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oppugn \uh-PYOON\, verb:
Aspects of the Novel, published in 1927, was one of the first critical works to oppugn modernism.-- John A. Dern, Monsters, Martians and Madonna: Fiction and Form In the World of Martin Amis
- 1. To assail by criticism, argument, or action.
- 2. To call in question; dispute.
I do not wish to oppugn the character of Miss Goodrich by bearing false witness in regard to her activities.-- Jeffrey D. Marshall, The Inquest
balderdash \BAWL-der-dash\, noun:
"That bit about cleanliness being next to godliness was a lot of balderdash as far as I was concerned."-- Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses
How could I, who loved life so intensely, have let myself be entangled for so long in that balderdash of books and paper blackened with ink! In that day of separation, my friend had helped me to see clearly. -- Nikos Kazantzakis, Carl Wildman, Zorba the Greek
- 1. Senseless, stupid, or exaggerated talk or writing; nonsense.
- 2. (Archaic:) A muddled mixture of liquors.
simpatico \sim-PAH-ti-koh\, adjective:
Congenial or like-minded.
"He's very engaging, rather simpatico."-- Deborah Cartmell, Imelda Whelehan, Adaptations: from text to screen, screen to text
"I'm very collected and cool and simpatico."-- James Lee Burke, The Glass Rainbow
tenterhooks \TEN-ter-hooks\, noun:
"I wait on tenterhooks to see if my ploy of last night will yield the desired outcome."-- Stephanie Laurens, The Elusive Bride
"Such as the fact that this Sevarin has been dangling after Miss Stone in earnest, and the village seems to be hanging on tenterhooks in expectation of a betrothel announcement."-- Judith McNaught, Whitney, My Love
- 1. On tenterhooks, in a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety.
- 2. One of the hooks or bent nails that hold cloth stretched on a tenter.
futz \FUHTS\, verb:
1. To pass time in idleness (usually followed by around).
"For God's sake, Tommy, just do it, and then you can futz with your papers all you want to."-- Peter Freeborn, The Stark Truth
"I think it's because, unlike most people, she doesn't futz around being polite."-- Charlotte Vale Allen, Painted Lives
- 1. A fool; a simpleton.
métier \met-YAY; MET-yay\, noun:
The pairing of Maynard and Salinger -- the writer whose métier is autobiography and the writer who's so private he won't even publish -- was an unlikely one.-- Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Cult of Joyce Maynard", New York Times Magazine, September 6, 1998
In Congress, I really found my métier. . . . I love to legislate.-- Charles Schumer, quoted in "Upbeat Schumer Battles Poor Polls and Turnouts and His Own Image", New York Times, May 16, 1998
- 1. An occupation; a profession.
- 2. An area in which one excels; an occupation for which one is especially well suited.
canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\, adjective:
Richly melodious; pleasant sounding; musical.
I felt a deep contentment listening to the meadowlark's complex melody as he sat on his bragging post calling for a mate, and the soft canorous whistle of the bobwhite as he whistled his name with intermittent lulls.-- Donna R. La Plante, "Remember When: The prairie after a spring rain", Kansas City Star, March 16, 2003
But birds that are canorous and whose notes we most commend, are of little throats, and short necks, as Nightingales, Finches, Linnets, Canary birds and Larks.-- Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica
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.-- Jack Olsen, Hastened to the Grave
His father was an irascible and boastful bully, a heavy drinker and a gambler.-- Robin Waterfield, Prophet: The Life and Times of Kahlil Gibran
dapple \DAP-uhl\, noun:
- 1. A small contrasting spot or blotch.
- 2. A mottled appearance, especially of the coat of an animal (as a horse).
- transitive verb:
- 1. To mark with patches of a color or shade; to spot.
- intransitive verb:
- 1. To become dappled.
Look at . . . his cows with their comic camouflage dapples . . . .-- Arthur C. Danto, "Sometimes Red", ArtForum, January 2002
70 diamond- and hexagonal-shaped holes, 35 between the North End ramp and the northbound lanes, and 35 between the northbound and southbound lanes, allow light to filter through and dapple the river below.-- Raphael Lewis, "A walk into the future", Boston Globe, May 9, 2002
- 1. Marked with contrasting patches or spots; dappled.
abstemious \ab-STEE-mee-uhs\, adjective:
They were healthy and abstemious; their chief pleasure was reading and Oliver was a life member of the London Library.-- Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Music at Long Verney
For a man who trafficked in excess, he was surprisingly abstemious.-- Ralph Blumenthal, Stork Club
- 1. Sparing in eating and drinking; temperate; abstinent.
- 2. Sparingly used or consumed; used with temperance or moderation.
