There are millions of words in languages and it is impossible to know every one of them. Even linguists, writers, and literary critics whose main object in their work is words and language didn’t memorize whole dictionaries.
There are words that you would expect others to know, because they are just common sense knowledge. But there are words that are used more rarely in everyday conversations and this is where misunderstandings can happen. Twitter user @daynamcalpine_ actually went on date with a guy who thought she was a necrophiliac when, in reality, she meant she might have narcolepsy.
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The twitter user Dayna McAlpine is a journalist writing about Scotland and food. She told a short story how she went on a date and mentioned that she thought she might have narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder making people sleepy all the time and constantly tired. But the word can be easily confused with necrophilia because they sound similar. It has nothing to do with sleeping and actually is a crime in some places.
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The tweet got nearly 70k likes and in general people were just laughing or confused how the date reacted so calmly when he heard that she is attracted to dead bodies. Some people shared a few of their own stories about others misunderstanding words or not knowing the true meanings of them.
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It is hard to count how many words a person knows but there are tests which can help to estimate that number. UPI studied the results of one million test-takers and they came to the conclusion that “native English-speaking Americans know an average of at least 42,000 words by the time they turn 20 years old.”
This research was conducted in 2016 and with it we found out that a person knows more words than previously thought as in 2013 The Economist said that this number is about 20,000–35,000 words. But people don’t use their whole vocabulary everyday and 20,000 words is what is sufficient for normal communication. Which is really not that many when you know that there are about 170,000 current words listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and the most recent printing of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language has more than 476,000 vocabulary entries
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Words can be confusing and everyone has a different set of them they use actively and know passively, so it’s better not to assume what someone meant if you’re aren’t sure of the meaning of the word. However, it is still a great source of very funny situations.
Which of these made you laugh the most? Do you have any stories of when someone didn’t know the meaning of the word and it led to a funny situation? Maybe it was you who always thought a word has a different meaning than the dictionary says? Share it in the comments below!
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