I almost had to repeat kindergarten because I procrastinated on learning to read. Faced with this threat, I hit the books, and by the end of the year I had achieved a 5th grade reading level. I credit Bill Watterson and Gary Larson for this; I remember sitting in my dad’s apartment at ages six and seven, each of us curled up with one of his Calvin & Hobbes or The Far Side volumes. While he savored the pages, I soldiered through the multisyllabic speech bubbles, pausing every now and then to ask things like, “Daddy, what does ‘hypothetical’ mean?”

Here are just a few of the words that should obviously be in every 6-year-old’s vocabulary:

 

1. Spelunking

See also: onomatopoeia

spelunking
Source: Author’s Own

2. Repartee

Ain’t no partee like a repartee!

repartee
Source: Author’s Own

3. Peripatetic

SPEAKING OF REPARTEE, this insult, though!

Also, their expressions in panel three: perfection.

Source: Biblioklept
Source: Biblioklept

4. Vicarious

Some jokes just didn’t click until I grew up, but at least I learned like nine SAT words from this strip.

Source: reddit
Source: Reddit

5. Magnanimous

The more election years I live through, the more painfully funny these are.

magnanimous
Source: Author’s Own

6. Dialectical Metaphysics

For all the times Calvin was a pain in his dad’s butt; the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

dialecticalmetaphysics
Source: Author’s Own

7. Cummerbund

Hobbes is a gentleman and a scholar.

Source: GoComics
Source: GoComics

8. Deferential

Moreover, he’s a gentleman who knows that being “cool” is overrated.

deferential
Source: Author’s Own

9. Protozoan

Biology words all up in these panels.

Source: Daily Calvin & Hobbes
Source: Daily Calvin & Hobbes

10. Avant-garde

“Dad, what does avant-garde mean?”

“It’s… I don’t know, Rebecca. It’s French. It’s some kind of art word.”

Dad’s an engineer.

Source: GoComics
Source: Gocomics

11. Conniptions

I’ve never noticed this word in anything else, and it’s too bad.

conniptions
Source: Author’s Own

12. Pandemonium

Miss Wormwood struck me as a mean teacher when I was in first grade. Now, not only do I feel for her, I think she’s earned sainthood.

pandemonium
Source: Author’s Own

13. Salubrious

Hobbes is the Hermione to Calvin’s Ron.

salubrious
Source: Author’s Own

14. Arboreal

“Fiend” was another one I asked about, as it shows up in pretty much every Spaceman Spiff strip.

arboreal
Source: Author’s Own

15. Behemoth

Before it was a metal band, it was Calvin.

behemoth
Source: Author’s Own

16. Predicament

This is a frequently used word with Calvin, made funnier when you grow up and realize he’s imagining it most of the time. Hey, there’s got to be a silver lining to growing up.

predicament
Source: Author’s Own

17. Panache

Panache sounds delicious, but once again it’s just Hobbes being a gentleman.

panache
Source: Author’s Own

18. Somnambulist

“Dad, what’s… (Points at word)”

“Sleepwalker.”

“Why didn’t he just say that?”

“I don’t know.”

I glared at the unnecessarily long, Latinate word for a long, bitter moment.

somnambulist
Source: Author’s Own

19. Transcendental

The sugar high may be a placebo effect, but placebos, after all, are effective.

transcendental
Source: Author’s Own

20. Annihilation

Calvin’s mom must be proud. Exhausted, but proud.

annihilation
Source: Author’s Own

 

21. Anatomically Correct

My dad didn’t explain this to me. Twenty years later, LOL.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

22. Potentate

Spaceman Spiff also introduced me to the concepts of technobabble and aptronyms.

Source: Calvin & Hobbes Wiki
Source: Calvin & Hobbes Wiki

23. Aspersions

See also: #burn

Source:
Source: GoComics

It’s hard to believe I read these at such a young age, let alone understood them, but who could be more relatable to a little kid than Calvin, Hobbes, and Susie? Context clues are everything. It also doesn’t hurt to have Dictionary Dad standing by.

Two decades and one English degree later, thanks, Dad. Your re-election campaign is looking solid.

YouTube Channel: Rafael Casal

 

Featured image via The Wall Street Journal