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A collection of words that are unusual, archaic, obscure - or just plain weird.

Some people collect stamps, some collect vintage cars - I collect words. This is a small collection of obscure, archaic, odd and just plain weird words accumulated over many years. My principle source of definition is almost always the shorter Oxford English Dictionary, although Messrs Funk & Wagnall have played a part. There are also a few comments by myself as italicised additions.


ACEDIA (n) Spiritual or mental sloth (the fourth of the seven Deadly Sins (also Accidie). Apathy.

ADAMANTINE (adj) Made of or the adamant; of impenetrable hardness. Having a diamond-like lustre.

ADUMBRATION (n) A slight sketch; a foreshadowing; an overshadowing; obscuration.

AFFLATUS (n) The communication of supernatural knowledge; divine impulse; (esp. poetic) any creative inspiration or impulse (common in Writing.com).

ALIFORM (adj) Wing shaped.

ALIMENT (n) Food. Figuratively, support or mental sustenance.

ALUDEL (n) One of a series of pear shaped vessels of glass or earthenware, fitted into one another and used for condensation.

AMARANTH (n) An imaginary, unfading flower.

AMPHIGOURI (n) (Also AMPHIGORY). Nonsense verse or composition. ("Poetic Insanity refers.)

ANALEPTIC (n & adj) Restorative.

ANILE (adj) Like an old woman; weak or feeble minded.

ANTILOGY (n) Contradiction in terms.

APODICTIC (adj Clearly demonstrated. Indisputable.

APOLAUSTIC (adj) Seeking enjoyment; self-indulgent.

APOSTEME (n) (also APOSTUME) An abscess.

A POSTERIORI (adv) Reasoning from effects to causes; inductively. Contrast with A PRIORI, reasoning from causes to effects; deductively. Loosely, as far as one knows.

APOTROPAIC (adj) Having the power to avert evil influence or bad luck.

ARENACEOUS (adj) Having the consistency of sand; sandy. Living or growing in sand.

ARGUTE (adj) Sharp, shrewd or, of sounds, shrill.

ATHANASIA (n) Deathlessness; immortality.

ATHANOR (n) A self-feeding digesting furnace capable of maintaining a steady heat for long periods of time. Used by alchemists.

ATRABILIOUS (adj) Disposed to hypochondria; melancholy; acrimonious; splenetic.

AUTOCHTHON (n) Original or earliest known inhabitants.

AVATAR (n) Originally in Hindu mythology, a god descended to earth in human form. Also, an incarnation or embodiment of another person or an idea. Also, more generally, a manifestation.

AVUNCULAR (adj) Of, pertaining to or resembling an uncle. (If, of course, all uncles fit a particular pattern!)


BAYAMO (n) A violent wind that blows on the south coast of Cuba.

BIFARIOUS (adj) Two ranked. Ambiguous.

BOREAL (adj) Pertaining to the north or the north wind.

BRACHIATE (v) Of an ape, to move by using its arms to swing from branch to branch of a tree.

BRUMOUS (adj) Wintry, foggy.

BRUXISM (n) Involuntary, habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth.

BURIN (n) Tool for engraving on copper or wood.


CADUCITY (n) Infirmity of old age. Senility.

CADUCOUS (adj) Having a tendency to fall or perish; perishable.

CANESCENT (adj) Becoming or tending to become white or hoary.

CATASTASIS (n) In ancient drama, the heightened part of the action that prepares for the catastrophe.

CERNUOUS (adj) Bowing downwards; drooping (chiefly botanic).

CHILIAST (n) A believer in the doctrine of CHILIASM, that is the doctrine of the millennium, that Christ will reign in bodily presence on earth for a thousand years.

CHTHONIC (adj) Dwelling beneath the earth or in the underworld. Of or pertaining to the underworld.

CLINQUANT (adj) Glittering with or as with gold or silver; tinselled. (n) Imitation gold leaf. Figuratively, literary or artistic tinsel; false glitter.

COMPRADOR (n) Also COMPRADORE. The Chinese chief agent of a foreign business in China. Figuratively, an agent of a foreign power. Also a house steward in European households in India and South-East Asia.

CONCAMERATE (v) Divide into chambers or cells. Also CONCAMERATED as adj. Also to vault or arch over.

CONCUPISCENT (adj) Eagerly desiring, lustful, carnal.

CONDIGN (adj) Equal in rank or dignity. Also, well deserved, merited, appropriate, specifically of punishment or retribution.

CONGENERIC (adj) Of the same genus, kind or race; allied in nature or origin.

COQUELICOT (n & adj) A brilliant orange-red colour, as of the poppy.

CORYBANTIC (adj)Wild, frenzied dancing. (Originated before rock'n'roll)


DANCETTÉ (adj) In heraldry, having (especially three) large, deep indentations.

