Shared Flashcard Set

Details

Monday Word of the Day
Vocabulary for dictionary.com
85
General Vocab
Undergraduate 1
03/03/2010

Additional General Vocab Flashcards

 


 

Cards

Term
corybantic \kawr-uh-BAN-tik\, adjective:

The key turned with a snap, the door was flung open, and there stood Martha, in a corybantic attitude, brandishing a dinner-plate in one hand, a poker in the other ; her hair was dishevelled, her face red, and fury blazed in her eyes.
-- George Gissing, Will Warburton: A Romance of Life

I have a vivid recollection of him in the mysteries of the semicuacua, a somewhat corybantic dance which left much to the invention of the performers, and very little to the imagination of the spectator.
-- Bret Harte, The Writings of Bret Harte: Volume 10
Definition
Frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.
Term
defenestrate \dee-FEN-uh-strayt\, transitive verb:


Some of his apparent chums . . . would still happily defenestrate him if they caught him near a window.
-- Andrew Marr, "No option bar the radical one", Independent, July 5, 1994
Definition
To throw out of a window.
Term

descry \dih-SKRY\, transitive verb:

 

she descried two figures

 

descried a message of hope in her words.

Definition
1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure; to discern. 2. To discover by observation; to detect.
Term
dishabille \dis-uh-BEEL\, noun:


People meant to be fully clothed lounge around in dishabille.
-- John Simon, "Tangled Up in Blue", New York Magazine, March 26, 2001
Definition
1. The state of being carelessly or partially dressed.
2. Casual or lounging attire.
3. An intentionally careless or casual manner.
Term

disport \dis-PORT\, intransitive verb:

 

If you confine the kids' drinking to the college area, they will disport there and lessen the problem of the drunken car ride coming back from the out-of-town bar. -- William F. Buckley Jr., "Let's Drink to It", National Review, February 27, 2001

Definition

1. To amuse oneself in light or lively manner; to frolic.

 

transitive verb: 1. To divert or amuse. 2. To display.

Term

dolorous \DOH-luh-ruhs\, adjective:

 

dolorous ballads of death and regret

Definition
Marked by, causing, or expressing grief or sorrow.
Term

doula \DOO-luh\, noun:

Chris Morley launched Tender Care Doula Service in Valencia, California, seven years ago to provide nonmedical postpartum care workers (or doulas) to frazzled new moms.
-- Roy Huffman, "Healthy returns", Entrepreneur Magazine, February 1, 1996
Definition
A woman who assists during childbirth labor and provides support to the mother, her child and the family after childbirth.
Term

draconian \dray-KOHN-ee-uhn; druh-\, adjective:

 

Draconian forms of punishment.

Definition
1. Pertaining to Draco, a lawgiver of Athens, 621 B.C. 2. Excessively harsh; severe.
Term

eldritch \EL-drich\, adjective:

 

whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch singsong — R. L. Stevenson

Definition
Strange; unearthly; weird; eerie.
Term

epicene \EP-uh-seen\, adjective:

 

He has a clear-eyed, epicene handsomeness -- cruel, sensuous mouth; cheekbones to cut your heart on -- the sort of excessive beauty that is best appreciated in repose on a 50-foot screen.
-- Franz Lidz, "Jude Law: He Didn't Turn Out Obscure at All", New York Times, May 13, 2001
She smothers (almost literally at times) her weak, epicene son Vladimir, and is prepared to commit any crime to see him become Tsar, despite his reluctance.
-- Ronald Bergan, Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict
Definition

1. Having the characteristics of both sexes.
2. Effeminate; unmasculine.
3. Sexless; neuter.
4. (Linguistics) Having but one form of the noun for both the male and the female.

noun:
1. A person or thing that is epicene.
2. (Linguistics) An epicene word.

Term

ersatz \AIR-sahts; UR-sats\, adjective:

 

Meanwhile, a poor copy was erected in the courtyard; many an unsuspecting traveler paid homage to that ersatz masterpiece.
-- Edith Pearlman, "Girl and Marble Boy", The Atlantic, December 29, 1999
All we can create in that way is an ersatz culture, the synthetic product of those factories we call variously universities, colleges or museums.
-- Sir Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art
Then there was the sheaf of hostile letters larded with ersatz sympathy, strained sarcasm or pure spite.
-- "Time for GAA to become a persuader", Irish Times, April 13, 1998
Definition
Being a substitute or imitation, usually an inferior one.
Term

erudite \AIR-yuh-dyt; -uh-dyt\, adjective:

 

In front of imposing edifices like the Topkapi Palace or Hagia Sophia are guides displaying Government-issued licenses. Many of these guides are erudite historians who have quit low-paying jobs as university professors and now offer private tours.
-- "What's Doing in Istanbul", New York Times, February 23, 1997
Definition
Characterized by extensive reading or knowledge; learned.
Term
exiguous \ig-ZIG-yoo-us\, adjective

