rodomontade /rah-deh-mehn-TEYD/ (noun) - Pretentious boasting or bragging; bluster and hence any arrogant act.
"The commencement speaker's point was less acuminate behind the absolute rodomontade of his accomplishments he brandished in the foreground."
Old French "rodomont" + -ade. The suffix is from the Latin feminine past participle, -ata...Read more
auscultation \o-skuhl-TAY-shuhn\ (noun) - 1 : The act of listening. 2 : The act of listening for sounds made by internal organs, as the heart and lungs, to aid in the diagnosis of certain disorders.
"After Tess's doctor performed chest auscultation with a stethoscope he detected heart murmurs and harshness of the lungs."
Latin auscultatio, ...Read more
castigate \KAS-tuh-gayt\ (transitive verb) - To punish severely; also, to chastise verbally; to rebuke; to criticize severely.
"Though castigated by the administration, Professor Thompson continued to teach his theories to an ever-increasing classroom population."
Castigate comes from Latin castigare, "to purify, to correct, to punish," from ...Read more
oscitant \OS-i-tant\ (adjective) - 1 : Yawning, gaping from drowsiness. 2 : Inattentive, dull, negligent.
"Left-leaning Ted was well known for his tirades against the 'oscitant press' (as he saw it) in the days prior to Hurricaine Katrina."
From Latin oscitant, present participle of oscitare, to yawn : os, mouth + citare, to move.
fiction \FIK-shehn\ (noun) - 1 : The process of creative fabrication or its result, a creative fabrication; that is, something dreamed up and not real. 2 : A kind of completely creative writing in which the characters and actions have no basis in reality.
"In order to get an interview for the job, Melanie submitted a mostly fictional ...Read more
slugabed \SLUHG-uh-bed\ (noun) - One who stays in bed until a late hour; a sluggard.
"Perhaps he would lie slugabed till the household had departed for the procession, then get up late. Creep around unobtrusively, lie in the sun with the castle cats." -- Lois McMaster Bujold, 'The Curse of Chalion'
Slugabed is from slug, "sluggard" + abed, "in...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
mooncalf \MOON-kaf\ (noun) - 1 : A daydreamer or absent-minded person. 2 : A fool or simpleton. 3 : A congenitally deformed person.
"Jefferson, who has become a justly popular leading actor over the past few seasons, is both monster and mooncalf."
From the earlier belief that a misshapen birth was a result of effects of the moon.
conspectus \kuhn-SPEK-tuhs\ (noun) - 1 : A general sketch or survey of a subject. 2 : A synopsis; an outline.
"Shortly after returning from London eighteen years earlier, she had stolen a conspectus of the medical sciences from her parents' physician in Dover." -- Robin Schone, 'The Lover'
Conspectus comes from the Latin, from the past ...Read more
gainsay \gayn-SAY; GAYN-say\ (transitive verb) - 1 : To deny or dispute; to declare false or invalid. 2 : To oppose; to contradict.
"Owing to the company's cynical policy of inaction, suppression and hoping the problem would go away, there was nothing to gainsay from the stock's sudden and rapid decline."
Gainsay comes from Middle English ...Read more
adumbrate \AD-uhm-brayt; uh-DUHM-\ (transitive verb) - 1 : To give a sketchy or slight representation of; to outline. 2 : To foreshadow in a vague way. 3 : To suggest, indicate, or disclose partially. 4 : To cast a shadow over; to shade; to obscure.
"To create her three-dimensional composition, Freida variedly manipulated floor and ceiling ...Read more
hardscrabble \HARD-skrab-uhl\ (adjective) - 1 : Yielding a bare or meager living with great labor or difficulty. 2 : Marked by poverty.
"The hardscrabble land was such that few wanted to come and live in the area in spite of the government's incentives."
Hardscrabble is formed from hard (from Old English heard) + scrabble (from Dutch ...Read more
One of the occupational hazards of writing a language column (other than introducing myself and having people say, "Uh, oh. I better watch my grammar!") is being distracted by linguistic errors while trying to read newspaper stories.
Recently, for instance, I was focusing intently on a story about the New York Giants' decision to start Eli ...Read more
tetchy \TECH-ee\ (adjective) - Peevish; testy; irritable.
"Alfred's tetchy and combative personality made him a difficult person to share an office with."
Tetchy probably comes from Middle English tecche, "a bad habit," from Old French tache, teche, "a spot, stain, blemish, habit, vice."
vicissitude \vi-SIS-i-tood, -tyood\ (noun) - 1 : A change or variation. The quality of being changeable; mutability. 2 : Often vicissitudes. One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings.
"As Ronald was quick to point out, everyone of his generation had experienced the ...Read more
rapport \ra-POR; ruh-\ (noun) - A relation, especially one characterized by sympathetic understanding, emotional affinity, or mutual trust.
"While the new guidance counselor felt that he had a good rapport with the students, in reality they thought him a clueless stiff."
Rapport comes from French, from Old French, from raporter, "to bring 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
immanent \I-meh-nehnt\ (adjective) - 1 : Permanently in-dwelling, inherent. 2 : Mental, subjective, residing in the mind only. Antonym: transcendent "beyond human knowledge."
"Steven felt that he might be guilty of an immanent affection for his best friend's wife, Sallie, as he was certain that his affection's target was unaware of his ...Read more
suasion \SWAY-zhun\ (noun) - The act of persuading; persuasion.
"Melvin always wanted to work in an office wherein power was exercised peacefully by moral suasion and political acumen -- however, his actual experience indicated that such was a world of idealism."
Suasion comes from Latin suasio, from suadere, "to present in a pleasing manner,"...Read more
palilogy \puh-LIL-uh-jee\ (noun) - The technique of repeating a word or phrase for emphasis. Also, palillogy.
"In his writing Hugh was fond of summing up with a palilogy, the deliberate repetition of words and grammatical presentations, a sort of parallelism in threes."
From Greek palillogia recapitulation, equivalent to palin again, back + -...Read more