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Amy: Cornucopia. What a mellifluous word.
Sheldon: Let's make that our word of the day.
Amy: Agreed. And we'll use mellifluous tomorrow.
The Big Bang Theory, "The Desperation Emanation"

Ever suspect that an author has a quirky Word-of-the-Day Calendar? Some really egregious, often used for Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, the word appears in the text, perhaps not used in a completely natural way, and perhaps used in a manner egregiously inconsistent with the character's native idiolect. It appears two or three more times in subsequent egregious text, in in-egregious-creasingly unlikely settings and then is never seen again.

If it does get used more consistently than that, it overlaps with Author Catchphrase.

This is mostly a literary trope. Although there are examples wherever a single author has a distinguishable voice (or is just plain verbose), shows and movies are usually expensive enough to produce that this gets filtered out, not to mention that TV and movie audiences supposedly have all the vocabulary of the average toddler anyhow.

Compare this to Perfectly Cromulent Word, where fictitious words are inserted in an attempt to sound smart, "Burly Detective" Syndrome, where character descriptions are frequently used in place of names, Malaproper, where similar-sounding words are used in the place of others and Delusions of Eloquence, where the words do exist but are misused in an attempt to sound smart.

Reviewers seem to use this trope en masse.

Magic Franchise Word is when this is done by the fans. Not to be confused with You Keep Using That Word, when a character points out another character's misuse of certain words.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Someone at Marvel really liked symbiote as a word.
  • Ambush Bug: ADVANTAGEOUS!
  • Alan Moore apparently loves to have his characters say "apparently". Incidentally, he is also a big fan of the term "incidentally". He uses it instead of "by the way" whenever possible.

    Fan Works 
  • There's a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic (Neon Genesis Evangelion R, if memory serves correctly) where Rei's eyes were always being referred to as "alizarin". Alizarin (or "alizarin crimson") happens to be a deep bluish-red pigment — and probably the true color of Rei's eyes, at that. But it still looks like fanfic thesaurusitis. (There's an entire family of dyes/pigments called "alizarine <color name>". The actual compound known simply as "alizarin", though, is a pretty good match for Rei's eyes.)
  • The Rebuild of Nobody Dies really likes the word "warble".
  • In the 1990s, almost every other story featuring Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager called his blue eyes "cerulean". Cerulean eyes in story after story. Worst part: cerulean is a specific shade of blue, and his eyes aren't that shade.
  • In Pokémon fanfic, Misty's eyes are often "cerulean" as well. They're blue-green, so it's accurate enough, but the real reason is that her gym is located in Cerulean City.
  • Harry Potter Turns to the Lord: There were demons embezzled in Harry's soul.
    • Unless he'd stolen the demons, also an overused term. Did the Infernal Revenue Service ever catch him?
  • My Immortal: Those limpid tears. Statistically
    • Sexily.
  • The authors of Undocumented Features are overly fond of the word "sardonic", which they seem to use to describe every third facial expression.
  • Several characters in the The Lord of the Rings fanfic The Captain and the King are extremely concerned about Gondor's "weal."
  • Rise Of The Tau uses the various tenses of "thunder" and "coruscate" way too much. One sentence even had 'two' occurrences of "thundered" in it.
    • Not to mention the number of times the author uses brace instead of two or a pair.
  • The entire Doctor Who fandom has a perennial love affair with the words "gravitas", "pantomime" and "nadir".
  • It seems practically blasphemy NOT to describe Yugi's eyes as "amethyst-colored orbs." The Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfiction-writing fandom was particularly fond of its overuse of the word "orb." Dear GOD, it was fond of it...
  • Many of Hans Von Hozel's fanfics use "danube" as a verb, generally relating to movement.
  • Though certainly not a particularly bad offender, one of the later arcs of the Pokémon fic Latias' Journey uses the word "piscene" a few times for some reason.
  • The self-published "tribute novel"-slash-sequel to Twilight book Breaking Dawn got the unfortunate title Russet Noon. Russet is a Perfectly Cromulent Word, but since it's most commonly associated with a breed of potatoes (or apples in the UK), this became a source of great mocking.
  • The English translation of Knight of Lolicon really likes the word "fulminating". Possibly Justified in that the translation, while readable, is mediocre at best, so it may sound more natural in the original Spanish.
  • Parodied in the Death Note fic The Human Whose Name Is Written In This Fanfiction:
    "This is apparently what people do when they like each other; they list the physical attributes of the other person using creative metaphors. L so happens to describe Light more like a pastry than an attractive young college student. Readers are supposed to accept this because L likes sweets." And "Misa sniffed, her sapphire eyes wet with tears and her ruby lips shaking (because Misa can only be described using gemstones)."
  • Almost every time the sky comes up in Frigid Winds and Burning Hearts, it's described with the word "welkin".
  • Possible example in Super Paper Mario X: Child found the word "rigmarole" hilarious and she got Link to bring it up without making it seem awkward.
  • The characters in The Rod Squad talk like it's The '70s—because it's Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers in 1979. The following words pop up remarkably often for such a short story:
  • On several occasions in Girls und Panzer: Hope Dies, when Character A responds to something Character B said to them, B will be described as A's "interlocutor." It's especially noticeable considering the author's poor command of the English language.
  • The stories in The Nowakverse, another Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers fanfic Verse, makes a lot of use of two particular words. One is "byronic", referring to Widget and including Widget referring to herself as a Byronic Hero quite a number of times. The other one is "pelagic" which tries to refer to cats' behavior but doesn't mean what the author thought it means. Needless to say, the author didn't spare this when he MSTed his own fic.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Referenced in-universe in "The Survivor." Bruce the Rottweiler apparently has been looking at his master's "word-a-day" calendar to spruce up his vocabulary. He tries to use the word "anomaly" in his description of Mittens's barbed witticisms, but goofs the word up. This leads to a Chain of Corrections which confuse things all the more, until Alastair the Welsh Corgi lampshades the calendar's usage and finally gets the word right.
    Bruce: [grinning] Meeeeow, girl! Most kitties have sandpaper tongues, but can’t say I ever met one with a mouth full of fishhooks before. You’re a true cat mutation, for sure. A regular… a regular… um, a regular "anemone," gotta say.
    Wayne: [laughing] What? I see whiskers on her face, not tentacles! You mean "homily," don't you?
    Petey: [shaking his head] Always thinking about food, aren’t you? That’s "hominy."
    Alastair: [groaning] Geez! If you’re gonna use that word-a-day calendar your human has on his writing desk, you might wanna at least, you know, get it right? I’m pretty sure you meant "anomaly."
  • Snarry Slash Fic, if not other types of Harry Potter fanfic in general, went through a time where it seemed the default description of Harry's eyes was "emerald orbs" and Snape's either "onyx" or "obsidian orbs".

