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rare words, A - O

grouped alphabetically.

In making this list, I paid special attention to :

  • words which have more specific meanings or give a slightly different shade or feel to what's being conveyed;
  • words which may prove especially useful in writing fiction or poetry;
  • words with certain consonant clusters, and thus a certain sound that can be used for oral effect, or a certain look while reading.

I think many of these words will prove useful in those ways. Try 'em out.


  • addle : (adj) filthy; (v) to spoil; to throw into a state of chaos
  • affright : to scare, frighten, alarm
  • aidem : son-in-law
  • aliya : going forward to read the Scriptures before the congregation
  • andwerve : to turn against
  • andwerver : traitor
  • andwist : support or supply regarding the basic necessities of survival
  • anent : about, concerning, in connection with
  • anywhen : at any time
  • Arising : the Resurrection; Easter
  • athem : to breathe
  • ather : capillary
  • atter : pus, suppuration; whitehead of a pimple
  • awe-ward : priest, minister; guardian of God's awesome mysteries


  • bairn/bern : child; the 'born one'
  • bargest : a portending spirit of misfortune or doom
  • barm/bearm : yeast
  • beck : small brook
  • behight : to promise, pledge
  • bemarking : observance, memorial, celebration, event to mark s.th.
  • beplighting : advocacy
  • bestrall : to irradiate
  • bestralling : radiation therapy
  • besteer : to govern; to lead, captain
  • bettering : upgrade, improvement
  • betweening : intercession, esp. between two people or small groups that are about to fight or are fighting
  • biddle : to beg, solicit, panhandle
  • bield : to shelter, protect, give refuge
  • billabong : a backwater that forms a stagnant pool
  • birl : to progress or move along by way of (or while) spinning; to use one's feet to rotate a floating log;
  • birling : an activity based on such rolling of logs
  • boardwall : a wall of shields, whether in (ancient) combat or (modern) crowd control
  • bole : tree trunk
  • boder : message-bearer; prophet.
  • boot : something that equalizes a trade or situation
  • bulbanik : one who speaks in malaprops
  • burnett : arson; arsonist
  • burthane : (apparently = chamberlain?)
  • busk : to prepare oneself for something
  • byre : a barn for cows


  • blaff : to cough, wheeze
  • blicker : to sparkle


  • brae : a hillside along a river
  • brattle : (1) to clatter
    ------------ (2) branches of trees, after being lopped off
  • braw : well-dressed; sharp
  • brawd : to pamper
  • breme/breem : illustrious; celebrated; exemplary; (v.) to praise
  • brete : covenant; a covenanted relationship
  • brill : to loudly express displeasure; to bellow, roar, howl
  • britter : dispenser
  • brizzle : to shatter, break into shards
  • brom : to growl, mumble, and grumble
  • broothe : to degenerate, come apart
  • brough : a halo around an object, or seemingly emanating from an object


  • caillet : trull; prostitute; strumpet
  • cark : to worry, be anxious
  • coble : a short, flat-bottomed boat
  • cobold : fairy, sprite
  • corve : a basket or container; especially, one used for carting away materials from a mine; thus also, a truck or rail car used for that purpose


  • chafer : a scarab beetle, Scarabaeidae
  • chaffer : to haggle over, bargain for
  • chapman : merchant; peddler, especially if open-air or moveable
  • chare : a small or narrow side street or alley off of a main road
  • chigger : a blood-sucking larval mite, Trombiculidae, or other similar larval insects
  • chirm : clamor, noise produced by the activity of a gathering of people

There are also many rare, dialect or poetic words for 'child', like:

descendant : aftercomer, aftergoer, eaver, bire, knossel, kinchild, kinder, brood, heir, scion
'born one' (child) : wombling, offspring, womber, bearn/bern/-burn, newborn, tethern
suckling (baby) : dondy/dondi, feedling, nurseling, snaffler
seed : shoot, offshoot, stoffen/stoven, hise, spawn
'growing one' : wextom, waxling, eakener
also : wee one, wenkle (toddler), washbern/wishbern (adopted child), stepbern (stepchild), cradle-child, young, tot


  • clepe : to name, title; to call someone something
  • cleam/cloam : to smear, rub something gooey onto/over
  • cloot : a cloven hoof
  • Clootie : the Devil


