Tag Archives: fun with words

Twenty-five of the Funniest Words

What words do you think of as funny?
Here are 25 of the funniest words in the English language
 from a list by linguist, Robert Beard.

Abibliophobia The fear of running out of reading material.

Borborygm A rumbling of the stomach.

Canoodle To hug and kiss.

Codswallop Nonsense, balderdash.

Collop A slice of meat or fold of flab.

Collywobbles Butterflies in the stomach.

“GARDYLOO! Ecdysiast.”

Ecdysiast An exotic dancer, a stripper.

Flibbertigibbet Nonsense, balderdash.

Gaberlunzie A wandering beggar.

Gardyloo! A warning shouted before throwing water from above.

Gongoozle To stare at.

Goombah An older friend who protects you.

Hobbledehoy An awkward or ill-mannered young boy.

Hoosegow A jail or prison.

La-di-da An interjection indicating that something is pretentious.

Lickspittle A servile person, a toady.

Mumpsimus An outdated and unreasonable position on an issue.

Pettifogger A person who tries to befuddle others with his speech.

Slangwhanger A loud abusive speaker or obnoxious writer.

Smellfungus A perpetual pessimist.

Snollygoster A person who can’t be trusted.

Snool A servile person.

Troglodyte Someone or something that lives in a cave.

Wabbit Exhausted, tired, worn out.

And . . . wrapping it up with #25:

@ The “at” sign.

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Robert E. Beard is a linguist whose specialty is morphology (the study of words). He owns and writes at alphaDictionary.com under the pseudonym “Dr. Goodword”. Take a look at his site. It’s a writer’s nirvana.

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9 out of 10 Writers Have Hypergraphia. Do You?

Hypergraphia (a rarely-used noun) means, “the overwhelming desire to write”.

Do you have hypergraphia?

Writing can lead to all sorts of unpleasant conditions. Some writers have graphomania, a manic obsession to write. Others are so obsessed with writing that they practice epeolatry: The worship of words.

If you procrastinate, you are a cunctator, one who puts something off. And if you practice cunctation and put off a writing project long enough, you could end up with uhtceare (pronounced: oot-key-are-a; an Old English noun meaning “lying awake before dawn and worrying.”)

Cunctation also leads to shturmovshchina, a word of Russian origin that means the practice of working frantically just before a deadline.

And shturmovshchina often leads to mogigraphia, a rare word meaning “writer’s cramp”. If you have mogigraphia, you might also have dysgraphia, a problem whereby one finds it hard to write legibly. (Agatha Christie had this, and I do, too.)

Cunctation, shturmovshchina, mogigraphia, and dysgraphia can lead to graphophobia, which means, “a fear of writing.” And if you are afraid of using long words, or even reading them, then you have hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. (There’s even a song about it! Click here to listen.)

If your brain overflows with ideas and your muse leads you to dream about monsters, you could end up with teratophobia, the fear of giving birth to monsters. . .

and that might lead to ideophobia, a fear of ideas. . .

and—HORRORS!

this blog post may have given you logophobia—a fear of words!

And you thought writing was easy?

Most of these words come from one of my favorite web sites, Interesting Literature. Check it out. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time—Happy writing!

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Give Your Characters a Paraprosdokian


What’s a paraprosdokian?
It’s a literary device, a kind of word play in which the final part of a phrase or sentence is unexpected.

A paraprosdokian is a U-turn for the reader that results in surprise.

Charles Dickens began “A Tale of Two Cities” with a string of paraprosdokians:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .

Shakespeare used them, too:

  • If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

  • Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.

  • Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.

And here’s one from Stephen King:

“I have the heart of a small boy, in a glass jar on my desk.”

Paraprosdokians are often humorous.

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.” —Grocho Marx

“If I could say a few words, I would be a better public speaker.” —Homer Simpson

“When someone close to you dies, move seats.” — Jimmy Carr

Giving your characters a paraprosdokian can spice up dialogue:

“Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.”

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”

A paraprosdokian can lead readers out of a tense situation:

“If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.”

“Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

Or lighten things up:

“Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”

“I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.”

I’ve gathered the examples in this post from various sources, but you get the idea. Add paraprosdokians to your stash of literary devices. Have fun creating paraprosdokians to fit your characters’ personalities. Then use them when you want to throw your readers a curve ball—or not.

Can you spot the paraprosdokians in this short video clip from “Animal Crackers”?

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