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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X  Y Z























abjure \ab-JUR\, transitive verb:

   1. To renounce under oath.

   2.  To  renounce  or  reject  solemnly;  to recant; to reject; repudiate.

   3. To abstain from; to shun.

 A  few  years  earlier  Galileo  had  been  forced  by  the Inquisition  to  abjure,  on his knees, his heretical views that the Earth moves around the Sun.


ablution \uh-BLOO-shun\, noun:

   1.  The act of washing or cleansing; specifically, the washing of the body, or some part of it (as in a religious rite).

  2. The water used in cleansing.

Worshipers,  who  have  performed  their  ablutions  in the basement  before  entering  the  prayer  hall, individually prepare   themselves  for  participation  in  the  communal worship.


abominate \uh-BOM-uh-nayt\, transitive verb:

   To hate in the highest degree; to detest intensely; to loathe;

   to abhor.

   I had no wish to study or learn anything, and as for Latin,

  I abominated it.


abscond \ab-SKOND\, intransitive verb:

   To  depart  secretly;  to  steal away and hide oneself -- used

   especially   of  persons  who  withdraw  to  avoid  arrest  or



abstemious \ab-STEE-mee-uhs\, adjective:

1. Sparing in eating and drinking; temperate; abstinent.

2.  Sparingly  used  or  consumed;  used  with  temperance  or moderation.

3. Marked by or spent in abstinence.

They  were healthy and abstemious; their chief pleasure was reading and Oliver was a life member of the London Library.

accede \ak-SEED\, intransitive verb:

   1.  To  agree  or  assent,  as  to  a proposition, or to terms

   proposed by another.

   2.  To become a party, as to an agreement, treaty, convention,


   3.  To  attain,  as  to  an  office or rank; to enter upon the

   duties of an office.

  Well,  after  much  blustering and standing and sitting, he acceded to my demand.


acrid \AK-rid\, adjective:

   1. Sharp and harsh, or bitter to the taste or smell; pungent.

   2. Caustic in language or tone; bitter.

 There  was  burning jet fuel everywhere. Acrid, black smoke billowed across the water.

acumen \uh-KYOO-muhn; AK-yuh-muhn\, noun: Quickness  of  perception  or discernment; shrewdness shown by keen insight.

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.


adamant \AD-uh-muhnt\, adjective:

   Not  capable of being swayed by pleas, appeals, or reason; not

   susceptible to persuasion; unyielding.

adventitious \ad-ven-TISH-uhs\, adjective:

1. Added extrinsically; not essentially inherent.

2.   (Biology)   Out   of  the  proper  or  usual  place;  as,  "adventitious buds or roots."
The  snag  is  that  the  play's  inflamed and adventitious topicality may distract people from the timelessness of 
its deepest concerns.

aesthete \ES-theet\, noun:

One having or affecting great sensitivity to beauty, as in art or nature.

Beijing,  with  its  stolid,  square  buildings  and  wide, straight  roads,  feels  like  the  plan  of  a  first-year

engineering    student,    while    Shanghai's   decorative architecture  and  snaking, narrow roads feel like the plan of an aesthete.


affable \AF-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   1.  Easy  to  speak to; receiving others kindly and conversing

   with them in a free and friendly manner.

   2. Gracious; benign.

Nonetheless,  in  view  of the fact that Leon stated in the warrant that I was good-looking, cheerful and affable, they exhorted   me   to  make  myself  appear  to  be  taciturn, melancholy and ugly.


afflatus \uh-FLAY-tuhs\, noun:

A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration. 

 Whatever  happened  to  passion  and  vision and the divine afflatus in poetry?


affray \uh-FRAY\, noun:

A tumultuous assault or quarrel; a brawl.


aggress \uh-GRES\, intransitive verb:
To  commit  the  first act of hostility or offense; to make an  attack.
Nagaraj  can  never bring himself to aggress or fight back, but he is capable of a delicious malice.


agitprop \AJ-it-prop\, noun:

Propaganda,   especially  pro-communist  political  propaganda disseminated through literature, drama, music, or art.


algorithm \AL-guh-RITH-uhm\, noun:
A  step-by-step  procedure  for  solving a problem in a finite number   of   steps  that  often  involves  repetition 
 of  an operation.
The  notion  of  an  algorithm  is basic to all of computer programming,  so we should begin with a careful analysis 
of this concept.

ameliorate \uh-MEEL-yuh-rayt\, transitive verb: To make better; to improve.

 intransitive verb: To grow better.


anodyne \AN-uh-dyn\, 

adjective: 1. Serving to relieve pain; soothing.

           2. Not likely to offend; bland; innocuous.

noun:1. A medicine that relieves pain.

     2.   Anything  that  calms,  comforts,  or  soothes  disturbed feelings.

But  for the most part the British charts were clogged with anodyne ballads.


aplomb \uh-PLOMM\, 

noun:Assurance of manner or of action; self-possession; confidence;coolness.

Then, unexpectedly, she picked up a microphone and began to sing.  She  sang  several  songs, handling herself with the aplomb of a professional entertainer.


apogee \AP-uh-jee\, noun:

1.  The  point  in  the  orbit of the moon or of an artificial satellite  that is at the greatest distance from the center of  the earth.

2. The farthest or highest point; culmination.


apostasy \uh-POS-tuh-see\, noun:

Total  desertion or departure from one's faith, principles, or party.

Party  loyalty was fierce, political apostasy despised, and breakaway movements and third parties rarely exercised more than temporary influence.


apparition \ap-uh-RISH-uhn\, noun:

1. A ghost; a specter; a phantom.

2. The thing appearing; the sudden or unexpected appearance of something or somebody.

3. The act of becoming visible; appearance.

4.  (Astronomy)  The  first  appearance  of  a  star  or other luminary  after  having been invisible or obscured; -- opposed to [1]occultation.

Boris   staggers   into  the  noblemen's  council  chamber, shouting at an apparition that only he can see.


apposite \AP-uh-zit\, adjective:

  Being   of   striking   appropriateness  and  relevance;  very applicable; apt.


appurtenance \uh-PUR-tn-un(t)s\, noun:

   1.  An adjunct; an accessory; something added to another, more important thing.

   2. [Plural]. Accessory objects; gear; apparatus.

   3. [Law]. An incidental right attached to a principal property  right  for  purposes  such as passage of title,

     conveyance, or inheritance.

The inauguration of presidents, the coronation of monarchs, the  celebration of national holidays--these events require everywhere  the  presence  of  the soldier as a "ceremonial appurtenance."


arrogate \AIR-uh-gayt\, transitive verb:

   1.  To  claim  or  seize  without  right  or justification; to


   2. To claim on behalf of another; to ascribe.


aspersion \uh-SPUR-zhuhn; -shuhn\, noun:

   1. A damaging or derogatory remark; slander.

   2. The act of defaming or slandering.

   3.   A   sprinkling   with   water,  especially  in  religious ceremonies.


asseverate \uh-SEV-uh-rayt\, transitive verb:

   To affirm or declare positively or earnestly.

  "But of course it is!" asseverates Herman Woodlife.


assiduous \uh-SIJ-oo-uhs\, adjective:

1. Constant in application or attention; devoted; attentive.

2.   Performed   with   constant   diligence   or   attention; unremitting; persistent; as, "assiduous labor."

"I can scarcely find time to write you even a Love Letter," Samuel  Adams, an assiduous committeeman, wrote his wife in early 1776.

atelier \at-l-YAY\, noun:

A workshop; a studio.

A  garage  in  [1]Montparnasse served as Leo's atelier, and there  he  labored  on  his  huge  [2]triptychs, mixing 
his paints in buckets and applying them with a kitchen mop.


auspicious \aw-SPISH-uhs\, adjective:

   1.  Giving  promise  of  success,  prosperity,  or  happiness;

   predicting good; as, "an auspicious beginning."

   2. Prosperous; fortunate; as, "auspicious years." 

But  as  Saturday  fell  on  a  very  auspicious day in the Chinese  calendar,  every  hotel  in Nanjing was booked for weddings.


autochthonous \aw-TOCK-thuh-nuhs\, adjective:

   1. Aboriginal; indigenous; native.

   2. Formed or originating in the place where found.

    For  cultures  are  not  monoliths.  They  are fragmentary,

    patchworks of autochthonous and foreign elements.


autocrat \AW-tuh-krat\, noun:

An  absolute  monarch  who  rules with unlimited authority; by extension,   any   person   with  undisputed  authority  in  a relationship or situation.

Octavian  --  a bloodthirsty ideologue in the civil wars --was  by  then  well  on  his  way to reinventing himself as Rome's  benevolent  autocrat,  its  first (and almost only)'good' Emperor, Augustus.


autodidact \aw-toh-DY-dakt\, noun: One who is self-taught.

He  is our ultimate autodidact, a man who made himself from nothing into a lawyer, a legislator -- a president.


aver \uh-VUR\,transitive verb

   [Inflected forms: averred; averring]:

   1. To affirm with confidence; to declare in a positive manner, as in confidence of asserting the truth.

   2. (Law) To assert, claim, or declare as a fact.


Between  us and the bottom of the sea was less than an inch of  wood.  And  yet,  I aver it, and I aver it 
again, I was  unafraid.


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badinage \bad-n-AHZH\, noun:

Light, playful talk; banter.

Ken was determined to put the cares of the world behind him and do what he loved best -- having a few celebrity friends round and enjoying an evening of anecdote and badinage over a  bottle  or  two  of vintage bubbly and some tasty cheese straws.



bagatelle \bag-uh-TEL\, noun:

   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.

Don't worry about that, a mere bagatelle, old boy!


bedizen \bih-DY-zuhn\, transitive verb:

   To dress or adorn in gaudy manner.


beholden \bih-HOHL-duhn\, adjective:

   Obliged; bound in gratitude; indebted.


bellwether \BEL-wether\, noun:

1.  A  wether, or sheep, which leads the flock, with a bell on  his neck.
2. Hence: A leader of a movement or activity.

"Men  are  for  the most part like sheep, who always follow  the bell-wether." --Lewes

beneficence \buh-NEFF-i-suhns\, noun:
The  practice  of  doing  good;  active goodness, kindness, or charity; bounty springing from purity and goodness.

Lord  Jeffrey  told Dickens that it [A Christmas Carol] had "prompted  more  positive  acts  of beneficence than 
can be traced  to all the pulpits and confessionals in Christendom since Christmas 1842."

benignant \bih-NIG-nuhnt\, adjective:

1. Kind; gracious.

2. Beneficial; favorable.

After  the  captain and ladies had sat down, the autocratic steward rang a second bell, and with a majestic wave of the hand,  and  a calm, benignant smile, signified his pleasure that we should sit down.


berate \bih-RAYT\, transitive verb:

To scold severely or angrily

She tells of Mr. Hauptmann's great joy when they had a baby son,  and  of the times she ran up the stairs to berate him for  playing  the  mandolin  after  the baby was asleep and found  him playing the Brahms Lullaby as the baby looked on approvingly.


bete noire \bet-NWAHR\, noun: Something  or  someone  particularly  detested  or  avoided; a bugbear.

Even more regrettable, as far as Dame Edna is concerned, is the  presence  of  her  old  bete  noire, the extravagantly disgusting Sir Les Patterson.


bilious \BIL-yuhs\, adjective:

   1. Of or pertaining to bile.

   2. Marked by an excess secretion of bile.

   3.  Pertaining  to,  characterized  by, or affected by gastric

   distress caused by a disorder of the liver.

   4. Appearing as if affected by such a disorder.

   5. Resembling bile, especially in color.

   6. Of a peevish disposition; ill-tempered.

Most  arresting of all, his normally gray elephant hide has   changed to a bilious shade of green.


billingsgate \BIL-ingz-gayt; -git\, noun: Coarsely abusive, foul, or profane language.

Chaney would yell at him in his own particular patois -- an unapologetic  stream of billingsgate far more creative than Marine drill instructors or master rappers.


bivouac \BIV-wak, BIV-uh-wak\, noun:

An  encampment  for  the  night,  usually  under  little or no shelter.

intransitive verb:

To encamp for the night, usually under little or no shelter.

Rob  had  made  his  emergency bivouac just below the South Summit.


blandishment \BLAN-dish-muhnt\, noun:

Speech  or  action that flatters and tends to coax, entice, or  persuade; allurement -- often used in the plural.


bombinate \BOM-buh-nayt\, intransitive verb:

   To buzz; to hum; to drone.

   He   is   often   drunk.   His   head  hurts.  Snatches  of

  conversation,  remembered  precepts,  prefigured  cries  of

  terror bombinate about his skull.


bonhomie \bah-nuh-MEE\, noun:

Good nature; pleasant and easy manner.

 That bonhomie which won the hearts of all who knew him.  


booboisie \boob-wah-ZEE\, noun:

A class of people regarded as stupid or foolish.

Until  then,  he'd  dismissed  Hollywood  as  a purveyor of machine-made  fodder  for the booboisie, but he found,

to  his  surprise, that the movies weren't nearly as bad as he'd claimed.

bootless \BOOT-lis\, adjective: Unavailing; useless; without advantage or benefit.

I have seen a swan With bootless labour swim against the tide.


boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY; bul-uh-\, noun:

   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.

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.


bouleversement \bool-vair-suh-MAWN\, noun:Complete overthrow; a reversal; a turning upside down.

For  the  second  time in his life Amory had had a complete bouleversement   and   was  hurrying  into  line  with  his generation.


bowdlerize \BODE-luh-rise; BOWD-\, transitive verb:

   1.  To  remove  or  modify  the parts (of a book, for example) considered offensive.

   2.  To modify, as by shortening, simplifying, or distorting in  style or content.

The   president   did   not   call   for  bowdlerizing  all entertainment,  but  stressed  keeping  unsuitable material away from the eyes of children.


bravado \bruh-VAH-doh\, noun plural bravados or bravadoes \bruh-VAH-dohz\A real or pretended show of courage or boldness.

While  the popular mood in Belgrade remains defiant, unease beneath the bravado is growing.


brio \BREE-oh\, noun: Enthusiastic vigor; vivacity; liveliness; spirit.

Though  my  judgment  was no doubt affected by all the wine  we'd  consumed,  I remember being elated by our performance that  night:  our inspired spur-of-the-moment dialogue, the actors fleshing out their roles with such brio.  


Brobdingnagian \brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn\, adjective:

Of extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous.

The   venture  capital  business  has  a  size  problem.  A  monstrous, staggering, stupefying one. Brobdingnagian even.

busker \BUS-kur\, noun:

A  person  who  entertains  (as  by  playing  music) in public places.

Jakub  is  a  student  of mathematics, a likable but callow young  man  who  seduces a blind busker, Alzbeta, who plays for the tourists in modern Prague.


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cadre \KAD-ree; -ray; KAH-dray; -druh\, noun:
   1.  A  core  or  nucleus  of  trained  or  otherwise qualified personnel around which an organization is formed.
   2.  A  tightly  knit  and  trained  group of dedicated members active in promoting the interests of a revolutionary 
   3. A member of such a group.
   4.  A  framework  upon  which  a larger entity can be built; a scheme.
Trained cadres flowed across the porous border and down the blossoming  supply  trail  through eastern 
Laos (the Ho Chi Minh Trail).

caesura \sih-ZHUR-uh; -ZUR-\, noun;

plural caesuras or caesurae \sih-ZHUR-ee; -ZUR-ee\:

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.

After  an  inconclusive day spent discussing the caesura of "Sonnet"'s  opening  line, Luke and his colleagues went for cocktails at Strabismus.

callow \KAL-oh\, adjective:

Immature; lacking adult perception, experience, or judgment.

Those  who  in later years did me harm I describe as I knew them  then, and I beg any reader to remember that, 
although I  was hardly callow, I was not yet wise in the ways of the world.   


camarilla \kam-uh-RIL-uh; -REE-yuh\, noun:

A group of secret and often scheming advisers, as of a king; a cabal or clique.

Mr Kiselev likened Yeltsin's entourage to a "camarilla"..


canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\, adjective:

Richly melodious; pleasant sounding; musical.

I  felt  a  deep  contentment listening to the meadowlark's complex melody as he sat on his bragging post calling for a mate,  and  the soft canorous whistle of the bobwhite as he whistled his name with intermittent lulls.


capacious \kuh-PAY-shuhs\, adjective:

Able to contain much; roomy; spacious.

Litter  was  picked  up non stop during the week (mostly by that nice governor with the capacious pockets).


captious \KAP-shuhs\, adjective:
   1. Marked by a disposition to find fault or raise objections.
   2. Calculated to entrap or confuse, as in an argument.
The  most  common  among those are captious individuals who  can   find   nothing  wrong  with  their  own 
actions  but everything wrong with the actions of everybody else.


carapace \KAIR-uh-pace\, noun:

1.  The  thick  shell  that covers the back of the turtle, the crab, and other animals.

2.  Something  likened  to  a  shell that serves to protect or isolate from      external influence.

. . .  a  gauge  for  measuring the length of a lobster's carapace from the thorax to the eye socket.


castigate \KAS-tuh-gayt\, transitive verb:

To  punish severely; also, to chastise verbally; to rebuke; to criticize severely.

