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Wednesday Word of the Day
Language - English
Undergraduate 1

Additional Language - English Flashcards




abulia \uh-BOO-lee-uh; uh-BYOO-\, noun: I was suffering from an aboulia, you know. I couldn't seem to make decisions. -- Anatole Broyard, "Reading and Writing; (Enter Pound and Eliot)", New York Times, May 30, 1982
Loss or impairment of the ability to act or to make decisions.
acumen \uh-KYOO-muhn; AK-yuh-muhn\, noun: With Leo's rare combination of editorial acumen and business know-how, he might have become a publishing giant had he not permitted his drinking and gambling to hold him back. -- Ellis Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac
Quickness of perception or discernment; shrewdness shown by keen insight.
aegis \EE-jis\, noun: It is this ideal of the human under the aegis of something higher which seems to me to provide the strongest counterpressure against the fragmentation and barbarization of our world. -- Ted J. Smith III (Editor), In Defense of Tradition: Collected Shorter Writings of Richard M. Weaver, 1929-1963
1. Protection; support. 2. Sponsorship; patronage. 3. Guidance, direction, or control. 4. A shield or protective armor; -- applied in mythology to the shield of Zeus.
afflatus \uh-FLAY-tuhs\, noun: Whatever happened to passion and vision and the divine afflatus in poetry? -- Clive Hicks, "From 'Green Man' (Ronsdale)", Toronto Star, November 21, 1999
A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration.
amalgam \uh-MAL-guhm\, noun
1. An alloy of mercury with another metal or metals; used especially (with silver) as a dental filling. 2. A mixture or compound of different things.
apprise \uh-PRYZ\, transitive verb: When Tyler, tuning in to channel seven, became apprised of this news, he raised his eyebrows and smiled. -- William T. Vollmann, The Royal Family
To give notice to; to inform; -- often followed by of; as, we will apprise the general of an intended attack; he apprised the commander of what he had done.
aright \uh-RYT\, adverb: The worldview of a people, though normally left unspoken in the daily business of buying and selling and counting shekels, is to be found in a culture's stories, myths, and rituals, which, if studied aright, inevitably yield insight into the deepest concerns of a people by unveiling the invisible fears and desires inscribed on human hearts. -- Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews
Rightly; correctly; properly; in a right way or manner.
asperity \as-PAIR-uh-tee\, noun: The separation wave probes all the rocks in its path, moving forward until it hits another asperity or fault bend, whereupon it abruptly stops. -- Sandra Blakeslee, "Quake Theory Attacks Prevailing Wisdom OnHow Faults Slip and Slide", New York Times, April 14, 1992
1. Roughness of surface; unevenness. 2. Roughness or harshness of sound; a quality that grates upon the ear. 3. Roughness of manner; severity; harshness.
bagatelle \bag-uh-TEL\, noun: Don't worry about that, a mere bagatelle, old boy! -- Eric Ellis, "Error Message", Time, February 10, 2000
1. A trifle; a thing of little or no importance. 2. A short, light musical or literary piece. 3. A game played with a cue and balls on an oblong table having cups or arches at one end.
blackguard \BLAG-uhrd\, noun: Douglas was not a saint, though, so his behaviour and attitude were, as he wrote, 'neither better nor worse than my contemporaries -- that is to say, [I became] a finished young blackguard, ripe for any kind of wickedness'. -- Douglas Murray, Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas
1. A rude or unscrupulous person; a scoundrel. 2. A person who uses foul or abusive language. 3. Scurrilous; abusive; low; worthless; vicious; as, "blackguard language." 4. To revile or abuse in scurrilous language.
boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY; bul-uh-\, noun: Oswald, whose idea of excitement is breakfasting with a penguin, is a boulevardier: Hat cocked precariously on his head, he saunters out into the sunny city. -- Tom Gliatto, "Tube", People, July 22, 2002
1. A frequenter of city boulevards, especially in Paris. 2. A sophisticated, worldly, and socially active man; a man who frequents fashionable places; a man-about-town.
caesura \sih-ZHUR-uh; -ZUR-\, noun; plural caesuras or caesurae \sih-ZHUR-ee; -ZUR-ee\: After an inconclusive day spent discussing the caesura of "Sonnet"'s opening line, Luke and his colleagues went for cocktails at Strabismus. -- Martin Amis, Heavy Water and Other Stories
1. A break or pause in a line of verse, usually occurring in the middle of a line, and indicated in scanning by a double vertical line; for example, "The proper study || of mankind is man" [Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man]. 2. Any break, pause, or interruption.
cadge \KAJ\, transitive verb: Another . . . complains of the hard work involved in cadging an invitation to a fancy dinner. -- James N. Davidson, Courtesans & Fishcakes
1. To beg or obtain by begging; to sponge. 2. To beg; to sponge.
camarilla \kam-uh-RIL-uh; -REE-yuh\, noun: Mr Kiselev likened Yeltsin's entourage to a "camarilla" . . . which would turn Russia "into a gigantic banana republic corrupted from top to bottom by a rotten clique of demagogues". -- Marcus Warren, "Moguls at war over control of Kremlin", Daily Telegraph, July 23, 1999
A group of secret and often scheming advisers, as of a king; a cabal or clique.
capacious \kuh-PAY-shuhs\, adjective: Litter was picked up non stop during the week (mostly by that nice governor with the capacious pockets). -- Faysal Mikdadi, "'Why shouldn't it be like this all the time?'", The Guardian, September 2, 2002
Able to contain much; roomy; spacious.
cavil \KAV-uhl\, intransitive verb: Insiders with their own strong views, after all, tend to cavil about competing ideas and stories they consider less than comprehensive. -- Laurence I. Barrett, "Dog-Bites-Dog", Time, October 30, 1989
1. To raise trivial or frivolous objections; to find fault without good reason. 2. To raise trivial objections to. 3. A trivial or frivolous objection.
chichi \SHEE-shee\, adjective: "Going in gangs to those chichi clubs at Maidenhead." -- E. Taylor, Game of Hide-&-Seek "Whether the chichi gender theorists like it or not, sexual duality is a law of nature among all highly evolved life forms." -- Camille Paglia "The sort of real delicious Italian country cooking that is a revelation after so much chichi Italian food dished up in London." -- Daily Telegraph, January 22, 1969
Affectedly trendy.
chimera \ky-MIR-uh\, noun: Asa Whitney, with no previous experience and having nothing but his faith and self-assurance to tell him he was not pursuing a chimera, began to outline how he would get a railroad across the vast, uninhabited middle of the American continent to the Pacific shores, where the lure of Asia beckoned, within reach. -- David Haward Bain, Empire Express
1. (Capitalized) A fire-breathing she-monster represented as having a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. 2. Any imaginary monster made up of grotesquely incongruous parts. 3. An illusion or mental fabrication; a grotesque product of the imagination. 4. An individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution, produced as a result of organ transplant, grafting, or genetic engineering.
claque \KLACK\, noun: He cultivated the "Georgetown set" of leading journalists and columnists and had them cheering for him as if he had hired a claque. -- Theodore Draper, "Little Heinz And Big Henry", New York Times, September 6, 1992
1. A group hired to applaud at a performance. 2. A group of fawning admirers.
cloy \KLOY\, transitive verb: The opulence, the music, the gouty food -- all start to cloy my senses. -- Jeffrey Tayler, "The Moscow Rave part two: I Have Payments to Make on My Mink", Atlantic, December 31, 1997
1. To weary by excess, especially of sweetness, richness, pleasure, etc. 2. To become distasteful through an excess usually of something originally pleasing.
cogent \KOH-juhnt\, adjective: One woman, Adrian Pomerantz, was so intelligent that the professors always lit up when Adrian spoke; her eloquent, cogent analyses forced them not to be lazy, not to repeat themselves. -- Meg Wolitzer, Surrender, Dorothy
Having the power to compel conviction; appealing to the mind or to reason; convincing.
contretemps \KAHN-truh-tahn\, noun; plural contretemps \-tahnz\: Mrs. Post was the center of a notable contretemps when she spilled a spoonful of berries at a dinner of the Gourmet Society here in 1938. -- "Emily Post Is Dead Here at 86; Writer was Arbiter of Etiquette", New York Times, September 27, 1960
An inopportune or embarrassing situation or event; a hitch.
confluence \KON-floo-uhn(t)s\, noun: At the confluence of continents, at the narrow neck of the Nile Valley just before it spreads into the flat water-maze of the Delta, this has always been a place where elements mingle and cultures collide. -- Max Rodenbeck, Cairo: The City Victorious ."
1. A flowing or coming together; junction. 2. The place where two rivers, streams, etc. meet. 3. A flocking or assemblage of a multitude in one place; a large collection or assemblage.
contrite \KON-tryt; kuhn-TRYT\, adjective: Contrite sinners forgiven, yes. -- Richard de Mille, My Secret Mother Within days, a contrite Clarence Arthur was sending her roses and violets, even a bad poem. -- Paul Mariani, The Broken Tower Often he'd look contrite and even apologize. -- Rafer Johnson with Philip Goldberg, The Best That I Can Be Contrite derives from Latin conterere, "to rub away, to grind," hence "to obliterate, to abase," from con- + terere, "to rub, to rub away."
1. Deeply affected with grief and regret for having done wrong; penitent; as, "a contrite sinner." 2. Expressing or arising from contrition; as, "contrite words."
countermand \KOWN-tuhr-mand; kown-tuhr-MAND\, transitive verb: And given the mixed results, a constitutional amendment that could countermand both the law and the original order by Vermont's Supreme Court seems unlikely. -- Stanley Kurtz, "Florida? Try Vermont", National Review Online, November 13, 2000
1. To revoke (a former command); to cancel or rescind by giving an order contrary to one previously given. 2. To recall or order back by a contrary order. 3. A contrary order. 4. Revocation of a former order or command.
cupidity \kyoo-PID-uh-tee\, noun: Curiosity was a form of lust, a wandering cupidity of the eye and the mind. -- John Crowley, "Of Marvels And Monsters", Washington Post, October 18, 1998
Eager or excessive desire, especially for wealth; greed; avarice.
dapple \DAP-uhl\, noun: Look at . . . his cows with their comic camouflage dapples . . . . -- Arthur C. Danto, "Sometimes Red", ArtForum, January 2002
1. A small contrasting spot or blotch. 2. A mottled appearance, especially of the coat of an animal (as a horse). 3. To mark with patches of a color or shade; to spot. 4. To become dappled. 5. Marked with contrasting patches or spots; dappled.