    Films — Animated 
  • "Abomination" in Lilo & Stitch. He's a killer Space-Dropbear! He warrants it! "Imagine, if you will..." also gets used several times in the original film's DVD commentary.

  • At different times while writing the lengthy Redwall series, Brian Jacques seemed to find some love in characters "saluting smartly", performing "traditional [species]" gestures (strange because these gestures hadn't been described as traditional in previous books at all), and of course the ever-mystifying word "chunnering". note 
  • Alan Dean Foster: Go through Foster's novelization of Star Wars some time (the byline says "George Lucas", but Foster wrote it). Count the number of times gauges — or something else, but usually gauges — "whine in protest."
  • Stephen Donaldson, as a Doctor of English, uses some pretty arcane words frequently. The narrator's use of "argent" and "lambent" come to mind. It might be possible to identify a specific year of a specific Word-of-the-Day Calendar with each of Donaldson's books. Good-naturedly covered at Stephen R. Donaldson Ate My Dictionary. Notoriously, at one point in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant he describes some creatures as being "featureless and telic, like lambent gangrene."
  • The narrator of M. John Harrison's science fiction novel Light uses the word "ruched" several times, among others. There's also 'etiolated'?
  • In several of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer stories, written in different decades, the Shakespearean phrase "alarums and excursions" is spoken, each by a different character, none of whom would naturally use this phrase. The first couple of times it is misspelled as "alarms and excursions".
  • Rex Stout, creator of gourmand-turned-P.I. Nero Wolfe, made a point of using a few unfamiliar words in every Wolfe story or novel he wrote; the words would usually be utilized by Wolfe himself or his business partner, Archie Goodwin. Given, however, that Wolfe likes to flaunt his intellect in true Hercule Poirot fashion, Stout may have been doing this as character development - at least when Wolfe does it. When Archie Goodwin does it, it occasionally approaches Sophisticated as Hell.
    • Plot It Yourself has Wolfe identifying the author of a piece of text by how often particular words show up.
    • In one early novel, all the characters are 'ejaculating' all over the place. As in, exclaiming. Very much a case of Have a Gay Old Time.
    • In particular, Wolfe is fond of describing any fabricated story someone tells him as a 'flummery' (sometimes 'sheerest flummery' if the lie is particularly egregious). Literally, a flummery is type of dessert, but it has a metaphoric meaning of 'humbug'. (Of course, given Nero Wolfe's fondness for fine dining, perhaps it is not strange he reaches for this term.)
  • Gene Wolfe uses many obscure words, real and otherwise, particularly in The Book of the New Sun. The obscure, but real, word 'tribadist' (lesbian) appears next to the word 'algophilist' (from context, one who enjoys inflicting pain on another, but somehow different from sadist). Algophilia, by the way. In a nice bit of Lampshade Hanging, the narrator says this about his teacher: "He mispronounced quite common words: urticate, salpinx, bordereau." What's more, if you look up the meanings, they are words that it would be reasonable for the character in question to know.
  • Older Than Television: Bram Stoker, Dracula, and the word "voluptuous," making this one older than word-of-the-day calendars.
  • Mary Shelley likes to use the words "benevolent," "wretch," "ardour" and "countenance" in Frankenstein.
  • The Tairen Soul books and "claiming".
  • China Miéville
    • "Concatenate" and variants on the word often in Iron Council. It only comes up a few times, but it's an unusual word, so it stands out.
    • There's also his frequent use of "puissant".
    • Miéville uses many words to describe landscapes. If you've taken a few geology classes, you'll know most of these (and that they're not always correct), but you've never seen as many instances of words like "graben" or "arete", most notably in Iron Council.
    • Perdido Street Station contains a remarkable number of things which are "jagged" or "jags" of some material, as well as "inchoate".
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith of Lensman fame does this with words like "lambent", "coruscating", etc.
  • H. P. Lovecraft had a reputation for this. Word associated with him include: "cyclopean" (though that does refer to a specific type of architecture), "eldritch", "gambrel" (used to describe a two-sided roof with two slopes on each side), "squamous" (scaly), "rugose" (ridged), "gibbous" (humped), "chthonic" (subterranean), "charnel" (relating to interned bodies), "non-Euclidean", "Paleogean", "ululation" (a drawn-out, high-pitched, warbling moan or howl), and "demoniac", though how much he actually used such words is exaggerated. Lovecraft was also attached to the noun "vigintillion," which appears in both "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Call of Cthulhu", and means either 10^63 or 10^120.
  • Clark Ashton Smith easily surpasses his friend and fellow Cthulhu Mythos founder Lovecraft in this field. Some choice favourites include: "abdominous" (big-bellied), "alembic" (a type of vessel used in chemistry), "antemundane" (unearthly), "austral" (southern), "argentry" (silver), "coeval" (of the same age), "gnomon" (the pin on a sundial), "levin" (lightning bolt), "fulvous" (tawny), "lich" (a corpse, not the fantasy undead monster), "nenuphar" (water lily), "vespertine" (pertaining to the evening), "cerulean" (of a deep blue; azure), chalcedony (a type of quartz), "dolorous" (mournful, sorrowful), "eidolon" (unreal or spectral form, image), "empery" (dominion, sovereignty) etc. as well as some of Lovecraft's staples (eldritch, cyclopean, gibbous, ululation...).
  • More excusable than some, Tad Williams came up with the Greek-derived term 'pentecount' (referring to a unit of fifty) for Shadowmarch. He used it frequently.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold describes around two characters per book as "saturnine" — generally, whoever is being the deadpan foil to Miles at the time. The "saturnine" is to emphasize the deadpan. She also uses "dour" a lot. And "waft". "Suasion" and "ingenuous" (as opposed to persuasion and disingenuous) she uses less commonly, but the latter is rare and the former almost nonexistent with anybody else.
  • Brave New World considers everything "pneumatic": an overstuffed chair cushion is a "pneumatic chair"; two women ask each other if they are "too pneumatic" the way normal women ask if an outfit makes them look fat; a character even mentions how "pneumatic" Bernard's semi-girlfriend is - after having sex with her. It's a Real Life period thing. For a while during that time "pneumatic" was a common word (at least among Sci-Fi writers) when referring to women with large breasts and hips. Similar to words like "built", "stacked", "full-figured", "shapely", "voluptuous" and "zaftig". The Demolished Man even refers to plastic surgery as "pneumatic surgery" when referring to a woman who had her breasts enlarged.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, a lot of things aren't named, they're "christened".
  • George Orwell enjoyed "comrade" and "invariably", the latter of which shows up particularly often in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Charles DeLint uses the term "little say" at least once a book.
  • In his excellent book about China, travel writer Colin Thubron went through a curious love affair with the word "shriven", which does not mean what he thinks it means. It means "absolved by confession", but he uses it as if it meant something like "wizened, exhausted, dried up." Maybe he was thinking of "shriveled". According to a book review by Scott Malcomson, use and misuse of obscure words is common throughout Thubron's writing: "I'm not at all certain, however, that mare's milk can be 'fomented' (though it is fermented)."
