jocund \JAH-kehnd or JO-kehnd\ (adjective) - Happy, light-hearted, pleasant, carefree, cheerful.
"Sally would always point out that a jocund home was a good place for children to grow up, so she would encourage everyone to laugh often."
Old French "jocund" from Latin jucundus, jocundus "pleasant, agreeable" from juvare "to help" and related...Read more
elixir \eh-LIK-sehr\ (noun) - 1 : Like the philosopher's stone, a substance believed to have the power to change base metal into gold; 2 : a magic potion with a miraculous curative or restorative effect, sometimes believed to prolong life indefinitely; 3 : a sweetened, flavored base for medicines.
"James was quick to point out that there is ...Read more
treacle \TREE-kehl\ (noun) - 1 : Syrup, especially from the first pressing of sugar cane but also the molasses left over after the sugar crystals are removed; 2 : sugar-coating, cloying sentiment, sweetness of speech, especially insincere compliments.
"When Geoffrey's Aunt Mildred schmoozes someone, the treacle fairly drips from her words...Read more
grub \grehb\ (noun) - (Western US Slang) Plain food, 'eats,' victuals; also, a thick white larva of some insects that spends its life digging through the soil.
"That was some grub you rustled up for us tonight, Cookie; where did you dig it up?"
Speaking of grub, some of the best is the cured salmon known as gravlax, from Swedish grava "to...Read more
recidivism \ri-SID-eh-viz-ehm\ (noun) - A relapse or reversion to a previous nature, character, or state; back-sliding.
"Recidivism among dieters peaks between Christmas and the New Year holidays."
Today's word was created by analogy from "recidivist," itself taken from French recidiviste, a noun derived from recidiver "to relapse," ...Read more
percolate \PEHR-keh-leyt\ (verb) - To seep downward through a granular substance or material, as rainwater percolates through the soil.
"Rumors percolating from the president's office have it that we are in for a shake-up at the top."
Today's word is an adopted daughter from the Latin verb "percolare," derived from per- "through" + colare "...Read more
victual \VIT-ehl\ (noun) - Human food; (Plural) food and provisions
"Carrie was quick to point out that they had enough victuals in the house to live for three months without leaving it."
From Old French vitaille (also vitale), the normal descendent of Late Latin victualia, the neuter plural of victualis "food, sustenance." In Middle ...Read more
natter \NAE-dehr\ (verb) - 1 : To nag, grumble, complain (mostly Scotland and Northern England); 2 : to chatter mindlessly.
"Whenever Angela gets lonely she comes over to natter the afternoon away with me over tea."
It may be a variant of dialectal gnatter "to nibble, chatter" or it may be a blend of "nag" and "chatter," no one knows for ...Read more
penumbra \peh-NEHM-breh\ (noun) - 1 : A partial shadow, especially when appearing between a complete shadow and bright light, as you might see on the moon's surface during an eclipse; 2 : a surrounding area in which something is weaker, attenuated, or exists to a reduced degree.
"Courtney is a shady lady who has worked in the penumbra of ...Read more
quicksand \KWIK-saend\ (noun) - 1 : A bed of dense, sticky sand or mud that clings to objects that fall into it, making escape difficult; 2 : a situation in which attempts to escape only make matters worse.
"The contract negotiations turned into quicksand as, the more we talked, the worse our position became."
Today's word comes from Middle...Read more
ogle \O-gehl\ (verb) - To stare at in an obvious fashion with eyes wide open, especially out of salacious interest.
"Jason's blatant ogling has already earned him several slaps in the face and a lonely life."
Our word today came to us from Low German "oegeln," the frequentative form of oegen "to eye" from oge "eye." This word shares its ...Read more
prosopopeia \preh-so-peh-PEE-eh\ (noun) - 1 : A rhetorical figure by which an imaginary or absent person is represented as speaking or acting; the introduction of a pretended speaker; 2 : personification (a rhetorical figure in which human traits are given to a non-human object).
"We are awash in a veritable sea of prosopopeia such as; '...Read more
fiduciary \feh-DU-shi-e-ri\ (adjective) - 1 : Holding or overseeing something in trust. 2 : Of or related to a trust, trustee or trusteeship, as a fiduciary relationship to a minor or a fiduciary institution that manages financial assets. 3 : Depending on public trust or securities for its value, as a fiduciary issue of currency.
"My ...Read more
blandiloquent \blaen-DI-leh-qwehnt/ (adjective) - Smooth-talking, honey-tongued; flattering.
"Some blandiloquent used-car salesman convinced Tony's Great-Aunt Mathilda to buy a 2001 Honda with 300,000 miles on it."
Today's is another case of lexical larceny by Mother English, this time of Latin blandiloquentia "smooth-talking," a compound ...Read more
blarney \BLAHR-nee\ (noun) - 1 : The gift of eloquent speech; 2 : empty words, double-talk, fabrication, nonsense.
"Ted's story of how he completed his PhD at Harvard in two years is pure blarney."
Today's word is an eponym from Blarney Village just outside the city of Cork, Ireland. The world famous Blarney Stone is perched high up in the ...Read more
antipodes \an-TIP-eh-deez\ (noun) - 1 : A place on the opposite side of the Earth; 2 : the antithetical location or position, the exact opposite of something.
"When the tug-of-war rope broke, the opposing teams wound up in two antipodal heaps."
From the Greek prefix anti- "against" + podes "feet," the singular of pous "foot." Greek "pous" ...Read more
incunabulum /in-kyeh-NAE-byu-lehm/ (noun) - 1 : A book printed in the earliest period of printing, especially from Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1436 up to 1500; an incunable; 2 : any product of the earliest stage of development; 3 : a cocoon.
"The Tappet brothers were obsessed with ancient cars and never missed an ...Read more
gauntlet /GANT-let/ (noun) - 1 : The glove of a suit of armor. 2 : Two lines of tormentors with flailing sticks between which someone must run as punishment or initiation.
"To get to Maude's wonderful dinner we had to run the gauntlet of Harrison's horrid before-dinner puns."
The first of today's words comes from French gantelet "glove," a ...Read more
Consider these sentences:
"The ice cream did not contain any artificial ingredients."
"The company is likely to earn a profit this year."
"Henry criticized the boss on two occasions."
Simple, straightforward and clear, right?
In fact, these sentences are not as trim and clean as they could be. They're flabby -- laden with a few extra ...Read more
Q. Has the adverb "really" completely disappeared from usage? I hear sentences such as: "The shoes are real tight"; "The clerk was real nice"; "It was a real good movie." -- Robert Derosier, West Hartford, Conn.
A. Darn! Thanks to your question, now I can't get the lyrics from a song in the musical "Carousel" out of my head: "This was a real ...Read more