pavid \PAEV-id\ (adjective) - Easily frightened, fearful, pusillanimous, timorous.
"Lana Issacs in accounting is such a pavid lamb, she will never ask for a raise."
The etymology of today's word doesn't run very deep. It is a thinly veiled copy of Latin pavidus "fearful" from pavere "to quake with fear." The root here is the same found in ...Read more
bootleg \BOOT-lehg\ (verb) - To produce and/or distribute legally prohibited products.
"Jason's avocation was bootlegging illegal fireworks up and down the east coast until a bolt of lightning caught up with his truck on a run through Maryland."
Today's word originated from the habit of men, when they wore high boots in centuries past, of ...Read more
gremlin \GREM-lin\ (noun) - A mischievous sprite imagined to cause the inexplicable problems in the real and virtual machinery of technology.
"I received your e-mail alright but the attachment was snatched by the gremlins of cyberspace."
Although today's word first emerged during World War II, evidence suggests a predecessor was in ...Read more
pullulate \PEH-lyeh-leyt\ (verb) - 1 : To sprout many buds, as deciduous trees and shrubs pullulate in the spring; 2 : to reproduce in numbers, to teem (with).
"Sydney has reached that dangerous stage in her development when her opinions are just beginning to pullulate."
Today's word comes from the Latin verb "pullulare" (past participle, ...Read more
obsequious \ohb-SEE-kwe-uhs\ (adjective) - Dutifully compliant, servile, fawningly sycophantic, overly zealous to please or worm one's way into the affection of others.
"Farnsworth obsequiously refilled Lord Thistlewaithe's martini glass whenever it became half empty, without foreseeing the disastrous finale his actions were leading to."
acumen \AE-kyu-mehn\ (noun) - Sharpness of perception, keenness of mind, precise insightfulness.
"Kay is not only intelligent and well-educated; her acumen leads us through the murkiest problems quickly and surely."
Today's word comes from Latin acumen "acuteness, keenness" from acuere "to sharpen," akin to acus "needle." The past ...Read more
quiddity \KWI-deh-ti\ (noun) - 1 : The essential nature of a thing, its character; 2 : a trivial issue, a quibble.
"Can we get past the quiddities and down to the quiddities of the issue?"
Today's word comes from Medieval Latin "quidditas" based on quid "what," as in quid pro quo "something for something" and a recent word in our series, "...Read more
genuflection \jen-yeh-FLEK-shehn\ (noun) - 1 : Bowing on one knee as a sign of respect; 2 : kow-towing, groveling.
"Rathbone's genuflection around the president in the board room gets on everyone's nerves."
Today's word comes from Late Latin genuflectere "to bow" based on genu "knee" + flectere "to bend." The latter stem is related to our ...Read more
Sam's Story: Book One (Skylar Trilogy) [Kindle Edition]Amy D. Crusan-Kramer
In this captivating saga, Samantha Skylar experiences undying passion and endures one horrific act of brutality that sweeps her into the arms of the second most powerful man in the country. Samantha’s journey takes her from the poverty and close-minded attitudes of a tiny, coal-mining town ...
circumspect \SEHR-kehm-spekt\ (adjective) - Judicious, cautious, prudent, aware of surrounding circumstances and the implications of one's act(s).
"Had Butch been a bit more circumspect about the money he embezzled from the company, he might be kickin' in the Caribbean right now."
Today's word comes from Latin circumspectus, past participle ...Read more
salvo \SAEL-vo\ (noun) - 1a : A volley of fire from firearms, a firearms salute, especially from one ship to another; 1b : a sudden outburst, as of cheers or a verbal or written assault. 2a : In law, an article of reservation, a provision allowing that a law or contract is not binding if it conflicts with a specified right; 2b : an expedient...Read more
snook \SNOOK\ (noun) - 1 : A gesture of defiance and/or derision. 2 : Any of several kinds of salt-water fish of family Centropomidae, such as the sergeant-fish and the robalo.
"Sarah's rendition of 'I'm still standing' at the karaoke evening was a transparent snook aimed at the management cabal trying to force her resignation."
No-one ...Read more
dearth \dehrth\ (noun) - A severe lack or shortage of something.
"Since we all are displaying such a dearth of ambition today, why don't we just stay home and watch TV tonight?"
Middle English derthe, from Old English *dorthu "costliness", from dore "costly", Modern English dear "expensive." From the Proto-Indo-European root dhor(g)- also ...Read more
lascivious \lae-SI-vi-yehs\ (adjective) - Lustful, lewd, wanton; eliciting or expressing carnal desire.
"I say, gentlemen, that lascivious details cannot be screened by a moral ending, otherwise one could account all the orgies imaginable, one could decribe all the depravities of a harlot, so long as she were to made to die on a pallet in the ...Read more
inscrutable \in-SKRUT-eh-behl\ (adjective) - Unfathomable, incomprehensible, inexplicable, mysterious.
"Unscrewing the inscrutable motivations of management at this place is not worth the effort."
Via Old French from Late Latin inscrutabilis based on in- "not" + scrutari "to scrutinize," a verb derived from the noun scruta "trash." The ...Read more
amphiboly \aem-FI-beh-li\ (noun) - 1 : A phrase that is ambiguous because of its syntactic structure; 2 : any ambivalent or ambiguous phrase.
Groucho Marx was the master of amphibolies, ambivalence, and equivocation such as, "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know."
Today's is another word ...Read more
jargon \JAH(r)-gn\ (noun) - The twittering and chattering of birds; 2 : a specialty dialect, such as medical jargon and legal jargon; 3 : unintelligible gibberish.
"Mr. Taber, as I said, your brief was very clear, but I'd like you to explain to me, without all of the legal jargon or computer jargon, or any other kind of jargon..." -- Matthew ...Read more
omphalos \AHM-feh-lehs\ (noun) - The navel (scar where the umbilical cord was attached); a central or focal point.
"The omphalos of the meeting was Peter's announcement that the accounting firm was fired and the company's finances were in the hands of his brother-in-law, the used car salesman from Podunk, Iowa."
From the Greek omphalos "...Read more
rhabdomancy \RAEB-deh-maen-see\ (noun) - Divination of the location of water, oil, etc. by means of a divining rod or stick; dowsing, witch-wiggling.
"I doubt, however, if he would find the children of Yankees more passive under his rhabdomancy than those of us Britishers." -- William Howitt, 'Woodburn Grange'
From Greek rhabdomanteia based ...Read more
pervious \PER-vi-ehs\ (adjective) - 1 : Permeable, penetrable, allowing passage through itself; 2 : susceptible to reason, approachable, can be reasoned with.
"Pamela is a pervious supervisor; approach her calmly and rationally and she'll listen to you."
From Latin "pervius" based on per- "through" + via "way; road." "Via," now used as a...Read more
Q. My new neighbor is from Sweden. When she saw a dog-grooming shop, she asked what "grooming" had to do with a "groom" at a wedding. We came up with two theories: 1) the need to clean up the future husband for the wedding ceremony, or 2) a "groom," meaning someone responsible for keeping horses in top shape. Is either one correct? -- Cyndi ...Read more