A new word a day for 30 days

This month’s 30 day challenge is to learn a word a day. Frankly, this month is sort of a “take it easy” month as I recover from last month’s challenge to write a novel and catch up on a bunch of different things. I’m using Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words as my source.

Some of the words I’ve picked up so far:

eoan: pertaining to the dawn or the east
dorty: bad-tempered
vega: a fertile meadow
rudas: an ugly foulmouthed old hag; a beldam. (adjective) coarse, foulmouthed.
deosculate: to kiss affectionately
brumous: misty, foggy
daggle: to soil by dragging in the mud
nixie: a letter so badly addressed that it can’t be delivered

43 Responses to A new word a day for 30 days (Leave a comment)

  1. I used to voe doing this as a kid! I think it contributed greatly to the decent vocabulary I have now. I wish I could keep it up, but all I remember is the last time I tried gmail trapped dictionary.com’s updates in my spam filters. πŸ˜‰

    Have fun with it!

  2. Quiet interesting challenge you’ve ever done with. Although maybe it’s just a little bit easier than the previous one. So far, all of those vocabularies are really amazing to know, unless I can’t use it for everyday.
    But still, go for it!

  3. Good Exercise Matt..

    Here is the new word from my end..
    Kinesics : A study of relationship between non-linguistic body motions and communications.

    I loved pronouncing this word…

  4. Good Challenge. Being the son of a middle school English teacher, whenever I asked my Mom what a word meant she would point to the shelf of Dictionaries and Encyclopedias. (there was no Google!). It irritated me then, but I appreciate it today having a fairly decent vocabulary. I just might participate in this one.

    It looks like the definition of “Daggle” has changed a bit since Danny Sullivan started his personal Blog. You can see what it was defined as in February ’05 here in his Hello World post.

    To trail, so as to wet or befoul; to make wet and limp; to moisten.

    I thought you might find that interesting.

    – Jeff

  5. I think this word is going to give you a hard day πŸ˜‰

    floccinaucinihilipilification: habit or action of judging or estimating something as worthless or having no value

    It was not recognized by the chrome browser and red-underlined it. But exists in the Babylon English-English dictionary.

    Have a nice day.

  6. Matt, I teach languages and one of the issues with learning new words is once you learn it, the words stay latent in your brain.
    Memory formation is easy. You learn the word and it is there. But to activate is and use it and even retrieve it is another issues. Most memory problems are a retrieval problem not a formation problem.
    Therefore, for anyone that wants to learn words they can make flashcards and with a partner play a game. One person must describe or act out the word while the other person guesses it.
    This will help in the activation process.
    I know you wrote it is a take it easy month, so you will not get that fancy smancy with word learning, but this might be helpful to others who are learning a foreign language or want to amp up their English vocabulary.
    Word etymology is another great way to learn words as it brings the word to life.
    Sorry for the long comment, but it is a subject I am passionate about personally:
    Whenever, I learn a new word, especially in another language, and think I will never use it, it will just appear everywhere and I wonder how the heck did I ever live without that word?

  7. You will be awesome at Scrabble by the end of the month!

  8. You could write a novel for twitter with these words :
    On a eoan vega, a dorty rudas was trying to deosculate the daggled nixie she had found. She loved the brumous writing.

    I am qoing to pick you up on that but I’m going to use http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday.

  9. Your seventh word, “daggle”, is an interesting one as its the domain that Danny Sullivan uses for his personal site. Was it by chance that you stumbled onto that meaning or did you seek it out in your wild & woolly dictionary?

  10. I remember doing something similar as a kid. It was an idea my dad came up with (I think his dad originally did it with him). Basically you take one new word a day and you put it on top of the toilet cistern. I know, might sound a little crazy but if you think about it, the chances are it’s a place you visit several times a day. Remember that these were the days before GMail and PCs and ordinary folk were unlikely to be tied to a computer like an expectant father!

    I might be up for doing this again (not on the toilet cistern though!).

  11. The last word I rember not just knowing was “Otiose” in the History of the writing of LOTR. (worth reading for the draft where Gandalf hangs the palantir up on Sauron as he’s “to busy to talk now”)

    btw I thought a nixie was one of the “fair” folk or a type of specialised Valve (tube in USA speak)

  12. Absolutely love “nixie.” Although it also sounds as though it could be quite an endearing term for someone a little bit “ditsy”

  13. Would you not be better off learning words other people might understand? Most of those words you gave as examples sound either Middle English, or something Montgomery Burns might use.

  14. I just hope the people you are talking too know what you are on about.

  15. As a January challenge, how about being able to have a basic chat in a foreign language (hello, thanks, how much, how are you etc.)? A word a day, but not an English word! If you go with German you’ll have it easy as it’s very close to English:

    Wall – Wand
    Table – Tisch
    Fish – Fisch
    Man – Mann
    Fire – Feuer
    Rain – Regen
    Sun – Sonne
    Ear – Ohr
    Nose – Nase
    Mouth – Mund

    Yes, this was a highly selective example, there’s also a huge bunch of words which don’t aren’t as close πŸ™‚

  16. Matt this is an unique list of words. but the people I talk to are not going to understand me to well using them…but they are unique i must say.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  17. I was involved in Toastmasters for a very long time and absolutely loved the grammarian/new word of the meeting part. The part that amazed me the most though was not the words I didn’t know, it was the sheer number of words I thought I knew and had been misusing! Great luck with your project!!

    Missing Toastmasters though, I did a couple of searches on the Chrome Extensions directory to see if there were any ‘new word of the day’ extensions. So far no luck, which makes this look like a wonderful winter project to learn how to build Chrome extensions! It is approaching absolute zero where I am from, so I need a fun winter project!! πŸ™‚

  18. Alistair, I stumbled across daggle as I browsed through the dictionary and decided to make that my word for the day because Daggle.com is Danny Sullivan’s personal domain name.