diadem \DY-uh-dem\, noun


On the far side of the cloister in the long, chapel-like room called the Treasure, she sits on her throne -- a small stiff gold figure robed in gold and covered with jewels and crowned with a golden diadem. -- Hannah Green, Little Saint

1. A crown. 2. An ornamental headband worn (as by Eastern monarchs) as a badge of royalty. 3. Regal power; sovereignty; empire; -- considered as symbolized by the crown. 4. To adorn with a diadem; to crown.
disparate \DIS-puh-rit; dis-PAIR-it\, adjective: Science at its best isolates a common element underlying many seemingly disparate phenomena. -- John Horgan, The Undiscovered Mind A Region Not Home," though it encompasses topics as seemingly disparate as Shakespeare, football, suicide, racism and Disneyland, actually has considerable thematic coherence. -- Phillip Lopate, "Dreaming of Elsewhere", New York Times, February 27, 2000
1. Fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind. 2. Composed of or including markedly dissimilar elements.
epigone \EP-uh-gohn\, noun: He probably was influenced by John le Carré. . . . But Mr. Crisp . . . is no mere epigone. -- Newgate Callendar, "Who's The Mole?", New York Times, October 9, 1988
An inferior imitator, especially of some distinguished writer, artist, musician, or philosopher.
extol \ik-STOHL\, transitive verb: The processes of nature, which most writers extol as symbols of renewal and eternal life, were always seen darkly by Kerouac. -- Ellis Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac
To praise highly; to glorify; to exalt.
feckless \FEK-lis\, adjective: He was a great admirer of the poetry of plain speech. He despised mere feckless adornments of language or thought. -- Richard Elman, Namedropping: Mostly Literary Memoirs
1. Ineffective; having no real worth or purpose. 2. Worthless; irresponsible; generally incompetent and ineffectual.
fetter \FET-uhr\, noun: The right ankle of one, indeed, is connected with the left ankle of another by a small iron fetter. -- William Wilberforce, On the Horrors of the Slave Trade
1. A chain or shackle for the feet; a bond; a shackle. 2. Anything that confines or restrains; a restraint. 3. To put fetters upon; to shackle or confine. 4. To restrain from progress or action; to impose restraints on; to confine.
fustian \FUHS-chuhn\, noun: Don't squander the court's patience puffing your cheeks up on stately bombast and lofty fustian. Speak plainly! -- Richard Dooling, Brain Storm
1. A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc. 2. An inflated style of writing or speech; pompous or pretentious language. 3. Made of fustian. 4. Pompous; ridiculously inflated; bombastic.
gimcrack \JIM-krak\, noun: Yet the set is more than a collection of pretty gimcracks. -- Frank Rich, Hot Seat
1. A showy but useless or worthless object; a gewgaw. 2. Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy.
glower \GLAU-uhr\, intransitive verb: At one point, the head of the institute started chatting with colleagues sitting at a table behind Yeltsin, prompting the Russian President to interrupt his reading and glower at them. -- Bruce W. Nelan, "The Last Hurrah?", Time, April 26, 1993 A
1. To look or stare angrily or with a scowl. 2. An angry or scowling look or stare.
grandee \gran-DEE\, noun:
Jack Byron still harbored delusions of being a local grandee, attempting to influence district politics; as the final humiliation, in the parliamentary election of 1786 his vote was disallowed.
-- Benita Eisler, Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame
Like Bellow, he is at once a snob and a democrat, a voracious brain and a churning gut, a seminar-room grandee and a barroom brawler.
-- A. O. Scott, "Trans-Atlantic Flights", New York Times, January 31, 1999
Seduced by his need to live like a grandee, Coppola can't afford not to work within the system.
-- Joseph McBride, "Offers He Should've Refused", New York Times, December 12, 1999
Grandee comes from Spanish grande, from Latin grandis, "great, large, hence important, grand." Related words include grandeur, "the state or quality of being grand"; grandiose, "characterized by affectation of grandeur"; aggrandize, "to make great or greater"; and, of course, grand.
1. A man of elevated rank or station.

