Rare Words and Uncommon Words to Upgrade Your Vocabulary Today

Sometimes, we encounter words that are rare or uncommon, sparking curiosity about their meanings and origins. Some of these rare words possess such unique definitions and applications that they become fascinating bits of linguistic treasure. By exploring lists of these unusual and obscure words, we not only expand our vocabularies but also gain deeper insights into the dynamic nature of language itself.

In this article, we will explore various lists of rare and uncommon words, delving into their meanings, etymology, and real-life examples of usage. As we embark on this linguistic journey, we invite you to join us in discovering the hidden gems within the English language, ultimately broadening your word horizons and adding new, unique expressions to your daily lexicon.

Types of Rare Words

As lovers of language, we find great joy in discovering and discussing rare and uncommon words. In this section, we will explore three types of rare words: neologisms, archaic words, and scientific jargon.

Rare Words and Uncommon Words to Upgrade Your Vocabulary Today 1Pin


Neologisms are newly coined words or expressions that have recently been added to our ever-evolving language. They often originate from advances in technology, popular culture, or social changes. Some examples of neologisms include:

  • Selfie: A photograph taken of oneself, typically using a smartphone or webcam.
  • Mansplain: When a man explains something, usually to a woman, in a condescending, overconfident, or oversimplified manner.
  • Ghosting: The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone without explanation, usually in a romantic context.

As we can see, neologisms help to fill linguistic gaps and reflect the world around us with greater accuracy.

Archaic Words

Archaic words, on the other hand, are words that were once common but are now rarely used in modern language. These words can add an air of historical or poetic charm when used sparingly. Some examples of archaic words include:

  • Forsooth: An exclamation expressing agreement or disbelief (akin to “indeed”)
  • Zounds: An exclamation of surprise or indignation (derived from “God’s wounds”)
  • Hither: To or towards this place (opposite of “thither”)

By revisiting these words, we pay homage to the rich history of our language and can add a touch of antiquity to our writing or conversation.

Scientific Jargon

Lastly, scientific jargon refers to specialized vocabulary used by experts in a particular field. These words may be unfamiliar to the general public but are crucial for precise communication among professionals. Some examples of scientific jargon include:

  • Epigenetics: The study of changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.
  • Perihelion: The point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun.
  • Crenulation: A series of small, rounded folds or ridges on a surface, often found in rocks or minerals.

By familiarizing ourselves with scientific jargon, we can expand our knowledge and engage in more informed conversations on specific topics.

Factors That Create Uncommon Words

Niche Vocabulary

In various specialized fields, jargon and terminology are developed to express specific concepts and ideas clearly. As a result, niche vocabulary is created, which might be unfamiliar to those outside the field. For example, medical professionals use terms like “aphasia” and “brachydactyly,” which may not be widely known by the general public. Similarly, words used in other sectors, such as technology or law, may also be considered uncommon despite their frequent use within those industries.

Language Evolution

Over time, languages evolve and adapt to societal changes, technological advancements, and cultural influences. New words are created, and old words may fall out of use, becoming rare or uncommon. For instance, words like “gadzookery” or “lollygag” are now considered uncommon, as their usage has declined. Additionally, blending different languages and adopting loanwords can also lead to the creation of uncommon words. For instance, the word “schadenfreude,” originally from German, is now an uncommon word in English, which refers to the pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune.

Regional Dialects

Geographical factors and regional influences can result in the development of uncommon words specific to a certain area or dialect. For example, in the UK, words like “ginnel” and “snicket” refer to narrow passageways or alleys. These words are specific to certain regional dialects within the UK, and they may not be well-known or widely understood by speakers from other areas. By understanding the factors that contribute to the creation of uncommon words, we can appreciate the richness and diversity of the English language and expand our vocabulary by exploring these interesting terms.

