Alphabetical Order Down
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;
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;
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:
as to a proposition, or to terms
To become a party, as to an agreement, treaty, convention,
an office or rank; to enter
of an office.
acrid \AK-rid\, adjective:
1. Sharp and harsh, or bitter to the taste or smell; pungent.
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.
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.
adjective: 1. Serving
to relieve pain; soothing.
2. Not likely to offend; bland; innocuous.
noun:1. A medicine that relieves pain.
the most part the British charts were clogged with
noun:Assurance of manner or of action; self-possession;
Then, unexpectedly, she picked up a microphone and
began to sing. She
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:
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.
a star or other
having been invisible or obscured; -- opposed
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;
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
atelier \at-l-YAY\, noun:
A workshop; a studio.
A garage in Montparnasse served as Leo's atelier, and there he labored on his huge triptychs, mixing
his paints in buckets and applying them with a kitchen mop.
auspicious \aw-SPISH-uhs\, adjective:
good; as, "an auspicious beginning."
Prosperous; fortunate; as, "auspicious years."
very auspicious day in the Chinese calendar,
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:
rules with unlimited authority; by extension,
a relationship or situation.
a bloodthirsty ideologue in the civil wars --was
his way to reinventing
himself as Rome's
its first (and almost only)'good'
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.
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
or two of vintage bubbly and some tasty cheese
bagatelle \bag-uh-TEL\, noun:
A trifle; a thing of little or no importance.
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.
captain and ladies had sat down, the autocratic
steward rang a second bell, and with a majestic wave of the
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
the baby was asleep and found
him playing the Brahms Lullaby as the baby looked on
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:
under little or no
To encamp for the night, usually under little or no
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:
I have seen a swan With bootless labour swim against the tide.
boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY; bul-uh-\,
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.
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
second time in his life
Amory had had a complete bouleversement
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
popular mood in Belgrade remains defiant, unease
beneath the bravado is growing.
brio \BREE-oh\, noun:
Enthusiastic vigor; vivacity; liveliness; spirit.
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
extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous.
a size problem.
A monstrous, staggering,
stupefying one. Brobdingnagian even.
busker \BUS-kur\, noun:
playing music) in public
of mathematics, a likable but callow young
seduces a blind busker, Alzbeta, who plays for the tourists in modern
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\:
break or pause in a line of verse, usually occurring in
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.
inconclusive day spent discussing the caesura of
line, Luke and his colleagues went for cocktails
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
canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\,
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:
shell that covers the back
of the turtle, the crab, and other
shell that serves to protect or isolate
from external influence.
. . . a
measuring the length of a lobster's carapace
from the thorax to the eye socket.
castigate \KAS-tuh-gayt\, transitive
severely; also, to chastise verbally; to rebuke; to
It was not good enough to castigate him for his
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 find fault
without good reason.
To raise trivial objections to.
A trivial or frivolous objection.
their own strong views,
after all, tend to cavil
about competing ideas and stories they consider less
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
or expressing harsh criticism or disapproval; as,
is the morally censorious climate in which
-- 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.
giving or expending freely; sparing.
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:
use of trickery or sophistry to deceive (as in matters
2. A trick; a subterfuge.
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-\,
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
circumlocution \sir-kum-lo-KYOO-shun\, noun:
idea that might be expressed
official heartlessness: the
government Circumlocution Office, burial ground
of hope in "Little Dorrit."
circumspect \SUR-kuhm-spekt\, adjective:
consequences; cautious; prudent.
the theories well
can be more confident
of the historical scenarios
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:
existing during the same period of time -- usually followed by 'with'.
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
the question of life's
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.
adjective: Suitable to
be eaten; edible.
noun:Something suitable to be eaten; food.
lab expecting subtle combinations and rare
ingredients, the real outer limit of the comestible.
A state of
mutual harmony, friendship, and respect, especially
between or among nations or people; civility.
comity of nations, noun:
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\,
Exhibiting a desire to please; obliging; compliant.
the irascible artist and install a complaisant
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:
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.
of prayer, according to Benedict,
they were the only pure form: "We must know that
our purity of heart and tears of compunction,
not our many words."
concatenation \kon-kat-uh-NAY-shuhn; kuhn-\,
of things depending
other, as if linked
together; a chain, a succession.
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
that accompanies or is
collaterally connected with something else; an accompaniment.
filmmaker so obsessed with these issues, it is a sad irony
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:
to the fault or crime; deserved; adequate.