- 3. Marked by or spent in abstinence.
unctuous \UNGK-choo-us\, adjective:
A warmed, crusty French roll arrives split, lightly smeared with unctuous chopped liver.-- John Kessler, "Meals To Go: Break from the routine with Hong", Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 22, 1998
She recalled being offended by the "phoniness" that stemmed from the contradiction between her mother's charming, even unctuous public manner and her anger in private.-- Daniel Horowitz, Betty Friedan And the Making of 'The Feminine Mystique'
- 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.
gravitas \GRAV-uh-tahs\, noun:
High seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject).
At first sight the tall, stooped figure with the hawk-like features and bloodless cheeks, the look of extreme gravitas, seems forbidding and austere, the abbot of an ascetic order, scion of an imperial family who has foresworn the world.-- John Lehmann, "T.S. Eliot Talks About Himself and the Drive to Create", New York Times, November 9, 1953
And we want to tell our readers about sharp, clever books, utterly lacking in gravitas, that we know will delight them on the beach or the bus.-- Benjamin Schwarz, "(Some of) the best books of 2001", The Atlantic, December 2001
lucre \LOO-kuhr\, noun:
Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.
His stories began to be published in the American Mercury before he moved to L.A., lured by the dream of Hollywood lucre.-- Jerome Boyd Maunsell, "Truly madly weepy", Times (London), June 10, 2000
They ought to feel a calling for service rather than lucre.-- Sin-Ming Shaw, "It's Time to Get Real", Time Asia, July 1, 2002
bedaub \bih-DOB\, transitive verb:
The patient's signature is less neat than usual, not only because of his agitated state but also, quite possibly, because the pen is so bedaubed with chocolate that it slips through his fingers.-- Marcel Beyer, "The Karnau Tapes.", Grand Street, Fall 1997
Only their wagon keeps on rolling, empty, bedaubed with tears, under our windows.-- Laszlo Darvasi and Ivan Sanders, "Stories of Kisses, Stories of Tears.", Grand Street, March 1, 1997
- 1. To smudge over; to besmear or soil with anything thick and dirty.
- 2. To overdecorate; to ornament showily or excessively.
afflatus \uh-FLAY-tuhs\, noun:
A divine imparting of knowledge; inspiration.
Whatever happened to passion and vision and the divine afflatus in poetry?-- Clive Hicks, "From 'Green Man' (Ronsdale)", Toronto Star, November 21, 1999
Aristophanes must have eclipsed them . . . by the exhibition of some diviner faculty, some higher spiritual afflatus.-- John Addington Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets
equivocate \ih-KWIV-uh-kayt\, intransitive verb:
To be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or to avoid committing oneself to anything definite.
The witness shuffled, equivocated, pretended to misunderstand the questions.-- Thomas Babington Macaulay, History of England
By equivocating, hesitating, and giving ambiguous answers, she effected her purpose.-- Harriet Martineau, Letters from Ireland
verisimilitude \ver-uh-suh-MIL-uh-tood; -tyood\, noun:
In an attempt to create verisimilitude, in addition to the usual vulgarities, the dialogue is full of street slang.-- Wilborn Hampton, "Sugar Down Billie Hoak': An Unexpected Spot to Find a Father", New York Times, August 1, 1997
For those plays, Ms. Smith interviewed hundreds of people of different races and ages, somehow managing to internalize their expressions, anger and quirks enough to be able to portray them with astonishing verisimilitude.-- Sarah Boxer, "An Experiment in Artistic Democracy", New York Times, August 7, 2000
- 1. The appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true.
- 2. Something that has the appearance of being true or real.
bumptious \BUMP-shuhs\, adjective:
Crudely, presumptuously, or loudly self-assertive.
The clown in the girl is bumptious as can be: bouncing about in the peaked cap and oversized coat of a boy she hasn't learned to love yet, pacing in lockstep behind a fellow-lodger for the sheer love of badgering him, blowing out her cheeks like a fussed walrus when crossed.-- Walter Kerr, Anne Frank Shouldn't Be Anne's Play, New York Times, January 7, 1979
Still a tremendous singer and a man so confident of his own sex appeal that he could make the most outrageously bumptious behaviour seem not only engaging but also entirely natural.-- David Sinclair, "Larger than life and twice as rocky", Times (London), March 13, 2000
kismet \KIZ-met; -mit\, noun:
- It's pure kismet when these two find each other.-- Janet Maslin, "The Mighty': Talents to Make Buddies -- Walking and Wisecracking", New York Times, October 9, 1998
- Winning wasn't essential, though it seemed kismet that Cone, for a second straight year, came back from injury to pitch in a game that clinched a bit of postseason bliss.-- Claire Smith, "Cone Puts the Yankees' Minds at Ease", New York Times, September 21, 1997
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.-- Nina Burleigh, A Very Private Woman
- While teaching in Beijing, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang in the late 1920s, he helped launch what became known as the "new poetry" movement, which eschewed traditional forms and encouraged topics based on everyday life.-- Bruce Gilley, Tiger on the Brink
fugacious \fyoo-GAY-shuhs\, adjective:
Lasting but a short time; fleeting.
