Top Ten List Of Words You Should Be Using

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As part of its initiative to draw attention to some of the English language’s most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words, Wayne State University has released its annual list of the year’s top 10 words that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose:

1. Buncombe
Rubbish; nonsense; empty or misleading talk.
What a relief to have the election over — that great festival of buncombe that so distracted the nation for months.

2. Cerulean
The blue of the sky.
Her eyes were a clear, deep cerulean blue, like no eyes Trevor had ever seen, and looking into them made him feel lighter than air, as though he could fly, but even if he could have flown he would have stayed where he was, content just to look.

3. Chelonian
Like a turtle
Weighed down by bickering and blather, the farm bill crept through Congress at a chelonian pace.

4. Dragoon
To compel by coercion; to force someone to do something they’d rather not.
After working in the yard all day, Michael was dragooned into going to the ballet instead of flopping down to watch the Red Wings on TV.

5. Fantods
Extreme anxiety, distress, nervousness or irritability.
Jeremy’s love of islands was tempered by the fact that driving over high bridges always gave him the raging fantods.

6. Mawkish
Excessively sentimental; sappy; hopelessly trite.
To her surprise, Beth found Robert’s words of love to be so mawkish that they made her feel sticky, as though she were being painted with molasses.

7. Natter
To talk aimlessly, often at great length; rarely, it means simply to converse.
You can tell our staff meetings are winding down when everybody starts nattering about their kids.

8. Persiflage
Banter; frivolous talk.
Emma hoped to get Lady Astor into a serious conversation, but as long as the King was around she could elicit only persiflage and gossip.

9. Troglodyte
Literally, a cave-dweller. More frequently a backward, mentally sluggish person.
Susan felt she could have saved the company if only the troglodytes in management had taken her advice.

10. Winkle
To pry out or extract something; from the process of removing the snail from an edible periwinkle.
Jack showed no inclination to leave his seat beside Alice, but Roger was determined to winkle him out of that chair no matter what it took. (Read more here.)

I don’t know about you, but “mawkish,” “dragoon,” and “troglodyte” make fairly regular appearances in my life. I know but never say “cerulean,” because I’m not quite sure how to pronounce it (I have that longtime-reader affliction of knowing many more words by sight than by sound). And I may just add “chelonian,” “persiflage,” and “winkle” to my vocabulary.

How about you? Did you know, and do you use, many of these words? And are there other underused words that you think are worthy of reviving?

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3 Responses to “Top Ten List Of Words You Should Be Using”

  1. Jason says:

    Two of my favorites:

    Anastrophe – It refers to Yoda speak: “Speaking out of order I am”
    Anacoluthon – when you switch from one thought to another in mid-sentence: “How did you get – who is this calling my cell phone?”

  2. John Clarkson says:

    How about circumspect, adroit, chimerical and fallow?

  3. Brenna says:

    Avuncular (in the manner of an uncle) is one of my favorite unique words.
    Also the quote from Norman Augustine: “Simply stated, it is sagacious to eschew obfuscation.”

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