Some time ago I listed an A-Z of very unusual words. While flipping through dictionaries and the like on the hunt for word meanings and origins, too often I find myself distracted by words which may or may not be in official use but which would certainly be unknown to the vast majority. So the result is the following A to Z of words which would be of great help to any would-be Countdown contestant and a pain in the proverbial for guests on Call My Bluff.
A is for AZYGOUS - generally only used in an organic sense where the meaning is 'single, not existing in pairs'.
B is for BURHEL - and the name of a breed of wild sheep found in the Himalayas.
C is for CATAFALQUE - a delicious word which would probably be used more were it not for it being the name of a decorative wooden frame for a coffin, used primarily for those lying in state.
D is for DZO - the name given to a beast, the hybrid of a male yak and a cow.
E is for EUSTASY - something we may hear more often, it is the change of sea level due to melting ice caps, glaciers or techtonic movement.
F is for FURCULA - not a word you will have used to describe 'a forked organ or structure' but one you will certainly have seen as it is the correct description for the wishbone of a bird.
G is for GRALLATORIAL - is an adjective relating to long-legged wading birds.
H is for HOPPLE - the act of tying the legs of a quadruped together to prevent it going anywhere.
I is for INFUNDUBULAR - never used but often seen, it means 'funnel-shaped'.
J is for JOWAR - a variety of sorghum native to Asia.
K is for KNAG - the short remains of a dead branch.
L is for LORICATE - having bones or scales forming armour as a defence.
M is for MYRMIDON - either a hired ruffian or a lowly servant.
N is for NUCHAL - an adjective relating to the nape of the neck.
O is for ORTHOGONAL - simply means 'having right angles'.
P is for PUTLOG - a short horizontal timber projecting from a wall which allowed scaffolding boards to be used.
Q is for QUODLIBET - a medley of well-known tunes.
R is for RYOKAN - a traditional Japanese inn.
S is for SWIPPLE - the swinging of a flail.
T is for TYCHISM - the idea that chance is the controlling factor in the entire universe.
U is for UMBLES - the edible offal of deer.
V is for VELUTINOUS - covered with soft fine hairs.
W is for WIGHT - an archaic term for a person.
X is for XERIC - means 'very dry'.
Y is for YERKNOD - a donkey.
Z is for ZNEES - a synonym for 'frost'.