A Use for U's
Words containing a consecutive pair of U's


While browsing the dictionary one day, I came across a word with two consecutive U's in it, and was startled. Just the look of two consecutive U's seemed wrong. After I thought about it, I realized that I had managed to live without complaint with the word "vacuum" all these years, but that thought didn't comfort me much, and as I moved on through the dictionary hunting up my original goal, I still felt a slight queasiness at the seeming unnaturalness of a double U. Thereafter, I carefully noted new discoveries as I ran across them. (This was in the days before computerized data!) Most of the words I found, while in an English dictionary, seemed to be partly digested Latin.

ahuula
a feather cloak or cape made of minute red or yellow bird feathers, trimmed with black or green feathers, worn in Hawaiia by high chiefs and kings.
arruugah
the purported offical US Marine Corps cheer (The Washington Post, 5 June 1986);
Anschauung
A view or perspective; a particular attitude with which something is regarded. This is actually a German word, used most often by Immanuel Kant, and, like certain words used by Freud, it has often by carried over, untranslated, into other languages when discussing his philosophy. (Thanks to Paul Zasada of uu.com (!) for pointing out the currency of this word!)
confluens sinuum
"the confluence of sinuses"; the junction of several sinuses of the dura mater;
carduus
a thistle;
commiscuum
("to mix together") - a subdivision of a comparium comprising organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile hybrids;
congruum
A mathematical term. Consider the pair of equations to be solved for integers (x,y,z,k):
x2 + k = y2
x2 - k = z2
The number k in these equations is termed the congruum. (If (a,b,c) is a Pythagorean triple, then k=2*a*b is the value of the congruum).
continuum
a range of values; a spatial or temporal region with some smoothly varying associated property or quantity, and the derivative semicontinuum;
dosh-poluur
a Tuvan musical instrument, similar to a guitar, often used to accompany the eerie Tuvan throat singers;
duumvir
("two men") - one of a pair of joint rulers, along with the derived forms duumviri, duumvirate and duumviral;
equuleus
a young horse; a very small constellation on the Equator; a wooden torture rack;
equus
the Latin name for a horse. When you ride a horse, you are engaged in equitation;
hapuu
a Hawaiian tree fern;
individuum
("not dividable") - an individual;
ignus fatuus
("fire of fools"), will-of-the-wisp;
inuus
a Barbary ape; a deity in the early Roman religion;
liguus
a genus of large spiral pulmonate arboreal snails of Florida and the West Indies;
lituus
a mathematical curve, r^2 * theta = a^2; the original Latin word indicates the curved staff of an augur, a clarion, or a trumpet. Draw the curve and see!; an ancient trumpet, used by the Romans, about 8 feet long;
menstruum
a solvent. Any liquid that dissolves a solid. The word derives from a bizarre alchemical metaphor; the original Latin meant a monthly provision. Derivatives include premenstruum, intermenstruum, postmenstruum, and paramenstruum;
mortuum vadium
was a mortgage agreement in early English law that gave possession of the mortgaged land and the use of its rents to the mortgagee until the mortgage was paid;
mutuum
a type of loan in Roman and civil law;
muumuu
a loose-fitting dress of Hawaiian origin, much favored by Mama Cass;
obliquus
an oblique muscle;
perpetuum mobile
a undigested Latin phrase, but a part of our language, meaning a scheme or object that supposedly exhibits perpetual motion; also, a clever musical trick in which a sequence of notes appears to rise in tone perpetually;
praecipuum
a term from Roman and Scottish law;
puuc
a hilly area of the Yucatan peninsula containing Mayan ruins;
puud
an Estonian unit of weight, of about 36 pounds;
quux
a word used in computer terminology, to denote a section of code being discussed, similar to "foo" and "bar". apparently due to Guy Steele, and now also bearing the meaning of something mildly disgusting; and its adjectival derivative quuxy;
residuum
a remainder, residual or residue;
situs ambiguus
a birth defect more severe than situs inversus (in which the shape and arrangement of the internal organs has been left-right reverse). In this case, the organs are abnormally placed but are not in a mirror image of the usual pattern. Individuals with this defect often die very young from lung or heart problems;
Smectynuus
a fictitious name formed from the initials of the five authors of An Answer to a Book;
squush
which the Scrabble dictionary claims is a synonym for "squash", and the derivative squushy;
suaviloquus
a term meaning "he who speaks rhetorically";
suum
a term imitative of the sound of the wind, used by Shakespeare; also, that which belongs to him (Latin);
suus et necessarius heres
refers to a family heir, including a slave, in Roman law;
triduum
("three days") - a prayer ritual lasting three days;
tuum
that which belongs to you (Latin);
ucuuba
a Brazilian tree having seeds that yield a hard yellowish edible fat used mainly to make candles and soap;
vacuum
a region devoid of matter and the derivative vacuumize;
Weltanschauung
a word borrowed from German, and meaning "view of the world";
zuurveldt
Boer, an African field that is poor for grazing. Cognate with "sour field".
zuuzuu
candy or confectionaries sold to prisoners from vending machines;

In not quite the same league, we have:

Aung San Suu Kyi
Burma/Myanmar's gadfly;
Chris Nuuja
our own long lost employee;
Dionysius Exiguus
("Dennis the Short"), the deviser of our flawed BC/AD year numbering system;
Fayyuum
an alternate spelling of Fayyum in Egypt;
Huun-Huur-Tu
the Tuvan throat-singing group;
Luuq
a town in Ethiopia;
Mamuu-Efe
a Nilo-Saharan language of Uganda and Zaire;
Nuuk
the capital of Greenland;
Ruud
the water heater manufacturers;
Sequus
a company on the New York Stock Exchange;
Tsuu T'ina
an Indian tribe of Alberta, Canada.
uuula
an old and obsolete spelling of "uvula", back when "V" and "U" weren't distinguished in print.
vertuuus
an old and obsolete spelling of "virtuous".

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Last modified on 29 May 2007.