The Washington Post invites readers to take a word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are some of the 2020 winners:

  1. Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.
  2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
  3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
  4. Esplanade (v), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
  5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
  6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
  7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
  8. Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.
  9. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
  10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
  11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
  12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.
  13. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
  14. Pokemon (n), A Jamaican proctologist.
  15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there
  16. Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts

Here are some of the 2019 winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.

The  bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

The  Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. And the winners are:  

 1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Australian Slang dictionary.

A rich and amusing source of 19th century slang that highlights how language is particular to era, place, and a person’s station in life. This dictionary was compiled by Cornelius Crowe and published in Melbourne in 1895, The Australian slang dictionary : contains the words and phrases of the thieving fraternity, together with the unauthorised, though popular expressions in vogue with all classes in Australia. 

Word teaser: This list contains words related to being funny or silly. But THREE of them are impostors – not at all related to fun. Can you identify them?











Teaser solution: Did you have any trouble sniffing out the non-funny words in the bunch? Here are the guilty trio:



Gazump = funny sounding, but related to making a higher bid.

Churlish = rude in a surly, mean-spirited way.




Jejune = predictable and uninteresting.



Unusual words

Sangfroid  This word comes from the French meaning “cold blood” and it refers to coolness of mind. So you might say: “She exhibited incredible sangfroid while managing the entire crisis.” Pronunciation – “song-fwah”

Appurtenance  It sounds like it has something to do with appearance or demeanour – but it’s not! According to the Macquarie Dictionary, it means: “something accessory to another more important thing; an adjunct.” So, you might refer to an outhouse as an appurtenance to the main house.

Internecine  Looks like it has something to do with an international medicine but it means “mutually destructive” or “conflict within a nation, group or organisation”. So you might say “The internecine conflict between the states over environmental issues almost led to civil war.”

Casuistry Sounds a bit like casualties you would find in a war but it’s not. It actually refers to the process of determining what’s right and wrong, usually by taking a moral problem and applying general ethical principles to come to a conclusion. So you might say: “With casuistry, John tried to convince himself that the action he took was right.”

Hermeneutics Refers to the science of interpretation. In fact, it could be said that we all practice some form of hermeneutics every day in that we are always interpreting body language, symbols and so on. It comes from the ancient Greek hermeneus, meaning translator or interpreter.

Sub rosa means ‘in secret; confidentially; privately’. So, you might say: “The information was passed on to Mary sub rosa.” It comes from Latin meaning “under the rose” – as a rose was once considered a symbol of secrecy.

Saturnine might sound like this adjective is associated with the planet Saturn but it actually refers to your disposition. If you are described as having a saturnine demeanour or personality, it means – according to the Macquarie Dictionary – “having or showing a sluggish, gloomy temperament”. So you might say: “The prime minister was saturnine as he approached the microphone to deliver the news.” When it became a word in the 15th century, it related to the coldness and slow revolution of the planet Saturn, which was at the time the most remote planet known to astronomers.

Dual-meaning words 

Out of the million words in English, about 80% of them are borrowed from other languages.  And many of them have dual meanings across the world.

‘Kiss’ is the Swedish word for pee….

And sorry if your name is ‘Gary’ but unfortunately this sounds like the word diarrhoea in Japanese.

‘Confident’ means feeling self-assured but in Polish, a ‘konfident’ is a snitch or informer

‘Bestie’ in English is slang for best friend. But in In Czech, ‘bestie’ means beast, brute or monster.

‘Gift’ in English means a present. But in Swedish, Norwegian, German and Danish it means poison.

‘Trombone’ means paperclip in French.

And talk about confusing. ‘Si’ means no in Swahili but yes in Spanish. And ‘no’ means yes in Czech – it’s the shortened form of ‘ano’ but apparently very common.

How about this one. ‘Gato’ in Spanish means cat, but gâteux (similar pronunciation) in French means cake.