- As the rain conspires with the wind to strip the fugacious glory of the cherry blossoms, it brings a spring delicacy to our dining table.-- Sarah Mori, "A spring delicacy", Malaysian Star
- The thick, palmately lobed lead is lapped around the bud, which swiftly outgrows its protector, loses its two fugacious sepals, and opens into a star-shaped flower, one to each stem, with several fleshy white petals and a mass of golden stamens in the center.-- Alma R. Hutchens, A Handbook of Native American Herbs
truckle \TRUHK-uhl\, intransitive verb:
1. To yield or bend obsequiously to the will of another; to act in a subservient manner.
- 1. A small wheel or roller; a caster.
- Only where there was a "defiance," a "refusal to truckle," a "distrust of all authority," they believed, would institutions "express human aspirations, not crush them."-- Pauline Maier, "A More Perfect Union", New York Times, October 31, 1999
- The son struggled to be obedient to the conventional, commercial values of the father and, at the same time, to maintain his own playful, creative innocence. This conflict could make him truckle in the face of power.-- Dr. Margaret Brenman-Gibson, quoted in "Theater Friends Recall Life and Works of Odets," by Herbert Mitgang, New York Times, October 30, 1981
blandishment \BLAN-dish-muhnt\, noun:
Speech or action that flatters and tends to coax, entice, or persuade; allurement -- often used in the plural.
- But she had not risen at all to the law fellow's blandishments, his attempts to interest her in his ideas and persuade her to set forth her own.-- John Bayley, Elegy for Iris
- And that my English-speaking victims find my blandishments so pretty, accented as they are, and yield to my soft lustrous Italian pronunciations, is a constant source of bliss for me.-- Anne Rice, Vittorio, the Vampire
pusillanimous \pyoo-suh-LAN-uh-muhs\, adjective:
Lacking in courage and resolution; contemptibly fearful; cowardly.
Evil, unspeakable evil, rose in our midst, and we as a people were too weak, too indecisive, too pusillanimous to deal with it.-- Kevin Myers, "An Irishman's Diary", Irish Times, October 20, 1999
Under the hypnosis of war hysteria, with a pusillanimous Congress rubber-stamping every whim of the White House, we passed the withholding tax.-- Vivien Kellems, Toil, Taxes and Trouble
prolix \pro-LIKS; PRO-liks\, adjective:
- 1. Extending to a great length; unnecessarily long; wordy.
- 2. Tending to speak or write at excessive length.
- It was a cumbersome book, widely criticized for being prolix in style and maddeningly circular in argument.-- Simon Winchester, "Word Imperfect", The Atlantic, May 2001
- Montaigne is a little too prolix in his determination to tell us almost everything that happens as he fishes his way across the country, and he gives us a few too many accounts of the people he meets and of their repetitiously gloomy opinions.-- Adam Hochschild, "Deep Wigglers of the Volga", New York Times, June 28, 1998
fanfaronade \fan-fair-uh-NAYD; -NOD\, noun:
- 1. Swaggering; empty boasting; blustering manner or behavior; ostentatious display.
- 2. Fanfare.
- George Manahan made his debut this week as music director of New York City Opera, and it is difficult to imagine someone laying claim to a major podium with less of a fanfaronade.-- Justin Davidson, "A Director's Toil Pays Some Dividends", Newsday, September 21, 1996
- But like a demure singer in a long gown who is surrounded by chorus girls in sequined miniskirts, the statue may seem slightly lost amid the fanfaronade.-- Richard Stengel, "Rockets will glare and bands blare to celebrate the statue", Time, July 7, 1986
puckish \PUHK-ish\, adjective:
Whimsical; mischievous; impish.
- Superficially obnoxious, his friendly, puckish manner endeared him to those who relished the intensity of turn-of-the-century bohemian New York.-- William B. Scott and Peter M. Rutkoff, New York Modern
- To his credit he exhibits on occasion a puckish humor. Commenting on elementary reasoning abilities of chimpanzees engaged in experiments, he says they may "be wondering whether people have the capacity for reason, and if so, why they need help from apes to solve such simple problems.-- Richard Restak, "Rational Explanation", New York Times, November 21, 1999
chortle \CHOR-tl\, transitive and intransitive verb:
1. To utter, or express with, a snorting, exultant laugh or chuckle.
- 1. A snorting, exultant laugh or chuckle.
- Benjamin himself chortled now, an odd laugh to which I grew accustomed in years to come.-- Jay Parini, Benjamin's Crossing
- Even Isaksson's stern wife, who rarely cracked a smile, chortled with glee, and Old Mothstead slapped his thighs and flapped his apron and danced around the couple, who moved in ever larger rings amongst the kegs.-- Kerstin Ekman, Witches' Rings, translated by Linda Schenck
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.