  • An odd example: Steven Brust's narrator Paarfi of some of the Dragaera books uses the phrase "a propos" as a lead-in to paragraphs as part of his Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
  • Piers Anthony can't seem to get through a single book without describing something as "quiescent". He loved using the words "balk" and "abate" in the earlier Xanth books.
  • Ever notice that Edgar Allan Poe seems to like the word "arabesque"? Also, "singular".
  • Robert Newcomb's novels, and how! Everything normally described as blue is "azure"; every single room, meal, and set of clothing is "sumptuous". These are not the only examples, but Newcomb is particularly bad for only consulting the thesaurus once and then using that obscure word for the rest of his series.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy: "incipient" appears about ten times in three books and stands out. He like the word "inimical", which appears in the aforementioned series and inKeys to the Kingdom.
  • Neal Stephenson characters have a thing for referring to Japanese people as Nipponese. "Nippon" is a more accurate English translation of the country's name, but it's not nearly as popular a term as Stephenson's writing makes it appear. The word also gets discussed a few times. A character in Snow Crash corrects another character's incorrect usage of the slur "nip," which is taken from the word Nipponese. In Cryptonomicon, a character notes that the Colonel's use of the word "jap" instead of "nip" indicated that he did not serve in Asia.
  • Harry Potter:
  • The Twilight series contains many of these, which is understandable since Stephenie Meyer is an English major and her narrator strives to seem sophisticated. Stephenie Meyer's favorite words are "Adonis," "incredulous" and "chuckle." Seriously, characters sometimes "chuckle" (insert adverb here) several times on a single page.
    • Apparently "chagrin" as well, if you believe this fanfic
    • Likewise, "sparkle", "dazzle" and their similes. Case in point: "He was both dazzling and dazzled".
    • "Scintillating" as a much-needed synonym for "sparkling," as in "Edward's scintillating arms". It's correct, albeit archaic, usage. In modern English, it's more usual to use the word to mean "witty". The word's original and literal meaning is "to emit sparks."
  • Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast "trilogy", used the word "qualm" to mean "shiver or ripple, as of delight' and, oddly, "prank" to mean "blotch or spot, pick out, color, highlight". Also, the Tower of Flints is a blasphemous finger of stone pointing at the sky.
  • Enid Blyton and "lashings" in relation to food, the root of the famous Beam Me Up, Scotty! "lashings of ginger beer". Also it's quite fun to imagine Bakura whipping people with a beverage.
  • During the writing of Summer Knight, Jim Butcher appeas to have fallen in love with the word "basso". Nearly everyone's voice is described this way. It also appears about five times over the course of First Lord's Fury. Butcher is also fond of "chitinous" and "susurrus."
    • The man's obsession with thews borders on unnerving.
    • Less frequent, but more obscure, are "obstreperous" and "insouciance".
  • This trope is Played for Laughs and practically referenced by name in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. The narrator does have a WOTD calendar and will look for opportunities to use the words from it.
  • Tamora Pierce's characters do everything with "grim good humor". Everyone has "masses" of hair that "fights" to escape its accessories, unless it's "cropped" short. If they're in pain, expect their muscles to "scream." They'll never grab or hold anything, only "grip" it. And more than one character has a "thin blade of a nose" (this is contracted to "thin-bladed nose" on one occasion, which barely makes sense).
  • In Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy, characters rarely seem to do anything "quickly," but they're constantly doing things "with alacrity."
  • Dan Brown seems to love the phrase "quantum leap". It's used quite liberally in The Lost Symbol.
  • David Eddings:
    • Eddings had an obscurely peculiar fascination with the words "obscure," "peculiar," and "fascination." Also "prosaic", and don't even get me started on how many times a character will say something "blandly".
    • Leigh Eddings seem to have abruptly discovered, and fallen in love with, the word "genuflect" during the writing of Polgara the Sorceress.
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle: Nobody ever camps out, they "bivouac." (It isn't even used correctly half the time, as "bivouac" refers to a strictly no-tents-no-nothing military operation and not just setting up bedrolls and a fire in the woods.)
  • Ian Fleming in the James Bond novels seems to have a fondness for "elegant."
    • He loves to describe things, especially Bond's facial features, as "cruel".
  • Raymond E. Feist really, really loves the words "alien" and "quietly". Especially noticeable in his earlier books where "Character Name Sat Quietly" is a noticeably common way of opening a chapter.
  • Harry Turtledove:
    • Timeline-191 does this with a made-up word ("flabble", roughly synonymous with "whine") that was eventually invented and popularized in the alternate America of the series.
    • The prequel How Few Remain, set in the 19th century, does this with the (then-popular) term "absquatulate".
  • Terry Brooks loves to use "dissemble" for lie in the Shannara series.
  • Scott Westerfelt uses "fawesome" in The Last Days pretty much constantly, like it's the only slang word in existence. The word "fexcellent" is used as well.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien: As an Oxford-trained English professor and lifelong philologist, Tolkien had an exceptionally strong command of the English language, and his use of words like fulminate, habergeon, confusticate and puissant certainly help establish the grandness (and comedy) of his masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This kind of language shows up just as much in the texts that became The Silmarillion, and in The Lost Tales and Lays of Beleriand; it gets so archaic that the editor provided an anachronistic-and-obscure-English-words glossary for each volume. In The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, The Fall of Gondolin... Tolkien constantly uses "doom" to mean "destiny".
  • Robin Hobb uses the word "fellow" a lot in the Tawny Man Trilogy. With different meanings.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Troy Denning's "efflux".
    • Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, uses "inevitable" and "inevitably" way too much, and often incorrectly.
  • An English translation of The Count of Monte Cristo. There are around seventeen uses of "singular" in one chapter.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries seem to use "singular" Once an Episode.
  • Antony Horowitz has a thing for "somehow" (And Gun Porn, natch, but that's irrelevant).
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories get a lot of miles out of "lithe" and "supple." And you can always identify the titular barbarian: he's the one who's described as "bronzed" and "tigerish" (or "wolfish") with eyes like "balefire." Howard was rather fond of "dynamic" as a heroic adjective. There's also the hero's "mighty thews."
  • Philip Pullman really likes the word "presently."
    • Also "passionate/passionately". No, not like that. Mostly.
    • Another slightly outdated phrase he likes is 'breast' in the sense of general chest. For example, Lyra clutches Pantalaimon to her breast frequently.
  • Philip K. Dick used "presently" a lot.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Callistan Menace": The word "lugubriously" appears very out-of-place in this story where there are sparkling eyes and stolid grunting. A more smoothly incorporated word would've been mournfully or extravagantly.
