A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Day 51: Words beginning with ct-, fj-, gj-, gw- & pf-

I was pretty excited the other day when I came across the word tmesis, which I blogged about here. Partly because the meaning of the word is quite interesting, and partly because of its spelling; Its the only word that is used in English that begins with a tm. So it got me thinking today, I wonder what other words there are that begin with two consonants that we don’t usually see together. I went on a bit of a hunt and found five. There are more, but these five are the ones I thought most interesting, and more importantly, were new to me. I obviously stayed away from common consonant clusters, such as words beginning with  or the having the second letter r and so on. Most of the words that I came across were inevitably foreign in sound and origin, but then again most English words are foreign in origin anyway. In order for me to include them here, I felt it important to have a standard. I opted for the Scrabble™ checker on the Collins Dictionary website. If it was accepted there, it’s accepted here.


Ctenoid is an adjective that is found in the field of zoology. Ctenoid scales are found on some fish, such as the perch. According to Merriam-Webster, the origin is from the Greek word ktenoeidēs, which comes from kten- meaning comb. The c is silent, so it is pronounced /ˈtiːnɔɪd/. Wikipedia says this about ctenoid scales:

Ctenoid scales have a rough texture with a toothed outer or posterior edge with tiny teeth called ctenii. They are usually found on fish with spiny fin rays, such as the perch-like fishes.

Image courtesy of Mikael Miettinen on Flickr

Image courtesy of Mikael Miettinen on Flickr


Fjeld is a noun, and you may be able to guess its origin, especially if you are familiar with the word fjord. It comes from Norwegian, and means a high barren plateau in a Scandinavian country. The ‘j’ is pronounced like a ‘y’ or a /j/ if you’re more familiar with IPA.


Another Norwegian word, this time for a cheese. Gjetost is a sweet, firm golden-brown cheese from Norway. It is made with goat’s milk. The ‘g’ is not pronounced. Oxford Dictionaries says that the word comes from gjet, meaning goat, and ost, meaning cheese.


Gweduck is a variant spelling of geoduck (but it’s still acceptable in Scrabble, so it’s good enough for me). Gweduck, which is pronounced /ˈɡuːiːdʌk/ is a type of large, edible clam. It’s found on the West Coast of North America. Not being a fan of seafood, it’s no wonder I haven’t heard of it before. The gweduck is one of the largest clams in the world. The clam is so large because of its siphon which is an anatomical structure found on aquatic molluscs. The siphon on a gweduck is a long tube that comes out of the shell, and can grow up to 1 metre in length.

Image courtesy of VIUDeepBay on Flickr

Image courtesy of VIUDeepBay on Flickr


The pfennig is a word from German that was in common use up until 2002, when the Euro was introduced and took over from the Deutsch Mark. One mark was made up of 100 pfennigs. It’s pronounced /ˈ(p)fɛnɪɡ/. The Oxford Dictionaries website points out that it is related to the English word penny. I probably had heard this one before seeing as I took German for four years in school. The fact that I can’t remember ever hearing it probably tells you how well I did at German.

Image courtesy of Thomas Shahan 3 on Flickr

Image courtesy of Thomas Shahan 3 on Flickr

I’m sure there are a few more interesting initial double-consonant spellings out there, but I’ll save them for another post.

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2015 by in Language and tagged , , , , .


February 2015

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