- This was to have held a sculpture of a Roman charioteer driving four horses, but the work was never completed, leaving behind what looks like a diving board or a futurist balcony, ideally suited for a demagogue exhorting a throng below.-- Michael Z. Wise, "A Fascist Utopia Adapted for Today", New York Times
- A consummate demagogue, McCarthy played upon cold war emotions and made charges so fantastic that frightened people believed the worst.-- Arthur Herman, Joseph McCarthy
confute \kuhn-FYOOT\, transitive verb:
To overwhelm by argument; to refute conclusively; to prove or show to be false.
- Having settled in Rome in 1486, he proposed 900 theses and challenged any scholar to confute them, agreeing to pay his expenses.-- David S. Katz and Richard H. Popkin, Messianic Revolution
- Instinct, intuition, or insight is what first leads to the beliefs which subsequent reason confirms or confutes.-- Bertrand Russell
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?-- John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger, "From Poussin to Capon a Chicken in Every Size", New York Times, September 22, 1999
- Even though Paris was then considered the culinary capital of Europe, the food at the Cercle was so highly revered that many well-known gastronomes regularly made the trip to Lyon to eat there.-- Daniel Rogov, "Three culinary tales for Hanukka", Jerusalem Post, December 6, 1996
gimcrack \JIM-krak\, noun:
1. A showy but useless or worthless object; a gewgaw.
- 1. Tastelessly showy; cheap; gaudy.
- Yet the set is more than a collection of pretty gimcracks.-- Frank Rich, Hot Seat
- In those cities most self-conscious about their claim to be part of English history, like Oxford or Bath, the shops where you could have bought a dozen nails, home-made cakes or had a suit run up, have shut down and been replaced with places selling teddy bears, T-shirts and gimcrack souvenirs.-- Jeremy Paxman, The English: A Portrait of a People
wunderkind \VOON-duhr-kint\, noun;
plural wunderkinder \-kin-duhr\:
It was even written that, at 20, his best days were behind him. He had gone from a wunderkind to an object of sympathy, a hero struggling not to be forgotten.-- "Owen shines like a beacon amid the wrecks", Times (London), May 29, 2000
In the mid-thirties, he became the youngest and best state director of FDR's National Youth Administration, a Texas wunderkind who at age twenty-eight beat several better known opponents for a south-central Texas congressional seat.-- Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant
- 1. A child prodigy.
- 2. One who achieves great success or acclaim at an early age.
masticate \MAS-tih-kayt\, transitive verb:
Honestly, folks, the people at the next table ordered the same dish, and I watched as a young couple tried in vain to masticate those fossilized pieces of "toast."-- Pat Bruno, "Hits and misses", Chicago Sun-Times, June 2002
Their powerful jaws allow hyenas to masticate not only flesh and entrails, but bones, horns, and even the teeth of their prey.-- Sam Tauschek, "A Hyena is no laughing matter", Sports Afield, May 2001
- 1. To grind or crush with or as if with the teeth in preparation for swallowing and digestion; to chew; as, "to masticate food."
- 2. To crush or knead (rubber, for example) into a pulp.
lexicography \lek-suh-KAH-gruh-fee\, noun:
- 1. The writing or compiling of dictionaries; the editing or making of dictionaries.
- 2. The principles and practices applied to writing dictionaries.
- Dictionary of American Regional English, Volume I heroically preserves our rapidly disappearing folk expressions, and many of the rich, salty words and phrases found in its 904 pages could encourage a taste for lexicography.-- Shirley Horner, review of "Dictionary of American Regional English", New York Times, December 8, 1985
- Jim is a dictionary writer by trade, one of those sedentary wordsmiths who spend their lives in the library and retire with watery eyes and schoolteacher salaries--except he found a way to abandon lexicography and make a windfall fortune in the Internet economy.-- Christopher McDougall, "The Secret of Vuleefore", Outside magazine, September 2000
inkhorn \INK-horn\, adjective:
1. Affectedly or ostentatiously learned; pedantic.
- 1. A small bottle of horn or other material formerly used for holding ink.
- . . .the widespread use of what were called (dismissively, by truly learned folk) "inkhorn terms."-- Simon Winchester, "Word Imperfect", The Atlantic Monthly, May 2001
- In prison he wrote the De Consolatione Philosophiae, his most celebrated work and one of the most translated works in history; it was translated . . . by Elizabeth I into florid, inkhorn language.-- The Oxford Companion to English Literature, s.v. "Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus (c. 475 - 525)."
factotum \fak-TOH-tuhm\, noun:
A person employed to do all kinds of work or business.