2. In Spain or Portugal, a nobleman of the first rank.
halcyon \HAL-see-uhn\, noun:
It seems to be that my boyhood days in the Edwardian era were halcyon days.
-- Mel Gussow, "At Home With John Gielgud: His Own Brideshead, His Fifth 'Lear'", New York Times, October 28, 1993
It is a common lament that children today grow up too fast, that society is conspiring to deprive them of the halcyon childhood they deserve.
-- Keith Bradsher, "Fear of Crime Trumps the Fear of Lost Youth", New York Times, November 21, 1999
It was a halcyon life, cocktails and bridge at sunset, white jackets and long gowns at dinner, good gin and Gershwin under the stars.
-- Elizabeth M. Norman, We Band of Angels
Halcyon derives from Latin (h)alcyon, from Greek halkuon, a mythical bird, kingfisher. This bird was fabled by the Greeks to nest at sea, about the time of the winter solstice, and, during incubation, to calm the waves. Entry and Pronunciation for halcyon
1. A kingfisher.
2. A mythical bird, identified with the kingfisher, that was fabled to nest at sea about the time of the winter solstice and to calm the waves during incubation.
3. Calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy; as, "deep, halcyon repose."
4. Marked by peace and prosperity; as, "halcyon years."
harridan \HAIR-uh-din\, noun:
With the insight of hindsight, I'd have liked to have been able to protect my mother from the domineering old harridan, with her rough tongue and primitive sense of justice, but I did not see it like that, then.
-- Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg
Whatever compassion we may feel towards Seraphie, charged with managing the Beyle household and provided with little in the way of emotional or material recompense, evidence scarcely softens Stendhal's portrait of an ignorant, vindictive, mean-spirited harridan.
-- Jonathan Keates, Stendhal
Even before that, for the first year and a half, as reports and rumors seeped out that she was a harridan, yelling and throwing things at subordinates as well as at her husband and his aides, she would often think to herself, "What's going on here? Why are some of these people slandering me or my husband on a daily basis? Why is all this stuff happening?"
-- David Maraniss, "First Lady of Paradox", Washington Post, January 15, 1995
As the vulgar, scornful, desperate Martha, Miss Hagen makes a tormented harridan horrifyingly believable.
-- Howard Taubman, "The Theater: Albee's 'Who's Afraid'", New York Times, October 15, 1962
Harridan probably comes from French haridelle, "a worn-out horse, a gaunt woman."
A worn-out strumpet; a vixenish woman; a hag.
immolate \IM-uh-layt\, transitive verb:
What have I gained, that I no longer immolate a bull to Jove, or to Neptune, or a mouse to Hecate . . . if I quake at opinion, the public opinion, as we call it; or at the threat of assault, or contumely, or bad neighbors, or poverty, or mutilation, or at the rumor of revolution, or of murder?
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays and English traits
In the city of Bhopal, police used water canon to thwart a group of Congress workers who were on the point of immolating themselves.
-- Peter Popham, "Gandhi critics are expelled by party", Independent, May 21, 1999
Bowls of honey at the room's center drew random insects to immolate themselves against a nearby bug zapper.
-- Carol Kino, "Damien Hirst at Gagosian", Art in America, May 2001
Immolate comes from the past participle of Latin immolare, "to sacrifice; originally, to sprinkle a victim with sacrificial meal," from in- + mola, "grits or grains of spelt coarsely ground and mixed with salt."
1. To sacrifice; to offer in sacrifice; to kill as a sacrificial victim.
2. To kill or destroy, often by fire.
importunate \im-POR-chuh-nit\, adjective:
An emperor penguin in captivity starved to death by feeding all his rations -- about six pounds of fish daily -- to an importunate chick.
-- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, The Emperor's Embrace
The play is a cacophony of importunate ringing doorbells and telephones, of pleas both professional and romantic from an exasperating assortment of colleagues and admirers.
-- Ben Brantley, "Present Laughter", New York Times, November 19, 1996
Jokes form a kind of currency, such that a wise-crack from the most importunate beggar may bring instant reward.
-- Max Rodenbeck, Cairo: The City Victorious
Importunate is derived from Latin importunus, "unsuitable, troublesome, (of character) assertive, insolent, inconsiderate."
Troublesomely urgent; overly persistent in request or demand; unreasonably solicitous.
indigent \IN-dih-juhnt\, adjective:
That which goes under the general Name of Charity... consists in relieving the Indigent.
-- Joseph Addison, The Spectator
Long-term reliance on Government benefits is corrupting for the well-to-do and the indigent alike, Mr. Longman argues.
-- Nicholas Eberstadt, "The Great Chain Letter", review of The Return Of Thrift, by Phillip Longman, New York Times, August 4, 1996
In a landmark case 35 years ago, Gideon v Wainwright, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that indigent defendants must be provided with a lawyer at state expense because there could be no fair trial in a serious criminal case without one.
-- "Too poor to be defended", The Economist, April 9, 1998
Indigent derives from Latin indigens, indigent-, present participle of indigere, "to need."
Extremely poor; not having the necessities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter.
inveigle \in-VAY-guhl; -VEE-\, transitive verb:
Deep Blue had tried to inveigle Kasparov into grabbing several pawn offers, but the champion was not fooled.
-- Robert Byrne, "Kasparov and Computer Play to a Draw", New York Times, February 14, 1996
He used to tell one about Kevin Moran ringing him up pretending to be a French radio journalist and inveigling Cas, new in France, into parlaying his three words of French into an interview.
-- Tom Humphries, "Big Cas cameos will be missed", Irish Times, May 4, 2000
Once a soft touch for these ragged moralists who inveigled her into sparing them her change, Agnes began to cross the road, begging for some change in her circumstances.
-- Rachel Cusk, Saving Agnes
In fact, he spent the entire time in the car park, waiting for eye witnesses from whom to inveigle quotes he could use as his own.
-- Matthew Norman, "Diary", The Guardian, January 1, 2003
Inveigle comes from Anglo-French enveogler, from Old French aveugler, "to blind, to lead astray as if blind," from aveugle, "blind," from Medieval Latin ab oculis, "without eyes."
1. To persuade by ingenuity or flattery; to entice.
2. To obtain by ingenuity or flattery.
knell \NEL\, verb:
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
-- Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
The Bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a Knell, That summons thee to Heaven, or to Hell.
-- Shakespeare, Macbeth
All the morning the funeral knell has been tolling.
-- Besant & Rice, The Chaplain of the Fleet
Not worth a blessing nor a bell to knell for thee.
-- Fletcher, The Spanish Curate
From the Old English cnyll, cnell, "the sound of bells."
1. The stoke of a bell tolled at a funeral or at the death of a person; a death signal; a passing bell; hence, figuratively, a warning of, or a sound indicating, the passing away of anything.
2. To sound as a knell; especially, to toll at a death or funeral; hence, to sound as a warning or evil omen.
lachrymose \LAK-ruh-mohs\, adjective:
At the farewell party on the boat, Joyce was surrounded by a lachrymose family.
-- Edna O'Brien, "She Was the Other Ireland", New York Times, June 19, 1988
I promise to do my best, and if at any time my resolution lapses, pen me a few fierce vitriolic words and you shall receive by the next post a lachrymose & abject apology in my most emotional hand writing.
-- Rupert Brooke, "letter to James Strachey", July 7, 1905
The game is perpetuated by the sons in a sometimes vicious sibling rivalry that inevitably subsides into lachrymose reconciliation.
-- Arthur Gelb and Barbara Gelb, O'Neill: Life With Monte Cristo
Meanwhile, a lachrymose new waltz, "After The Ball Is Over," was sweeping the nation.
-- Benjamin Welles, Sumner Welles: FDR's Global Strategist
Lachrymose is from Latin lacrimosus, from lacrima,
1. Generating or shedding tears; given to shedding tears; suffused with tears; tearful.
2. Causing or tending to cause tears.
laconic \luh-KON-ik\, adjective:
Readers' reports range from the laconic to the verbose.
-- Bernard Stamler, "A Brooklyncentric View of Life", New York Times, February 28, 1999
In the laconic language of the sheriff department's report,there was "no visible sign of life."
-- David Wise, Cassidy's Run
There was one tiny photograph of him at a YMCA camp plus a few laconic and uninformative entries in a soldier's log from the war year, 1917-18.
-- Edward W. Said, Out of Place: A Memoir
Laconic comes, via Latin, from Greek Lakonikos, "of or relating to a Laconian or Spartan," hence "terse," in the manner of the Laconians.
Using or marked by the use of a minimum of words; brief and pithy; brusque.
latitudinarian \lat-uh-too-din-AIR-ee-un; -tyoo-\, adjective:
More was nothing like his supposed example, the gently latitudinarian Cicero, for instance: Cicero's philosophical and religious dialogues (as opposed to his legal and political speeches, of course) often read as if he delighted in being contradicted, while More's are spittingly conclusive.
-- Caleb Crain, American Sympathy
. . .the optimism preached in England by latitudinarians trying to soften the Puritan concepts of an inscrutable, cruel God and an abject, fallen humanity.
-- James Wood, The Broken Estate
Latitudinarian comes from Latin latitudo, latitudin-, "latitude" (from latus, "broad, wide") + the suffix -arian.
1. Having or expressing broad and tolerant views, especially in religious matters.
2. A person who is broad-minded and tolerant; one who displays freedom in thinking, especially in religious matters.
3. [Often capitalized] A member of the Church of England, in the time of Charles II, who adopted more liberal notions in respect to the authority, government, and doctrines of the church than generally prevailed.
lenity \LEN-uh-tee\, noun:
The criminal suspect is pressured by remorse or hope of lenity or sheer despair to fess up.
-- Richard A. Posner, "Let Them Talk", The New Republic, August 21, 2000
In this context, severity is justice, lenity injustice.
-- Dr Anthony Daniels, "It's no way to treat a lunatic", Sunday Telegraph, December 13, 1998
. . .an excessive lenity toward criminals, which encourages crime.
-- Richard A. Posner, "The Moral Minority", New York Times, December 19, 1999
And what makes robbers bold but too much lenity?
-- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, part III

