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100 Funny Words You Probably Don’t Know

Do you think you have a good vocabulary? We can guarantee you've probably never heard these funny words before.

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100 Weird, Getty Images

Words are weird

Are you one of those people who still giggle when someone says “duty”? Wait until you read these far less common funny words that are completely real. Sometimes the new words added to the dictionary can be funny, but these 100 words are agelessly silly! Of course, the way people put words together can be pretty funny, too—just take the funniest quotes of all time. And brush up on your grammar knowledge with these acronym examples and funny malapropisms.

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Many weird words seem fake at first. Do you know what this one means? Here’s a hint: This word sounds like taradiddle! That’s because it means bogus, nonsense, or a lie. This will also give you a hint in our quiz about whether these 20 funny words are real or made up.

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No, it’s not misspelled. It sounds wrong, but—trust us—it’s right! Yes, there’s an adverb form of “friendly,” meaning in a friendly way. For example: “He friendlily questioned my use of the word friendlily.” We know these funny words might sound made up, but they’re not—unlike these fake words that actually made it into the dictionary.

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Looking to find this word on an Italian dinner menu topped with cheese? You won’t. Think you can guess what it means? It actually refers to when someone mixes two different languages together. Here are fancy words that will make you sound smarter.

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This sounds like it could be a brand that sells fancy new dog toys, but this is definitely not something you should put on the shopping list for your new puppy. Before you take a trip to PetSmart, find out what a dongle actually is. It’s a piece of hardware that connects a computer to another device. You may use a dongle on a regular basis to connect to a digital media player to stream shows or to use Bluetooth and WiFi. Like funny words, palindrome examples can also give you a linguistic laugh!

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Wham! Bam! Pronk? “Pronk” sounds like it fits with these onomatopoeia examples, but it doesn’t. A pronk is a weak or foolish individual. It is also used as a verb when referring to antelope and similar animals, which means to leap with an arched back and stiff legs as a form of display or a sign it is threatened.

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Nope, it’s not a creepy Furby knockoff! “Fubsy” means squat or portly. Word nerds, can you spell these tricky (nay, impossible!) words that won the National Spelling Bee?

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“Absquatulate” doesn’t mean doing squats in an attempt to improve your abs! It means to flee or abruptly leave, or, more specifically (and old-fashioned-ly) to de-camp. These grammar jokes will make you laugh just like these funny words.

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Not the grizzly, terrifying kind! This word has nothing to do with animals. Abear means to endure or put up with, which means you could feasibly say “I abeared this encounter with a bear!” Here are more words that don’t mean what you think they’d mean.

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Let’s make one thing clear: Cabotage does not mean to sabotage a taxi driver. So what’s the real definition?

It means the transport of goods and passengers between two places in the same country, or the right to do so. Originally, it only referred to coastal travel between ports, but the definition has expanded to include travel by air, railway, and by road. Wordsmiths will surely relate to these grammar memes!

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“Batholith” might sound like a less intimidating relative of Harry Potter’s basilisk monster, but it’s actually a geological term. It describes a large quantity of igneous rock that’s crystallized below the earth’s surface. These are the 20 most confusing grammar rules in English.

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This may be an old, all-but-extinct word, but it is real. In Old English, “to take yeme” meant to care, so someone who was “yemeles” was totally reckless or careless.

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Nope, “firkin” is not a dirty word, nor is it a catlike creature that can swallow things ten times its size, like Marvel Comics’ “flerken.” It’s a British word that refers to a small tub or vessel and definitely qualifies as one of the international words that sound rude in English.

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As much as we would love to tell you that “oxter” is a group of oxen and otters that became friends, that would be a lie. “Oxter” has nothing to do with oxen or otters or any kind of animal. Believe it or not, this funny word is an outdated term for “armpit.” Even when you think you know what a word means, misnomers will prove you wrong.

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Funny words mean funny things, and this word does not refer to the fountain of youth. It actually means someone who never laughs, and you definitely don’t want to be that person. Check out these 10 words that only exist in the English language.

