It’s good to broaden the old vocabulary, so here’s a new (old) word:
We all know awkward, the word that describes everything from first dates to break-ups to the fart in a crowded elevator. Awkward comes from the Old English awk, meaning clumsy or backwards, with a -ward tacked onto the end. Fine. The real beauty of a word here is the word that awk came from: afugr, an Old Norse word meaning ‘turned the wrong way’.
While not certain of the original emphasis on letters, it’s hard to imagine this as anything but a drawn out ‘aaaaa’ sound, followed by a venomous ‘ffff’.
Picture the early Norseman, shaken from his slumber to rush headlong from a boat in the dark and cold, on his morning rape n’pillage of a monastery, only to find himself heading out towards the ocean, getting his early medieval brogues destroyed in the briny water. Turning his horn-helmeted head to the sky, with a throaty roar, he cries:
Flash forward to the present day, and the modern tech entrepreneur heads for ‘work’ in the local cafe, only to realise it’s Thursday. Of course, he works in the other neighbourhood cafe on Thursday, because the barista who works Thursdays in the first cafe, Kevin, is a douche who resents the power- and heat-hogging customers…
Afugr, he mutters,
before he loops all the way around the block to avoid looking like an idiot who doesn’t know where he is going at ten-thirty on a Thursday morning.
Afugr, for all those times Google Maps fails you.