Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory: 10 Complicated Words That The Show Taught Us

The Big Bang Theory is a sitcom starring nerds who sometimes use big words we've never heard of. Use these words in a conversation to sound smart!

Like it or hate it, The Big Bang Theory had a pretty great run. It ran for twelve seasons on CBS while also popularizing nerd culture, thus bringing science and tons of nerdy pop culture trivia into our living rooms. In doing so, the sitcom also enriched our vocabulary.

Words such as brobdingnagian, befuddled, Heebie-jeebies were mentioned in the show. Back then, most of us didn’t know what brobdingnagian was. But now we do, thanks to the amazing sitcom that is The Big Bang Theory. For this list, we decided to recall 10 difficult words spoken on the show that we finally understand thanks to Sheldon and company. Is Bazinga included? Of course it is!


Raj sitting at his desk sulking on TBBT

Brobdingnagian means huge. Something that’s unusually big in size or amount.

In “The Hot Troll Deviation,” Sheldon and Raj share an office room. Naturally, Raj wants his own desk. Sheldon disagrees with the proposition, saying their collaboration was work of the mind, so they didn’t need desks. Finally, Raj buys his own desk. According to Sheldon, Raj’s desk isn’t a desk but a brobdingnagian monstrosity. Raj tells us what brobdingnagian means: it’s the American idiom for “giant big-ass desk.”


Raj looking serious in The Big Bang Theory

Heebie-Jeebies – spoken in “The Fish Guts Displacement” – means extreme nervousness or jitters.

Sheldon went over the Spider-Man lyrics, which posit Spider-Man does whatever a spider can. Thing is, he can think of many things that Spider-Man can’t do that a spider can. For one, Spider-Man can’t crawl in your ear and die or legally leave Guatemala without a passport. Raj wants the subject of the conversation changed from spiders, saying that spiders give him the ‘jeebie-jeebies’. Howard instantly corrects him saying it’s heebie-jeebies. Raj knows but apparently, it sounds anti-Semitic.

Qu’est-ce Que Sup

Howard Wolowitz combing his hair in a promo image for TBBT

Qu’est-ce que is a French term that translates to “What” in English. Sup is informal for “What’s up?” The phrase was spoken by Howard in “The Bad Fish Paradigm.”

RELATED: The Big Bang Theory: Raj’s 10 Biggest Mistakes (That We Can Learn From)

Howard and Raj enter Sheldon and Leonard’s. Howard immediately utters the phrase, as if to say “What is up?” Wordplay, we tell you. Come to think of it, Howard knew many French words, he used a famous one on Penny. One such word would be –  enchanté mademoiselle.

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc is Latin for- “after this, therefore because of this.” It is the logical fallacy that means because an event occurred first, it must have caused this later event.

Sheldon and the gang return home from their Arctic expedition after three months. Sheldon talks to his mother on phone, informing her the expedition was a remarkable success and that he’s home. Sheldon’s mother asks him whether he could feel her church group praying for his safety. The fact that he’s safe at home does not prove that it worked. That logic is post hoc ergo propter hoc. Simply put, Mary thinks Sheldon is sassing her in Eskimo talk!

Hoot & A Half

Hoot and a half is a phrase used to describe an occasion that is fun and entertaining. The phrase is also used to describe intense joy. It is prominently heard in the episode “The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation.”

When Sheldon and the gang return home from their Arctic expedition, everyone seems disheveled. Leonard thanks God he’s home. Howard can’t believe he spent three months in that frozen hell. For Raj, it was a snowing nightmare from which there was no awakening. Sheldon doesn’t know what Arctic expedition his friends were on; as far as he was concerned, it was a hoot and a half to him.


Befuddled could mean anything from perplexed by a situation to stupified, confused, or bewildered. When one is befuddled, they are unable to think clearly. Befuddled was used by Leonard in “The Wildebeest Implementation,” where he dated Raj’s sister Priya. In this episode, the couple is on a double date with Howard and his girlfriend Bernadette.

RELATED: The Big Bang Theory: 10 Reasons Why Emily And Raj Were Toxic

Bernadette is with Priya and Leonard to commence Operation: Priya Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya, which aimed to glorify Penny and her achievements to her ex-boyfriend Leonard. Bernadette lies to the three of them, saying Penny is on her way to Prague to shoot a movie with Angelina Jolie. Leonard is surprised to receive the news and Priya is angry over his reaction. Leonard says it’s not much of surprise but the other thing. The word he is looking for is befuddled.


A decision-making strategy whereby a person accepts whatever available option is satisfactory. Or in Leonard’s words, “that’s not even a word!” Sheldon used the word ‘Satisficer’ in “The Decision Reverberation” to say Leonard is a textbook satisficer.

The gang is all set to go watch Avengers: Endgame in 3D, except for Leonard. He doesn’t want to eat before the movie or the watch 3D version because it makes him queasy. But he’s to do it since the rest of his friends are. Penny reminds Leonard not to do things that make him feel bad. It is at this point Sheldon calls him a satisficer. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Herbert Simon, satisficing is a decision-making strategy to accept the satisfactory rather than seeking out a course of action. As Sheldon just did when he explained what satisficing was.


Kowtow means subservience. It also means to bow down, to prostrate oneself by kneeling and touching the ground with one’s forehead. It is also commonly known as an ancient Chinese custom. Sheldon used the word ‘kowtow’ in “The Luminous Fish Effect.”

He greets his new boss Eric Gablehouser by saying he’s an actual real scientist. Gablehouser wastes no time in firing Sheldon. And why not? After all, Sheldon did call him a glorified high-school science teacher whose last successful experiment was lighting his own farts. So when Penny asks Sheldon why he’s home, he says he’s taking a sabbatical. He won’t kowtow to mediocre minds. That’s Sheldon saying he got canned!


Sheldon hugs Penny as a Christmas present

Saturnalia was the ancient Roman festival of planet Saturn, celebrated in December. It preceded Christmas and was celebrated by ancient Romans with intense joy and merry. Sheldon mentioned the phrase Saturnalia in “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis.”

Penny enters the boys’ apartment to ask them whether they were putting up a Christmas tree. Sheldon replies with a no. This is followed by a detailed explanation of why. It’s because they don’t celebrate the ancient pagan festival of Saturnalia. At this point, Howard says it’s time for Sheldon’s beloved Christmas special. Here comes the detailed explanation about Saturnalia by Sheldon:

“In the pre-Christian era, as the winter solstice approached and the plants died, pagans brought evergreen boughs into their homes as an act of sympathetic magic, intended to guard the life essences of the plants until spring. This custom was later appropriated by Northern Europeans and eventually it becomes the so-called Christmas tree.”


Bazinga is used to sass someone. It is used when someone is successful at fooling someone. It could also mean sarcasm. This list wouldn’t be complete without Sheldon’s catchphrase. The word has been used by him innumerable times; truth be told, we forgot to keep the count. For those keeping count, “The Monopolar Expedition” was the first time Sheldon used the phrase “Bazinga!”

He walked into their living room, to comment on Leonard’s work. It wasn’t so much a comment, just an “Oh boy!” Leonard was compelled to ask what was wrong with his science board. He rubbed the calculation to change it to something else. Sheldon sassed Leonard by saying he actually had it right in the first place: “You actually had it right in the first place. Once again, you’ve fallen for one of my classic pranks. Bazinga!”

Many more Bazinga! moments followed this one.

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