Lenity comes from Latin lenitas, from lenis, "soft, mild."
The state or quality of being lenient; mildness; gentleness of treatment; leniency.
lionize \LY-uh-nyz\, transitive verb:
At Penn State he'd been welcomed, nurtured, lionized as a track and field star who narrowly missed making our Olympic team in the decathlon
-- James Brady, Further Lane
But it is a good reason to be wary, and to pay some attention to that man behind the curtain -- or, if anyone tries to sell you one, to be cautious about lionizing "some pig" -- however terrific, radiant, and humble -- in a poke.
-- Marjorie B. Garber, Symptoms of Culture
But the urge to lionize him is an indication that we live in a terrible age for pianists. There is today almost no pianist worth crossing the street for.
-- Jay Nordlinger, "Curtain Calls", National Review, May 31, 1999
Lionize, comes from lion, in the sense of "a person of great interest or importance."
To treat or regard as an object of great interest or importance.
ludic \LOO-dik\, adjective:
Um, there's only one problem: her mother. Who, being a substantial executive, has a somewhat different attitude to the worth of the professions than her wastrel, ludic husband.
-- Pat Kane, "Pleasing papa", The Guardian, July 11, 2001
He is indeed the outstanding imaginative prose stylist of his generation, with an entirely recognizable literary manner, fizzy and playful (I am trying to avoid the words "pyrotechnic" and "ludic").
-- Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "What Kingsley Can Teach Martin", The Atlantic, September 2000
But within this ludic tale there lurks a tragedy of love and loss that does not lose its tenderness even when embedded in [the author's] perpetually farcical frame of mind.
-- Richard Bernstein, "Lalita, Post-Modern Object of Desire", New York Times, September 8, 1999
Ludic derives from Latin ludus, "play." Ludicrous, "amusing or laughable," shares the same root.
Of or relating to play; characterized by play; playful.

maelstrom \MAYL-struhm\, noun:

The murk became thicker as Zachareesi fishtailed his canoe through a swirling maelstrom of currents pouring past, and over, unseen rocks.

-- Farley Mowat, The Farfarers

Suddenly, the Serb cause was thrust into the maelstrom of the Napoleonic Wars.

-- Misha Glenny, The Balkans

Always at the center of a maelstrom of activity and contention, he provided good columns for the press.

-- Arthur Lennig, Stroheim

Like Captain Ahab, the monomaniacal Harmon draws everyone around him into a maelstrom of trouble.

-- John Motyka, review of The Dogs of Winter, by Kem Nunn, New York Times, March 23, 1997

Maelstrom comes from obsolete Dutch maelstroom, from malen, "to grind, hence to whirl round," + stroom, "stream."