Mr. Hersey thus became Mr. Lewis's summertime factotum, copying pages of a play that Lewis was writing about Communism.-- Richard Severo, "John Hersey, Author of 'Hiroshima,' Is Dead at 78", New York Times, March 25, 1993
She is a blind, paraplegic forensic hypnotist, and he is her brother and general factotum.-- Newgate Callendar, "Spies & Thrillers", New York Times, July 31, 1994
uxorious \uk-SOR-ee-us; ug-ZOR-\, adjective:
Excessively fond of or submissive to a wife.
- It is batty to suppose that the most uxorious of husbands will stop his wife's excessive shopping if an excessive shopper she has always been.-- Angela Huth, "All you need is love", Daily Telegraph, April 24, 1998
- Flagler seems to have been an uxorious, domestic man, who liked the comfort and companionship of a wife at his side.-- Michael Browning, "Whitehall at 100", Palm Beach Post, February 22, 2002
verdant \VUR-dnt\, adjective:
- 1. Green with vegetation; covered with green growth.
- 2. Green.
- 3. Lacking experience or sophistication; naive.
- Drab in winter, then suddenly sodden with alpine runoff, the region turns dazzlingly verdant in spring.-- Patricia Albers, Shadows, Fire, Snow
- Dry as the region just outside the delta may be, it would still be covered with grasses, yellowish in the dry season, verdant in the wet.-- Niles Eldredge, Life in the Balance
abscond \ab-SKOND\, intransitive verb:
To depart secretly; to steal away and hide oneself -- used especially of persons who withdraw to avoid arrest or prosecution.
The criminal is not concerned with influencing or affecting public opinion: he simply wants to abscond with his money or accomplish his mercenary task in the quickest and easiest way possible so that he may reap his reward and enjoy the fruits of his labours.-- Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism
Pearl, now an orphan (her father having absconded shortly after her conception), has been taken to live with her great-aunt Margaret in the north of England.-- Zoe Heller, Everything You Know
effluvium \ih-FLOO-vee-uhm\, noun:
A slight or invisible exhalation or vapor, esp. one that is disagreeable
- Beside them was the dark well-hole, with that horrid effluvium stealing up from its mysterious depths.-- Bram Stoker, The lair of the white worm
- That was no real problem, however, for Alobar simply followed the scent, that effluvium of goat glands that hung in the air like a salty mist and drew him ever higher up the craggy vertebrae.-- Tom Robbins, Jitterbug perfume
eclat \ey-KLAH\, noun:
- 1. Brilliance of success, reputation, etc.
- 2. Showy or elaborate display.
- 3. Acclamation; acclaim.
- It was a great object with her to escape all enquiry or ÃƒÂ©clat; but it was her intention to be as decidedly cool to him as might be compatible with their relationship ; and to retrace, as quietly as she could, the few steps of unnecessary intimacy she had been gradually led along.-- Jane Austen, Northanger abbey: A novel
- Aimee's Bistro combines Parisian eclat with contemporary California beach chic in this well- established bistro.-- Los Angeles Magazine, June, 2004
elide \ih-LAHYD\, verb:
- 1. To suppress; omit; ignore; pass over.
- 2. To omit (a vowel, consonant, or syllable) in pronunciation.
- 3. In law, to annul or quash.
- Later she understood it was a smile born of fear at what she had to say, but in that moment when sleep and consciousness elide, her expression seemed humorous, so when the woman said she had bad news and that their father was dead, Annie thought it was a joke.-- Nicholas Evans, The horse whisperer
- Introductions were made - here I elide all of the tedious formalities and small talk - and the Marquise explained to me that she had been looking for a tutor to educate her daughter.-- Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver
rakish \REY-kish\, adjective:
- 1. Smart; jaunty; dashing.
- 2. Of a vessel: having an appearance suggesting speed.
- 3. Like a rake; dissolute: rakish behavior.
- Just as they stepped into the house Beard remembered that it was Patrice's afternoon off, and there she was, at the head of the stairs, in rakish blue eye patch, tight jeans, pale green cashmere sweater, Turkish slippers, coining down to meet them with a pleasant smile and the offer of coffee as her husband had made the introductions.-- Ian McEwan, Solar
- General Bernard Rutkowski, his cap set at a slightly rakish, angle strode along the tunnel.-- Fletcher Knebel, Charles Waldo Bailey, Seven days in May
jobbery \JOB-uh-ree\, noun:
The conduct of public or official business for the sake of improper private gain.
- To a large portion of the people who frequent Washington or dwell there, the ultra fashion, the shoddy, the jobbery are as utterly distasteful as they would be in a refined New England City.-- Mark Twain, The gilded age and later novels
- Casting about for some way of breaking through this vicious circle, he saw but one expedient - to wit, some great service to be rendered to the government, or some profitable bit of jobbery.-- Honoré de Balzac, The Unconscious Mummers
gung-ho \GUHNG-HO\, adjective:
- 1. Wholeheartedly enthusiastic and loyal; eager; zealous.