In a story as old as the
Greeks, overweening pride brought condign
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
and the past with ingenious use of flashbacks.
confrere \KON-frair\, noun:
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:
by argument; to refute conclusively; to prove or
show to be false.
in Rome in 1486, he proposed 900 theses and challenged
any scholar to confute them, agreeing to pay his
same blood; related by birth; descended from the same
parent or ancestor.
people practiced agriculture in a settled
had consanguineous clans as their
basic social grouping.
conspectus \kuhn-SPEK-tuhs\, noun:
A general sketch or survey of a subject.
A synopsis; an outline.
plays that represented, as Gay says, a conspectus
of late 18th-century fashionable comic theatre.
adjective:Originating, existing, or occurring at the same
sources for a historian are those that provide a
contemporaneous account of the events under scrutiny.
noun: Distinction by contrast; as, "sculpture in contradistinction to painting."
In the quarter-century since "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
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.
steeped in the family's
endless storytelling,confessions, musings about their aspirations, and bickering
corroborate \kuh-RAHB-uh-RAYT\, transitive
To strengthen or make more certain with other
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
cupidity \kyoo-PID-uh-tee\, noun:
for wealth; greed; avarice.
for wealth; greed; avarice.
a form of lust, a wandering cupidity of the eye and the mind.
cursory \KUR-suh-ree\, adjective:Hastily or superficially performed.
coeds had strict curfews, Bennington
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.
daedal \DEE-duhl\, adjective:
Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.
Skillful; artistic; ingenious.
Rich; adorned with many things.
designers realize that large image maps and
are to be avoided, and the leading World
reacted to users' objections to highly
graphical, slow sites
uncluttered, easy-to-use layouts.
deliquesce \del-ih-KWES\, intransitive
To melt away or to disappear as if by melting.
and become liquid by
moisture from the air, as
acids, and alkalies.
To become fluid or soft with age, as certain fungi.
To form many small divisions or branches -- used especially
the veins of a leaf.
high point of the high season,
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
[Archaic] To pray against, as an evil; to seek to avert by
To disapprove of strongly.
To belittle; to depreciate.
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:
contempt; to subject to
ridicule or make sport of; to mock; to
Hemingway's mania for
firearms and thereby often hurt his feelings.
descant \DES-kant\, noun:
(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; dis-\, intransitive verb:
(a) To sing or play a descant. (b) To sing.
To comment freely; to discourse at length.
slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
all night long her amorous descant sung.
descry \dih-SKRY\, transitive verb:
1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure;
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:
passing from one thing or
subject to another
order or rational connection; disconnected; aimless.
not connected with the
Coming disconnectedly or occuring haphazardly; random.
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.
ornamental headband worn (as by Eastern monarchs) as a
badge of royalty.
symbolized by the crown.
transitive verb: To
adorn with a diadem; to crown.
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:
settlement unilaterally imposed on a
An authoritative decree or order.
the rapid reaction force or with the Bosnian
United States should
vigorously support efforts
the siege of Sarajevo and
help to piece back
contiguous territory so that the Bosnian government
bargaining table free of a
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\,
Fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind.
Composed of or including markedly dissimilar elements.
its best isolates a common
element underlying many seemingly
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.
finished sweeping, I grabbed my check, went to the
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:
The condition or quality of being doubtful or skeptical.
A matter of doubt
Title 3 has been
justice are not
Court was meant to litigate
that federal statute, and
their dubiety here is shared
by Justices Scalia and Souter.
dudgeon \DUH-juhn\, noun:
or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humor
-- often used in the phrase "in high dudgeon."
by such a basic error that he stormed
the arena for the mid-session interval in
ebullient \ih-BUL-yuhnt\, adjective:
1. Overflowing with enthusiasm or excitement; high-spirited.
2. Boiling up or over.
edacious \i-DAY-shus\, adjective:
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.
or for charity; charitable;
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;
A claim or lien upon property.
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:
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
Something short-lived or of no lasting significance.
especially printed matter
intended to be of
for only a short time but preserved by collectors.
will always reveal "a remarkable
from the ephemera of
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-\,
Equal and uniform; not varying.
Not easily disturbed; not
variable or changing -- said of
feelings, temper, etc.
climate, evidently due to the large area of sea compared
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
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
then was an esurient Soviet Union which, having swallowed
Europe, had imposed a
totalitarian system on countries just liberated from Nazism.
adjective:Pleasing or sweet in sound; smooth-sounding.
alliteration and deft word
choices with the grace
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.
