When I was a kid, my cousin and I had an ongoing contest to see which of us could find the most interesting word during the week. When the families got together on Sunday, we’d give each other our words. I’ll never forget the day he threw out “pusillanimous.” We were about eight at the time, and I was awestruck, not to mention green with envy.
There are other words that I know well in print, but never use in conversation. Sometimes that causes a bit of a problem, because you can create your own way of pronouncing them. Another word lover and I were talking about mental pronunciations one time, and she confessed that she had always mentally pronounced the printed word “dowager” as “do-wagger,” as in the Do-wagger Queen. She said she’d been quite shocked to find out how it was really pronounced. To this day, when I see the word in print, I mentally pronounce it “do-wagger.”