler; disreputable lawyer
poltroon: cowardly, coward
prognosticate: to predict
pusillanimous: cowardly
raffish: vulgar
ragamuffin: dirty, disheveled person
rambunctious: unruly
resplendent: brilliantly glowing
ribaldry: crude or coarse behavior
rigmarole (also rigamarole): confused talk; complicated procedure
ruckus: disturbance
scalawag: scamp
scofflaw: lawbreaker
shenanigans: tricks or mischief
skedaddle: flee
skulduggery: devious behavior
spiffy: stylish
squelch: to suppress or silence; act of silencing; sucking sound
subterfuge: deception, or deceptive ploy
supercilious: haughty
swashbuckler: cocky adventurer; story about the same
sylph: lithe woman
tatterdemalion: raggedly dressed person; looking disreputable or decayed
termagant: shrewish woman
whirligig: whirling toy; merry-go-round; dizzying course of events
widdershins (also withershins): counterclockwise, contrary
willy-nilly: by force, haphazardly


Rana said...


Da said...

It is my sincere belief, that Douglas Adams, who wrote "a wildly improbable looking piece of flying hardware" about an eagle in "Last Chance To See", would have loved this list.