10 Words You Need to Add to Your Vocabulary

Tens of thousands of years ago, when mankind first decided to take this 'walking on two legs' thing out for a spin, we quickly realized that we needed to find a more effective way to communicate than the poop-flinging and hair-pulling tactics we'd been employing up until that point. So we created language. And although the world's oldest language still sounds like the anguished cries of people trapped in the godforsaken desert wasteland they call their home, in most parts of the world, language is constantly changing. And no language likes to change more than English.

English is the poorly-tended fondue of human languages. Sure, at some point it was pure and had its own distinct flavor, but then all sorts of different people came along and dropped chunks of things in it, and goddamn Gerald tripped over the cord and unplugged it and it congealed a little, and now no one really knows what the hell it tastes like. The influx of new words like 'blog' and 'jeggings' and 'guyliner' has been accompanied by the gradual loss of other equally great words, and it's time that we started to bring some of those words back.

Let's start with these ten.

1. Lugubrious 

[loo-goo-bree-us]

adj. excessively mournful or dismal

Wow, Google images. That's, uh... that's technically accurate, but a little dark.

Over the past few years, the entire range of human sadness has come to be incorporated by the phrase "this sucks". Whether your friend has just spilled their coffee, or had their entire family tragically killed in a five-car pileup involving a logging truck and a cattle car, "that sucks" is a go-to response. But no more. From now on, when true misery rears its ugly head, English speakers everywhere should fall to their knees and stare up into the light of the unforgiving sky, screaming 'curse this lugubrious turn of events!' as their voice rings through the empty, Godless heavens.

Also, lugubrious is super fun to say, and instantly lightens the mood. Win-win.


2. Iconolagny

[eye-kon-o-lag-nee]

noun. Sexual arousal that results from viewing nude pictures

The first Google image result for this one is the Virgin Mary, for reasons I don't even want to begin to speculate on.

Relationships used to be a simple thing. If your parents hadn't picked out a suitable spouse for you by the age of sixteen, you just had to meet the butcher's kid behind the meat smoking shed a few times a week for some 'extra sausage' until somebody got pregnant, and then you had a shotgun wedding that would last until one or both of you managed to contract tuberculosis. Today, that process is much more complicated. Not only do we date for longer periods of time, but we've introduced things like 'Facebook' and 'sexting' and 'having things in common' into relationships, creating needless complications. Since it doesn't seem like any of those things will be going away until humans evolve beyond the need for physical bodies, we might as well adapt to the changes by taking up a word that describes that funny feeling you get when bae sends you SnapChats after stepping out of the shower.

And as an added bonus, the next time you find yourself experiencing a public rage-boner while scrolling through the comment section of a recipe blog on your phone, laugh it off with your buddies by by explaining that you're just experiencing a little iconolagny.

3. Supinovalent

[soo - pee - no - vay - lent]

adj. only able to fornicate while lying on one's back with the face upward

Thanks for this one, Google images. I'm beginning to suspect that your search algorithms were written by sociopaths.

That fact that this word even exists fills my cold, shrivelled heart with boundless joy. Why, in the history of every spoken language ever developed by our species, would anyone need a word to describe this phenomenon? And more importantly, is this even a real phenomenon? Maybe this is part of some long-lost religious doctrine, which dictated that fornication was only acceptable if both parties kept their buttholes pointed squarely at the ground, away from the face of God. Maybe there's a rare medical condition out there that causes light-headedness and gangrenous toes should the sufferer attempt to shake things up with a little Reverse Cowgirl. Or perhaps this wasn't meant to be applied to humans at all, but some obscure species of sea snail that prefers to get its freak on missionary-style.

But perhaps my favourite theory is that this term was intended as an insult. As in, 'Brittany is so supinovalent, she wouldn't even consider it when I asked her for some Two-Handed Zamboni last night."

Live a little, Brittany.

4. Fabiform

[fab - i - form]

adj. shaped like a bean

Finally we get a relevant image: a bean. An angry, constipated bean, but a bean nonetheless.

Of all the geometric shapes available to mankind, perhaps no shape is more overlooked than that of the humble bean. Think about it. Cubes may be conveniently stackable, but there are those annoying, pointy corners to contend with. Spheres are pleasantly smooth to the touch, but they tend to roll away from you once you try to save a few bucks by digging the foundation of your house by yourself with a garden shovel. The bean is the perfect shape. It's flat, but rounded. It won't roll, but there are no corners. In the future I dream about, all things will be bean-shaped. Smartphones. Beds. Swimming pools. Homes. The charmingly obese stomachs of our children. All hail the mighty bean.

No word yet on whether or not the English language has words for "kiwi-shaped" or "butternut squash-shaped", but this is a start.

5. Nimptopsical

[nymp - top - sick - al]

adj. drunk

This one pulls up a whole lot of images of Benjamin Franklin, which makes me suspect that my history teacher may have edited some things out of our lessons.

We have a lot of words to describe what happens to people when they indulge in alcohol. Drunk. Tipsy. Inebriated. Liquored up. Lush. Plastered. Boozed up. Under the influence. Shitfaced. Wasted. Those of us who come from the Eastern lands of donairs and sailboat-worship say 'three sheets to the wind'. But somehow, none of those words is quite good enough. Those are the sorts of words frat boys scream into their ears of their phallus-covered friends passed out on the sofa, or the words that your parents gently sob into the phone whenever your grandmother calls to ask how you're doing. Nimptopsical is the perfect word to describe that sweet spot of intoxication where you're just drunk enough to throw caution to the wind and attempt to skateboard down the stairs with a lampshade on your head, but not quite drunk enough to contract HIV from a fifty-seven-year old street prostitute named Darla behind the 7/11.