DEMIURGE (n) In Platonic philosophy, the creator of the world. In Gnosticism, that being, subordinate to the supreme being, responsible for the world's existence.

DEMOTIC (adj & n) Of or pertaining to the "common people'; popular; vulgar.

DEMPSTER (n) In Scotland, an officer of the court who pronounced sentence as directed by the judge. Often acted as public executioner. Elsewhere, now long obsolete, a judge.

DERACINATE (v) Tear up by the roots; eradicate.

DIDACTIC (adj) Having the character or manner of a teacher; designed to instruct. (n) The art of teaching.


EBURNEAN (adj) Made of or resembling ivory.

ECDYSIS (n) The act of shedding an outer skin, as with a snake. (But see also ECDYSIAST - a striptease dancer *Laugh*)

ÉCLAT (n) Conspicuous success, radiance, dazzling effect, social distinction, celebrity, brilliant display.

ECLECTIC (adj) Borrowing freely from a variety of sources. Broad rather than exclusive in matters of taste, opinion etc.

EFFULGENT (adj) Shining forth brilliantly, radiant, resplendent.

EGREGIOUS (adj) Outstanding in bad or evil qualities; flagrant.

EIDOLON (n) A spectre or phantom. Also an idealized image.

EKISTIKS (n) Study of human settlements and their development.

EPICENE (adj) Belonging to or characteristic of both sexes. Also, effeminate.

EPIGONE (n) One of a succeeding (and less distinguished) generation.

EPISTEMOLOGY (n) The branch of philosophy dealing with the varieties, grounds and validity of knowledge.

EPONYM (n) A personal name used as a common noun, (eg Laszlo Biro, the inventor of the ballpoint pen, or Henry Ford, the Ford car.)

ERISTIC (adj) Related to controversy or dispute. Specifically aimed at victory rather than truth.

ERUMPENT (adj) Bursting forth, specifically botanical.

ESCHAR (n) A dry, dark scab, especially one formed by burning.

ESCHAROTIC (adj) Able to destroy living tissue and form an ESCHAR (qv). Caustic.

EUDEMONISM (n) System of ethics based on the idea that moral obligations lead to actions that are likely to produce happiness.

EXEGESIS (n) An exposition, especially of scripture.

EXORDIUM (n) The beginning or introduction especially of a treatise or discourse.

EXPATIATE (v) To speak or write at great length on a topic.

EXSICCATE (v) Dry up, drain of all water, remove moisture.


FACILE (adj) Easily done (especially used contemptuously), presenting few difficulties. Easy to use or understand. Superficial, shallow.

FACTITIOUS (adj) Made for a special purpose, not genuine, artificial.

FALCATE (adj) Curved like a sickle.

FALSOBORDONE (n) A technique of singing psalms in harmony following simple chord progressions.

FAROUCHE (adj) Fierce, sullen, shy.

FASTIGIATE (adj) Sloping upwards or tapering to a point. Having a flat surface at the top.

FEBRILE (adj) Feverish, pertaining to fever.

FETOR (n) A foul or offensive smell, a stench. (Also FOETOR).

FINICAL (adj) Precise, fastidious, over-particular.

FORMICATE (v) To crawl like ants. (Please be careful using this word *Smirk*)

FRANGIBLE (adj) Easily broken, fragile, brittle.

FREMESCENT (adj) Growing noisy. Tumultuous.

FULVOUS (adj) Reddish-yellow. Tawny.


GAMBOGE (n) A gum resin used as both a bright yellow pigment and as a purgative. Obtained from a tropical tree.

GELID (adj) Extremely cold, frozen.

GIRASOL (n) A type of opal that reflects a reddish glow. A fire-opal. Now rare, a sunflower.

GNOMIC (adj) Dealing with aphorisms, expressing a maxim. (But also of or relating to a GNOME)

GRAITH (n) A state of preparation or readiness. Personal equipment or armour. Harness. Possessions, wealth. But also in Scotland, soapy water.

GRAVID (adj) Pregnant.


HEBDOMADAL (adj) Lasting for seven days; weekly.

HEBETUDE (n) Dullness, lethargy.

HENDIADYS (n) A figure of speech where a single complex idea is expressed in two words, usually joined by "and" and usually for emphasis. For example, "sound and fury" seems to offer a more striking image than "furious sound".

HERESIARCH (n) The chief exponent of a heresy.

HERMENEUTICS (n) The science or art of interpretation, especially the Scriptures.

HETEROCLITE (adj) Deviating from the norm, abnormal, irregular.

HETERODOX (adj) Unorthodox.

HEURISTIC (adj) Serving to find out or discover something, often by employing "trial and error".

HIERATIC (adj) Pertaining or relating to priests.

HISPID (adj) Covered with short, stiff hairs or bristles; bristly.

HORTATORY (adj) Giving exhortation.

