Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Can You Tell If These Funny Words Are Real or Made Up?

All of these words sound pretty silly, but only some of them are genuine, honest-to-goodness components of the English language. Can you figure out which ones?

1 / 40


Is this a real word?

2 / 40

Made up

Nope—you won’t find “tupacase” in any dictionary.

3 / 40


What about “pronk”?

4 / 40


This is a real word! “Pronk” is a verb that describes a form of leaping, traditionally by four-legged animals, with an arched back and using all four legs. It comes from an Afrikaans word meaning to show off or to strut. Check out the surprising origins of some more common words, too.

5 / 40


How about this one?

6 / 40


“Bumfuzzle” is a real word! It’s a verb that means to confuse or fluster—similar to the equally funny, but better-known, “bamboozle.”

7 / 40


Is this wacky word real?

8 / 40


“Taradiddle” is not, in fact, taradiddle! That’s because this word means nonsense or bogus.

9 / 40


Would you find this one in a dictionary?

10 / 40
epiphinot made

Made up

Bill Bouldin of the Del Rio News-Herald actually invented this one as a joke-word, a pun of “epiphany” and “not.” In a perfect world, this “word” would mean an idea that the person who came up with it thinks is brilliant, or even an epiphany, when it is, in fact, not. Check out the full list of funny made up words we wish were real.

11 / 40


Can you figure out if this is a real word?

12 / 40


Yes, “cabotage” is a real word—but, unfortunately, it has nothing to do with sabotaging cabbage (or taxis). Instead, “cabotage” describes trade or transport along a coast or within domestic airspace. Just like “cabotage,” these 10 words don’t mean what they look like.

13 / 40


Is “glaretram” a real word?

14 / 40
glaretram made

Made up

Sadly, “glaretram” is total nonsense.

15 / 40


Give this one a try!

16 / 40
pregret made

Made up

This one’s another Del Rio News-Herald humor original. If it were real, Reader’s Digest wishes “pregret” would describe the knowledge that you’re going to regret something before you even do it.

17 / 40


What’s your guess for this one?

18 / 40


“Dongle” has a much more sophisticated meaning than you might think. It refers to a device you can plug into a computer to allow certain software to run.

19 / 40


Is this a real word?

20 / 40
foupe made

Made up

Foupe, there it is! This is a fake word—but it did actually show up in a dictionary at one point! In 1755, back when people wrote long S’s, which looked like F’s, a dictionary editor misread “soupe” as “foupe” and mistakenly put the latter in the dictionary. (“Soupe,” in case you’re wondering, is an old-timey synonym for “swoop.”) And that’s far from the only time fake words have ended up in the dictionary—here are 8 more.

21 / 40


Try this one, wordsmiths!

22 / 40


Incredibly, “friendlily” is the adverb form of “friendly”! As in: “‘It’s so great to see you!’ he said friendlily.” Here are some more funny words that sound fake, but are totally real.

23 / 40


How about this one?

24 / 40
unlighten made

Made up

Did we get you again with Bill Bouldin’s made up “joke words”? “Unlighten” isn’t a word, but if it was, we wish it was a facetious opposite of “enlighten”—to learn a piece of knowledge so ridiculous or useless that it actually seems to lessen your intelligence.

25 / 40


Do you think this one is real?

26 / 40


“Batholith” might sound like a less intimidating relative of Harry Potter’s basilisk monster, but it’s actually a geological term. It describes a large quantity of igneous rock that’s crystallized below the earth’s surface.

27 / 40


This one’s a doozy!

28 / 40


“Absquatulate” doesn’t mean doing squats in an attempt to improve your abs—but it is real! It means to flee or abruptly leave.

29 / 40


Tick, tock—is “toximble” a word?

30 / 40
toximble made

Made up

Did you get this one right, word nerds? “Toximble” is nothing but gibberish.

31 / 40


What about “yemeles”?

32 / 40


This may be an old, all-but-extinct word, but it is real. In Old English, “to take yeme” meant to care, so someone who was “yemeles” was totally reckless or careless. It’s definitely one of the old words we should start using again before they disappear.

33 / 40


What do you think about “firkin”?

34 / 40


Nope, “firkin” is not a dirty word, nor is it a catlike creature that can swallow things ten times its size. It’s a British word that refers to a small tub or vessel and definitely qualifies as one of the international words that sound rude in English.

35 / 40


Once you’re finished doing a double take at this word, guess whether it’s real!

36 / 40


It’s a very rare word, but there are records of this word being used to mean to greedily gulp down a drink.

37 / 40


What’s your guess for this one?

38 / 40
chillaid made

Made up

It may sound like a knockoff brand of Kool-Aid, but alas, “chillaid” is not a word.

39 / 40


For the grand finale, what do you think about “impignorate”?

40 / 40


“Impignorate” actually means to pawn or mortgage something! Now that your vocabulary is so much beefier, put it to the test with this middle school vocab test that most adults can’t pass.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a word nerd who has been writing for since 2017. You can find her byline on pieces about grammar, fun facts, the meanings of various head-scratching words and phrases, and more. Meghan graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2017; her creative nonfiction piece “Anticipation” was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Angles literary magazine.