temerarious \tem-uh-RAIR-ee-uhs\ (adjective) - Recklessly or presumptuously daring; rash.
"I have confessed myself a temerarious theologian, and in that passage from boyhood to manhood I ranged widely in my search for some permanently satisfying Truth." -- H. G. Wells, The New Machiavelli
Temerarious comes from Latin temerarius, "rash," from ...Read more
allege \eh-LEJ\ (verb) - To assert as true; to assert without providing proof.
"The suspected perpetrator of what police allege to be a crime has been suspended from the force pending further investigation."
Middle English "alleggen" from Old French alegier "to vindicate, justify." The history of today's word is interesting because the form ...Read more
diaphanous \di-AE-feh-nehs\ (adjective) - Thin and fragile, translucent, filmy or flimsy.
"Jacob's lie was so diaphanous that even his dog could see through it"
From Greek dia- "through" + phainein "to show". The latter underlies "photo-" and "fantasy", borrowed from Greek and itself is derived from Indo-Eropean bhaa- from which French "...Read more
verbiage \VUR-bee-ij\ (noun) - 1 : An overabundance of words; wordiness. 2 : Manner or style of expression; diction.
"I'm aware that I may be boring you, I'm cognizant of the fact that I have a tendency to excessive verbiage..." -- David Bosworth, 'The Death of Descartes'
Verbiage comes from French, ultimately from Latin verbum, "word."
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
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
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
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
gadfly \GAD-fly\ (noun) - 1 : One who persistently annoys. 2 : Any of the various types of flies that bite livestock.
"Despite his stern image, Frederic loved gossip and bawdy, silly jokes and became close friends with noted gadfly Angela DeMauier."
From gad (a goad for cattle), from Middle English, from Old Norse gaddr.
magisterial \maj-uh-STEER-ee-uhl\ (adjective) - 1 : Having the characteristics of a master or teacher; authoritative. 2 : Domineering or overbearing. 3 : Of or relating to a magistrate.
"Everyone agreed that Jason's magisterial qualities ensured that he would not long be toiling in the company's mail room."
From Late Latin magisterialis (...Read more
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
laconic \luh-KON-ik\ (adjective) - Sparing with words, concise, terse.
"Lana's laconic way of speaking was completely at odds with her wordy, rambling prose style."
From Latin Laconicus, from Greek Lakonikos, from Lakon, Laconian, a resident of Laconia, an ancient country in southern Greece (Capital: Sparta). From the the reputation of the ...Read more
simonize \SY-muh-nyz\ (verb tr.) - To shine or polish to a high sheen, especially with wax.
"Far beyond merely polishing it up, Susan simonized her personal profile for the online dating site until it gleamed like a freshly minted Krugerrand."
After Simoniz, a trademark.
Every so often, I like to unleash my readers' pet peeves, aka 'pete noires, 'cur'sed terms and 'dog'gerrrrrel.
Emailer Phyllis Aronson unleashes an entire kennel of curs. She hates it when people: 1) use "shrunk" instead of "shrank" as the past tense of "shrink"; 2) insert "of" into "not that big (of) a deal"; 3) use "further" instead of "...Read more
quean \kween\ (noun) - A bold, impudent, or ill-behaved woman, even a hussy or a strumpet.
"Jean is a keen dean at school but a mean quean on the neighborhood scene."
Today's word originated as Old English cwene [kwene] when "queen" was "cwen" [kweyn]. Both are akin to Dutch kween "barren cow" and Swedish kvinna "woman." All these words ...Read more
tergiversate \tehr-GI-vehr-seyt\ (verb) - Abandon a cause or reverse one's position on something.
"When President Bush the Elder said 'Read my lips: no new taxes,' he later tergiversated on the issue."
Latin tergiversatus, past participle of tergiversor "to turn one's back" hence "to decline or refuse" from tergum "back" + ...Read more
sinecure \SY-nih-kyur; SIN-ih-\ (noun) - An office or position that requires or involves little or no responsibility, work, or active service.
"With layoffs looming due to an alleged decrease in attendance, Ronald was puzzled as to why none of the sinecures who peppered the top of the company's rank structure in the role of 'vice-presidents' ...Read more
indelible \in-DEL-uh-buhl\ (adjective) - 1 : That cannot be removed, erased, or washed away. 2 : Making marks that cannot easily be removed or erased. 3 : Incapable of being forgotten; memorable.
"Wanting an indelible representation of their eternal love for each other, Jim had a tattoo of Jane's name placed on his arm."
Indelible is from ...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
flout \FLOWT\ (transitive verb) - To treat with contempt and disregard; to show contempt for.
(intransitive verb) - To mock, to scoff.
(noun) - Mockery, scoffing.
"Franklin and Sheba were completely mystified by Frida's determination to flout as many social conventions as she could."
Flout comes from Middle English flouten, "to play the ...Read more