HUBRIS (n) Presumption, insolence, pride. (The seventh of the Deadly Sins).

HYALINE (adj) Translucent, glassy, smooth.


IMMANENT (adj) Indwelling, inherent in the mind of God, permanently pervading and sustaining the universe. Philos., of an action performed entirely in the mind of the subject, producing no external effect.

INANITION (n) The process of emptying. Exhaustion arising from lack of nourishment.

INCHOATE (adj) Just begun. Not yet fully developed

INELUCTABLE (adj) Inescapable, irresistible.

INIMICAL (adj) Unfriendly, antagonistic, hostile, detrimental.

INSOUCIANT (adj) Carefree, undisturbed (Also INSOUCIANCE (n) carefreeness, lack of concern).

INSPISSATE (v) Thicken, condense.

IRENIC (adj) Pacific, conciliatory, tending to promote peace.

IRREFRAGABLE (adj) Unable to be refuted or disproved, undeniable, incontestable.


JERID (n) (Also JEREED) A wooden javelin used in equestrian games in Muslim countries.


KNAGGY (adj) Knotty, rough, rugged, jagged.


LACUNA (n) A hiatus, blank or missing part, especially in a manuscript or text (Something no WdC member would ever permit!)

LACUSTRINE (adj) Of or pertaining to a lake.

LADRONE (n) A dishonest or idle person. A robber. A rascal.

LAMIA (n) A mythical monster, supposedly with a woman's body. A witch or female demon. (Can such things exist?)

LORICA (n) (Roman antiquity) a leather cuirass. Also, the coping or protecting head of a wall. Also, a kind of cement paste for coating a vessel before subjecting it to heat. Also, in zoology, The protective case or shell of some protozoans.

LORIMER (n)Also LORINER. a bit maker or spurrier; a maker of metal mountings for horses bridles and stirrup irons. Now only the title of one of London's livery companies.

LUBRICIOUS (adj) Lecherous, lewd, wanton. Also, slippery, smooth, slimy, oily; figuratively, unstable, fickle, elusive.

LUCUBRATION (n) The product, especially nocturnal, of study or work, specifically literature, particularly of a pedantic or over-elaborate nature. (In other words, pulling an all-nighter!)


MACULATE (v) To spot, blemish or stain. (adj) spotted, stained; figuratively, defiled, polluted. The opposite of Imaculate.

MALISON (n) A curse.

MANDUCATE (v) Chew, eat.

MARMOREAL (adj) Resembling marble. Cold, smooth, white like marble.

MATRASS (n) A quarrel or bolt for a crossbow.

MERISTIC (adj) Divided into parts, segmented.

METEMPIRICAL (adj) Not derived from experience. Transcendental. A priori.

MIMESIS (n) Imitation of another person's words or actions. Also the representation of the real world in art or poetry. Also the deliberate imitation of the behaviour of one group of people by another as an element of social change.

MIMETIC (adj) Having an aptitude for imitation or mimicry.

MINATORY (adj) Expressing or conveying a threat, threatening, menacing.

MOLINISM (n) Theological doctrine that the effectiveness of grace depends solely on the will that freely accepts.

MOLY (n) In Greek mythology, a fabulous herb with a white flower and black root, said to possess magical properties.

MORDANT (adj) of sarcasm or wit, caustic, cutting, biting. Also, sharp or keen, and of pain, acute or burning. Corrosive. Also has a range of meanings as a noun.

MURRA (n) A substance used in ancient Rome for making valuable vases, cups etc. May be fluorite, possibly jade, porcelain or iridescent glass.

MURRHINE (adj) Of or pertaining to MURRA.


NUMINOUS (adj)Revealing or indicating the presence of a divinity. Awe-inspiring. Also aesthetically appealing, uplifting.


OBDURATE (adj) Obstinate, unyielding, hard-hearted. Unmoved by feelings of humanity or pity. Impenitent, inexorable.

OBFUSCATE (v) Obscure, confuse, stupefy, bewilder, darken, deprive of light or brightness.

ONTOLOGY (n) That part of metaphysics that relates to the nature or essence of being.

OROGENIC (adj) connected with or characterised by the formation of mountains.

OTIOSE (adj) Futile, useless, having nothing to do. At rest, idle, indolent.

OXTER (n) The armpit. As a verb, to walk arm in arm, to put one's arm around.


PANTOLOGY (n) Universal knowledge; a survey of all branches of knowledge.

PARADIGM (n) An example, a pattern, a typical instance, an epitome.

PELAGE (n) The fur, hair, wool etc of a mammal.

PICAYUNE (n) A coin of small value; an insignificant or mean person or thing. As an adjective, mean, contemptible, insignificant.

POLEMIC (n) A controversial discussion or argument. Aggressive controversy.

POSIT (v) Put in position, set, dispose, situate, place.