It was not good enough to castigate him for his sins.

cavalcade \kav-uhl-KAYD; KAV-uhl-kayd\, noun:

   1. A procession of riders or horse-drawn carriages.

   2. Any procession.

   3. A sequence; a series.


cavil \KAV-uhl\, intransitive verb:

To  raise  trivial  or  frivolous  objections;  to  find fault without good reason.

transitive verb:

To raise trivial objections to.


A trivial or frivolous objection.

Insiders  with  their  own strong views, after all, tend to cavil  about competing ideas and stories they consider less than comprehensive.


celerity \suh-LAIR-uh-tee\, noun:

Rapidity of motion or action; quickness; swiftness.


censorious \sen-SOR-ee-uhs\, adjective:

1. Tending to blame, condemn, or criticize; harshly critical.

2.  Implying or expressing harsh criticism or disapproval; as, "censorious remarks."

Another  factor  is the morally censorious climate in which we  live  --  a climate that is intolerant of eccentricity,waywardness and general lack of perfection.


chagrin \shuh-GRIN\, noun: Acute  vexation,  annoyance,  or  embarrassment,  arising from disappointment or failure.

transitive verb: To  unsettle  or  vex  by  disappointment  or  humiliation; to mortify.

He  ran  away  to the recruiting office at Ottumwa, a river port where Union soldiers were transported east--how he got to  the  town,  a  good  half-day  journey  by wagon, isn't clear--and  to  his  chagrin,  he  found his father waiting there.


chary \CHAIR-ee\, adjective:

1. Wary; cautious.

2. Not giving or expending freely; sparing.

What  do  you  suppose  the  Founding  Fathers, so chary of overweening government  power,  would make of a prosecutor with  virtually  unlimited  reach and a staff the size of a small town?


chicanery \shih-KAY-nuh-ree\, noun:

1.  The use of trickery or sophistry to deceive (as in matters of law).

2. A trick; a subterfuge.

Wordsworth's  paternal grandfather, Richard, had first come to  Westmorland from South Yorkshire in 1700, to recoup his fortunes with the then baron Lonsdale, having been done out of his fortune by his own guardian's chicanery.


chimerical \ky-MER-ih-kuhl; -MIR-; kih-\, adjective:

1. Merely imaginary; produced by or as if by a wildly fanciful imagination; fantastic; improbable or unrealistic.

2. Given to or indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes.

But those risks are real, not chimerical.

chthonic (THONE-ik), adjective: dwelling  in  or  under  the  earth;  also,  pertaining to the  underworld

"Driven by dæmonic, chthonic Powers." --T.S. Eliot

circumambient \sur-kuhm-AM-bee-uhnt\, adjective:

Surrounding; being on all sides; encompassing.

The  self  owes  its form and perhaps its very existence to the circumambient social order.
 Facing  reality,  then,  implies  accepting one's essential powerlessness,   yielding  or  adjusting  to  
circumambient  forces,  taking  solace in some local pattern or order that one has created and to which one has 
become habituated.

circumlocution \sir-kum-lo-KYOO-shun\, noun:

The  use  of  many  words  to  express  an  idea that might be expressed   by   few;   indirect  or  roundabout  language;  a [1]periphrase.

Dickens   gave   us   the   classic   picture  of  official heartlessness: the government Circumlocution Office, burial ground of hope in "Little Dorrit."

circumspect \SUR-kuhm-spekt\, adjective:

Marked   by   attention  to  all  circumstances  and  probable consequences; cautious; prudent.

When  the  evidence  is  plentiful  and  the  theories well confirmed,  we  can  be  more  confident  of the historical scenarios  we  propose;  when theories are weak or evidence scarce, we ought to be more circumspect.


claque \KLACK\, noun:

   1. A group hired to applaud at a performance.

   2. A group of fawning admirers.


clarion \KLAIR-ee-uhn\, noun:
   1. A kind of trumpet having a clear and shrill note.
   2. The sound of this instrument or a sound similar to it.
 adjective: Sounding like the clarion; loud and clear.
His  voice  and  laugh, which perpetually re-echoed through the  Custom-House,  had nothing of the tremulous 
quaver and cackle  of  an old man's utterance; they came strutting out of  his  lungs,  like the crow of a cock, or 
the blast of a clarion.

clemency \KLEM-uhn-see\, noun:

   1. Disposition to forgive and spare, as offenders; mercy.

   2. An act or instance of mercy or leniency.

   3. Mildness, especially of weather.

      He  put  in a strong plea for clemency, begging the king to

     spare the alchemist's life.


coeval \koh-EE-vuhl\, adjective:

Of  the  same  age;  originating  or  existing during the same period of time -- usually followed by 'with'.

 noun: One of the same age; a contemporary.

According to John Paul, this longing for transcendent truth is  coeval with human existence: All men and women "shape a comprehensive  vision  and  an  answer  to  the question of  life's meaning."


cogent \KOH-juhnt\, adjective:

Having  the  power to compel conviction; appealing to the mind or to reason; convincing.

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.


cogitate \KOJ-uh-tayt\, intransitive verb:  To think deeply or intently; to ponder; to meditate.

transitive verb: To  think  about;  to  ponder on; to meditate upon; to plan or  plot.

Still  cogitating  and  looking  for  an explanation in the fire.


collude \kuh-LOOD\, intransitive verb:

   To act in concert; to conspire; to plot.


comestible \kuh-MES-tuh-buhl\, adjective: Suitable to be eaten; edible.

noun:Something suitable to be eaten; food.

I  came  to  Adria's  lab expecting subtle combinations and rare ingredients, the real outer limit of the comestible.


comity \KOM-uh-tee\, noun:

A state of mutual harmony, friendship, and respect, especially between or among nations or people; civility.

comity of nations, noun:

1.  The  courteous  recognition  by one nation of the laws and institutions of another.

2. The group of nations observing international comity.

In  Athens  last  week,  E.U.  leaders offered a picture of comity  as  they formally signed accession treaties with 10 new members.


complaisant \kuhm-PLAY-suhnt; -zuhnt\, adjective:

Exhibiting a desire to please; obliging; compliant.

They  evict  the irascible artist and install a complaisant tenant.


comport \kum-PORT\, transitive verb:

To conduct or behave (oneself) in a particular manner.

 intransitive verb: To  be  fitting;  to  accord;  to agree -- usually followed by 'with'.


compunction \kuhm-PUHNK-shuhn\, noun:

1.  Anxiety or deep unease proceeding from a sense of guilt or consciousness of causing pain.

2. A sting of conscience or a twinge of uneasiness; a qualm; a scruple.

Not  only  were  tears  one  means  of prayer, according to Benedict,  they were the only pure form: "We must know that God  regards  our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words."



concatenation \kon-kat-uh-NAY-shuhn; kuhn-\, noun: A  series  of  links  united;  a  series  or  order  of things depending  on  each  other,  as if linked together; a chain, a succession.

But  at  this  stage the accident appears to have been just that, a dreadful concatenation of random events.


concomitant \kuhn-KOM-uh-tuhnt\, adjective:

Accompanying; attendant; occurring or existing concurrently.

noun:  Something  that  accompanies or is collaterally connected with something else; an accompaniment.

For  a filmmaker so obsessed with these issues, it is a sad irony   that  his  fear  of  things  going  wrong--and  his concomitant mania for clockwork control--should have been a major reason for the failure of... his final film.


condign \kuhn-DINE; KON-dine\, adjective:

Suitable to the fault or crime; deserved; adequate.

In  a story as old as the Greeks, overweening pride brought condign disaster.


conflate \kuhn-FLAYT\, transitive verb:

   1. To bring together; to fuse together; to join or meld.

   2. To combine (as two readings of a text) into one whole.

    Scott  Reynolds's creepy debut feature [film] conflates the

     present and the past with ingenious use of flashbacks.


confrere \KON-frair\, noun:

A  fellow member of a fraternity or profession; a colleague; a comrade; an intimate associate.

At Father Kilmartin's death the book was left unfinished (a sign  of  the times: not in manuscript, but on his laptop); and the arduous but also extremely delicate task of putting it into publishable condition was carried out by his Jesuit confrere, Robert J. Daly.


confute \kuhn-FYOOT\, transitive verb:

To  overwhelm by argument; to refute conclusively; to prove or show to be false.

Having  settled in Rome in 1486, he proposed 900 theses and challenged any scholar to confute them, agreeing to pay his expenses.


consanguineous \kon-san(g)-GWIN-ee-us\, adjective:

Of  the  same blood; related by birth; descended from the same parent or ancestor.

These  Neolithic  people practiced agriculture in a settled communal   life   and  are  widely  supposed  to  have  had consanguineous clans as their basic social grouping.


conspectus \kuhn-SPEK-tuhs\, noun:

   1. A general sketch or survey of a subject.

   2. A synopsis; an outline.

Eagerly  the  Austen  family  went  at  their  productions,choosing  plays that represented, as Gay says, a conspectus of late 18th-century fashionable comic theatre.


contemporaneous \kuhn-tem-puh-RAY-nee-uhs\, adjective:Originating, existing, or occurring at the same time. 

The  best  sources for a historian are those that provide a contemporaneous account of the events under scrutiny.

contradistinction \kon-truh-dis-TINK-shuhn\, 
noun:  Distinction  by  contrast; as, "sculpture in contradistinction to painting."
In   the   quarter-century  since  "[1]Gravity's  Rainbow," American  novelists  
have  increasingly fixed their boldest inventions  in the past, usually their own 
early years or a  time  long before they were born -- in contradistinction to postwar writers who 
vigorously peeled away World War II and the social fabric of the 1950's.


contravene \kon-truh-VEEN\, transitive verb:

   1. To act or be counter to; to violate.

   2. To oppose in argument; to contradict.


conurbation \kon-uhr-BAY-shuhn\, noun:

An aggregation or continuous network of urban communities.

To  live  there  in that great smoking conurbation rumbling with  the  constant thunder of locomotives, filled with the  moaning  of  train whistles coming down the Potomac Valley,was beyond my most fevered hopes.


convivial \kuhn-VIV-ee-uhl\, adjective:Of  or  relating to feasting, drinking, and good company; fond of festivity and good company; sociable.

Young  Sam,  steeped  in the family's endless storytelling,confessions, musings about their aspirations, and bickering about   politics,  seemed  destined  to  become  happy  and convivial.


corroborate \kuh-RAHB-uh-RAYT\, transitive verb:

To strengthen or make more certain with other evidence. 

Whenever  I can, I interview family and friends extensively both  to  corroborate the history given me by the defendant and to gain insight into his behavior and personality.

coruscate \KOR-uh-skayt\, intransitive verb:

   1. To give off or reflect bright beams or flashes of light; to sparkle.

   2. To exhibit brilliant, sparkling technique or style.

 They  pulled  up  at  the  farthest end of a loop path that looked  out  over  the  great basin of the Rio Grande
 under brilliant, coruscating stars.


cosset \KOSS-it\, transitive verb:

   To  treat  as  a  pet;  to treat with excessive indulgence; to



countervail \kown-tur-VAYL\, transitive verb:

   1.  To  act  against  with  equal  force, power, or effect; to


   2.  To  compensate  for;  to offset; to furnish or serve as an

   equivalent to.


cupidity \kyoo-PID-uh-tee\, noun:  Eager  or  excessive  desire,  especially  for  wealth; greed; avarice.

Curiosity  was  a form of lust, a wandering cupidity of the eye and the mind.


cursory \KUR-suh-ree\, adjective:Hastily or superficially performed.

In  a  time  when  most  college  coeds had strict curfews, Bennington  students  had  none, and only a cursory morning check to make sure that we were alive and in our beds.

crepuscular \kri-PUS-kyuh-lur\, adjective:

   1.  Pertaining  to  twilight;  glimmering;  hence, imperfectly clear or luminous.

   2.  (Zoology)  Flying  in  the  twilight or evening, or before sunrise; -- said certain birds and insects.

 A faint crepuscular light extending beyond the cusps of the planet.


cynosure \SY-nuh-shoor; SIN-uh-shoor\, noun:

   1. Anything to which attention is strongly turned; a center of attraction.

   2. That which serves to guide or direct.

   3. [Capitalized]. The northern constellation Ursa Minor, which contains the North Star; also, the North Star itself.

The  monarch,  at the apex of court power and centre of its ritual,  and  the  greatest  patron  of  the  arts, was the cynosure  of  this  culture,  standing  (or,  more usually, sitting)  at  the  centre  of a system of artistic practice intended  to  represent  his  or her sacred omnipotence and monopoly of power.


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daedal \DEE-duhl\, adjective:

   1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.

   2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious.

   3. Rich; adorned with many things.

Most  Web-site  designers realize that large image maps and daedal  layouts  are  to  be avoided, and the leading World Wide  Web  designers  have  reacted to users' objections to highly   graphical,   slow   sites  by  using  uncluttered, easy-to-use layouts.


deliquesce \del-ih-KWES\, intransitive verb:

   1. To melt away or to disappear as if by melting.

   2.  (Chemistry)  To  dissolve  gradually  and become liquid by

   attracting  and  absorbing  moisture  from the air, as certain

   salts, acids, and alkalies.

   3. To become fluid or soft with age, as certain fungi.

   4. To form many small divisions or branches -- used especially

   of the veins of a leaf.

Now  it's  high  summer,  the  very  high point of the high season,  and  I've  just  struggled back from Santa Eulalia with the weekly shop, most of which has already deliquesced into an evil-smelling puddle in the back of the car.


demagogue \DEM-uh-gog\, noun:

   1.  A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals

   to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.

   2. A leader of the common people in ancient times.


deprecate \DEP-rih-kayt\, transitive verb:

   1.  [Archaic] To pray against, as an evil; to seek to avert by prayer.

   2. To disapprove of strongly.

   3. To belittle; to depreciate.

We  experience such augmentations as pleasure, which may be why  aesthetic values have always been deprecated by social moralists, from Plato through our current campus Puritans.


depredation \dep-ruh-DAY-shun\, noun:

   1. An act of plundering or despoiling; a raid.

   2. [Plural] Destructive operations; ravages.

  . . .  the  depredations of pirates and privateers on the high seas.


deride \dih-RYD\, transitive verb:

To  laugh  at  with  contempt;  to subject to ridicule or make sport of; to mock; to scoff at.

She  was  inclined  to  deride  Mr.  Hemingway's  mania for firearms and thereby often hurt his feelings.


descant \DES-kant\, noun:

1.  (Music)  (a) A melody or counterpoint sung above the plain song of the tenor. (b) The upper voice in part music.

2. A discourse or discussion on a theme.

 \DES-kant; des-KANT; dis-\, intransitive verb:

   1. (a) To sing or play a descant. (b) To sing.

   2. To comment freely; to discourse at length.

  [T]hese to their nests,

 Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;

 She all night long her amorous descant sung.

descry \dih-SKRY\, transitive verb:

   1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure;

   to discern.

   2. To discover by observation; to detect.

On  a clear day, if there was no sun, you could descry (but barely)  the  ships  roving  out at anchor in Herne Bay and count their masts.


desideratum \dih-sid-uh-RAY-tum; -RAH-\, noun;  plural desiderata:

  Something desired or considered necessary.


desuetude \DES-wih-tood, -tyood\, noun:

   The  cessation  of  use; discontinuance of practice or custom;  disuse.


desultory \DES-uhl-tor-ee\, adjective:

   1.  Jumping  or  passing  from one thing or subject to another

   without order or rational connection; disconnected; aimless.

   2.  By  the  way;  as  a  digression;  not  connected with the


   3. Coming disconnectedly or occuring haphazardly; random.

   4. Disappointing in performance or progress.

The  shadows on the perfect lawn were straight and angular;they  were  the  shadows  of  an  old man sitting in a deep wicker-chair  near  the low table on which the tea had been served,  and  of  two  younger men strolling to and fro, in desultory talk, in front of him.


detritus \dih-TRY-tuhs\, noun; plural detritus:

   1. Loose material that is worn away from rocks.

   2.  Hence, any fragments separated from the body to which they

   belonged; any product of disintegration; debris.


diadem \DY-uh-dem\, noun:

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.

transitive verb: To adorn with a diadem; to crown.