Categorizing Rare Words

By Frequency

Categorizing words by frequency involves determining how often they are used in written or spoken language. For instance, some words may be considered rare because they are used infrequently in everyday conversations or written texts. This rarity can be due to several factors, such as the word being archaic or highly specialized. Here are a few examples of rare words categorized by their frequency of use:

  • Abomasum: the fourth stomach of a ruminant, such as a cow or sheep (noun)
  • Absquatulate: to leave somewhere abruptly (verb)
  • Adagio: to perform in slow tempo (adjective)

By Usage

Another method of categorizing rare words is by their usage in specific contexts. Some words may be uncommon because they are used primarily in specialized fields or industries. These words can be essential in their particular context but may not be widely understood outside of that domain. Here are some examples of rare words categorized by their usage:

  • Bowdlerize: to censor or remove offensive material from a text (verb) – mostly used in literary context
  • Bumfuzzle: to confuse or perplex (verb) – more commonly used in informal conversations
  • Carouse: to engage in a lively or drunken social gathering (verb) – often used in historical or literary works

Uncommon Words in Literature

Classic Literature

In classic literature, we often encounter rare and uncommon words that showcase the rich vocabulary from bygone eras. Some examples of these rare words used in classic literature include:

  • Nescience: The lack of knowledge or ignorance, often used to describe a character’s naivety or innocence. For example, in Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” nescience is used to describe the crew’s lack of awareness about the true nature of Captain Ahab’s obsession.
  • Peregrination: A journey or voyage, especially one of considerable length or significance. This word can be found in works such as Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” where the characters embark on a religious peregrination to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket.
  • Obfuscate: To make something unclear or difficult to understand, often used in the context of characters trying to hide their true intentions or feelings. An example of obfuscation can be seen in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” where the title character uses intricate wordplay to obscure his thoughts.

Modern Literature

In modern literature, we can also find uncommon words that enrich the narrative and reveal more about the characters or the story’s themes. Here are a few examples:

  • Cockaigne: A mythical land of plenty, where life is easy and there is an abundance of food and luxury. In “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, the society can be seen as a futuristic interpretation of Cockaigne, where people’s every need and desire is met through technology.
  • Conundrum: A puzzling problem or dilemma, often used to describe a complicated situation that characters must navigate. In “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, faces numerous conundrums as he grapples with his identity and his place in the world.
  • Epizeuxis: A term that describes the repetition of a word for emphasis and can be observed in various works of modern literature, like “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. This writing technique reinforces the mood or atmosphere in a story, often reflecting a character’s heightened emotional state or desperation.

Beautiful Rare and Uncommon Words


Petrichor is a rare word that depicts a sensation to most of us but we don’t know what exactly it is called. Have you noticed that earthy pleasant scent that comes out when rain falls on dry soil? That is referred to as Petrichor. So, the next time it rains and the scent comes out, know the rare word to mention.


Love is one of the greatest things on earth. Poets, artists, and musicians have all been inspired by it. When you are hopelessly in love with someone, the obsession, nervousness, happiness, and the want for that love to be reciprocated is termed as Limerence.


Sempiternal is a rare word that is used to determine something eternal. Shake things up a bit and tell your loved one the love you have for them is Sempiternal. It is a word that brings to mind images of endless horizons and timeless beauty. Sempiternal is a word that reminds us how far life can go and hence, will make a good addition to your vocabulary.


Don’t be confused because this rare word is not as complex as it sounds. Its meaning is remarkably straightforward. It refers to a person whose buttocks are beautifully shaped. When describing someone and the person turns out to have beautifully shaped buttocks, the word to use is Callipygian.


When standing by a stream, waterfalls, or surrounded by natural elements like leaves, have you noticed that gentle murmuring sound of the water or leaves in the wind? It is very soothing and soft. This sound is called Susurrus. This is another rare word that can be added to your vocabulary.


The word Quixotic is a rare word used to describe a person who is a dreamer or an idealist, often pursuing unrealistic quests and adventures. Such people don’t mind even if the odds are not in their favor. They will still like to accomplish their goals.


This is another rare word we can add to our vocabulary. The term Serendipity is used to describe when a person encounters success by accident. So, the next time a situation turns out to be successful by mistake, it is termed as Serendipity.

The Impact of Rare Words on Language

Language Enrichment

Rare and uncommon words have the potential to enrich our language by providing us with new ways to express ourselves and communicate ideas. They allow us to describe different emotions, situations, and concepts that may not have specific terms in our everyday vocabulary. For instance, words like “accismus,” which refers to pretending to be disinterested in something when you actually want it, can help us communicate more precisely and effectively.