1. A large, powerful, or destructive whirlpool.

2. Something resembling a maelstrom; a violent, disordered, or turbulent state of affairs.

melange \may-LAHNZH\, noun:
Interspersed with diverse lectures and classroom activities were periods of financial difficulty, military service, and employment as a private tutor, all of which added to the curious melange of experiences that would ultimately blossom into his unexpected and remarkable life's work.
-- Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten
The smell in the car . . . was a pungent, sour melange of garlic, unwashed bodies, vodka, musty woolen overcoats, and Bulgarian tobacco.
-- Fen Montaigne, Reeling in Russia
Many books in popular psychology are a melange of the author's comments, a dollop of research, and stupefyingly dull transcriptions from interviews.
-- Carol Tavris, "A Remedy But Not a Cure", New York Times, February 26, 1989
Melange derives from Old French meslance, from mesler, "to mix," ultimately from Latin miscere, "to mix."
A mixture; a medley.
miasma \my-AZ-muh; mee-\, noun:
The critics, he says, "will sit in their large automobiles, spewing a miasma of toxic gas into the atmosphere, and they will thank you for not smoking a cigarette."
-- Charles E. Little, "No One Communes Anymore", New York Times, October 17, 1993
To destroy such prejudices, which many a time rise and spread themselves like a miasma, is an imperative duty of theory, for the misbegotten offspring of human reason can also be in turn destroyed by pure reason.
-- Carl von Clausewitz, On War (translated by Colonel James John Graham)
He spends whatever money he has on hash and eventually heroin . . . and proceeds to sink into a miasma of anger and alienation.
-- Jhumpa Lahiri, "Money Talks in Pakistan", New York Times, March 12, 2000
Girls of my generation stumbled through much of our early adolescence in a dense miasma of longing.
-- Ellen Pall, "She had a Crush on Them", New York Times, July 29, 1990
Miasma comes from Greek miasma, "pollution," from miainein, "to pollute."
1. A vaporous exhalation (as of marshes or putrid matter) formerly thought to cause disease; broadly, a thick vaporous atmosphere or emanation.
2. A harmful or corrupting atmosphere or influence; also, an atmosphere that obscures; a fog.
minatory \MIN-uh-tor-ee\, adjective:
He was often observed peeping through the bars of a gate and making minatory gestures with his small forefinger while he scolded the sheep with an inarticulate burr, intended to strike terror into their astonished minds.
-- George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
Then, abruptly on the last page, he lapses into a kinder, gentler tone, as if wanting to leave us with a less minatory impression of himself.
-- Pankaj Mishra, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", New Statesman, April 9, 1999
. . .state-inspired guerrilla and terrorist campaigns; maritime blockades and minatory troop concentrations; continuous threats and boycotts, etc.
-- Benny Morris, "The Core of the Conflict", New York Times, March 25, 1990
Minatory derives from Latin minatorius, from minari, "to threaten." It is related to menace.
Threatening; menacing.
moiety \MOY-uh-tee\, noun:
Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety.
-- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Cut off from news at home, fearful of a blood bath, anxious to salvage a moiety of the reform program, the Prague leadership accepted Moscow's diktat.
-- Karl E. Meyer, "Pangloss in Prague", New York Times, June 27, 1993
Barunga society is sharply divided into two complementary, descent-based branches (a structure anthropologists call "moiety"), which permeate relationships, spirituality, and many other aspects of life.
-- Claire Smith, "Art of The Dreaming", Discovering Archaeology, March/April 2000
Moiety comes from Old French meitiet, from Late Latin medietas, from Latin medius, "middle." Entry and Pronunciation for moiety
1. One of two equal parts; a half.
2. An indefinite part; a small portion or share.
3. One of two basic tribal subdivisions.
nescience \NESH-uhn(t)s; NESH-ee-uhn(t)s\, noun:

The ancients understood that too much knowledge could actually impede human functioning -- this at a time when the encroachments on global nescience were comparatively few.
-- Cullen Murphy, "DNA Fatigue", The Atlantic, November 1997
He fought on our behalf in the war that finally matters: against nescience, against inadvertence, against the supposition that anything is anything else.
-- Hugh Kenner, "On the Centenary of James Joyce", New York Times, January 31, 1982
The notion has taken hold that every barometric fluctuation must demonstrate climate change. This anecdotal case for global warming is mostly nonsense, driven by nescience of a basic point, from statistics and probability, that the weather is always weird somewhere.
-- Gregg Easterbrook, "Warming Up", The New Republic, November 8, 1999
Nescience is from Latin nescire, "not to know," from ne-, "not" + scire, "to know." It is related to science. Nescient is the adjective form.
Lack of knowledge or awareness; ignorance.
objurgate \OB-juhr-gayt\, transitive verb:
I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
-- Ogden Nash, "The Centipede"
The act about to be objurgated here calls on the Food and Drug Administration to oversee a broad revision of food labeling.
-- Daniel Seligman, "Federal Food Follies", Fortune, July 1, 1991
Objurgate comes from the past participle of Latin from objurgare, "to scold, to blame," from ob-, "against" + jurgare, "to dispute, to quarrel, to sue at law," from jus, jur-, "law" + -igare (from agere, "to lead").
To express strong disapproval of; to criticize severely.
obtrude \uhb-TROOD; ob-\, transitive verb:
Moreover, crime is something which the citizen is happy to forget when it does not obtrude itself into public consciousness.
-- "Voting On Crime", Irish Times, May 30, 1997
For the next few months, Polidori continued to obtrude himself on Byron's attention in every possible way -- popping into every conversation, sulking when he was ignored, challenging Percy Bysshe Shelley to a duel, attacking an apothecary and getting arrested "accidentally" banging his employer on the knee with an oar and saying he wasn't sorry -- until finally Byron dismissed him.
-- Angeline Goreau, "Physician, Behave Thyself", New York Times, September 3, 1989
He was, in his relationships with his few close friends, a considerate, delightful, sensitive, helpful, unpretentious person who did not obtrude his social and political views, nor make agreeing with them a condition of steadfast friendship.
-- Alden Whitman, "Daring Lindbergh Attained the Unattainable With Historic Flight Across Atlantic", New York Times, August 27, 1974
And, as is common in books sewn together from previously published essays, certain redundancies obtrude.
-- Maxine Kumin, "First, Perfect Fear; Then, Universal Love", New York Times, October 17, 1993
Obtrude is from Latin obtrudere, "to thrust upon, to force," from ob, "in front of, before" + trudere, "to push, to thrust."
1. To thrust out; to push out.
2. To force or impose (one's self, remarks, opinions, etc.) on others with undue insistence or without solicitation.
3. To thrust upon a group or upon attention; to intrude.
obeisance \oh-BEE-suhn(t)s; oh-BAY-suhn(t)s\, noun:
They made obeisance right to the floor, coiling like bright snakes from the arms of their astonished handlers.
-- Ann Wroe, Pontius Pilate
His presence was betrayed to Miloš, who ordered his execution and then sent his rival's head to the Sultan to demonstrate his obeisance.
-- Misha Glenny, The Balkans
In all, it had served to create a highly restrictive societywhere the arrogance of superiors was as ingrained as their subordinates'fawning obeisance.
-- Robert Whiting, Tokyo Underworld

