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22 Words You Didn’t Know Were Words

22 Words You Didn’t Know Were Words

Ever at a loss for words? Can’t find the perfect word to describe what you so desperately need to describe? Maybe you’re not so crazy after all and there actually is a word out there for you. Take a look at these lesser-known words to beef up your vocabulary skills.

1. Overmorrow

The day after or following tomorrow. Finally someone found the word we’ve all been looking for.

2. Ereyesterday

The day before yesterday. Finally someone found the other word we’ve all been looking for.

3. Defenestration

The action of throwing someone out of a window; the action of dismissing someone from a position of power or authority. It’s Latin and is devised by putting “de-” (down from) with “fenestra” (window).

4. Yerk

To beat vigorously (think: thrash); to attack or excite vigorously (think: goad). It comes from a Middle English word that means “to bind tightly.” Yerk is also in the bottom 40% of word popularity. Poor yerk.

5. Meretricious

Tawdrily and falsely attractive; superficially significant. Don’t confuse this one with delicious.

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Tidbit from Merriam-Webster: “Meretricious can be traced back to the Latin verb merere, meaning ‘to earn, gain, or deserve.’ It shares this origin with a small group of other English words, including ‘merit, meritorious, and emeritus.’ But, while these words can suggest some degree of honor or esteem, ‘meretricious’ is used to suggest pretense, insincerity, and cheap or tawdry ornamentation.”

6. Proline

An alcohol-soluble amino acid occurring in high concentrations in collagen. Apparently, it’s just an alteration of the word “pyrrolidine.” Pretending to be a scientist is fun.

7. Acosmism

A theory that denies the universe possesses any absolute reality or that it has any existence apart from God. It comes from the German word “akomismus” — which sounds way fancier, for the record.

8. Aubade

A song or poem greeting the dawn; a morning love song; a song of poem of lovers parting at dawn; morning music. It’s a French word (shocker) that means “dawn serenade.”

Tidbit from Merriam-Webster: “As the relationship of ‘aubade’ with the English language grew, its meanings became a little more intimate. It blossomed into a word for a song or poem of lovers parting at dawn. Later it came to refer to songs sung in the morning hours.”

9. Dysthymia

A mood disorder characterized by chronic mildly depressed or irritable mood often accompanied by other symptoms; dysthymic disorder. With this new Latin word in your pocket, WebMD ain’t got nothin’ on you.

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10. Gowpen

The hollow of two hands held together as if forming a bowl. It’s also important to know that a gowpenful means a double handful. This word will definitely come in handy.

11. Alexithymia

Inability to identify and express or describe one’s feelings. People with alexithymia typically display a lack of imaginative thought, have difficulty distinguishing between emotions and bodily sensations, and engage in logical externally oriented thought. If you’d like to describe yourself or someone you know, use “alexithymic” as the adjective.

12. Schadenfreude

A feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people. It comes from the German words “schaden” (damage) and “Freude” (joy). No, this is not a word that you want to relate to.

13. Phosphene

A luminous impression due to excitation of the retina.

Tidbit from Merriam-Webster: “Phosphenes are the luminous floating stars, zigzags, swirls, spirals, squiggles, and other shapes that you see when closing your eyes tight and pressing them with your fingers. Basically, these phenomena occur when the cells of the retina are stimulated by rubbing or after a forceful sneeze, cough, or blow to the head.”

14. Quidnunc

A person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip (think: busybody).

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You can use it in a sentence like this: “With the arrival of our other friend, we at last had a quorum of quidnuncs and enough material to while away a long lunch hour.”

Impress your gossiping friends with this word that is way too fun to say. Quidnunc, quidnunc, quidnunc.

15. Petrodollar

A dollar’s worth of foreign exchange obtained by a petroleum-exporting country through sales abroad. Make a mental note that it’s usually used in plural. Fun facts include that it’s in the bottom 10% of word popularity and wasn’t used until 1974.

16. Compunction

An anxiety arising from awareness of guilt; distress of mind over an anticipated action or result; a twinge of misgiving (think: scruple); “compunctions of conscience.”

Tidbit from Merriam-Webster: “An old proverb says ‘a guilty conscience needs no accuser,’ and it’s true that the sting of a guilty conscience — or a conscience that is provoked by the contemplation of doing something wrong — can prick very hard indeed. The sudden guilty ‘prickings’ of compunction are reflected in the word’s etymological history. Compunction comes from the Latin compungere, which means ‘to prick hard’ or ‘to sting.’ Compungere, in turn, derives from pungere, meaning ‘to prick,’ which is the ancestor of some other prickly words in English, such as ‘puncture’ and even ‘point.'”

17. Anglomania

An absorbing or pervasive interest in England or things English. This word that resides in the bottom 20% of word popularity goes out to your annoying friend who hasn’t ever left America but can’t stop speaking in a British accent and talking about the royal family.

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18. Psithurism

The sound of wind in the trees and leaves. Basically just a fancier version of “rustling,” because being basic is unacceptable.

19. Dwale

Another name for deadly nightshade; belladonna. This one is of Scandinavian origin, so thank your viking friends.

20. Philosophunculist

A person who pretends to know more about something than he actually knows as a way of impressing or manipulating others; someone who claims to be a philosopher, but who actually has only superficial knowledge of the subject. Gotta hate those freaking philosophunculists.

21. Eccedentesiast

One who fakes a smile. Use this word to describe a person who goes in front of a camera and has to fake a smile for the sake of the audience or a literary character who’s reluctant to display genuine emotion.

22. Floccinaucinihilipilification

The categorizing of something that is useless or trivial; the action or habit of estimating something as worthless.

Use this tongue twister in a sentence (if you dare) like this: “Humans are quick to partake in the floccinaucinihilipilification process, it has happened before and it will happen repeatedly until evolution explicates perfect men.”

Feel smarter? Of course, you do. Just don’t turn into a philosophunculist or you might have some compunctions of conscience.

Featured photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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