- 2. In a successful manner.
- You end up becoming this perky, gung-ho version of yourself that you know is just revolting.-- Douglas Coupland, Microserfs
- It's not because he's such a gung-ho company man, he's too smart for that.-- Jonathan Franzen, Strong motion: a novel
dharna \DAHR-nuh\, noun:
In India,the practice of exacting justice or compliance with a just demand by sitting and fasting at the doorstep of an offender until death or until the demand is granted.
Surely thou hast heard that Munda Ram, banker, having failed to procure his moneys from Narain Das, thy kinsman, hath sworn to obtain them by dharna?-- Maud Diver, Siege perilous: and other stories
You've never reached up, awestruck, to touch these ties and brought the entire rack down on your head so that you sat swathed in a riot of colors, held down by a dharna of textures, trapped in a gherao of ties.-- Shashi Tharoor, Show business: a novel
paphian \PEY-fee-uhn\, adjective:
The juxtaposition of Ellen's willowy beauty and high-spirited naivete and Kreton's clear desire for her illuminated perfectly the paphian difficulties that would confront a powerful telepath, were such persons to exist.-- Gene Wolfe, The best of Gene Wolfe: a definitive retrospective of his finest short fiction
I think I walked through life at that time like a somnambulist; for I have since seen that I must have been piling mistake upon mistake until out of a chaos of meaningless words and smiles I had woven a paphian love temple.-- George Bernard Shaw, The Irrational Knot
- 1. Of or pertaining to love, esp. illicit physical love.
- 2. Of or pertaining to Paphos, an ancient city of Cyprus sacred to Aphrodite.
- 3. Noting or pertaining to Aphrodite or to her worship or service.
homograph \HOM-uh-graf\, noun:
A word of the same written form as another but of different meaning, whether pronounced the same way or not.
She would pronounce the English word with a real fear, and found its close French homograph absurd, stupidly naval and military.-- Lilane Giraudon, Guy Bennett, Fur
It may help to remember the definition of the word homograph by looking at its parts.-- American Book Company, Kate McElvaney, Teresa Valentine, Maria Struder, Kent Carlisle -, Tackling the TAKS 8 in Reading
lollop \LOL-uhp\, verb:
And the dogs-except one cattle dog -Veno - Biddy would remember her; how she used to lollop about the front veranda outside her room.-- Rosa Praed, Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land
Not everybody could have swum out through that entrance, against a spring-tide and to lollop in the sea; and one dash against the rocks would have settled me.-- R. D. Blackmore, Mary Anerley
- 1. To move forward with a bounding, drooping motion.
- 2. To hang loosely; droop; dangle.
totemic \toh-TEM-ik\, adjective:
It's as totemic to me as Don's black hat was to my baby daughter.-- Jonathan Stone, Monkeys on My Back: Three Unpublished(unpublishable?) Novels (Oh, and a Novella)
A convict's personal possessions - few in number, weighted with significance-took on a totemic quality, and Doug had, over time, winnowed his meaningful totems down to exactly one.-- Chuck Hogan, Prince of Thieves: A Novel
- 1. Pertaining to an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or group considers itself closely related.
- 2. Relating to a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group.
grangerize \GRYEN-juh-rahyz\, verb:
If, however, Mr. Lindsay is determined to grangerize his collections, I would suggest that before he does so he should examine the illustrated Clarendon in the Bodleian Library which has the character for being the most magnificent grangerized book in existence.-- William White, "Regimental Messes," Notes and queries, Volume 82, 1890.
- 1. To add to the visual content of a book by inserting images not included in the original volume, often by mutilating other books.
- 2. To mutilate books in order to get illustrative material for such a purpose.
- He looked up from his reading, "An Illustrated History of Sparta," which he proceeded to grangerize.-- Roger Rosenblatt, Beet: A Novel
fain \FEYN\, adverb:
1. Gladly; willingly.
I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown; - yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of these coronets; - and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it.-- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
He would fain have ridden day and night, and grudged every halt for refreshment, so as almost to run the risk of making the men mutinous. -- Charlotte M. Yonge, A Chaplet of Pearls
- 1. Content; willing.
- 2. Archaic: Constrained; obliged.
- 3. Archaic: Desirous; eager.
concupiscible \kon-KYOO-pi-suh-buhl\, adjective:
Worthy of being desired.
And possibly, gentle reader, with such a temptation - so would'st thou; for never did thy eyes behold, or thy concupiscence covet anything in this world, more concupiscible than widow Wadman.-- Laurence Sterne, The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, Volume 2
The serpent is the senses and our nature, the Eve is the concupiscible appetite, and the Adam is the reason.-- Blaise Pascal, Blaise Pascal
offal \AW-fuhl\, noun:
- 1. The edible internal parts of an animal, such as the heart, liver, and tongue.
