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22 Words You Didn’t Know Were Words

22 Words You Didn’t Know Were Words
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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.”

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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