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.


diaphanous \dy-AF-uh-nuhs\, adjective:

1.  Of  such  fine  texture as to allow light to pass through; translucent or transparent.

2. Vague; insubstantial.

The  curtains  are  thin,  a diaphanous membrane that can't quite contain the light outside.


diffident \DIF-uh-dunt; -dent\, adjective:

   1.  Lacking  self-confidence; distrustful of one's own powers; timid; bashful.

   2. Characterized by modest reserve; unassertive.

 He  lived  naturally in a condition that many greater poets never had, or if they had it, were embarrassed or diffident about   it:  a  total  commitment  to  his  own  powers  of invention, a complete loss of himself in his materials.

diktat \dik-TAHT\, noun:

   1.  A  harsh  settlement  unilaterally  imposed  on a defeated party.

   2. An authoritative decree or order.

Whether  with  the rapid reaction force or with the Bosnian government,  the  United  States  should vigorously support efforts  to  lift  the  siege of Sarajevo and help to piece back  together  a  contiguous territory so that the Bosnian government  can  come  to  the  bargaining  table free of a Serbian diktat.


dilatory \DIL-uh-tor-ee\, adjective:  

1.  Tending to put off what ought to be done at once; given to procrastination.

2.  Marked  by  procrastination  or  delay;  intended to cause delay; -- said of actions or measures.

 I  am  inclined  to  be  dilatory, and if I had not enjoyed extraordinary  luck  in  life  and  love  I might have been living with my mother at that very moment, doing nothing.


disconcert \dis-kuhn-SURT\, transitive verb:

   1. To disturb the composure of.

   2.  To  throw  into  disorder  or  confusion; as, "the emperor disconcerted the plans of his enemy."

 In  steering  a  small boat before a heavy gale, don't look back -- it may disconcert you.


discursive \dis-KUR-siv\, adjective:

   1.  Passing  from  one  topic  to another; ranging over a wide

   field; digressive; rambling.

   2.  Utilizing,  marked by, or based on analytical reasoning --  contrasted with intuitive.


disparate \DIS-puh-rit; dis-PAIR-it\, adjective:

   1. Fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind.

   2. Composed of or including markedly dissimilar elements.

Science  at  its  best isolates a common element underlying many seemingly disparate phenomena.


dissolute \DIS-uh-loot\, adjective:

Loose  in  morals and conduct; marked by indulgence in sensual  pleasures or vices.


doff \DOF\, transitive verb:

1. To take off, as an article of clothing.

2. To tip or remove (one's hat).

3. To put aside; to rid oneself of.

After  I finished sweeping, I grabbed my check, went to the locker  room,  and  doffed the monkey suit, slipped into my jeans, sneakers and T-shirt and broke camp.


doula \DOO-luh\, noun:

A  woman  who  assists  during  childbirth  labor and provides  support  to  the  mother,  her  child  and  the  family  after  childbirth.


dubiety \doo-BY-uh-tee; dyoo-\, noun:

   1. The condition or quality of being doubtful or skeptical.

   2. A matter of doubt

Kennedy  and  O'Connor  may  think  that  Title  3 has been violated,  but  O'Connor  and  the  chief  justice  are not convinced  that  the  Supreme  Court  was meant to litigate challenges  under  that  federal statute, and their dubiety   here is shared by Justices Scalia and Souter.  


dudgeon \DUH-juhn\, noun:

A  state  or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humor -- often used in the phrase "in high dudgeon."

Higgins  was  so  frustrated  by such a basic error that he stormed  out  of  the arena for the mid-session interval in high dudgeon.


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ebullient \ih-BUL-yuhnt\, adjective:

   1. Overflowing with enthusiasm or excitement; high-spirited.

   2. Boiling up or over.


edacious \i-DAY-shus\, adjective: Given to eating; voracious; devouring.

Swallowed in the depths of edacious Time.


effulgence \i-FUL-juhn(t)s\, noun: The state of being bright and radiant; splendor; brilliance.
The  purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues.

eleemosynary \el-uh-MOS-uh-ner-ee\, adjective:

1.  Of  or  for  charity;  charitable;  as,  "an  eleemosynary institution."

2.   Given   in  charity;  having  the  nature  of  alms;  as, "eleemosynary assistance."

3. Supported by or dependent on charity; as, "the eleemosynary poor."


We  also need to revive the great eleemosynary institutions through which compassionate people serve those in need with both  greater  flexibility  and  discipline than government  agencies are capable.

encumbrance \en-KUHM-bruhn(t)s\, noun:

   1.  Something  that  burdens  or  impedes;  a  burdensome  and troublesome load;

       an impediment.

   2. A claim or lien upon property.

But  just  as  certainly,  the  Don understood that Astorre wanted an excuse to be free of any encumbrance on his march to the glories of life.


enervate \EN-ur-vayt\, transitive verb:

   1.  To deprive of vigor, force, or strength; to render feeble;  to weaken.

   2. To reduce the moral or mental vigor of.

Beatriz  de  Ahumada  soldiered  on  to  produce  nine more  children, a tour of duty that left her enervated and worn.


ennui \on-WEE\, noun:

A  feeling  of weariness and dissatisfaction arising from lack of interest; boredom.

He  glanced at his heavily laden bookshelves. Nothing there appealed  to him. The ennui seemed to have settled into his very bones.


ephemeron \ih-FEM-uh-ron\, noun;  plural ephemera \ih-FEM-uh-ruh\:

   1. Something short-lived or of no lasting significance.

   2.  ephemera:  Items,  especially  printed matter (as posters,

   broadsides,  pamphlets,  etc.),  intended  to  be  of  use  or

   importance for only a short time but preserved by collectors.

And  collections  of  correspondence  will always reveal "a remarkable   mind,   grappling  with  everything  from  the ephemera  of  day-to-day  life  to  the  mysteries  of  the universe."

epigone \EP-uh-gohn\, noun:

An inferior imitator, especially of some distinguished writer, artist, musician, or philosopher.

He  probably was influenced by John le Carré.... But Mr. Crisp... is no mere epigone.


equable \EK-wuh-buhl; EE-kwuh-\, adjective:

   1. Equal and uniform; not varying.

   2.  Not  easily disturbed; not variable or changing -- said of

   the feelings, temper, etc.

An  equable climate, evidently due to the large area of sea compared  with  the  land, seems to extend over the greater part of the southern hemisphere; and, as a consequence, the vegetation partakes of a semi-tropical character.


equivocate \ih-KWIV-uh-kayt\, intransitive verb:

To be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or  to avoid committing oneself to anything definite.  

The    witness    shuffled,   equivocated,   pretended   to  misunderstand the questions.


ersatz \AIR-sahts; UR-sats\, adjective: Being a substitute or imitation, usually an inferior one.

Meanwhile,  a  poor copy was erected in the courtyard; many an   unsuspecting  traveler  paid  homage  to  
that  ersatz  masterpiece.

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

   Characterized by extensive reading or knowledge; learned.


eschew \es-CHOO\, transitive verb: To shun; to avoid (as something wrong or distasteful).

      In  high  school  and  college the Vassar women had enjoyed

     that  lifestyle,  but  afterward  they  had  eschewed it as shallow.


esurient \ih-SUR-ee-uhnt; -ZUR-\, adjective: Hungry; voracious; greedy

The  enemy  then was an esurient Soviet Union which, having swallowed  up Eastern  Europe,  had imposed a totalitarian system on countries just liberated from Nazism.


euphonious \yoo-FOH-nee-uhs\, 

adjective:Pleasing or sweet in sound; smooth-sounding.

She  combines  alliteration  and deft word choices with the grace  of  an  oral  storyteller,  creating  euphonious and precise sentences that are perfect for reading aloud.


evanescent \ev-uh-NES-unt\, adjective:

Liable to vanish or pass away like vapor; fleeting.


evince \ih-VIN(T)S\, transitive verb:To  show  in  a clear manner; to manifest; to make evident; to bring to light.

The study showed that girls were better prepared for class, had  better attendance  records, and evinced more positive academic behavior overall.


exacerbate \ig-ZAS-ur-bayt\, transitive verb:

To  render  more  severe,  violent, or bitter; to irritate; to aggravate; to make worse.

To reduce the stress that exacerbates my stuttering, I have meditated, done deep-breathing exercises, and floated under a  condition  of  sensory  deprivation  in a dark, enclosed isolation tank.


exalt \ig-ZOLT\, verb:

   1. To praise, glorify, or honor

   2. To heighten or intensify

   3.  To  raise  in rank, character, or status; as, "exalted the humble shoemaker to the rank of King's adviser"

"[A]  show  that  was  merely  competent  needed  something special  if it was to run--a couple of hit tunes, something astonishing   in   design   or [1]choreography...   or  a theatre-filling   personality   who   can   exalt  ordinary material."


excrescence \ik-SKRESS-uhn(t)s\, noun:

   1.  Something (especially something abnormal) growing out from  something else.

   2. A disfiguring or unwanted mark, part, or addition.


exculpate \EK-skuhl-payt; ek-SKUHL-payt\, transitive verb:

To  clear  from  alleged  fault  or  guilt;  to  prove  to  be guiltless; to relieve of blame; to acquit.

   Each  member is determined to exculpate himself, to lay the blame elsewhere.


exegete \EK-suh-JEET\, noun:

A person who explains or interprets difficult parts of written works. 

All the things said in this passage are clear and should be


exigent \EK-suh-juhnt\, adjective:

   1. Requiring immediate aid or action; pressing; critical.

   2. Requiring much effort or expense; demanding; exacting.


exiguous \ig-ZIG-yoo-us\, adjective: Extremely scanty; meager.

      They  are  entering  the market, setting up stalls on snowy

     streets, moonlighting to supplement exiguous incomes.


expatiate \ek-SPAY-shee-ayt\, intransitive verb:

   1. To speak or write at length or in considerable detail.

   2. To move about freely; to wander.


expeditious \ek-spuh-DISH-uhs\, adjective:

Characterized by or acting with speed and efficiency.

His  problem  was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley in the most expeditious way possible.


explicate \EK-spluh-kayt\, transitive verb:

To explain; to clear of difficulties or obscurity. 

I  can  cite  a case -- my own -- of a young person's being  altered  politically by a novel, but I cannot explicate the     process,  let  alone  explain  it  in terms of the author's  intention or literary strategies.


extant \EK-stunt; ek-STANT\, adjective:

Still existing; not destroyed, lost, or extinct.


extempore \ik-STEM-puh-ree\, adverb:

Without  premeditation  or  preparation;  on  the  spur of the  moment.


extirpate \EK-stur-payt\, transitive verb:

   1. To pull up by the stem or root.

   2. To destroy completely.

   3. To remove by surgery.

A plant growing where it shouldn't is a weed. An object for which  you  have  no  need  or  sentimental  attachment  is garbage. Extirpate the one, toss the other.


extricate \EK-struh-kayt\, transitive verb:

   To  free  or release from a difficulty or entanglement; to get  free; to disengage.

   Sean  introduced  himself and then extricated his hand from

     Ronan's persistent grasp in order to show him the photo.


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facetious \fuh-SEE-shuhs\, adjective: 

1. Given to jesting; playfully jocular.

2. Amusing; intended to be humorous; not serious.

J.  K.  Morley was being both serious and facetious when he  claimed  that  "the world's greatest water power is woman's tears."


factotum \fak-TOH-tuhm\, noun:A person employed to do all kinds of work or business.

Mr.  Hersey  thus  became  Mr. Lewis's summertime factotum,copying  pages  of  a  play  that  Lewis  was writing about Communism.


faineant \fay-nay-AWN\, adjective:

   Doing nothing or given to doing nothing; idle; lazy.


fanfaronade \fan-fair-uh-NAYD; -NOD\, noun:

   1.  Swaggering; empty boasting; blustering manner or behavior; ostentatious


   2. Fanfare.

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.


farrago \fuh-RAH-go; fuh-RAY-go\, noun;  plural farragoes:

A confused mixture; an assortment; a medley.


fealty \FEE-uhl-tee\, noun:

   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.

He  was re-elected Governor in 1855, and his administration of  the  State affairs, both in that and the preceding term of office,was marked by a regard for the public interest rather than party fealty.


felicitous \fuh-LIS-uh-tuhs\, adjective:

1. Well suited or expressed; appropriate; apt.

2. Pleasant; delightful; marked by happiness or good fortune.

"We  do  this  sort  of thing most weekends anyway," said a lean  rebel  with  gunpowder  smudges  on  his face and the felicitous name of Troy Cool.

fetid \FET-id; FEE-tid\, adjective:

Having an offensive smell; stinking.

The air was fetid, heavy as the breath of a large animal.

fettle \FET-l\, 

noun:A  state  or  condition  of  fitness  or order; state of mind; spirits -- often used in the phrase "in fine fettle." 

Aside  from  the problems with her voice... Miss Garland was in fine fettle last night.


fiat \FEE-uht; -at; -aht; FY-uht; -at\, noun:

   1. An arbitrary or authoritative command or order.

   2. Formal or official authorization or sanction.


fiduciary \fih-DOO-shee-AIR-ee\, adjective: Relating to the holding of something in trust for another.

American  capitalism  relies  heavily on the fiduciary duty concept  to  protect those who entrust their money to large and often distant corporations.


firmament \FUR-muh-muhnt\, noun:

   1. The region of the air; the sky; the heavens.

   2. The field or sphere of an interest or activity

   But  to judge by the twinkling summer stars that filled the

     firmament, the dawn was still far off.


flagitious \fluh-JISH-uhs\, adjective: 

1.  Disgracefully  or  shamefully  criminal;  grossly  wicked; scandalous; -- said of acts, crimes, etc.

2.  Guilty of enormous crimes; corrupt; profligate; -- said of  persons.

3.  Characterized  by enormous crimes or scandalous vices; as, "flagitious times."

However  flagitious  may  be  the  crime  of  conspiring to subvert  by  force  the  government  of  our  country, such conspiracy is not treason.

flippant \FLIP-uhnt\, adjective:

Lacking  proper  seriousness or respect; showing inappropriate levity; pert.

In  the  mid-1950s we both wrote for the same weekly, where her  contributions  were  a good deal more serious 
and less flippant than mine.


florid \FLOR-id\, adjective:

   1. Flushed with red; of a lively reddish color.

   2.  Excessively  ornate;  flowery; as, "a florid style; florid


The  Reverend Mr Kidney is a short round bowlegged man with black  muttonchop  whiskers  and  a  florid  face,  like  a pomegranate,  into  which he has poured a great quantity of brandy and lesser amounts of whisky and claret.


foment \foh-MENT\, transitive verb:To  nurse  to  life  or  activity; to encourage; to incite; to instigate; -- often in a bad sense.

Cynical  politicians may even foment conflicts among groups to advance their own power.


fop \FOP\, noun:

A man who is overly concerned with or vain about his dress and appearance; a dandy.

I  wear  ties  because  I  don't  have  to,  because  in an increasingly  dressed-down, homogenized world, they can set you  apart. I wear ties because they nurture the inner fop.Also the outer one.


forfend \for-FEND\, transitive verb:

1.  a.  [Archaic]  To  prohibit; to forbid. b. To ward off; to prevent; to avert.

2. To defend; to protect; to preserve.

The  Tory  leader sort of wanted to say that the government should  deploy the army more rapidly, but -- heaven forfend -- he didn't want to imply that it was anybody's fault that the soldiers hadn't been deployed!


forlorn \fur-LORN; for-\, adjective:

   1. Sad and lonely because deserted, abandoned, or lost.

   2. Bereft; forsaken.

   3. Wretched or pitiful in appearance or condition.

   4. Almost hopeless; desperate.

Henry  had  felt  guilty  at  abandoning his sister; he had married not once but twice, leaving Rose forlorn.


fortuitous \for-TOO-uh-tuhs; -TYOO-\, adjective:

   1.  Happening  by  chance; coming or occurring by accident, or without any known


   2. Happening by a fortunate or lucky chance.

   3. Fortunate or lucky.

The  profession,  the  political  faith, the entire life of many  men,  depend  on  chance  circumstances,  on  what is fortuitous,  on  the  caprice  and  the unexpected turns of fate.


foundling \FOWND-ling\, noun:

   A deserted or abandoned infant; a child found without a parent

   or caretaker.

      Some  of  her  desires  were more altruistic: she wanted to

     "send  Phyllis  to school for a year, take Auntie May for a

     winter in the Isle of Pines," and "raise foundlings."


friable \FRY-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   Easily crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder.


frisson \free-SOHN\, noun:  A  moment  of  intense  excitement;  a  shudder;  an emotional thrill.

 When  we  think  a  story  hasn't been invented, there's an extra frisson in reading it.


fugacious \fyoo-GAY-shuhs\, adjective: Lasting but a short time; fleeting.

