Some words just make us giggle — their definitions aren’t lewd, but they sound so similar to other suggestive (or even downright dirty) words that we can’t help but make a connection. So, try not to “titter” as you make your way through this list of words that sound risqué but aren’t, from “annals” to “weenus,” and everything in between.
Annals (plural noun)
The culprit of many unfortunate typos, “annals” is another word for historical records, as in, “Abraham Lincoln is a legend in the annals of American history.” The plural noun has been used in English since the 1560s, tracing back to the Latin annales libri, meaning “chronicles” or “yearlies.” During the early Roman Republic, public events were recorded on tablets called Annales Maximi.
Here’s a sexy word for someone in their 60s. It comes from the Latin sexagenarius, where the root “sex” means “six.” Other words with the same root include “sextuple,” meaning “consisting of six parts,” and “sextuplets,” a group of six children born from one pregnancy, or to musicians, a group of six notes played in the time of four.
A “bunghole” is an opening in a cask (a barrel of alcohol) that is used to fill or empty it. A “bung” is a stopper for closing this hole. "Bung" has been used in English since the mid-15th century, likely from the Middle Dutch bonghe, meaning “stopper.” By the 17th century, it was also used as vulgar slang, so it doesn’t just sound risqué — it is, depending on the context.
Spatchcock (noun and verb)
In American English, this is a cooking term for when a chicken, or other poultry, is split open and laid flat to grill. The term is likely of Irish origin and has been in use since the late 18th century, when “cock” was commonly used to describe birds, especially roosters. In British slang, “spatchcocked” can also mean to “add something in an appropriate context,” as in, “Her new campaign slogan was spatchcocked into the speech.”
This word has nothing to do with undergarments. A “diphthong” is an element of speech, also referred to as a “gliding vowel.” It occurs when a sound is formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, resulting in a noticeable shift. The sound begins with the first vowel and then shifts to sound like the second vowel, as heard in the words “coil,” “boat,” “great,” and “pier.” “Diphthong” comes from the Greek diphthongos, meaning “two voices.”
No one wants to get caught up in a haboob — it’s a violent windstorm that often occurs during the summer in desert climates. The 19th-century English word can be traced back to the older Arabic word habūb, which means “blowing furiously.” The term originated in Sudan at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, where haboobs, accompanied by lots of sand and dust, appear frequently.
Titter (verb or noun)
Were you accused of tittering during class? This is simply another word for giggling. A “titter” is a short, half-suppressed laugh that is meant to be quiet or inconspicuous. The word has been around since the early 17th century and was probably of imitative origin.
This word doesn’t appear yet in most dictionaries, but Merriam-Webster is keeping an eye on it. “Weenus” is a slang word for the loose skin around the elbow, also called olecranal skin (the “olecranon” is the bony part of the elbow). Online evidence suggests that “weenus” emerged as slang in the late 20th century, likely as a play on another part of anatomy, but it’s unclear how it transformed into a slang term for elbow skin.
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