Hard Words to Spell

I care about proper spelling. My wife is a good speller. Her mother is an Excellent spellist – a master of the spelling arts. But not me. Yet, I care. So since 2013, whenever I’ve had to look up a word because I was – stumped – I made a note of it.

If you know an orthographer who thinks they are All That, feel free to quiz them with my list. I take no pride in its length, and hope that you and yours can find strength in my ignorance.

Subpoena: If you want me to tell you where all these bananas came from, you will have to serve me with a subpoena.

Parliamentary: The one procedure that comes with its own anesthetic is parliamentary procedure.

Karaoke: She said she would never sing into a karaoke machine, but when her friends sang with her, she found it kind of fun.

Connecticut: People from Rhode Island think of Connecticut the way normal people think about Texas.

Anonymously: If you are going to post long screeds about the importance of bravery, don’t do it anonymously.

Cartilage: My friend Julie used to gross people out in high school by demonstrating that she was born without any cartilage in her nose.

Worcestershire sauce: If you want to add complexity to any egg dish, or even macaroni and cheese, add a touch of Worcestershire sauce.

Loquacious: If you like great conversation, but find yourself a lazy conversationalist, find some fun loquacious friends to hang out with.

Spontaneity: Although our dates lack careful planning, they have an abundance of spontaneity.

Piranha: He was very pleased with himself for designing a suit specifically for smuggling roe until he fell into a tank of piranha.

Precocious: When your kid painted his sleeping grandfather with poster paint, he was not being precocious, he was being a jerk.

Mischievous: When my kid painted his sleeping grandfather with poster paint, he was not being a jerk, he was being mischievous.

Kaleidoscope: That mirrored cylinder with loose colored objects reminds me of a kaleidoscope.

Presbyterian: Shlomo Mishkin and Frances O’Malley get strange looks when they order cheeseburgers on Friday nights, even though they are both Presbyterian.

Kielbasa: You can tell the quality of a sausage maker by the spiciness of his kielbasa.

Connoisseurs: While ordinary people pay twenty cents for ramen noodles, the true connoisseurs will pay upwards of 75 cents for the top quality brands.

Pomegranate: Because of Greek Mythology, when I visit a city I hate, I will never eat pomegranate seeds there.

Denizen: If you reach a state of no-mind while staying at my friend Pete’s house, you are a very Zen Berendzen denizen.

Surveillance: I will let you put me under constant surveillance, but only on the condition you give me a new hat for my avatar and a virtual badge.

Samaritan: There ain’t no rest for the wicked, but it isn’t like Samaritans get a good night’s sleep either.

Renaissance: My friend Andy does both math AND computer science, a true Renaissance man!

Dilettante: My enemy Philippe can’t make up his mind whether to do math or computer science, a worthless dilettante.

Compilation: I thought we were going to have coffee and get to know each other, as opposed to having me sit through a compilation of your petty grievances.

Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids refer to a condition where the veins in the lower rectum and around the anus are swollen, dilated and inflamed.

Souvenir: If you get your hemorrhoids removed surgically, it is considered eccentric to ask the surgeon for a souvenir.

Proselytizes: The pesky preacher proselytizes pedantically.

Silhouette: I remember the day that I noticed my silhouette looked the same as Alfred Hitchcock’s.

Euphemism: In Minnesota, the phrase “That’s different” is a euphemism for “it sucks.”

Curiosity: When conversing with someone with whom you disagree, try listening from a place of curiosity.

Pursue: If the thing they took is valuable, and they are slower and weaker than you are, then you should pursue them.

Paraphernalia: Baking bread requires only four ingredients, but dear Lord I’ve acquired a lot of paraphernalia!

Pleiades: If I had seven sisters, I would refer to them as the Pleiades, and they probably would be annoyed at me for doing so.

Irreparable: When I leaned back and accidentally fell on top of Francie’s playpen, the damage was irreparable.

Obstinate: When I refused to tell the campus preacher that I “sensed” God, he said I was just being obstinate.

Campanile: I like to walk the dog by the campanile and remember being young.

Daiquiri: In high school, I had a friend who did not drink alcohol and was judgemental of people who did, but she drank banana daiquiris because she liked them.

Pompous: Moleskine notebooks are pompous, but so am I, so it’s cool.

Wasabi: The only time I’ve had to close my eyes during a movie was when someone on Jackass snorted wasabi.

Masseuse: I cannot imagine a professional masseuse ever wanting for friends.

Reservoir: I have no idea how water gets from the reservoir to my kitchen faucet.

Vinaigrette: Oh this low-cal raspberry vinaigrette is just as good as bleu cheese dressing, yep, yep, yep.

Grandiloquent: I’m normally plain-spoken and ordinary, but I do have my grandiloquent moments.

Unctuous: When the kindly old man told me a story that reeked of smugness and false earnestness, I realized that I had accidentally approached Unctuous Remus.

Payos / Peyos: After my mother told me my beard looked silly, I shaved it off and grew payos.

Doula: My sister thought SHE was so cool having a midwife when she was pregnant, but I am cooler because I have a doula.

Liaison: No Shame Theater refused to have a faculty advisor, so I am their faculty liaison.

Laissez-faire: Conservatives bail out industries that almost go bankrupt due to accumulating debt and not planning for emergencies, but when it comes to student debt, they are strictly laissez-faire.

Ouroboros: I put peanut butter on my dog’s tail because I wanted him to be an ouroboros for Halloween.

Corroborate: I didn’t believe your story until your worst enemy’s testimony served to corroborate it.

Rhinoceros: You may not notice the elephant in the room, but you darn well are going to notice the rhinoceros mating with your car.

Burgundy: Chablis may go with oysters, and champagne may go with caviar, but the only pairing I care about is burgundy wine with chocolate layer cake.

Sovereign: If my house were my kingdom, my kittycat would be the sovereign.

Coliseum: For obvious reasons, I hope to some day see the Doug Shaw coliseum in South Dakota.

Surreptitiously: If you must add pepper to my perfectly seasoned baked ziti, at least do it surreptitiously

Veterinarian: When I lived in Syracuse, I went out on one date with Basho’s beautiful veterinarian.

Proscenium: When doing stand up comedy, get as close to the audience as you can; get up in their damn proscenium.

Asphyxiation: My young friend Dana once made me laugh so hard I passed out from asphyxiation.

Significance: That look in your eye when you passed me the saccharin turned out to have some significance.

Saccharin: That look in your eye when you passed me the saccharin turned out to have some significance. (I was typing out that last one and couldn’t figure out how to spell saccharin)

Defecate: The answer to the classic question about where mammals of the family Ursidae defecate is not what you would think.

Discotheque: I have never felt loss that I’m too young to have gone to discos, but it would have been cool to be in 1960s London and spend time in a discotheque.

Crustacean: Gordon and I had pet hermit crabs, until our cat decided to have crustaceans for dinner.

Parmesan: Once we tried real Parmesan cheese we never went back to the dried grated gritty stuff.

Onomatopoeia: My brother said that Dad’s Indian name was Hi-achh-ah, which was onomatopoeia for the weird noise he made when he sneezed.

Egalitarian: Every Gentleman should donate money to this website, as should every Lady, for I am egalitarian.

Laureate: Poet Laureate Billy Collins compiled a ridiculously monotonous collection of 365 modern poems.

Prerogative: In addition to the obvious choices of eating your beets and not having any pudding, I suppose running away from home is another prerogative.