They are entering the market, setting up stalls on snowy streets, moonlighting to supplement exiguous incomes.
-- Michael Ignatieff, "Rebirth of a Nation: An Anatomy of Russia", New Statesman, February 6, 1998
Definition
Extremely scanty; meager.
Term
fanfaronade \fan-fair-uh-NAYD; -NOD\, noun:
George Manahan made his debut this week as music director of New York City Opera, and it is difficult to imagine someone laying claim to a major podium with less of a fanfaronade.
-- Justin Davidson, "A Director's Toil Pays Some Dividends", Newsday, September 21, 1996
But like a demure singer in a long gown who is surrounded by chorus girls in sequined miniskirts, the statue may seem slightly lost amid the fanfaronade.
-- Richard Stengel, "Rockets will glare and bands blare to celebrate the statue", Time, July 7, 1986
Definition
1. Swaggering; empty boasting; blustering manner or behavior; ostentatious display.
2. Fanfare.
Term
fealty \FEE-uhl-tee\, noun;
Definition
1.
Fidelity to one's lord; the feudal obligation by which the tenant or vassal was bound to be faithful to his lord.
2.
The oath by which this obligation was assumed.
3.
Fidelity; allegiance; faithfulness.
Term

fecund \FEE-kuhnd; FEK-uhnd\, adjective:

 

  • The decades of the 1860s and 1870s were a particularly fecund period in both of these fields.
  • fecund imagination than China Miéville.
  • Zebrafish are highly fecund -each female is capable of laying 200 eggs per clutch.
  • Mark Doyle is a producer for fecund films and a core member of fecund films and a core member of fecund's acting ensemble.
  • fecund cow, was impregnated with the rich semen of Heaven.
  • fecund English landscapes, which we can only struggle to unravel.
  • fecund experience is delivered through active learning and the corporeal, sensual experience of doing.
  • Definition
    1. Capable of producing offspring or vegetation; fruitful; prolific. 2. Intellectually productive or inventive.
    Term

    fugacious \fyoo-GAY-shuhs\, adjective:

    As the rain conspires with the wind to strip the fugacious glory of the cherry blossoms, it brings a spring delicacy to our dining table.
    -- Sarah Mori, "A spring delicacy", Malaysian Star
    The thick, palmately lobed lead is lapped around the bud, which swiftly outgrows its protector, loses its two fugacious sepals, and opens into a star-shaped flower, one to each stem, with several fleshy white petals and a mass of golden stamens in the center.
    -- Alma R. Hutchens, A Handbook of Native American Herbs
    When he proposed the tax in May, Altman thought it would follow the fugacious nature of some flowers: bloom quickly and die just as fast.
    -- Will Rodgers, "Parks proposal falls on 3-2 vote", Tampa Tribune, June 27, 2001
    Definition
    Lasting but a short time; fleeting
    Term

    fulminate \FUL-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb:

     

    This mass culture--global, immediate, accessible, buoyant, with shared heroes, models, and goals--is immensely intoxicating. Ayatollahs fulminate against it; dictators censor it; mandarins try to slam the door on it.
    -- Lawrence M. Friedman, The Horizontal Society
    Definition

    1. To issue or utter verbal attacks or censures authoritatively or menacingly.
    2. To explode; to detonate.

    transitive verb:
    1. To utter or send out with denunciations or censures.
    2. To cause to explode.

    Term

    gesticulate \juh-STIK-yuh-layt\, intransitive verb:

     

    they were shouting and gesticulating frantically at drivers who did not slow down

    Definition
    1. To make gestures or motions, especially while speaking or instead of speaking. transitive verb: 1. To indicate or express by gestures.
    Term
    gravitas \GRAV-uh-tahs\, noun:
    At first sight the tall, stooped figure with the hawk-like features and bloodless cheeks, the look of extreme gravitas, seems forbidding and austere, the abbot of an ascetic order, scion of an imperial family who has foresworn the world.
    -- John Lehmann, "T.S. Eliot Talks About Himself and the Drive to Create", New York Times, November 9, 1953
    Definition
    High seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject).
    Term
    grok \GRAWK\, verb:



    The electeds can say "I feel your pain" when the teleprompter tells them to, but our current existential crisis isn't something they grok.
    -- Reverend Billy Talen, Alternet, February 27, 2010
    Definition
    To understand, especially in a profound and intimate way. Slang.
    Term

    gumption \GUHMP-shuhn\, noun:


    I've had the gumption to make the money, but I haven't the gumption to spend it.
    -- Anthony Trollope, Dr. Thorne
    You're just one of those sweet boobs without any gumption to fight back.
    -- Fannie Hurst, The stories of Fannie Hurst
    Definition
    1. Initiative; aggressiveness; resourcefulness.
    2. Courage; spunk; guts.
    Term
    hugger-mugger \HUH-guhr-muh-guhr\, noun

    While Ventura is speaking out -- his wisdom seems to be a hugger-mugger of twisted cliches from his reading of airport trash picked up as he traveled from bout to bout -- others who do possess minds too often are failing to speak theirs, and usually they do so only as a consequence of perceived electoral pragmatism.
    -- Jamie Dettmer, "Campaigning and the Media Circus", Insight on the News, November 1, 1999
    Definition
    1. A disorderly jumble; muddle; confusion.
    2. Secrecy; concealment.

    adjective:
    1. Confused; muddled; disorderly.
    2. Secret.

    adverb:
    1. In a muddle or confusion.
    2. Secretly.

    transitive verb:
    1. To keep secret.
    intransitive verb:
    1. To act in a secretive manner.
    Term
    iatrogenic \ahy-a-truh-JEN-ik\, adjective
    Chronic insomnia thus becomes a self-perpetuating and/or iatrogenic condition as sufferers are prescribed (or acquire) hypnotics for transient sleeplessness, and then develop an ongoing problem getting to sleep without chemical aid.
    -- New York Times, reader comment, April 2010
    Definition
    A malady induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures.
    Term
    impecunious \im-pih-KYOO-nee-uhs\, adjective:

    Her father, Bronson, was a respected but impecunious New England transcendentalist who had 'no gift for money making', according to [Louisa May] Alcott's journal.'
    -- "Blood and Thunder in Concord", New York Times, September 10, 1995
    Definition
    Not having money; habitually without money; poor.
    Term
    indefatigable \in-dih-FAT-ih-guh-bul\, adjective:


    She was always seeking to add to her collection and was an indefatigable first-nighter at Broadway shows.
    -- Meryle Secrest, Stephen Sondheim: A Life
    Definition
    Incapable of being fatigued; not readily exhausted; untiring; unwearying; not yielding to fatigue.
    Term

    interlard \in-tuhr-LARD\, transitive verb:

     

    Every night we lined up books on the floor, interlarding mine with his before putting them on the shelves. -- Anne Fadiman, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

     

    to interlard a conversation with oaths or allusions

    Definition
    To insert between; to mix or mingle; especially, to introduce something foreign or irrelevant into
    Term

    interregnum \in-tuhr-REG-nuhm\, noun;
    plural interregnums \-nuhmz\ or interregna \-nuh\:


    Forewarned by his equations that the Galactic Empire is about to collapse, Seldon hopes to shorten the inevitable interregnum from a predicted 30,000 years of bloody anarchy to a mere thousand.
    -- Gerald Jonas, review of Foundation's Fear, by Gregory Benford, New York Times, April 6, 1997
    They were at the moment enjoying a sort of interregnum from Roman authority.
    -- Frederic William Farrar, Life of St. Paul
    Architecture Culture presents 74 essays, speeches and magazine articles from the postwar era, a period Ms. Ockman describes as an interregnum between modernism and post-modernism.
    -- Herbert Muschamp, "The Creative Ferment Behind the Glass Boxes", New York Times, June 13, 1993
    Definition
    1. The interval between two reigns; any period when a state is left without a ruler.
    2. A period of freedom from authority or during which government functions are suspended.
    3. Any breach of continuity in an order; a lapse or interval in a continuity.
    Term
    jnana \juh-NAH-nuh\, noun:

    In the world there are too many fools passing as devoted to God for want of the strength of jnana, knowledge, and buddhi, reason.
    -- Ranganathananda (Swami.), Elva Linnéa Nelson, Human being in depth: a scientific approach to religion
    Definition
    Absolute knowledge acquired through meditation and study as a means of reaching (in Hinduism) Brahman; (in Buddhism) a state of awareness independent of conceptual thought.
    Term

    jnana \juh-NAH-nuh\, noun:

    In the world there are too many fools passing as devoted to God for want of the strength of jnana, knowledge, and buddhi, reason.
    -- Ranganathananda (Swami.), Elva Linnéa Nelson, Human being in depth: a scientific approach to religion
    Definition
    Absolute knowledge acquired through meditation and study as a means of reaching (in Hinduism) Brahman; (in Buddhism) a state of awareness independent of conceptual thought.
    Term
    land of Nod \land-uhv-NOD\, noun:


    We were fast going off to the land of Nod, when - bang, bang, bang - on the scuttle, and "All hands, reef topsails, ahoy!" started us out of our berths.
    -- Richard Henry Dana Jr., Two Years Before The Mast
    Definition
    A mythical land of sleep.
    Term
    languor \LANG-guhr; LANG-uhr\, noun:
    Definition
    1. Mental or physical weariness or fatigue.
    2. Listless indolence, especially the indolence of one who is satiated by a life of luxury or pleasure.
    3. A heaviness or oppressive stillness of the air.
    Term

    lapidary \LAP-uh-dair-ee\, adjective:

     

    a lapidary statement

    Definition

    1. Of or pertaining to the art of cutting stones or engraving on them. 2. Engraved in stone. 3. Of or pertaining to the refined or terse style associated with inscriptions on monumental stone.

     

    noun: 1. One who cuts, polishes, and engraves precious stones. 2. A dealer in precious stones.

     

    characterized by an exactitude and extreme refinement that suggests gem cutting: a lapidary style; lapidary verse.
    Term

    largess \lar-ZHES; lar-JES; LAR-jes\, noun;
    also largesse:


    Four years after her marriage she exclaimed giddily over her father-in-law's largess: "He has given Waldorf the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a birthday present!"
    -- Stacy Schiff, "Otherwise Engaged", New York Times, March 19, 2000
    The recipients of Johnson's largesse were understandably indifferent to what propelled him.
    -- Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973
    A swelling chorus has arisen recently to complain that the PRI has been up to its old tricks, showering voters with largesse (ranging from washing machines to bicycles and cash).
    -- "Mexico's vote", Economist, June 24, 2000
    Definition
    1. Generous giving (as of gifts or money), often accompanied by condescension.
    2. Gifts, money, or other valuables so given.
    3. Generosity; liberality.
    Term
    lucre \LOO-kuhr\, noun

    His stories began to be published in the American Mercury before he moved to L.A., lured by the dream of Hollywood lucre.
    -- Jerome Boyd Maunsell, "Truly madly weepy", Times (London), June 10, 2000
    Definition
    Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.
    Term

    métier \met-YAY; MET-yay\, noun: 

