Among the by-products of being known to others as a word nerd, the most ostensibly benign one I've discovered to this point is the effort some folks put into uncovering words they hope will be new to me. Other word nerds out there: Does this happen to you? How often do you learn a new word this way? And, what percentage of the words you learn this way do you find useful?
At present, there are two people I see regularly who work assiduously at helping me keep my word saw sharp. At least, that's what I hope they're both doing. Someone more suspicious or cynical than I might just as easily conclude the two are either testing, taunting, or trying to torment me. I prefer to remain positive about their motives, especially since my estimate of the useful words I've gotten from both of them is greater than fifty percent. Aside from those two, there are outliers in my word life that appear now and then. The motives of those renegades? Harder to discern, suspicion and cynicism notwithstanding.
Which brings me to cattywampus. When a gem like this is still not recognized by Spellcheck, I'm obligated to exercise a little restraint, no matter how much I love it (which I do). Until Christmas Eve, I'd never heard this mouthful said aloud; I've never seen it in print. It's a synonym for askew. But I'll be careful about casually tossing it around for a while, because in my experience, usefulness of any word is directly linked to its "What the hell did you just say?" factor. For now, I'll stick to amiss, askew, or awry, the latter being one of the most mispronounced words in the English language. Each of those substitutes has a meager two syllables, compared to the whopping four in cattywampus, but we word nerds must be circumspect to retain the loyalty of our testing, taunting, tormenting minions.