Writers, just go ahead and admit it: your guilty pleasure is words.
Long words, interesting words, crazy words. You collect them in secret, maybe storing them somewhere in the hope that you can use them someday — but when the opportunity finally arises, you feel too pretentious.
Well, today I’m here to give you courage. I’m going to introduce you to five new words to add to your arsenal — and I’m going to outline the perfect places for you to slip them into conversation or your writing in a way that feels perfectly natural.
This article is an important one for writers. Even if your school days are a distant memory, it’s important to keep learning — and for writers, it’s important to keep learning within our craft.
Adding new words to your vocabulary will help strengthen your writing skills; having a head full of words will make it easy to choose the right ones when you sit down at your laptop.
It can also kickstart your creativity. These words aren’t for the faint-of-heart — they’re complicated and almost outrageous, with fascinating historical origins. Constantly turning them over in your mind will inspire you to come up with complicated and outrageous ideas of your own.
And for entrepreneurial writers, learning new words is extra important; any entrepreneur will tell you that creativity is especially essential — and learning words like these might add a little fun to an otherwise stressful workday.
Keep reading to indulge in some of the most unique words the English language has to offer.
Taradiddle: noun. A fib; a small lie; pretentious nonsense. Also spelled tarradiddle.
This word sounds silly; it reminds me of something my six-year-old self would have made up a song about. It’s been around since 1796, when it was listed in a dictionary as a synonym of “fib.” Maybe people were more fun back then, because this absurd-sounding word has all but died out today.
However, this word has enjoyed some degree of popularity among writers. Word master J.K. Rowling herself used it in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: “We haven’t got time to listen to more taradiddles, I’m afraid, Dumbledore,” said Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge after hearing Harry’s story of a Dementor attack. As a huge Potterhead (and a proud Ravenclaw), I was thrilled to find this word in one of my favorite books.
So what’s the best place for you to slip it into conversation? Unless you’re planning on attending a Ministry of Magic hearing anytime soon, I suggest that you save this word for when you suspect someone is telling a lie. For instance: “Johnny, there’s chocolate all over your face. Don’t give me any taradiddles about not even looking at the cookie jar.”
And if you write for news outlets, this word might come in handy as you report the day’s news: “The police insist that the suspect’s story is a taradiddle.” Creative writers such as J.K. Rowling might also find a place for this word in their whimsical fantasy stories.
Malarkey: noun. Insincere or foolish talk. It’s a slang word for humbug or nonsense.
This word is very similar in meaning to taradiddle, but malarkey seems to be more commonly used among the general public; there’s a better chance that the average Joe will know what you mean if you say malarkey rather than taradiddle.
If this word seems a little goofy, that’s for good reason: this word became so popular in the 1920’s because cartoonist Thomas Aloysius Dorgan used it in his cartoons. And you may even know someone with Malarkey as their last name — some theories about the word’s origins point to the Irish family surname Malarkey. But whether or not the word has a capital letter for you, this is a fun word to sprinkle into both your everyday conversation and your writing.
I suggest that you use this word whenever you have something to protest: “It’s absolute malarkey that they can’t keep the air conditioning on in the office all summer.” It’s relatively safe to use around non-writers — remember, this word is fairly common — and it’ll help you add a little flair to your complaint.
If your writing is centered around a certain industry — for instance, fitness — and you spend your time talking about the latest trends, this word might help you out. For instance: “The latest fashion is working out only one day a week, but it’s malarkey that this will make your body look good in a month.”
You can also allow this word to remind you to have fun with your writing and to be creative with your word choice, and if you struggle writing bios for your author website or guest posts, slipping this word in might help peg you as a fun, down-to-earth person. “I write fanciful children’s books, and I think people who don’t read aloud to their children are full of malarkey.”
Nudiustertian: adjective. Of or relating to the day before yesterday. This word is pronounced “noo-dee-uhs-TER-shun” and I’m willing to bet that you’ve never heard it before.
Besides the fact that it’s virtually unpronounceable, there’s much more to know about this word: it literally means “today the third day,” it comes from a Latin phrase, and it was coined by a Puritan clergyman in 1647. I take back my comment from earlier about people being more fun in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, because this word certainly sounds a bit affected.
Although “nudiustertian” is now considered completely obsolete, that’s no reason not to use it — why not bring it back? Keep in mind, though, that this word is an adjective — not a noun — and use it accordingly. Since the word itself is so ostentatious, pairing it with a simple sentence would be best: “I saw him nudiustertian.”
This word is an easy one to slip into historical fiction (anyone fancy writing a novel about a seventeenth-century Puritan clergyman?). If you write poetry, you might also find a place for this word. Even if you don’t, it can still help you when you put pen to paper: draw inspiration from how specific this word is and think about how you can articulate your ideas more clearly.
Absquatulate: verb. To run away, taking someone or something along. Specifically, this archaic word (pronounced “abs-KWA-chu-late”) means to leave abruptly.
In the 1830s, America decided to exercise their creative muscles when it came to the English language, inventing humorous words that sounded ambiguously Latin — and absquatulate was one of the results.
Although you can still find it in a dictionary today, you won’t hear it on many lips. Many writers ended up using this word in the second half of the 19th century, including Walton Burgess.
This word is easy to use because it’s not as silly as taradiddle and not as specific as nudiustertian. For instance, if someone ever tries to steal your wallet, you’ll be well-armed: “Don’t let that thief absquatulate with my money!” Even if you’re not involved in the high-speed chase itself, you could still insert this word into a journalistic article that describes a similar situation.
You could also use it if you write crime novels, thrillers, or anything with fast-paced action. Plus, if you’re ever stuck in a meeting that looks like it’s going to last hours, you know what to do–just absquatulate.
Sockdolager: noun. A final or decisive blow; something conclusive.
This slang term was also born in the flashy language era of the 1830s, and just like absquatulate, it didn’t last very long. Many people think that the word came from the verb “sock” (to punch) and the noun “doxology” (a hymn of praise to God), but in reality, the origin of sockdolager is unknown.
This decisive word does have a solemn undertone: it’s one of the last words President Lincoln ever heard. He was seeing the comedy Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in April 1865, and assassin John Wilkes Booth waited for a certain laugh line (“Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap”). As the audience laughed, Booth fired, and both the world and the word changed forever.
Moving on to happier topics: when should you use this word? Pull it out when you’ve won an argument and you both know it: “The sockdolager is that I witnessed it in-person. You didn’t.”
If you’re a sports writer, this word could spice up your articles. But don’t feel like you can only use it when you’re discussing a boxing match — get creative with your sports and think outside the box. “The pitcher delivered the sockdolager in the form of a blazing fastball for strike three.” You can also use this word when writing about politics: “The lawmakers passed the bill with a sockdolager.”
I hope I’ve managed to satiate your hunger for interesting words by giving you these: five of the craziest words the English language has to offer.
If you’re looking for the ultimate challenge, try using all five of them in the same sentence: “I’m going to absquatulate before you can give me a nudiustertian taradiddle— your malarkey isn’t the sockdolager.”
And if you’re still looking for more unique words, I’ve got you covered. Try finding a website with obscure words, scour local thrift shops for a dictionary from a century or two ago, and read books — scholarly books, technical books, books published hundreds of years ago — looking up any words you don’t recognize. It might take a little effort, but the words you seek are out there waiting for you.
Now, go out into the world and bravely use these fascinating words. I believe in you — and that’s no taradiddle!
Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. When she isn't working, she's coaching fastpitch softball, writing her latest YA novel, or snuggling with her beagle puppy, Sophie. Learn more at Hailey's website or by following her Instagram @haileyh412.