1. Kerfuffle (kəˈfʌf(ə)l)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

Kerfuffle (noun) has been around since the early 1800s. There are two ideas as to how it came into English. It probably came from either Scottish Gaelic or from Celtic Irish, the languages that were used historically in Scotland and Ireland.

If somebody asked you the following question, would you know what they meant?

“What’s all the shouting for? Why are you making such a kerfuffle?”

It means to make a fuss or a bother, usually when people have different points of view. Imagine two of your friends having a minor disagreement over something and making quite a bit of noise – doesn’t kerfuffle sound like a great way to describe the situation? They might also be making a hullaballoo too…

2. Hullaballoo (ˌhʌl.ə.bəˈluː)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

“Did you hear all that hullaballoo in the office today?”

A word that really sounds like what it means, hullaballoo (noun) is the loud noises and shouting that people make when they’re angry.

It’s been part of the English language since the middle of the 18th century.

3. Cacophony (kəˈkɒf(ə)ni)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

Another word related to noise, a cacophony (noun) is a mixture of horrible sounds. Imagine birds screeching, alarm bells ringing and babies screaming…and you’ve got yourself a cacophony!

You may already know that words that end in phone or phony are related to sound in some way. Cacophony comes from a Greek word made up from kacos (bad) and phone (sound). It entered English in the mid 1600’s.

4. Ragamuffin (ˈraɡəmʌfɪn)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

Ragamuffin (noun) comes from the English that was used during the Middle Ages.

You’ve probably heard the word rag, right? A dirty and scruffy piece of old cloth. So it’ll make sense to know that a ragamuffin is a person who wears dirty and scruffy clothes – clothes that are just like rags! It’s usually used for children, and you may also sometimes hear it used to describe scruffy-looking animals.

The next time you hear someone say,

“I send my children to school dressed smartly, and they come home like little ragamuffins!”

You’ll know exactly what they mean!

5. Whippersnapper (ˈwɪpəsnapə)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

Nothing to do with whips or snaps, say whippersnapper (noun) quickly and you’ll create a funny and harsh sound!

Although this term is a little bit old-fashioned today, it’ll certainly make people smile if you use it. It’s been part of the English language since the 17th century and is a mixture of two terms. One referred to a lazy person who had no ambitions. The other term was used for young people who lived on the street and did bad things, like stealing and tricking people.

The meaning has changed over the years, and today it’s used for a young person who’s too confident and perhaps a little cheeky! It’s a perfect word to use for an inquisitive child who just can’t stop questioning and correcting their parents!

Would you giggle if you heard this conversation?

Mother: “Come here, please”
Child: “No, I’m busy”
Mother: “I asked you to please come here”
Child: “No. Dad said when people are busy you shouldn’t disturb them. So please leave me alone!”
Mother: “Well, you little whippersnapper!”

6. Gobbledygook (ˈɡɒb(ə)ldɪˌɡuːk)

15 weird english words you won’t believe exist

Close your eyes for a second and think of a turkey. What sound does it make? Does it sound something like “gobble, gobble, gobble”? That’s exactly where this word came from!

Created from the meaningless sound that turkeys make, gobbledygook (noun) was originally an American English word. It was created in the 1940’s to mean words that are nonsense or have no meaning. It also describes when people use too many technical words and so other people can’t understand what they’e saying.

“The Director was talking a load of gobbledygook in that meeting. I have no idea what he wants!”

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7. Gibberish (ˈdʒɪb(ə)rɪʃ)

If someone is talking gobbledegook they’ll also be talking gibberish!

Gibberish (noun) means the same: nonsense words and phrases that sound like English but have little meaning.
Gibberish is an older term than gobbledegook. It’s been in use since the mid 16th century. It’s not known where the word came from, but many people believe it was taken from either a similar Spanish or Swedish word.

Make sure you practice your English – you don’t want to talk gobbledegook and gibberish!

8. Poppycock (ˈpɒpɪkɒk)

Have you ever listened to somebody trying to talk about something that they know absolutely nothing about? Like, you know that what they’re saying is completely untrue, yet they insist on continuing to talk? Or where someone has told you some so-called facts that are totally wrong?

It’s highly likely that they’re talking poppycock!

No laughing! Poppycock has nothing to do with poppies (a type of flower) or cocks (a male bird and a slang term for a man’s intimate body parts!)
Poppycock actually came from the Dutch word pappekak, which is made from pap (soft) and kak (poop!). It’s been part of English since the 1800’s.

A: “Hey, did you know that if you keep your eyes open when you sneeze your eyes will fly out?”
B: “What a load of poppycock!”

9. Discombobulate (ˌdɪskəmˈbɒbjʊleɪt)

Mainly used in North American English, if somebody’s talking lots of gibberish, gobbledegook, and poppycock, they may be trying to discombobulate (verb) another person. You may feel a little discombobulated (adjective) by all these strange words!

Confused? You should be! Discombobulate means to confuse!

It’s been used since the mid 19th century, and is mainly used in a funny way.

“What’s the matter? You look a little discombobulated!”

10. Flummox (ˈflʌməks)

If you’re now feeling very discombobulated you are also flummoxed (adjective)!

To flummox a person (verb) means to confuse them a lot.

It came into the English language in the middle of the 19th century. It was taken from dialects used in some parts of the UK.

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