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Hark! This term dost indicate an archaic or elaborate sort of speech. Godwottery is an outdated term, and today people may also describe it as “purple prose.”

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It’s a bummer that this antiquated word for “cash” hasn’t been used since the eighteenth century; we’d love to hear it in rap songs!

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A fartlek is a type of endurance training in which a runner switches between sprinting and jogging.

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This word, which means “choppy seas,” seems onomatopoetic. We can imagine waves breaking on the shore, making the noise “popple popple popple.”

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It’s a very rare word, but there are records of “xertz” being used to mean to greedily gulp down a drink.

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“Impignorate” means to pawn or mortgage something.

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This funny word means “all the time” or “always,” but it reads like one of these funny typos.

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Get out your wicker picnic baskets and rotten tomatoes—this word means “having to do with summer theatre.”

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“Knurly” describes something with “small protuberances,” such as knobs or tumors. These words from early dictionaries no longer exist.

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This unit refers to “one million deaths,” and is usually used to discuss nuclear warfare. This sounds like it belongs on our list of funny words, or even a list of metal bands. But the definition is actually terrifying. 
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You may not have heard of a palaver, but you’ve surely engaged in one; it usually describes an unproductive conversation or long dispute between people from different worldviews or cultures.

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A teazel is a prickly herb plant that looks a bit like a cattail. It has flower heads with sharp leaves and was once used in the textile industry to comb wool. Learn these hard-to-pronounce words in the English language.

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This funny word means to confuse, perplex, or fluster, according to Merriam Webster. We sure would be flustered if someone used this word in conversation with us.

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This word refers to the edges of papers that are cut by hand—if you’ve ever read a novel with pages that have messy-looking edges, you’ve read a “deckled” book.

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This funny word refers to “a large hook.” This phonetic spelling is also how British people pronounce the word “clique.” Check out these other funny British words and sayings from across the pond.
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A buttress is a type of architectural structure that stabilizes a wall or building; it can be seen in many gothic-style churches, castles, and cathedrals.

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A person who uses Twitter can be called a “tweeter” or a “tweep.”

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This funny word is a nickname for a resident of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Learn about more funny pieces of regional slang.

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This weird word means “spam sent over instant message.” Take the -am out of “spam” and replace it with “IM” for “Instant Message,” and you have “spim”—a wonderful example of a portmanteau word.

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Nope, it’s not an exertion noise! An “erf” actually refers to a plot of land.

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This sounds like one of these funny, hard tongue twisters, and it would totally make a good tongue twister. But it refers to a person who steals books!

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Depending on your age and use of technology, you might call this symbol a pound sign or a hashtag—but its “official” name is an octothorpe! Check out this funny look at how confusing life would be without proper punctuation.

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Um, ew? This is one of our favorite funny words—it means something similar to “brown-noser” or “kiss-up.” A lickspittle is someone who reveres authority.

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“Spleenwort” is one of those weird words that doesn’t sound anything like the thing it describes. Though this word sounds like the name of an intestinal disease, it actually describes a kind of evergreen fern.

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This is one of the many funny words that means “drunk.” Its synonyms are endless.
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A hoecake is a southern-style cornbread. This is one of those funny words that sound like insults, but a hoecake describes a very basic small cake made of cornmeal. Here are 48 other words and phrases only southern people use.

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Like “willy-nilly,” this funny word means “characterized by irregular or unpredictable movements or style.” Why do so many weird words sound like insults? These are the 14 everyday words everyone misspells.

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Granny dumping

This word is used in the field of social work to describe the abandonment of an elderly person in a public place. It doesn’t sound so funny now, huh? (Did it ever?)

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This word means to kiss and cuddle, but it would also be a great name for a pasta dish.

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A foolscap refers to a cap with a bell (the kind usually worn by jesters). You might want to start using these hilarious made-up words if you’re into these funny words.

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Foggy Bottom

This term that refers to the U.S. Department of State is one of the weird words that U.S. officials use to refer to parts of the government. You may also hear government officials calling three-letter agencies like the FBI the “alphabet boys.”

