List 53

Obscure words

These are hard, random words pulled from the dictionary, meant for advanced spellers/vocabulary learners. For spellers, these words are meant for study for national levels.


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definitions & notes
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  1. adynamia

    lack of strength or vigor (especially from illness)
  2. anomie

    lack of moral standards in a society
  3. aphrodisiac

    a drug or other agent that stimulates sexual desire
  4. apparatchik

    a communist who was a member of the administrative system of a communist party
  5. auspex

    (ancient Rome) a religious official who interpreted omens to guide public policy
  6. baedeker

    any of a series of travel guidebooks published by the German firm founded by Karl Baedeker
  7. banzai

    a Japanese cheer of enthusiasm or triumph
  8. barbu

    found along western Atlantic coast
  9. bhakti

    loving devotion to a deity leading to salvation and nirvana
  10. borzoi

    tall fast-moving dog breed
  11. boulevardier

    a visitor of a city boulevard (especially in Paris)
  12. byrnie

    a long tunic of chain mail formerly worn as defensive armor
  13. calaba

    West Indian tree having racemes of fragrant white flowers and yielding a durable timber and resinous juice
  14. callipygian

    pertaining to or having finely developed buttocks
  15. carioca

    a lively ballroom dance that resembles the samba
  16. chaddar

    a cloth used as a head covering by Muslim and Hindu women
  17. chaulmugra

    East Indian tree with oily seeds yield chaulmoogra oil used to treat leprosy
  18. chawbacon

    a person who is not very intelligent or interested in culture
  19. chirk

    make a shrill creaking, squeaking, or noise, as of a door, mouse, or bird
  20. commissar

    an official of the Communist Party who was assigned to teach party principles to a military unit
  21. contretemps

    an awkward clash
  22. coterie

    an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose
  23. cuirassier

    a cavalryman equipped with a cuirass
  24. cymose

    having a usually flat-topped flower cluster in which the main and branch stems each end in a flower that opens before those below it or to its side
  25. cynodont

    small carnivorous reptiles
  26. dactylomegaly

    abnormally large fingers or toes
  27. dagga

    relatively nontoxic South African herb smoked like tobacco
  28. deliquesce

    melt or become liquid by absorbing moisture from the air
  29. ectopia

    abnormal position of a part or organ
  30. eelblenny

    eellike fishes found in subarctic coastal waters
  31. eleemosynary

    generous in assistance to the poor
  32. Eocene

    from 58 million to 40 million years ago
  33. Finnic

    one of two branches of the Finno-Ugric languages
  34. flaccid

    drooping without elasticity
  35. fovea

    area consisting of a small depression in the retina containing cones and where vision is most acute
  36. Freyr

    god of earth's fertility and peace and prosperity
  37. fugacious

    lasting a very short time
  38. fuzee

    a friction match with a large head that will stay alight in the wind
  39. galbulus

    the seed-producing cone of a cypress tree
  40. galere

    a coterie of undesirable people
  41. gharry

    a horse-drawn carriage in India
  42. ghrelin

    a gastrointestinal hormone produced by epithelial cells lining the fundus of the stomach; appears to be a stimulant for appetite and feeding, but is also a strong stimulant of growth hormone secretion from the anterior pituitary
  43. gitano

    a Spanish male Gypsy
  44. gouache

    an opaque watercolor prepared with gum
  45. grevillea

    any shrub or tree of the genus Grevillea
  46. griot

    a storyteller in West Africa
  47. guanabenz

    antihypertensive drug (trade name Wytensin) that reduces blood pressure by its effect on the central nervous system
  48. gustatory

    of or relating to the sense of taste
  49. guyot

    a seamount of volcanic origin
  50. gybe

    shift from one side of the ship to the other
  51. gynarchy

    a political system governed by a woman
  52. hoopoe

    any of several crested Old World birds with a slender downward-curved bill
  53. hryvnia

    the basic unit of money in Ukraine
  54. huisache

    tropical American thorny shrub or small tree
  55. hyaluronidase

    an enzyme (trade name Hyazyme) that splits hyaluronic acid and so lowers its viscosity and increases the permeability of connective tissue and the absorption of fluids
  56. hygrodeik

    a wet and dry bulb hygrometer
  57. hypnagogic

    sleep inducing
  58. ijtihad

    the endeavor of a Moslem scholar to derive a rule of divine law from the Koran and Hadith without relying on the views of other scholars; by the end of the 10th century theologians decided that debate on such matters would be closed and Muslim theology and law were frozen
  59. indite

    produce a literary work
  60. involucre

    a highly conspicuous bract or bract pair or ring of bracts at the base of an inflorescence
  61. ipecac

    a medicinal drug used to evoke vomiting
  62. jai alai

    a Basque or Spanish game played in a court with a ball and a wickerwork racket
  63. jiqui

