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A blog about words, and how not to be a batie-bum

According to the Global Language Monitor, there are 1,025,109.8 in the English language. I’m not sure what .8 of a word is, but there you are. With that many to choose from, you've no excuse for failing to say exactly what you mean.

Actually, you have. English may be a brilliant hotchpotch of stolen foreign words, but sometimes it lets us down. We need to nick a few more. Look, I'll show you what I mean...

Foreign words that we need to steal

Akihi - A Hawaiian term for the forgetfulness felt immediately after being given directions.

Iktsuarpok – An Inuit word. It’s that feeling between impatience and anticipation just before your friends start arriving for a party. It describes repeatedly going outside to check if anyone’s coming round the corner.

Pelinti – You know when you bite into something that’s too hot, cry "aaaah" and then pointlessly wave your hand in front of your face? Pelinti is the Ghanian word for it. It means moving hot food around your mouth in an attempt to cool it down.

Boketto is how the Japanese describe gazing vacantly into the distance, without thinking about anything specific.

L’esprit de l’escalier – Literally “staircase wit”. A French expression for the perfect retort, the one that springs to mind immediately after leaving the room.

Hygge – A beautifully onomatopoeic Danish term for that pleasant feeling of cosiness when sitting around a fire in winter with close friends.

Kummerspeck – In German, it means “grief bacon” and refers to the excess weight gained from emotional over-eating.

Prozvonit is the Czech term for calling a mobile phone and letting it ring once so that the other person calls you back.

Tartle – My personal favourite. A Scottish word for that panicky hesitation just before introducing someone whose name you can't remember.

Actually, you don't always have to rely on another language. The next time you're struggling to find exactly the right word for something, try these...

Lost English words that need re-introducing because they're fabulous

For reasons which escape me, some of the best words in the English language have been lost. I reckon we need some of them back. For this list of gorgeous but forgotten examples, I'm grateful to Mark Forsyth and his superb book The Horologicon.

Egrote – To feign sickness in order to avoid work. Under the circumstances, you may want to utter a whindle, or fake groan.

Fudgelling – Pretending to work.

Snudge – To snudge is to walk around with a feigned expression of thoughtfulness, so as to avoid being interrupted.

Nurdle – The small amount of toothpaste that fits on the end of your toothbrush.

Bumbershoot – Exactly the same as an umbrella, but a much better word. After walking through a deep puddle with your bumbershoot, you may experience chorking - water sloshing about in your shoes and making a squelching noise between your toes.

Sockdolager – The winning point in an argument.

Doundrins – An afternoon drinking session. You may do this in a bibbery, or drinking establishment, and during the course of the afternoon you may find yourself smickering – looking amorously or wantonly at someone.

Foozler – A hopelessly incompetent person – also malfard, puzzle-pate, juffler, blunkerkin and (another of my favourites) batie-bum.

Through cough. That thing when you cough and fart at the same time.

I could go on forever with this list, but I'm off to the bibbery where I may do some smickering. If you have a word that fills a gap in the language, please let me know. It'll make me seely (happy).


Helen Beckingham is an SEO copywriter at Keyword Copywriting. Expert scribbler on websites, blogs and e-books, rather good bassoonist, terrible singer. Contact helen@keywordcopywriting.co.uk here