 The fugacious nature of life and time.


fulminate \FUL-muh-nayt\,

 intransitive verb:

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.


funereal \fyoo-NIR-ee-uhl\, adjective:

   1. Of or pertaining to a funeral.

   2. Suiting a funeral; solemn; dark; gloomy; mournful.

But do I have to sound so funereal, so pontifically solemn?


 furbelow \FUR-buh-low\, noun:

   1.  A  pleated  or  gathered  flounce  on a woman's garment; a ruffle.

   2.   Something   showy   or   superfluous;   a  bit  of  showy



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galumph \guh-LUHM(P)F\, intransitive verb:

   To move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread.

Then  he  climbed up the little iron ladder that led to the wharf's  cap,  placed  me      once more upon his shoulders and galumphed off again.


gambol \GAM-buhl\, intransitive verb:

   To dance and skip about in play; to frolic.


garrulous \GAIR-uh-lus; GAIR-yuh-\, adjective:

   1.  Talking  much,  especially  about  commonplace  or trivial things; talkative.

   2. Wordy


gastronome \GAS-truh-nohm\, noun:   A connoisseur of good food and drink.

If  "poultry is for the cook what canvas is for a painter,"  to     quote    the    19th-century    French    gastronome Brillat-Savarin,  why paint the same painting over and over again?

gaucherie \goh-shuh-REE\, noun:

   1. A socially awkward or tactless act.

   2. Lack of tact; boorishness; awkwardness.

If   you   find  yourself  sitting  next  to  an  obviously prosperous guest at a dinner party and your host introduces

him  (it  will  be  a him) as a "successful barrister", you  will  be  guilty of a gaucherie of the crassest kind if you
exclaim:  "How  fascinating!  If  I promise not to call you  Rumpole,  will  you  tell  me  about  your  goriest  
murder   trials?"

gelid \JEL-id\, adjective:

Extremely cold; icy.

The  weather  is  gelid  on  a  recent  Thursday  night--so uninviting that it's hard to imagine anyone venturing out.


genial \JEEN-yuhl; JEE-nee-uhl\, adjective:

   1. [Obsolete] Pertaining to generation or marriage.

   2.   Friendly,  warm;  kindly;  sympathetically  cheerful  and cheering.

   3. Mild, pleasant; comfortable; favorable to life or growth.

The day before the operation, despite his paralysis, he had been his usual genial self, laughing and joking.


gewgaw \G(Y)OO-gaw\, noun:

A showy trifle; a trinket; a bauble.

Bidders paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthless gewgaws--fake  pearls,  ashtrays,  golf  clubs--merely, one supposes,  because  they  were  touched by the hand of this celebrity of celebrities.


gimcrack \JIM-krak\, noun:A showy but useless or worthless object; a gewgaw.

adjective:Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy.

Yet the set is more than a collection of pretty gimcracks.


gloaming \GLOH-ming\, noun:

Twilight; dusk.

The  children  squealed  and  waved and smiled, their teeth flashing white in the gloaming.


glower \GLAU-urh\, intransitive verb:

To look or stare angrily or with a scowl.

noun: An angry or scowling look or stare.

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.

gourmand \goor-MAHND; GOOR-mahnd; GOOR-mund\, noun:
   1. One who eats to excess.  2. A lover of good food.
A  gourmand who zealously avoids all exercise as "seriously damaging  to one's health," he had caviar for 
breakfast and was  now having oysters for lunch, whetted with wine, as he fueled 
himself for a [1]postprandial reading at the Montauk Club in Brooklyn.

grandee \gran-DEE\, noun:

1. A man of elevated rank or station.

2. In Spain or Portugal, a nobleman of the first rank.

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.


gravitas \GRAV-uh-tahs\, noun:

High seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject).


gregarious \grih-GAIR-ee-us\, adjective:

   1. Tending to form a group with others of the same kind.

   2. Seeking and enjoying the company of others.


gubernatorial \GOO-ber-nuh-TOR-ee-uhl\, adjective: Of or pertaining to a governor.

In  1780  [1]John Hancock was elected the first governor of  Massachusetts under its new constitution and 
thereafter was easily   reelected   whenever   he   chose   to   run.  His  gubernatorial career was marked by his
inability to prevent a fiscal and currency crisis in the mid-1780s.




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halcyon \HAL-see-uhn\, noun:

   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.
1.  Calm;  quiet;  peaceful;  undisturbed;  happy;  as, "deep, halcyon repose."
2. Marked by peace and prosperity; as, "halcyon years."
It  seems  to  be that my boyhood days in the Edwardian era were halcyon days.

hale \HAYL\, adjective:
Free from disease and weakening conditions; healthy.
Uncle  Charles  was a hale old man with a well tanned skin, rugged features and white side whiskers.

harridan \HAIR-uh-din\, noun:

A scolding, vicious woman; a shrew; a hag.

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.


hauteur \haw-TUR; (h)oh-\, noun:

Haughty manner, spirit, or bearing; haughtiness; arrogance


heterodox \HET-uh-ruh-doks\, adjective:

   1.  Contrary  to or differing from some acknowledged standard,

   especially in church doctrine or dogma; unorthodox.

   2. Holding unorthodox opinions or doctrines.


hirsute \HUR-soot; HIR-soot; hur-SOOT; hir-SOOT\, adjective:

Covered with hair; set with bristles; shaggy; hairy.

The Bear... makes the rounds of the clubs "disguised" in trench coat and broad-brimmed hat, hoping (successfully, it seems) to be mistaken for a rather hirsute human.


hobnob \HAHB-nahb\, intransitive verb:To associate familiarly.

Occasionally  I  heard  him stop in the corridor outside my door to hobnob with someone of status.


hugger-mugger \HUH-guhr-muh-guhr\, noun:

   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:  To keep secret.

intransitive verb: To act in a secretive manner.

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.



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idee fixe \ee-day-FEEKS\, noun; plural idees fixes \ee-day-FEEKS\:

An idea that dominates the mind; a fixed idea; an obsession.

The  reality  of  obsession  -- its incessant return to the  same  few  themes,  scenarios and questions; its meticulous examination and re-examination of banal minutiae for hidden meanings  that  simply  aren't  there; the cancerous way an     idee  fixe  usurps  other,  more interesting thoughts -- is that  it  is confining, not rebellious, and not fascinating but maddeningly dull.

imbroglio \im-BROHL-yoh\, noun:

   1. A complicated and embarrassing state of things.

   2. A confused or complicated disagreement or misunderstanding.

   3.  An  intricate,  complicated plot, as of a drama or work of   fiction.

   4. A confused mass; a tangle.

The political imbroglio also appears to endanger the latest International  Monetary Fund loan package for Russia, 
which  is  considered critical to avoid a default this year on the country's $17 billion in foreign debt.


immure \ih-MYUR\, transitive verb:

   1.  To  enclose within walls, or as if within walls; hence, to shut up; to imprison; to incarcerate.

   2. To build into a wall.

   3. To entomb in a wall.

Not  surprisingly,  Sally shuddered at the thought of being immured  in  the  black cave, to die slowly and hopelessly, far below the sunny hillside.


impassive \im-PASS-iv\, adjective:

   1. Devoid of or unsusceptible to emotion.

   2. Showing no sign of emotion or feeling; expressionless.

  As  before,  he  seemed  neither  happy  nor  unhappy. Just utterly impassive.


importunate \im-POR-chuh-nit\, adjective:

Troublesomely  urgent; overly persistent in request or demand; unreasonably solicitous.

An emperor penguin in captivity starved to death by feeding all  his rations -- about six pounds of fish daily -- to an importunate chick.


inanition \in-uh-NISH-uhn\, noun:

   1. The condition or quality of being empty.

   2. Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment.

   3. Lack of vitality or spirit.

The  problem  that  faces  British universities is not that they  have  become  fat  and  lazy, but that they have been starved beyond lean efficiency into inanition.


inchoate \in-KOH-it\, adjective:

   1. In an initial or early stage; just begun.

   2. Imperfectly formed or formulated.

Mildred Spock believed that, at about the age of three, her children's  inchoate  wills  were  to  be shaped like vines sprouting up a beanpole.


incipient \in-SIP-ee-uhnt\, adjective:

   Beginning to exist or appear.


inclement \in-KLEM-uhnt\, adjective:

1.  Rough,  harsh;  extreme, severe -- generally restricted to the elements or weather. 2. Severe, unrelenting; cruel.

To make his misery complete he was forced to travel back in the winter, in the most inclement weather.


incontrovertible \in-kon-truh-VUR-tuh-buhl\, adjective:

Too  clear  or  certain  to  admit  of  dispute; indisputable;  unquestionable.


indelible \in-DEL-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   1. That cannot be removed, erased, or washed away.

   2. Making marks that cannot easily be removed or erased.

   3. Incapable of being forgotten; memorable.

It was part of his image, indelible as the ink stains under the breast pocket.


indigent \IN-di-juhnt\, adjective:

Extremely  poor;  not  having the necessities of life, such as food, clothing and shelter. 

That  which  goes  under  the  general  Name  of Charity... consists in relieving the Indigent.

indolent \IN-duh-luhnt\, adjective:

   1.   Avoiding  labor  and  exertion;  habitually  idle;  lazy;  inactive.

   2. Conducive to or encouraging laziness or inactivity.

   3. Causing little or no pain.

   4. Slow to heal, develop, or grow.

 We  worked  very  hard--at  least  Iris  did;  I  was  more naturally indolent.


 indomitable \in-DOM-ih-tuh-buhl\, adjective:

Incapable of being subdued or overcome; unconquerable.


ineffable \in-EF-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   1.   Incapable  of  being  expressed  in  words;  unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable.
   2. Not to be uttered; taboo.
  . . .  the  tension  inherent  in  human language when it attempts  to  relate  the  ineffable,  see  the  invisible,
 understand the incomprehensible.


ineluctable \in-ih-LUCK-tuh-buhl\, adjective:

Impossible to avoid or evade; inevitable.


ingenue \AN-zhuh-noo\, noun:

1. A naive girl or young woman.

2.  An  actress playing such a person; also: the stage role of an ingenue.

This  is not the face of an ingenue; this is an old soul in a  new  body  -- wary, wise to her own long past, on to the wiles  of  the  world,  and  having  miles to go before she sleeps.


inscrutable \in-SKROO-tuh-bul\, adjective:
Difficult  to  fathom or understand; difficult to be explained or  accounted  for  satisfactorily; obscure; 
incomprehensible; impenetrable; as, an inscrutable design or event.
US  Secretary  of  State  Madeleine  Albright  recalled the inscrutable   comment   of  a  French  diplomat  
about  the interaction of the various European organisations: "It will  work in practice, yes. But will it work in theory?"


insensate \in-SEN-sayt; -sit\, adjective:

   1. Lacking sensation or awareness; inanimate.

   2. Lacking human feeling or sensitivity; brutal; cruel.

   3. Lacking sense; stupid; foolish.

The  religion  of  primeval humans, he suggested, held that souls  inhabited  not  only  human beings but also animals,trees,   plants--even  rocks,  rivers,  and  other  natural features we regard as insensate.


interpolate \in-TUR-puh-layt\, transitive verb:

   1. To alter or corrupt (as a book or text) by the insertion of new or foreign


   2. To insert (material) into a text or conversation.

   3. To insert between other elements or parts.

   4.  [Mathematics]  to estimate a value of (a function) between two known values.

    intransitive verb:To make insertions.

Twenty  years  earlier, Rodgers was not so pleased when, at the  request  of the star Belle Baker, Berlin had written a song   for   her   to   interpolate   into   an   otherwise all-Rodgers-and-Hart   score   for   the  Broadway  musical  "Betsy."


interstice \in-TUR-stuhs\, noun; plural interstices \in-TUR-stuh-seez; -suhz\:

   1. A space between things or parts, especially a space between

   things  closely  set;  a  narrow chink; a crack; a crevice; an


   2. An interval of time.

Out in the harbor, boats are gridlocked: who knows how they got  there,  or how they will get away? The filthy water is barely  visible in the interstices of smokestack, hull, and sail.


intractable \in-TRAK-tuh-buhl\, adjective:

   1.  Not  easily  governed,  managed,  or  directed;  stubborn; obstinate; as, "an intractable child."

   2.   Not  easily  wrought  or  manipulated;  as,  "intractable materials."

   3.   Not   easily  remedied,  relieved,  or  dealt  with;  as, "intractable problems."

 Would  their  methods  work with a child who was as violent and intractable as Helen?


intransigent \in-TRAN-suh-juhnt; -zuh-\, adjective:

Refusing to compromise; uncompromising.

He was intransigent at times, and almost playfully yielding at others.


inure \in-YOOR\, transitive verb:

To make accustomed or used to something painful, difficult, or inconvenient; to harden; to habituate; as, "inured to drudgery and distress."

intransitive verb:

To  pass  into  use; to take or have effect; to be applied; to serve to the use or benefit of; as, "a gift of lands inures to the heirs."

They  were  a  hard-driven, hardworking crowd inured to the hardest  living,  and  they  found their recreation in hard drinking and hard fighting.


inveigle \in-VAY-guhl; -VEE-\, transitive verb:

   1. To persuade by ingenuity or flattery; to entice.

   2. To obtain by ingenuity or flattery. 

Deep  Blue  had  tried  to  inveigle Kasparov into grabbing several pawn offers, but the champion was not fooled.


inveterate \in-VET-uhr-it\, adjective:

1.  Firmly  established  by  long persistence; deep-rooted; of long standing.

2. Fixed in habit by long persistence; confirmed; habitual.

In  Montpelier,  where  this  prison stands, the inveterate prejudice against prisoners has been swept away.


invidious \in-VID-ee-uhs\, adjective:

   1. Tending to provoke envy, resentment, or ill will.

   2. Containing or implying a slight.

   3. Envious.

But  to  the  human  hordes  of  Amorites -- Semitic nomads wandering the mountains and deserts just beyond the pale of Sumer  -- the tiered and clustered cities, strung out along the  green banks of the meandering Euphrates like a giant's     necklace  of  polished  stone,  seemed shining things, each surmounted  by  a wondrous temple and ziggurat dedicated to the   city's   god-protector,  each  city  noted  for  some specialty -- all invidious reminders of what the nomads did not possess.


irascible \ih-RASS-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   Prone to anger; easily provoked to anger; hot-tempered.

The   lawyer   described   his   client   as  an  irascible eighty-two-year-old   eccentric   who   alternated  between spinning  fascinating  tales about her past and cussing him out.

irrefragable \ir-REF-ruh-guh-buhl\, adjective:

Impossible   to  refute;  incontestable;  undeniable;  as,  an irrefragable argument; irrefragable evidence.

I  had the most irrefragable evidence of the absolute truth and  soundness of the principle upon which my
invention was based.


itinerant \eye-TIN-uhr-uhnt\, adjective:

Passing or traveling from place to place; wandering.

noun:One who travels from place to place.

Like  many  itinerant  vendors  in  rural  places, he was a smooth-talking   purveyor   of  dreams  along  with  tawdry trinkets, and Eliza responded to this romantic wanderer.



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jocund \JOCK-uhnd; JOH-kuhnd\, adjective:

Full  of or expressing high-spirited merriment; light-hearted; mirthful.

His  careless  manners and jocund repartees might well seem incompatible with  anything serious.


jollification \jol-ih-fuh-KAY-shuhn\, noun:

Merrymaking; festivity; revelry.

Some  inform;  some  prompt the conscience; some entertain, while having more than jollification in mind.



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kismet \KIZ-met; -mit\, noun:   Destiny; fate.

It's pure kismet when these two find each other.


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lachrymose \LAK-ruh-mohs\, adjective:

   1. Given to shedding tears; suffused with tears; tearful.

   2. Causing or tending to cause tears.

 At  the farewell party on the boat, Joyce was surrounded by a lachrymose family.


lackadaisical \lack-uh-DAY-zih-kuhl\, adjective:

Lacking  spirit  or  liveliness;  showing  lack  of  interest;languid; listless. Drowsy  from  the  heat  and  from fatigue, he dozed to the steady lackadaisical clips of the mule's shoes.


laconic \luh-KON-ik\, adjective:
Using  or  marked  by the use of a minimum of words; brief and  pithy; brusque.
Readers' reports range from the laconic to the verbose.


lacuna \luh-KYOO-nuh\, noun; plural lacunae \luh-KYOO-nee\ or lacunas:

1. A blank space; a missing part; a gap.

2.  (Biology)  A  small  opening,  depression, or cavity in an anatomical structure.

