Tag Archives: word trivia

Utterly Unique Words

alex atkins bookshelf wordsThe editors of Dictionary.com are fond of diving into the depths of the sea of words, looking for truly dazzling and unique treasures to haul up to the surface. Here are some recent discoveries that they titled “utterly unique”:

dreamt: this past tense of dream is the only verb in English to end with “mt”

hydroxyzine: one of only two words in the English language that has an X, Y, and Z in alphabetical order; refers to a versatile medication that reduces activity in the central nervous system; specifically, it acts as an antihistamine and sedative. (Incidentally, the other word is xyzzor, a nematode worm. Gross!)

queue: a line; it is the only word in English that is pronounced the same if you remove the last four letters.

syzygy: The alignment of three celestial bodies in a straight line; most commonly the Earth, Sun, and Moon; the only word in the English language that contains three “y”s.

tmesis: the insertion of one or more words between a word, compound word, or a phrase (eg, abso-freaking-lutely, fan-bloody-tastic, legend-wait for it-dary); the only English word that begins with “tm.”

Read related posts: Words Invented by Book Lovers
How Many Words in the English Language?
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
What is the Longest Word in English?
There’s a Word for That: Epeolatry

For further reading: A Curious Dictionary of Language Oddities by Chris Cole
A Word A Day by Anu Garg

Ten Most Common Adjectives

atkins-bookshelf-wordsNo good writer writes without the assistance of a great dictionary and thesaurus. From the first word to the last word, a writer struggles to find the right word — whether it is a new word or and old word, a little word, or a long word — to express his or own thoughts and feelings. Finding the right word, as opposed to any other imprecise word, is very important to a writer. This is best expressed by the playwright, Michael Mackenzie, who writes: “People often forget the sheer joy of finding the right word which expresses a thought is extraordinary, an emotional rush of an intense kind.” Thanks to an analysis of the Oxford English Corpus, containing more than 2 billion words, linguists can determine the ten most common adjectives in the English language (careful readers may have identified that those ten words were used in the first three sentences):

1. Good
2. New
3. First
4. Last
5. Long
6. Great
7. Little
8. Own
9. Other
10. Old

Read related posts: Most Common Writing Errors
Best English Dictionary
Most Common Words in English

For further reading: The Book of Word Records by Asher Cantrell, Adams Media (2013)

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