  • Timothy Zahn likes to refer to conversations as "'words' Character said to the other".
  • Artemis Fowl: Orion Fowl seems to have a thing about bivouacs. (A Running Gag?)
  • The Legend of Drizzt: R.A. Salvatore went through a period where he eschewed all other way to say "used hand gestures for magic spell" in favor of "waggled their fingers". Waggled? That guy just lightning-ed a lich back to a briny undeath!. Also, any attack with a blunt weapon "blasts" the opponent, and characters almost never agree - they just "do not disagree".
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs says describes Tarzan as having a "smooth brown hide" a lot.
  • Daniel Handler parodies this through A Series of Unfortunate Events, using a big word then providing a definition that probably isn't accurate, but which does give a decent sense of the meaning intended for the situation, usually prefacing said definitions with the phrase "a word which here means...". It's funny if you know the word already, and educational if you don't. Everybody wins!
  • Charlotte Brontë really seemed to enjoy describing black things, particularly people's black hair or eyebrows, as "jetty."
  • The Ciaphas Cain book Duty Calls:
    • May create an allergy to the word "scuttling" (as in "scuttling horrors", "scuttling movement", "scuttling noises" and everything else related to Tyranids) in its readers.
    • Absolutely anything out of the ordinary (but especially things relating to Hypercompetent Sidekick Jurgen) can be described as "preternatural".
  • Bernard Cornwell, in the Sharpe series and elsewhere, likes using the word "flensed" in the context of battle wounds. Those who suffer said wounds frequently 'mew' instead of the more common whimpering, groaning etc.
  • George R. R. Martin
    • He has a thing for using the word “song” in book titles. His novel series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and his other works include A Song for Lya, The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr, Songs of Stars and Shadows, and Songs the Dead Men Sing. Not to mention two story collections he edited, Songs of The Dying Earth and Songs of Love and Death, and the career-spanning collection of his short fiction, Dreamsongs: A R Retrospective.
    • In A Song of Ice and Fire, he seems to repeatedly make certain word choices with Anglo-Saxon or similarly archaic roots:
      • He uses "jape" and occasionally "jest" instead of "joke."
      • In A Dance with Dragons the word 'leal' for 'loyal' seemed to be on every other page.
      • A ridiculous situation is always a "mummers' farce." Actors and non-musical performers are only called "mummers."
      • His use of reversed numbering, such as "five and forty" instead of "forty-five."
      • In A Dance with Dragons, the phrase "Ramsay in his wroth" is used frequently in the Reek/Theon chapters. Actually quite funny since "wroth" is being used to replace "wrath" and "wroth" means "angry" rather than "anger."
      • He likes to use the phrase "must needs" instead of just must or need.
      • He uses "raper" instead of "rapist."
      • "Holdfast" instead of "fortress."
      • "Words" rather than "motto".
      • "Craven" as a noun much more often than "coward."
      • Vomiting is only ever "retching" (which is confusing, since that usually means to gag without actually puking).
    • He's always halving things. "Half a hundred" is clearly his favorite number, "half a heartbeat" his favorite length of time, and "half a groat" his favorite amount of money. (It starts out with "in a heartbeat" simply being overused; then "in/for half a heartbeat" is introduced and takes over in a big way. By A Dance with Dragons time is being measured in integers-greater-than-one of heartbeats.)
    • Boiled leather. So common that a fansite is called "All Leather Must Be Boiled".
    • In A Feast for Crows, characters with uncles refer to them as "nuncle" (a phrasing not found in earlier books in the series).
    • It seems that GRRM bought himself a dictionary of uncommon words between A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. All of a sudden, King's Landing is building galleas and dromonds.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, suddenly no one is ever right anymore. Instead they're "not wrong."
  • Christopher Hitchens was noticeably fond of "lucid", "mordant", and especially "trenchant".
  • Brandon Sanderson throws around "maladroitly" in the Mistborn Trilogy quite a bit with the main character.
  • Nora Roberts' characters have a 'yen' for something at least once a novel - which is a pretty considerable amount. It can be for anything from peach ice cream to softcore romance novel sex.
  • Jame Rollins likes to work in the 'limned' with increasing frequency.
  • Neal Shusterman really likes to use the term 'boeuf' to describe strong people or military personnel.
  • Evidently, Dean Koontz is a big fan of "evidently."
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • In-universe example in Unseen Academicals. Glenda knows a lot of strange words because they're the favorite words of romance novel writers. Though she isn't sure about "reticule" and "boudoir."
    • In latter years, Terry Pratchett became quite fond of the word "susurration". It was at least on some level a Running Gag, since he first started using it in relation to a character who herself loved using it after finding it in a dictionary.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: Steven Erikson seems to have his seasonal favourite words from book to book, though 'potsherds', 'detritus', 'must needs', 'efficacy', 'desiccated', 'burgeoning' and 'pate' (nobody has a scalp, only pates) span the entire length of his main series. 'Egregious' pops up quite a lot in Toll the Hounds, and other words of the season include 'equity', 'mien', 'sunder/asunder', 'lass', 'misshapen', 'febrile', 'billowing', 'gelid', 'crepuscular', 'singular', 'despond' and 'hoary'. And characters have the tendency to growl, drawl and scamper about instead of talking and walking.
  • William F Buckley Jr liked 'velleity' (wish without any desire to do something about it) and 'tocsin' (alarm bell), among others.
  • R. Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse:
    • "Marmoreal" crops up maybe ten times a book, particularly because many scenes are set in marble palaces, catacombs or ruins.
    • "Hooked," used abstractly as a verb and adjective to describe something clinging in a violent or unpleasant way, such as muscle on a creature's physique, or a smile on a face.
  • In The Dresden Files characters will rarely simply have walked over to something. Characters will have "padded" somewhere. Regardless of footwear or any other factor that would influence the sound their steps make. Bare feet on a wooden floor. "Padded." Cowboy boots on marble. Also "padded."
  • Leo Tolstoy uses "handsome" to describe many characters in War and Peace.
  • Joe Abercrombie of The First Law uses the words "squelch," "grimace" and "dour" at least once a chapter.
  • Whateley Universe: Diane Castle trots out some new vocab in every Phase novel. Words like:
    • 'propaedeutic', a student's Atrocious Alias, where obscure words are the most likely to not be taken by anyone else.
    • 'fictile', as part of the narration in Test Tube Babies, referring to the plastic of a plastic explosive.
  • Richard F. Burton had a thing for obscure words "perlection" (reading carefully) and "sousterrain" (underground cave).
  • English versions of Fyodor Dostoevsky's works, or at least those translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, use the word "precisely" constantly. One page in Pevear and Volokhonsky's translation of The Brothers Karamazov includes the word six times! (Once by the narrator, twice by one character, and three times by another—in other words, it can't even be Justified as a character tic unless we assume the narrator is misrepresenting the others' dialogue completely.)
  • Gameknight999: Gameknight999 is referred to as the User-that-is-not-a-user a lot.

