General Question

janbb's avatar

When was the last time you came across an unfamiliar word and what was it?

Asked by janbb (57794points) 1 month ago

Sparked by my reading the word “autogolpe” in today’s New York Times. It’s a word I’ve never come across before and I had to look it up. It comes from the Spanish and means a coup by a leader who comes to power legitimately but then conducts a coup by dissolving the legislature.

Do you have any newly learned words to share?

This is a for fun and learning question but I’m putting it in General so we don’t go too far from the topic. Please include a definition of the word if you can.

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49 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

I love the show Schitt’s Creek. Moira Rose has a vocabulary that is as flamboyant as her wigs and clothes.
Every episode introduces words to me. (Sadly, I forget them just a s quickly.)
There are several videos highlighting her command of the English language. Here is an example: Vocabulary Lessons with Moira.

Brian1946's avatar

The last time was December 5, 2020 at 9:37 AM, PST. The word was autogolpe. ;-)

I have an email subscription to Merriam-Webster’s word of the day. The last time they sent me an unfamiliar word was November 17, 2020. The word was fulvous: of a dull brownish yellow: tawny.

I remember an actress named Tawny Kitaen, but I don’t recall anything about her that was a dull brownish yellow.

Demosthenes's avatar

The word was “fyce”. It’s a variant of “fice” or “feist” and it means a small mongrel dog. The word “feisty” is derived from this word, in the sense of a person who has the qualities of a yappy aggressive little dog. But the word comes from a root meaning “fart” referring to a bad-smelling mangy cur. The meaning seems to have been enhanced by people blaming their lap dogs on flatulence that they themselves dealt.

This word had a much more colorful history than I was expecting. lol

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Uxorious – being submissive or overly fond of one’s wife

Jeruba's avatar

Happens all the time. Almost daily, in fact. And yes, I look them up, but I’m afraid I don’t remember them as well as I used to.

Last night: ideomotor.

janbb's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake I just read “Uxorious” in a novel I’m reading! I have heard the word before but I didn’t really know the meaning. I thought it was something like Uriah Heepish behaviour.

Jeruba's avatar

In law, the expression “et ux.” used to appear (still appears?) meaning “and wife” (et uxor). I knew “uxor” from Latin. So when I encountered “uxorious,” I knew it had to do with wife, but for a long while I thought it mean behaving like a wife—subservient, obliging, catering, etc. (this was in the old days). So for too long I thought I didn’t need to look it up. Eventually context clues forced a course correction. Etymology isn’t always the key.

I wonder what will happen or has happened to “et ux.” as a legal expression in these days when those relationships have become more complicated to define.

mazingerz88's avatar

The words scrim and manumit. From Lee Israel’s book.

janbb's avatar

@mazingerz88 Did you see the movie based on her story with Melissa McCarthy? It was very good.

janbb's avatar

But now I’m thinking there is a word that means Uriah Heepish behavior that I can’t remember. It’s something like fawning and obsequious but it also implies falseness. Anyone know what I mean?

Dutchess_III's avatar

“He was the wizard of a thousand kings…”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb Now I’m going to be wondering the same thing for days, I’m sure. Thanks.

janbb's avatar

I think I’ve got it – “unctious.” That’s what I was trying to remember.

janbb's avatar

But I spelled it wrong – it’s unctuous.

lastexit's avatar

Recently in a conversation with my aunt she used the word blatherskite to describe someone. I asked her what it meant and she said it’s someone who rambles on about nonsense. I wasn’t so sure it was a real word so I looked it up and apparently it is. It means a person who talks at great length without making much sense.

lastexit's avatar

@janbb I know. I’m hoping to somehow work it into a conversation of my own. I just hope it’s never used to describe me. :)

JLeslie's avatar

I come across words here and there, and yes I look them up. I can’t remember the most recent one, or any one right now off of the top of my head.

