picaresque \pi-keh-RESK\ (adjective) - Pertaining to the life of an adventurous rogue, usually of low origin, who uses his wits to overcome obstacles and survive in a world bent on arresting his progress. Pertaining to novel whose main character is such a person.
"Sherry has picked up with a fellow who seems to have lived a rather ...Read more
cappuccino \kae-peh-CHI-no\ (noun) - Espresso coffee served with milk.
"Jeff was the sort who liked to start his day with cappuccino, though on the way to work, it was probably better to have a biscotto with it than 'Death by Chocolate.'"
Italian cappuccino referring to the Capuchin monks of the Order of St. Francis (of Assisi), so called ...Read more
fillip \FI-lip\ (noun) - 1 : A flick of the finger, a snap made by compressing a finger behind the thumb, then releasing it so that it pops outward to strike against something; 2 : anything small and minor, either trivial, as a broken fingernail, or considerable, as a garnish or embellishment of something larger.
"Alan's love life isn't ...Read more
nosopoetic \no-seh-po-ET-ik\ (adjective) - Disease-causing, disease producing, infectious.
"One of the goals of early manned space flights was to test for any nosopoetic effects of extended periods of weightlessness."
Today's word comes to us, courtesy of Latin and French, from Greek nosopoi(etik)os "causing illness," which consists of ...Read more
cockle \KAHK-ehl\ (noun) - 1 : A ribbed bivalve of the genus Cardium with traits of the clam and the scallop. 2 : A wild plant (Lychnis Githago) with a reddish or purplish flower common in cornfields. 3 : A pucker or imperfection in material (used as a verb, today's word means "to wrinkle or pucker," as a solution that cockles a piece of ...Read more
obviate \AHB-vi-yeyt\ (verb) - To make unnecessary or prevent (an action).
"Jason was rather upset after Lana's introductory remarks obviated most of his speech"
Latin obviare "meet, withstand, prevent" from the preposition-prefix ob "to, toward" and via-re "go, travel". Related to via "road, way" and derived from the same Indo-European ...Read more
pejorative \peh-JAH-reh-tiv or peh-JO-reh-tiv\ (adjective) - Having negative connotations, deprecatory, usually in reference to words or phrases.
"Mike has such a pejorative attitude toward women I doubt he will ever marry."
Latin pejoratus "having been made worse" (pejorare "to make worse), based on the comparative of the word for "bad", ...Read more
hyponasty \HI-peh-naes-ti\ (noun) - The upward curving of leaves caused by faster growth on the bottom than the top.
"Buddy was a hyponastic acquaintance whose curves resulted from ice cream speeding up growth on his bottom."
Greek hypo "below, under" + nastos "pressed close" (from nassein "to press"). Greek "hypo" strangely shares an ...Read more
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...
hallucinate \heh-LU-seh-neyt\ (verb) - To be deceived by delusions as a result of mental illness or a narcotic; to suffer a wildly distorted dream of something nonexistent but perceived as real.
"Courtney hallucinates more boyfriends than she actually goes out with."
From Latin "hallucinatus," past participle of hallucinari "to dream, ...Read more
testimony \TES-teh-mo-nee\ (noun) - 1 : The account of a witness, especially in a court procedure; 2 : evidence in general; 3 : a public declaration of a religious experience.
"The tall, toppling chimney bore mute testimony of the mansion that once stood on the spot."
This word comes to us from Old French testimonie (current French temoin ...Read more
Revere \reh-VEER\ (verb) - To venerate, to hold in deep, religious respect.
"Warren Buffet is an investment manager revered by investors throughout the country."
French reverer from Latin revereri based on re- "back" + vereri "to fear." The Proto-Indian-European root underlying this stem is *wer- "look out for" and it entered English as "...Read more
nonpareil \nahn-peh-REL\ (adjective) - Without equal, beyond compare; unique.
"Mark is a salesman nonpareil among those in sales here."
From Old French "nonpareil" composed of non- "non, un-" + pareil "equal" from Vulgar Latin "pariculus," the diminutive of Latin par "equal." This same Latin root turns up in many English words borrowed from...Read more
epizootic \e-peh-zo-AH-tik\ (adjective) - Temporarily and unusually prevalent among animals or animals of a certain species, especially a disease.
"The clang of the dog dish on Jack Russell's back porch occasions an epizootic outbreak of tail-wagging throughout the neighborhood."
From Greek epi- "(up)on" + zoon "animal" + -otic "related to ...Read more
solipsism \sa-LIP-si-zehm\ (noun) - The view that only the self can be known or that the self is the only reality (egotism).
"When Catherine is writing, she falls into a solipsistic state impervious to the outside world."
Latin solus "alone" +ipse "self" + -ism. "Solus" is the origin of "solo" but also can be found in "solitary," "soliloquy...Read more
Gaudy \GA-dee or GAW-dee\ (adjective) - 1 : Extravagantly showy, dazzling, possibly tastelessly so. 2 : (noun) A gala festival or entertainment celebrating some event.
"Theresa takes great pride in her South American origins, dressing in gaudy clothes every day."
There is an old noun gaud = "a showy bauble, trinket, ornament" from which "...Read more
Trampoline \TRAEM-peh-leen\ (noun) - A unit of athletic equipment comprising a piece of resilient cloth or netting stretched across a frame and used for acrobatic jumping and tumbling.
"If you go to work for the company that Dennis works for, you're putting your career on a trampoline."
From Italian trampolino "trampoline", in turn from ...Read more
relegate \RE-leh-geyt\ (verb) - 1 : To refer or assign to an insignificant position or priority, as to relegate a diplomat to an obscure post or relegate a task to someone of little authority; 2 : To turn over, refer or assign, as to relegate a task to someone.
"Richard has been relegated the task of keeping the office windows clean."
adventitious \aed-ven-TI-shehs\ (adjective) - 1 : An extraneous part of a system found in an unusual place, as adventitious roots growing from the trunk of a tree; 2 : added extraneously, not inherent or natural, out of place.
"Margaret arrived in a matching skirt and sweater outfit, leather pumps, and an adventitious yellow purse that ...Read more
osculate \AH-skyeh-leyt\ (verb) - To come together, to contact (as two osculating circles); to kiss.
"After the perfunctory game of 'spin the bottle,' all the couples retired to darkened corners of their dorm rooms to various and sundry osculating activities."
In case you hadn't guessed, today's word comes from Latin, specifically the verb...Read more
One of my favorite words is "gobbledygook." Better make that, "One of my affinity-based verbal modules is 'gobbledygook.'"
This derisive term for wordy, unintelligible jargon was coined, appropriately enough, by a true maverick: Maury Maverick, a Democratic Congressman from Texas and the grandson of Samuel Maverick, whose unbranded cattle ...Read more