Words I Don’t Know


What I Think it Means: A skinny, slimy guy with a huge, huge nose that’s always in the air, totally full of himself. Like a younger version of the asylum keeper in Beauty in the Beast.


Dude looks pretty nascent to me.

What It Actually Means: beginning to exist; recently formed or developed

So like the baby asylum keeper?


What I Think it Means: Like a thorny, bushy tree? Or no, it can’t be a noun. It sounds like an adjective. So the feeling of being a thorny, bushy tree. Maleficent when she became the pricker garden in Sleeping Beauty.

thorn bushes

So being these thorns basically. Samson’s face summarizes how awful it would be. Thanks, Samson.

What It Actually Means:  like an uncle; kind or friendly like an uncle

Can we pause and appreciate the awesome coupling there? Avuncular means like an uncle. Nothing has ever made me so happy. That’s perfect.


What I Think It Means: On time. No idea why, it just sounds like being on time. Oh wait, because of punctual. So punctilious is like punctual’s whiny little brother..so the trait of someone who whines about being on time as a form of humble-brag.


If this guy’s not punctilious, who is?

What It Actually Means: very careful about behaving properly and doing things in a correct and accurate way

I wasn’t too far off. Being punctual is part of being punctilious. Cogsworth applies.


What I Think It Means: Clearly, this is punctilious’s twin sister who’s never on time.


So Lumiere, of course.

What It Actually Means: having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than other people

So supercilious is actually punctilious’s evil cousin.


What I Think It Means: The pot-bellied father of punctilious and supercilious. He does things like order a three course lobster dinner on welfare.


So I figured I’d just stick with the Disney theme and googled “pot bellied Disney.” This is what I got. Thanks, Internet. You never let a girl down.

What It Actually Means: a small amount of something; an amount that is less than what is needed or wanted

I was so very, very wrong here. A paucity of a gut would not be a pot-bellied gut. It’d be like a concave, starved gut. I think English missed a great opportunity here, though. Is there any word that sounds more pot-bellied than paucity? Well, pot-bellied. But paucity’s right up there.

*All definitions are from Merriam-Webster’s simple definition series.


  • And this is how the English language evolves. I read once that an educated person who is moved 500 years forward or 500 years backward in time would not be able to understand his own language in the new time period. Interesting.

    • I hadn’t heard that. Thanks for sharing! Reading old books is a brain game for me. Annie Proulx published a story in The New Yorker recently that had me head scratching over all the obscure words. Her vocabulary is incredible.

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