Five Great Words That Probably Aren’t in Your Vocabulary

We’re going to help you bulk up that vocab and start impressing people immediately (results not typical).

I’m a words man. I think I’ve proved that time and time and time and time and time again. I realized, however, that my nature on this topic seems to be predominantly negative; if I’m not telling people that they’re pronouncing a word incorrectly, I’m talking about how your go-to adjective is boring or how several forms of media are overloaded with failures of language. [sigh] I’m better than that.

Thus, I have decided to shake the word game up a bit (translation: more balanced, less lame) and so, I’m giving you some freebies. No seriously, I’m here to help, for once. With the list of five words below, I am going to help you bulk up that vocab and start impressing people immediately (results not typical).

5. SCHERZANDO

[skert • sawn • do]

adjective – playful; adverb – playfully

Generally, as an English-speaking American, I try to avoid implementing words from other languages in my speech because I end up sounding like a toolbag when I try (usually ineffectively) to throw some accent or foreign pronunciation in the middle of a relatively mundane conversational statement.

But this word comes from the Italian music world (and who doesn’t like Italy and/or music?), it’s extremely entertaining to say, and a lot of things in our world definitely need to be more fun and playful. I wouldn’t recommend you put in your rotation full-time but the occasional “I don’t know, why don’t you try being a little more exciting – a little more scherzando – when you do your presentations at work?” might elicit some embarrassed, confused smirks and that’s what I’m here for, people: nervous laughter.

4. INELUCTABLE

[inna • luck • tuh • bull]

adjective – incapable of being evaded; inescapable

This word really has very little application in most human vernacular but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s unique and pretty righteous. Truthfully, it really only lends itself to science-fiction or fantasy situations where there’s either a giant labyrinthine fortress and/or a lifelong destiny guaranteed to end in a sword fight.

I do believe that our world would be notably more interesting, though, if there were more ineluctable objects.

3. FROWARD

[fro • werd]

adjective – habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition

I like this word mostly because, in written form, most people will assume you meant to say “forward” (Microsoft Word actually flags it as a misspelling and automatically corrects the spelling without asking you) and when they attempt to correct you, you can drop some serious linguistic silence all over their face.

Personally, I find it most useful when discussing pets and professional athletes:

  • “Riley is a sweet dog but when he gets in the car, he’s extremely froward”.
  • “Would I want Terrell Owens on my team? Well, I mean, I can’t argue with his talent but in the real world, he’s too habitually froward for my taste.”

2. OLIGOPOLY

[awla • goppa • lee]

noun – a market situation that exists when there are a few sellers that affect but do not control the market

Maybe it’s just because of the longstanding popularization of the Parker Brothers product but “monopoly” inexplicably has a monopoly when it comes to words that end in “-opoly” (frighteningly appropriate, I know). I say “inexplicably” because actual monopolies are few and far between in our world, whether seriously in terms of the business world or figuratively, in your social circle.

Do you know what are pretty common in our world? Situations where an entire market is dominated – though not entirely – by just a few entities, rather than a single one (monopoly) or two (duopoly).

You will very quickly find at least a dozen ways in which to employ “oligopoly,” if you aren’t already running with it. And if you can’t jam it into any conversation, try harder. Because it’s fun to say.

1. PULCHRITUDINOUS

[pul • cri • tude • enuss]

adjective – physically beautiful

At first, this word gives you pause. It looks ugly, it conjures up thoughts of “putrid,” and it has a bunch of lumpy sounds that make you want to give up pronouncing it halfway through. Also, it’s long.

But its definition betrays its appearance and that’s why it’s wonderful. (I’m trying to think of a good simile for a situation like this, wherein a hideous object actually signifies beauty but I am failing miserably. Maybe this failure itself is pulchritudinous? No? All right. Fine. See you next week.)

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.

  • http://www.aspiringgentleman.com Luke – AspiringGentleman

    Now the trick is actually using these things in a real conversation.