\ih-VIN(T)S\, transitive verb:To show
in a clear manner; to
manifest; to make evident; to bring to
The study showed that girls were better prepared
for class, had better
attendance records, and
evinced more positive academic
exacerbate \ig-ZAS-ur-bayt\, transitive verb:
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
in a dark, enclosed isolation tank.
exalt \ig-ZOLT\, verb:
To praise, glorify, or honor
To heighten or intensify
in rank, character, or status; as, "exalted the
humble shoemaker to the rank of King's adviser"
needed something special if
it was to run--a couple of hit tunes, something astonishing
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
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.
Characterized by or acting with speed and
was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga
Valley in the most expeditious way possible.
\EK-spluh-kayt\, transitive verb:
To explain; to
clear of difficulties or obscurity.
a case -- my own -- of a young person's being
altered politically by a
novel, but I cannot explicate the
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:
pull up by the stem or root.
remove by surgery.
A plant growing where it shouldn't is a weed. An object for
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.
facetious \fuh-SEE-shuhs\, adjective:
1. Given to jesting; playfully jocular.
2. Amusing; intended to be humorous; not serious.
Morley was being both serious and facetious when he
"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
Mr. Lewis's summertime factotum,copying
a play that
Lewis was writing about
faineant \fay-nay-AWN\, adjective:
Doing nothing or given to doing nothing; idle; lazy.
fanfaronade \fan-fair-uh-NAYD; -NOD\,
1. Swaggering; empty boasting; blustering manner or behavior; ostentatious
made his debut this week as music director of
and it is difficult to imagine someone laying
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:
Fidelity to one's lord; the feudal obligation by which the
or vassal was bound to be faithful to his lord.
The oath by which this obligation was assumed.
Fidelity; allegiance; faithfulness.
re-elected Governor in 1855, and his administration
State affairs, both in that and the preceding term
of office,was marked by a regard
for the public interest rather than party
felicitous \fuh-LIS-uh-tuhs\, adjective:
1. Well suited or expressed; appropriate; apt.
2. Pleasant; delightful; marked by happiness or
of thing most weekends anyway," said a
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.
noun:A state or condition of fitness or order; state of mind; spirits -- often used in the phrase "in fine fettle."
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.
adjective: Relating to the holding of something in trust for
relies heavily on the
fiduciary duty concept
to protect those who entrust
their money to large and often distant
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:
wicked; scandalous; -- said of acts, crimes, etc.
of enormous crimes; corrupt; profligate; -- said of persons.
by enormous crimes or scandalous vices; as, "flagitious times."
may be the crime
of conspiring to
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:
Flushed with red; of a lively reddish color.
flowery; as, "a florid style; florid
Mr Kidney is a short round bowlegged man with black
which he has poured a great quantity of brandy
and lesser amounts of whisky and claret.
foment \foh-MENT\, transitive verb:To nurse
or activity; to encourage;
to incite; to instigate; -- often in a
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.
because in an
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:
prohibit; to forbid. b. To ward off; to prevent;
2. To defend; to protect; to preserve.
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-\,
1. Happening by chance; coming or occurring by accident, or without any known
Happening by a fortunate or lucky chance.
Fortunate or lucky.
faith, the entire life of many
what is fortuitous,
the unexpected turns of fate.
foundling \FOWND-ling\, noun:
A deserted or abandoned infant; a child found without a parent
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.
censures authoritatively or menacingly. 2. To explode; to detonate.
1. To utter or
send out with denunciations or censures.
2. To cause to
funereal \fyoo-NIR-ee-uhl\, adjective:
Of or pertaining to a funeral.
Suiting a funeral; solemn; dark; gloomy; mournful.
But do I have to sound so funereal, so pontifically
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
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
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\,
[Obsolete] Pertaining to generation or marriage.
kindly; sympathetically cheerful and
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
golf clubs--merely, one
touched by the hand of this celebrity
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
gloaming \GLOH-ming\, noun:
waved and smiled, their teeth flashing
white in the gloaming.
glower \GLAU-urh\, intransitive
To look or stare angrily or with a scowl.
angry or scowling look or stare.
point, the head of the
institute started chatting with
colleagues sitting at
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 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
being a local
grandee, attempting to
influence district politics; as the final
humiliation, in the
parliamentary election of 1786 his vote
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 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.
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
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.
heard him stop in the
corridor outside my door to hobnob with
someone of status.
hugger-mugger \HUH-guhr-muh-guhr\, noun:
A disorderly jumble; muddle; confusion.
adjective: 1. Confused; muddled; disorderly.
In a muddle or confusion. 2.
