Charles Harrington Elster

There's A Word for It!
A Grandiloquent Guide to Life

Did you know that there's a word to express each of the following definitions?

1. the state of having sore or bleary eyes
2. the groove in the middle of your upper lip
3. the metal sheath on the end of an umbrella
4. the act of puttering around aimlessly
5. the figurative state known as getting up on the wrong side of the bed
6. lovemaking in a parked car
7. food that you spit out, such as seeds and pits
8. the fear of undressing in front of someone
9. the wild look that accompanies delirium
10. someone in love with his or her own opinions

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the words.

A Selection of Light Verse from There's a Word for It!

borborygmus, also called gurgulation:
an audible (and embarrassing) exclamation emanating from the stomach or intestines.

When borborygmi, or gurgulations,
Interrupt my conversations,
I simply shrug and say, "It's true—
My belly has an opinion too."

     — Willy Brakewynde

acokoinonia: sex without passion or desire.

The insensitive lovers I've knownia
Might as well had had sex all alonia.
What is love if it's acokoinonia?
Lots of grunts, but not one single groania.

     — Anaïs Numb

ozoamblyrosis: loss of sexual appetite because your partner has wicked B.O.

Love is not a bed of roses,
Perhaps because we all have noses.
Love's urge can choke on halitosis
And die from ozoamblyrosis.

     — Eureka Fowler

formication: the sensation that bugs (especially ants) are crawling over one's body.

Two lovers who went on vacation
Turned a picnic into a sensation.
    They began a love dance
    And got ants in their pants—
You have never seen such formication!

     — Richie Scratch

The words:

1. lippitude
2. philtrum
3. ferrule
4. horbgorbling
5. matutolypea
6. amomaxia
7. chankings
8. dishabillophobia
9. periblepsis
10. philodox

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Copyright © 1996, 2005 by Charles Harrington Elster.
All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

Selected Works

Colin Kaepernick and Charles Harrington Elster have something in common: exercising their First Amendment rights.
In the cover story for the October-November 2013 issue of Copyediting, Charlie looks at how the relative pronoun who is taking over the traditional role of that and which.
Read Charlie's amiable rant on redundancy, which appeared in the August-September 2012 issue of Copyediting.
Timeless tips for aspiring vocabulary builders.
Charlie beats up on Merriam-Webster in the Boston Globe.
At a loss for words? Read one of Charlie's guest "On Language" columns for The New York Times Magazine.
Read Charlie's guest "On Language" piece about resistentialism.
Shopping for a new dictionary? Here's some sage advice.
Charlie's brave new words for a wireless world.
Read one of Charlie's articles in SPELL/Binder.
Read a profile of Charlie in San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.
Charlie explains why he left the public radio show.