fustian \FUHS-chuhn\ (noun) - 1 : A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc. 2 : An inflated style of writing or speech; pompous or pretentious language.
(adjective) - 1 : Made of fustian. 2 : Pompous; ridiculously inflated; bombastic.
"Even in fustian garments nobility hides with difficulty ...Read more
expunge \ik-SPUNJ\, transitive verb) - 1 : To strike out, erase, or mark for deletion; to obliterate; as, "to expunge words, lines, or sentences." 2 : To wipe out or destroy; to annihilate.
"He hated to expunge the odor of burnt things, seared paint, smoke, which tasted to him of the heroism so elusive in the daily turn of men's lives." -- ...Read more
superannuated \soo-pur-AN-yoo-ay-tid\, adjective) - 1 : Discharged or disqualified on account of old age; retired from service, especially with a pension. 2 : Old; no longer in use; no longer valid; outmoded.
"The worthy man was hale and hearty, not exceeding three score and seven, and had never dreamt of being superannuated." -- John Galt, '...Read more
lubricious \loo-BRISH-us\ (adjective) - 1 : Lustful; lewd. 2 : Stimulating or appealing to sexual desire or imagination. 3 : Having a slippery or smooth quality.
"Now, having sloughed His old skin, glistening with youth, he puffs out His breast and slides his lubricious coils Toward the sun, flicking his three-forked tongue." -- Virgil, '...Read more
hebetude \HEB-uh-tood-; -tyood\ (noun) - Mental dullness or sluggishness.
"From that solitude, full of despair and terror, he was torn out brutally, with kicks and blows, passive, sunk in hebetude." -- Joseph Conrad, 'Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard'
Hebetude derives ultimately from Latin hebes, "blunt, dull, mentally dull, sluggish, stupid."...Read more
acuity \uh-KYOO-uh-tee\ (noun) - Acuteness of perception or vision; sharpness.
"Center's visual acuity gave Adrian a degree of accuracy which was far greater than that of any normal slinger, even an expert one." -- Eric Flint, 'The Tyrant'
Acuity comes from Latin acutus, "sharpened, pointed, acute," past participle of acuere, "to sharpen."
sanctum \SANK-tum\ (noun) plural sanctums or sancta - 1 : A sacred place. 2 : A place of retreat where one is free from intrusion.
"For the booking-office communicated with the station- master's sanctum, in such a way, that to reach the station-master's sanctum it was only necessary to traverse the booking-office" -- Samuel Beckett, 'Watt'
demur \dih-MUR\ (intransitive verb) - 1 : To object; to take exception. 2 : To delay.
(noun) - 1 : The act of demurring. 2 : Objection. 3 : Delay.
"To the surprise of the ship's company, though much to the lieutenant's satisfaction, Billy made no demur. But, indeed, any demur would have been as idle as the protest of a goldfinch popped into a ...Read more
How To Write PoetryCynthia Sharp
The Zen of Poetry – A beginner’s guide to sensory writing with authentic meaning and story. How to Write Poetry provides a quick series of lessons for weekend workshops and individuals at home. It's intentionally concise, although extra tips are freely available on ...
urbane \ur-BAYN\ (adjective) - Polished and smooth in manner; polite, refined, and elegant.
"The grey-haired man was obviously the woman's inferior; he sat on the ground at a distance, and although what he said was urbane enough, in the Malayan way, it was nothing like so urbane nor nearly as copious as her conversation, a steady, lively flow, ...Read more
alpenglow \AL-puhn-gloh\ (noun) - A reddish glow seen near sunset or sunrise on the summits of mountains.
"I sit down by the Hermit's Creek and eat chocolate bars and listen to the water, and then, when it is four hours till sundown, four hours till alpenglow, after the last of the buffalo have filed past with wan and weary smiles, I start up ...Read more
diadem \DY-uh-dem\ (noun) - 1 : A crown. 2 : An ornamental headband worn (as by Eastern monarchs) as a badge of royalty. 3 : Regal power; sovereignty; empire; -- considered as symbolized by the crown.
(transitive verb) - To adorn with a diadem; to crown.
"From somewhere -- he had not been carrying it before -- he produced a diadem made of gold...Read more
kobold \KOH-bold\ (noun) - In German folklore, a haunting spirit, gnome, or goblin.
"The kobold wore the simple garments of his race: a long patchwork coat over practical leather clothes, his close-cropped black hair covered by a rough green hat, topped by a set of battered miner's goggles. He stood about average height for a kobold at four-...Read more
prestidigitation \pres-tuh-dij-uh-TAY-shuhn\ (noun) - Skill in or performance of tricks; sleight of hand.
"So, by virtue of such mental prestidigitation and tergiversation, inspired and animated as it was by his desire for Sondra, his inability to face the facts in connection with Roberty, he achieved the much-coveted privilege of again seeing ...Read more
ingenue \AN-zhuh-noo\ (noun) - 1 : A naive girl or young woman. 2 : An actress playing such a person; also: the stage role of an ingenue.
"She complained about always being cast as the ingenue. She tried to act cynical, but she really was the ingenue type." -- Robin Hemley, 'The Big Ear
Ingenue comes from the French, from Latin ingenuus, "...Read more
winsome \WIN-suhm\ (adjective) - 1 : Cheerful; merry; gay; light-hearted. 2 : Causing joy or pleasure; agreeable; pleasant.
"Colton had trouble curtailing a grin as he witnessed this innocuous confrontation, but when he found himself the recipient of an icy glance from the winsome brunette, he grew a bit perplexed until it suddenly dawned on ...Read more
swan song \SWAHN-SONG\ (noun) - 1 : A beautiful legendary song said to be sung by a dying swan. 2 : A final or farewell appearance, action, or pronouncement.
"This state dinner, perhaps the most important one we would ever experience, was Henry's swan song, his crowning glory..." -- Julie Hyzy, 'State of the Onion'
Swan song is from the belief...Read more
bloviate \BLOH-vee-ayt\ (intransitive verb) - To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.
"It was one of the reasons that they had remained friends, despite Mather's inclinations to bloviate and exasperate." -- William Martin, 'Harvard Yard'
Bloviate is from blow + a mock-Latinate suffix -viate. Compare blowhard, "a boaster or...Read more
tutelary \TOO-tuh-lair-ee; TYOO-\ (adjective) - Having the guardianship or charge of protecting a person or a thing; guardian; protecting; as, "tutelary goddesses."
"Thereupon, forty stripes were ordered for each of us, that the tutelary genius of the ship might be propitiated." -- Petronius, 'The Satyricon'
Tutelary derives from Latin ...Read more
concinnity \kuhn-SIN-uh-tee\ (noun) - 1 : Internal harmony or fitness in the adaptation of parts to a whole or to each other. 2 : Studied elegance of design or arrangement -- used chiefly of literary style. 3 : An instance of concinnity.
"His theme, culled from a Latin hymn, is, ' Take away the perfidious people from the territory of the ...Read more
Why is a lazy person called a "goldbricker"? Why is the off-stage chamber where guests wait before their TV appearances called the "green room"? Why do we say someone speaking quickly is talking a "blue streak"?
Let's take out our crayons and color in the origins of these multi-hued expressions ...
--Goldbrick: Until the mid-19th century, ...Read more