Words That Describe Incredibly Specific Things
I’ve been irrationally obsessed with TV couples for as long as I can remember. One night, while I was scouring YouTube for cute clips of Jim and Pam from The Office, I found a scene where Pam is leaving Jim a voicemail about “the word [they] made up for ‘a thing stuck in your shoe’” and although they never actually identified the term (I propose “shrinket,” a shoe trinket), the scene piqued my curiosity. How specific can the definition of a word be? Apparently, very specific.
Floccinaucinihilipilification (n.): the act of estimating something to be worthless
Not only is this the second longest word in the English language (I’ll give cookies to anyone that can name the first), but it is also my favorite conversation starter because once you’ve mastered the pronunciation (I’ve always said it as floss-ee-nah-see-ni-hill-i-pill-li-fi-cation, but please don’t take my word on it), you become a people-magnet, either because they think you’re intelligent or they want to question your vocabulary. Also, the cookie thing was a joke. Cookie Monster, step away from the computer. It ain’t gonna happen.
Erinaceous (adj.): of, pertaining to, or resembling a hedgehog
I blame Sonic for this, because there exists no other logical explanation for why this word would even exist. Maybe it’s slipped my notice but I never thought hedgehogs were trendy enough to warrant their own vocabulary word. Owls and ravens I can understand, but hedgehogs? Young people these days…
Nudiustertian (adj.): pertaining to the day before yesterday
While I’m glad I can now form less confusing sentences when describing my weekend every Monday, a more helpful definition would have been “pertaining to the day after tomorrow” because then I could reference one of my favorite movies and sound more intelligent at the same time. (If you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend going to the library and taking it out. It has Dennis Quaid and a young Jake Gyllenhaal in it if that’s any incentive, which it should be.)
Tyrotoxism (n.): to be poisoned by cheese
Murder and poison work together like stink on cheese, or like poison in cheese. (Or, rather, the microbs in cheese.) I feel bad for anyone that falls prey to this “ism.” After all, no one wants their gravestone to read “Death by muenster.”
Qualtagh (n.): the first person one encounters after leaving one’s home
Depending on the outfit you’ve picked out or the toxicity of your breath in the morning, encountering the qualtagh can either be exciting or terrifying. Exciting if it’s your boyfriend who conveniently happens to live across the hall; terrifying if you wore a shirt for 30 minutes the day before and only one person saw you but that one person sees you wearing it again the next day and you’re forced to wonder if they remember/if they are silently judging your wardrobe choice.
Tarantism (n.): an illness characterized by the sudden urge to dance
Believed to have been caused by the bite of a tarantula, tarantism is literally a sickness that causes a person to randomly break out in dance. Spiderman could have been a completely different movie if this condition was still around.
Xylopolist (n.): someone who sells wood
If zoologist, biologist, and geologist are all real professions, why can’t xylopolist be one too? This is the question someone likely asked right before Drake Bell’s character from The Amanda Show traveled forward in time to smack the creator on the back of the head. Then the creator would go, “What was that for??” and Drake would go, “For being an idiot!” I need to get out more.
Aglet (n.): the plastic coating at the end of a shoelace
Named after a bunch of different foreign words all meaning “needle,” aglet refers to the little plastic bit at the end of your shoelaces. There, now you have a trivia fact to use the next time you watch Jeopardy. You’re welcome.
Jumentous (adj.): smelling strongly of horse urine
I don’t know about you, but if horses could talk, I suspect they would be very upset about this term. On the bright side, next time you want to subtly insult someone, you can say they have a jumentous odor, which ironically sounds more like a pleasant compliment than anything else.
Jentacular (adj.): pertaining to breakfast
This one actually makes me think of “jugular” which makes me lose my appetite, so whoever created “jentacular” needs to rethink their decision, because it could be a very useful word. Example: Chocolate-chip waffles are jentacular! Not only is this an accurate statement, but it’s a play on words, so it’s a double-literary threat.
Were Jim and Pam real, I’m sure they’d appreciate this list as much as I do. In fact, they’d probably create a better one. But they’re not, so I guess I’ll have to rely on you guys. Do you know of any words that are oddly specific?