3 New words to learn in the new year

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to grow your vocabulary (or if you just like impressing your friends), here are three obscure words to try out in conversation.

Widdershins: In a left-handed or contrary direction; counterclockwise

Adopted from an old German word, “widdershins” meant unruly hair that won’t lay down. By the mid-1500s, it came to mean “counterclockwise” as it does today.

Eucatastrophe: A sudden and favorable resolution of events in a story; a happy ending

J. R. R. Tolkien first coined the word in 1944 to describe the sudden happy turn in stories that “pierces you with a joy that brings tears,” says Oxford Dictionaries. It’s a combination of “catastrophe” and the Greek prefix “eu,” which means “good.”

Quinquennium: A period of five years

Now that you’ve added “quinquennium” to your vocabulary, you can also use “biennium” (a period of two years), “septennium” (a period of seven years) and “duodecennial” (occurring once in 12 years).