Probably no other language has as
many strange, quirky and funny words as English. This is good news for those who like a laugh because there are so many possibilities for a joke.
- Quirky Logic
- The problem with
- More Funny Words
- Words to Slip into
- Funny English Jokes
- Will and Guy
Select Our Top Ten Quirky Words
- There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger.
- Have you noticed that
there is neither apple nor
pine in pineapple.
- A guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
- And there are no hogs in Hogmanay.
- And why is it that writers write but fingers don't
fing, grocers don't
groce and hammers don't
- You cannot buy boots in Boots nor virgins in Virgin. You cannot buy threshers in Threshers and the Superdrug chain is a big disappointment.
- Quicksand only works slowly
- If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't
the plural of booth beeth?
- One goose, 2
geese. So one moose, 2 meese?
- If teachers taught, why didn't
- If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
- A pregnant goldfish is called a twit.
- See Examples of Engrish humour
If you stop and think about certain English words, you cannot help
wondering about the quirky logic of their derivation.
- There is no parlour in in parlous. (Parlous - dangerous, hazardous)
- Sweetmeats are sweets while sweetbreads, which aren'tsweet, are meat.
- When you are incommunicado: you are without the means to communicate.
- Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than
- Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
- Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
- Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
- Germans drink beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than us.
CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
Outtakes of Funny English Words
Following a query from Moray, further research by Will indicates these
statements may not tell the whole truth.
- French fries do not originate in France.
Fries may well have originated in 19th century France. However, as with
so many "inventions" / "discoveries" others make claims as well. Belgium has
been mentioned in this regard. Between the wars the Americans began to eat
fried potato and for some reason referred to them as French fries.
Will the truth ever be known?
- English muffins weren't
invented in England.
As for English muffins: it appears that in the USA muffins are known as
'English' muffins. Incidentally, Guy wonders if this naming phenomenon is
more widespread, because in Wales we have what English speakers call 'Welsh
cakes', but indigenous old-timer call them 'Round cakes'.
Back to the English muffins, I refer you to this excerpt from Wikipedia:
An old English nursery rhyme, "The Muffin Man", describes a door-to-door
purveyor of muffins. The rhyme was known at the time of Jane Austen in the
early 19th century, and a muffin man is mentioned at one point in her novel
Persuasion. The muffins sold at this period were made of yeasted dough and
baked on a hot griddle.
The etymology of the name is from moofin first used in 1703, derived from
the Low German Muffen, the plural of Muffe meaning a small cake, or possibly
with some connection to the Old French moufflet meaning soft as said of
Muffins may well originate as far back as the 10th century, yet
the muffin became a fashionable bread during the 18th century. By the
beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of muffin factories in
existence, and the "muffin man" was a common sight.
Muffins are a quick-baking bread and have become a tea-table staple. They
are usually split, toasted, buttered and then eaten with a savoury or sweet
topping such as honey.
Eye halve a spelling chequer. It came with my pea sea (PC). It
plainly marques four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word and weight four it two say weather eye
am wrong oar write. It shows me strait a weigh. As soon as a mist ache
is maid it nose bee fore two long. And than eye can put the error rite.
Its rarely ever wrong. Eye have run this let tar threw it. I am
pleased two tell you its letter perfect. My checker tolled me sew.
not that these English words are funny, its just that Will and I challenge you to include them in your repertoire and slip them into conversation.
- Imbue: to dye; to instill profoundly.
- Spoony: foolishly or sentimentally in love.
- Visage: the face; also, appearance; aspect.
- Sapient: wise; sage; discerning.
- Quiddity: the essence or nature of a thing.
- Exegete: one who explains or interprets difficult parts of written works.
- Sine qua non: an
- Sesquipedalian: (of words) long; having many syllables.
- Predilection: an established preference.
- Grandee: a man of elevated rank or station; a nobleman.
the quiddity of grandees that they have a predilection to imbue sesquipedalian words.
We bet that you can do even better.
The examples of 'Misnomers'
were reported in The Guardian newspaper in February 2006. Will and Guy
find this collection of quirky phrases both informative and amusing:
- Arabic numerals originated in India.