    Live-Action Television 
  • The Kids in the Hall did this in-universe with a sketch where a guy on a construction site constantly used the word "ascertain" and proceeds to force various conjugations of it when the foreman calls him on it and requests that he stops. The sketch ends when the foreman thanks the man for the opportunity to "delineate" the problem. Delineate appeared on the screen and the man experienced a "Eureka!" Moment through the fourth wall.
  • In order to appear more intelligent than he really was, GOB spent an episode of Arrested Development shoehorning the word "circumvent" into conversation after learning the word from Michael.
  • Episodes of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers would have this, seemingly having episodes based on phrases like "deja vu" and "vice-versa."
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Desperation Emanation": Sheldon and Amy apparently engage in this activity:
    Sheldon: [Leonard]’s a cornucopia of social awkwardness.
    Amy: Cornucopia. What a mellifluous word.
    Sheldon: Let’s make that our word of the day.
    Amy: Agreed. And we’ll use mellifluous tomorrow.
  • Done in-universe in an episode of Boy Meets World where Eric has an actual word-of-the-day calendar. Unfortunately, the episode deals with relationship issues and the word of the day is "estranged". For the whole week. (Paraphrased:)
    "They can't get back together today! Today's 'estranged' day! They can get back tomorrow when the word is [tears sheet off calendar] 'estranged' - HEYYY!"
    "OK, not today, or tomorrow, but the next day when the word is [tears another sheet] 'estranged' - HEYYYYYY!"
    "That's the last time I buy something from"
  • In Friends, Joey does seem to pepper his speech with 'acrimonious' after he gets a word-a-day calendar.
  • In Breaking Bad, Walt insists that Jesse 'ameliorates' their current situation.
  • L. M. Montgomery obviously discovered the ellipsis punctuation mark sometimes between writing the first Anne of Green Gables, going from not using it to using it thousands of times in the sequels. Montgomery thought the punctuation sign was something more akin to an emphatic comma or am em-dash, and so would drop them everywhere.

