“I love words but I don’t like the strange ones. You don’t understand them and they don’t understand you. Old words is like old friends, you know ‘em the minute you see ‘em.” — Will Rogers

Rogers’ disdain for “the strange ones” notwithstanding, that’s exactly where I’m going this week: to take a look at some of the weirdest words to ever populate the English language.

Ironically, the best way I can think of to explain some of these weird English words is by recalling a recent day that I spent with my German friend Claus, hurling billingsgate (coarsely abusive language) at one another while attempting to spruce up his ludibrious (the subject of mockery) backyard.

“It’s a good thing I’m here to help you,” I told him, “that shed you built by yourself nudiustertian (the day before yesterday) turned out all cattywampus (askew), Claus,” I said sarcastically.

“If you want a kerfuffle (commotion caused by conflicting views) over names, James,” he shot back, “I can certainly engage in enough skullduggery (underhanded behavior) to see that you get your comeuppance (deserved punishment).”

“Let’s not get into a brouhaha (noisy commotion) over trifles. I’ve got to fix that sundial that you’ve somehow gotten to run widdershins (counter clockwise),” I told my fractious (difficult) friend.

And with that we actually got to work, clearing away some of the accumulated gubbins (odds and ends) and other detritus (debris) in the yard. Before long I began to feel the collywobbles (funny feelings) in my stomach and could actually hear the borborygmus (rumbling) coming from Claus’ general direction.

“I’m wabbit (exhausted),” I told him, “let’s apricate (bask in the sunshine) while we grab a bite to eat.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll stay out of the sun under this bumbershoot (umbrella),” he replied as he tore into his lunch.

Too hungry to stand on formalities, I began to xertz (eat quickly) to the point where I absolutely bibbled (ate and drank noisily), but it was nothing compared to the cacophony (discordant mixture of sounds) emanating from Claus’ area. The nincompoop (foolish person) was obviously attempting to discombobulate (disconcert or confuse) me.

After wolfing down our lunches, neither of us was motivated to do much. I futzed (wasted time) by snipping a ratoon (a short shoot growing from a root), while Claus absolutely flummoxed (greatly perplexed) me with his ability to fudgel (pretend to work).

Needless to say that, between Claus’ lollygagging (wasting time) and my lackadaisical (lazy) attitude, by the time I absquatulated (left quickly), his yard was still in malagrugrous (dismal) condition.

Having used up my allotted space, it’s now time to end this bloviation, which President Warren G. Harding defined as “the art of speaking (or in this case, writing) for as long as the occasion warrants, and saying nothing.”

Jim Witherell of Lewiston is a writer and lover of words whose work includes “L.L. Bean: The Man and His Company” and “Ed Muskie: Made in Maine.”

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