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10 words you probably didn't know existed!

By Rediff Get Ahead
January 14, 2015 17:18 IST
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What is Griffonage?

What do you call that part of your back which you can never scratch on your own?

So let's take a break from all the #Indianisms we've been listing out for the last four weeks and get ready to be amazed!

Sometime last year, we'd run this (rather difficult) English quiz featuring unusual words that define everyday things/ideas!

But we've decided to make things a little easier for you this year.

So we bring you, just for the fun of it, ten words you probably didn't know exist! :-)

1. 

Did you know there is a word for...

That horrible feeling in the morning when you find it absolutely impossible to get out of bed?

The word is: Clinomania

Another word for it is dysania.

Clinomania comes from the Greek word clino (meaning bed) and mania (meaning addiction).

So quite literally, it is an addiction to one's bed. :-)


2.

That moment when on a cold day, you feel the sun's warmth, is a moment of apricity.

Apricity owes its roots to the Latin word apricus which means 'warmed by the sun'.


3.

You probably tear your hair every time you read your doctor's prescription.

That illegible scrawl that we so often call 'doctor's handwriting' is called griffonage.

Griffonage comes from the old French word grifouner which means 'to scribble'.

4.

Remember the time when you sang: "We're going to eat pizza!" when in fact Vengaboys were simply singing about "Going to Ibiza!"?

If you've been mishearing lyrics, dear readers, you are guilty of mondegreen.

Unlike all the words above, the origins of mondegreen don't go too far back.

The word owes its origins to the American writer Sylvia Wright who in the November 1954 issue of Harper's magazine wrote an essay about mishearing words.

One of her favourite verses that her mother would read out to her went:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

Or so Ms Wright thought.

It would be much later she realised that

They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And laid him on the green.

Indeed, Lady Mondegreen (if she did exist) was quite safe.

In any case, mondegreen would have to wait for about half a century to receive a mention in the 2000 edition of the Random House Webster's College Dictionary.

And it would be another eight years before Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary added the word included the word in their 2008 edition.

5.

This one you've probably heard of.

What do you call words or phrases that read the exact same way forward or backward?

Yep! Palindrome!

Examples of palindromes include:

  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Step on no pets
  • Malayalam

6.

Did you know that the silent letters in words like knight, honest, hour, calm and faux (among many others) are called aphthongs?

Surely you knew that? :-)

7.

The rustling sound of your wife's (or anyone else's) sari is called scroop.

Scroop is a harsh, grating sound and is a combination of two words -- scrape and whoop and originated between 1780 and 1790.

8.

The foam on beer or (to a lesser degree) wine is called barm.

Say cheers to that the next time you go out drinking!

9.

That thing you use instead of a profanity... you know when you call your boss a b*#%*!$?

Yeah! That has a name too. It's called grawlix!

The word appeared for the first time in 1964 in an article called Let's get down to grawlixes written by Mort Walker... creator of Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois.

He would then name various symbols used in comics in The Lexicon of Comicana http://books.rediff.com/book/the-lexicon-of-comicana/9780595089024

10.

And we wind up with a mouthful of a word -- xenagorabibliomania!

The word describes an obsessive curiosity about the books that strangers read in open spaces and is perhaps the youngest word in this list.

It was coined by the British author Nick Hornby... in 2006!

That's all for today folks! Till next week! :-)


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Lead image used for representational purposes only.

Photograph: Robbie Grubbs/Creative Commons

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