nonplus \non-PLUS, NON-plus\ (verb tr.) - To put at a loss for what to do, think, or say; perplex. (noun) 0 -A state of perplexity or bewilderment.
"The Native-American Navajo Code Talkers used a code created with their native language to nonplus the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II."
From Latin non plus (no more).
collage \kuh-LAZH\ (noun) - A form of art where various disparate objects are assembled together.
"Troy would usually start his epic canvases by assembling a collage of disturbing imagery which he would transfer down before beginning to paint."
From French collage (gluing), from coller (to glue), from colle (glue), from Vulgar Latin colla...Read more
McGuffin \muh-GUF-in\ (noun) - A device that helps propel the plot in a story but is of little importance in itself.
"The book's problem seems to be that the main thrust of the plot features a McGuffin so gnarled and elaborate as to throw the novel out of whack, even as it propels things forward."
Coined by film director Alfred Hitchcock (...Read more
nisi \NY-sy, NEE-see\ (adjective) - Not yet final, taking effect at a later date unless invalidated by a certain cause.
"Albert was interested to read that his ex-wife's latest divorce was granted decree nisi as of the previous Friday."
From Latin nisi (unless, if not), from ne- (not) + si (if). The word usually appears in forms such as "...Read more
pompadour \POM-puh-dor\ (noun) - A hairstyle where the hair at the front is brushed up into a mound or a roll, above the forehead. Also known as quiff.
"Impressed with himself over his new pompadour which he felt made him look like Elvis, Charles was crestfallen when informed that Kim Jong Il had one as well."
After the Marquise de ...Read more
thersitical \thur-SIT-i-kuhl\ (adjective) - Foulmouthed; scurrilous.
"The self-described beneficiaries of most of this I.Q. increase, Princeton's 'Smart Fans,' have railed at season's end against thersitical cheers and jouncing the stands at basketball games."
After Thersites, a Greek in Iliad known for his abusive and foulmouthed nature. ...Read more
coda /KO-duh/ (noun) - 1 : The concluding passage of a piece of music, usually independent of the essential parts, added to bring it to a satisfactory close. 2 : An additional section at the end of a piece of literature, serving to summarize it or to add related information. 3 : Any concluding part.
"Then came the coda, in Pierpoint's ...Read more
tommyrot /TOM-ee-rot/ (noun) - Nonsense; foolishness.
"While most in the neighborhood were convinced that the old Clancy place was haunted, Bigby was quick to dismiss such notions as utter tommyrot."
From English dialectal tommy (fool), shortening of Thomas + English rot.
Human Language: Realities and MythsDr Paul Cassano
A book intended for non specialists who has an interest in and a fascination with human language. It explores the mysteries and theories associated with the early beginnings of speech some 50,000 years ago. The basic structures of the world's roughly 6500 surviving languages are discussed and...
resolute /REZ-uh-loot/ (adjective) - Determined; firm; unwavering.
"Government and the private sector must unite against the threat as firm, resolute and measured actions are required."
From Middle English, from Latin resoltus, past participle of resolvere (to resolve), from re- + solvere (to untie or loosen). Ultimately from Indo-European...Read more
spruik /sprook/ (verb intr.) - To make an elaborate speech, especially to attract customers.
"The company's president appeared in the first of 80 television commercials spruiking a money-back guarantee if people disliked their new product."
Poet Carl Sandburg once described slang as "a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands,...Read more
jawbone \JAW-bohn\ (noun) - 1 : A bone of either jaw, especially the lower jaw: mandible. 2 : Credit; promise. 3 : (verb) To try to influence by strong persuasion (as opposed to the use of force). The term is especially used about people in authority dealing in an official capacity.
"But for oil exporters and shippers in the Caspian, ...Read more
heteroclite \HET-uhr-uh-klyt\ (adjective) - 1 : Deviating from the ordinary rule; eccentric. 2 : (In grammar) Irregularly inflected. 3 : (noun) A person who is unconventional; a maverick. 4 : A word that is irregularly formed.
"Gene could never have imagined nor dreamed the heteroclite crew of men he had met aboard the tramp steamer."
gordian \GOR-dee-uhn\ (adjective) - Highly intricate; extremely difficult to solve.
"All agreed that coming up with a solution to the gordian problem of where to locate the company's new branch office was certain to take everyone's full attention for quite some time."
In Greek mythology, King Gordius of Phrygia tied a knot that defied all ...Read more
redoubtable \re-DOU-tuh-buhl\ (adjective) - Arousing fear or awe; evoking respect or honor.
"Even the redoubtable Jose Jenkins in accounting, long the model of any and all who dared to tally an index sheet, had a few monumental blunders in his jacket."
From Middle English redoubtabel, from Old French redoutable, from redouter (to dread), ...Read more
gulag \GOO-lahg\ (noun) - 1 : The system of forced-labor camp in the former Soviet Union. 2 : Any prison or forced-labor camp, especially one for political prisoners. 3 : A place of great hardship.
"The new management's cost-cutting efforts rapidly turned what had been a pleasant work environment into a gulag-like place of toil."
From ...Read more
Falstaffian \fohl-STA-fee-ehn\ (adjective) - Characterized by joviality and conviviality.
"Colton's bushy beard, boisterous manner, and overall Falstaffian personality endeared him to as many people as it put off."
A large word for a large personality, today's word comes after Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character who appears in three ...Read more
cingular (SING-gyuh-luhr) (adjective) - 1 : Of or pertaining to a cingulum, an anatomical band or girdle on an animal or plant. 2 : Encircling, girdling, surrounding.
"Cedric feared little when he found himself amidst cingular group of gunmen as, should any of them fire, they were as likely to shoot each other as they were him."
From ...Read more
crotchet \KRAH-chet\ (noun) - A highly individual and eccentric opinion or preference. Originally, a small hook or hooked instrument although that sense is now archaic.
"Guacamole on ice cream is just one of Jason's many gastronomic crotchets."
This word is merely the English pronunciation of French crochet "hook," diminutive of croche "...Read more
toboggan \teh-BAH-gehn\ (noun) - A long, flat-bottomed sled without runners made of slats curled up in front.
"With the economy tobogganing heaven knows where, Jean was convinced that it was better to keep your money in a sock under your mattress."
Today's word may also be used as a verb signifying the use of a toboggan, as to toboggan down...Read more
When I was a teenager, I spent one summer working on a dairy farm in southwestern Indiana. Bad move. My daily chores included milking cows at 5:30 a.m., cleaning out the bull's stall, digging up potatoes and stacking bales of hay.
Through decades of suffering from post-farmatic stress disorder, I've tried hard to suppress all memories of this...Read more