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A “flummery” describes a soft jelly or porridge made with flour or meal, but more commonly it is used to describe an empty compliment. “I love how you’ll just wear anything!” or “You look so awake today!” are examples of flummery. Perhaps this word can come in handy to respond to backhanded compliments.

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To draggle something is to make something wet and dirty by dragging it. If you’ve ever worn too-long pants in the rain, you’ve draggled. These 10 words make you immediately sound old.

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This is one of those funny words that sounds like a dog name, but it actually means “embarrassingly or sickeningly cute.”

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This weird word sounds like the word “lovely” being mispronounced by a swashbuckling 1920s gentleman. However, it just means “resembling or befitting a lover.” Make sure you know how to sound out these commonly mispronounced words.
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This actual bit of 1920s slang refers to a bout of drinking. Engage in brannigans responsibly.

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“Perissology” means being overly wordy—something you may be guilty of if you use a lot of these funny words!

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This uncommon Scottish term describes a state of mental agitation or confusion. (Not as pleasant as it sounds!)

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Nope, this isn’t some political or financial scandal—though those likely entail lots of billingsgate because this word means harsh language.

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A makeweight describes something that is thrown onto a scale to bring the weight on the scale to a certain value.

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Never heard this word before? It’s no surprise if you’re not a baker. A penuche is a sort of fudge that is made from brown sugar, buttercream, and nuts. These are the words that don’t mean what you think they do.

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This is a fancy catch-all word for the abnormal motor functions you might perform in your sleep, such as sleep-walking, sleep-showering, or sleep-blogging.

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If you attend a memorial service, funeral, or wake, you’ll encounter a lot of sobersides, or people with a serious or sad appearance. Sobersides can also be found outside of such events, and are also commonly referred to as “deadpans.” Here are other uncommon words we no longer use, but should.

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Not to be mistaken with Tyra Banks’ famous smize (smiling eyes,) “smaze” is a combination of haze and smoke.

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A slumgullion is a cheap meat stew. It’s one of the English language’s weird words for food that don’t sound appetizing at all.

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This word describes the shrill, wailing sound that bagpipes make. Next time you’re at a St. Patrick’s Day parade, this is one of the weird words you can use to impress your friends.

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In medieval England, a “wassail” was a toast to the next apple harvest season. A wassail was conducted with mulled apple cider for good luck.

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This word means “to feel nausea,” and we think it’s perfect. This word seems like a combination of “rumble” and “waddle,” which is exactly what happens when we feel sick. This word is a far cry from some of the most beautiful words in the English language.

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This word originates from South Asian dialects and typically refers to a person who does a certain job.

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This word originates from George Orwell’s 1984in which people are removed from history, photographs, and documents in order to erase any proof that they existed. An “unperson” is someone who has been “erased” because of their misbehavior. Or, as the users of Gen Z slang say, “canceled.”

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“Ufology” is the study of UFOs or unidentified flying objects.

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This word can be substituted for the classic “alas!” and is used to express sadness, exasperation, or pity in Scotland. Learn 50 words you might think are synonyms but really aren’t.
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This word describes a foot that is twisted out of shape. Hopefully, this is some vocab you’ll never need to use.

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Like “wamble,” this word is used to describe nausea and bellyaches. Next time you want to show off your repertoire of weird words, tell your boss that you’ve got a case of the collywobbles and can’t come in tomorrow.

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Any idea what “stumblebum” means? It’s one of our favorite funny words! If you are a klutz, halfwit, or nincompoop, add another descriptor to your resume. A “stumblebum” is a clumsy or inept person.

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A grommet is a sort of fabric fastener that materials can be laced through. If you look at the top of your shower curtain, those little metal circles that your shower hooks lace through are called grommets. Here are more words for things you didn’t know had names.

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“Potvalor” is another term for liquid courage—this word describes the confidence that results from an alcoholic drink.

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This word is like if “ogle” had an affectionate and innocent counterpart. To smicker at something means you are admiring a person, and it’s visible from your expression.