Obeisance comes from Old French obeissance, from obeissant, present participle of obeir, to obey, from Latin oboedire, to listen to, from ob-, to + audire, to hear. The adjective form is obeisant.
1. An expression of deference or respect, such as a bow or curtsy.
2. Deference, homage.
osculation \os-kyuh-LAY-shuhn\, noun:
He had engaged in nervous osculation with all three of Lord Flamborough's daughters.
-- Thomas Sutcliffe, "The art of seduction, the skill of the tackle", Independent, June 13, 1994
Their incessant onstage osculations during her last concert tour seemed to offer public proof of their passion.
-- "The Big Boom in Breakups", People, November 13, 1995
Osculation comes from osculatio, "a kissing," from osculari, "to kiss," from osculum, "a little mouth, a kiss," diminutive of os, "mouth."
The act of kissing; also: a kiss.
ostentation \os-ten-TAY-shuhn\, noun:
In a city where the wealthy are known for ostentation, many are now buying low-profile economy cars to fool kidnappers and thieves.
-- Anthony Faiola, "Brazil's Elites Fly Above Their Fears", Washington Post, June 1, 2002
After his marriage, when Francis finally had enough money to indulge his tastes, his extravagance and ostentation in matters of dress frequently occasioned comment.
-- Lisa Jardine and Alan Stewart, Hostage to Fortune
It is too early to probe the cause or say how far the staggering ostentation of the wealthy fomented the sullen disaffection of the poor.
-- Stephen McKenna, Sonia
The Puritan leadership was especially distressed by the sartorial ostentation of the lower classes, who were supposed to content themselves with "raiment suitable to the order in which God's providence has placed them."
-- Patricia O'Toole, Money & Morals in America: A History
Ostentation comes from Latin ostentatio, ostentation-, from ostentare, "to display," frequentative of ostendere, "to hold out, to show," from ob-, obs-, "in front of, before," + tendere, "to stretch, to stretch out, to present."
Excessive or pretentious display; boastful showiness.
panoply \PAN-uh-plee\, noun:
Every step taken to that end which appeases the obsolete hatreds and vanished oppressions, which makes easier the traffic and reciprocal services of Europe, which encourages nations to lay aside their precautionary panoply, is good in itself.
-- Winston Churchill, quoted in This Blessed Plot, by Hugo Young
The beige plastic bedpan that had come home from the hospital with him after his deviated-septum operation . . . now held ail his razors and combs and the panoply of gleaming instruments he employed to trim the hair that grew from the various features of his face.
-- Michael Chabon, Werewolves in Their Youth
To the east, out over the Ocean, the winter sky is a brilliant panoply of stars and comets, beckoning to adventurers, wise and foolish alike, who seek to divine its mysteries.
-- Ben Green, Before His Time
Labor was hard pressed to hold the line against erosion of its hard-won social wage: the panoply of government-paid benefits such as unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, Medicare, and Social Security.
-- Stanley Aronowitz, From the Ashes of the Old
Panoply is from Greek panoplia, "a full suit of armor," from pan, "all" + hoplia, "arms, armor," plural of hoplon, "implement, weapon."
1. A splendid or impressive array.
2. Ceremonial attire.

3. A full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering.
parsimonious \par-suh-MOH-nee-uhs\, adjective:
His mother became increasingly parsimonious over the years, and even if there were a good doctor around she did not like to pay one.
-- Willard Sterne Randall, George Washington: A Life
Lehmann was famously parsimonious, and used postwar shortages as a cover for his economies.
-- John Richardson, The Sorcerer's Apprentice
He was extremely parsimonious with his words, parceling them out softly in a deliberate monotone as if each were a precious gem never to be squandered.
-- Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire
Parsimonious is the adjective form of parsimony, from Latin parsimonia, "thrift, parsimony," from parsus, past participle of parcere, "to spare, to be sparing, to economize."
Sparing in expenditure; frugal to excess.
patina \PAT-n-uh; puh-TEEN-uh\, noun:
[The ship] was sleek and black, her decks scrubbed smooth with holystones, her deckhouses glistening with the yellowed patina of old varnish.
-- Gary Kinder, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea
A patina of coal dust lies over everything.
-- "A Railroad Runs Through It," review of Stations: An Imagined Journey, by Michael Flanagan, New York Times, October 23, 1994
Rothko himself was guilty of making ponderous statements about the religious and mythic dimensions of his art; and Mrs. Ashton has adopted this clumsy impulse, laying over his work a heavy patina of commentary that seems designed to show off her own wide-ranging intellect.
-- Michiko Kakutani, review of About Rothko, by Dore Ashton, New York Times, November 7, 1983
Patina is adopted from Italian, from Latin patina, "a dish" (from the incrustation on ancient metal plates and dishes).
1. The color or incrustation which age gives to works of art; especially, the green rust which covers ancient bronzes, coins, and medals.
2. The sheen on any surface, produced by age and use.
3. An appearance or aura produced by habit, practice, or use.
4. A superficial layer or exterior.
paean \PEE-uhn\, noun:
Bud Guthrie had written a paean to the grizzly, calling it the "living, snorting incarnation of the wildness and grandeur of America."
-- David Whitman, "The Return of the Grizzly", The Atlantic, September 2000
If you look at what British writers were saying about England before and after the war, you read for the most part a seamless paean to the virtues of the nation's strength and identity.
-- Hugo Young, This Blessed Plot
Paean comes from Latin paean, "a hymn of thanksgiving, often addressed to god Apollo," from Greek paian, from Paia, a title of Apollo.
1. A joyous song of praise, triumph, or thanksgiving.
2. An expression of praise or joy.

patrician \puh-TRISH-un\, noun


London possessed the manner of a patrician. He was a man whose stately elegance suggested that he deemed himself above the fray. -- Martin Garbus, Tough Talk

