Words you've learned from song lyrics

While listening to my iTunes today, I realized that a few words in my vocabulary were learned solely from song lyrics. So then I wondered: how often has this happened to everyone else?

The words don’t necessarily have to be obscure (the first in my list is pretty common) - they just have to be words that you first heard in a song lyric. Please share the word, and the specific song lyric in which you first heard it.

This is what I’ve got, off the top of my head:

[li]Impetus. “I think you can reach a place where the impetus is pure” - Level on the Inside, by Dovetail Joint[/li][li]Obsequious. “He had the same obsequious manner, that was the reason I had him killed.” - Turn Around, by They Might Be Giants.[/li][li]Limerent. “And the second was worse by far than the first, 'cause it made me limerent.” - Contrecoup, by They Might Be Giants[/li][/ol]

Pompatus. “'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.” Steve Miller, “The Joker”

Calitas, from Hotel California.

Is it not colitas?

“circadian” - from Daysleeper by R.E.M.

Cecil seems to think so.

‘eviscerate’ from *You are the Everything * by R.E.M.

Sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, pederasty
Father, why do these words sound so nasty?
Masturbation can be fun,
Join the holy orgy Kama Sutra

I would just like to say that it is my conviction
That longer hair and other flamboyant affectations
Of appearance are nothing more
Than the male’s emergence from his drab camouflage
Into the gaudy plumage which is the birthright of his sex
There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage
And fine feathers are not proper for the male
When actually that is the way things are in most species

Welcome sulphur dioxide,
Hello carbon monoxide
The air, the air is everywhere
Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep

Bless you alcohol bloodstream,
Save me nicotine lung steam
Incense, incense is in the air
Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep

Cataclysmic ectoplasm
Fall out atomic orgasm
Vapor and fume at the stone of my tomb
Breathe like a sullen perfume
Eating at the stone of my tomb

Welcome sulphur dioxide,
Hello carbon monoxide
The air, the air is everywhere
Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep *

And that’s not even counting the drug names and Roman Polanski. It was quite an education for a 6 year-old.

Thanks, Ragni and Rado.

That’s the exact one I thought of. Also, from the same album, “raze”, from “World Leader Pretend”.

Iridescent- from George Harrison’s Cloud Nine

Palaver from Les Miserables (Thenardier’s attack on Rue Plumet- “what a palaver/what an absolute treat/to watch a cat and its father/pick a bone in the street”)

Many more, but none are coming to mind…

anacrusis from Shriekback’s Faded Flowers

“Only the anacrusis, the main even remains”

only time I"ve ever consulted a dictionary while listening to music


Rihanna has a lot to answer for.

Copasetic - Local H “Bound For The Floor”
Peccadillos - Bush "Testosterone "

There are more, but I can’t think of them now.

Some words I learned from The Beatles:

“Pataphysical” - from Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
“Hogshead” - Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
“semolina” and “pilchard” - I Am The Walrus (“crabalocker” does not seem to be a real word)
“sideboards” - Come Together
“polythene” - Polythene Pam

“desultory” and “philippic” - Paul Simon, from A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission)

“chenille” - Frank Zappa , Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow
“bromhidrosis” - FZ, Stink Foot

There must be many more than these, but I’m sure these were the first places I heard these words when I was a kid.

(P.S.: looking for the definition of “colitas” is how I wound up here.)

Greg Graffin, I’m looking at you.

The above mentioned obsequious. 1000 More Fools

Trammel: “Is your fecundity a trammel or a treasure?” - I Want to Conquer the World
If hadn’t happened to already know what fecund was when I first heard this song, we could add that too.


The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Rascals

Damn. I came here just to mention that. And I was all of 9 before I got to it. And called for a serious trip to the dictionary. A very :eek: experience. And took me another 9 years before I managed all of them*. But I did it all in one night!

*If you count an 18 year old virgin having sex with an experianced 16 year old as pederasty…but I’m stil checking it of on my list.

“gavotte” - Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain

Ennui – from Townshend’s “Exquisitely Bored”

You’d see 'em wearing their baggies
Huarache sandals too

–Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA

Growing up in Virginia, I never heard the word “Huarache.” If I’d lived in California, I’m sure I would have.

To me it was always “raunchy sandals.”

BTW, I only learned this in the last 10 years. Internet. Lyrics. etc.

I’ve very, very seldom heard the word “plebeian” outside of the song “Cry Me a River” - Julie London version.