  • Oceanborn by Nightwish, with "Stargazers" as the most obvious example. Granted, Tuomas Holopainen was barely 19 when he wrote that stuff.
  • Many a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, given their penchant for Word Salad Lyrics. Special mention goes to "Californication", where Anthony Kiedis manages to find 14 words that rhyme with the title ("elation", "quotation", "constellation"...).
  • Soundgarden already has enough Word Salad Lyrics, but at times Chris Cornell gets really obscure:
    Kilos through key-holes, Widows through windows
    Pilots through eyelets, Everyone is silent
    Tankards and flagons and snifters and flutes
    On my way home
  • Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative". The joke was that he'd just learned the word and was using it to impress people.
  • "Two Story House" by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The way Jones sings the word "splendor" in the chorus makes it sound like he wasn't too familiar with that word.
  • Dave Grohl has admitted that a few lyrics in the Foo Fighters' first album "aren't even words", so in a cross with this, the lines seem like anything that came to his head:
    "Have you ever seen the lyrics to the first record? They're so dumb. They're so bad. For the most part, if was nonsense. 'This Is A Call'? 'Fingernails and Minicine'? Minicine is a fucking acne medicine!
  • Eminem, as a hyperlexic rapper, is prone to falling in love with particular words.
    • Eminem's habit of making celebrity Take Thats is, by Word of God, because he just disses anyone whose name rhymes with something funny. This eventually led to a running joke of Slim's beef with "Christopher Reeves", in which Slim often pleads with the furious audience that it's not his fault Christopher's name rhymes with everything.
    • Relapse:
      • The entire album uses a lot of branded pharmaceuticals because, according to Word of God, Eminem fell in love with the names of them while in rehab. This is also why a lot of the drugs Slim Shady abuses on the album are not even recreational.
      • "We Made You" has some particularly bizarre language - "back by popular demand, now pop a little Zantac for antacid if you can...", "damn, girl, I'm beginnin' to sprout an alfalfa", "give me my Ventolin inhaler, and two Xenadrin, and I'll invite Sarah Palin out to dinner, than...".
      • While Slim Shady's homophobia and misogyny were not in doubt, on Relapse, Eminem gets obsessed with the word "lesbian", a word he'd only used before on a banned version of "My Name Is", and keeps bringing it up as rhyme fodder. This doesn't tend to result in good consequences for the lesbians.
      • The album has two uses of 'elephant tusk' - once as something Shady thinks he can impress Britney Spears by mailing her footage of him impaling himself on, and the other in the Glam Rap "Crack A Bottle" in which Eminem bafflingly raps, "back with Andre the Giant, Mr. Elephant Tusk, fix your musk, you'll be just another one bit the dust..." Whether the latter line is a brag about Slim's Gag Penis or a reference to his tusk impalement habit is anyone's guess. Eminem never rapped about elephant tusks before Relapse or since.
    • Eminem went through a period of using the Arabic phrase "hamdulillah" ('praise be to God') as a generic space-filler word, notably in "Without Me", "Square Dance" and "Bagpipes from Baghdad".
    • Eminem has also used the West Indian obscenity "bomboclaat" in two songs - "Drop The Bomb On 'Em" and "Groundhog Day" (in the latter song, he rhymes it with 'juggernaut').
    • Some people believe that Eminem's song "Discombobulated" was written because, if you search for "words without rhymes", 'discombobulate' is suggested in Google's top answer. (He rhymes it with "Miss, you ovulating?")

