10lesscommon 1280

10 Less Common English Words

I’ve always been fascinated by words and where they come from. I want to learn new words and use them in my everyday conversations. Why? One reason is to keep learning and applying what I learn. The clichéd adage about learning being lifelong is, indeed, true and, naturally, I’m drawn to learning about things I have an interest in.

Another reason is to see the stumped look on people’s faces when I use an obscure or unusual word in persiflage. I enjoy bumfuzzling them with my sesquipedalian loquaciousness. See what I just did? (If you are curious as to what the words in bold mean, you will find the explanations later on in the list!)

Hi! I’m Mr Joshua, a teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Are you also like me and enjoy learning new words? If the answer is yes, you are definitely in for a treat. Here are some of the English language’s more obscure words. Let’s get cracking!

1. Nesh (adjective)


Pronunciation: nesh
Definition: (of a person) weak and delicate, in particular in being susceptible to cold weather
Origin: Old English
Sentence example: I’m wearing a few extra layers today because I can be quite nesh.

2. Flahoolick (adjective)


Pronunciation: fla-HOO-lik
Definition: free with money, generous, an exuberant spender
Origin: Irish Gaelic
Sentence example: The flahoolick parent offered to buy every student in his daughter’s class a pair of branded sneakers.

3. Floccinaucinihilipilification (noun)


Pronunciation: FLOK-si-NO-si-NY-HIL-i-PIL-i-fi-KAY-shuhn
Definition: the action or habit of estimating something as worthless
Origin: Latin
Sentence example: We managed to get this house at a great price because of the previous owner’s floccinaucinihilipilification of its actual value.

4. Loquacious (adjective)


Pronunciation: luh·kway·shuhs
Definition: tending to talk a great deal; talkative
Origin: Latin
Sentence example: The loquacious student talked for more than ten minutes after the teacher asked him a question

5. Persiflage (noun)


Pronunciation: puh·suh·flaazh
Definition: light and slightly contemptuous banter or mockery
Origin: French
Sentence example: At first, Nicole was offended by John’s constant persiflage, but later realised John only teased her because he liked her.

6. Triskaidekaphobia (noun)


Pronunciation: TRIS-kye-DEK-a-FOH-bee-a
Definition: extreme superstition regarding the number 13.
Source: Greek
Sentence example: Leslie’s triskaidekaphobia is so severe that she refuses to visit her parents, who live on a thirteenth-storey apartment.

7. Deliquescent (adjective)


Pronunciation: deh·luh·kweh·snt
Definition: becoming liquid, or having the tendency to become liquid
Origin: Latin
Sentence example: One of things I do not like about ice is its deliquescent nature; it always makes my drink diluted and lose its flavour.

8. Jentacular (adjective)


Pronunciation: jen‧ta‧cul‧ar
Definition: of or pertaining to breakfast; specifically, one taken early in the morning or immediately upon waking up
Origin: Latin
Sentence example: The Queen likes to take a post-jentacular walk to stretch her legs and take in some fresh air, especially if she has eaten a heavy breakfast.

9. Sesquipedalian (adjective)


Pronunciation: seh·skwuh·puh·day·lee·uhn
Definition: (of a word) having many syllables; (of a person) tending to use very long words
Origin: Latin
Sentence example: The sesquipedalian speech given by the speaker left many audience members scratching their heads in confusion.

10. Bumfuzzle (verb)


Pronunciation: buhm-fuhz-uh
Definition: to confuse or fluster
Origin: Old American English
Sentence example: Mother was completely bumfuzzled when she found her keys in the microwave earlier this afternoon

There you have it: 10 words that are weird, obscure, hardly used, but still nonetheless wonderful! Just a word of caution – while it is fun to use these words in your daily informal interactions with friends and family members (as you watch their faces crease in confusion while they try to decipher what you mean), do avoid using them in your writing or formal interactions, for example when you are writing your compositions or giving a response during the stimulus-based conversation. As these words are unusual and not commonly used today, they might not be suitable for the context and purpose that you are writing for. After all, being good in language means being able to communicate clearly and succinctly, which means choosing the most appropriate words that would help you to do so. The last thing you want to do is confuse your teacher or examiner!

Are you able to form your own sentences with these words on the list? Share them with us in the comments section!


Level up with advanced O-Level English examination strategies. Without compromising on the joy of learning.

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Mr. Joshua

Mr Joshua believes that learning does not happen in a vacuum and strives to bring the real world into the classroom. He enjoys telling stories and works hard to ensure his classroom is a welcoming environment in which all students are comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas – It’s fine to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. Mr Joshua has a passion for English Literature and encourages his students to read widely and write earnestly.

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