Unique words come in all shapes and forms. You have the words with unexpected spellings, words that sound strange, and words that accurately describe a moment or a feeling.
And we love to hear them all!
The only problem is that people might not understand what you are saying.
When using uncommon words, the goal is never to leave your audience flummoxed.
So should you use unique words in your vocabulary and run the risk of being misunderstood, or stick to a beginner-level word list and risk sounding boring and repetitive?
This article solves this dilemma.
But first, let’s examine the characteristics of unusual words and why you should include them in your vocabulary.
What Makes a Word Unique?
Is there a culture that has not influenced the English language?
English emerged from Germanic dialects (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes) and has since grown to borrow from other languages such as Dutch, French, Latin, and Afrikaans.
Today, people around the world make up new words, combine existing words together, and coin entirely new ways to communicate in English.
It might be impossible to estimate the exact number of English dialects spoken worldwide, but they are no less than 160.
And out of the 171,146 English words currently in use, exactly how do you tell a unique word from a common one?
These three factors instantly make any word unique:
A connection to another language
Understanding the culture and history behind a language, or even a single word, makes you appreciate it more.
Words like lemon, avatar, ketchup, and even penguin have foreign origins – and these are not even the most unique words on the list.
A strange history
Did you know that the word robot comes from the Czech word robota (meaning forced labor)?
Or that the ‘mare’ in nightmare refers to a female goblin that sits on you and suffocates you in your sleep.
Once you understand the unusual and complicated history of some English words, you might view them in a different way.
Unusual meaning or pronunciation.
Let’s get something right; tough dough doesn’t rhyme, but pony bologna does? Okay!
That’s the English language for you – words with unusual spellings, meanings, and pronunciations that pass as unique.
Should You Use Distinctive Words?
It’s a little bit of both; you should avoid using uncommon words, but you should also use them.
And we don’t mean to use them to impress people because chances are, they don’t know what the word means.
Why Use Unique Words?
It may take a little bit of practice, but you won’t regret the choice to add some unique words in your vocabulary.
Here are some ways unique words can be helpful:
- You’ll impress people and sound smart when you speak and write.
- It’s a great way to challenge yourself.
- Learning and using a unique word can be very satisfying.
- You’ll win all the word games.
The Downside of Using Uncommon Words
In your quest to expand your vocabulary, you may come across two types of unique words:
The meaning of this word is almost apparent. Vidiot is a portmanteau word – a combination of video and idiot, video-idiot – and it describes an incautious and habitual watcher of videos or television shows.
This is the confusing type of unique word whose meaning is harder to guess. Because it is so close to catastrophe, you would think the word describes a terrible ordeal; but it actually means a happy ending to a story.
When you use unique words, you will either impress people or lose the attention of your audience because they wouldn’t understand what you are saying.
If you choose to use unique words, keep these tips in mind:
Informal Words Change
There are multiple dialects of English across the world. A boot in the UK is a trunk in America.
Unique words in one dialect might mean something completely different in another.
When using uncommon words, therefore, use strong context cues and pay attention to the geographical location of your audience.
Beware Obscure and Long Words
Words with esoteric or exact meaning scan backfire on you.
Rather than enhancing a reader’s experience, long and precise words might cause the reader to lose interest.
The average English reader might get hung-up on unfamiliar words, hard-to-pronounce phrases. Unless you are speaking to a room full of specialists, throwing around a word like otolaryngologist might not be a good idea.
Nobody wants to refer to a dictionary in every single sentence.
Limit the use of unique words that are too far out of your reader’s parlance.
The Rules of Unique Made-Up Words
Can’t find the right word? Why not take the two closest words and blend them into one? That’s how smog (smoke and fog), brunch (breakfast and lunch), and spork (spoon and fork) came to be.
When making up words, however, remember to lean on context cues.
Unusual words can both help and hurt the creativity level of your content.
One More Tip
Using too many unique words in your content puts you at risk of overwriting. Wordy content does not rank well, and it does not read well either.
With all that being said, don’t play it safe.
Just because your efforts can backfire doesn’t mean you should stay away from uncommon words.
Informal words add authenticity to your content. Foreign words are delightful, and it can be entertaining to pronounce long, unique words.
Trust your skills as a writer, and remember to always write with your intended audience in mind.
Unique Words in the English Language
You can use the distinctive words in this list to impress people and to attract more consumers to your business.
Do you find yourself swearing all the time? Even involuntarily?
Well, you might have coprolalia.
And no, being mad at your boss and swearing repeatedly throughout your day doesn’t count.
Although coprolalia is a symptom of Tourette syndrome, only about 10% of patience exhibit this symptom.
When someone tells you not to mamaguy them, they mean you should try to deceive them with flattering untruths.
The students were mamaguyed into thinking they were artists.
This is one of the easier words to misunderstand. Goodfella is an informal word that refers to a gangster, particularly a member of a Mafia family
Example in a Sentence:
The life of a goodfella is full of sacrifices.
The difference between pre-loved items and second-hand items is that the latter are still in good condition.
You can find the pre-loved records on shelf six.
Apparently, people admitted Shakespeare so much that there is a word to describe this exact action, and that word is bardolatry.
The deification of Shakespeare’s work grew so much that it eventually came to be known as bardolatry.
The small crumbs left after you finish eating your food; the few drops at the bottom of the cup after you drink – those are tittynopes.
Rinse out the tittynopes in the sink before putting the utensils in the dishwasher.
The smell of earth after it rains.
To be tenderly is to be absent-minded. Instead of saying someone is emotionally or mentally distant, you can use this word to describe their state.
Some feelings or actions are too extreme and cannot be expressed in words.
The ineffable mysteries of the universe.
Piffle is simply another word for nonsense, but it is much cooler to say.
What she is saying is absolute piffle!
You probably know someone like this – they tend to be intelligent but lack moral principles. This word is especially used to refer to unprincipled politicians.
Snollygosters in power will be the end of this country.
Have you ever completely tartled when introducing a colleague at work? Or perhaps you have done it because you were too drunk.
To tartle is to hesitate while introducing someone because you forgot their name.
Someone who believes that by meditating, it is possible to reach a level of consciousness where one can exist on air alone.
The involuntary and habitual grinding of the teeth. When you have this condition, you may find yourself grinding our teeth whether you are awake or asleep.
Prolonged bruxism can lead to pain in the jaw muscles.
A colloquial term to a teacher’s strike.
This is a derived word meaning to be industrious or active.
The new governor is very deedy with the farmers.
You may know this one from the word detergent. To deterge is to thoroughly cleanse something.
Cannibalism is the practice of eating other human beings. Vegetarianism is the act of avoiding animal products and by-products of animal slaughter.
People who eat insects practice entomophagy.
This is an essential word in English, but no one really uses it because they probably don’t know that it exists.
Nudiustertianrefers to the day before yesterday. This word has however become obsolete due to disuse.
You’ve probably seen this word in play at the movies. One character goes ‘don’t touch the red button!’ and the other character responds ‘I want to touch the red button; I can’t help myself!’
Cacoethes is the urge to do the inadvisable.
Pronounced as ‘zerts,’ this word represents the act of gulping or eating something very quickly.
She xertzed down the cocktail and passed out soon after that.
When hiring translators, go for a pro that knows how to maintain the originality of the content.
There is a word for everything. Don’t choose the commonly overused words over these beautifully unique words.
When translating content, these words can help you describe a situation or an emotion with precision.
Reach out to the expert translators in Bunny Studio and incorporate some of these distinctive words into your content.