    Cormac Maher, I love to read, so I wanted to go off the beaten path enough to find words I’d never heard before (except for maybe deosculate; I think I already knew that one). I’m less worried if someone else doesn’t know what a particular word means. Then it might be a conversation starter. πŸ™‚

    Mark Biernat, I’ve always wanted better apps to learn words. Like, what if my screensaver lock asked me a multiple choice question about the definition of a word? That would be an easy way to keep words somewhere more useful in my brain.

  19. I thought I could see potential for using at least two of those. However, I think I’d need to look up the derivation first to understand the root and idiom, vernacular or usual contextual setting (if there were one) e.g. it wouldn’t do to suggest to one’s partner that one was deosculating them only to find later it applied only to monkeys.

    Interesting re. daggle because I chose my domain name AdJuice when I was leafing through the dictionary and came across “adduce”. It’s not the sort of thing I usually do for fun! I was looking for a domain name beginning with “ad”.

  20. So where’s the novel? How’d it turn out?

  21. I wrote a post today on my blog about the word odious. I heard Micheal Stipe from REM say it years and years ago when I was a doty, rudas college student, and wanting to deosculate Micheal. It became my favorite word even though it means detestable. I had college student angst so it worked for me.

    I love the list.

  22. I like your 30 day challenge, my question being from the UK is that does this include words from other regions / dialects for example Cockney or Suffolk!?

  23. The daggled nixie exposed Matt for deosculating the dorty rudas in the brumous vega.

  24. You should sign up for A.Word.A.Day if you haven’t already. My favorite word I’ve learned from there over the years would have to be “callipygous” I think.

  25. I recently discovered a great word that I had never heard before… Sesquipedality (noun): given to using long words.

    You gotta admit, that’s kinda funny. LOL

  26. I slept a disturbed sleep, in anticipation of deosculating my loved one at the break of a new eoan. But, I was roused from my slumber by a dorty rugas for taking his quarters. He dragged me along the brumous vega, leaving me totally daggled. My letter of appeal for justice never brought me justice, for it went nixie!

    You get what I am saying I hope? πŸ™‚

  27. Unfortunately, if I “learned” a new word every day for 30 days, at the end of the 30 I would REMEMBER maybe 5 or 10 of them.


  28. A fun way to discover new words is by playing Wordfeud on Android… be amazed by words your opponents play, and find new words to play either by trial/error or looking them up … the game won’t let you play illegal words. Play me, I’m ‘man’ πŸ™‚

  29. Hi Matt

    How about taking a word from “Mr Caulkhead’s Isle of Wight colloquialisms”, that way you get to use the pronunciation too.


  30. Will you be consulting Urban Dictionary?

  31. Regarding multiple choice quizzes, I had wrongly thought they were lame tests, but when I started to study languages I found that was not true.
    In fact, for long-term retention they turn out to be the best, at least based on one psychological study and my own experience might confirm this. The most important aspect is testing and retesting.
    I think your method is a great idea. My wife who is even more of a linguist than I, keeps telling me every method is good.
    Sometimes during non-busy season at work, I made small applications to learn words on my laptop, with an anti-boss minimization screen key close at hand of course.

  32. Sounds easy, but I am sure it will be difficult to remember all of them at the end of the month.

  33. Dude, just play Balderdash every day. You’ll learn about 50 new words each time around.

  34. A search for “daggled nixie”, “dorty rudas”, or “brumous vega” returns my earlier silly comment as the number 1 result. These searches are my new examples of non-competitive keyword phrases!

  35. Hi Matt! You might want to try Wordnik’s word of the day (sent via Twitter or email or available at http://www.wordnik.com/word-of-the-day. We try really hard to find not just delightfully obscure words, but obscure words with example sentences to help show you how they’re used.

    Today’s Wordnik word-of-the-day is Gongorism, (noun) A kind of affected elegance of style introduced into Spanish literature in imitation of that of the Spanish poet GΓ³ngora y Argote (1561β€”1627). πŸ™‚

  36. Hmm – I always though ‘Nixie’ referred to the Nixie tube, used as an alpha-numeric display device.

    To my knowledge, not in general use here – but maybe in the UK – chuffed – delighted; pleased; satisfied.

  37. Yeah, I’m trying to learn German so learning about 5 new words a day at the least would be nice πŸ™‚

    But I’m determined. I’m sure I’ll have the whole language down in a week or so… lol

  38. Matt buddy, on this precised list of strange words my neighbors “vega” granny would like to “deosculate” you.

  39. I’ve never tried to use Dictionary.com to learn their word of the day, but I do use another service, which always manages to find it’s way to my Gmail inbox from the site WordSpy.com. Many (if not most) of the words wouldn’t exactly high brow because the point of the site is to document the process of neologism, or the creation of new words. The site sends you a new word nearly every day with it’s definition as well as quotations with it being used and the first known time it was used.

  40. Hi Matt. Kent Campbell here (you know, the guy you met at the thing in that place that one time). My favorites are contained in one of my 9-year old sons favorite phrases – “You sir, are a limaceous mouth-breathing troglodyte”. “Limaceous” is slug-like, a troglodyte is essentially a cave-dweller (or dedicated WOW fan).

  41. sound great matt, but its not easy, just 5-10 words after wake up that pretty for me ^^

  42. Thank you for this article. I am sure it will be difficult to remember all of them at the end of the month. happy new year. marry cristmas.

  43. My 9 year old came up with a new word meaning “Wooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww”


    It does actually sounds well πŸ™‚

    Thats my word for 2010 and all the best from a “brumous” Dublin, Ireland πŸ™‚