Not quite three years ago, I once again let my mind go wandering. One thing lead to another and I began to muse over words that sound funny but are real words with legitimate uses. I reached out to my sons for input. This resulted in one son scouring a dictionary and the other son combing through a thesaurus. My two daughters even got involved. I came up with a list of 18 words and wrote my feelings about each word on the list. I had a wonderful time doing this and wanted to revive the piece. I reached out to friends on the Internet as well as colleagues from work, I also, of course added a few words of my own.
The conditions of the list are pretty simple. First, it had to be a real word that can be found in the dictionary (I used several dictionary sources). Secondly, keeping in the spirit of my blog, it had to be family friendly. Lastly, if you could imagine Tigger saying the word, it had a good chance of making the list. With that in mind I submit to you the following 18 words:
- absquatulate – This word means to flee, to abscond, to vamoose, or to leave as if your britches are on fire and your backside is beginning to spark. I discovered that if the word is a verb that had the –ate suffix, it has a good chance of sounding funny enough to make the list (annotate, defenestrate). Given this, if your britches are on fire and your backside is beginning to spark, it would be wise to absquatulate to the nearest fire station. Once you arrive, you should stop, drop, roll, and politely ask the first fireman you see for a remedy to your anomaly.
- cacophonous – This is an adjective that describes a harsh or discordant sound. I only know what this word means because, in the 1980’s (when guitars were properly tuned), there was a band called Cacophony that included Jason Becker and Marty Friedman. I rather enjoyed there ne-classical guitar work. Still, the name was GREAT marketing. I imagine the poor souls whose britches are on fire and with a sparking backside let out quote a cacophonous sound as he absquatulated to the nearest fire station.
- crepuscular – This adjective refers to the twilight hours of the day. Lightning bugs, for example, are crepuscular creatures. The word also implies dimness. Politicians are often said to have crepuscular logic on an issue. I am challenged to find a more appropriate adjective for the average candidate. This is an election year with an abundance of examples. It makes a man want to absquatulate with a cacophonous cry of frustration.
- curmudgeon – This refers to a ill-tempered, cantankerous person. The curmudgeon in question is usually, at least, middle aged. I have yet to meet a 22 year old curmudgeon. One of my colleagues offered the following observation: "You know what I like about Shane's blog? You see, I act curmudgeonly. Shane only does that WHEN HE WRITES". With THAT kind of back-handed compliment, I HAD to include this word. I just wish those unruly hoodlums next door would turn down their Brittany Perry music (or whatever her name is) so I could hear myself think.
- depone – This is a verb meaning: to testify under oath. Sometimes, when such testimony involves a politician it leads to another word – perjury (followed by some crepuscular logic on the part of the politicians lawyer). I also find this word amusing because pone is a type of flat cake bread. If one’s flat cake bread is stolen, are they then deponed? This would eventually lead to the victim deponing about the alleged thief who stole his pone and then allegedly absquatulated.
- falafel – Be honest, now. Do I REALLY have to explain why this word made the list? For those who do not know falafel is a dish of Arabic origin. It consists of a spicy mixture of ground vegetables (often chick-peas or fava beans) that are formed into balls or patties and then fried. This sounds awfully good. Even if I didn’t like falafel, I’d get a big kick out of telling people I had it served to me. I could have a waffle for breakfast and a falafel for dinner. I’d be too tired from laughing to eat either.
- finagle – This verb means to acquire something by trickery or manipulation. For example: The old curmudgeon finagled the neighborhood kid into mowing his lawn. Shortly thereafter, the old curmudgeon absquatulated on his new Harley Davidson.
- gobbledygook – This a a great word that refers to jargon that is usually wordy and often unintelligible. For example, a supervisor may tell his superiors that he helped one of his team members thoroughly investigate multiple development opportunities in order to facilitate improvement of the respective team member’s quality of life. Simply stated, the supervisor told the team member he stinks at his job in multiple ways and will risk an abrupt update to his resume if he fails to improve. Through all the gobbledygook, five words rise to the top: Shape up or ship out.
- inundate – Again, we have a word with a prefix of –ate. This means the word has already made it through the first auditions and got a callback. The word means to flood with water. It can also refer to being overwhelmed by something. For example, when the old curmudgeon insulted his gourmet neighbors about the smell of their cooking, he woke up to find his front lawn inundated with falafel. This was especially unfortunate because the old curmudgeon was unable to finagle the neighborhood kid into more lawn work.
- luciferin – Previously, we discussed the crepuscular insect known as the lightning bug (or firefly). Luciferin is the pigment that causes the lightning bug to…well…light up. Still, I can’t but think of some 1970’s hospital drama where a doctor might say: “Nurse, get me an ampule of luciferin. STAT!” It won’t cure the poor fellow’s cardiac emergency but his abdomen might light up at night.
- osculate – This word is, at its origin, a geometric term. It refers to when a curve touches another curve at the same point of contact (sharing the same tangent. The word also means to kiss because that is what happens, geometrically speaking, during a kiss. This is funny to me. The reason why is that I can’t even fathom even the nerdiest guy on the planet telling his girlfriend: “Baby, when I see you, I plan to osculate you as if such were prohibited by the Volstead Act and we would have to wait another 11 years for the Blaine Act for a repeal.” Talk about your smooth operator.
- outré – This refers to something that is bizarre or violates accepted conventions. I mainly find this word funny because it makes people think that using a French word makes a person sound smarter or more sophisticated. I, personally, find such behavior to be rather gauche.
- pajamas – I don’t need to explain what these are. I included because the word sounds funny to me whether you pronounce them as puh-JAH-muhs or puh-JEH-muhs or PJ’s.
- pedantic – This works smacks of irony. It refers to making a show of one’s knowledge. This is ironic because using the word pedantic in a sentence is usually pedantic. Many consider pedantic behavior to be outré and ostentatious.
- perturb – I really like this word. This verb refers to upsetting or agitating someone. The problem is that the word sounds too funny to hear. If someone tells you they are perturbed. You start giggling. This causes an aggravation to the perturbation. I giggled just writing that.
- protuberant – This adjective refers to something that protrudes outward from an adjacent surface. The best example I can come up with is the late actor Don Knotts aka (Barney Fife or Ralph Furley or Mr. Limpet). Knotts had protuberant eyes. It actually added a lot of comic effect to his characters. I can watch Barney Fife while whispering the word protuberant and giggle through an entire episode of “The Andy Griffith Show”.
- usurp – You don’t really have to have any idea what this word means for it to sound funny. It refers to taking over something by force or without proper rights. Even funnier, one who does so is a usurper. A usurper’s action is called a usurpation. The more you follow this word grammatically, the funnier it gets. I offer the following (with apologies to any educated historians): The Russians consider Napoleon’s attempted usurpation to be a mere perturbation. Therefore, it behooved Napoleon to absquatulate back to France as if his little britches were on fire and his backside was beginning to spark.
- zephyr – The person who submitted asked me the following question: “Why can’t they just call it a breeze or a wind?” To her, the use of the word zephyr appears a bit pedantic. Further investigation revealed that the word zephyr refers to a breeze from a west wind. It comes from the name Zephyrus – god of the West Wind. This is not to be confused with the Oklahoma blues guitarists J. J. Cale. They called him The Breeze because he kept blowin’ down the road.
Once again, folks, there you have it – another list of funny sounding words with legitimate uses. If you found that I omitted words from this list (or the first volume). Feel free to chime in as long as they meet the guidelines (funny and family friendly). I hope you didn’t find it too pedantic or crepuscular (however, I WILL accept being described as curmudgeonly).