- 2. Dead or decomposing organic matter.
- 3. Refuse; rubbish.
- My father's fee for killing a pig was, I believe, half-a-crown, plus the offal.-- Ralph Whitlock, The folklore of Wiltshire
- Younger generations developed an aversion to their grandpa's "chocolate," and some households began serving two separate dinners, one with offal for the elders and another offal-free for the youngsters.-- Stewart Lee Allen, In the Devil's Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food
spirituel \spir-i-choo-EL\, adjective:
Some said, yes, and that the youth was really gifted and spirituel, with a vein of quiet, caustic humor, most amusing; others - and I half incline to this notion - pronounced him dull and uninteresting. -- Charles James Lever,
- 1. Showing or having a refined and graceful mind or wit.
- 2. Light and airy in movement; ethereal.
- The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly
- This woman had rather a bulky head, a long face, a snub-nose, high cheek-bones, a keen, bright eye, a large mouth, about which played a smile, at the same time spiritual, imperious, and contemptuous.-- Victor Cherbuliez, Samuel Brohl & Company
felicitate \fi-LIS-i-teyt\, verb:
I make an execrable attempt to felicitate him on his good fortune, when he of a sudden, goes off in a roar that makes the bench tremble.-- Charles Dickens, Household words, Volume 17
Nobles and officers had come to felicitate him; he had shaken a number of hands and spent all the smiles he had left. -- Louis de Wohl, The Last Crusader
- 1. To compliment upon a happy event; congratulate.
- 2. Archaic: To make happy.
klatsch \KLAHCH\, noun:
A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation.
This morning, in order to finish a set of essays in time to hand them back and discuss them in his eleven o'clock class, he had to resist his desire to be part of the klatsch.-- John Wheatcroft, The Beholder's Eye
I guess the boys at the conspiracy klatsch couldn't figure how else a woman could afford a car like mine."-- Alistair Boyle, The unlucky seven: a Gil Yates private investigator novel
creolize \KREE-uh-lahyz\, verb:
- 1. To combine local and foreign elements into a new, distinct whole.
- 2. To render a pidgin into a distinct, spoken language.
- To fuse - creolized - these styles (Greco-Roman, Renaissance, American Modernist, and Pre-Columbian), it is implied, is the task of the Caribbean architect.-- Christopher Winks, Symbolic cities in Caribbean literature
- He embodies the reluctance to surrender his Indian heritage and the refusal to creolized his identity.-- Véronique Bragard, Transoceanic Dialogues: Coolitude in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Narratives
mansuetude \MAN-swi-tood\, noun:
For indeed, it is possible to attain a state of divine mansuetude that nothing dismays and nothing surprises, just as one in love might, after many years, arrive at a sublime tranquillity of the sentiments, sure of their force and durability, through constant experience of their pleasures and pains.-- Honoré de Balzac, Jordan Stump, Adam Gopnik, The Wrong Side of Paris
You are safe, dear old man, you are safe, temporarily, in the mansuetude of our care, Julie said.-- Donald Barthelme, Donald Antrim, The dead father
autoschediastical \aw-toh-SKEE-dee-az-tik-uhl\, adjective:
Something improvised or extemporized.
Come, that's all I have to say, for if people don't take an interest in things, I shall not eliminate sesquipedilianisms in an autoschediastical fashion to amuse them.-- Mark Lemon, Henry Mayhew, Punch, Volumes 62-63, 1872
Then Marmaduke looked back at the boat, and I gave a fiendish laugh, that floated over the waters of the canal, striking the auricular nerves of the boat driver, who was trying to impress upon the mind of his mule the necessity of being more autoschediastical if they wished to win the race.-- The Lafayette Weekly, Volumes 8-9, 1882
lickerish \LIK-er-ish\, adjective:
- 1. Fond of and eager for choice food.
- 2. Greedy; longing.
- 3. Lustful; lecherous.
- His regular features, strong to the point of coarseness, would as readily harden to an expression of energy and cool astuteness as they would relax into a look almost lickerish as though relishing a savory tidbit; and he was, in fact, equally at home whether driving a bargain with shrewd peasants or arguing with a stubborn salvage gang, or whether sitting with gray-bearded sinners over the last bottle of port wine, listening to stories more than salacious or telling them with the picturesque frankness for which he was noted.-- Jens Peter Jacobsen, Niels Lyhne
- He that either for quantity eats more than his health or employment will bear, or for quality is lickerish after dainties, is a glutton ;-as he that eats more than his estate will bear, is a prodigal; and he that eats offensively to the company, either in his order or length of eating, is scandalous and uncharitable.-- George Herbert, The works of the Rev. George Herbert
byzantine \BIZ-uhn-teen\, adjective:
- 1. Complex or intricate.
