Do you know about these 20 obscure English words?

There are many words in English that look and sound totally weird. You might most frequently use Oxford Dictionaries to double-check the spelling or pronunciation of a word or to find a synonym for a common term. But sometimes you might want to learn a new and unfamiliar word – one which you probably won’t need in everyday conversation or writing, but which is fun, interesting, and unusual. The feeling when you can’t quite find the right word for what you’re trying to express is incredibly aggravating. These obscure English words help you to describe indescribable feelings and emotions.

Have a look at these 20 obscure English words and try them out as you speak with people.


  • Huckmuck

According to the English Dialect Dictionary, the confusion that comes from things not being in their right place like when you’ve moved everything around while you’re cleaning your house is called huckmuck.

  • Nebbish

A noun meaning someone, usually a man, who is feeble and scared of stuff: “a timid, meek, or ineffectual person”. A Poindexter.

  • Grawlix

You know when cartoonists substitute a bunch of punctuation marks for curse words? They’re using grawlix.

  • Flummox

If you’re now feeling very discombobulated you are also flummoxed (adjective). To flummox a person (verb) means to confuse them a lot.

  • Alexythymia

Meaning inability to identify and express or describe one’s feelings. It is primarily found used as a psychiatric term, and if you decide to employ it the next time you have an argument about feelings with your significant other, well, don’t blame us if it is not well received.

  • Valetudinarian

It is a noun meaning a sickly or weak person, especially one who is constantly and morbidly concerned with his or her health.

  • Misslieness

The Scots dialect word missilieness means “the feeling of solitariness that comes from missing something or someone you love.”

  • Mouse potato

A person who spends most of their leisure or working time on a computer.

  • Petrichor

“The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.” A beautiful word for an everyday sensation.

  • Phosphene

While you’re pandiculating, you might also press your knuckles into your eyes until little stars appear. Those specks of light are called phosphenes.

  • Cacophony

A noun which is a mixture of horrible sounds. Imagine birds screeching, alarm bells ringing and babies screaming…and you’ve got yourself a cacophony!

  • Lamprophony

A noun meaning loudness and clarity of enunciation.

  • Alysm

Alysm is the feeling of restlessness or frustrated boredom that comes from being unwell. When you’re desperate to get on with your day but you’re so under the weather that you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed? That’s alysm.

  • Lucubration

The product of laborious study. The implication, usually, is that the person whose lucubration it is has indeed worked long and hard through the night – but it’s still not very good. From lucubrare, Latin for “to work by Lamplight”.

  • Defenestrate

You’ve got to wonder about the kind of mind that thinks there needs to be a word for throwing someone out of a window.

  • Compunctious

This is one of the obscure English words which means feeling remorse or regret. Every one of us has, on some occasion, felt like we should be saying “I’m sorry,” and wished to do so … but without actually having to utter those dread words. If you would like to say that you are sorry, or have feelings of regret or remorse, but want to do so in a fashion that is sufficiently obscure that the person to whom you are apologizing doesn’t quite understand you, then compunctious is the word for you.

  • Erinaceous

An adjective which means pertaining to, or resembling a hedgehog.

  • Pandiculation

When you get up in the morning, sit on the edge of your bed, and stretch your arms in all directions, you’re actually pandiculating.

  • Gwenders

That tingling feeling you get in your fingers when they’re cold? That’s gwenders.

  • Zeugma

The rhetorical device of using a word in more than one of its senses at the same time. For instance: “She stole his heart, and his wallet”: “stole” is being used in the metaphorical sense when referring to “heart”, and the entirely literal one when referring to his wallet.

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Once you’ve learned all these obscure English words, make sure that you actually learn them so that you too can make them part of your regular conversations.

Sandeep Debnath

Written by Sandeep Debnath

The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, question it and turn it inside out. Being a blogger, I started sharing my knowledge and interests here on BlogPoke.