To keep secret.
intransitive verb: To act in a secretive manner.
is speaking out -- his wisdom seems to be a
airport trash picked up as he traveled from bout to bout --
others who do possess minds
too often are failing to speak
do so only as a consequence of perceived
idee fixe \ee-day-FEEKS\, noun; plural
idees fixes \ee-day-FEEKS\:
An idea that dominates the mind; a fixed idea; an
-- its incessant return to the same
scenarios and questions; its meticulous examination
and re-examination of banal minutiae for hidden meanings that
there; the cancerous way an
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:
To enclose within walls, or
as if within walls; hence, to shut up; to imprison; to incarcerate.
build into a wall.
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:
Devoid of or unsusceptible to emotion.
Showing no sign of emotion or feeling; expressionless.
importunate \im-POR-chuh-nit\, adjective:
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:
The condition or quality of being empty.
Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment.
Lack of vitality or spirit.
British universities is not that they
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:
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
incontrovertible \in-kon-truh-VUR-tuh-buhl\, adjective:
Too clear or certain to admit of dispute; indisputable; unquestionable.
indelible \in-DEL-uh-buhl\, adjective:
That cannot be removed, erased, or washed away.
Making marks that cannot easily be removed or erased.
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:
not having the necessities
of life, such as food, clothing and
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.
actress playing such a person; also: the stage role of
not the face of an ingenue; this is an old soul in
body -- wary, wise to her
own long past, on to the wiles
having miles to go before
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?"
Lacking sensation or awareness; inanimate.
Lacking human feeling or sensitivity; brutal; cruel.
Lacking sense; stupid; foolish.
of primeval humans, he
suggested, held that souls
only human beings but also
animals,trees, plants--even rocks, rivers,
natural features we regard as
interpolate \in-TUR-puh-layt\, transitive
1. To alter or corrupt (as a book or text) by the insertion of new or foreign
To insert (material) into a text or conversation.
To insert between other elements or parts.
[Mathematics] to estimate a value of (a function) between two known values.
verb:To make insertions.
earlier, Rodgers was not so pleased when, at the
request of the star Belle
Baker, Berlin had written a song for
interpolate into an
interstice \in-TUR-stuhs\, noun; plural
interstices \in-TUR-stuh-seez; -suhz\:
A space between things or parts, especially a space between
a narrow chink; a crack; a crevice; an
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
intractable \in-TRAK-tuh-buhl\, adjective:
stubborn; obstinate; as, "an intractable child."
with; as, "intractable
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
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
a hard-driven, hardworking
crowd inured to the hardest
they found their recreation
in hard drinking and hard fighting.
inveigle \in-VAY-guhl; -VEE-\,
To persuade by ingenuity or flattery; to entice.
To obtain by ingenuity or flattery.
to inveigle Kasparov into
grabbing several pawn offers, but the
champion was not fooled.
inveterate \in-VET-uhr-it\, adjective:
long persistence; deep-rooted; of long
2. Fixed in habit by long persistence; confirmed;
prison stands, the inveterate prejudice
against prisoners has been swept away.
invidious \in-VID-ee-uhs\, adjective:
Tending to provoke envy, resentment, or ill will.
Containing or implying a slight.
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
seemed shining things, each surmounted
by a wondrous temple and
ziggurat dedicated to the
some specialty -- all invidious
reminders of what the nomads did not
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.
Passing or traveling from place to place;
noun:One who travels from place to place.
places, he was a smooth-talking
trinkets, and Eliza responded to this romantic wanderer.
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 prompt the conscience;
some entertain, while having more than
jollification in mind.
kismet \KIZ-met; -mit\, noun: Destiny; fate.
It's pure kismet when these two find each other.
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.
listless. Drowsy from
and from fatigue, he dozed
to the steady lackadaisical clips of the
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.
opening, depression, or
cavity in an anatomical structure.
was a profoundly
not from any lacuna in his
education but as a matter of principle.
lambent \LAM-buhnt\, adjective:
on or over a surface; flickering; as, "a
flame; lambent shadows."
Softly bright or radiant; luminous; as, "a lambent light."
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
dwelled, the few points of lambent gold glimmering feebly on the altar.
lascivious \luh-SIV-ee-uhs\, adjective:
Tending to arouse sexual desires.
Groucho Marx glasses to which a false nose
appears uncharacteristically as a lascivious
who tries to move in on the girlfriend.
lassitude \LASS-uh-tood; LASS-uh-tyood\, noun:
Lack of vitality or energy; weariness; listlessness.
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:
Sleight of hand.
A display of skill, trickery, or artful deception.
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\:
A book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words
a language with the definition of each; a dictionary.
The vocabulary of a person, group, subject, or language.
[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
limn \LIM\, transitive verb:
1. To depict by drawing or painting.
2. To portray in words; to describe.
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
Professor Henslow tells me, he believes that nearly
all the plants
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
began to be published in the American Mercury
moved to L.A., lured by the
dream of Hollywood lucre.
lugubrious \lu-GOO-bree-us; -GYOO-\,
in a way that seems
exaggerated, or ridiculous.
and his lugubrious expression suggests that
the loss afflicts him still.
