I’ve been pretty busy with some work so my posting schedule has suffered, but since it’s the holiday season, I figure it’s the perfect time to talk a little bit about this very useful word. 🙂

As opposed to my other choices, which usually can be rather obscure, miswant, on the other hand, is actually a very simple word and concept. The only thing I don’t understand, actually, is why it’s practically never used.

Miswant basically means wanting something for the wrong reason. It’s pretty much the sayings “be careful what you wish for,” or “there are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it,” summed up in one succinct word. 😀

Why do I not see this word being used more often? Especially around Christmas, when, everywhere I look, it’s always people getting things they don’t want/need. We’d probably all be better off if this word became part of our daily vocabulary. 😉

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wiktionary – miswant
World Wide Words – Miswanting



As it is Halloween, I think this is just the perfect word for the occasion.

This is truly a “phantastic” word. 😉 It’s an adjective that means characterized by or pertaining to rapid changes in light intensity and color or characterized by or pertaining to a dream-like blurring of real and imaginary elements. I think Salvador Dalí embraced this concept quite masterfully in his paintings.



Derived from the noun phantasmagoria – a form of theatre that used a special lantern to project scary images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts on walls – this word probably hasn’t seen the light of day since the 19th century. Nevertheless, it is still quite interesting to see what counted as entertainment nearly two centuries ago. 🙂

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wiktionary – phantasmagoric
Wikipedia – Phantasmagoria


It’s been awhile since I’ve made fun of a German word, but I suppose it’s as good a time now as any to dig further into this gold mine. 😛

I think that, for the majority of English speakers, the word schadenfreude has long entered their vocabulary.

This word, from the similar German word Schadenfreude*, means something like the enjoyment derived from observing someone else’s misfortune. Anyone who’s ever seen TV shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos or Tosh.0 will know exactly what this word means.

*Etymology: Schaden (damage or harm) + Freude (joy)

Few will know, however, that Schadenfreude actually also has a polar opposite cousin: Fremdscham**.

Google Translate gives Fremdscham the definition in English as foreign Cham, but don’t you believe it for one second! This word actually means the embarrassment that one feels at watching someone else embarrass themselves. Complicated, right? And, I’ll have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever run into this situation before (not one that I recall anyway). How did it ever get turned into a word?

**Etymology: Fremd (foreign or unrelated) + Scham (shame)

You may also be interested to know that Fremdscham has further spawned a related verb: fremdschämen*** – to feel ashamed for someone else who has done something embarassing.

***Etymology: Fremd (foreign or unrelated) + schämen (to feel ashamed)

Those who are adventurous with their word compounds, however, should shy away from the combination of Scham (shame) + Entzündung (inflammation). The resulting word will probably not mean what you think it should mean.

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Wiktionary – schadenfreude
Wiktionary – Schadenfreude
Wikipedia – Schadenfreude
Wiktionary – Fremdscham
Wiktionary – fremdschämen
Wiktionary – Schamentzündung

HSK 1 3.0 (Android)

To download, please see the download page.
For the next version, see HSK 1 3.1.
For the previous version, see HSK 1 2.0.

This update has been in the works for awhile now, but I’ve only had a chance to finalize and upload it today. There are some significant upgrades in this version:
1. “How to Use” has been reorganized for easier reading.
2. Characters are now available in both traditional and simplified styles.
3. Quiz questions now have an extra “info” option.
4. Quizzes now save themselves as you go through questions.
5. Added a way to reset and start a new quiz.
6. Sizing differences have been resolved. All devices should now have a relatively similar user interface.
7. Various bugs were fixed.

For the previous version, see HSK 1 2.0.
For the next version, see HSK 1 3.1.
To download, please see the download page. I hope you enjoy it!


This is truly one of the oddest words I have ever had the pleasure of accidentally discovering. The discovery actually came from a typo. 😛 I’m no longer sure what I was actually searching for that day, but this word has stayed with me since then.

Doddard is a tree that is missing its top branches through rot or decay.

Strangely specific, isn’t it? What are trees missing its top branches not through rot or decay called? What about trees, through rot or decay, that are missing only its lower branches? Do those even exist?

And now that we’re on this topic… Is there a name for trees that resemble human faces?

Want to read more about other uncommon words? 🙂 See the Interesting Words page.

Collins Dictionary