     

    The pairing of Maynard and Salinger -- the writer whose métier is autobiography and the writer who's so private he won't even publish -- was an unlikely one. -- Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Cult of Joyce Maynard", New York Times Magazine, September 6, 1998

     

    In Congress, I really found my métier. . . . I love to legislate. -- Charles Schumer, quoted in "Upbeat Schumer Battles Poor Polls and Turnouts and His Own Image", New York Times, May 16, 1998

     

    He is in the position of a good production engineer suddenly shunted into salesmanship. It is not his métier. -- James R. Mursell, "The Reform of the Schools", The Atlantic, December 1939

    Definition

    1. An occupation; a profession.

     

    2. An area in which one excels; an occupation for which one is especially well suited.

    Term
    manumit \man-yuh-MIT\, transitive verb:



    The prime reason, I suspect, will be that we don't need any liberator to manumit our "corporate slaves" because we've never had any.
    -- Victor S. Navasky, "Time is money", The Nation, July 17, 1989
    Definition
    To free from slavery or servitude.
    Term
    megrim \MEE-grim\, noun:



    That might justify her, fairly enough, in being kept away from meeting now and again by headaches, or undefined megrims.
    -- Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron Ware
    Definition
    1. A migraine.
    2. A fancy; a whim.
    3. In the plural: lowness of spirits -- often with 'the'.
    Term
    moil \MOYL\, intransitive verb:

    Why should he toil and moil, and be at so much trouble to pick himself up out the mud, when, in a little while hence, the strong arm of his Uncle will raise and support him?
    -- Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
    Definition
    1. To work with painful effort; to labor; to toil; to drudge.
    2. To churn or swirl about continuously.

    noun:
    1. Toil; hard work; drudgery.
    2. Confusion; turmoil.
    Term
    ne plus ultra \nee-plus-UL-truh; nay-\,

    He also penned a number of supposedly moral and improving books which . . . were the very ne plus ultra of tedium.
    -- Richard West, "A life fuller than fiction", Irish Times, August 9, 1997
    Definition
    noun:

    1. The highest point, as of excellence or achievement; the acme; the pinnacle; the ultimate.
    2. The most profound degree of a quality or condition.
    Term

    nebbish \NEB-ish\, noun:

     

    "It strikes me as a very very Jewish dilemma that [Loman] is facing," said Stavans. "The economics. The anxiety about his children. The fact that he is such a nebbish. He is the personification of nebbishness."

     

    Former Ramones manager Danny Fields says the Mets could use a little Joey Ramone mojo: "I think it would be a wonderful thing for the Mets to do," says Fields. "Joey was a nebbish from Queens who had the guts to get on stage and become a rock...

    Definition
    A weak-willed, timid, or ineffectual person.
    Term
    neologism \nee-OLL-uh-jiz-um\, noun:


    The word "civilization" was just coming into use in the 18th century, in French and in English, and conservative men of letters preferred to avoid it as a newfangled neologism.
    -- Larry Wolff, "If I Were Younger I Would Make Myself Russian': Voltaire's Encounter With the Czars", New York Times, November 13, 1994
    Definition
    1. A new word or expression.
    2. A new use of a word or expression.
    3. The use or creation of new words or expressions.
    4. (Psychiatry) An invented, meaningless word used by a person with a psychiatric disorder.
    5. (Theology) A new view or interpretation of a scripture.
    Term
    neophyte \NEE-uh-fyt\, noun:

    I was a complete neophyte and knew nothing about the choreographic process, but seeing the steps pour out of this man was a revelation.
    -- Edward Villella, "Remembering Balanchine as the Boss", New York Times, January 26, 1992
    Definition
    1. A new convert or proselyte.
    2. A novice; a beginner in anything.
    Term

    omnific \om-NIF-ik\, adjective:

    Said then th’ omnific Word, your discord end:/Nor stay’d, but on the wings of Cherubim/Uplifted, in paternal glory rode/Far into Chaos, and the world unborn/For Chaos heard his voice: him all his train/ Follow’d in bright procession to behold/Creation and the wonders of his might.
    -- Milton, Book VII, Paradise Lost
    Definition
    Creating all things; having unlimited powers of creation.
    Term
    oneiric \oh-NY-rik\, adjective:

    On this score, the novel might easily drift off into an oneiric never-never land, but Mr. Welch doesn't let this happen.
    -- Peter Wild, "Visions of Blackfoot", New York Times, November 2, 1986
    Definition
    Of, pertaining to, or suggestive of dreams; dreamy.
    Term

    onus \OH-nuhs\, noun:

     

    the onus is on you to show that you have suffered loss

    Definition
    1. A burden; an obligation; a disagreeable necessity. 2. a: A stigma. b: Blame. 3. The burden of proof.
    Term

    oppugn \uh-PYOON\, verb:


    Aspects of the Novel, published in 1927, was one of the first critical works to oppugn modernism.
    -- John A. Dern, Monsters, Martians and Madonna: Fiction and Form In the World of Martin Amis
    I do not wish to oppugn the character of Miss Goodrich by bearing false witness in regard to her activities.
    -- Jeffrey D. Marshall, The Inquest
    Definition
    1. To assail by criticism, argument, or action.
    2. To call in question; dispute.
    Term

    patois \pat-WAH\, noun:


    The Calypsonian would use patois in ordinary social circumstances, but on stage, doing battle with other singers in the large Calypso tents, would use strictly regulated English.
    -- Stephen Wagg, Because I tell a joke or two: comedy, politics, and social difference
    Nick took easily to accomplishments, and he handled the clumsy tiller with a certainty and distinction that made the boatmen swear in two languages and a patois.
    -- Winston Churchill, The Crossing
    Definition
    1. A regional version of a language differing from its standard, literary form.
    2. Arural or provincial form of speech.
    3. Any jargon or private form of speech.
    Term
    pelf \PELF\, noun:


    . . .a master manipulator who will twist and dodge around the clock to keep the privileges of power and pelf.
    -- Nick Cohen, "Without prejudice", The Observer, February 20, 2000
    Definition
    Money; riches; gain; -- generally conveying the idea of something ill-gotten.
    Term
    perforce \pur-FORS\, adverb



    It will be an astonishing sight, should it come to pass, and even those of us who have followed every twist and turn of this process will perforce rub our eyes.
    -- "Unionists sit tight as the poker game nears its climax", Irish Times, July 10, 1999
    Definition
    By necessity; by force of circumstance.
    Term
    popinjay \POP-in-jay\, noun:



    One popinjay shrieking from the left and another from the right about last week's headlines is not the whole of Washington's political dramas. Occasionally, American politics is more complicated and more momentous.
    -- R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., "Feds Go Drug Crazy", American Spectator, May 26, 2000
    Definition
    A vain and talkative person.
    Term
    portentous \por-TEN-tus\, adjective:

    This victory is without doubt a very special and portentous gift of the gods, she said, "for I believe that there now stands before you the one leader who is the single most qualified to lead us to the peace we long for."
    -- Seth Mydans, "Wounded Sri Lankan Sees 'Gift of Gods' in Re-election.", New York Times, December 23, 1999
    Definition
    1. Foreboding; foreshadowing, especially foreshadowing ill; ominous.
    2. Marvelous; prodigious; wonderful; as, a beast of portentous size.
    3. Pompous.
    Term
    predilection \preh-d'l-EK-shun; pree-\, noun:
    Definition
    A predisposition to choose or like; an established preference.
    Term

    prolix \pro-LIKS; PRO-liks\, adjective:


    It was a cumbersome book, widely criticized for being prolix in style and maddeningly circular in argument.
    -- Simon Winchester, "Word Imperfect", The Atlantic, May 2001
    Montaigne is a little too prolix in his determination to tell us almost everything that happens as he fishes his way across the country, and he gives us a few too many accounts of the people he meets and of their repetitiously gloomy opinions.
    -- Adam Hochschild, "Deep Wigglers of the Volga", New York Times, June 28, 1998
    Greenspan, on the other hand, is given to prolix comments whose sentences are hung like Christmas trees with dependent clauses.
    -- John M. Berry, "Greenspan: A Man Aware of Feasibility", Washington Post, June 14, 1987
    Definition
    1. Extending to a great length; unnecessarily long; wordy.
    2. Tending to speak or write at excessive length.
    Term

    puckish \PUHK-ish\, adjective:

     

    Superficially obnoxious, his friendly, puckish manner endeared him to those who relished the intensity of turn-of-the-century bohemian New York.
    -- William B. Scott and Peter M. Rutkoff, New York Modern
    To his credit he exhibits on occasion a puckish humor. Commenting on elementary reasoning abilities of chimpanzees engaged in experiments, he says they may "be wondering whether people have the capacity for reason, and if so, why they need help from apes to solve such simple problems.
    -- Richard Restak, "Rational Explanation", New York Times, November 21, 1999
    It happens that I had recently read an article on wordplay in the Smithsonian magazine in which the author asserted that some puckish soul had once sent a letter addressed, with playful ambiguity, to HILL JOHN MASS and it had gotten there after the postal authorities had worked out that it was to be read as "John Underhill, Andover, Mass." (Get it?)
    -- Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself
    Definition
    Whimsical; mischievous; impish.
    Term

    pusillanimous \pyoo-suh-LAN-uh-muhs\, adjective:

    Evil, unspeakable evil, rose in our midst, and we as a people were too weak, too indecisive, too pusillanimous to deal with it.
    -- Kevin Myers, "An Irishman's Diary", Irish Times, October 20, 1999
    Under the hypnosis of war hysteria, with a pusillanimous Congress rubber-stamping every whim of the White House, we passed the withholding tax.
    -- Vivien Kellems, Toil, Taxes and Trouble
    You are now anxious to form excuses to yourself for a conduct so pusillanimous.
    -- Ann Radcliffe, The Italian
    Definition

     

    Lacking in courage and resolution; contemptibly fearful; cowardly.

    Term

    quaff \KWOFF; KWAFF\, intransitive verb:

     

    He gets drunk with his guides, makes eyes at the girls and gamely quaffs snake wine.
    -- Pico Iyer, "Snake Wine and Socialism", New York Times, December 15, 1991
    If you were patient and kept your nose clean, you could slowly, almost effortlessly, rise from serf to squire and maybe even all the way to knight, in which case you, too, would be entitled to quaff bowl-size martinis at midday.
    -- Charles McGrath, "Office Romance", New York Times Magazine, March 5, 2000
    Instead they consume caviar, feed off foie gras, chomp exotic cheeses, and quaff champagne.
    -- "Internet Shopper", Times (London), August 11, 2000
    Definition

    1. To drink a beverage, esp. an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.

    transitive verb:
    1. To drink (a beverage) copiously and heartily

    noun:
    1. An act or instance of quaffing.
    2. A beverage quaffed.