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;
who... loves quiet conversations about
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
not the same board members who were removed
malfeasance subsequently manage to
get reelected in a political process that defies any form of accountability.
malleable \MAL-ee-uh-buhl\, adjective:
or shaped by beating with a
or by the pressure of rollers; -- applied to metals.
Capable of being altered or
controlled by outside forces;
Capable of adjusting to changing circumstances; adaptable.
catalyst, that is mixed in
to make the gold malleable, and is then
manse \MAN(T)S\, noun:
1. A large and imposing residence.
a clergyman (especially a Presbyterian clergyman).
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.
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.
Extremely or excessively careful about details.
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)\:
populated with prosperous farming
-- a completely different
the Monferrands', which was more closed,
more cultured, but less affluent.
minatory \MIN-uh-tor-ee\, adjective:
often observed peeping
through the bars of a gate and
his small forefinger while
with an inarticulate burr, intended to
strike terror into their astonished minds.
misnomer \mis-NO-muhr\, noun:
misnaming of a person in a
legal instrument, as in a complaint or
or thing; also, a wrong or
inapplicable name or designation.
Morning sickness is a misnomer -- it can strike any
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:
One of two equal parts; a half.
An indefinite part; a small portion or share.
One of two basic tribal subdivisions.
and Becky ate with good
appetite,while Tom nibbled at his moiety.
mollify \MOL-uh-fy\, transitive verb:
To pacify; to soothe or calm in temper or disposition.
To reduce in intensity; to temper.
To soften; to reduce the rigidity of.
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:
Pathological obsession with a single subject or idea.
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.
Moorcroft's forte, a part which he had played
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.
Becoming obsolete or inactive.
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
She is good at constructing a long, multifarious
minor stories into one, so that you are left
sense of the fluidity and
ambiguity of historical interpretation.
adjective:Very liberal in giving or bestowing; very generous;
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 orderswithout question, protest, or pity.
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:
Noxious; harmful; unwholesome.
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:
The time of life before a person becomes legally of age.
A period of youth or immaturity.
in politics, even in his nonage, and an accomplished
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\,
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.
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
To express strong disapproval of; to criticize
I objurgate the centipede,A bug we do not really
need.--Ogden Nash, "The Centipede"
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-\,
or exhibiting servile
attentiveness; compliant to excess;
into groveling, obsequious
obviate \OB-vee-ayt\, transitive
by interception; to
anticipate and dispose of or make
he packed and stepped into the shower: Ronald
Rosenthal spent a good portion of his life in planes and he
hot water immediately before and after a flight
obviated most of its bad effects.
officious \uh-FISH-uhs\, adjective:
excessive eagerness in offering services or advice
where they are neither requested nor needed; meddlesome.
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.
novel might easily drift off into an oneiric
but Mr. Welch doesn't let this happen.
onus \OH-nuhs\, noun:
A burden; an obligation; a disagreeable necessity.
a: A stigma. b: Blame.
The burden of proof.
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\,
Suitable for a given purpose or occasion; timely.
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
of the energy-trading sector
has been severely
disclosures of sham
transactions in energy
trading, designed to build
up ostensible sales and profits
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
for a sculpture made out of
underground movies, computer-generated
art or a cute robot
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:
of papyrus or parchment, on which more than
one text has been written with the earlier writing incompletely erased and still visible.
older layers or aspects are apparent beneath its surface.
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
palindrome \PAL-in-drohm\, noun:
the same backward or forward.
A few examples:
* Madam, I'm Adam. (Adam's first words to Eve?)
* A man,
a canal -- Panama! (The
history of the Panama Canal in brief.)
* Able was I ere I saw Elba. (Napoleon's lament.)
* Mom, Dad.
Greek palindromos, literally "running back (again)," from palin, "back, again" +
palpable \PAL-puh-buhl\, adjective:
and felt; perceptible by the
as, a palpable form.
absurdity; palpable errors.
of devastation from the attacks remains palpable,
but so too is a sense of rejuvenation.
panacea \pan-uh-SEE-uh\, noun:
diseases, problems, or evils; a universal
medicine; a cure-all.
become a panacea for the great economic,social,
challenges facing the nation as it embarked
on the path of modernization.
panoply \PAN-uh-plee\, noun:
A splendid or impressive array.