- Tin cans and tin foil are constructed from aluminium, not tin.
- Danish pastries were invented in
- Dry cleaning uses a fluid called naphtha.
- Pencil lead - pencils use graphite and not lead.
- The Koala bear is a marsupial and not a bear.
- Panama hats originate from Ecuador, not
- The word Asteroid means 'star-like'
and they are small planets.
- The Turkey is native, to America and is named for its resemblance to a bird native to Africa.
- The Peanut is a legume, [i.e.
fruit/vegetable] not a nut.
- The People's
Republic of Korea. [Think about it; particularly if you live there]
- Madison Square Garden, USA is not square, nor is it currently a garden.Madison Square was the location of the original Madison Square
Gardens. The first one opened in 1879 in a former hippodrome
located at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 26th street. The
second Madison Square Garden, replacing the first one in 1889, featured
a concert hall, theater and roof garden. The building had a prominent
tower built after the Giralda tower in Sevilla, topped by a nude statue
of the goddess Diana
English Is A Funny Language Says Expert
More Quirky English Words
Approximately 100 quirky words mark English people out from the rest of
the English-speaking world have been detailed in a new book: "Jolly Wicked
Actually: The 100 Words That Make Us English, by Tony Thorne, a language
expert and consultant at King's College London, details the words that have
become synonymous with the modern English language. The book details some of
the best known slang words used in the English language and speculates where
they could have derived from, including "fab", one of the few 1960s words
meaning trendy; "fusspot", meaning "anxiety" first used 300 years ago; and
"naff", which possibly derives from *NAAFI, the Navy, Army and Air Force
* The Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) was established in 1921
and serves those who serve in the British Armed forces and their families.
- Barking: Thought to be named after the London suburb, home to a
former asylum site; hence 'Barking mad'.
- Binge: A bout of uncontrolled indulgence.
- Blighty: A word much loved by RAF types in WW2. Originally
from the Hindi word "bilayati" meaning foreign.
- Blimey: Could be shorthand for "God, blind me."
- Chum: A "chummy" used to be a chimney sweep's assistant.
- Cuppa: First used for tea by PG Wodehouse, the playwright.
- Dear: From an old English word, "deore", meaning "much loved."
- Grotty: Sixties Liverpool slang.
- Jolly: From an old French word meaning "festive".
- Slag: Derived from a 16th century German word meaning "dross".
This two-letter word in English has more meanings than any other
two-letter word, and that word is UP.' It is
listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].
It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the
list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?
At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are
the officers UP for election (if there is a tie, it is a toss UP) and why is
it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends,
brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP
the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.
At other times, this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP
trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is blocked
We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to
be pretty mixed UP about UP!
To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in
the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the
page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP
is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you
may wind UP with UP to a hundred or more.
When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes
out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, the earth soaks it UP. When it
does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll
wrap it UP, for now. My time is UP!
Oh, one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the
last thing you do at night?
Did that one crack you UP?
Don't screw UP. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address
book. Or not; it's UP to you.
Now I'll shut UP!
Will and Guy Think:
- If lawyers are disbarred, and clergymen defrocked, does it not
follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys
deranged , models deposed, or drycleaners depressed?
- Laundry workers could decrease, eventually becoming depressed and
- Even more, bed makers could be debunked, baseball players debased,
landscapers deflowered, software engineers detested, underwear
manufacturers debriefed, and even musical composers will eventually
On a different note though, perhaps we can hope that some politicians
will be devoted.
See more fun words.
10 Amusing Collective Nouns
- A cuddle of teddy bears
- A conjunction of grammarians
- A promise of barmen
- An obeisance of servants
- A staff of employees
- A fraid of ghosts
- A nastiness of villains
- A promise of tomorrows
- A prudence of vicars
- A clique of photographers
Please send us your funny English words.
See more funny English words and phrases
Oxymoron examples •
Funny Words •
Cool foreign words •
Illogical English •
Funny children's names •
Examples of collective nouns •
Animal collective nouns •
A funny word •
Grammar mistakes •
Word jokes •
Funny English words