    Cuban timber tree with hard wood very resistant to moisture
  64. joule

    a unit of electrical energy
  65. jugale

    the craniometric point at the union of the frontal and temporal processes of the zygomatic bone
  66. kanaf

    valuable fiber plant of East Indies now widespread in cultivation
  67. kanamycin

    antibiotic used to treat severe infections
  68. karyokinesis

    organic process consisting of the division of the nucleus of a cell during mitosis or meiosis
  69. kedgeree

    a dish of rice and hard-boiled eggs and cooked flaked fish
  70. keloid

    raised pinkish scar tissue at the site of an injury
  71. khamsin

    an oppressively hot southerly wind from the Sahara that blows across Egypt in the spring
  72. khat

    the leaves of the shrub Catha edulis which are chewed like tobacco or used to make tea; has the effect of a euphoric stimulant
  73. klebsiella

    a genus of nonmotile rod-shaped Gram-negative enterobacteria
  74. klystron

    an electron tube used to generate or amplify electromagnetic radiation in the microwave region by velocity modulation
  75. knawel

    widely distributed low-growing Eurasian herb having narrow leaves and inconspicuous green flowers
  76. kohlrabi

    plant cultivated for its enlarged fleshy turnip-shaped edible stem
  77. kuvasz

    long-established Hungarian breed of tall light-footed but sturdy white dog; used also as a hunting dog
  78. kyphosis

    an abnormal backward curve to the vertebral column
  79. lebensraum

    space sought for occupation by a nation
  80. legerdemain

    an illusory feat
  81. lempira

    the basic unit of money in Honduras; equal to 100 centavos
  82. llano

    an extensive grassy and nearly treeless plain
  83. lygaeid

    a true bug: usually bright-colored
  84. lyssavirus

    a neurotropic non-arbovirus of the family Rhabdoviridae that causes rabies
  85. maraschino

    distilled from fermented juice of bitter wild marasca cherries
  86. microgliacyte

    a cell of the microglia that may become phagocytic and collect waste products of nerve tissue
  87. motile

    capable of movement
  88. moussaka

    casserole of eggplant and ground lamb with onion and tomatoes bound with white sauce and beaten eggs
  89. muishond

    southern African weasel
  90. munj

    tough Asiatic grass whose culms are used for ropes and baskets
  91. myrmecophagous

    feeding on ants
  92. myrmidon

    a follower who carries out orders without question
  93. Nahuatl

    a member of any of various Indian peoples of central Mexico
  94. naiad

    a nymph of lakes and springs and rivers and fountains
  95. obloquy

    state of disgrace resulting from public abuse
  96. oca

    South American wood sorrel cultivated for its edible tubers
  97. ogee

    a molding that (in section) has the shape of an S with the convex part above and the concave part below
  98. parapraxis

    a minor inadvertent mistake usually observed in speech or writing or in small accidents or memory lapses etc.
  99. parliamentarian

    an expert in parliamentary rules and procedures
  100. pelecypod

  101. phacelia

    any plant of the genus Phacelia
  102. phiz

    the human face
  103. pibroch

    martial music with variations; to be played by bagpipes
  104. pickelhaube

    a spiked helmet worn by German soldiers
  105. prazosin

    antihypertensive drug (trade name Minipress)
  106. primaquine

    synthetic antimalarial drug
  107. pteridosperm

    an extinct seed-producing fernlike plant of the order Cycadofilicales (or group Pteridospermae)
  108. puerile

    displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity
  109. puerperium

    time period following childbirth when the mother's uterus shrinks and the other functional and anatomic changes of pregnancy are resolved
  110. puissant