  • The Four Gospels: Depending on the translation, St. Mark's favorite word is "immediately." The Greek is "εὐθύς" or "εὐθέως" (euthys/eutheos) which appear over forty times in a work roughly the length of a modern short story.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Gary Gygax put a noticeable stamp on the first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books. "Dweomer," "geas" and "weal" win for obscurity; "notwithstanding" for frequency. Also "former" and "latter." He also loved (i.e., used all the time) Latin abbreviations (e.g., e.g. and i.e.), even really academic ones, (e.g., Ibid. and Op. cit.) placed in ordinary text (Ibid.) The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide is full of these.
    • When reading the "Fiend Folio", a monster handbook dealing with fiends you will stumble over the word emaciated many times. Maybe these fiends don't get enough to eat.
    • The retroclone ‘‘Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea'' (based on 2nd Edition but published in 2012) uses the same obscure abbreviations (q.v.), British spelling, the archaic Old English ligture æ even in places where it makes no sense, and the author apparently used search and replace to replace every instance of "between" with "betwixt". And it's especially jarring because the rest of the text is otherwise obvious modern American English. This might all be a play on the original book's style.
  • F.A.T.A.L. has ample amounts of atypical alliterations applied in appellations of accidental alchemical aftereffects and articles.
  • The parody sets for Magic: The Gathering have cards that lampshade a few words they use a bit much.
  • Warhammer 40,000 sourcebooks have a tendency to describe weapons in terms of their ability to carve through "flesh, armor and bone alike".


