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Definition: To inspire loathing or to feel fear.

Pronunciation: Say it like you see it. ug.

Origin: Originally a Norse word (ugga). This word entered the English language around the 13th century. It originally meant to ‘inspire’ feelings of loathing, though later, in the 14th century, came to mean to ‘feel’ it.

Why This Word?

‘Ug’ is an ugly word. And I mean that in the most literal sense. It is from ‘Ug’ that we get ‘ugly’. The word ‘ugly’ referred to something that had an appearance that caused ug. It also originally referred to something that ugged one’s moral sensibilities. ‘Ugly’ is unusual in that it is based on the root ‘ug’ and, thus, is directly linked to the concept of loathing. Many other words in the English language do not derive directly from such a root – but, rather, are ‘likened’ to it. Thus, if it followed the more common root, we would have the word ‘uglike’ rather than ‘ugly’.

How to use the word ug in a sentence?

Linguistic purists are not going to be happy with this suggestion as it is not a classical use of the word. Ug is a defunct word – but there may be a place for it in modern life. The next time you see something that causes loathing – just say it ‘ugged me out’.

Incidentally – Hunter S. Thompson missed a glorious opportunity to resurrect this word. He went with the less risky ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ rather than the (probably unintelligible) ‘Ug in Las Vegas’…


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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