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  1. noisy and difficult to control.

      “the boy is cocky and obstreperous.”

If you think obstreperous is hard to pronounce, try typing it. Nailing it on the keyboard took me more tries than I’m willing to admit. 

But being tricky is part of what makes it a wonderful word. It’s easy to get the bees and the pees mixed up, and finding the right place for the two rs will make you go argh.

Then the vowels creep up on you, making you trip over your ohs. 

It’s a recipe for carpal tunnel syndrome. 

The definition again, in case you skim-read at the start, is:

  1. noisy and difficult to control.

It’s a great word to describe other people being so loud you want to shove a sweaty sock in their orifice. 

Now, in general, I don’t mind chitter-chatter. I’ve even partaken in the occasional outburst of hubbub. 

But some people take it too far, don’t they? 

People who speak at the top of their voices in the bar or the restaurant or the library (where I spend most of my time) are being obstreperous. 

Taking the piss with the volume. 

Do your neighbours ever crack out the karaoke in the early hours of Wednesday morning? Ours do. I end up banging on the walls like a lunatic. 

“Tone it down, Jane, you obstreperous cow! I’ve got work in the morning.” 

Sometimes, other people’s kids in the supermarket can be obstreperous.

You know the kind. Those whinging, wild, unruly brats who can’t stop moaning because they’re so spoiled. Screaming for toys they don’t need and won’t play with. 

Sometimes, when our kids act up, we put on our smiling death stare and calmly use the word. 

“You’re being obstreperous, angel. Can you calm it down, please?.” 

The combination of fancy language and forced serenity works like an early warning system and prevents them from getting too rowdy. 

But you have to use obstreperous sparingly. 

Say it more than once a year, and it loses its potency on adults and kids alike. Plus, nobody likes a show-off. 

So save it for a rainy day, my dear word collector. 

Use it when a colleague is being a loudmouth at a meeting, speaking over everyone and pushing their own agenda. 

“Excuse me, Karim, but you’re being obstreperous. The only person AI will replace is you, you corporate drone.” 

While they’re busy searching their mind for the definition of a word they don’t recognise, you can take charge of the situation and restore order. 

Or, next time next door blasts out Wannabee at a ridiculous hour, don’t bang on the walls and shout. They’ll never hear the majesty of your words above the noise of what they really really want. 

Instead, drag yourself out of bed and get dressed. Put your sliders on (real men don’t wear slippers) and head out into the dark early morning. 

Walk up their path. Bang on the door, politely but firmly. 

Then, as they answer half-cut and confused, look at them with the smiling death stare usually reserved for the children and say, 

“Excuse me, Chubby Spice, do you think we could cancel the concert early?”

Because sometimes, only plain language gets the point across. 

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