Vocabulary Tips (어휘 팁): Five alternative words for ‘scary’

smiley-1958283_960_720Do you want to keep on improving your English speaking skills? (영어 말하기 스킬을 늘리고 싶나요?) Check out this post by Oxford Dictionaries to learn some alternative words for ‘scary’ (이 비디오를 보세요.)



Buggish, meaning ‘causing or intended to cause fear or dread’ comes from an early sense of the word bug, which is defined as ‘an imaginary evil spirit or creature; a bogeyman. Also: an object or source of (esp. needless) fear or dread; an imaginary terror.’


By the time the sense of ferly as something ‘dreadful, frightful, terrible’ emerged, the word was also being used to denote something ‘strange, wonderful, wondrous, marvellous’, and from the 1400s was being used to describe something ‘wonderfully great’. It is not the only word to perform a linguistic back flip in this way (we’re looking at you, terrific).


Meaning ‘frightful, terrible’, epouventable comes from Latin, and reaches English via Old French. This word comes from ex(out) + pavēre (to be in a fright). An early written use of ‘epouventable’ comes from a translation of The history of Jason by Raoul Le Fevre, printed by William Caxton in 1477, and refers to a ‘grete espouentable dragon’.




The forerunner of our well-known friend, ghastlyghastful is defined as ‘dreadful, frightful, terrible’. This word comes from the verb gast, meaning ‘to frighten, alarm, scare, terrify’, which appears to have the same linguistic derivation as ‘ghost’.


Since the 1800s at least, stout has been used to refer to a person ‘inclined to corpulence’. Once, though, if someone thought you were stout, you would have been ‘formidable, menacing; terrible in appearance’. This puts a new spin on the idea of Winnie the Pooh performing his morning stoutness exercises. Perhaps instead of trying to work off all that honey, he was attempting to make himself into a rather more fearsome bear.


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