Unique Words – A to Z

July 3, 2024

Every now and then I’ll stumble across a word I’ve never heard of before. Isn’t it strange to be 60 years old and still coming across words in the English language that I’ve never heard of before?

For something different, I decided to share one example of a unique word for each letter of the alphabet (A-Z) and to also include its meaning and an example sentence using the word.

It’s never too late to learn something new. Here we go!

A

Absquatulate – to leave somewhere abruptly (verb)

Example Sentence: He has absquatulated, and taken the cake with him!

B

Bailiwick – a person’s area of skill, knowledge, authority, or work (noun)

Example Sentence: Cops were not his bailiwick, but public safety and protecting vulnerable people were. 

C

Cryptozoology – the study of evidence tending to substantiate the existence of, or the search for, creatures whose reported existence is unproven (noun)

Example Sentence: His first love, though, was cryptozoology, the hunt for hidden animal species.

D

Derecho – a widespread and severe windstorm that moves rapidly along a fairly straight path and is associated with bands of rapidly moving thunderstorms (noun)

Example Sentence: The roar of the wind from the derecho was audible up to 48 km away as the storm traversed this region.

E

Ersatz — serving as a substitute (adjective)

Example Sentence: I’m allowed to eat ersatz chocolate made from carob beans, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.

F

Foofaraw – a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant (noun)

Example Sentence: He is embarrassed by the foofaraw over his expense claims.

G

Glabella — the flat area of bone between the eyebrows (noun)

Example Sentence: Male skulls typically have more prominent supraorbital ridges, a more prominent glabella, and more prominent temporal lines. 

H

Haboob — a thick dust storm or sandstorm that blows in the deserts of North Africa and Arabia or on the plains of India (noun)

Example Sentence: The dry regions are plagued by sandstorms, known as haboob, which can completely block out the sun.

I

Interrobang — a printed punctuation mark (‽), available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark (?) and the exclamation point (!) (noun)

Example Sentence: A sentence ending with an interrobang asks a question in an excited manner, expresses excitement, disbelief or confusion in the form of a question, or asks a rhetorical question. For example: You call that a hat‽ Are you out of your mind‽

J

Jitney — a small bus or car following a regular route along which it picks up and discharges passengers (noun)

Example Sentence: Setting a boot on one of the dilapidated benches, Cameron glanced at the old jitney terminal behind the airport. 

K

Kvetch — to complain, especially chronically (verb)

Example Sentence: He was kvetching about the price. 

L

Lollapalooza — an extraordinary or unusual thing, person, or event (noun)

Example Sentence: The company’s new-hire orientation is a five-day lollapalooza of ice breakers, games, races, and skits. 

M

Mnemonic — assisting or intended to assist the memory (adjective)

Example Sentence: If you are still struggling to memorize the French numbers, try using mnemonic devices such as flashcards, songs, or even rhymes.

N

Nabob — any very wealthy, influential, or powerful person (noun)

Example Sentence: He enjoyed a salary for defending the policy of Lord North’s government, and held the lucrative post of London agent to Mahommed Ali, nabob of Arcot.

O

Ogdoad — the number eight (noun)

Example Sentence: An octopus has an ogdoad of legs.

P

Paraph — a flourish made after a signature, as in a document, originally as a precaution against forgery (noun)

Example Sentence: “He has now added this crown and this paraph to his coat-of-arms,” said Miss Holland.

Q

Quixotic – extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical; extravagantly chivalrous or romantic (adjective)

Example Sentence: It began as a quixotic project three years ago in local theatre.

R

Raconteur — a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly (noun)

Example Sentence: Franklin was a raconteur who relished being the center of attention.

S

Saudade — a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent (noun)

Example Sentence: On the first warm day of every year, Elena was overwhelmed with a feeling of saudade for her childhood home in Brazil.

T

Tchotchke — an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament (noun)

Example Sentence: My grandma’s house was full of figurines and other tchotchkes.

U

Ulu – a knife with a broad, nearly semicircular blade joined to a short haft at a right angle to the unsharpened side: a traditional tool of Inuit women.(noun)

Example Sentence: The ulu is considered to be very special and it is passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter and its uses are vast and plentiful. 

V

Vamoose — to depart quickly (verb)

Example Sentence: The moment my back was turned you vamoosed from the waiting room.

W

Wabbit – exhausted (adjective)

Example Sentence: I am still feeling wabbit with a flu bug.

X

Xenophobic — Relating to or exhibiting fear or hatred of foreigners (adjective)

Example Sentence: The attacks have been described by police as racist and xenophobic

Y

Ylem —The hypothetical initial substance of the universe from which all matter is derived (noun)

Example Sentence: All living and inanimate things originate from the same source; we are all ylem.

Z

Zeitgeist —The spirit of the time (noun)

Example Sentence: The story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s


I don’t wish to create a foofaraw and I am no raconteur but is anyone else thinking that if you absquatulate and vamoose a situation then it must be a bad scenario indeed?! Maybe there were too many tchotchkes for your liking and you had a feeling of saudade for your minimalist home? Perhaps it was a case of xenophobia and if that is the case then you must remember that we are all ylem! The English language and creating sentences using unique words is not really my bailiwick and maybe I’m being a tad quixotic but I gave it a red hot go and must admit that I’m feeling quite wabbit now! If I were nabob, I’d have hired some professionals to assist! But alas it’s ersatz little ‘ol me instead. Now, I don’t mean to kvetch but I must away and press a cool cloth to my glabella as I lay down, rest and recover.