    Term

    quisling \KWIZ-ling\, noun:

    I strung around rope and hoped to deter the deer from leaping but they sent in their quisling minions under the cover of darkness.
    -- Chapel Hill Treehouse, May 1, 2006
    Definition
    Someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying his or her country; a traitor.
    Term

    raffish \RAF-ish\, adjective:

     

    "a cocktail party given by some...raffish bachelors"- Crary Moore

    Definition
    1. Characterized by or suggestive of flashy vulgarity, crudeness, or rowdiness; tawdry. 2. Marked by a carefree unconventionality or disreputableness; rakish.
    Term

    refulgent \rih-FUL-juhnt\, adjective:

     

    "a refulgent sunset"

    Definition
    Shining brightly; radiant; brilliant; resplendent.
    Term

    simpatico \sim-PAH-ti-koh\, adjective:

     

    "He's very engaging, rather simpatico."
    -- Deborah Cartmell, Imelda Whelehan, Adaptations: from text to screen, screen to text
    "I'm very collected and cool and simpatico."
    -- James Lee Burke, The Glass Rainbow
    Definition
    Congenial or like-minded.
    Term

    solecism \SOL-uh-siz-uhm\, noun:

     

    An accurate report of anything that has ever been said in any parliament would be blather, solecism, verbiage and nonsense.
    -- "Hansard of the Highlands", Times (London), February 17, 2001
    Definition
    1. A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction; also, a minor blunder in speech.
    2. A breach of good manners or etiquette.
    3. Any inconsistency, mistake, or impropriety.
    Term

    sough \SAU; SUHF\, intransitive verb:

    At a recent visit to Marsha's grave in Rathdrum, as the wind soughed through the towering pines nearby, Marsha's brother Pat left a silk bluebird by her headstone to honor her love of the outdoors.
    -- David Whitman, "Fields of Fire", U.S. News & World Report, September 3, 2001
    Definition

    1. To make a soft, low sighing or rustling sound, as the wind.

    noun:
    1. A soft, low rustling or sighing sound.

    Term

    sycophant \SIK-uh-fuhnt\, noun:

     

    Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi called Gray a "ball-less, drooling sycophant," which fit the general review from most people, even if they used less colorful language.

     

    A day after he attempted to play down the controversies surrounding him in the Congress, Singh told reporters "I am a loyalist and not a sycophant and there is no need for me to give any statement on oath."

     

    ...an angry altercation on the show with James Glassman, a former New Republic publisher and current conservative supply-sider, Glassman said of Dobbs, "How did he transform from a business sycophant to a raving populist?"

    Definition
    A person who attempts to win favor by flattering people of wealth or influence; a parasite; a toady.
    Term
    sylvan \SIL-vuhn\, adjective:

    They probably picture it as a kind of modest conservatory, set in sylvan splendour in some charmingly landscaped garden.
    -- Sally Vincent, "Driven by daemons", Guardian, November 10, 2001
    Definition
    1. Of or pertaining to woods or forest regions.
    2. Living or located in a wood or forest.
    3. Abounding in forests or trees; wooded.

    noun:
    1. A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.
    2. One that lives in or frequents the woods or forest; a rustic.
    Term

    tenebrous \TEN-uh-bruhs\, adjective:

     

    a tenebrous cave

    Definition
    Dark; gloomy.
    Term

    tenterhooks \TEN-ter-hooks\, noun:


    "I wait on tenterhooks to see if my ploy of last night will yield the desired outcome."
    -- Stephanie Laurens, The Elusive Bride
    "Such as the fact that this Sevarin has been dangling after Miss Stone in earnest, and the village seems to be hanging on tenterhooks in expectation of a betrothel announcement."
    -- Judith McNaught, Whitney, My Love
    Definition
    1. On tenterhooks, in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety.
    2. One of the hooks or bent nails that hold cloth stretched on a tenter.
    Term

    titivate \TIT-uh-vayt\, transitive and intransitive verb:

     

    she slapped on her warpaint and titivated her hair

    Definition
    1. To make decorative additions to; spruce. intransitive verb: 1. To make oneself smart or spruce.
    Term

    torque \TAWRK\, noun:


    It's as if they're generating such strength within - such torque - that it's causing their eyes to act weird.
    -- Rick Bass, The Hermit's Story: Stories
    In order to obtain a fluid motion during operation, the torque applied during the downward motion of the crosspiece needs to approximate the torque created during its upswing.
    -- Amy Rost, Survival Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Thrive
    Definition
    1. The moment of a force that tends to cause rotation.
    2. The measured ability of a rotating element, as of a gear or shaft, to overcome turning resistance.
    3. A collar, necklace, or similar ornament consisting of a twisted narrow band, usually of precious metal, worn especially by the ancient Gauls and Britons.
    Term

    trig \TRIG\, adjective:

     

    Where the Melville was trig and polished, scoured and caulked, this newcomer was in disrepair and foul shape.
    -- Paul Di Filippo, The emperor of Gondwanaland: and other stories

     

    Prince looked trig in a silk scarf, a tweed peacoat, a billed cap of matching material.
    -- John Jakes, The Gods of Newport
    Definition

    1. Neat, trim, smart.

     

    verb:
    1. To make neat or trim.

