Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for uxorious and other uniquely unusual words

A number of years ago, I decided to improve my vocabulary. I started looking at lists of unfamiliar words. The only problem was that I couldn't pronounce the words because I don't read phonetically. People read the words to me so that I could repeat. But the definitions... that was a different story...

I decided to have fun with these words. Instead of just going straight to the dictionary to look them up and find the real definition, I chose to make up definitions for the words, almost randomly. Then I wrote sentences, using the made-up definitions. It was a good deal of fun.

Here is the exercise. Go to a website that has listings of unusual or rarely used words. This is the website that I used: It is called Phrontistery.  Choose your words at random, making sure that you choose words that are unfamiliar to you. In my demonstration exercise, I will choose ten words. 

They are:
uxorious
ulcuscle
ufology
ubiquarian
ulotrichous
ultrageous
umbriferous
umstroke
unguiferous
unstercorated

For sure, I have never seen any of these words in my life! Ha ha, the computer doesn't recognize them, either. It has nearly all of them listed as misspelled and unfamiliar. OK, I told a lie. I did see the first word, uxorious, in a book. It was Levels of Life, by Julian Barnes. I had to look it up in a dictionary. There were several more unfamiliar words in that book that I had to look up. Julian Barnes is the vocabulary king!

But I digress. Back to the exercise. The next step is to invent definitions for each of the words. The key to this part of the project is to remember that making sense is unnecessary. In this case, making sense may actually be undesirable because it will interfere with your creativity.

uxorious: The buxom young lady becomes this after she chases a bee away from her blouse
ulcuscle: When you use your muscles to excess, you tend to shout "ULL, my ulcuscles really are ouchy!"
ufology: This is the study of drones, operated by peeping Toms.
ubiquarian: A librarian, after using hand lotion is lubricated, usefully. Delete the "l" and you have an ubiquarian.
ulotrichous: You have a lot of riches but you won't share (how rude!) 
ultrageous: When something is really outrageous, such as a dozen eggs costing $25, it is ultrageous. Somehow "outrageous" just seems like an understatement.
umbriferous It was a sad day when the umbrella broke, due to high winds, a really umbriferous day.
umstroke: People who have long beards stroke their beards lovingly as they say "um" repeatedly.
unguiferous: No, thank you. No mustard for me, Guldens or otherwise. I'll just go unguiferous.
unstercorated: You were hoping to be coronated as king or queen of your community, but no one else expected that big event. Your understanding of the lack of coronation did not occur and you felt that the lack of anything meant that you were unstercorated.

The last step is to check the actual definitions of the words against your imagination. You will probably find this step the funniest.

uxorious: excessively fond of one's wife. It beats uxorcide, which is the murder of one's wife (eek).
ulcuscle: a small ulcer (ouch)
ufology: study of alien spacecraft (you know that flying saucer that just landed in my back yard??? Um, I'll be right back... or not, as the case may be, lol).
ubiquarian: one who seems to be everywhere at once. (I see the town supervisor at every event. She seems to be everywhere at once, a real ubiquarian.)
ulotrichous: having wooly hair (I was scared when I saw an ulotrichous cat because it just looked strange).
ultrageous: violently extreme. The terrorist was ultrageous and scared off all potential girlfriends.
umbriferous: giving or bearing shade. The umbriferous ash trees are in terrible peril, due to the presence of the emerald ash borer.
umstroke: circumference, edge.
unguiferous: bearing nails or claws
unstercorated: not manured

As you can see, there is very little connection between the imaginary meanings of the words and the actual meanings of the words.

The goal of this exercise is for you to stretch your imagination and to enjoy the process.

Your turn!!!

Have fun! (that is the only rule for this activity)














3 comments:

Katrina said...

That was a lot of fun to read. You have a great imagination. But like you, I tend to read phonetically, so some of the words were a bit hard for me to pronounce.

Great blog post!

Melinda said...

What a fun looking game! Reminds me of the party game "fictionary" in which someone chooses a word unfamiliar to the group and writes down the dictionary definition. Everyone else writes down a made-up definition and then all vote and the definition that gets the most votes wins. Thank you for sharing!

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Well, Alice, you may find it all fun, but to me, both exercises would only be work. :/
Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
with the A to Z Challenge

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