Five Unusual Words

Words do a lot of work. Between their actual meaning, their syllables and their connotations, they can invoke emotions and images. Consider sibilant and hissing. They both indicate the same ‘s’ sound associated with snakes and harsh whispers. Some dictionaries even use one to help define the other! Yet, they evoke and conjure entirely different connotations. Hisses are often considered sharper, but sibilant tends to be associated with a softer sort of ‘s’.

There’s a lot of words out there too, including some unusual ones you might want to try out.

Defalcation: the theft, misuse or misappropriation of funds. More specifically, this is aimed at funds the defalcator had been trusted to use appropriately. The term actually shows up in US Bankruptcy Code to help define funds that have been tainted by misuse and therefore can’t be cleared by filing for bankruptcy. Use it to spice up your next gripping embezzlement thriller.

Frisson: the shiver from a sudden strong emotion. If you’ve ever had a horror movie raise goosebumps or the thought of trying a new roller coaster send a tingle up your spine, you’ve experienced frisson. And don’t worry about that shiver up your back now, that’s just a frisson of excitement about learning a new word.

Limerence: is the state of being infatuated with someone, and typically carries a strong desire for reciprocation of that attraction. Before you romance writers get any ideas though, keep in mind that limerence itself tends to be short-lived. If you’re still finding some attraction to this word though, consider how it might be useful for your villain.

Pot-valor: if you feel a little bolder after drinking alcohol, you have pot-valor. Typically, this is that point of inebriation where bad ideas (like texting your ex) start to sound like good ideas. You can also use pot-valiant and pot-valiancy as needed. Next time you have a few drinks with friends, impress them with this word instead of your own pot-valor.

Vulpine: of or pertaining to foxes. (Come on, how could I pass this one up?) Just like wolves have a certain sense about them, so do our clever fox friends. A lot of times vulpine is used to indicate something is sly or coy. Consider this word the next time your friend shoots you a vulpine smile.

There are thousands of words out there. What are some of your favorite unusual words? Let me know in the comments below!


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