Like  most  other  writers  of  his  generation,  he  was a profoundly  apolitical  being,  not  from any lacuna in his education but as a matter of principle.



lambent \LAM-buhnt\, adjective:

   1.  Playing  lightly  on or over a surface; flickering; as, "a  lambent flame; lambent shadows."

   2. Softly bright or radiant; luminous; as, "a lambent light."

   3. Light and brilliant; as, "a lambent style; lambent wit."

I  have an image in my mind of the soaring vault rising and disappearing into the gray-white silence, the niches in the salt  walls  where  the  saints  dwelled, the few points of lambent gold glimmering feebly on the altar.


lascivious \luh-SIV-ee-uhs\, adjective:

   1. Lewd; lustful.

   2. Tending to arouse sexual desires.

Irwin,  wearing  Groucho Marx glasses to which a false nose is  attached,  appears uncharacteristically as a lascivious fellow,  the  maitre  d'hôtel  who  tries to move in on the girlfriend.


lassitude \LASS-uh-tood; LASS-uh-tyood\, noun:

Lack of vitality or energy; weariness; listlessness.

 The  feverish  excitement ... had given place to a dull, regretful lassitude.


laudable \LAW-duh-bul\, adjective:

Worthy of praise; commendable.

Her  first  answer  was laudable -- she wrote that yes, she would  remain  engaged  to  a  man  who  fell seriously ill subsequent to the engagement.


legerdemain \lej-ur-duh-MAIN\, noun:

   1. Sleight of hand.

   2. A display of skill, trickery, or artful deception.


We  are inclined to regard the treatment of [paradoxes].. . as a mere legerdemain of words.


lenity \LEN-uh-tee\, noun:

The state or quality of being lenient; mildness; gentleness of  treatment; leniency.

The  criminal  suspect  is  pressured by remorse or hope of  lenity or sheer despair to fess up.


levity \LEV-uh-tee\, noun:

   1.   Lightness   of   manner   or   speech,   especially  when   inappropriate or excessive; frivolity.

   2. Lack of steadiness or constancy; changeableness.


lexicon \LEK-suh-kon\, noun; plural lexicons or lexica \-kuh\:

   1.  A book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words

   in a language with the definition of each; a dictionary.

   2. The vocabulary of a person, group, subject, or language.

   3. [Linguistics] The total morphemes of a language.

He thought it right in a lexicon of our language to collect many words which had fallen into disuse.


limn \LIM\, transitive verb:

1. To depict by drawing or painting.

2. To portray in words; to describe.

"Oh,  yes,"  I write, as I limn the familiar perfections of his profile, "you look very well."

lineament \LIN-ee-uh-muhnt\, noun:

   1.  One  of  the  outlines,  exterior features, or distinctive marks of a body or figure, particularly of the face.

   2.  A  distinguishing or characteristic feature; -- usually in the plural.

If she saw herself, even in her memory, she did not see the brightness  that had been hers as a wife; she saw the lined and ageing woman she had become, as if these lineaments had been  waiting  to  emerge since her features had first been formed.


lissom, also lissome \LISS-uhm\, adjective:

   1. Limber; supple; flexible.

   2. Light and quick in action; nimble; agile; active.

 Raphaelle  Boitel  moves  with  the  lissom,  contortionist plastique of a snake-woman.


littoral \LIH-tuh-rul\, adjective: Of, relating to, or on a coastal or shore region, especially a seashore.

Professor Henslow tells me, he believes that nearly all the plants  which  I  brought  from  these  islands, are common littoral species in the East Indian archipelago.

logorrhea \law-guh-REE-uh\, noun:  Excessive talkativeness or wordiness.


loquacious \loh-KWAY-shuhs\, adjective:

   1. Very talkative.

   2. Full of excessive talk; wordy.


lucre \LOO-kuhr\, noun:

Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.

His  stories  began to be published in the American Mercury before  he  moved  to L.A., lured by the dream of Hollywood lucre.


lugubrious \lu-GOO-bree-us; -GYOO-\, adjective:

   1.  Mournful;  indicating  sorrow,  often  in a way that seems

   feigned, exaggerated, or ridiculous.

   2. Gloomy; dismal.

Oh  yes,  he  says,  and his lugubrious expression suggests that the loss afflicts him still.


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maelstrom \MAYL-struhm\, noun:

   1. A large, powerful, or destructive whirlpool.

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

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


maladroit \mal-uh-DROYT\, adjective:

Lacking adroitness; clumsy; awkward; unskillful; inept. 

Do  you  know  someone  who... loves quiet conversations about   feelings   or   ideas,  and  can  give  a  dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk?


malapropos \mal-ap-ruh-POH\, adjective:

   Unseasonable; unsuitable; inappropriate.


malediction \mal-uh-DIK-shun\, noun:

   A curse or execration.


malfeasance \mal-FEE-zuhn(t)s\, noun:

Wrongdoing, misconduct, or misbehavior, especially by a public  official.

But  more  often  than  not the same board members who were removed  by  the  chancellor  for  malfeasance subsequently manage  to get reelected in a political process that defies any form of accountability.


malleable \MAL-ee-uh-buhl\, adjective:

   1.  Capable  of  being  extended  or  shaped by beating with a

   hammer, or by the pressure of rollers; -- applied to metals.

   2.  Capable  of being altered or controlled by outside forces;

   easily influenced.

   3. Capable of adjusting to changing circumstances; adaptable.

His  image  for  his  own  imagination  is  the  acid,  the catalyst,  that is mixed in to make the gold malleable, and is then wiped away.


manse \MAN(T)S\, noun:

1. A large and imposing residence.

2.  The  residence  of  a clergyman (especially a Presbyterian clergyman).

A  two-story  white Greek Revival manse, with a front porch and a terrace in the back.


matutinal \muh-TOOT-nn-uhl\, adjective:

Relating to or occurring in the morning; early.

Get  up  early  and wash your face in the matutinal May Day dew; it will make your skin beautiful and your heart pure.


maudlin \MAWD-lin\, adjective:

Tearfully or excessively sentimental.


melange \may-LAHNZH\, noun:

A mixture; a medley.

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.


melee \MAY-lay; may-LAY\, noun:

   1.  A  fight  or hand-to-hand struggle in which the combatants   are mingled in one confused mass.

   2. A confused conflict or mingling.

In  another  incident,  two staff members required stitches  from  a melee that ensued from their attempts to 
confiscate  a  razor  blade  found  in  the  sock of a boy who had just  arrived from another facility.

 mellifluous \muh-LIF-loo-us\, adjective:

  Flowing  as  with  honey;  flowing  sweetly or smoothly; as, a  mellifluous voice.

 The   balladeer   whose  mellifluous  voice  serenaded  two   generations of lovers.


mendacious \men-DAY-shuhs\, adjective:

   1.  Given  to deception or falsehood; lying; untruthful; as, a  mendacious person.

   2. False; untrue; as, a mendacious statement.


mercurial \mur-KYUR-ee-uhl\, adjective:

   1. [Often capitalized] Of or pertaining to the god Mercury.
   2. [Often capitalized] Of or pertaining to the planet Mercury.
   3.   Having   the   qualities  of  shrewdness,  eloquence,  or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury.
   4. Changeable in temperament or mood; temperamental; volatile.
   5. Of, pertaining to, or containing mercury.
   6. Caused by the use of mercury.
 Most  of  his New England cronies, accustomed to Brownson's  frequent  changes  of  opinion,  treated him as 
a mercurial spirit  who  had  finally stepped off the edge of the world  rather than as a role model.

meticulous \muh-TIK-yuh-luhs\, adjective:

Extremely or excessively careful about details.

How  much  work  gets  done  in  the  fall perennial garden depends  somewhat on whether your gardening tendencies lean toward the meticulous or toward the casual.

mien \MEEN\, noun:

   1.  Manner  or  bearing,  especially  as  expressive  of mood, attitude, or personality; demeanor.

   2. Aspect; appearance.


milieu \meel-YUH; meel-YOO\, noun; plural milieus or milieux \-(z)\:

Environment; setting.

These  were  agricultural  areas, populated with prosperous farming   families  and  rural  artisans  --  a  completely different  milieu  from  the  Monferrands',  which was more closed, more cultured, but less affluent.

minatory \MIN-uh-tor-ee\, adjective:

Threatening; menacing.

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.


misnomer \mis-NO-muhr\, noun:

1.  The  misnaming  of a person in a legal instrument, as in a complaint or indictment.

2.  Any  misnaming  of  a  person  or  thing; also, a wrong or inapplicable name or designation.

Morning sickness is a misnomer -- it can strike any time.

missive \MIS-iv\, noun:
A written message; a letter.
She  also  agreed  to  write to the Prince, while the Count  included a suitably outraged missive of his own.

moiety \MOY-uh-tee\, noun:

   1. One of two equal parts; a half.

   2. An indefinite part; a small portion or share.

   3. One of two basic tribal subdivisions.

Tom  divided  the  cake  and  Becky ate with good appetite,while Tom nibbled at his moiety.


mollify \MOL-uh-fy\, transitive verb:

   1. To pacify; to soothe or calm in temper or disposition.

   2. To reduce in intensity; to temper.

   3. To soften; to reduce the rigidity of.

One  hundred  seventeen and a half pesos! Did you think you could mollify me with that amount, Philip V?


monomania \mon-uh-MAY-nee-uh; -nyuh\, noun:

   1. Pathological obsession with a single subject or idea.

   2.  Excessive  concentration  of  interest upon one particular subject or idea.

One  of  the  themes  in  the  book was the necessity for a leader  to be passionate about the work. And sometimes in a corporate setting, passion becomes monomania.


mordant \MOR-d'nt\, adjective:Biting; caustic; sarcastic.

Mr.  Justice  Moorcroft's forte, a part which he had played for  so  many  years  that it had become instinctive, was a courteous reasonableness occasionally enlivened with shafts of mordant wit.

mores \MOR-ayz; -eez\, plural noun:

1.  The  fixed  customs of a particular group that are morally  binding upon all members of the group.
2. Moral attitudes.
3. Customs; habits; ways.
But  even  before  that,  the increasing secularization and urbanization  of  society, the employment of women in 
large  numbers  and  diverse occupations, the suffragette movement (culminating in the acquisition of the vote after 
the war),  the  widespread practice and, no less important, the candid discussion  of  contraception,  the  advent 
of automobiles  providing  an  unprecedented degree of mobility and freedom


moribund \MOR-uh-bund\, adjective:

   1. In a dying state; dying; at the point of death.

   2. Becoming obsolete or inactive.

He  put  on  a  beaver  overcoat,  a present from a wealthy Petrograd banker and speculator, Ignati Porfiryevich  Manus, whose  niece  had been moribund with fever until Rasputin's healing intercession had revived her.


multifarious \muhl-tuh-FAIR-ee-uhs\, adjective:

Having   great   diversity   or  variety;  of  various  kinds;diversified.

She is good at constructing a long, multifarious narrative,weaving  many  minor stories into one, so that you are left with  a  sense  of the fluidity and ambiguity of historical interpretation.


munificent \myoo-NIF-i-suhnt\, adjective:Very liberal in giving or bestowing; very generous; lavish.

Another  munificent  friend  has given me the most splendid reclining chair conceivable.


myrmidon \MUR-muh-don; -dun\, noun:

   1.  [Capitalized]  A member of a warlike Thessalian people who

   followed Achilles on the expedition against Troy.

   2.  A  loyal  follower,  especially  one  who  executes orders

   without question, protest, or pity.


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nadir \NAY-dir; nay-DIR\, noun:

   1.  [Astronomy].  The  point  of the celestial sphere directly opposite the zenith and directly below the observer.

  2.  The  lowest  point;  the  time  of  greatest depression or adversity.

 Exploitation  reached  a  nadir  in  the  1920s,  when high government  officials  were  implicated  in  a  flourishing international slave trade and domestic forced labor.


nescience \NESH-uhn(t)s; NESH-ee-uhn(t)s\, noun:

   Lack of knowledge or awareness; ignorance.


nefarious \nuh-FAIR-ee-us\, adjective:

   Wicked in the extreme; iniquitous.


nimiety \nih-MY-uh-tee\, noun:   The state of being too much; excess.

What  a  nimiety  of ... riches have we here! I am quite  undone.


noisome \NOY-sum\, adjective:

   1. Noxious; harmful; unwholesome.

   2. Offensive to the smell or other senses; disgusting.


     The  body politic produces noisome and unseemly substances,

     among which are politicians.


nonage \NON-ij; NOH-nij\, noun:

   1. The time of life before a person becomes legally of age.

   2. A period of youth or immaturity.

He  was  an  adept  in politics, even in his nonage, and an accomplished  statesman  before  the laws regarded him as a man.


nonagenarian \non-uh-juh-NAIR-ee-uhn; no-nuh-\, noun:

A  ninety  year  old  person;  someone  whose  age  is  in the   nineties.

nostrum \NOS-truhm\, noun:

 1.  A  medicine  of secret composition and unproven or dubious  effectiveness; a quack medicine.

 2. A usually questionable remedy or scheme; a cure-all.

James  is  put  to work at country fairs, promoting a quack  nostrum for pain relief.

nugatory \NOO-guh-tor-ee; NYOO-\, adjective:
1. Trifling; insignificant; inconsequential.
2. Having no force; inoperative; ineffectual.

Tygiel's  forte  as  a  historian  is  his eye for what may appear   nugatory  or  marginal  but,  when  focused  
upon, illuminates the temper of a given moment.


numinous \NOO-min-nus\, \NYOO-min-nus\, adjective:Indicating  or  suggesting  the presence of a god-- spiritual,divine; inspiring awe and reverence-- holy.

Smoking is a ritual, and it has all the numinous force of a ritual.


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obdurate \OB-duh-rit; -dyuh-\, adjective:
1.  a.  Hardened in wrongdoing; stubbornly wicked. b. Hardened  in feelings; hard-hearted.
2. Resistant to persuasion; unyielding.
3. Hard; harsh; rugged; rough.
The obdurate conscience of the old sinner.


objurgate \OB-juhr-gayt\, transitive verb:

To express strong disapproval of; to criticize severely. 

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.


obloquy \OB-luh-kwee\, noun:

   1. Strongly condemnatory or abusive language or utterance.

   2.  The  condition  of disgrace suffered as a result of public

   blame, abuse, or condemnation; ill repute.


obsequious \ob-SEE-kwee-uhs; uhb-\, adjective:

Marked  by  or  exhibiting servile attentiveness; compliant to excess; fawning.

His   wealth   nevertheless   turns  the  townspeople  into groveling, obsequious sycophants.


obviate \OB-vee-ayt\, transitive verb:

To  prevent  by  interception; to anticipate and dispose of or make unnecessary.

After  lunch  he packed and stepped into the shower: Ronald Rosenthal spent a good portion of his life in planes and he knew  that  hot water immediately before and after a flight obviated most of its bad effects.


officious \uh-FISH-uhs\, adjective:

Marked  by  excessive eagerness in offering services or advice where they are neither requested nor needed; meddlesome.

Ian  Holm  plays  a  well-meaning  but officious lawyer who tries to make the grieving families sue for damages.

omnipresent \om-nuh-PREZ-uhnt\, adjective: Present in all places at the same time; ubiquitous.
It  was  rather that myth was omnipresent; the whole people thought  in  this  way  and  were  long  confirmed 
in their belief.

oneiric \oh-NY-rik\, adjective:

Of, pertaining to, or suggestive of dreams; dreamy. 

On  this  score,  the  novel might easily drift off into an oneiric  never-never  land,  but Mr. Welch doesn't let this happen.


onus \OH-nuhs\, noun:

   1. A burden; an obligation; a disagreeable necessity.

   2. a: A stigma. b: Blame.

   3. The burden of proof.

And  who  knew what financial pressures he was under or how desperate was his need to shed the onus of his past?


opportune \AHP-er-TOON\, \AHP-er-TYOON\, adjective:

Suitable for a given purpose or occasion; timely.

There  is a war on. It's not the most opportune of times to distract the president with a phony political scandal.


orotund \OR-uh-tuhnd\, adjective:

 1.   Characterized   by   fullness,   clarity,  strength,  and smoothness of sound.

   2. Pompous; bombastic.

"I  have  been  cursed  to  stalk  the  night  through  all eternity,"  he  went  on,  his  voice orotund, carrying all
across the playground.


osculation \os-kyuh-LAY-shuhn\, noun:

The act of kissing; also: a kiss.

He had engaged in nervous osculation with all three of Lord Flamborough's daughters.


ostensible \ah-STEN-suh-bul\, adjective:

Represented or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.

The  credibility  of  the  energy-trading  sector  has been severely  damaged  by  disclosures  of sham transactions in energy  trading,  designed to build up ostensible sales and profits   and   therefore   share  prices  of  the  trading    companies.

ostentation \os-ten-TAY-shuhn\, noun: Excessive or pretentious display; boastful showiness.

In a city where the wealthy are known for ostentation, many are  now buying low-profile economy cars to 
fool kidnappers and thieves.

outre \oo-TRAY\, adjective:

Unconventional; eccentric; bizarre.

This  seven-year-old  house of outre culture is the kind of place  you  can  shop  for  a sculpture made out of working flamethrowers,   videocassettes   of   underground  movies, computer-generated art or a cute robot


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paladin \PAL-uh-din\, noun:
1.  A  knight-errant;  a  distinguished champion of a medieval king or prince; as, the paladins of Charlemagne.