- 2. Characterized by elaborate scheming and intrigue, esp. for the gaining of political power or favor.
- 3. Of or pertaining to Byzantium.
- 4. Of or pertaining to the Byzantine Empire.
- 5. Noting or pertaining to the architecture of the Byzantine Empire and to architecture influenced by or imitating it.
- The fun carrier has shown promise, despite byzantine regulations, powerful rivals, and airlines' tendency to hemorrhage money during recessions and spikes in fuel prices.-- Brad Stone, "Will Richard Branson's Virgin America Fly?," Business Week, December, 2010
- A wedding at her parents' Annapolis estate hurls high-strung Lynn into the fire of primal, byzantine family dynamics.-- "Movie Review: 'Another Happy Day,'" Washington Post, January, 2011
katzenjammer \KAT-suhn-jam-er\, noun:
So the asceticism and self-denial of the ancient anchorite and saint was merely a form of katzenjammer?-- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Thoughts Out Of Season
Ninety to a hundred days at sea, with dysentery, beri-beri, crabs, lice, rabies, yellow jaundice, malaria, katzenjammer and other oceangoing delights.-- Henry Miller, Nexus
- 1. The discomfort and illness experienced as the aftereffects of excessive drinking; hangover.
- 2. Uneasiness; anguish; distress.
- 3. Uproar; clamor.
chatoyant \shuh-TOI-uhnt\, adjective:
Chatoyant is that kind of white which the eye of a cat assumes in the dark: The translator observes, truly, that there is no English word for it; the idea is that of a semi-transparent whiteness.-- M. de Foucroy. Tobias George Smollett -, "Elements of Natural History, and of Chemistry," The Critical Review, Or, Annals of Literature: Volume 63 - Page 169
Its chatoyant, iridescent colors suggest the fancy that it might have had its birth in the crystallization of some magnificent aurora.-- R.G. Taber, "An Outing in Labrador," Outing: sport, adventure, travel, fiction, Volume 27, 1896
- 1. Having changeable lustre; twinkling.2. (Of a gem, esp a cabochon)
- displaying a band of light reflected off inclusions of other minerals.
prevaricate \prih-VAIR-uh-kayt\, intransitive verb:
To depart from or evade the truth; to speak with equivocation.
Journalism has a similar obligation, particularly with men and women suddenly transferred to places of great power, who are often led to exaggerate and prevaricate, all in the name of a supposedly greater good.-- Stephen R. Graubard, "Presidents: The Power and the Mediocrity", New York Times, January 15, 1989
Larkin never prevaricates. He is unhesitant and blunt in his assessment of his contemporaries.-- T.J. Ross, "Getting to know Philip Larkin: the life and letters", The Literary Review, January 1, 1995
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.-- Joseph Wood Krutch, "How Will Posterity Rank O'Neill?", New York Times, October 21, 1956
At the same time, they said, representatives of the inspector general's office at the CIA were generally protective of the intelligence agents involved in the matter, highlighting evidence that seemed to exculpate them.-- Tim Golden, "Guerrilla's Asylum Analyzed Amid Contradictory Claims", New York Times, December 12, 1996
descry \dih-SKRY\, transitive verb:
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.-- Ferdinand Mount, Jem (and Sam)
The future appears to us neither as impenetrable darkness nor as broad daylight, but rather in a half-light, in which we can descry the rough form of the nearest objects, and vague outlines farther off.-- Robert Conquest, Reflections on a Ravaged Century
- 1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure; to discern.
- 2. To discover by observation; to detect.
nostrum \NOS-truhm\, noun:
James is put to work at country fairs, promoting a quack nostrum for pain relief.-- Patrick McGrath, "Heart of Ice", New York Times, April 13, 1997
His hopeful message attracted an audience eager to believe he had found the nostrum for all of society's ills.-- Warren Sloat, "Looking Back at 'Looking Backward': We Have Seen the Future and It Didn't Work", New York Times, January 17, 1988
- 1. A medicine of secret composition and unproven or dubious effectiveness; a quack medicine.
- 2. A usually questionable remedy or scheme; a cure-all.
plenipotentiary \plen-uh-puh-TEN-shee-air-ee; -shuh-ree\, adjective:
1. Containing or conferring full power; invested with full power; as, "plenipotentiary license; plenipotentiary ministers."
There were two accounts, one in a news article, the second in the editorial section, telling the minihistory of Pol Pot, sometime plenipotentiary ruler of Cambodia.-- William F. Buckley Jr., The Redhunter
At that time, Egypt was our protectorate, which meant the High Commissioner was the plenipotentiary of George V and carried independent authority.-- David Freeman, One of Us
- 1. A person invested with full power to transact any business; especially, an ambassador or diplomatic agent with full power to negotiate a treaty or to transact other business.
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