Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Definition: (from
1. informal. overparticular; fussy
2. informal. snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob
3. informal. requiring painstaking care

"That cheerleader is so persnickety about her hair."
"Don't be so persnickety about studying for that exam - you're going to fail anyway."

Origin: (from
"1889, alteration of pernickety"

Awkwardness rating: 3

Persnickety? Is that a candy bar? (

Friday, March 20, 2009


Suggested by Karen R.

Definition: (from
-verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
1. to change from a fluid into a thickened mass; curdle; congeal
2. biology. (of blood) to form a clot
3. physical chemistry. (of colloidal particles) to flocculate or cause to flocculate by adding an electrolyte to an electrostatic colloid

"My friend left out the milk for so long it coagulated."
"You have to wait for the jello to coagulate before you eat it."

Origin: (from
"early 15c., from Latin coagulatus, past participle of coagulare 'to cause to curdle,' from cogere 'to curdle, collect' (see cogent). Earlier coagule, c.1400, from Middle French coaguler."

Awkwardness rating: 4

Delicious coagulation. (

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Definition: (from
-verb (used without object)
1. informal. to spend time idly; loaf

"I really should stop lallygagging on Awkward Words Blog and study for my exam."
"One of my favorite activities is to procrastinate by lallygagging on Facebook."

Origin: (from
"'dawdle, dally,' 1862, lallygag, American English, perhaps from dialectal lolly 'tongue' + gag 'deceive, trick.'"

Awkwardness rating: 6

Garfield knows how to lallygag properly. ( )

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Definition: (from
1. in a jumbled, confused, or disorderly manner; helter-skelter

"They picked up the trash scattered higgledy-piggledy across the floor after the party."
"She acted all higgledy-piggledy after the soccer ball hit her in the head so we took her to the emergency room."

Origin: (from
"'confusedly, hurriedly,' 1590s, a 'vocal gesture' [OED] probably formed from pig and the animal's suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (e.g. hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, hinch(y)-pinch(y), an obsolete children's game, attested from c.1600)."

Awkwardness rating: 9

The leftovers spread higgledy-piggledy after Mardi Gras. (

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Definition: (from
1. an electric generator, especially for direct current
2. an energetic, hardworking, forceful person

"He was a dynamo in the kitchen - no food left unless it was cooked to perfection."
"Three hours of practice each day makes her the only dynamo in underwater basket weaving in the world."

Origin: (from
"1882, short for dynamo-machine, from German dynamoelektrischemaschine 'dynamo-electric machine,' coined 1867 by its inventor, German electrical engineer Werner Siemans (1816-1892), from Greek dynamis 'power.'"

Awkwardness rating: 4

Gordon Ramsay is the ultimate dynamo in the kitchen. (