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8 Words You Must Work into a Conversation! (If You Can)

Words. How they change and improve our lives.

“While the author’s wildly swerving train of thought did at one point flirt with coherence, this brief encounter was more likely a chance event … than a result of even rudimentary lucidity.” (http://www.xkcd.com)

This quote aptly describes where my brain is most of the time. So as you meander through this post, if there’s something that actually makes sense, it is more than likely fully intentional purely accidental.

Words take on interesting meanings and evoke certain feelings when we hear them. We all have our favorite words – those that have a great sound coming off our tongue, or seem to capture what we’re wanting to emote at that particular time. Some of us even make up words – not that I would ever do that – when we can’t find the right one, or we are unable to pronounce the correct word.

Without further ado (no it’s not “adieu,” in case you were wondering), here are my must use words:

1. Zeitgeist – the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era
– The zeitgeist of the ’50’s was one of modernism and the burgeoning of television.

2. Shenanigans – high-spirited or mischievous activity
– My wife is really annoyed with my shenanigans!

3. Supercilious – coolly and disdainfully proud : snobbish
– Really? Seriously? I’m not supercilious. I don’t have to win EVERY argument.

4. Cacophony – harsh or discordant sound
– There was a cacophony of dogs barking, kids yelling, and a siren in the distance.

5. Hijinks – boisterous or rambunctious carryings-on
– Our puppy, Duke, was up to his usual hijinks – yanking slippers out of the closet and chewing on the couch.

6. Spelunking – the hobby or practice of exploring caves
– I love all sorts of outdoor activities, including spelunking in the caverns of Arizona and New Mexico.

7. Ennui – a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom
– Ennui comes from kids having too much time on their hands, and being used to playing video games.

8. Churlish – marked by a lack of civility or graciousness : surly
– When the impatient man took his parking place, the youngster quickly became churlish.


What are the words that you like to work into a conversation?


  1. Oh, I love words. And there are a few here that I don’t normally use! Churlish and hijinks! I will be using these very soon now in my posts!!!! Perfect to describe toddlers and pre-schoolers!!! I love the imagery of the word “zeitgeist”. My german is rough- but doesn’t that literally translate to “Time Ghost”? What a neat way to describe a climate haunting an era. Another fun Germanic borrow I love: Shadenfreude. Great post, Mike!

    • Woops. Posted this in the wrong location! Technology and me (or is it “I”) don’t get along very well.

      You are always so encouraging, c&c! Very good on the zeitgeist translation – it is in fact Time Spirit or ghost – the Germans would say it is the spirit of the time period. I have to be honest, Cate has used several of these words to describe me – churlish, shenanigans, and hijinks – which is why I like them ; ). I like the word schadenfreude, but I don’t practice it.

  2. Eeep! A whole post about words!! *excitement*

    I’m going to start using the word “churlish” instead of “rude” now when a huffy customer leaves. :) I love the words “addlepated” “nit” “debacle” and “pandering.” They just sound right. When one of my managers first started training at our cafe he said he heard me use “all these big words” in regular conversation as if I assume everyone reads the dictionary for fun. 😛 I took it as a compliment, of course.

  3. Ooh, you’ve got some of my favorites here! And I appreciate the reminder to use “ado” in that context– it drives me nuts when I see people use “without further adieu.” (Really, without further saying goodbye? Gah.)

    • Right?? Exactly! Why further saying goodbye? Thanks for the read, and you might want to check your searches 😉 – I tested out your search bomb idea. And. Loved. It!

      • Really?! Fun! I checked but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I get lots of search results, so if you want me to know it’s a search bomb, you’ve got to be clever. 😀

  4. A pretty fabulous list of words, I must say.

  5. Very cool post!

  6. Empathise with nos 2 and 3- my husband’s not always tolerant of my shenanigans, and “always right- ME?” Empathise is a nice cuddly word isn’t it, and I seem to have “alchemy” floating around in my head? Don’t know why as I’m neither a wizard nor Harry Potter fan (sorry!)

    Now I’m going to have to go tearing around WordPress trying to find out about search bombs- never say blogging isn’t educational!

  7. Language is one of my favorite toys, as well as a tool. Really enjoyed this post!

  8. I’ve recently enjoyed taking common words and giving them a little more utility. Or just making words up.

    Savage- She dumped him via text? That woman is a complete savage.

    Littered- I was utterly littered. Let’s just say I had 4 jeagerbombs in an under an hour.

    Strong- You ate an entire gallon of ice cream and watched all the godfather movies in one night? Strong play.

    Heverson Beverson- A huge drink with enough alcohol to knock out an elephant.

  9. I never knew, that english-speaking people use the word “schadenfreude”. I’d really like to know how you spell it!

  10. Great words – and most of them oft used in our home. A few more that we’ve incorporated into every day life:
    Libations – for our parched throats.
    Irksome – ‘Mom, my brother is being irksome to me by painting the tv with my lipstick’.
    Panache – how one serves publicly flipped pancakes – with panache, of course.
    Rapscallion – ‘comb your hair please, you can’t go out looking like an orphaned rapscallion’
    Thanks for the post – it’s such a gift to be able to draw on a large vocabulary.

  11. Hmmm… Zeitgeist must be morphing into something more than just a word. Like the word zeitgeist itself is seeking to be the zeitgeist. I see it popping up everywhere. I used it myself, for a post title last month. Something to ponder. Great post!

  12. Who is the quote from?

  13. LOL. I don’t know if you have ever seen the USA show “Psych”, but I could totally see Shawn and Gus using this vocabulary.

    I’ll have to use the word shenanigans today.

    Keep smiling,

    • Oh my gracious! I have to butt in here.

      Psych is the best show ever. Period.

      I argue with my friends over whose arms are “slendererer” and when anyone asks me to be at the “barista” station for work, I say, “Don’t make up words.” 😀

      • Bethie, I’m not gonna publicize this, but my wife says I’m too much like Sean on Psych! We are faithful watchers. I love the names that Sean calls Guster. So … I’m definitely going to agree with you! But I have to make up words – it keeps Daniel Webster busy ;).

        • That’s fantastic!! “This is my associate, Lavender Gooms.” Oh man. Endless entertainment with that show. :)

          Oh, of course! The hilarious thing was that the one time Shawn chided Gus for a made up word, it actually existed. 😛

    • Love, love, love Psych, Yawatta! Shenanigans is a personal favorite of mine.

  14. Ennui is one of my favourites, too 😀 I’m with you on all of these, bar hijinks (which Chrome disappointingly doesn’t recognise to be real). I think I’d rather use shenanigans :D!

  15. I used to be really fascinated with the word basically; I’d incorporate it into every single formal writing essay.

    Interesting post, sir. I’m glad to have found your blog.

  16. MJ… back reading the archives, not in a SUPERCILIOUS fashion, but with great sincerity, to avoid the ENNUI of the afternoon, seeking a ZEITGEIST into a different mentality, yet to bypass the urger to be CHURLISH, I was overcome with the impulse for some HIJINKS and SHENANIGANS, so upon your suggestion I set out to do some SPELUNKING, which upon arriving at the bottom of the cave in a COCOPHANY of climbing gear and rocks, I decided to stop. How did I do?

    • Wow, extremely well-done, Oscar! All eight words in one comment, and not only one comment, but one complete sentence. There must be some sort of reward for that. We shall dub you Sir Words-a-lot!

Love to hear from you.

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