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22 Weird Words to Know and Love

Updated on January 19, 2024Writing Tips

The English language has hundreds of thousands of cool unique words, with new words being created regularly. Some of these words might seem weird when you first encounter them, whether due to their pronunciation, their spelling, or a meaning that takes you by surprise.

There’s a joy and satisfaction in discovering a weird word that accurately describes what you intended. Whether you’re searching for weird words to describe someone’s behavior or to articulate an inexplicable emotion, growing your lexicon of weird words is handy.

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What is a weird word?

What defines a “weird word” is subjective. Here are a few reasons a word might get on your list of weird words:

It looks weird: You might find the word weird because it’s among the trickiest words to spell. Perhaps the way the word is spelled looks nothing like how it sounds phonetically. Conversely, commonly misspelled words might be perplexing enough to be deemed weird.

It sounds weird: When spoken aloud, the word might sound playful or absurd or might literally elicit a chuckle.

It’s not commonly used: Some words fall into disuse and become archaic. Words that are rarely used in writing or everyday speech might be perceived as weird.

It has an unexpected meaning: Weird words also have the power to shock or delight once you discover their true definition.

It has an interesting origin: The genesis of a word can be curious and intriguing enough to add it to your list of weird words.

22 weird words in English

To help you build your vocabulary of weird words, we’ve pulled together a few examples of odd words you might not have heard before.

1 Ballyrag

Pronounced: bally-rag

Part of speech: verb

Meaning: To bully or annoyingly tease someone

“His brother ballyragged him for losing the game for the third time.”

2 Buttress

Pronounced: but-tress

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: A component that provides stability, strength, or support

“The cathedral’s centuries-old walls were recently reinforced with strong buttresses.”

3 Catawampus

Pronounced: cat-a-wam-pus

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Standing askew or awry

“In the aftermath of the earthquake, the once straight fence stood catawampus, jutting out at odd angles from the cement.”

4 Chockablock

Pronounced: chock-a-block

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Packed, brimming; very full

“The Super Bowl arena was chockablock with fans scrambling to find their seats before kickoff.”

5 Dongle

Pronounced: dongle

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: A small electronic device to connect a computer. Sometimes used as an adapter for other devices or for added features.

“You need a dongle to charge your smartphone to your laptop; otherwise the cables aren’t compatible.”

6 Frippery

Pronounced: frip-pery

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: Clothing or finery that’s seen as frivolous or foolish

“Their vests were ostentatious, gilded with golden thread and frippery that jingled as the group marched through the crowd.”

7 Gambo

Pronounced: gam-bo

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: A low, flat farm cart

“She piled bales of hay onto the gambo and made her way to the stables.”

8 Hootenanny

Pronounced: hootn-Annie

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: An informal gathering with folk music

“The hootenanny had five string bands, decorations, and a big dance floor.”

9 Hullabaloo

Pronounced: hulla-buh-loo

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: A commotion

“The appearance of the stranger at the door created a hullabaloo among the dinner guests.”

10 Innuendo

Pronounced: in-nu-en-do

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: an insinuation, particularly one that veils an opinion about a person’s character

“The comedian’s subtle innuendo had the audience laughing and in near tears.”

11 Kenspeckle

Pronounced: ken-speck-le

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Conspicuous

“With its towering spires piercing the sky, the kenspeckle landmark could be seen from miles away.”

12 Lollygag

Pronounced: lol-ly-gag

Part of speech: verb

Meaning: Wasting time, foolishly causing delay

“Keep lollygagging with cleaning up your room, and you’ll never make it in time to the party.”

13 Oomph

Pronounced: um-ph

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: To give something punch or gusto; personal charm or appeal

“The special effects added oomph to the band’s performance.”

14 Popple

Pronounced: pop-ple

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: Rough and choppy waters, typically referring to seafaring conditions

“The water began to popple as the wind picked up on the bay.”

15 Sked

Pronounced: s-ked

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: Schedule

“We need to check the sked to see when the next train arrives.”

16 Syzygy

Pronounced: sy-zy-ghee

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: When three celestial bodies are almost aligned in a straight line

“Next month, the Earth, moon, and sun will be in syzygy, creating a total solar eclipse.”

17 Ragtag

Pronounced: rag-tag

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Untidy, disorganized, or varied in character

“The militia was made up of a ragtag group pulled from the surrounding communities.”

18 Unked

Pronounced: un-ked

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Strange, weird, ghastly

“The old, unked manor had an eerie atmosphere that seemed cloistered in time.”

19 Verklempt

Pronounced: ver-Klemp-t

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Seized with overwhelming emotion

“She became verklempt with emotion upon receiving the unexpected and thoughtful gift.”

20 Whiffler

Pronounced: whiffler

Part of speech: noun

Meaning: A person who dodges arguments through evasion; changes course often

“The political rally featured a charismatic whiffler, skillfully managing the crowd to maintain their energy and enthusiasm for the candidate.”

21 Xeric

Pronounced: zer-ic

Part of speech: adjective

Meaning: Needing only minimal moisture

“Cacti is a xeric plant that’s well-adapted to arid environments and periods of drought.”

22 Zonk

Pronounced: z-onk

Part of speech: verb

Meaning: To stun or strike; pass out

“After working the graveyard shift for the first time, he felt completely zonked and decided to take a power nap.”

Use more weird words

Experimenting with new and unusual words can enhance your writing and speech. Whether by weaving in uncommon but memorable words in your writing or by using an odd word as a conversation starter, circulating weird words can bring people and thoughts together.

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