A full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering.
taken to that end which
appeases the obsolete hatreds
oppressions, which makes easier the traffic
and reciprocal services of Europe, which encourages
lay aside their precautionary panoply, is good
pari passu \PAIR-ee-PASS-oo; PAIR-ih-PASS-oo\,
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.
adjective:Sparing in expenditure; frugal to excess.
His mother became increasingly parsimonious over
the years,and even
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;
the idea of
. .. 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.
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
perdurable \pur-DUR-uh-bul; pur-DYUR-\,
adjective:Very durable; lasting; continuing long.
of a classic is historically bound up with the
view . .. that there are certain perdurable human truths
geographical or historical
A traveling from place to place; a wandering.
Parma in the family camper-van, abandoning it in a Milan car-park
its being identified at
border controls before
on a peregrination through Switzerland,
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:
black and white, or other colors;
2. Mixed; composed of incongruous parts.
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:
Of or pertaining to the Roman plebs, or common people.
Of or pertaining to the common people.
Vulgar; common; crude or coarse in nature or manner.
One of the plebs, or common people of ancient Rome; opposed
One of the common people or lower classes.
A coarse, crude, or vulgar person.
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:
or varied learning; one
acquainted with various subjects of study.
brilliant polymath, Eratosthenes, is appointed chief librarian of the
Museum at Alexandria--the most cosmopolitan city and center of learning in the
portend \por-TEND\, verb:
Although no humans were there to witness the giant
comet of 65
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:
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
brought up on stories of
prelapsarian Eden and on Romantic
conceptions of nature.
To exceed in weight.
or descend, as the scale of
a balance; to be weighed down.
To exceed in influence, power, importance, number, amount,
preponderate over acts
prepotency \pree-POTE-n-see\, noun:
or force; predominance.
(Biology) The capacity, on the part of one of the parents,
compared with the other, to
transmit more than his or her
share of characteristics to their offspring.
prepotency of this smokescape is no illusion, for
an epicenter of
power, oil capital of the Western
the most industrialized
corner of the United States.
prescient \PRE-shee-uhnt\, adjective:
outcome of events before
Despite Carroll's unfamiliarity with military
matters he had
of how the war for independence
would be fought and won.
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
To depart from or evade the truth; to speak with
a similar obligation, particularly with men and
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.
noun:The act or habit of delaying doing something.
the last millennium,magazines from
the Seventies stacked on
your nightstand, and countless
envelopes filled with family photos stuffed
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:
Nearness in place; proximity.
Nearness in time.
Nearness of relation; kinship.
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
advocate; a supporter.
the work ethic, Reuther at first resisted
he had rejected shorter hours in the 1950s.
protean \PRO-tee-un; pro-TEE-un\, adjective:
Displaying considerable variety or diversity.
Readily assuming different shapes or forms.
ceaselessly protean in these years, usually
conventional but always
developing convention, twisting it, replacing it.
provenance \PROV-uh-nuhn(t)s\, noun:
puerile \PYOO-uhr-uhl; PYOOR-uhl\, adjective:
Displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity; juvenile; childish.
pugilist \PYOO-juh-list\, noun:
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.
upcoming young corporate lawyer in San Francisco in
the interests of
some of California's
with William Randolph Hearst's newspaper empire.
pukka, also pucka \PUHK-uh\,
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.
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
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.
quaff \KWOFF; KWAFF\,
transitive verb:To drink
to drink copiously of; to swallow in large
intransitive verb: To drink largely or luxuriously.
noun: A drink quaffed.
drunk with his guides, makes eyes at the girls and
gamely quaffs snake wine.
querulous \KWER-uh-luhs; -yuh\,
Apt to find fault; habitually complaining.
Expressing complaint; fretful; whining.
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
3. An eccentricity; an odd feature.
but the aliveness
their quiddity, the fox-ness
of the fox and the crow-ness of the crow
quidnunc \KWID-nuhngk\, noun:
to know everything that passes; one who knows
to know all that is going on; a gossip; a
treasure-trove to these venerable quidnuncs, could
guessed the secret which
Hepzibah and Clifford were carrying along
quiescent \kwy-ES-uhnt; kwee-\, adjective:
Being in a state of repose; at rest; still;
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:
Such a number of the officers or members of any body as is
competent to transact business.
A select group.
The extraordinary powers of
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.
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.
of rebarbative, ulcerated
people had been working hard at bedding
their resentments down in sensory-deprivation tanks
full of alcohol.
recalcitrant \rih-KAL-sih-truhnt\, adjective:
resistant to and defiant of authority or restraint.
recondite \REK-un-dyt\, adjective: 1.
