10 (more) weird words in English
There are over 171,000 words in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. With that many to choose from, you can be sure that among them will be some absolute corkers!
Plenty of them are so obscure that you’ll never actually hear them out and about while learning English, so here are some of my favorites that you can actually use in real life.
Meaning (noun): Someone or something that is excellent, outstanding or funny, and can’t be topped.
Weird because: It comes from the idea of putting a cork in a bottle – it’s something that is so good that puts an end to a discussion. Corker is not to be confused with a conker – a type of nut that English schoolchildren tie to string before trying to break another player’s nut by throwing their own at it.
Meaning (verb): To move or act slowly and without clear purpose.
Weird because: It’s such a polite, charming way to tell someone that they’re idling or wasting time. How British!
Meaning (adjective): Totally delicious and delightful.
Weird because: You’ll hear it used on The Great British Bake Off to describe an excellent mouthful of cake, but the English will also use it to describe places, people, or even the juiciest details of a story. Allow me to show you. “We had coffee at this scrumptious little café, were served by the most scrumptious man behind the counter, and then Karen told us the most scrumptious bit of gossip…” See? It’s scrumptiously versatile.
Meaning (noun): The smell of rain.
Weird because: I have been looking for this word my whole life. Those earthy odors of moist air and ground that we find so comforting after rain, whether you’re in a town or in the countryside, all count as petrichor.
Meaning (adjective): An elaborate way to describe someone’s lively or wild and energetic behavior.
Weird because: Honestly, the word rambunctious is not used as often these days as it should be – it’s really fun to say.
Meaning (verb): To walk or strut in a boastful way with oodles of confidence and self-importance.
Weird because: It’s a pretty common word now, but it is thought that swagger really first became a part of the English language when it appeared in William Shakespeare’s famous plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and King Lear, over 400 years ago.
Meaning (noun): To have lots of something.
Weird because: Why say, ‘Gosh, I have loads of homework,’ when you could say that you have oodles of it? Like many of English’s most spectacular words it could require a little bit of practice to pronounce, but it really brightens up a sentence.
Meaning (noun): Nothing.
Weird because: Nowt is an informal word most often heard in northern English dialects. So, if you’re visiting cities like York or watching TV shows set in the north of the country, you might hear someone say, “It were nowt to do with me,” where they mean, “It was nothing to do with me”.
Meaning (adjective): Massive. Something really very huge.
Weird because: Not only does it sound wonderful coming out of your mouth, but the origin of this word is thought to simply be that the English smashed two other words together: gigantic, and enormous.
Meaning (verb): To do something clumsily, carelessly or incorrectly.
Weird because: Bungle is another delightful and quintessentially English word that has been in use since around the 1520’s, but nobody is quite sure where it came from. Perhaps you put the milk in the mug first and so you bungled making a cup of tea, or maybe you’re worried that you bungled a job interview; Either way, bungle is a fantastic way to describe something going a little bit wrong.