The Most Eccentric Words In the English Language

The Oxford English Dictionary presently comprises around 171,146 words in current use, while Merriam-Webster estimates the total number of English words to be close to one million, though many are considered obsolete today. In his book Grandiloquent Words: A Pictoric Lexicon of Ostrobogulous Locutions, Jason Travis Ott highlights obscure examples of words in the English language.

• Argle-bargle: An argument, originating from the obsolete dialect version of “argue” and given a whimsical twist with the addition of “bargle.”

• Balderdash: Senseless talk or writing; suggesting loud or idle chatter.

• Bumbershoot: An umbrella, coined by combining variations of “umbrella” and “parachute.”

• Donnybrook: A heated argument or brawl, named after an infamous fair in Dublin known for its rowdiness.

• Flapdoodle: Nonsensical or foolish talk.

• Hugger-mugger: Secretive or disordered, potentially deriving from Anglo-Irish or Scottish terms for whispering or confidential conversations.

• Lollygag: To dawdle or fool around.

• Quackle: To choke or make a quacking sound, evoking the noises one might make in distress or confusion.

• Ragamuffin: A disheveled person, often a child, with a name that combines “rags” with a mysterious suffix.

• Tarradiddle: A minor falsehood, blending “diddle” with an obscure prefix for a term that suggests deceit or time-wasting.