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This word means “having shapely buttocks,” and it was first used in 1831. It was truly ahead of its time! Unfortunately, “Hey girl, you’re quite callipygian” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Don’t miss these hilarious vintage slang words that’ll make you sound awesome.

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This word is a medieval Scottish term for a “licensed beggar.” Yes, licensed!

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This word means “to claw with the nails.” Now you have a word to describe all of the weird things your cat does!

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It’s hard to figure out which of the letters in this word are silent letters. It’s pronounced “sih-zih-jee,” and it describes a celestial phenomenon in which three celestial bodies are lined up in an almost perfectly straight line. An example of this event would be a solar eclipse.

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“Ah, you know. The whole rigamarole.” You’ve probably heard this word before but have never considered what it actually means. A rigamarole is a confused or meaningless conversation or a complex procedure. Secret code words will make you second-guess the conversations you’ve been overhearing.

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Something that is airy-fairy lacks substance or purpose and is extremely impractical. This word is similar to “hippy-dippy,” but it puts an emphasis on the impracticality of the thing it is describing.

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This one is difficult to pronounce, but it describes a pronounced, embellishing melodic note of music.

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A barnburner is an event that is extremely interesting or exciting. If you’re someone who actually owns a barn, this might not sound too appealing.

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To “ballyrag” someone means to bully them.

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Ear trumpet

An ear trumpet is a device used by hard-of-hearing individuals. This device can collect and intensify sounds, but its name could also describe someone who talks your ear off.
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An inkle is a colored linen tape or braid woven through a narrow loom. At first glance, you might think it describes an idea that’s smaller than an inkling.

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A peacenik might sound like the opposite of a beatnik, but the groups probably have some overlap. This word describes someone who participates in antiwar demonstrations.

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A shalloon is a lightweight twilled fabric of wool. In other words, if you’re not super into textiles, don’t worry about it.

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A blunderbuss is a sort of firearm with a short barrel. This weapon was an early version of the shotgun.

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A ragamuffin is a ragged and often disreputable person. A ragamuffin is also one of the cutest cat breeds.

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Crapulence is a lack of self-restraint, especially when drinking. Next time you’re on a night out, don’t let your crapulence get the best of you.

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A dottle is the remaining tobacco in the bowl of a pipe after it’s been used for smoking.

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You don’t have to be fabulous to confabulate, which means “to talk informally, to chat.” But it would certainly make people want to confabulate with you!

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Not to be confused with an armadillo—though if you did mix up the two, that would be a peccadillo, or “a slight offense, a lapse in judgment.”

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If this makes you think of Game of Thrones, you’re not far off. “Dragooned” means “forced,” especially by violent measures.

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While this word can also refer to the planet, nothing here is in retrograde. This means “subject to change.”

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Going to a party? You might want to put on your finest frippery, which is “an elegant, showy garment.” Or, more broadly, “something showy, frivolous, or nonessential.”

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No, this isn’t the name of a Shakespeare character you’ve forgotten from high school. Like a womanizer, a lothario is a man whose chief interest is seducing women.

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Your dog might be waggish, but not because Fido keeps wiggling his tail. Like “impish,” this word refers to a playful, humorous quality. Add this to your list of funny pet slang words.

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A little more fun than “chock-full,” this essentially means the same thing: “crammed, crowded, or stuffed.”

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This one has a better-known, equally silly-sounding synonym: nitpicker. Pettifoggers are known to “quibble over trifles” and may make for shrewd lawyers.

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After making it through this list, vocabulary might just be your bailiwick: “the sphere in which one has superior knowledge or authority.”

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A boondoggle is a wasteful or impractical project. Now, learn the words and phrases you’re probably using wrong.

Dani Walpole
Dani Walpole is an Editorial Intern at Reader's Digest. She is a senior at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she is completing her degrees in Digital Media Production and English: Creative Writing. At SUNY, she works for WFNP 88.7 and writes for The New Paltz Oracle and The Teller Magazine. She is passionate about travel, rock music, and being employed after graduation.