    Video Games 
  • The developers of Warcraft / World of Warcraft really, REALLY like the word "azure" as a synonym for blue, often in reference to the Blue Dragonflight.
    • Mists of Pandaria's writers seem to be really interested in using "nutriment" as often as possible.
  • Wild ARMs 3 was localized by long-time Final Fantasy translator Alexander O. Smith. How can you tell? He is pretty much the only game translator active today that uses the word "moreover" more than once per script.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In Kingdom Hearts, while being tried by the Queen of Hearts, Sora delivers the line "This trial is a farce!" which is not only an unusual word choice for the game but also defies Sora's portrayal as the Idiot Hero. This choice of words carries over to the re-enactment of this scene in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
    • The HD cutscene compilation of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days refers to Saïx as an "adjutant", and renders Lexeaus's title, "The Silent Hero" as the "Taciturn Stalwart".
  • Homeworld's devs seemed to have something for the term "outskirts". Also present, though less so, in the sequel.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kinoko Nasu's works, whether it be on behalf of the translators or himself, will always feature "with murderous intent" as a description. And that's not mentioning the sex scenes and mollusks.
  • Kira-Kira and other OVERDRIVE games have characters that "smile bitterly". What exactly is a bitter smile? Who knows.


    Web Original 
  • TV Tropes with "basically" and "essentially".
  • The MSTing of The Eye of Argon lampshades it:
    Mike: Never say "posterior" again.
  • ACTUAL QUOTE TIME "I try to use at least one obscure word or neologism for every ten or so "fuck"'s. Keeps me intellectually honest." - Bryan Lambert, You Are Dumb
  • Wikipedia:
    • Wikipedia falls victim to it occasionally, too. See here, with the word "calcimine". This is common enough with some words that xkcd made fun of it.
    • The Other Wiki seems to like using "characteristic" to describe odourants. A chemical never just has a smell, it has a "characteristic" one, though if the Wiki feels it's overused that word it might use "distinctive" instead.
  • On the Rooster Teeth Drunk Tank podcast, staff member (and former journalist) Geoff Lazer Ramsey consistently uses the word "penultimate" as though it were an intensified synonym for "ultimate". This is not only incorrect, given the meaning of "penultimate" (second-to-ultimate), but quite insane given the meaning of "ultimate" (no further intensity is either necessary or possible).
    • Geoff also seems to have not learned any adjectives other than "tremendous." Making a drinking game of it will destroy one's liver.
  • A comment on this Cracked article points out the site's liking for the word "baffling".
    • There are a few other terms that show up in a lot of the headlines.
    • One obsolete definition of the term "conceit" allows it to be used as a synonym for the term "concept." Cracked is in love with this usage and forces it into numerous articles.
  • A video commentary of a Mega Man 3 run by The Megas ends up on this topic. Can be found a few seconds after the nine-minute mark.
    • This is extra hilarious when it comes up again at the beginning of Part 6.
  • Sam Hughes, of Things of Interest, seems very fond of the word "fractionally".
  • On Critical Role, Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer has a distinctive vocabulary when he describes new places and creatures, no doubt gained from a childhood reading old Dungeons & Dragons books—note the entry in Tabletop Games above. He's especially fond of "sigil" (which he didn't even pronounce correctly until the show's audience started getting on his case about it) and "entity".
  • FreedomToons: Talkshow host Dave Rubin is parodied as being obsessed with the word "regressive". He uses it about thirty times in a single minute.
  • At one point during their sessions playing Player Unknowns Battlegrounds, Northern Lion and Dan Gheesling latched onto the word "acquiesce" and never let go. They also never bothered to learn what it actually means.

    Western Animation 

    Other Writing 
  • Judges (or, more accurately, their clerks) are occasionally prone to this when writing opinions since (in common-law countries at least) opinions are supposed to be educated discussions of the legal issue. One particularly painful example: "Although a preemption claim is asthenic when applied to cases where there is concurrent state and federal jurisdiction over the underlying federal cause of action, it becomes puissant when applied to bankruptcy." MSR Exploration Ltd. v. Meridian Oil, Inc., 74 F.3d 910, 913-14 (9th Cir. 1996). "Asthenic" means "weak," and "puissant" means "strong," and no, neither fancy word is commonly used by lawyers.