  • deictic : showing or pointing out directly
  • delate : to report someone to an authority; to accuse
  • dene : valley
  • depredate : to plunder, ravage, leave nothing behind
  • desquamate : to peel off in scales
  • desultory : irregular, jumping from subject to subject randomly; disconnected with a main topic
  • deweapon : disarm (esp. of an area or of a gathered group of people)
  • diaphanous : (1) having a texture so fine one can see through it
    ---------- (2) delicate and fine in form; ethereal
  • diaster : a stage in cellular mitosis where the split chromosomes group at the poles of the spindle, thus preparing to separate into two cells
  • dip : (informal) to baptize
  • dramb : overweening, arrogant pride
  • dreck : decidedly inferior merchandise
  • drissom : an atmosphere of impending failure/defeat; gloom
  • drommel : demon


  • eam : uncle
  • earthyard : a place to live at which has a suitably large enough area of its own for plants life or nature (apartments need not apply).
  • earthstepper : wanderer
  • earthstir : ground tremors, mild earthquake
  • eenrike/evenritch : of equal rank, power and/or status
  • ekening/eakening/eckening : an expansion, addition; s.th. added
  • eldright : a socio/economic right which is rooted in a society's primary tradition; political rights can be a part of this, but only those directly from some foundational document.
  • eldritch : weird, strange, mysterious, and dangerous
  • enblithe : to cause s.o. to be/become happy
  • enclear : to clarify, bring clarity to a confusing situation
  • enone : to unify, bring about unity from conflict
  • erve/yerve : inheritance; one's portion of one's forebear's properties/businesses
  • ey : horror, terror, panic due to fear


  • faddict : fad addict; one who loves and always follows the latest trends
  • fadge : to accomodate, fit to, change to make suitable for
  • fang : (v) to grab, grasp, seize, catch
  • fell : (adj) brutally cruel, fierce, and unsparing
    ---------- (n) sharp, biting words, able to inflict sorrow or pain
  • ferfuft : disoriented, confused
  • fertummelt : bewildered, confused, dazed, overwhelmed, shellshocked
  • fifflery : nonsensical folly, trifle, having no meaning or worth
  • fize out : to dispatch, send quickly to a specific place
  • folm : hand
  • folter : to torture, cause bodily harm to
  • foozle : to manage awkwardly
  • fordoom : to pronounce judgment, and a coming punishment, on s.o.
    ------------- fordoomedness : damnation
  • forgrind : to grind thoroughly; thus, to destroy
  • forswear : to renounce
  • forwit s.th. : to figure something out, to ascertain
  • forn/firren/fairn : (unspecified kind or shape of) mountain
  • Forthshowing : (relig.) Epiphany
  • foz(z) : stupid
  • fubb : a state in which a system ceases to function because of a combination and series of different foulups that magnify each others' effect
  • fuience/phooeyness : detestation
  • fleak : the wicker hurdles or crossbeams of a fence
  • fleam : apostasy
  • flit : diligence
  • floke : to curse, hex, swear at


  • galliard : lively, hardy
  • gangrel : vagrant
  • garth : a small enclosed yard
  • Geir : Vulture (as a figure of hellish evil, Scavenger of the dead)


  • gleg : alert, quick to respond/act
  • glender : to devour, swallow
  • glennow : an (unspecified?) kind of ornament, perhaps a medal of some sort


  • grob : to betray, turn in
  • grell : to irritate someone by way of a series of minor actions
  • grimpen : any steep part of a mountain where it takes all hands and feet, with full attention, to climb
  • grint : unseen limits or bounds
  • grith : safeness, security, secure protection
  • grize/agrised : to shudder with fear
  • grolt : a bellowing grunt, usually due to exertion


  • hack : to chop away at someone incessantly with words; more deliberateley wounding than 'to nag'
  • haft : the handle of a weapon or tool
  • hallock : the big toe
  • hallowboding : (relig.) words of absolution from sin
  • halm : straw
  • hap in : to be wrapped up comfy; to be tucked into bed; to envelop
  • hask : (1) spoiled, rancid; (2) to be dried up so as to cause the surface to crack
  • haugh : a low-lying meadow by a riverside
  • halse/hawse : neck
  • heald : thread for weaving
  • hele/heal : to conceal, camouflage; to cover over
  • hellfallow : pale as death
  • hellkind : (relig.) demonic being or deeply evil person; of a kind with those in Hell
  • hellthain : (relig.) demonic person; living servant of the Devil
  • hellster : (relig.) resident of Hell
  • hellwraith : a type of evil spirit or ghost
  • helve : the handle of a tool
  • het up : highly excited, agitated, on edge; upset
  • hoast : to cough
  • hod : a tray with a pole handle, borne on the shoulders, used for hauling bricks, stone, coal, or mortar
  • holm : a small inland or offshore island (unspecified kind)
  • holt : a small woods, thick with trees
  • horrent : bristling; bristled-
  • hotch : to wiggle, fidget
  • huckle : hip, haunch