Plus, there's a sweet irony in describing drunk people with a word they'll never be able to pronounce on the first try, and every moment that we're missing out on that is a great loss for humanity.

6. Ventripotent

[ven - tree - poe - tent]

adj. fat

Can't really argue with that.

"Fat" is another one of those words that we have a plethora of synonyms for. If it's a child, we say "chubby". If it's a child we don't like very much, we say "chunky" or "porky". If it's a woman you're selling clothes to, she's "plus-sized". If she doesn't currently have her wallet in hand, she's "curvy" or "bigger" or "large". If you're a pretentious dweeb, you say "rotund", and if you're an asshole, you say "whale-like". If you're a doctor, you say "overweight" or "obese" or "holy shit, time to lay off on the donuts before you freaking die". And that's actually a lot of words overall. But I won't rest until we bring back a word that's as large and bulky as the people it's trying to describe: ventripotent.

And the next time your friend asks you if you'd like to join him on a casual 60 mile hike/swim/hang-glide through the wretched swamps of a wilderness that God himself has turned his back on, you can just say that you're feeling far too ventripotent to make the journey, and your friend will probably assume you've come in contact with a particularly aggressive foot fungus and not a particularly greasy pizza.

7. Idioglossia

[id-ee-oh-gloss-ee-a]

noun. a secret language invented by children

Or I guess, in this case, 'nonsense spoken by adult twins'.

Little kids are creepy. Anyone who has ever encountered a child - in real life or a horror movie - should know that. They whisper to themselves when they think you can't hear them. They talk to people that no one else can see. And if you stick two of the spooky little bastards in the same room for any significant period of time, they'll start to speak to one another in a made-up language designed to prevent nearby adults from realizing that they're discussing the latest set of instructions from the Dark Ones. But up until now, the only words we've had to describe those communications are things like "secret codes" and "make-believe languages" and "Harold, fetch the Holy water, little Timmy's speaking in tongues again". Let's get one up on those little beasts by describing their means of communication with a word they don't understand.

Alternatively, this word would make an excellent euphemism for the noises made by those special children who just don't quite get the hang of human language. Oh, that godawful wailing coming from the other room? That's just little Susie. No, no, she's not hopelessly stunted. That's just an idioglossia.

8. Quodlibet

[kwad - li - bet]

noun. a moot or pointless argument

The internet also tells me that it's a shitty knock-off iTunes.

Those of you who follow my blog way, way too closely might remember that I briefly mentioned my university debate career once in a post last year. If that's the case, please let me know, so I can invest in some steel bars for my windows. Those of you who don't camp out in the bushes outside my house should know that intercollegiate debate is a time-honoured tradition of half-sober twenty-somethings screaming semi-coherent arguments at each other on a topic that no sane person would spend any time debating. Most of the words that come out of our mouths during these debates are some variety of verbal garbage, but up until now, I haven't quite found the right words to politely tell my opponents that their arguments are the gibbering, delusional products of a pudding-like mind, but that's where the word quodlibet comes in.

Plus, if you're in a dying marriage and you'd like to hurry those final gasps along, you can end that shit real quickly if you start using pretentious words like quodlibet to strike down your partner's arguments that you should stop doing cocaine in front of the children.

9. Kosmokrator

[cause - moe - kray - tor]

noun. ruler of the world

Pffft, I could do a way better job ruling the world than this naked snake hula dancer.

I am terrible at job applications. I'm specifically terrible at the bits where they ask you about your ambitions. What is your objective? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Two hundred years, given that humans develop the ability to upload our consciousness onto computers before the end of your natural lifespan? The problem with these kinds of questions is that all of my ambitions are insanely specific (forensic psychologist), unrealistic (bestselling author extraordinaire with a swimming pool shaped like my own head), or downright ill-advised (first person to open a Booster Juice on the moon). But finally, there's a word that neatly sums up all my ambitions and captures them in four little syllables. Kosmokrator. That's what I want to be when I grow up.

Because if you're going to aspire to a job title, at least pick one that'll look bitchin' stitched on the back of a cape.

10. Jentacular 

[jen - tack - ewe - lar]

adj. pertaining to breakfast

It took ten entries, but you finally gave me a perfect image, Google images.

Breakfast is a big deal these days. Even those of us who get most of our dietary fibre from gas station cupcakes understand that eating breakfast is generally a healthy thing to do, and every fast food chain that wants to keep limping along into the next decade has added a hasty breakfast sandwich or two to the menu. When even Taco Bell thinks it's a good idea to wrap a waffle around some sausage and egg and stick it on the menu, you know you're in the throes of a massive paradigm shift. Bacon, once considered a sacred breakfast staple, is now our chosen flavour for everything from ice cream to condoms, and we've stopped giving eggs the shifty eye for being tiny cholesterol-laden assassins. But what our breakfast-obsessed culture needs is a word to describe our fascination with meals eaten before 11:30 am, and jentacular is just the word we need.

Also, seriously people, there is a real word in the English language that means "pertaining to breakfast". And that's a beautiful thing.

2 comments

  1. Great words! Thank you for this. Lugubrious is the only one I recognized, and I sort of thought it meant expansive, but not necessarily in a mournful sense. Kudos on providing both excellent and hilarious explanations!

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