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15 Funny Words You Probably Don't Know
bumfuzzle
[buhm-fuhz-uhl]
Bumfuzzle means to confuse or fluster, from the southern US. This would make a good name for a puppy. “Bumfuzzle! Come here, boy!” Not to be confused with San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, who is also from the south.
canoodle
[kuh-nood-l]
Dictionary.com defines canoodle as “to caress, fondle, or pet amorously.” The earliest known references are British. Britain still has a stranglehold on this word, as it is regularly spotted on Daily Mail.com, usually in connection with a Kardashian. It was probably used a lot on “Sex and the City” but we have no data to support this.
cattywampus
[kat-ee-wom-puhs, kat-uh-]
This word sounds like the kind of folksy thing President Lincoln might have used, and it’s from his era, the 1830s. Our definition also includes the spelling catawampus. If the word is used as an adjective, it means “askew or awry; positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.” As an adverb, it means “diagonally or obliquely.” Example: “The economics lecture hall is catawampus from the hockey arena.”
diddly-squat
[did-lee-skwot]
The word diddly-squat is a direct linguistic cousin to doodly-squat. The term is used in a negative context to denote something that is minimal and inconsequential. Example: “That doesn’t mean diddly-squat.”
diphthong
[dif-thawng, -thong, dip-]
This is a funny word that is very hard to spell. The website Atlantic.com called diphthong “the best word ever” and while that may or may not be true, the combination of “dip” which can refer to a clueless individual, and “thong,” which is a style of underwear, just sounds funny. Most people don’t know what a diphthong is, either. You can look it up on Dictionary.com—but maybe it’s just best not to know, and that way you can use it however you’d like. We won’t judge.
dongle
[dong-guhl, dawng‐]
Oh, the dongle. It’s a little piece of computer equipment. The exact origination of the term is unknown. Slate.com took a deep dive on this word. It picked up a sexual connotation in tech circles, and caused a rather pronounced kerfuffle (see below). When we solicited opinions on the word internally, one response was “it makes me uncomfortable.” What about you? Does the term make you uncomfortable? Should it be banished and replaced with something new and, well, less provocative? (If that’s how you view it).
doohickey
[doo-hik-ee]
A doohickey is a “gadget; a dingus; a thingumbob.” One of those little things that sits in the kitchen junk drawer, used by hapless husbands who habitually misplace things and need their wives to bail them out. Example, in this case referencing a garage door opener: “Honey, have you seen the garage doohickey?” Using the term makes husbands feel a bit inadequate.
fartlek
[fahrt-lek]
The word fartlek stands for a training technique associated with runners. Swedish in origin from the early 1950s, this word is funny for two reasons. First, it equates to a bodily function, which appeals to many of us on some addled Beavis and Butthead high school level. Second, many words can be made to sound funny just by adding “-lek” to the end. Heh-heh.
gobbledegook
[gob-uhl-dee-gook]
Gobbledegook is “language characterized by circumlocution and jargon; it's usually hard to understand. The gobbledegook of government is hard to understand.” For proof, turn on C-SPAN.
jackalope
The word jackalope is a totally fictional portmanteau word, but fun. As anyone who’s traveled the American West will inform you, a jackalope is a jackrabbit with … antelope horns. See ‘em all the time. While Wikipedia mostly cites North America as a source, it sort of has an Australian vibe. “Right, mate. Let’s head out to the bush and scare up a jackalope or two.”
kerfuffle
[ker-fuhf-uhl]
Kerfuffle is pretty popular. It is a British word meaning a fuss; commotion. “The gas price hike caused quite a kerfuffle.” Why does this sound like a word they’d use in Minnesota or North Dakota? Think: the movie Fargo. “Yah, Margie. Big kerfuffle today, for sure.”
mugwump
[muhg-wuhmp]
The term mugwump comes from 1830s Massachusetts, and stands for “a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884.” The word also means “a person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, especially in politics; a person who is neutral on a controversial issue.” You might have your own meaning for the word—say for example, your parents told you a story when you were growing up about the mugwumps who live in the woods behind your house, gathering berries at night and sleeping by day—under your bed.
shivoo
[shi-voo]
Shivoo is a recent Word of the Day. It’s Australian in origination and stands for a “boisterous party or celebration.” You can totally imagine this happening Down Under, mate.
snark
[snahrk]
Used as a verb, Dictionary.com cites the word snark as a “mysterious, imaginary animal.” (Who knew?) Use it as a noun to refer to rude or sarcastic criticism. People can be snarky, too. Tina Fey is a classic example.
snollygoster
[snol-ee-gos-ter]
Not generally used in contemporary culture, but we have a definition so we’re going with it. A snollygoster is a “clever, unscrupulous person.” Since the word dates back to the late 1840s, you can kind of imagine Mark Twain using it in one of his tall tales. Not to be confused with a snallygaster, a mythical dragon-like creature that lurks around Washington D.C.