I also write words that I haven’t used or heard in years and then think twice and double check I am using them correctly. I am shocked how often this happens to me. It is almost like a new vocabulary word, but it isn’t. I’m right about the word most of the time.

Additionally, my husband asks me definitions all of the time. English is his second language, and so he asks me (tests me~) what something means or how to use a word correctly, and I often look it up to be sure I am giving him the correct answer.

When I have never heard of the word my wild guesses are wrong most of the time.

Brian1946's avatar

Sometime in the 60’s I read a Ripley’s Believe it or Not claim that while Shakespeare had a vocabulary of about 25,000 words, there are over 625,000 words in the English language.

Smashley's avatar

Just the other day on a history podcast: absquatulate. It’s a keeper.

To leave abruptly
The bad man absquatulated to golf courses unknown, taking our dignity and every last cent, but at least he was finally gone.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@lastexit….just mention trump and “blatherskite” slides right in perfectly!

rockfan's avatar

“Ennui”

mazingerz88's avatar

@janbb Yes saw the film which led me to buying the book. :)

lastexit's avatar

@Dutchess 111, Perfect!

Dutchess_III's avatar

The III is actually meant to represent Roman numerals. I’ve been Dutchess on 3 different networking sites.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Disengenerous.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Disengenerous or disingenuous @reddeer?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t know what either is.

canidmajor's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 Disengenerous is not a word, disingenuous can be easily found by Googling the definition.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Off the top of my head, “disingenuous” means you’re fooling people. Tricking them. Making them think you’re saying one thing when you’re saying another.

LostInParadise's avatar

I just came across the word allostasis in this article

zenvelo's avatar

“Unctuous” means oily, and is related to the Catholic sacrament formerly known as Extreme Unction, a.k.a. Last Rites, because the priest anoints the dying person with Holy Oil (Chrism).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well I learned that “novel” means “new.” But I kinda sorta always kind of knew that. “She had a novel idea!”

smudges's avatar

Pule = whimper. Learned this while playing “Crosswords3” on the internet.

zenvelo's avatar

Last night I learned of poiesis, the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before, or loosely translated as “craftsmanship”.

canidmajor's avatar

Today I came across “prolix”. I was delighted with the irony that such a loquacious person as myself was unfamiliar with a word that means, basically, wordy.

Brian1946's avatar

@canidmajor

I find it ironic that you’ve asserted your loquacity with such brevity. ;-o

canidmajor's avatar

@Brian1946 Points to you!! :-D

smudges's avatar

amain = with all one’s might. From a game called “Crosswords3”.

Jeruba's avatar

Wow, boanthropy. Just now.

Jeruba's avatar

And abdominous, last night. That one was easy to figure, but I hadn’t seen the adjective form before.

Demosthenes's avatar

Reading Nabokov, so of course I’ve had to look up a lot recently. We have: anent, marchpane, and amphoric.

Nabokov sure like this archaisms. lol

Dutchess_III's avatar

I.paint my walls march pane.

Jeruba's avatar

Which book, @Demosthenes? All of Nabokov abounds in words, teems with words, dare I say pullulates with words, although never of course with a nanosecond’s loss of control; but as I recall, the two most vocabulous were Ada and Pale Fire.

Demosthenes's avatar

This is Pnin. And I loved Pale Fire, though I have not yet read Ada.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t remember Pnin so well after several decades, but any Nabokov work that was originally written in English (and not translated from Russian) is going to outstrip my vocabulary. I am in undying awe of his mastery of a language we thought was ours.

There’s a straight line from Pale Fire to House of Leaves.

Demosthenes's avatar

(That should’ve said “Nabokov sure liked his archaisms”, but that’s what happens when I post from my phone).

I am in undying awe of his mastery of a language we thought was ours. That’s an excellent way of putting it.

And I had not heard of House of Leaves, but reading about it right now has piqued by interest. :)

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I read House of Leaves years ago and recommend it.

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