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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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