     

    noun:
    1. A wedge or block used to prevent a wheel, cask, or the like, from rolling.

     

    adjective:
    1. In good physical condition; sound; well.

     

    Term

    truckle \TRUHK-uhl\, intransitive verb:

     

    Only where there was a "defiance," a "refusal to truckle," a "distrust of all authority," they believed, would institutions "express human aspirations, not crush them."
    -- Pauline Maier, "A More Perfect Union", New York Times, October 31, 1999
    The son struggled to be obedient to the conventional, commercial values of the father and, at the same time, to maintain his own playful, creative innocence. This conflict could make him truckle in the face of power.
    -- Dr. Margaret Brenman-Gibson, quoted in "Theater Friends Recall Life and Works of Odets," by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, October 30, 1981
    I am convinced that, broadly speaking, the audience must accept the piece on my own terms; that it is fatal to truckle to what one conceives to be popular taste.
    -- Sidney Joseph Perelman, quoted in "The Perelman Papers," by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, March 15, 1981
    Definition

    1. To yield or bend obsequiously to the will of another; to act in a subservient manner.

     

    noun:
    1. A small wheel or roller; a caster.

    Term

    usufruct \YOO-zoo-fruhkt\, noun:

     

    She shall have the usufruct of field and garden and all that her father gave her so long as she lives, but she cannot sell or assign it to others.
    -- Charles Francis Horne, Rossiter Johnson, John Rudd, The Great Events by Famous Historians
    Others might advise you to settle the capital on your wife's relatives, so that if you were to die it would not go to your own family, and meanwhile to enjoy the usufruct during your own lifetime.
    -- Denis Diderot, Philip Nicholas Furbank, This is not a story and other stories
    Definition
    The right to use the property of another as long as it isn't damaged.
    Term

    valetudinarian \val-uh-too-din-AIR-ee-un; -tyoo-\, noun:

    He is the querulous bedridden valetudinarian complaining of his asthma or his hay fever, remarking with characteristic hyperbole that "every speck of dust suffocates me."
    -- Oliver Conant, review of Marcel Proust, Selected Letters: Volume Two 1904-1909, edited by Philip Kolb, translated by Terrence Kilmartin, New York Times, December 17, 1989
    Definition

    1. A weak or sickly person, especially one morbidly concerned with his or her health.

    adjective:
    1. Sickly; weak; infirm.
    2. Morbidly concerned with one's health.

    Term
    wastrel \WAY-struhl\, noun:

    Horace Liveright, the book publisher of the 1920's, is usually recalled in literary memoirs as a charming wastrel, a gambler who always saw a winning bet as a chance to raise his stake in whatever game he was losing at.
    -- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Disastrous Life of a Pioneer in Hype", New York Times, July 27, 1995
    Definition
    1. A person who wastes, especially one who squanders money; a spendthrift.
    2. An idler; a loafer; a good-for-nothing.
    Term

    educe \ih-DOOS\, verb:

     

    Forty or fifty minutes of vigorous and unslackened analytic thought bestowed upon one of them usually suffices to educe from it all there is to educe, its general solution…
    -- Edited by Umberto Eco and Thomas A. Sebeok, The Sign of Three: Dupin, Holmes, Peirce
    If, after this, you can possibly want any further aid towards knowing what Sir Lionel was, we can tell you, that in his soul "the scientific combinations of thought could educe no fuller harmonies of the good and the true, than lay in the primaeval pulses which floated as an atmosphere around it!"...
    -- George Eliot, Middlemarch
    Definition
    1. To draw forth or bring out, as something potential or latent.
    2. To infer or deduce.
    Term

    conciliate \kuhn-SIL-ee-eyt\, verb:

     

    "Mrs. Dombey," said Mr. Dombey, resuming as much as he could of his arrogant composure, "you will not conciliate me, or turn me from any purpose, by this course of conduct." -- Charles Dickens, Dombey and Son

     

    But this was sufficient, and served to conciliate the good will of the natives, with whom our congeniality of sentiment on this point did more towards inspiring a friendly feeling than anything else that could have happened. -- Herman Melville, Typee

    Definition
    1. To overcome the distrust or hostility of; placate; win over. 2. To win or gain (goodwill, regard, or favor). 3. To make compatible; reconcile. 4. To become agreeable or reconciled.
    Term

    mettle \MET-l\, noun:

     

    Who is so ignorant as not to know that knights-errant are beyond all jurisdiction, their only law their swords, while their charter is their mettle and their will is their decrees?
    -- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
    "--must do something to justify your existence," Marlene was saying to Tim, "and now is the chance to show your mettle."
    -- Muriel Spark, The Bachelors
    Definition
    1. Courage and fortitude.
    2. Disposition or temperament.
    Term

    birr \bur\, noun:

     

    She pursed her lips and, expertly, imitated the red-winged blackbird's call: not the liquid piping of the wood thrush, which dipped down into the dry tcch tchh tchh of the cricket's birr and up again in delirious, sobbing trills…
    -- Donna Tartt, The Little Friend: A Novel

     

    I turn to the woman. There's a wheezing birr coming from her own bleached-out face.
    -- Irvine Welsh, Filth
    Definition

    1. A whirring sound.
    2. Emphasis in statement, speech, etc.
    3. A whirring sound.

     

    verb:
    1. To move with or make a whirring sound.