Difficult to understand; abstruse.2. Concerned with obscure subject matter.
fondness for stopping his
readers short in their tracks
is wonderfully irritating.
noun:1. The act of returning one charge or accusation
2. An accusation brought by the accused against the accuser; a counter
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;
Augustine redivivus, R. contends, would find in the
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:
brightly; radiant; brilliant; resplendent.
once refulgent light flickered only dimly in his sad last years.
relegate \REL-uh-gayt\, transitive
To assign to an inferior position, place, or condition.
To assign to an appropriate category or class.
3. To assign or refer (a matter or task, for example) to another for
To send into exile; to banish.
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
the June presidential
realistic choice between the rough-and-tumble
the Soviet-era nostalgia
Zyuganov,leader of the
renascent Russian Communist Party.
repast \rih-PAST\, noun:
Something taken as food; a meal.
have been digested before a
fresh bread, butter, cheese, cold meat, and cake
was served at half past six.
restive \RES-tiv\, adjective:
or opposition; resisting
to go on; obstinate in refusing to move forward;
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:
a ghost) or after a long absence.
is often used by the
of the middle ages as a
vehicle for their conceptions of the
ribald \RIB-uld; RY-bawld\, adjective:
Characterized by, or given to, vulgar humor; coarse.
noun: A ribald
person; a lewd fellow.
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 aquifers; supporting a diversity of plant and
wildlife species; maintaining a habitat for healthy fish populations; providing water, 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.
used in laughter; as, "risible
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\,
Overly optimistic; bright or cheerful.
Resembling a rose especially in color.
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
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.
sacrosanct \SAK-roh-sankt\, adjective:
as sacrosanct: divorce was highly unusual
and children were expected
to be grateful for the sacrifices
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.
potpourri; a miscellany.
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
salubrious \suh-LOO-bree-us\, adjective:
Favorable to health; promoting health; healthful.
salutary \SAL-yuh-ter-ee\, adjective:
2. Wholesome; healthful; promoting health.
Tocqueville famously observed during his sojourn in
groups, church study
they had a remarkably
turning selfish individuals into
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.
measurement they are the brainiest of birds, and
seem more sapient than most other
sardonic \sar-DON-ik\, adjective:Scornful, mocking; disdainfully humorous.
account of a publicly
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:
Of or relating to a tailor or to tailoring.
Of or relating to clothing, or style or manner of dress.
[Anatomy] Of or relating to the sartorius muscle.
style runs toward jeans, Hawaiian shirts and cowboy
noun: A malicious
from the misfortunes of
report of Sebastian Imhof's
grave illness might also
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
1. To scrape or scratch with the hands or feet.
2. To struggle by or as if by scraping or
3. To proceed by clawing with the hands and feet;
to scribble; to scrawl.
mark with irregular lines or letters; to scribble on or
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:
a. A drinking fountain on a ship.
a ship that contains the
day's supply of drinking water.
2. Gossip; rumor.
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
2. Characterized by or
accomplished with care
by accident but by sedulous study
from the cradle forward.
segue \SEG-way; SAYG-way\, verb:
To proceed without interruption; to make a smooth
Daylight segued into dusk.
a month of dinner parties.
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\,
simulacra \sim-yuh-LAY-kruh; -LAK-ruh\:
An image; a representation.
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.
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
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-\,
Causing sleep; tending to cause sleep.
noun: A medicine,
drug, plant, or other agent that has the quality
of inducing sleep; a narcotic.
droned on, hypnotic, soporific, the gloom beyond
the windows like the backdrop of a waking dream.
sough \SAU; SUHF\, intransitive
To make a soft, low sighing or rustling sound, as
soft, low rustling or sighing sound.
to Marsha's grave in Rathdrum, as the wind
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.
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;
stases \STAY-seez; STAS-eez\:
A state of balance, equilibrium, or stagnation.
Stoppage of the normal flow of a bodily fluid or semi fluid.
stasis but change;
did not operate according to mechanical laws,they evolved organically.
stentorian \sten-TOR-ee-uhn\, adjective:
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.
Characterized by a
heavy snoring or gasping sound; hoarsely breathing.
motel room he set the alarm, but his own stertorous breathing woke him
before it rang.
stormy petrel \STOR-mee-PET-ruhl\, noun:
of various small sea birds of the family Hydrobatidae,
plumage with paler underparts; also called storm
who brings discord or strife, or appears at the onset
from a 'pet' of the
Communist regime, Gorky, the "stormy
also condemned the
on as a "cruel
experiment" with the Russian
people "doomed to failure."
sub rosa \suhb-ROH-zuh\, adverb:
Secretly; privately; confidentially.
Designed to be secret or confidential; secretive;
multiculturalists are generally
wider public in open debate
methods, preferring to
promote their agenda sub rosa.
