Archaic, esoteric or just plain wrong: The weirdest words you’ve heard

Word up! If certain combinations of letters attract you, if a particular turn of phrase tickles or repels, if trending lingo strikes you as “cray cray,” “redonkulous” or “super glam-glam,” if discovering a new word or an old word used a new way excites you, then you’re one of my kind.

In the early months of 2014 my trending word is “swale.” Such a swashbuckling, sweeping, swooshy kind of word, isn’t it? “Come, you nefarious cad, I will smite you with my sword upon the swale!”

Swale by definition is far less dramatic: A slightly discernable dip in the land where water collects or the mundane strip of grass between sidewalk and roadway.

After I first sighted the word, swale mentions popped out at me with regularity particularly in the municipal reports in Florida newspapers, where stormwater runoff and unauthorized parking are of massive concern. And it’s most charmingly used in “My First Summer in the Sierra,” by John Muir, where a bowery swale retains the poetic charm that first drew me to the word.

The next word to enter my lexicon came by way of a beer carton I was breaking down for recycling. The use of “Krewe” deeply – and falsely — offended my sensibilities. Shame on me for jumping to conclusions. The first use of this alteration of “Crew” dates back to 1936. Another alternate spelling traces its origins from the old French, “Creue,” a group of people working together, a gang, company or crowd. “Krewe” is also defined as a “private organization staging festivities such as parades during Mardi gras in New Orleans.”

Ever on the lookout for new words and startling signs (“Used Cows For Sale” at a farm off 1-95 in mid-Florida, if anyone’s interested), I’m forever on the lookout for good words. Literary agent and blogger Rachel Gardener picked this word to exemplify her goals for 2014:

Natural product homemaking maven Stacy chose another uplifting word, “nourish,” for her 2014 mantra. Here’s why:

What word(s) or phrases are provoking or invoking your curiosity and comprehension? C’mon: Challenge me with a cool, creepy, mangled or magical word I’ve never heard. Let’s play!

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