2. A champion of a cause.
Once  in  power,  though,  Clinton stumbled repeatedly over obstacles   created   by   the  schizoid  campaign  he  had
conducted,  in  which he had cast himself simultaneously as the champion of a more conservative Democratic credo and as
a paladin of the party's traditional activism.

palimpsest \PAL-imp-sest\, noun:

1.  A  manuscript,  usually  of papyrus or parchment, on which more  than  one text has been written with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible.

2.  An  object  or  place  whose  older  layers or aspects are apparent beneath its surface.

The  manuscript is a palimpsest consisting of vellum leaves from  which the "fluent and assured script" of the original Archimedes  text and 55 diagrams had been washed or scraped off so that the surface could be used for new writings.


palindrome \PAL-in-drohm\, noun:

A  word,  phrase,  sentence,  or  verse  that  reads  the same backward or forward.

A few examples:

* Madam, I'm Adam. (Adam's first words to Eve?)

* A  man,  a  plan,  a  canal -- Panama! (The history of the Panama Canal in  brief.)

* Able was I ere I saw Elba. (Napoleon's lament.)

* Mom, Dad.

Palindrome  comes  from  Greek palindromos, literally "running back (again)," from palin, "back, again" + dromos, "running."

palpable \PAL-puh-buhl\, adjective:

   1.  Capable  of  being  touched  and  felt; perceptible by the

   touch; as, a palpable form.

   2.  Easily  perceptible;  plain;  distinct;  obvious;  readily

   perceived   and   detected;  gross;  as,  palpable  imposture;

   palpable absurdity; palpable errors.

A  sense  of devastation from the attacks remains palpable, but so too is a sense of rejuvenation.


panacea \pan-uh-SEE-uh\, noun:

A  remedy  for  all  diseases, problems, or evils; a universal medicine; a cure-all.

[T]echnology  had  become a panacea for the great economic,social,  and  political  challenges facing the nation as it embarked on the path of modernization.

panoply \PAN-uh-plee\, noun:

   1. A splendid or impressive array.

   2. Ceremonial attire.

   3. A full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering.

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.


pari passu \PAIR-ee-PASS-oo; PAIR-ih-PASS-oo\, adverb:

At an equal pace or rate.

Expand the state and [its] destructive capacity necessarily expands too, pari passu.

parley \PAR-lee\, noun:
A  conference or discussion, especially with an enemy, as with regard to a truce or other matters.
 intransitive verb: To  speak  with  another;  to  confer  on some point of mutual concern; specifically, to have a 
discussion with an enemy.

The  government  recognized  his  knack  for parleying with tribes, and it sent him all over the West.

parlous \PAR-luhs\, adjective:

Attended with peril; fraught with danger; hazardous.

It was a parlous time on the Continent, when Communists and fascists vied brutally for supremacy.

paroxysm \PAIR-uhk-siz-uhm\, noun:

1.  (Medicine) A sudden attack, intensification, or recurrence  of a disease.

2.  Any  sudden  and violent emotion or action; an outburst; a fit.

But when he's on target -- and more often than not he is -- he can send you into paroxysms of laughter.

parsimonious \par-suh-MOH-nee-uhs\, adjective:Sparing in expenditure; frugal to excess. 

His mother became increasingly parsimonious over the years,and  even  if  there  were a good doctor around she did not like to pay one.


peccadillo \peck-uh-DIL-oh\, noun:

A slight offense; a petty fault.

No  peccadillo is too trivial: we learn that the mogul once blew  his  top  because  his  laundry  came  back  starched (" 'Fluff and fold!' he screamed").


pecuniary \pih-KYOO-nee-air-ee\, adjective:

   1. Relating to money; monetary.

   2. Consisting of money.

   3. Requiring payment of money.


pelf \PELF\, noun:Money;  riches;  gain;  --  generally  conveying  the  idea of   something ill-gotten.

. .. a master manipulator who will twist and dodge around the clock to keep the privileges of power and pelf.


pellucid \puh-LOO-sid\, adjective:

   1. Transparent; clear; not opaque.

   2. Easily understandable.


penchant \PEN-chunt\, noun: Inclination; decided taste; a strong liking.

"Ben  was  a  dreamy little boy," recalls Hiddy, who always thought  her brother's penchant for reveries might lead him to become an artist or a great philosopher.


perdurable \pur-DUR-uh-bul; pur-DYUR-\, adjective:Very durable; lasting; continuing long.

The  idea  of  a  classic is historically bound up with the view . .. that there are certain perdurable human truths and   values,   immune   from  geographical  or  historical [1]vitiation.


peregrination \pehr-uh-gruh-NAY-shun\, noun: A traveling from place to place; a wandering.

He  left Parma in the family camper-van, abandoning it in a Milan  car-park  to  avoid  its  being identified at border controls  before  setting  off  on  a peregrination through Switzerland,   France,   London,   Canada,   New  York  and eventually back to London.


perforce \pur-FORS\, adverb:

   By necessity; by force of circumstance.


perfunctory \pur-FUNGK-tuh-ree\, adjective:

   1.  Done merely to carry out a duty; performed mechanically or


   2. Lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent.


     The  city's moderate hotels, however, tend to offer minimal

     comforts, perfunctory service and dreary decor.


persiflage \PUR-suh-flahzh\, noun:

Frivolous  or  bantering  talk; a frivolous manner of treating any subject, whether serious or otherwise; light raillery.

He  was  somber and wordless and utterly unresponsive to my mother's charming persiflage.


perspicacity \pur-spuh-KAS-uh-tee\, noun:

 Clearness    of   understanding   or   insight;   penetration, discernment.

 His   predictions   over   the  years  have  mixed  unusual aristocratic insight with devastating perspicacity.


philomath \FIL-uh-math\, noun:

   A lover of learning; a scholar.

   It  is precisely for the philomaths that universities ought  to cater.


philter \FIL-tur\, noun:

   1. A potion or charm supposed to cause the person taking it to

   fall in love.

   2. A potion or charm believed to have magic power.


piebald \PY-bald\, adjective:

1.  Having  spots  and  patches  of  black and white, or other colors; mottled.

2. Mixed; composed of incongruous parts.

She  remembered the piebald hair of a convicted woman, with brown roots growing through the crude bleach.


plenary \PLEE-nuh-ree; PLEN-uh-ree\, adjective:

   1.  Full  in  all  respects;  complete;  absolute; as, plenary  authority.

   2. Fully attended by all qualified members.


     Judges  like  to  quote  a  1936 Supreme Court opinion that

     spoke of "the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of

     the  President  as the sole organ of the Federal Government

     in the field of international relations."


plebeian \plih-BEE-uhn\, adjective:

   1. Of or pertaining to the Roman plebs, or common people.

   2. Of or pertaining to the common people.

   3. Vulgar; common; crude or coarse in nature or manner.


   1. One of the plebs, or common people of ancient Rome; opposed to patrician.

   2. One of the common people or lower classes.

   3. A coarse, crude, or vulgar person.

He  was unashamed of his plebeian roots but keen to provide himself with aristocratic forebears.

pleonasm \PLEE-uh-naz-uhm\, noun:

   1.  The  use  of  more  words than are necessary to express an

   idea; as, "I saw it with my own eyes."

   2. An instance or example of pleonasm.

   3. A superfluous word or expression.


polyglot \POL-ee-glot\, adjective:

   1. Containing or made up of several languages.

   2. Writing, speaking, or versed in many languages.


   One who speaks several languages.


polymath \PAH-lee-math\, noun:

A  person  of  great  or  varied learning; one acquainted with various subjects of study.

A  century  after  Aristotle,  in  240  B.C.,  a  brilliant polymath, Eratosthenes, is appointed chief librarian of the Museum at Alexandria--the most cosmopolitan city and center of learning in the Mediterranean world.


portend \por-TEND\, verb: To  indicate  (events,  misfortunes,  etc.)  as  in future; to foreshadow; to bode.

Although no humans were there to witness the giant comet of 65  million  years  ago, in this case it really did portend disaster.

posit \POZ-it\, transitive verb:

1. To assume as real or conceded.

2. To propose as an explanation; to suggest.

3. To dispose or set firmly or fixedly.

It  is  not necessary to posit mysterious forces to explain coincidences.


postprandial \post-PRAN-dee-uhl\, adjective:

Happening or done after a meal.


potable \POE-tuh-buhl\, adjective:

Fit to drink; suitable for drinking; drinkable.


practicable \PRAK-tik-uh-buhl\, adjective:

1.  Capable of being done, accomplished, or put into practice; feasible; as, "a practicable method; a practicable aim."

2. Capable of being used; usable.

The authors give easy-to-follow instructions on coping with a  whole ham leg, and so many ways to cook with it 
that the project even seems practicable.


precipice \PRES-uh-pis\, noun:

   1. A very steep, perpendicular, or overhanging place; a cliff.

   2. The brink of a hazardous situation.

Barbara  got  as  close to the edge as she dared and looked down over the precipice.


prelapsarian \pree-lap-SAIR-ee-uhn\, adjective:

Pertaining  to  or  characteristic of the time or state before the Fall.

Because  artifice  connotes  civilization  to  the  Chinese elite,  it  doesn't  have quite the negative meaning it has

for  Europeans  brought  up on stories of prelapsarian Eden  and on Romantic conceptions of nature.


preponderate \prih-PON-duh-rayt\, intransitive verb:

   1. To exceed in weight.

   2.  To  incline  or  descend, as the scale of a balance; to be weighed down.

   3.  To exceed in influence, power, importance, number, amount, etc.

It's  about  the  random  acts  of  kindness  which  still, magically,   preponderate   over   acts  of  incivility  or nastiness.


prepotency \pree-POTE-n-see\, noun:

   1.   The  quality  or  condition  of  having  superior  power,

   influence, or force; predominance.

   2.  (Biology) The capacity, on the part of one of the parents,

   as  compared  with the other, to transmit more than his or her

   own share of characteristics to their offspring.

The  awesome  prepotency of this smokescape is no illusion, for  this  is  an  epicenter  of  power, oil capital of the Western  world  and  the  most industrialized corner of the United States.


prescient \PRE-shee-uhnt\, adjective:

Knowing  or  anticipating  the  outcome  of events before they happen.

Despite [1]Carroll's unfamiliarity with military matters he had  an  astonishingly  prescient  view  of how the war for independence would be fought and won.


prestidigitation \pres-tuh-dij-uh-TAY-shuhn\, noun:

Skill in or performance of tricks; sleight of hand. 

He was the man who had sat alone in a room for hundreds and hundreds of hours, his fingers manipulating cards and coins until  he  had  learned and could perfectly reproduce every form of prestidigitation found in books of magic lore.


prevaricate \prih-VAIR-uh-kayt\, intransitive verb:

To depart from or evade the truth; to speak with equivocation.

Journalism  has a similar obligation, particularly with men and  women  suddenly  transferred to places of great power,who are often led to exaggerate and prevaricate, all in the name of a supposedly greater good.


prink \PRINGK\, transitive verb:

   To dress up; to deck for show.


probity \PRO-buh-tee\, noun:

   Complete and confirmed integrity; uprightness.


proclivity \pro-KLIV-uh-tee\, noun:

   A natural inclination; predisposition.


procrastination \proh-CRAS-tuh-NAY-shun\, 

noun:The act or habit of delaying doing something.

If  you  have  newspapers  dating  to  the last millennium,magazines  from  the  Seventies stacked on your nightstand, and  countless  envelopes filled with family photos stuffed in  a  drawer,  you  may  be carrying procrastination to an extreme.


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

   1. Extending to a great length; unnecessarily long; wordy.

   2. Tending to speak or write at excessive length.


pronunciamento \pro-nun-see-uh-MEN-toe\, noun:

   1.  A  proclamation  or  manifesto;  a  formal announcement or declaration.

   2. A pronouncement.


propinquity \pruh-PING-kwih-tee\, noun:

   1. Nearness in place; proximity.

   2. Nearness in time.

   3. Nearness of relation; kinship.

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.


propitious \pruh-PISH-uhs\, adjective:

   1. Presenting favorable circumstances or conditions.

   2. Favorably inclined; gracious; benevolent.


proponent \pruh-POH-nuhnt\, noun:One  who  argues  in  support  of  something;  an  advocate; a supporter.

A  fervent  proponent  of  the work ethic, Reuther at first resisted  the  demand  for  early  retirement,  as  he  had rejected shorter hours in the 1950s.


protean \PRO-tee-un; pro-TEE-un\, adjective:

   1. Displaying considerable variety or diversity.

   2. Readily assuming different shapes or forms.

The  [Broadway]  musical  was  ceaselessly protean in these years, usually   conventional   but   always   developing convention, twisting it, replacing it.

provenance \PROV-uh-nuhn(t)s\, noun:

 Origin; source.

  In a world awash in information of dubious provenance, whom can you trust to tell you the truth?   


puerile \PYOO-uhr-uhl; PYOOR-uhl\, adjective:

Displaying   or  suggesting  a  lack  of  maturity;  juvenile; childish.


pugilist \PYOO-juh-list\, noun:

One  who  fights  with  the  fists; especially, a professional prize fighter; a boxer.

I had escaped my years as a pugilist with few of the badges that  gave  fellow-veterans  of  the ring the appearance of ruffians--missing   eyes,   mashed   noses,   or   suchlike disfigurements--and  had  no  more  to show for my beatings   than  some  small  scars about my face and a nose that bore only the mild bumps and jagged edges that come with several breakings.

pugnacious \puhg-NAY-shuhs\, adjective: Inclined to fight; combative; quarrelsome.

 Roberto's  pugnacious  grandmother  lived across the meadow and  would  yell  threats  and  curses  helplessly from her balcony.


puissant  \PWISS-uhnt;    PYOO-uh-suhnt;    pyoo-ISS-uhnt\,

adjective: Powerful; strong; mighty; as, a puissant prince or empire.

As  an  upcoming young corporate lawyer in San Francisco in the   1930's,   Crum   tended  the  interests  of  some  of California's   most   puissant  businesses,  starting  with William Randolph Hearst's newspaper empire.


pukka, also pucka \PUHK-uh\, adjective:

   1. Authentic; genuine.

   2. Good of its kind; first-class.

He  talks  like  the  quintessential  pukka  Englishman and quotes  Chesterton  and  Kipling by the yard and yet he has chosen to live most of his adult life abroad.


pule \PYOOL\, intransitive verb:

To whimper; to whine.

The  first  lady  initially  flourished  as  a wronged wife precisely because she endured her humiliation so stoically; she  did  not whine or pule or treat her pain as license to behave badly.


purblind \PUR-blynd\, adjective:

   1. Having greatly reduced vision.

   2. Lacking in insight or discernment.

Add to this  that  the work seems unsure of its audience, providing  no footnotes or exact references, but concluding with  a bizarre parade of bibliographical essays  running to 59  pages; that it gives the date only about once every 100 pages (and  then not always the right date...) and leaves us feeling as if we were wandering purblind in some deep cave.


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

Lacking  in  courage  and  resolution;  contemptibly  fearful; cowardly.


putative \PYOO-tuh-tiv\, adjective:

Commonly thought or deemed; supposed; reputed.

Certainly, to have even a putative ancestor commemorated by Shakespeare is something about which to boast.  


putsch \PUCH ('u' as in 'push')\, noun:

   (Sometimes   capitalized)  A  secretly  planned  and  suddenly

   executed attempt to overthrow a government.

   Hitler  operated from Munich where he enjoyed a fair degree

   of  support,  and it was here that his Putsch took place in

   an effort to seize power in Bavaria.

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quaff \KWOFF; KWAFF\, 

transitive verb:To  drink  with  relish;  to drink copiously of; to swallow in large draughts.

intransitive verb: To drink largely or luxuriously.

noun: A drink quaffed.

He  gets drunk with his guides, makes eyes at the girls and gamely quaffs snake wine.


querulous \KWER-uh-luhs; -yuh\, adjective:

   1. Apt to find fault; habitually complaining.

   2. Expressing complaint; fretful; whining.

Querulous  Oscar  rattles  on,  never  more  or  less  than himself, but never much more than the content of his grumpy rattling.


quiddity \KWID-ih-tee\, noun:

1. The essence, nature, or distinctive peculiarity of a thing.

2. A hairsplitting distinction; a trifling point; a quibble.

3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.

He  wanted  to  capture  not  just  live  animals,  but the aliveness   of   animals  in  their  natural  state:  their wildness,  their  quiddity, the fox-ness of the fox and the crow-ness of the crow


quidnunc \KWID-nuhngk\, noun:

One  who  is  curious  to know everything that passes; one who knows  or  pretends  to know all that is going on; a gossip; a busybody.

