I share @HotTake’s love of unusual words and guessing others here might appreciate this as well
The absolute best place I’ve found to learn about rare and wonderful words is The Phrontistery
The site, run by linguistic anthropologist and cognitive anthropologist Stephen Chrisomalis, was started in the '90s, and perhaps doesn’t update all that often, but still seems to be going strong!
Welcome to the Phrontistery! Since 1996, I have compiled word lists and language resources to spread the joy of the English language in all its variety through time and space. A phrontistery (from the Greek phrontistes ‘thinker’) is meant to be a thinking-place for reflection and intellectual stimulation. I invite you to explore the various site features relating to language and lexicography, find that half-remembered rare or obscure word you’ve been looking for, or to read and explore essays on language, linguistics, and culture. Have a look around, and enjoy!
Some highlights of the site:
- Dictionary of Unusual Words — the largest part of the site; 17,000 weird and rare English words
- The site creator’s personal list of favorite words
- A number of fun pronunciation polls
- List of books about numeration (Looks like this is an area of his academic study; he also wrote this book, which looks quite interesting: Numerical Notation: A Comparative History)
- A few dozen awesome glossaries for specific themes / subjects
- Compendium of Lost Words — “lists over 400 of the rarest modern English words - in fact, ones that have been entirely absent from the Internet, including all online dictionaries, until now”
- A Loquacious Location of Lipograms — nice intro to this interesting form of constrained writing
Highly recommend taking an hour or two to peruse the site and discover some amazing new words.
Some favorites I discovered here:
- mysteriosophy - system of knowledge concerning secrets and mysteries
- zoosemiotics - study of animal communication
- onomamania - mania for names
- antichthon - hypothetical second Earth on the opposite side of the sun
- quantuplicity - relative magnitude of a quantity
- shake - unit of one hundred millionth of a second used to measure nuclear processes
- xenolalia - person’s knowledge of a language never studied
- zeitgeber - rhythmically occurring event that cues organisms’ biological rhythms
- growlery - a retreat for times of ill humour
- omphaloskepsis - navel-gazing
- selcouth - strange; unfamiliar; marvellous
- ultracrepidate - to criticize beyond sphere of one’s knowledge
- zetetic - proceeding by inquiry; a search or investigation; a skeptical seeker of knowledge
Share your favorite words and / or other language-related websites, resources, etc. below!