1. Ranked or ranged below; subordinate; inferior.
British) Ranking as a junior officer; being below
the rank of captain.
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.
old and new elites, not the subaltern underclass
and peasants, superimposed
the fever chart of the
on what they assumed to have been the
of the French Revolution
with a view to
subfusc \sub-FUHSK\, adjective:
Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.
or dull clothing.
property of one Edmund
Gravel -- "known as the
informs us -- is haunted
for various "subfusc but
hence, of or pertaining to this world;
In Shakespearean drama, both tragic and comic, the storms
and calamities that shake
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:
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:
break apart; to separate; to divide; to sever.
intransitive verb: To become parted, disunited, or severed.
1. Going beyond what is required or expected.
2. Superfluous; unnecessary.
range from the pre-ethical (duties
toward animals) to the properly ethical(conduct
situations) to the
1. Fraudulently substituted for something else; not
being what is purports to be; not
genuine; spurious; counterfeit.
2. Hypothetical; supposed.
write a small treatise exposing my stones
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
susurrus \su-SUHR-uhs\, noun:
A whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.
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:
Of or pertaining to woods or forest regions.
Living or located in a wood or forest.
Abounding in forests or trees; wooded.
A fabled deity or spirit of the woods.
or frequents the woods or
forest; a rustic.
picture it as a kind of modest conservatory, set
some charmingly landscaped
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.
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
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
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.
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:
the separation of the parts
of a compound
generally done for humorous
effect; for example, "what place
soever" instead of "whatsoever place," or
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:
motion or the power of exertion and feeling;
Dormant; hibernating or estivating.
Dull; sluggish; apathetic.
but geography asserts itself
from time to time, as a reminder that this land
winds get interrupted
gusts from the east that bring hot dust and sometimes even torpid, wind-buffeted
tortuous \TOR-choo-us\, adjective:
Marked by repeated turns and bends; as, "a tortuous road up the
straightforward; devious; as, "his tortuous reasoning."
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:
A kind of net for catching birds, fish, etc.
A kind of shackle used for making a horse amble.
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.
An instrument for drawing ellipses.
An instrument for aligning or adjusting parts of a machine.
To entangle, as in a net; to enmesh.
To hamper; to hinder the activity, progress, or freedom of.
she dances a symbol of human happiness as it should
be, free from unnatural trammels.
trencherman \TREN-chuhr-muhn\, noun:
A hearty eater.
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:
[Archaic] An involuntary trembling; quaking; quivering.
A state of dread or alarm; nervous agitation; apprehension;
A sense of triumph was in the air as people bravely
went to the
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."
noun: a morbid
fear of the number 13 or the date Friday the 13th
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.
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:
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.
Reason for doubt; suspicion.
3. Suspicion of injury or wrong; offense;
Burr finally took umbrage, and challenged him to a
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.
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\,
Capable of being forgiven; not heinous; excusable;
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.
verbiage he has expelled over eight years
is enough to make John Updike look blocked.
verdant \VUR-dnt\, adjective:
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\,
1. A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and
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:
A love of or taste for fine objects of art.
Productions of art (especially fine antiques).
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
this kind... [whose] sight... is pleasing
prestige to the owner of the
house." They all spoke to the
wealth, taste and virtu of their owner.
visage \VIZ-ij\, noun:
The face or appearance of a person or an animal; -- chiefly
to the human face.
attractive, [her] visage
unfortunate fact that her "upper lip, as if impelled by the
involuntary muscles, habitually uplifts itself,conveying the impression
of a sneer."
Older than most, and taller --
taller than Perlman, in fact --
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
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
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.
devoted to luxury and the
gratification of sensual appetites; a
to begin her day's writing
by first picking fleas
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:
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.
held out her hand to receive
the glass, she had more
of a full-grown Bacchante, celebrating the
rites of Bacchus, than a votary at the shrine of Hygeia.
wastrel \WAY-struhl\, noun:
A person who wastes, especially one who squanders money; a spendthrift.
idler; a loafer; a good-for-nothing.
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
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.
Battalions halt in the Avenue: they have, for
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:
Beset or overwhelmed with woe; immersed in grief or sorrow;
a sorry condition; dismal-looking; dilapidated;
people of Athens,prepares to drink a cup of hemlock, surrounded by
xenophobia \ZEN-uh-FOE-bee-uh\, noun:
hatred of strangers, people from other countries, or
of anything that is strange or foreign.
for peace in 61 languages and beseeching the world
pope made a
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, Kerouac was not simply responding to the Zeitgeist, but to the peculiarly twisted facts of his own upbringing.