Did you recognise any of those A-Z words?

Which is your favourite newly learned word and do you think you’ll use it?

Ciao for now,

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21 Comments

  • Reply Joanne Tracey July 3, 2024 at 8:27 am

    What a fun idea. My personal faves are foofaraw and wabbit – I could imagine using both of these.

    • Reply Min July 3, 2024 at 6:01 pm

      I thought it was a bit of fun too! I like your fav’s! Maybe we’ll see them in one of your upcoming books?!

  • Reply Denyse Whelan July 3, 2024 at 10:07 am

    I knew about 9 of these…might not have been able to define them as such but knew them. That was a great way to stretch your brain and have a bit of fun with it all too,

    I can only hear the words of Elmer Fudd (I think) referring to Bugs Bunny as that ‘wascally wabbit’….

    Thanks for the link up and a smile!

    Denyse x

    • Reply Min July 3, 2024 at 6:02 pm

      Hi Denyse, well you’re clever knowing 9 of them! I thought it was fun. I love learning new words. Yes I thought of ‘wascally wabbit’ too! lol xo

  • Reply Debbie Harris July 3, 2024 at 10:13 am

    Hi Min, I did recognise some of these words and what a fun idea to share! I love Lollapalooza a word I’d not heard of before. Thanks Min for hosting us and hope all is going well in your world. Thanks also for making me get my Norfolk Island post written – love a deadline! xx

    • Reply Min July 3, 2024 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Debbie, clever you recognising some of them! Isn’t Lollapalooza a fun word?! I’m glad #WWWhimsy spurred you on to get your Norfolk Island post done. I look forward to reading it! xo

  • Reply sherry July 3, 2024 at 11:45 am

    I knew about half of these but the others are very amazing! I do love words!

    • Reply Min July 3, 2024 at 6:04 pm

      You’re clever Sherry! I love words too and thought this was a bit of fun! Glad you enjoyed! 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer Jones July 3, 2024 at 1:45 pm

    I love this Mim. I do pride myself on have an extensive vocabulary, so was shocked to find there were 10 words on this list that I haven’t heard of before now. I’m going to have to find something to kvetch about, just so that I can use the word. This is a wonderful fun post.

    • Reply Min July 3, 2024 at 6:05 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it Jennifer! Isn’t it amazing that there are so many words out there that we haven’t seen before? Some of them (like most of these) are such fun too! Hope you find something to kvetch about so you can use that word! LOL xo

  • Reply Joanne July 4, 2024 at 5:01 am

    I knew a couple of these but most of them were new to me. I frequently look up words when reading or watching TV shows because I do have an extensive vocab and am thrown them I come across words I don’t know… only problem is I have a much harder time remember what the words were and what they mean than I used to.

    • Reply Min July 5, 2024 at 9:32 am

      It takes a while to remember them and what they mean that’s for sure. I have to keep checking back to this list to remember! It’ll sink in eventually though! 😀

  • Reply Sue from Women Living Well After 50 July 4, 2024 at 10:06 am

    Hi Min, what a fun post and I agree we are never too old to learn. I did feel better recognising 4 words I know – Qixote, Raconteur, Vamoose and Xenophic but the rest we in a different language to me LOL 🙂

    • Reply Min July 5, 2024 at 9:33 am

      Hi Sue, I needed something lighter after last week’s post. You did well recognising 4 of those words. Better than me! lol

  • Reply Astrid July 5, 2024 at 12:50 am

    I know some of these words (mnemonic, xenophobic, zeitgeist, and some more) but not most. Your list is truly interesting. And you’re a true raconteur.

    • Reply Min July 5, 2024 at 9:34 am

      Hi Astrid – you’re clever knowing quite a lot of the words! Thank you for the compliment! 😀

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee July 5, 2024 at 7:17 am

    Unfortunately Xenophobic is used a lot in this country (Side eye at Pauline Hanson, Advance Australia and the many other parties that push us to use that word), I use the Interrobang a lot but didn’t know it had a name (and I have to put them ?! together as I don’t have the right keyboard). Quixotic – one of the many words and images from Don Quixoite. I didn’t know Lollapalooza was a real word, I thought it was just the name of the music festival….!

    • Reply Min July 5, 2024 at 9:38 am

      You’re right about Xenophobic Lydia. I never knew about the Interrobang word either and so glad I know now. I love learning new things! Quixotic was completely new to me as was Lollapalooza. I didn’t even know it was a music festival! 😳

  • Reply Christie Hawkes July 6, 2024 at 4:37 am

    That was fun! I went back and counted the number of words in this list that I had never heard; there were 12. That said, several of the ones I have heard, I had never seen in writing and was surprised by the spelling. I do love learning a new word, so thanks for that, Min.

    • Reply Min July 6, 2024 at 10:48 am

      Hi Christie, so glad you enjoyed it! If you’d never heard of 12 that means you knew 14 which is pretty amazing! Yes sometimes the spelling of a word can be a surprise if you haven’t seen it written before. I love learning a new word too! xo

  • Reply Leslie Susan Clingan July 8, 2024 at 2:42 am

    So clever!! How in the world did you find a way to use all of those unique words in a single, sensical paragraph!! I would struggle to use even one of them. However, I am proud to say at least 5 of these words weren’t totally unfamiliar to me. I found the definition of derecho interesting as it means ‘right’ (as in the opposite of left) in Spanish.

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