     

    Term

    heterotelic \het-er-uh-TEL-ik\, adjective:

     

    You're of heteroteleic value, that means you were invoked for an extraneous purpose alone, the outcome of which won't even be known to me until I'm back with my physical body in the physical world…
    -- William Cook, Love in the Time of Flowers

     

    Therefore, what has been proposed above as a means of redirecting the development of postmodernity toward more livable, human dimensions is a heterotelic narrative transitivity—an active reimmersion of narrative in the social—which contrasts sharply with the autotelic concern for their own procedures and the hermetic intransitivity of modernist self-consciousness and late modernist self-reflexivity.
    -- Joseph Francese, Narrating Postmodern Time and Space
    Definition
    Having the purpose of its existence or occurrence apart from itself.
    Term

    brogue \brohg\, noun:

     

    “Nothing like hair of the dog that bit ya, as long as it's green hair,” he said in that brogue that was getting old.
    -- Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer
    His brogue grew less heavy, his speech more formal, tailoring it to his audience.
    -- James Rollins, The Doomsday Key
    Definition
    1. Any strong regional accent.
    2. An Irish accent in the pronunciation of English.
    3. A durable, comfortable, low-heeled shoe, often having decorative perforations and a wing tip.
    4. A coarse, usually untanned leather shoe once worn in Ireland and Scotland.
    5. Brogan.
    6. A fraud; trick; prank.
    Term

    calvous \KAL-vuhs\, adjective:

     

    The wit's voluminous neckerchief unraveled and slipped to the mold, and the spangled silver wig fell from the telltale calvous head.
    -- D. M. Cornish, Lamplighter
    Admittedly most old, bloated, calvous Germans could double for me, and even if he hadn't been doppelganger material, with the beard I had started growing and the two black eyes, you'd need x-rays to spot the difference.
    -- Tibor Fischer, The Thought Gang
    Definition
    Lacking all or most of the hair on the head; bald.
    Term

    swaddle \SWOD-l\, verb:

     

    A child is our natural company; it is a delight to us to make a fright of it, to fondle it, to swaddle it, to dress and undress it, to cuddle it, to sing it lullabies, to cradle it, to get it up, to put it to bed, and to nourish it...
    -- Honoré de Balzac, Droll Stories

     

    But that was a little later—just now Narlikar and Bose were tending to Ahmed Sinai's toe; midwives had been instructed to wash and swaddle the newborn pair; and now Miss Mary Pereira made her contribution.
    -- Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
    Definition

    1. To bind an infant with long, narrow strips of cloth to prevent free movement.
    2. To wrap (anything) round with bandages.

     

    noun:
    1. A long, narrow strip of cloth used for swaddling or bandaging.

     

    Term

    fusty \FUHS-tee\, adjective:

     

    He could even smell the old woman in the buggy beside him, smell the fusty camphor-reeking shawl and even the airless black cotton umbrella in which (he would not discover until they had reached the house) she had concealed a hatchet and a flashlight.
    -- William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
    I won't stop accusing you of being fusty if you don't stop acting that way. For God's sake, what is wrong with seeing what a rock concert is like? I'd like to find out.
    -- Lionel Shriver, The Female of the Species
    Definition
    1. Having a stale smell; moldy; musty.
    2. Old-fashioned or out-of-date, as architecture, furnishings, or the like.
    3. Stubbornly conservative or old-fashioned; fogyish.
    Term

    anamnesis \an-am-NEE-sis\, noun:

     

    When I was writing a novel about a fourteen-year-old girl, I must remember what I was like at fourteen, but this anamnesis is not a looking back, from my present chronological age, at Madeleine, aged fourteen.
    -- Madeleine L'Engle, The Irrational Season
    The narrator of Dostoevsky's Dream of a Ridiculous Man visits in his sleep, in a state of anamnesis perhaps, a humanity living in the Golden Age before the loss of innocence and happiness.
    -- Czesław Miłosz, To Begin Where I Am: Selected Essays
    Definition
    1. The recollection or remembrance of the past.
    2. Platonism. Recollection of the Ideas, which the soul had known in a previous existence, especially by means of reasoning.
    3. The medical history of a patient.
    4. Immunology. A prompt immune response to a previously encountered antigen, characterized by more rapid onset and greater effectiveness of antibody and T cell reaction than during the first encounter, as after a booster shot in a previously immunized person.
    5. (Often initial capital letter) a prayer in a Eucharistic service, recalling the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ.
    Term

    novation \noh-VEY-shuhn\, noun:

     

    Everything seems to suggest that his discourse proceeds according to a two-term dialectic: popular opinion and its contrary, Doxa and paradox, the stereotype and the novation, fatigue and freshness, relish and disgust: I like/I don't like.
    -- Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes
    The Text is a little like a score of this new kind: it solicits from the reader a practical collaboration. A great novation this, for who executes the work?
    -- Edited by Dorothy Hale, The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900-2000
    Definition
    1. The introduction of something new; innovation.
    2. Law. The substitution of a new obligation for an old one, usually by the substitution of a new debtor or of a new creditor.
    Supporting users have an ad free experience!