1. A member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome. 2. A person of high birth; a nobleman. 3. A person of refined upbringing, manners, and taste. 4. Of or pertaining to the patrician families of ancient Rome. 5. Of, pertaining to, or appropriate to, a person of high birth; noble; not plebeian. 6. Befitting or characteristic of refined upbringing, manners, and taste.
pin money \pin money\, noun:
Women's groups have contended that jobs that usually go to men pay more because of the old-fashioned idea that a man is supporting a family while a woman is merely working for pin money.
-- Juan Williams, "A Question of Fairness", The Atlantic, February-1987
Many young people take jobs in hotels and pubs as a way of earning a bit of pin money, or to top up the student loans and parental hand-outs that see them through the cash-strapped college years
-- Nick Pandya, "Failed to make the grade? You're still wanted", The Guardian, September 7, 2002
A record-smashing fine sounds tough, but it's pin money for Credit Suisse.
-- Nick Cohen, "Life in a bubble bath", The Observer, December 22, 2002
Pin money originally referred to money given by husbands to their wives for the specific purpose of buying pins.
1. An allowance of money given by a husband to his wife for private and personal expenditures.
2. Money for incidental expenses.
3. A trivial sum.
Potemkin village \puh-TEM(P)-kin\, noun:
When will the West have the guts to call Russia what it really is: a semi-totalitarian state with Potemkin village-style democratic institutions and a fascist-capitalist economy?
-- "Western Investors Defend a Potemkin Village", Moscow Times, January 9, 2004
It's a lie, a huge Potemkin village designed to give North Korea the appearance of modernity.
-- Kevin Sullivan, "Borderline Absurdity", Washington Post, January 11, 1998
Unless U.S. imperial overstretch is acknowledged and corrected, the United States may someday soon find that it has become a Potemkin village superpower -- with a facade of military strength concealing a core of economic weakness.
-- Christopher Layne, "Why the Gulf War Was Not in the National Interest", The Atlantic, July 1991
The "evil empire" had been a mighty facade at least since Kruschev, a termite-infested Potemkin village congenitally incapable of regeneration.
-- Frank Pellegrini, "Reagan At 90: Still A Repository For Our American Dreams", Time, February 6, 2001
A Potemkin village is so called after Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages built in order to impress Catherine the Great on her tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea in the 18th century.
An impressive facade or display that hides an undesirable fact or state; a false front.
portent \POR-tent\, noun:
A comet that year was taken as a portent of some imminent but incalculable change.
-- Patrick Smith, Japan: A Reinterpretation
To Mohammed, the relentless sandstorm was foreboding, a portent of divine will.
-- Anthony Shadid, "In an Ominous Sky, a City Divines Its Fate", Washington Post, March 26, 2003
For the blood-stained rivals, it's a dignified moment, filled with portent.
-- Michelle Levander, "In a Different World", Time, June 4, 2001
Portent comes from Latin portentum, from portendere, "to stretch out before or into the future, to predict," from por- (variant of pro-), "before" + tendere, "to stretch out." Related words include portend, "to give an omen or sign of," and portentous, "ominous, foreboding."
1. A sign of a coming event or calamity; an omen.
2. Prophetic or menacing significance.
3. Something amazing; a marvel.
posit \POZ-it\, transitive verb:
It is not necessary to posit mysterious forces to explain coincidences.
-- Bruce Martin, "Coincidences: Remarkable or Random?", Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 1998
Among other things, the researchers posit that the behavior of the muscles during laughter probably explains why phrases like "weak with laughter" pops up in many different languages.
-- "How Muscles Can Go Weak With Laughter", New York Times, September 14, 1999
Some scientists subscribe to this "catastrophic" view of evolutionary history and posit such events as meteoritic collisions with earth, viral epidemics, and explosive evolutionary changes as responsible for species extinctions in the past.
-- Noel T. Boaz Ph.D., Eco Homo
Posit is from Latin positus, past participle of ponere, "to put, to place, to set."
1. To assume as real or conceded.
2. To propose as an explanation; to suggest.
3. To dispose or set firmly or fixedly.
potentate \POH-tuhn-tayt\, noun:
The shah of Persia, although he had to acknowledge that the sultan was a worthy rival, still considered himself a mighty potentate, as did the sultan himself.
-- Olivier Bernier, The World in 1800
How can he run the operation, an industry potentate wonders, "when the operations people don't report to him?"
-- "Michael Mouse", Time, August 28, 1995
After the capture of Tunis, the Emperor passed through Paris with the consent of his brother-in-law, King Francis, who wanted to present him with something worthy of so great a potentate.
-- Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography
Potentate derives from Late Latin potentatus, "a powerful person," from Latin potentatus, "power, especially political power; supremacy," from potens, "able, powerful," from posse, "to be able." It is related to potent, "powerful," and potential, "having possibility or capability."
One who possesses great power or sway; a ruler, sovereign, or monarch.
prink \PRINGK\, transitive verb:
Tara has supermodel legs and is already getting used to being prinked and coiffed as she prepares for her first beauty contest in the autumn.
-- Raffaella Barker, "Diary hatched, matched and almost despatched", Daily Telegraph, September 6, 1997
The point is reinforced by a clutch of contemporary art photos . . . showing plump nudes prinking and preening like pouter pigeons, and, in one case, a couple of dancers deliberately posed to recreate a Degas painting.
-- Hilary Spurling, Daily Telegraph, January 23, 1999
Prink is probably an alteration of prank, from Middle English pranken, "to show off," perhaps from Middle Dutch pronken, "to adorn oneself," and from Middle Low German prunken (from prank, "display").
1. To dress up; to deck for show.
2. To dress or arrange oneself for show; to primp.
prodigious \pro DIJ es\ adjective:
Shakespeare's vocabulary was evidently prodigious: But how could he be certain that in all the cases where he employed unfamiliar words, he was grammatically and factually right?
--Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman
1. Wonderful; amazing
2. Enormous
propinquity \pruh-PING-kwih-tee\, noun:
Following the race he took umbrage at Stewart's rough driving so early in the day, and the propinquity of the two drivers' haulers allowed the Kid to express his displeasure up close and personal.
-- Mark Bechtel, "Getting Hot", Sports Illustrated, December 6, 2000
Technologically it is the top service among the women's fighting forces, and it also has the appeal of propinquity to gallant young airmen.
-- "After Boadicea -- Women at War", Time Europe, October 9, 1939
I was stunned by the propinquity of the events: I had never been in the same room with anyone who was later murdered.
-- Karla Jay, Tales of the Lavender Menace
Schultz came by her position through propinquity: her husband, older by 12 years, used to play music with De Maiziere and afterward chat about politics.
-- Johanna McGeary, "Challenge In the East", Time, November 8, 1990
Propinquity derives from Latin propinquitas, from propinquus, near, neighboring, from prope, near.
1. Nearness in place; proximity.
2. Nearness in time.
3. Nearness of relation; kinship.
pugnacious \puhg-NAY-shuhs\, adjective:
Roberto's pugnacious grandmother lived across the meadow and would yell threats and curses helplessly from her balcony.
-- Tag Gallagher, The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
The idea that he was truculent or pugnacious, that he went about with a chip on his shoulder, that he loved fighting for the sake of fighting, was, however, a mistake.
-- William Roscoe Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt: An Intimate Biography
Pugnacious comes from Latin pugnare, "to fight," from pugnus, "fist."
Inclined to fight; combative; quarrelsome.
raconteur \rack-on-TUR\, noun:
An excellent raconteur, he had a varied stock of stories and enjoyed the joke just as much when it was on himself as he did when it was on some one else.
-- "Rockefeller Wit Endeared Him to Friends; He Relished Quip by Will Rogers About Him", New York Times, May 24, 1937
Korda's tone of voice is affectionate and urbane, his manner that of the accomplished raconteur who never spoils the story with a heavy-handed moral, relying for his effect on the telling anecdote and the apt phrase.
-- Lewis Lapham, "Adventures in the Book Trade", New York Times, May 23, 1999
He has an excellent raconteur's mind, memory, vocabulary and tongue, brings in a story just at the right time, in the right manner, serves his anecdotes perfectly either piping hot or ice-cold as tragedies.
-- Anatole Pohorilenko and James Crump, When We Were Three
Raconteur is from French, from raconter, "to relate, to tell, to narrate," from Old French, from re- + aconter,
One who excels in telling stories and anecdotes.
repletion \rih-PLEE-shun\, noun: We have to earn silence, then, to work for it: to make it not an absence but a presence; not emptiness but repletion. -- Pico Iyer, "The Eloquent Sounds of Silence", Time, January 1993
1. The condition of being completely filled or supplied. 2. Excessive fullness, as from overeating.
roister \ROY-stur\, intransitive verb:
For some people, she was the archetype of the roistering New Russians, with their love of partying, fast cars and foreign holidays.
-- Alan Philps, "Brezhnev's outrageous daughter dies at 69", Daily Telegraph, July 2, 1998
Back in our expatriate days, we roistering provincials, slap-happy to be in Paris, drunk on the beauty of our surroundings, were fearful of retiring to our Left Bank hotel rooms lest we wake up back home, retrieved by parents who would remind us of how much they had invested in our educations, and how it was time for us to put our shoulders to the wheel.
-- Mordecai Richler, Barney's Version
. . .the bullying, lying, lily-livered, lecherous, roistering, brandy-swigging, battle-fleeing, toad-eating Harry Paget Flashman, whose charming roguery has won him a worldwide following.
-- Michael Browning, "Flashman' Trio Fine Fun, Leaves Us Shouting 'More!'", Palm Beach Post, September 24, 2000

