fartlek \FAH(r)T-lek\ (noun) - An athletic training technique developed in Sweden in the 1930s by the Swedish national coach, Gosta Holmer, comprising alternating periods of intense exercise with periods of less strenuous effort or any workout based on this technique.
"Jason, you can't study in fartleks; you have to work constantly and ...Read more
shanghai \SHAENG-hi\ (verb) - To kidnap, steal, or remove in the most egregious manner, especially by drugging or force, an unfortunate misuse of the beautiful name of a lovely Chinese city by the English language.
"We mentioned our new product idea to a mail clerk from another company that shanghaied it and put it into production before we ...Read more
pseudophake \S(Y)U-deh-feyk\ (noun) - A person who has had the natural lenses of his/her eyes replaced with artificial ones.
"I'm sorry to have to say this, but Grandpa has been living the life of a complete pseudophake for five years."
This piece of medical jargon is a back-formation from the adjective "pseudophakic," meaning "pertaining ...Read more
gothic \GAH-thik\ (adjective) - Referring to the Teutonic tribes (Goths) who sacked Rome and provided the final impetus to collapse the Roman Empire from 378-450, hence barbarous, crude; a medieval art and architecture style of northern Europe, from the12th through 15th centuries; fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious and ...Read more
complement \KOM-pluh-muhnt\ (noun) - 1 : Something that fills up or completes. 2 : The quantity or number required to make up a whole or to make something complete. 3 : One of two parts that complete a whole or mutually complete each other; a counterpart.
(transitive verb) - To supply what is lacking; to serve as a complement to; to supplement....Read more
bellwether \BEL-weth-uhr\ (noun) - A leader of a movement or activity; also, a leading indicator of future trends.
"Before the election in question, the state's proud citizens had fancied their state to be a sort of bellwether, feeling that as they went, so went the nation."
Bellwether is a compound of bell and wether, "a male sheep, usually ...Read more
sciolist \SAI-uh-list\ (noun) - One who engages in pretentious display of superficial knowledge.
"Jason's ignorance of the progress which the marketing department had up to that time made was only equalled by his insolence toward its members in comparison with whom he was the merest sciolist."
From Late Latin sciolus (smatterer), ...Read more
acclamation \ak-luh-MAY-shuhn\ (noun) - 1 : An oral vote where a vote of approval is expressed by cheers, shouts or applause rather than by ballot. 2 : A loud and enthusiastic expression of approval, welcome, etc.
"The process by which we select the president has changed dramatically since the small group of Revolutionary War veterans ...Read more
suffrage \SEH-frij\ (noun) - 1 : The right to vote; 2 : a vote cast in deciding an issue. 3 : A short, intercessory prayer on behalf of souls departed.
"There are those that would argue that we would probably elect a better government if we extended suffrage to elementary school children."
The English word "break" (German "brechen") goes...Read more
voluble \VOL-yuh-buhl\ (adjective) - 1 : Characterized by a ready flow of speech. 2 : Easily rolling or turning; rotating. 3 : (Botany) Having the power or habit of turning or twining.
"Everyone agreed that Judith was such a voluble speaker that she would be well-advised to go into politics."
Voluble derives from Latin volubilis, "revolving, ...Read more
pixilated or pixillated \PIK-suh-layt-id\ (adjective) - 1 : Mentally unbalanced; eccentric. 2 : Whimsical.
"After he was rejected by her, Alan played the part of a pixilated, lovestruck wretch and proceeded to follow the object of his affections everywhere she went."
From pixie, a mischievous fairylike creature.
gnathonic \na-THON-ik\ (adjective) - Sycophantic; fawning.
"Allison explained that any myrmidon, any gnathonic sycophant, or any obsequious assistant or menial hanger-on is called a toadeater or, more often, a toady."
From Latin gnathonicus, derivative of Gnathon- (stem of Gnatho) name of a sycophantic character in the Roman comedy Eunuchus by...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
marriage \MAE-rij\ (noun) - 1 : A wedding, the customary religious, social, or legal ceremony forming an exceptionally close union between two or more people differing in some respect, usually gender; 2 : matrimony, the state resulting from such a ceremony; 3 : a close union of any number of unlike substances, such as the marriage of soft ...Read more
As the current coronavirus disease spreads, several readers have asked me about the origin of its name.
"Coronavirus" is a general term for a wide range of viruses that cause respiratory tract infections. Under an electron microscope, the infective form of the virus has a fringe of bulbous protuberances resembling a crown ("corona" in Latin);...Read more
smarmy \SMAH(r)-mi\ (adjective) - Extremely though insincerely polite and solicitous; ingratiating if not unctuous; transparently currying favor (or favour, if you are British).
"Rick has a smarmy charm that some women find alluring."
From the Middle English smarm or smalm "smear, grease."
cingular (SING-gyuh-luhr) (adjective) - 1 : Of or pertaining to a cingulum, an anatomical band or girdle on an animal or plant. 2 : Encircling, girdling, surrounding.
"Cedric feared little when he found himself amidst cingular group of gunmen as, should any of them fire, they were as likely to shoot each other as they were him."
From ...Read more
Falstaffian \fohl-STA-fee-ehn\ (adjective) - Characterized by joviality and conviviality.
"Colton's bushy beard, boisterous manner, and overall Falstaffian personality endeared him to as many people as it put off."
A large word for a large personality, today's word comes after Sir John Falstaff, a fictional character who appears in three ...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
bridewell \BRYD-wel\ (noun) - A prison
"Men arrested for crimes such as trespass, public intoxication, lewdness, and domestic violence could be confined to the demiprison of the bridewell."
After a prison that formerly stood near the church of St. Bride in London during 1545-55.