Noun – “A drinking bout; a spree or ‘binge’” – Brannigan was originally a North American slang word, but it is now rarely used. “Shall we go for a brannigan on Friday?” can be a more sophisticated way to discuss such activities.
Noun – “Use of more words than are necessary; redundancy or superfluity of expression” – A useful word for editors: “Thanks for your 4,000-word submission. Unfortunately there is too much perissology in this piece for us to publish it.”
Noun – “The action of shaking to and fro” – This can also be used in verb form, to quagswag, and is pronounced like “kwag swag.” It could definitely work as the name for a new type of dance, or possibly serve as an alternate way to describe a seizure.
Noun – “A fool, simpleton, noodle, blockhead” – This one doesn’t need any explanation as to how you could use it; you may already have someone in mind who fits the description.
Noun – “A too earnest desire after drink.” – “Bibesy” may have been completely made up in the 18th century and it’s unclear whether it ever made it into common use, but it could easily be used today: “Wedding guests waited anxiously for the bar to open; bibesy should be expected after such a long, dull service.”
Noun – A 17th-century word meaning “continual writing” – Matadorians taking part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month are getting good practice at scriptitation!
Noun – “A state of mental disturbance or confusion” – I can start using this obsolete Scottish word right away: “While working on writing my thesis, I find I am constantly in widdendream.”
Adj. – An Old English and Middle English word meaning “careless, heedless, negligent” – Pronounced as “yeem-lis,” this is another word that could prove useful for teachers around the world: “Handing in messy and incomplete work just shows me you are being yemeles, and I won’t hesitate to give you a zero for the assignment.”
Noun – “Twilight” – Used in the early 17th century, “twitter-light” sounds like a romantic way to refer to the hours as the sun goes down.
Adj. – “Alluring, enticing, attractive” – Alright, so at first this word kind of sounds a way to describe something diseased, but if you put the stress on the second syllable for emphasis, it does sound like a compliment: “That girl was so illecebrous; I’ve got to figure out how to see her again.”
If you could choose only one of these words to add to your everyday English vocabulary, which one would you pick? Try using it in a sentence.
For more fun with words, check out 20 Awesomely Untranslatable Words from Around the World and 20 More Awesomely Untranslatable Words.
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Heather is a secondary English teacher, travel writer and editor who has lived in Morocco and Pakistan. She enjoys jamming on the bass, haggling over saris in dusty markets and cross-country jumping on horseback. Currently she's a grad student attempting to wrap her tongue around Middle English, analyze South Asian literature and eat enough to make her Portuguese mother-in-law happy. Learn more on her blog at ExpatHeather.com.
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