Never mind him, Mr. Shopkeeper. I’ll take 10 of your most esoteric words. And put them in a brown paper bag for me, would you?

Fun fact: I collect obscure words. At least they are obscure words to me. Perhaps if I was a touch more abstruse, erudite, pansophic, recondite, sapient, or just less dumber, I would have a vocabulary in which words like the ones I consider reserved only for the literary one-percenters would be as plain-Jane and, well, Jane.

Do not even bother, Miss Jane, you could not possibly comprehend even the lexicon I use for my most casual affairs…I mean soirees, of course.

Another fun fact: there are some crazy-pants words hanging out in our English language.

There are only a few reasons why people would use these words:

  • because they clearly want to be misunderstood
  • because they enjoy making others to feel inferior to them
  • because they want to get on some game show that requires both intelligence and high levels of obnoxious-icity
  • because words are the only friends they have, so they picked the most pompous ones they could find to hang out with
  • because they want to be prepared in case they find themselves in a spontaneous game of Balderdash!

Since I like to think the best about people, I’m going to stick with the Balderdash! theory. Also, that’s why I collect obscure words.

People trying to fool people isn’t a new idea. It’s been around since the apes…and old men.

Have you ever played Balderdash!? It’s a nerdy fun word game. The objective is to choose a word no one has ever heard of before. You find these words by:

  1. reading the dictionary (never admit this to anyone)
  2. reading high-brow books and noting all the words you have to look up, hoping no one else knows those words either
  3. having bonzo bizarro words sent to you via a “word of the day” service
  4. hang out with obnoxious genius types (may have been redundant there) and just listen–please don’t try to engage them except maybe to offer to get them some snacks
  5. buying the game (but that feels like cheating to me)

Back to Balderdash! Once you have a killer crazy, word, you  Reveal only the form of the word (noun, verb, adjective, adverb). Then you write the real definition down (trying to make it sound fake) and everyone else writes a fake definition (trying to make it sound real).  Then you read all the definitions. That’s the fun part. Everyone votes on which definition they think is the real one. If no one choose the real definition, you get to yell, Balderdash! Sounds nerdy fun, right?

To give you a taste for the game, I’ve selected a few words from my personal vault. One is the real definition and the other is one I made up. Can you guess which is which?

I’m serious. Don’t think about cheating by looking the definitions up before you give it try.

Mazuma (noun): The Mayan term for “matriarch” and “moon,” both mystical and powerful forces. OR A form of currency used among indigenous peoples before missionaries convinced them that coins and paper were more reliable.

Yare (adjective): Like a bunny rabbit or a spy–quick and agile. OR Like a donkey or most teenagers–stubborn and contrary.

Satrap (noun): A complex device used to ensnare animals or other predators consisting of nets hung from trees. OR The Number Two Big Cheese of some unstable country waiting for the Number One Big Cheese to get assassinated or die of another natural cause so Number Two can suffer the same fate as Number One in a few years months.

Paraph (noun): A literary device used to build suspense at the end of a chapter wherein the author ends a sentence or paragraph without completing it, often with …. . OR That silly and often fancy-pants scribble-doodle that some people use after signing their name to make their signature look froufrou, ostentatious, and self-indulgent.

Obnubulate (verb): This is kind of embarrassing…The ancient Greek practice of manipulating nubile virgins to become, well, less virginal. OR To purposefully mislead innocent readers for the writer’s own macabre need to obscure his or her message.

Mainour (noun): The digestive byproduct of expensive thoroughbred racehorses having won at least one of the Triple Crown races, thus whose excrement does not stink and must be pronounced differently than that of mere normal livestock. OR Your flat-screen TV, bling, and blender the police or Neighborhood Watch Dude finds in the back of the VW Bus that is trying to, but can’t quite, make a quick get-away from your home that has just been proved non-burglarproof.

Dyslogistic (adjective): The opposite of being logistical or organized. OR Like a parent scolding a teenager for getting caught with weed or a pamphlet entitled “Congratulations! You’re Have a Baby!”

Plotz (verb): To plop or drop on the floor (or any surface) for any number of reasons: surprise, exhaustion, excitement. OR To trudge or to walk heavily as if going to the electric chair or your in-laws’ for the 3rd time this month.

Okay, now you can look up the words to see if you were right. I suggest going here. You can even sign up to get a new word delivered to your email. For free.

I hope you enjoyed this little game of Balderdash! Maybe you even learned a new word or two. The problem I have with this game is that I often remember the wrong definitions because they are often funny, so I like them better. Oh well…

I told you this would happen. Your brain only has so much storage space and you know it’s going to want to store the funny stuff.

~ by Lorna's Voice on March 10, 2013.

23 Responses to “Balderdash!”

  1. I have the same problem. I love seeing and learning new words, but they evaporate so quickly… Oh well, nothing is permanent. Especially my brain cells! 😉

  2. How fun! I love big words. My problem is that my aging brain refuses to actually LEARN new things. They simply go in my eyeballs and are expelled as verbal diarrrhea. I think that’s what they call Mazuma’s Revenge.

  3. 🙂

  4. I very well could have misspelled the word. My dizzy brain like to have fun with me, no matter how hard I try to keep it in check!

  5. I actually know what a “satrap” is. That word occurs frequently in the book of Daniel in the Bible. When I tried to look up “obnubulate” at, it suggested “obnubilate,” and said there was no result for “obnubulate.” That’s a shame…I really liked that word, as well as your made-up definition for it.

  6. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL….Same here!!!!!!

  7. Me, too! Oh how I wish you lived in my neighborhood–for lots of reasons!

  8. I love, love, love Balderdash…some of our best times together, extended family wise, have been experienced playing this game….I’ve never laughed harder than I have when playing this game!

  9. Good one! And… I love that game, especially when playing with my loonie friends.

  10. I would love that. And I always go for the most outlandish definition. Always. Another fun fact, I never play poker unless I feel like losing! 😉

  11. Some of them are just fun to say, regardless of what they mean. Mazuma! 🙂

  12. See, I told you I loved this game! I just wish someone around me did, too. I am not surrounded by like-minded word-nerds. 😐

  13. I have played Balderdash and it’s such fun! Years ago in the UK there was a TV show called ‘Call my bluff’ which was a panel game of the same thing. Your definitions were very good, I really wouldn’t know which to pick!

  14. Never heard any of them. Does it say something about me that I don’t really care what they mean? I just like em for themselves.

  15. Actually, the correct answer is number one. I use answer number two every time we play the game. You’d be amazed how many times it gets picked. If there’s any justice in this world, someday we’ll get to play this game head to head. What a blast that would be.

  16. Ooh, that’s a good one–and so applicable to everyday life (unlike some of the words I get in my inbox).

  17. Oh, where’s your sense of vocabulary adventure? I can tell you the answers if you want…

  18. I like #2. Wait. that didn’t come out right. Wait that didn’t come out right either. #2.

  19. Hope you had fun! 🙂

  20. I knew maybe 5 or 6, but the rest I’ll have to look up. Darn 😉

  21. We have played this game on several occasions. It never fails to bring us to tears (the happy laughing crying kind). We’ve just gotten our granddaughters into it…even more hilarious. Your definitions are sooooo Lorna!

    OK. Here’s one for you:


    1. When a number of sisters marry a number of brothers in the same ceremony.

    2. An ancient Central American jungle tribe that worshiped the left hind leg of the salamander.

  22. Very enjoyable post as usual and with the added links..gave up on the crossword though..;)

  23. My brother just signed me up for Word-A-Day which has incredibly bizzaro words. My favorite in the past week or so was “polylemma” — multiple dilemmas!

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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