Friday, October 28, 2016

Six Silly Words to Make Writers Smile

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Writers love the English language. We also hate it. Sometimes we agonize for hours, comb online thesauruses, and reject dozens of choices before we arrive at just the right word to convey our meaning. Other times the words flow faster than money out of our bank accounts.

As crazy and illogical as our language is, it’s also beautiful, poetic, and sometimes downright funny. Today I’ve chosen six words to share with you, courtesy of, that are hilarious, either in their spelling, meaning, or pronunciation. I hope they bring you a smile.

6 Silly Words
#1 Anencephalous    
Pronunciation: æn-en-se-fuh-lus
Definition: To be anencephalous is to be brainless, empty-headed, to have a skull with an echo.
Sample: The current election cycle has proven again that anencephalous humans repeatedly elect other anencephalous humans to high public office.

#2 Formication (Read this one carefully. It’s not what you think.)
Pronunciation: fôrmiˈkāSHən 
Definition: The sense of ants crawling on your skin.
Sample: Seeing one bug climbing the table leg was enough to stir up my proclivity for formication.

#3 Pandiculation
Pronunciation: pan-dik-yuh-ley-shuh n          
Definition: A full body stretch, usually accompanied by a yawn.
Sample: My dog, Winston, always began his day with leisurely pandiculation.

#4 Sialoquent
Pronunciation:             sai-æ-lê-kwênt
Definition: Spitting while speaking.
Sample: The sialoquent preacher never understood why his congregants refused to sit on the front row.

Abibliophobia: the fear of running out of reading material.
#5 and my personal favorite: Abibliophobia
Pronunciation: uh-bib-li-uh-fo-bee-yuh         
Definition: The fear of running out of reading material.
Sample: When my Kindle library of new books dwindles, my abibliophobia rears its ugly head.

Musicians will love this final word, but even if you’re not musically inclined, have fun trying to pronounce it. Take it slowly and don’t miss a syllable.

#6 Hemidemisemiquaver     
Pronunciation: hemēˌdemēˈsemēˌkwāvər/
Definition: A musical timing of 1/64.
Sample: My fingers can’t move fast enough to play a selection set in hemidemisemiquaver.

Well, there you have it—six funny words from the English language. Six words will barely skim the foam off the pot, so I invite you to join the conversation by sharing your personal favorite silly word in the comment box below.

Remember, just because the world is filled with serious things doesn’t mean we can’t lighten things up every now and then. I challenge you to incorporate one of these silly words into your conversation or writing today and watch what happens.

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones,” (Prov. 17:22).



  1. Thanks, Lori, for the humorous start to my day. I thought your first offering, Anencephalous, was especially appropriate for the current craziness we're experiencing.

    1. I agree, Dennis. There's a word for everything, and this might be the one for our times.

  2. I like the list, I haven't used any of them to be honest, but I AM GLAD I read your post.

    1. No worries, now younhave 6 new words to play with :)

  3. Lori,

    I was already actually familiar with the first and last words on your list. Unfortunately, my familiarity with the first arose from the fact that a coworker's unborn child was diagnosed as an anencephalic baby, a condition is fatal. She has at least one healthy child, but that was a traumatic and painful time for her and her husband.

    The hemidemisemiquaver? My husband plays tuba and used to play with a local community band. I couldn't have told you what it meant, but I would have recognized it as a word if I'd heard it.

    1. Oh, Carrie, how sad! That's a very serious lesson on the word :(. And yes, I'm not a musician either, but I spotted that as a music word, too.

  4. be-lieve it or not, I actually knew hemidemisemiquaver! #Iareamusician

  5. I suffer a variation of abibliophobia. I have so many kindle books, I have a tongue-in-cheek fear I may not live long enough to read them all. As to this word, I love the way it rolls off the tongue. Thanks for finding and sharing it, Lori.

    1. Yes, it does sound grandiose, doesn't it? Our language can be quite musical, which makes it fun ;) Keep reading, Bruce, and keep adding to your library. We want you around for quite some time.

    2. Funny thought to join a conversation when it's about words I can't even pronounce!

    3. Ah, but with my handy dandy pronunciation guides,
      you have every reason to give it a try. Be bold.
      Most are easier than they look, Ellen.

  6. As a music/theater major, I have loved the word hemidemisemiquaver since the day I heard it. Another musical word I find periodically bouncing around in my anencephalous skull is nomenclature.

    1. Hmmm, an anencephalics head wouldn't even attempt the word nomenclature. But I agree-- it has a lovely, ostentatious sound :)