  111. pyaemia

    septicemia caused by pus-forming bacteria being released from an abscess
  112. pyknosis

    a degenerative state of the cell nucleus
  113. pyrrhuloxia

    crested grey-and-red bird of southwest United States and Mexico
  114. pyxis

    fruit of such plants as the plantain
  115. qepiq

    100 qepiq equal 1 manat in Azerbaijan
  116. qibla

    the direction of the Kaaba toward which Muslims turn for their daily prayers
  117. qoph

    the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet
  118. quadrumvirate

    a group of four men
  119. quagga

    mammal of South Africa that resembled a zebra
  120. quamash

    any of several plants of the genus Camassia
  121. quandong

    Australian tree with edible flesh and edible nutlike seed
  122. quartan

    occurring every fourth day
  123. quixotic

    not sensible about practical matters
  124. quodlibet

    an issue that is presented for formal disputation
  125. recidivist

    someone who lapses into undesirable patterns of behavior
  126. rhytidectomy

    plastic surgery to remove wrinkles and other signs of aging from your face; an incision is made near the hair line and skin is pulled back and excess tissue is excised
  127. sachem

    a chief of a North American tribe or confederation
  128. samovar

    a metal urn with a spigot at the base
  129. sarsenet

    a fine soft silk fabric often used for linings
  130. sauerbraten

    pot roast marinated several days in seasoned vinegar before cooking; usually served with potato dumplings
  131. schtikl

    a really little shtik
  132. schwa

    a neutral middle vowel that occurs in unstressed syllables
  133. soffit

    the underside of a part of a building, such as an arch
  134. sphacelate

    undergo necrosis
  135. sporran

    a fur or leather pouch worn at the front of the kilt as part of the traditional dress of Scottish Highlanders
  136. styptic

    checking bleeding by contracting tissues or blood vessels
  137. suasible

    being susceptible to persuasion
  138. susceptible

    yielding readily to or capable of
  139. suzerain

    a state exercising dominion over a dependent state
  140. sylph

    a slender graceful young woman
  141. synecdoche

    using part of something to refer to the whole thing
  142. tachometer

    measuring instrument for indicating speed of rotation
  143. talaria

    a winged sandal (as worn by Hermes in Graeco-Roman art)
  144. tchotchkeleh

    (Yiddish) an attractive, unconventional woman
  145. tenebrionid

    sluggish hard-bodied black terrestrial weevil whose larvae feed on e.g. decaying plant material or grain
  146. tenosynovitis

    inflammation of a tendon and its enveloping sheath
  147. tercet

    the cardinal number that is the sum of one and one and one
  148. terrapin

    any of various edible North American web-footed turtles living in fresh or brackish water
  149. thalweg

    the middle of the chief navigable channel of a waterway that forms the boundary line between states
  150. thermistor

    a semiconductor device made of materials whose resistance varies as a function of temperature; can be used to compensate for temperature variation in other components of a circuit
  151. thrips

    any of various small to minute sucking insects with narrow feathery wings if any; they feed on plant sap and many are destructive
  152. thromboembolism

    occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus that has broken away from a thrombus
  153. thrombophlebitis

    phlebitis in conjunction with the formation of a blood clot
  154. thyrsus

    a dense flower cluster (as of the lilac or horse chestnut) in which the main axis is racemose and the branches are cymose
  155. tocopherol

    a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for normal reproduction; an important antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body
  156. tokamak

    a doughnut-shaped chamber used in fusion research
  157. transposon

    a segment of DNA that can become integrated at many different sites along a chromosome (especially a segment of bacterial DNA that can be translocated as a whole)
  158. tympani

    a large hemispherical brass or copper percussion instrument with a drumhead that can be tuned by adjusting the tension on it
  159. tzetze

    bloodsucking African fly; transmits sleeping sickness etc.
  160. uintathere

    a variety of dinocerate
  161. uraemia

    accumulation in the blood of nitrogenous waste products (urea) that are usually excreted in the urine
  162. utahraptor

    large (20-ft) and swift carnivorous dinosaur having an upright slashing claw 15 inches long on each hind foot; early Cretaceous
  163. veau

    meat from a calf
  164. wye

    the 25th letter of the Roman alphabet
  165. xeroma

    abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eyes
  166. xerophthalmia

    abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eyes
  167. xerotes

    the condition of not containing or being covered by a liquid
  168. yanquapin

    water lily of eastern North America having pale yellow blossoms and edible globular nutlike seeds
  169. yataghan

    a long Turkish knife with a curved blade having a single edge
  170. yottabyte

    a unit of information equal to 1000 zettabytes or 10^24 bytes
  171. zwieback

    slice of sweet raised bread baked again until it is brown and hard and crisp
Created on June 8, 2013
(updated April 30, 2014)

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