Moreover, rare words often have a historical or cultural significance, deepening our understanding and appreciation of language evolution and literature. As we incorporate these words into our conversations or writings, we not only expand our vocabulary but also engage with the richness and diversity of language.

Communication Barrier

While rare words can enrich our language, they can also create barriers in communication. When we use a rare or obscure word in conversation, it may lead to confusion or misunderstandings, especially if the recipient does not know the meaning of that word. This can result in a less effective exchange of information and ideas, particularly in situations where clear and concise communication is essential.

Furthermore, using rare words inappropriately may come across as pretentious or elitist, creating an emotional barrier between the speaker and the listener. It is therefore essential for us to strike a balance between enriching our language with rare words and ensuring clear communication with our audience.

Techniques to Learn Uncommon Words

As lovers of language, we relish the opportunity to expand our vocabulary with uncommon and rare words. To help us all in this endeavor, we’d like to share some techniques for learning and incorporating these lesser-used terms into our everyday speech.

Firstly, it’s essential to keep an open mind and be curious when encountering new words. When we come across a word we don’t recognize, we can look it up in a dictionary or search online to find its meaning and usage examples. This will not only provide us with a clearer understanding but also improve our retention of these unusual words.

To cement these words in our memory, it’s a good idea to practice using them in context. We can try incorporating them into sentences or conversations, even if it feels a bit forced at first. As we grow more comfortable with these uncommon terms, it’ll become easier to find appropriate situations for their use.

Another helpful technique is the use of flashcards or memory apps. We can create digital or physical flashcards featuring the definitions and examples of uncommon words, then spend a few minutes each day reviewing them. This form of active recall is known to boost memory retention, and over time, we’ll find that these once-rare words are now part of our everyday vocabulary.

Reading diverse and challenging materials can also expose us to new words. We recommend exploring a variety of established literary works, reputable newspapers, and even scientific journals. Doing so can present us with uncommon words in their natural context, giving us a better understanding of how they’re used and the nuances of their meanings.

Lastly, joining or forming a vocabulary-focused group, whether in person or online, can aid our language learning journey. By engaging with others who are also interested in expanding their vocabulary, we can share our discoveries, challenge one another, and create an environment that fosters linguistic growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which short and uncommon words should I know?

We recommend learning a few short and uncommon words to enrich your vocabulary and make your speech more engaging. Some examples include “zeitgeist,” the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history; “limerence,” a state of infatuation; “widdershins,” going counterclockwise; and “rapprochement,” the establishment of improved relations, especially between countries.

What are uncommon English words used in daily life?

While most uncommon English words are hardly used in daily life, incorporating them into conversations can make things more interesting. Examples include “absquatulate,” which means to leave somewhere abruptly; “adagio,” which means to perform in a slow tempo; and “alfresco,” meaning to take place outdoors.

Which unique vocabulary words are important for IELTS?

For the IELTS exam, it is essential to have a wide vocabulary to help you understand and express your ideas effectively. Unique words that can be useful for IELTS include “ubiquitous,” meaning ever-present or widespread; “intransigent,” refusing to compromise or change one’s views; “ameliorate,” meaning to make something better; and “disparate,” referring to two things that are fundamentally different.

What are some rare words to describe a person?

There are many rare words that can be used to describe someone’s personality or character. For example, “erudite” means having or showing great knowledge or learning; “ingenuous” refers to someone who is innocent, naive, or unsuspecting; “mellifluous” describes someone with a smooth, flowing voice; and “stolid” refers to a person who is calm, dependable, and shows little emotion.

What are some uncommon words with interesting meanings?

Accismus is a term for pretending to be disinterested in something when you actually want it. For example, “I know you want that donut. You’re just displaying accismus by pretending you don’t.”

Cacography refers to bad handwriting. An example sentence would be, “Her cacography made it difficult for anyone else to read her notes.”

Audace describes bold and highly spirited behavior, often used in a musical context. An example would be, “The conductor wanted the orchestra to play with audace to bring the piece to life.”

What are some weird English words for foreigners?

Some English words that may seem unusual for non-native speakers are:

  • Discombobulate: to confuse or disconcert someone
  • Flabbergasted: to be extremely surprised or shocked
  • Lollygag: to spend time aimlessly
  • Collywobbles: a feeling of nervousness or unease