  • irp : a grimace; a grotesque facial or bodily contortion
  • inthrick/inthritch : impression, imprint; a press run or edition
  • inwit : conscience


There are many, many old, rare, unusual, or just fun words for describing a jerk or fool. Each has a nuance to it, each has a setting in which it sounds great (one where it just comes out of the mouth as if it did so on its own say-so). The main reason there are so many is that people like to heap them up one on the other, as if that proves they're less of a jerk than the subject of their insults. (It only proves that you know a lot of words to use in put-downs; that is, it shows you're a jerk, but not a stupid jerk.) Please, refrain from using these :
boob, imbecile, jackass, oaf, lout, slorm, bonehead, blockhead, dummkopf, stumphead, stiffhead, birdbrain, peabrain, poobrain, fozz(-ard), numbskull, dimwit, saphead, dolt, dullard, nincompoop, ignoramus, nitwit, sucker, dunce, ox, ninny, plompard, soxis, sipple, sloward, sluggard, dumbbell, twit, wastrel.


  • keek : to peep, look
  • keeker : a peeping Tom
  • kenspeck : easily recognizable; familiar
  • kiel : a colored marking crayon for outdoor work
  • kith : familiar friends and neighbors
  • kyle : wedge


  • lathe/lath : to invite
  • lathing : invitation
  • lave/laft : residue
  • learning-knight : a disciple or follower; someone being intensely mentored
  • leid/leed : language
  • lide : to suffer
    --------- liding : suffering
  • lind : shield, protective plate
  • linkword : conjunction
  • linn : a pool at the bottom of a waterfall
  • lith : mountainside, large, rocky, steep hillside
  • lum : chimney, smokestack
  • lutter : to purify, make clean
  • lyart : streaked with gray


  • maff : dull, uneventful; especially of weather
  • martle : to torment, harass, stalk
  • martlechamber : torture chamber
  • mathom : treasures, valuables, especially as a hoard
  • maw/maugh : stomach
  • meed : fitting return or reward
  • mercer : merchant; esp. a dealer in textile fabrics
  • mercy rule : shortening or ending a game once score gets ludicrously lopsided
  • mewl : to cry weakly, whimper
  • milt : spleen
  • misleared : unmannerly, ill-bred
  • misraded : ill-advised; especially, of someone for whom being ill-advised is characteristic
  • mizzle : (1) (also 'mistle') misty drizzle; to rain in very fine drops or mist
    ---------- (2) (Brit) to suddenly depart
  • moke : an (unspecified?) kind of shovel
  • morderhouse : (relig.) Hell, as a place where one eternally re-suffers death
  • mote : a small particle or grain
  • moxie : having inititative, self-confidence, a street-tough instinct
  • mummichug/mommichock : a small salt-water minnow, akin to a killie; often used for bait


  • nakhes : pleasure and pride, especially that which comes from the accomplishments of one's children
  • neast : the immediate area, the immediately surrounding part of the neighborhood
  • neatscrap : cow manure
  • neb : nose
  • ness : cape, promontory
  • netherling : (relig.) demon; active servant of the Devil
  • netherstead : (relig.) hell, as the Place Below
  • netherward : (relig.) the Devil, as the guardian of the netherworld
  • niggle : to spend too much time or effort on minor details, so as to cause lengthy delay in finishing the project
  • nim : to take something; to take; to filch, steal
  • nither at/over : to treat s.one as being of less value that oneself; to scorn, strongly disdain.
  • nix : nothing, noone, NO!; to forbid, veto
  • notwhich : someone who lacks a clear identity


  • oathbreach : perjury
  • oathswearing : a swearing-in or taking of oath, whether ceremonial or not
  • outhove : house extension; building wing
  • outwandering : emigration (of peoples rather than of persons)
  • outworking : effect; operation; how s.th. works out or works its way through
  • overmood : excessive pride, esp. that which leads to foolish actions