Roister is probably from Middle French rustre, "a boor, a clown; clownish," from Latin rusticus, "rustic," from rus, "country."
1. To engage in boisterous merrymaking; to revel; to carouse.
2. To bluster; to swagger.
ruminate \ROO-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb:
They come, these scholars, in baseball hats clamped over bald pates or white hair, and polo shirts stretched over bellies more intimate with beer than situps, to ruminate on the game.
-- Edward A. Gargan, "Scholars Look at Baseball and See the American Essence", New York Times, June 27, 1998
Her lyrics are less narratives than fragments of personal philosophy; she ruminates about the miserable ways people treat each other, and looks for comfort in her own solitude.
-- Karen Schoemer, "Good Case of the Blues", Newsweek, March 22, 1999
The people, I observe, are... all of them much given to ruminate tobacco.
-- William Howard Russell, quoted in A Bohemian Brigade:The Civil War Correspondents - Mostly Rough, Sometimes Ready, by James M. Perry
Ruminate derives from Latin ruminatus, past participle of ruminari, to chew the cud, to ruminate, to chew over again, from rumen, rumin-, throat.
1. To chew the cud; to chew again what has been slightly chewed and swallowed."Cattle free to ruminate." --Wordsworth.
2. To think again and again; to muse; to meditate; to ponder; to reflect.
3. To chew over again.
4. To meditate or ponder over; to muse on.
salubrious \suh-LOO-bree-us\, adjective:
A physician warned him his health was precarious, so Montague returned to the United States, shelved his legal ambitions and searched for a salubrious climate where he might try farming.
-- "Teeing Off Into the Past At Oakhurst", New York Times, May 2, 1999
For years, her mother has maintained that the sea air has a salubrious effect on both her spirits and her vocal cords.
-- Anita Shreve, Fortune's Rocks
Uptown, however, the tanners' less salubrious quarter is notorious for its stench.
-- "Byzantium", Toronto Star, February 7, 1999
Salubrious is from Latin salubris, "healthful," from salus, "health."
Favorable to health; promoting health; healthful.
sapient \SAY-pee-uhnt\, adjective:
By actual measurement they are the brainiest of birds, and on subjective evidence they seem more sapient than most other living creatures.
-- David Quammen, "Bird Brains", New York Times, August 1, 1999
He also gives much of the book over to the voice and point of view of Wyatt's bright, quirky Aunt Ellen, who functions as a sapient observer of the world of the novel.
-- Lorrie Moore, "God Does Not Love Aunt Ellen", New York Times, February 14, 1993
That he has on his side Lord Jenkins and Lady Williams . . . , that Ming Campbell is backing him, that the trusty and sapient counsellor of previous leaders, Lord Holme, is discreetly installed at his side, might seem to dispose of the notion that Kennedy is not a serious man.
-- "It isn't a one horse race", The Guardian, July 20, 1999
Sapient comes from Latin sapiens, sapient-, present participle of sapere, "to taste, to have sense, to know."
Wise; sage; discerning.
schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun:
That the report of Sebastian Imhof's grave illness might also have been tinged with Schadenfreude appears not to have crossed Lucas's mind.
-- Steven Ozment, Flesh and Spirit
He died three years after me -- cancer too -- and at that time I was still naive enough to imagine that what the afterlife chiefly provided were unrivalled opportunities for unbeatable gloating, unbelievable schadenfreude.
-- Will Self, How The Dead Live
Somewhere out there, Pi supposed, some UC Berkeley grad students must be shivering with a little Schadenfreude of their own about what had happened to her.
-- Sylvia Brownrigg, The Metaphysical Touch
The historian Peter Gay -- who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics -- has said that it "can be one of the great joys of life."
-- Edward Rothstein, "Missing the Fun of a Minor Sin", New York Times, February 5, 2000
Schadenfreude comes from the German, from Schaden, "damage" + Freude, "joy." It is often capitalized, as it is in German.
A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
sentient \SEN-shee-uhnt; -tee-; -shuhnt\, adjective:
I can remember very vividly the first time I became aware of my existence; how for the first time I realised that I was a sentient human being in a perceptible world.
-- Lord Berners, First Childhood
Answers to such profound questions as whether we are the only sentient beings in the universe, whether life is the product of random accident or deeply rooted law, and whether there may be some sort of ultimate meaning to our existence, hinge on what science can reveal about the formation of life.
-- Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle
Sentient comes from Latin sentiens, "feeling," from sentire, "to discern or perceive by the senses."
1. Capable of perceiving by the senses; conscious.
2. Experiencing sensation or feeling.
subfusc \sub-FUHSK\, adjective:
The tea-cosy, property of one Edmund Gravel -- "known as the Recluse of Lower Spigot to everybody there and elsewhere," as the book's first page informs us -- is haunted by a six-legged emcee for various "subfusc but transparent" ghosts.
-- Emily Gordon, "The Doubtful Host", Newsday, November 8, 1998
Her inscrutable figure -- imposing in designer subfusc, slightly donnish, reminiscent of Vita Sackville-West, to whom she was distantly related -- baffled and intrigued some.
-- Yvonne Whiteman, "Obituary: Frances Lincoln", Independent, March 6, 2001
Subfusc comes from Latin subfuscus, "brownish, dark," from sub-, "under" + fuscus, "dark-colored."
Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.

sub rosa \suhb-ROH-zuh\, adverb


Unlike progressive educators of the past, who openly proclaimed their goals, today's multiculturalists are generally unwilling to engage the wider public in open debate about their methods, preferring to promote their agenda sub rosa. -- Sol Stern, "Losing Our Language", Commentary, May 1999

1. Secretly; privately; confidentially. 2. Designed to be secret or confidential; secretive; private.
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