Words Without Vowels

A xyst. (wikipedia)

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.




  1. geology a half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion.
  1. 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.



  1. a crowd; a large number of things gathered or considered together.
  2. 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




  1. used typically to express thoughtful absorption, hesitation, doubt, or perplexity.

ORIGIN unknown


  1. abbreviation for hectometer, a metric unit of length equal to one hundred meters.

ORIGIN France; 1800-10; hectomètre




  1. mathematics denoting an unspecified member of a series of numbers or enumerated items
  2. 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




  1. a very small person, animal, or thing
  2. derogatory an insignificant person, esp. one who is deficient in a particular respect


  1. (of a person or thing) very small
  2. 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.’




  1. Christian Church the container in which the consecrated bread of the Eucharist is kept.
  1. 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. ]

  1. foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface.

DERIVATIVES scryer; noun

ORIGIN early 16th cent.: shortening of descry.



also stymie

verb  ( -mies , -mied , -mying or -mieing ) [ trans. ]

  1. 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.




  1. an imaginary spirit of the air.
  2. a slender woman or girl.
  3. Aglaiocercus kingi; a mainly dark green and blue hummingbird, the male of which has a long forked tail.
Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi) (glenbartley.com)

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)

  1. astronomy a conjunction or opposition, esp. of the moon with the sun
  2. poetry the combination of two metrical feet into a single unit
  3. 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.’

tsk tsk

|tisk tisk|


  1. expressing disapproval or annoyance


  1. to tsk tsk; make such an exclamation.

ORIGIN 1940s: imitative.



also wynn, wen


  1. a boil or other swelling or growth on the skin, esp. a sebaceous cyst
  2. archaic an outstandingly large or overcrowded city
  3. 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.’




  1. in ancient Greek and Roman architecture a long covered portico, as a promenade, especially one used in ancient Greece for athletics
  2. in an ancient Roman villa a garden walk planted with trees
A xyst. (wikipedia)
A xyst.

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.