I think we all know that I’m a fan of words, a word nerd, if you will. A lexicon loser, grammar geek, a nomenclature nimrod, a diction dork… you get the idea.
I’m also of Finnish descent. Along with green eyes, fair complexion, and a ski-slope slip of a nose, that means I was blessed with a last name that is 57% vowels. Yes, there are more vowels in my last name than consonants. Thanks, Finland.
Because I’m saddled with so many vowels on a daily basis, I like words without them, so I’m giving a nod to English language words without any vowels at all. I’ve recently used a few words on this list and thought I’d share them. Some of them you probably know and use, too.
If you discount Y as a vowel, there are a lot of words without vowels–by, sky, dry, crypt, hymn, rhythm, etc.–but I’m going to disregard the common words and go for the ones a lot of people don’t know and/or my favorites.
Some of them are Welsh since Wales is the anti-Finland as far as vowels go.
- geology a half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion.
- poetic/literary a ring, circlet, or circle.
ORIGIN Welsh; mid 19th cent.: related to combe, occurring in charters in the names of places in southern England, many of which survive; of Celtic origin. The current general use dates from the late 16th cent.
- a crowd; a large number of things gathered or considered together.
- an ancient stringed instrument of Celtic origin similar to the cithara but bowed in later types
ORIGIN Welsh; 1830-40: cognate with Irish cruit; harp, lyre
- used typically to express thoughtful absorption, hesitation, doubt, or perplexity.
- abbreviation for hectometer, a metric unit of length equal to one hundred meters.
ORIGIN France; 1800-10; hectomètre
- mathematics denoting an unspecified member of a series of numbers or enumerated items
- in general use denoting an unspecified item or instance in a series, typically the last or latest in a long series
ORIGIN mathematics; 1850-55; N (symbol for a number) + -th
- a very small person, animal, or thing
- derogatory an insignificant person, esp. one who is deficient in a particular respect
- (of a person or thing) very small
- used in names of animals and plants that are much smaller than more typical kinds
ORIGIN late Middle English (originally in the plural, denoting a mythological race of small people): via Latin from Greek pugmaios ‘dwarf,’ from pugmē ‘the length measured from elbow to knuckles.’
- Christian Church the container in which the consecrated bread of the Eucharist is kept.
- in the UK a box at the Royal Mint in which specimen gold and silver coins are deposited to be tested annually at the trial of the pyx.
ORIGIN Latin: pyxis, transliteration of Greek: πυξίς, box-wood receptacle, from πυξος, box-tree
verb ( skries, skried) [ intrans. ]
- foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface.
DERIVATIVES scryer; noun
ORIGIN early 16th cent.: shortening of descry.
verb ( -mies , -mied , -mying or -mieing ) [ trans. ]
- informal prevent or hinder the progress of
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.; originally a golfing term, denoting a situation on the green where a ball obstructs the shot of another player.
- an imaginary spirit of the air.
- a slender woman or girl.
- Aglaiocercus kingi; a mainly dark green and blue hummingbird, the male of which has a long forked tail.
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from modern Latin sylphes, sylphi and the German plural sylphen, perhaps based on Latin sylvestris ‘of the woods’ + nympha ‘nymph.’
noun ( pl. -gies)
- astronomy a conjunction or opposition, esp. of the moon with the sun
- poetry the combination of two metrical feet into a single unit
- in general use a pair of connected or corresponding things
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via late Latin from Greek suzugia, from suzugos ‘yoked, paired,’ from sun- ‘with, together’ + the stem of zeugnunai ‘to yoke.’
- expressing disapproval or annoyance
- to tsk tsk; make such an exclamation.
ORIGIN 1940s: imitative.
also wynn, wen
- a boil or other swelling or growth on the skin, esp. a sebaceous cyst
- archaic an outstandingly large or overcrowded city
- a runic letter, used in Old and Middle English, later replaced by W
ORIGIN Old English wen(n), literally joy, so named because it is the first letter of this word; Low German wehne ‘tumor, wart.’
- in ancient Greek and Roman architecture a long covered portico, as a promenade, especially one used in ancient Greece for athletics
- in an ancient Roman villa a garden walk planted with trees
ORIGIN 1655-65; Latin xystus garden terrace, shaded walk; Greek xystós a covered colonnade
Well, there you have it; more fodder for your Scrabble or Words With Friends games, although good luck trying to spell syzygy with a standard Scrabble set.