Honorificabilitudinitatibus, in Latin, means "the state of being able to achieve honours," but it's also an English word and is unusual for a number of reasons. First, according to wikipedia it's "the longest word in the English language featuring alternating consonants and vowels."
Second, it's used exactly once by Shakespeare, in Love's Labour's Lost:
O, they have lived long on the alms-basket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier swallowed than a flap-dragon.
But this single use is considered highly significant by those who believe Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare's works, since honorificabilitudinitatibus happens to be an anagram for "hi ludi, F. Baconis nati, tuiti orbi," which in Latin means "these plays, F. Bacon's offspring, are preserved for the world."
Watch the video below if you need help pronouncing it.
Koshik the elephant has taught himself to imitate the words of his Korean trainers. He can say five words: "annyong" ("hello"), "anja" ("sit down"), "aniya" ("no"), "nuo" ("lie down"), and "choah" ("good"). He does this by sticking his trunk in his mouth. [eurekalert]
My parents had a welsh terrier who would say "Out" whenever he wanted to go out. Though the way he said it was more like "Oooouuuuuuuttttttt." He would only make the sound when he wanted to go out, and if you said the word 'out' he would go nuts, because he knew what it meant.
Craig Carver, in A History of English in its Own Words, reveals that the word 'nice' once meant something very close to 'weird':
Its early history covers such disapproving and derisive senses as 'stupid,' 'lascivious,' slothful,' and 'unmanly,' all now obsolete. Its earliest sense, 'foolish,' 'stupid,' 'senseless,' appears in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries ('He made the lady so mad and so nyce that sche whorshipped hym as the grettest prophete of God Almighty,' 1387, John de Trevisa, trans. of Higden's Polychronicon), and is from Old French nice (silly), from Latin nescius (ignorant), literally 'not to know,' a compound of ne (not) and scire (to know).
From there it is difficult to trace the convolutions of its senses, the next apparently being 'wanton,' 'lewd' ('These are complements, these are humours, these betraie nice wenches that would be betraied without these,' 1588 Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost), followed by 'strange,' 'rare,' 'uncommon' ('For there be straunge wonderous workes, dyverse maner of nyce beestes and whall fishes,' 1535, Coverdale Bible) and 'slothful,' 'lazy.'
So in Shakespeare's time, Weird Universe might have been called Nice Universe, or Nyce Universe.
'Weird,' on the other hand, (according to Carver) originally meant 'fate' or 'destiny.' In this form, the word was used as early as the 8th century. In the plural, the Wyrdes, it signified the three female goddesses, the Fates -- which is how Shakespeare used it in Macbeth to characterize the three witches, the Weird Sisters.
It was only in the early 19th century that the Romantic poet Shelley first used the word 'weird' in its modern sense to indicate 'uncanny,' 'strange,' or 'unusual.' In his 1816 poem Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude he writes: "In lone and silent hours, / When night makes a weird sound of its own stillness."
Every Christmas, a friend sends me a package of foodstuffs from the Native Harvest website, run by the Ojibwe tribe. It's all wonderful goodies, and today I broke out the Maple Butter for toast.
That's when I noticed the native name given for the product: "Anishinaabe Doodooshaaboo-bimide."
Yeah, right. You just know this is a joke the Native Americans are playing on us politically correct and guilty invaders, trying to get us to pronounce a bunch of doo-wop lyrics and sound like Frankie Valli.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.