PRETERITE (adj) Of or pertaining to a past time; something that existed or occurred earlier, past, former.

PRETERITION (n)The fact of being passed over without notice; omission, disregard.

PREVENIENT (adj) Coming before, preceding, previous, antecedent.

PROBANG (n) A long, slender flexible strip of material with a sponge button at the end to remove a foreign body from the throat or to apply medication.

PROLATE (adj) Of a spheroid, lengthened in the direction of its polar diameter, as by the revolution of an elipse about its longer axis. Opposite of OBLATE.

PROLIX (adj) Of long duration, lengthy, protracted, verbose, long-winded.

PROTEAN (adj) Taking or existing in many forms; changing, varying.

PROVENIENCE (n) Also PROVENANCE. The place of origin or earliest known history, especially a work of art, manuscript etc.


QUIDDITY (n) The inherent nature or essence of a thing or person. A nicety in argument; a quibble.

QUIDNUNC (n) A busybody, a gossip.


REBARBATIVE (adj) Repellant, unattractive, objectionable.

RECENSION (n) The revision of a text, particularly a critical or careful revision. A revised form of anything.

RECONDITE (adj) Little known, out-of-the-way, obscure, abstruse.

ROBORANT (adj) Strengthening, restorative. As noun, a strengthening or restorative medicine; a tonic.


SABULOUS (adj) Sandy, gritty, like sand.

SACERDOTAL (adj) Pertaining to a priest or the priesthood. Believing in the divine authority of the priesthood.

SCIAMACHY (n) Fighting with shadows, imaginary or futile combat. Shadow-boxing.

SEMPITERNAL (adj) Everlasting, eternal, constantly and continually enduring.

SENTENTIOUS (adj) Full of meaning, intelligence or wisdom. Also, of language or style, aphoristic, pithy, affectedly or pompously formal, turgid. (Possibly, this item *Laugh* )

SHILPIT (adj) Of a person or animal, feeble, weak, puny. Of liquor, insipid, weak, thin.

SNEAP (n) A snub, rebuke or reproof.

SOLIPSISM (n) In philosophy, the belief that only the self really exists or can be known. (You do not really exist! You are all figments of my imagination *Pthb* ). Now also isolation, self-centredness, selfishness.

SORTILEGE (n) The act of divining or deciding by casting lots. Also sorcery, magic.

SPILTH (n) That which is spilled; an excess or surplus.

STOCHASTIC (adj) Governed by the laws of probability; randomly determined. Also, pertaining to conjecture.

SUBFUSC (adj) Dark, dusky, dull, gloomy, sombre, subdued. Also, as a noun, a dark or dusky colour, gloom.

SUDORIFIC (adj) Causing sweating.

SUPEREROGATE (v) To do more than is required or ordered.

SUPEREROGATION (n) Doing more than is needed, specifically in the Roman Catholic Church, the performance of good works beyond what God requires to constitute a store of merit which the Church may dispense to others to make up for their deficiencies.


TABID (adj) Emaciated, progressively atrophied, in decline. Consumptive.

TELEOLOGICAL (adj) Relating to or appealing to a goal, end or final cause. TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT for the existence of God from the evidence of design in nature.

TELIC (adj) Directed or tending to a definite end or purpose. Purposive, (See also Teleological).

TENDENTIOUS (adj) Having an underlying cause or purpose. Calculated to promote a particular cause or viewpoint.

TENEBROUS (adj) Dark, obscure, gloomy.

TERGIVERSATE (v) Turn one's back on something; change one's party or principles; equivocate, make conflicting or evasive statements; apostatize.

THAUMATURGE (n) A miracle-worker; a magician.

THETIC (adj) Involving direct or positive statements; having the character of a thesis. Positive, dogmatic, arbitrary.

THURIFER (n) A person who carries a censer of burning incense in religious ceremonies.


UXORIOUS (adj) Greatly or excessively fond of one's wife. Doting.


VATIC (adj) Prophetic; inspired.

VATICINATE (v) Foretell by prophetic inspiration.

VERIDICAL (adj) Speaking or telling the truth; accurate.

VESPIARY (n) A nest of wasps.

VIRGA (n) Streaks of precipitation that appear to hang from the under-surface of clouds.

VISCID (adj) Glutinous, sticky, semi-fluid.

VIZARD (n) A mask to conceal or protect the face; a disguise. Projecting front part of a cap; visor. Also as a verb, to conceal or disguise under a false appearance; represent falsely.


WANION (n) As "with a wanion" with a curse; imprecation.

WEASAND (n) Throat, windpipe, gullet.



YCLEPT (adj) Called by the name of, named, styled.


ZASTRUGA (n) (Also SASTRUGA) Any of a series of low, irregular ridges formed on the surface of hard polar snow by wind erosion.

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