What  a  treasure-trove to these venerable quidnuncs, could they  have  guessed  the secret which Hepzibah and Clifford were carrying along with them!


quiescent \kwy-ES-uhnt; kwee-\, adjective:

Being in a state of repose; at rest; still; inactive.

The solution, Dr. Wilmut discovered, was to, in effect, put the  DNA  from the adult cell to sleep, making it quiescent by depriving the adult cell of nutrients.


quondam \KWAHN-duhm; KWAHN-dam\, adjective:

   Having been formerly; former; sometime.

   A  quondam flower child, she spent seven years at the Royal

  College  of  Art,  before  becoming a lecturer at Edinburgh  School of Art.


quorum \KWOR-uhm\, noun:

   1.  Such a number of the officers or members of any body as is

   legally competent to transact business.

   2. A select group.

The  extraordinary  powers  of  the  Senate  were vested in twenty-six men, fourteen of whom would constitute a quorum,of which eight would make up a majority.


quotidian \kwoh-TID-ee-uhn\, adjective:

   1. Occurring or returning daily; as, a quotidian fever.

   2. Of an everyday character; ordinary; commonplace.


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raconteur \rack-on-TUR\, noun:

   One who excels in telling stories and anecdotes.

    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.


rapine \RAP-in\, noun: The  act  of  plundering;  the  seizing  and  carrying away of   another's property by force.

He  who  has  once  begun  to  live  by rapine always finds reasons for taking what is not his.


rara avis \RARE-uh-AY-vis\, noun plural   rara   avises  \RARE-uh-AY-vuh-suhz\  or  rarae  aves \RARE-ee-AY-veez\:

A rare or unique person or thing. 

He was, after all, that rara avis, a Jewish Catholic priest with a wife and children.


ratiocination \rash-ee-ah-suh-NAY-shun; rash-ee-oh-\, noun:

   The process of reasoning.

   For  all  their  vaunted  powers  of  ratiocination,  grand  masters of chess tend to be a skittery lot.


rebarbative \ree-BAR-buh-tiv\, adjective:

Serving or tending to irritate or repel.

Over  the  past  couple  of  hours  a  lot  of rebarbative, ulcerated  and  embittered  people had been working hard at bedding their resentments down in sensory-deprivation tanks full of alcohol.


recalcitrant \rih-KAL-sih-truhnt\, adjective:

Stubbornly resistant to and defiant of authority or restraint.     


recondite \REK-un-dyt\, adjective: 1. Difficult to understand; [1]abstruse.2. Concerned with obscure subject matter.

And  his  fondness  for stopping his readers short in their tracks   with  evidence  of  his  recondite  vocabulary  is wonderfully irritating.


recrimination \rih-krim-uh-NAY-shuhn\, 

noun:1. The act of returning one charge or accusation with another.

   2. An accusation brought by the accused against the accuser; a counter


Others  have written about the epidemic of partisanship and lack  of character in our government's elected branches and the cycle of recrimination and disaffection it has created.


redivivus \red-uh-VY-vuhs; -VEE-\, adjective:Living again; brought back to life; revived; restored.

Augustine redivivus, R. contends, would find in the history of  the  present  century  confirmation  of his pessimistic views of human nature.


redoubt \rih-DOWT\, noun:

   1. A small and usually temporary defensive fortification.

   2. A defended position or protective barrier.

   3. A secure place of refuge or defense; a stronghold.


refractory \rih-FRAK-tuh-ree\, adjective:

   1. Stubbornly disobedient; unmanageable.

   2. Resisting ordinary treatment or cure.

   3.  Difficult  to  melt  or  work;  capable  of  enduring high



refulgent \rih-FUL-juhnt\, adjective:

 Shining brightly; radiant; brilliant; resplendent.

 If  Moore  was  not  quite  a  burned-out  case,  his  once refulgent light flickered only dimly in his sad last years.


relegate \REL-uh-gayt\, transitive verb:

   1. To assign to an inferior position, place, or condition.

   2. To assign to an appropriate category or class.

   3.  To  assign  or  refer  (a  matter or task, for example) to another for

       appropriate action.

   4. To send into exile; to banish.

Employment  discrimination locked them out of better paying jobs and relegated them to menial occupations.


renascent \rih-NAS-uhnt\, adjective:

Springing or rising again into being; showing renewed vigor.

Their  goal:  to  give  voters  in  the  June  presidential elections  a  realistic choice between the rough-and-tumble reforms  of  President  Boris  Yeltsin  and  the Soviet-era nostalgia  of  Gennadi  Zyuganov,leader  of the renascent Russian Communist Party.


repast \rih-PAST\, noun:

Something taken as food; a meal.

This  repast  could  scarcely  have  been digested before a "tea"  of  fresh bread, butter, cheese, cold meat, and cake was served at half past six.


restive \RES-tiv\, adjective:

1.   Impatient   under   restriction,   delay,   coercion,  or  opposition; resisting control.

2.  Unwilling to go on; obstinate in refusing to move forward; stubborn.

He turned restive at the least attempt at coercion.


reticent \RET-ih-suhnt\, adjective:

   1. Inclined to keep silent; reserved; uncommunicative.

   2. Restrained or reserved in style.

   3. Reluctant; unwilling.


revenant \REV-uh-nunt\, noun:

One  who  returns  after  death  (as  a ghost) or after a long absence.

Lazarus,  as  a  revenant,  is  often used by the religious romance-writers  of  the middle ages as a vehicle for their conceptions of the lower world.


ribald \RIB-uld; RY-bawld\, adjective:

Characterized by, or given to, vulgar humor; coarse. 

 noun: A ribald person; a lewd fellow.

 Barrymore  delights  you with his own delight in his silly, ribald jokes (most of which are unprintable here).


rictus \RIK-tuhs\, noun:

1. The gape of the mouth, as of birds.

 2. A gaping grin or grimace.

A  rictus  of  cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony  faces.


riparian \rih-PAIR-ee-uhn; ry-PAIR-ee-uhn\, adjective:

of or pertaining to the bank of a river or stream
Riparian  areas are the green, vegetated areas on each side of streams and rivers. They serve many important 
functions, including  purifying  water by removing sediments and other contaminants;  reducing the risk of flooding
and associated damage;  reducing  stream  channel  and streambank erosion; increasing  available  water  and  
stream  flow duration by holding water in stream banks and [1]aquifers; supporting a diversity  of  plant  and  
wildlife  species; maintaining a habitat  for  healthy  fish  populations;  providing water, [2]forage,  and  shade 
for  wildlife  and  livestock;  and creating  opportunities  for  recreationists to fish, camp, picnic, and enjoy other 

risible \RIZ-uh-buhl\, adjective:

1. Capable of laughing; disposed to laugh.

2.   Exciting  or  provoking  laughter;  worthy  of  laughter; laughable; amusing.

3.  Relating  to,  connected  with,  or  used in laughter; as, "risible muscles."

Before long, I began to read aloud with my father, chanting the    strange   and   wondrous   rivers   --   Shenandoah, Rappahannock, Chickahominy -- and wrapping my tongue around the  risible  names of rebel generals: Braxton Bragg, Jubal Early,  John  Sappington  Marmaduke,  William "Extra Billy" Smith, Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.


robustious \roh-BUHS-chuhs\, adjective:

1. Boisterous; vigorous.

2. Coarse; rough; crude.

. . .  the  robustious romantic figure comparable to John Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility--he comes in with dash, then  proves a temptation to the heroine but is an eventual disappointment.

roister \ROY-stur\, intransitive verb:

   1. To engage in boisterous merrymaking; to revel; to carouse.

   2. To bluster; to swagger.


roseate \ROH-zee-it; -ayt\, adjective:

   1. Overly optimistic; bright or cheerful.

   2. Resembling a rose especially in color.

That  roseate  view  was shattered when the North last week detained  a  South Korean housewife, on a Kumkang tour with her six-year-old son, on a bizarre pretext.


rubicund \ROO-bih-kund\, adjective: Inclining to redness; ruddy; red.

The  men  are second cousins, around forty, resembling each other  not  very much, one taller and leaner, less rubicund than the other, who has just returned from California.


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sacrosanct \SAK-roh-sankt\, adjective:

Sacred; inviolable.

The  family  was  viewed  as sacrosanct: divorce was highly unusual  and  children were expected to be grateful for the sacrifices   that   parents,   who   postponed   their  own gratifications in forming a family, made on their behalf.


salad days, noun:

   A time of youthful inexperience, innocence, or indiscretion.

   Those  were  his salad days, and he thought they might last  forever.


salmagundi \sal-muh-GUHN-dee\, noun:

1.   A   salad  plate  usually  consisting  of  chopped  meat,anchovies, eggs, and onions, served with oil and vinegar.

2.  Any  mixture  or  assortment;  a  medley;  a  potpourri; a miscellany.

A  glance  at  the schedule is enough to make one feel that one  would  rather  go out and shoot songbirds than stay in and  watch the dismal salmagundi of game shows, repeats and soap operas.


salubrious \suh-LOO-bree-us\, adjective:

  Favorable to health; promoting health; healthful.


salutary \SAL-yuh-ter-ee\, adjective:

1.   Producing   or   contributing  to  a  beneficial  effect; beneficial; advantageous.

2. Wholesome; healthful; promoting health.

Alexis  de Tocqueville famously observed during his sojourn in   this  country  that  America  was  teeming  with  such associations  --  charities,  choral  groups,  church study groups,  book  clubs  --  and  that  they  had a remarkably   salutary  effect  on  society,  turning selfish individuals into public-spirited citizens.


sang-froid, also sangfroid \sang-FRWAH\, noun:

   Freedom  from  agitation  or  excitement  of mind; coolness in

   trying circumstances; calmness.


sapient \SAY-pee-uhnt\, adjective:

Wise; sage; discerning.

By  actual measurement they are the brainiest of birds, and on  subjective  evidence  they  seem more sapient than most other living creatures.


sardonic \sar-DON-ik\, adjective:Scornful, mocking; disdainfully humorous.

Clive  gave  a  sardonic  account  of a publicly subsidized "concert"  in  a  nearly deserted church hall, in which the legs of a piano were repeatedly struck with the broken neck of a violin for over an hour.


sartorial \sar-TOR-ee-uhl\, adjective:

   1. Of or relating to a tailor or to tailoring.

   2. Of or relating to clothing, or style or manner of dress.

   3. [Anatomy] Of or relating to the sartorius muscle.

His  sartorial style runs toward jeans, Hawaiian shirts and cowboy    boots,    and    he    favors    the    grizzled, haven't-shaven-in-days look.


schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, 

noun: A  malicious  satisfaction  obtained  from  the misfortunes of others.

That  the  report  of Sebastian Imhof's grave illness might also  have  been  tinged  with Schadenfreude appears not to have crossed Lucas's mind.

scintilla \sin-TIL-uh\, noun:  A  tiny or scarcely detectable amount; the slightest particle; a trace; a spark.
 In  victory,  they  must hold on to at least a scintilla of   humility,  lest  they  get  too  cocky  --  and  ripe for a

scrabble \SKRAB-uhl\, intransitive verb:

1. To scrape or scratch with the hands or feet.

2. To struggle by or as if by scraping or scratching.

3. To proceed by clawing with the hands and feet; to scramble.

4.   To  make  irregular,  crooked,  or  unmeaning  marks;  to scribble; to scrawl.

transitive verb:

1.  To mark with irregular lines or letters; to scribble on or over.

2. To make or obtain by scraping together hastily.


1. The act or an instance of scrabbling.

2. A scribble.

Mice  kept  me awake by scrabbling in the uncovered garbage can.

scuttlebutt \SKUHT-l-buht\, noun:

1. (Nautical)

a. A drinking fountain on a ship.

b.  A  cask  on  a  ship that contains the day's supply of drinking water.

2. Gossip; rumor. 

What   were   they   talking  about?  Sports?  Neighborhood scuttlebutt?  Off-color  jokes?  I didn't know; I knew only how exciting it was to see Dad in action.


sedulous \SEJ-uh-luhs\, adjective:

1. Diligent in application or pursuit; steadily industrious.

2.   Characterized   by   or   accomplished   with   care  and perseverance.

He  did  not  attain  this  distinction  by accident but by sedulous study from the cradle forward.


segue \SEG-way; SAYG-way\, verb:

To proceed without interruption; to make a smooth transition. 

Daylight segued into dusk. --Susan Dworski

Our  honeymoon  seemed  to  segue  into  a  month of dinner parties.


sempiternal \sem-pih-TUR-nuhl\, adjective:

Of  never  ending  duration;  having  beginning  but  no  end; everlasting; endless.

In  all  the  works on view, Mariani conjures a sempiternal realm  that exists parallel to mundane reality and which is  accessible through art, reverie and the imagination


sentient \SEN-shee-uhnt; -tee-; -shuhnt\, adjective:

   1. Capable of perceiving by the senses; conscious.

   2. Experiencing sensation or feeling.

      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.


seriatim \sir-ee-AY-tim; -AT-im\, adverb:

   In a series; one after another.


sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective:

   1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words.

   2. Long and ponderous; having many syllables.

noun: A long word.

As  a  sesquipedalian  stylist,  he  can  throw a word like  'eponymous" into a sentence without missing a beat.


simulacrum \sim-yuh-LAY-kruhm; -LAK-ruhm\, noun;

   plural simulacra \sim-yuh-LAY-kruh; -LAK-ruh\:

   1. An image; a representation.

   2.   An  insubstantial,  superficial,  or  vague  likeness  or semblance.

Incorporating  simulacra  of  historic buildings and exotic landscapes the Emperor saw on his extensive travels through his dominions, the villa is high-style multiculturalism.


sinecure \SY-nih-kyur; SIN-ih-\, noun:

An  office  or position that requires or involves little or no  responsibility, work, or active service.

I  was  fortunate  to  receive  the. . .  offer, which in  practical terms was a sinecure.


slugabed \SLUHG-uh-bed\, noun:

One who stays in bed until a late hour; a sluggard.

Nemecek's  business  is  not  for  slugabeds.  He opens for business every weekday at 4 a.m.


sobriquet \SO-brih-kay; -ket; so-brih-KAY; -KET\, noun:

A nickname; an assumed name; an epithet.

In   addition   to   his   notorious   amours,   he  became distinguished  for  a  turbulent naval career, particularly for   the  storms  he  weathered,  thus  bringing  him  the sobriquet "Foulweather Jack".

At  a  small  reception  on the occasion of my twenty-fifth anniversary  in  this  position, my good friend Izzy Landes  raised a glass and dubbed me the Curator of the Curators, a sobriquet I have worn with pride ever since.


sojourn \SO-jurn; so-JURN\, intransitive verb:

To stay as a temporary resident; to dwell for a time.

 noun: A temporary stay.

Though   he   has   sojourned  in  Southwold,  wandered  in Walberswick,  dabbled  in Dunwich, ambled through Aldeburgh and  blundered  through Blythburgh, Smallweed has never set foot in Oxford.


somniferous \som-NIF-uhr-uhs\, adjective:Causing or inducing sleep. 

He  has  gone outside the usual channels of stodgy academic journals and somniferous lectures.


somnolent \SOM-nuh-luhnt\, adjective:

   1. Sleepy; drowsy; inclined to sleep.

   2. Tending to cause sleepiness or drowsiness.


soporific \sop-uh-RIF-ik; soh-puh-\, adjective:

   1. Causing sleep; tending to cause sleep.

   2.   Of,  relating  to,  or  characterized  by  sleepiness  or lethargy.

noun: A medicine,  drug, plant, or other agent that has the quality of inducing sleep; a narcotic.

Hamilton's  voice droned on, hypnotic, soporific, the gloom beyond the windows like the backdrop of a waking dream.


sough \SAU; SUHF\, intransitive verb:

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


   A soft, low rustling or sighing sound.

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.


spoonerism \SPOO-nuh-riz-uhm\, noun:

The  transposition  of  usually  initial  sounds  in a pair of  words.


spoony \SPOO-nee\, adjective:

1. Foolish; silly; excessively sentimental.

2. Foolishly or sentimentally in love.

Nevertheless,  because we're spoony old things at heart, we like to believe that some showbiz marriages are different.

spurious \SPYUR-ee-uhs\, adjective:

   1.  Not  proceeding  from  the  true  or  claimed  source; not genuine; false.

   2. Of illegitimate birth.

Some   of  these  graves  are  clearly  spurious  and  were  manufactured  by  nineteenth-century  royalists  who 
wanted  evidence of an unbroken 2,000-year-old imperial line.


stasis \STAY-sis; STAS-is\, noun;

   plural stases \STAY-seez; STAS-eez\:

   1. A state of balance, equilibrium, or stagnation.

   2. Stoppage of the normal flow of a bodily fluid or semi fluid.

The  reality  of  governance  was  not  stasis  but change; institutions  did not operate according to mechanical laws,they evolved organically.


stentorian \sten-TOR-ee-uhn\, adjective:

Extremely loud.