  • tudza

    I have used 1, 2, and maybe 4. Can’t say as I’d vote for any of these except 1 and 2, and then only to have in waiting when the right time comes along. You know, like the ultimate pun.

    You would be more likely to use scherzando if you were a musician.

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  • http://jackbusch.com Jack

    I dig “froward.” I relish any opportunity to bait people into calling you out for a non-error.

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  • Harry

    When I was a high school Latin student and first learned that pulcher, which is the Latin word for beautiful, had given us the English words pulchritude and pulchritudinous, I delighted in describing worthy female classmates as pulchritudinous. It is such a hideous word for what it means. It sounds insulting until you explain it.

  • http://www.humidorsandmore.com J Kane

    The real trick would be to use them and continue the conversation without being stopped by a ‘huh?’ !!

  • Johan

    “[fro • werd]

    adjective – habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition”
    Since the meaning of the word itself has “habitually” in it, wouldn’t this sentence “Well, I mean, I can’t argue with his talent but in the real world, he’s too habitually froward for my taste.” be like writing he’s too habitually habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition

    I might be wrong but it seems rather weird.

    /Johan

  • Beatrice

    scherzando is a verb. it sounds awful used as a noun as you did in your example.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Beatrice,

    It’s actually both an adverb and an adjective, but not a verb. :)

  • nicolemill

    As an English teacher, I definitely support the idea of expanding one’s vocabulary. Be that as it may, I would have to say that I can’t imagine a situation in which an average person could use any of these words and not appear to be “trying too hard.”

  • Seb

    Is “ineluctable” that rare? It seems quite familiar to me.

  • Spootie

    You forgot my personal favorite; vacillate.

  • Michele

    Also more common than a true monopoly (though much less so than oligopoly) is a near monopsony, which is a pretty fun word to say.

  • Cher

    I adore your article and hope to use some of these words in the future. I wanted to point out that given your definition of “froward” (“habitually disposed to disobedience…”), your example is redundant, specifically at the point of “he’s too habitually froward…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/juliandraiv Julz

    This guy is my new best friend! I’m determined to use all of these words in my next story lol. I already use a few of them. The problem, as stated in a couple of comments, is that the average (American) individual would probably scratch their head in confusion upon seeing or hearing these words used in everyday conversation. They’re great words, but only when used in an appropriate situation and context. These are the big words you slip into essays (preferably the long philosophical ones) to impress your teachers ;) .

    • O-captain

       That is part of the fun.  I love watching people get that uncomfortable posture when they don’t know what I am talking about.  Very, very useful when using your intellect to give someone a brow-beating. 

  • Beth

    I’d have to say my new favorite word, based on these presented, has got to be PULCHRITUDINOUS – while I’m sure I’ve heard it before, I am up to the challenge of trying to use this in every day speaking. LOVE it. My task for tonight, though, is to read all the rest of Justin’s postings. NICE job, sir!

  • Jim

    I have fun with pulchritudinous a lot. Sometimes in the presence of attractive women, I will have an “attack” of Pulchritude Overload, or declare that there is “too much pulchritude confined in one spot.” Recently I came upon two women friends; declared “Pulchritude Overload, ” and one took it as a compliment, the other didn’t like the sound of it.

  • AlphaSoup

    Wouldn’t saying “habitually froward” be redundant?

  • http://thecutthroatfreakshow.com Jeremy

    Great article! I cannot wait to use a few of these words.

    One of my favorites is still the word callipygian : having shapely buttocks.

  • Hamish

    Dammit!!! Jeremy beat me to it!! My sister is an editor and introduced me to callipygian. As I work as a trauma nurse with a lot of pulchritudinous ladies, I can compliment them on their callipygian assets and still have time to run before I get smacked. Keep up the good work!

  • Hamish

    Dammit!!! Jeremy beat me to it!! My sister is an editor and introduced me to callipygian. It is now my favourite word.