Then I got real.
Here, then, are 10 lesser-known, somewhat random synonyms of common words. Happy Thesaurus Day, word nerds!
Synonyms: gloomy, surly
Atrabilious harks back to an ancient belief that medical problems and character flaws stemmed from an imbalance of the body’s four humors — blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm — an idea often credited to Hippocrates. Someone who was depressed or easily provoked was thought to have an excess of black bile. The Latin atra bilis, from which atrabilious comes, literally means “black bile.”
We are more familiar with the word that stems from the Greek translation of “black bile”: melancholic.
Synonyms: native, indigenous
From the Greek auto- “self” and chthōn- “earth,” autochthōn was the Athenian word for a pure-blooded Athenian, as if their ancestors had sprung directly from the earth. Today, the word autochthonous gets a wider usage, describing not only indigenous peoples, but flora and fauna, rocks, and diseases.
Synonyms: working-class, blue-collar (in a negative sense)
In ancient Greece, the ideal life was one of leisure and contemplation, not hard labor. The people who actually did the work — the artisans, or banausos — were looked down upon by upper-class types not only as being in an inferior class but as having inferior intelligence; banausos also means “nonintellectual.”
The word banausic hasn’t been part of the English language for that long, though; it was coined in 1845.
In zoology, ecdysis (from Greek) is the processes of shedding the skin or casting off the outer shell. I won’t conjecture about his motives, but in 1940, H.L. Mencken decided he needed a more clinical word for “strip-tease artist.” Starting with ecdysis, and modeling it after enthusiast, he coined the word ecdysiast.
Synonyms: smoky, murky, soot-colored
From the Latin fuligo “soot,” fuliginous is a great word to describe the smoky skies and grimy streets of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. The word doesn’t have to have a negative connotation, though: The fuliginous eye look is in fashion.
Synonyms: dullness, dim-wittedness
From the Latin hebes “dull,” hebetude describes specifically mental laziness. Someone who epitomizes such intellectual lethargy is hebetudinous (and may be a misologist — see below).
Synonyms: grammarian, word maven
This word that sounds like you’re chugging a bottle of water comes from a single Greek root: legein– “to speak,” which also gave us logos “word” and the –ology suffix. A logogogue is someone who makes rules or issues laws about words.
Logogogue is notable also because no two of its three Os are pronounced the same.
Synonyms: saucy, brazen — or a saucy, brazen person
Malapert begins with the common prefix mal- “bad,” from the Latin malus. –Apert comes from the Latin apertus “open” (which also gave us aperture). That gives us the word malapert “being open a bad way.” Malapert can be both an adjective meaning “brazen” and a noun describing a saucy person.
Synonyms: anti-intellectual, willful ignoramus
We’ve seen -ology before, referring to “words” or “discourse.” Combine that with the Greek miso- “hatred” (from mīsein “to hate”), and we get misology, “hatred of reason, logic, or enlightenment.” A misologist is a person with such an close-minded outlook.
Synonyms: hostile, harsh
From the Latin adjective trux “savage,” truculent has lessened its ferocity over time, and some language purists have complained. Sometimes truculently. In modern times, the word has been used to describe belligerent speech or writing, which doesn’t reflect the literal sticks and stones associated with the word’s origins.