Around  his  family, Sergeant Charles Mingus Sr. was easily angered  and often violent and closemouthed the rest of the time, except when he gave orders in a stentorian voice that carried the assumption of command.


stertorous \STUR-tuh-ruhs\, adjective:

Characterized  by  a  heavy snoring or gasping sound; hoarsely breathing.

In  the  cinder-block  motel room he set the alarm, but his own stertorous breathing woke him before it rang.


stormy petrel \STOR-mee-PET-ruhl\, noun:

1.  Any of various small sea birds of the family Hydrobatidae, having  dark  plumage with paler underparts; also called storm petrel.

2.  One  who brings discord or strife, or appears at the onset of trouble.

But  far  from  a 'pet' of the Communist regime, Gorky, the "stormy  petrel  of  the  revolution,"  also  condemned the revolution  early  on  as  a  "cruel  experiment"  with the Russian people "doomed to failure."


sub rosa \suhb-ROH-zuh\, adverb:

Secretly; privately; confidentially.

sub-rosa, adjective:

Designed to be secret or confidential; secretive; private.

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.


subaltern \suhb-OL-tuhrn; SUHB-uhl-tuhrn\, adjective:

1. Ranked or ranged below; subordinate; inferior.

2.  (Chiefly British) Ranking as a junior officer; being below the rank of captain.

3.  (Logic)  Asserting  only  a  part of what is asserted in a related proposition.


1. A person holding a subordinate position.

2. (Chiefly British) A commissioned military officer below the rank of captain.

3. (Logic) A subaltern proposition.

Both  the  old and new elites, not the subaltern underclass of  workers  and  peasants, superimposed the fever chart of the  Russian  Revolution  on what they assumed to have been the  fever  chart  of  the French Revolution with a view to determining  the  degree to which the temperature curves of the two revolutions diverged from each other.


subfusc \sub-FUHSK\, adjective:

Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.

noun: Dark or dull clothing.

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.


sublunary \suhb-LOO-nuh-ree\, adjective:

Situated  beneath  the  moon;  hence, of or pertaining to this world; terrestrial; earthly.

In  Shakespearean  drama, both tragic and comic, the storms and   calamities   that   shake  the  sublunary  globe  are reflections of turmoil in the hearts of men.


subterfuge \SUB-tur-fyooj\, noun: A deceptive device or stratagem.

In  the  end,  however, all the stealth and subterfuge were for  naught, as the young publicity agent couldn't keep the secret.


succinct \suhk-SINGKT\, adjective:

Characterized  by compressed precise expression with no wasted words; brief; concise.

Susan was many things, and almost all of them wondrous, but she was not succinct. I minded this less than I might have, because I loved to listen to her talk.

sunder \SUN-dur\, transitive verb: To break apart; to separate; to divide; to sever. 

intransitive verb:  To become parted, disunited, or severed.


supererogatory \soo-puhr-ih-ROG-uh-tor-ee\, adjective:

1. Going beyond what is required or expected.

2. Superfluous; unnecessary.

As  a  result,  Crane's  moral  reflections  range from the pre-ethical (duties toward animals) to the properly ethical(conduct  toward  humans  in  ordinary  situations)  to the optional  and  supererogatory  (heroic  actions  above  and     beyond ethical obligation).


supposititious \suh-poz-uh-TISH-uhs\, adjective:

1. Fraudulently substituted for something else; not being what is purports to be; not genuine; spurious; counterfeit.

2. Hypothetical; supposed.

He  has  threatened  to  write a small treatise exposing my stones  as  supposititious  --  I  should  say, his stones, fashioned and fraudulently made by his hand.


surreptitious \sur-up-TISH-us; suh-rep-\, adjective:

   1. Done, made, or gotten by stealth.

   2. Acting with or marked by stealth.


susurration \soo-suh-RAY-shun\, noun:

   A whispering sound; a soft murmur.

     . . . the soft susurration of the wind through a stand of

     whistling thorn.


susurrus \su-SUHR-uhs\, noun:

A whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.

Still,  the  breeze  is soothing, as is the susurrus of the branches.


sybarite \SIB-uh-ryt\, noun:

   A person devoted to luxury and pleasure.


sylvan \SIL-vuhn\, adjective:

   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.


   1. A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.

   2.  One  that  lives  in  or  frequents the woods or forest; a rustic.


They  probably picture it as a kind of modest conservatory, set  in  sylvan  splendour  in  some  charmingly landscaped garden.


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taciturn \TAS-uh-turn\, adjective:

   Habitually silent; not inclined to talk.


temerarious \tem-uh-RAIR-ee-us\, adjective:

   Recklessly or presumptuously daring; rash.


temerity \tuh-MER-uh-tee\, noun:

Unreasonable or foolhardy contempt of danger; rashness.

The  elaborate caution with which the British commander now proceeded stands out in striking contrast with the temerity of his advance upon Bunker Hill in the preceding year.

tendentious \ten-DEN-shuhs\, adjective: Marked  by a strong tendency in favor of a particular point of view.

Most   writing   about   Wagner  has  been  like  political pamphleteering--tendentious,    one-sided   and   full   
of  revisionist zeal.

tenebrous \TEN-uh-bruhs\, adjective: Dark; gloomy.

He  found  the  Earl,  who  is  eight feet tall and has the family  trait  of  a  Cyclops  eye,  standing  stock still, 
dressed  from  head to foot in deepest black, in one of the  most tenebrous groves in all his haunted domains.

tetchy \TECH-ee\, adjective:

Peevish; testy; irritable.

Waugh's   tetchy  and  combative  personality  made  him  a difficult companion at arms.


tintinnabulation \tin-tih-nab-yuh-LAY-shuhn\, noun: A tinkling sound, as of a bell or bells.


tmesis \TMEE-sis\, noun:

In  grammar  and  rhetoric,  the  separation of the parts of a compound  word,  now  generally  done for humorous effect; for example, "what place soever" instead of "whatsoever place," or "abso-bloody-lutely."

Examples of tmesis:

If on the first, how heinous e'er it be,

To win thy after-love I pardon thee.

tocsin \TOCK-sin\, noun:
1.  An alarm bell, or the ringing of a bell for the purpose of alarm.
2. A warning.
Some of the allegations put round are so frenzied, however, that  some caution should be exercised before the tocsin is
 rung too loudly.


torpid \TOR-pid\, adjective:

   1.  Having  lost  motion or the power of exertion and feeling;

   numb; benumbed.

   2. Dormant; hibernating or estivating.

   3. Dull; sluggish; apathetic.

Canary  Islanders  are  citizens  of  Spain,  but geography asserts  itself  from time to time, as a reminder that this land   will   always  be  Africa's:  the  trade  winds  get interrupted  by  strong  gusts from the east that bring hot dust and sometimes even torpid, wind-buffeted locusts.


tortuous \TOR-choo-us\, adjective:

   1. Marked by repeated turns and bends; as, "a tortuous road up the mountain."

   2. Not straightforward; devious; as, "his tortuous reasoning."

   3.   Highly   involved   or  intricate;  as,  "tortuous  legal procedures."

     ... the tortuous, narrow streets of Jerusalem's Old City.


traduce \truh-DOOS; -DYOOS\, transitive verb:

   To expose to contempt or shame by means of false statements or

   misrepresentation; to represent as blamable; to vilify.


trammel \TRAM-uhl\, noun:

   1. A kind of net for catching birds, fish, etc.

   2. A kind of shackle used for making a horse amble.

   3. Something that impedes activity, progress, or freedom, as a net or shackle.

   4.  An  iron hook of various forms and sizes, used for handing kettles and other

       vessels over the fire.

   5. An instrument for drawing ellipses.

   6. An instrument for aligning or adjusting parts of a machine.

transitive verb:

   1. To entangle, as in a net; to enmesh.

   2. To hamper; to hinder the activity, progress, or freedom of.

I  feel she dances a symbol of human happiness as it should be, free from unnatural trammels.


trencherman \TREN-chuhr-muhn\, noun:

A hearty eater.

Quietly,  almost  stealthily,  Livingstone  has transformed himself . . .  into a knowing gourmand-about-town, whose commitment to lunch is only rivalled by that other fabulous trencherman, Fatty Soames.


trepidation \trep-uh-DAY-shuhn\, noun:

   1. [Archaic] An involuntary trembling; quaking; quivering.

   2. A state of dread or alarm; nervous agitation; apprehension; fright.

A sense of triumph was in the air as people bravely went to the  polls,  but  a  sense  of trepidation, too. "It is the happiest day of my life," a woman told me near Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery. "But it is also my day of greatest fear."


triskaidekaphobia \tris-ky-dek-uh-FOH-bee-uh\, noun: a morbid fear of the number 13 or the date Friday the 13th

--triskaidekaphobic,  adjective  and  noun;  triskaidekaphobe,noun

Thirteen  people,  pledged  to eliminate triskaidekaphobia,fear  of  the  number  13, today tried to reassure American sufferers  by  renting a 13 ft plot of land in Brooklyn for 13 cents... a month.

tyro \TY-roh\, noun:

   A beginner in learning; a novice.


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ukase \yoo-KAYS; -KAYZ; YOO-kays; -kayz\, noun:

1.  In  imperial  Russia,  a  published  proclamation or order having the force of law.

2. Any order or decree issued by an authority; an edict.

I  took  a  playwriting  course  from the noted Prof. A. M.Drummond,  a  huge  man  on  crutches who right off 
the bat delivered  a ukase never to begin a play with the telephone ringing.



umbrage \UHM-brij\, noun:

1.  Shade; shadow; hence, something that affords a shade, as a screen of trees or foliage.

2. a. A vague or indistinct indication or suggestion; a hint.

   b. Reason for doubt; suspicion.

3. Suspicion of injury or wrong; offense; resentment.

Burr finally took umbrage, and challenged him to a duel.


unctuous \UNGK-choo-us\, adjective:

   1.  Of the nature or quality of an unguent or ointment; fatty;  oily; greasy.

   2. Having a smooth, greasy feel, as certain minerals.

   3.  Insincerely or excessively suave or ingratiating in manner  or   speech;   marked  by  a  false  or  smug  earnestness  or  agreeableness.

A warmed, crusty French roll arrives split, lightly smeared  with unctuous chopped liver.

upbraid \uhp-BRAYD\, transitive verb:
 To scold or criticize harshly.
Afterwards,   Grace  roundly  upbraided  the  boy  for  his  boorishness.


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varicolored \VER-ih-kuh-lurd\, adjective:

   Having a variety of colors; of various colors.

    Where  a  bottleneck  of sky showed between the hills, dark

     and light clouds lay in alternating layers like varicolored

     liquid that would not mix.


venial \VEE-nee-uhl; VEEN-yuhl\, adjective:

Capable of being forgiven; not heinous; excusable; pardonable.

Look less severely on a venial error.


verbiage \VUR-bee-ij\, noun:

1. An overabundance of words; wordiness.

2. Manner or style of expression; diction.

The  sheer  volume  of  verbiage he has expelled over eight years is enough to make John Updike look blocked.


verdant \VUR-dnt\, adjective:

1. Covered   with   growing  plants  or  grass;  green  with vegetation.

2. Green.

3. Unripe    in   knowledge,   judgment,   or   experience; unsophisticated; green.

Drab  in  winter,  then suddenly sodden with alpine runoff, the region turns dazzlingly verdant in spring.

vim \VIM\, noun:
Power; force; energy; spirit; activity; vigor.

The  76-year-old  retired Malaysian schoolteacher displayed so much vim during a recent hike through a 
national park in Sarawak,  astonished  rangers began calling her a "recycled teenager."


virago \vuh-RAH-go; vuh-RAY-go\, noun:

1. A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage.

2.   A   woman   regarded  as  loud,  scolding,  ill-tempered,quarrelsome, or overbearing.

The  intrepid  heroines range from Unn the Deep Minded, the Viking  virago  who colonized Iceland, to Sue Hendrikson, a school  dropout  who  became  one  of  the great experts on amber, fossils and shipwrecks.


virtu \vuhr-TOO; vir-\, noun:

   1. A love of or taste for fine objects of art.

   2. Productions of art (especially fine antiques).

   3. Artistic quality. 

The  Italian  humanist  Giovanni  Pontano  described  these objects  as  "statues, pictures, tapestries, divans, chairs of  ivory,  cloth interwoven with gems, many-coloured boxes and  coffers  in the Arabian style, crystal vases and other    things  of  this kind... [whose] sight... is pleasing and  brings  prestige  to the owner of the house." They all spoke to the wealth, taste and virtu of their owner.


visage \VIZ-ij\, noun:

   1. The face or appearance of a person or an animal; -- chiefly

   applied to the human face.

   2. Appearance; aspect.

Otherwise   attractive,  [her]  visage  is  marred  by  the unfortunate fact that her "upper lip, as if impelled by the action  of  involuntary muscles, habitually uplifts itself,conveying the impression of a sneer."

Older than most, and taller -- taller than Perlman, in fact --  she  had  a  long  and lean visage that might once have passed  for  fair but which age had turned more knowing and severe.


vitiate \VISH-ee-ayt\, transitive verb:

1.  To  make  faulty  or  imperfect;  to  render defective; to impair; as, "exaggeration vitiates a style of writing."

2. To corrupt morally; to debase.

3. To render ineffective; as, "fraud vitiates a contract."

MacNelly   is   one   of  the  few  contemporary  political cartoonists  who  can use humor to accentuate, not vitiate,his points.

vociferous \voh-SIF-uhr-uhs\, adjective:

  Making a loud outcry; clamorous; noisy.

 Claudio  has  work  to  do  and  I  have  a  vociferous son demanding a story.


volte-face \vawlt-FAHS; vawl-tuh-\, noun:

  An about-face; a reversal, as in policy or opinion.


voluble \VOL-yuh-buhl\, adjective:

   1. Characterized by a ready flow of speech.

   2. Easily rolling or turning; rotating.

   3. (Botany) Having the power or habit of turning or twining.


voluptuary \vuh-LUHP-choo-er-ee\, 


A  person  devoted  to luxury and the gratification of sensual appetites; a sensualist.


Voluptuous; luxurious.


Colette  used  to  begin her day's writing by first picking fleas  from  her  cat, and it's not hard to imagine how the methodical stroking and probing into fur might have focused such a voluptuary's mind.


votary \VOH-tuh-ree\, noun:

1.  One  who is devoted, given, or addicted to some particular pursuit, subject, study, or way of life.

2. A devoted admirer.

3. A devout adherent of a religion or cult.

4. A dedicated believer or advocate.

When  she  held  out her hand to receive the glass, she had more  the  air  of  a full-grown Bacchante, celebrating the rites of Bacchus, than a votary at the shrine of Hygeia.



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wastrel \WAY-struhl\, noun:

   1.  A person who wastes, especially one who squanders money; a spendthrift.

   2. An idler; a loafer; a good-for-nothing.

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.

waylay \WAY-lay\, transitive verb:

1. To lie in wait for and attack from ambush.

2. To approach or stop (someone) unexpectedly.

When  his  mother  praised  certain well-behaved and neatly  dressed  boys in the village, Jung was filled with 
hate for  them, and would waylay and beat them up.


wayworn \WAY-worn\, adjective:

Wearied by traveling.

The  wayworn  Battalions halt in the Avenue: they have, for the  present, no  wish  so pressing as that of shelter and rest.

winsome \WIN-suhm\, adjective:

1. Cheerful; merry; gay; light-hearted.

2. Causing joy or pleasure; agreeable; pleasant.

And,  oh, it was a sweet smile, they said, none sweeter, so  winsome and large it transformed her melancholy face.


woebegone \WOE-bee-gon\, adjective:

   1. Beset or overwhelmed with woe; immersed in grief or sorrow;


   2.  Being  in  a sorry condition; dismal-looking; dilapidated;


Socrates,  condemned  to  death  by  the  people of Athens,prepares to drink a cup of hemlock, surrounded by woebegone friends.




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xenophobia \ZEN-uh-FOE-bee-uh\, noun:

Fear  or  hatred of strangers, people from other countries, or of anything that is strange or foreign.

After  calling for peace in 61 languages and beseeching the world  to  end  racism  and  xenophobia,  the  pope  made a surprise announcement.




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zeitgeist \TSYT-gyst; ZYT-gyst\, noun: (Often  capitalized)  The  spirit  of  the  time;  the general intellectual  and  moral state or temper characteristic of any period of time.

Like  other  figures  who seem, in retrospect, to have been precociously representative of their times, [1]Kerouac was not   simply  responding  to  the  Zeitgeist,  but  to  the peculiarly twisted facts of his own upbringing.