picaresque \pi-keh-RESK\ (adjective) - Pertaining to the life of an adventurous rogue, usually of low origin, who uses his wits to overcome obstacles and survive in a world bent on arresting his progress. Pertaining to novel whose main character is such a person.
"Sherry has picked up with a fellow who seems to have lived a rather ...Read more
bijou \BEE-zhoo, bee-ZHOO\ (noun) plural bijoux \-zhoo, -zhooz\ - A small, exquisitely wrought trinket.
"Billy's bank account was so barren that he couldn't afford a bijou from Bulgari in a hundred years."
French, from Breton bizou, jeweled ring, from biz, finger.
prudential /proo-DEN-shuhl/ (adjective) - 1 : Of or relating to prudence. 2 : Exercising good judgment, common sense, forethought, caution, etc.
"While agreeing that prudential reasons could be mounted on either side of the argument, Meghan felt that there were persuasive reasons not to go to war against Iraq."
From Middle English prudence...Read more
scart \skart\ (verb tr., intr.) - To scratch, scrape or scar.
"Despite extensive renovation, traces of barbed wire still scart the walls of what had once been an internment camp."
Metathetic variation of scrat, to scratch.
hellkite \HEL-kyt\ (noun) - An extremely cruel person.
"While hopes were high for a supervisor a bit more easygoing than the previous one, she in fact turned out to be a complete and utter hellkite, a whip-cracker of the first degree who played favorites based on daily whims while doing little actual work herself."
From Middle English hell (a ...Read more
garth \garth\ (noun) - A small yard surrounded by a cloister. Also known as cloister garth.
"While many found the sounds coming from the garth's brooks to be musical and enchanting, Neil felt that they were noisy and distracting."
From Middle English, from Old Norse (garthr) yard. Ultimately from Indo-European root gher- (to enclose or ...Read more
mogul \MO-guhl\ (noun) - A powerful or influential person; magnate.
"Sadly, we will have to wait for the contractual nondisclosure agreements of disenchanted employees to expire before we can get firsthand accounts of what it is like to work for the world's most reclusive software mogul."
After Mogul, one of the dynasty of Mongol conquerors ...Read more
visceral \VIS-er-uhl\ (adjective) - 1 : Related to viscera. 2 : Instinctive, not reasoning or intellectual. 3 : Dealing with base emotions; earthy, crude.
"While Jason was not to remain to torment his legions of enemies, the visceral brand of politics he played would probably never go away."
From Medieval Latin visceralis, from Latin viscera (...Read more
indigent \IN-di-juhnt\ (adjective) - Lacking necessities of life, such as food, clothing, etc.; impoverished.
(noun) - A person who is extremely poor.
"As Catherine was quick to point out, the most indigent families couldn't even afford to keep their children in school because they did not have the $10 per term to pay supplemental fees."
cormorant \KOR-mur-unt; -muh-rant\ (noun) - 1 : Any species of Phalacrocorax, a genus of sea birds having a sac under the beak; the shag. Cormorants devour fish voraciously, and have become the emblem of gluttony. They are generally black, and hence are called sea ravens, and coalgeese. 2 : A gluttonous, greedy, or rapacious person.
oniomania \O-nee-uh-MAY-nee-uh, -MAYN-yuh\ (noun) - Compulsive shopping; excessive, uncontrollable desire to buy things.
"Candace was periodically struck by fits of oniomania, something which tended to put a severe strain on both her closet space and her bank account."
From Latin, from Greek xnios (for sale), from onos (price) + -mania.
"I don't cotton to that idea," a friend said the other day. The idea he wasn't "cottoning to" was my theory that Vice President Mike Pence once played the white-haired "Man from Glad" in TV commercials. After all, have you ever noticed that you never see these two guys together in the same place?
My friend's response got me wondering how "...Read more
perdition \per-DISH-ehn\ (noun) - 1 : Loss of the soul; eternal damnation. Hell. 2 : Utter ruin.
"With hideous ruin and combustion, down; To bottomless perdition, there to dwell." - John Milton, Paradise Lost: First Book, 1667.
Middle English perdicion, from Old French perdicion, from Late Latin perditio, perdition-, from Latin perditus, past...Read more
tantalize \TAN-tuh-lyz\ (verb tr.) - To tease or torment by showing something desirable but keeping it out of reach.
"Jo e-mailed Katie back with some tantalizing snippets from her latest book featuring her school-aged hero, then phoned her at her home to read extracts."
After Tantalus in Greek mythology. Tantalus, a king of Lydia, was ...Read more
collyrium \kuh-LIR-ee-ehm\ (noun) plural collyriums or collyria - A medicinal lotion applied to the eye; eyewash.
"After accidently splashing his eyes with a virulent chemical, Albert found it necessary to apply a collyrium four times each day lest he lose his eyesight."
Latin, from Greek kollurion, eye salve, poultice, diminutive of kollura, ...Read more
sockdolager \sok-DOL-uh-juhr\ noun - 1 : A decisive blow or remark. 2 : Something exceptional or outstanding.
"This winter storm was described on the news as a 'real sockdolager,' as the white stuff piled up all along the East Coast like Japanese beetles in a rose trap."
Of unknown origin, apparently from 'sock' as in to hit or strike ...Read more
ahimsa \uh-HIM-sah\ (noun) - The principle of noninjury to living beings.
"As Lindsey's conception of ahimsa went on maturing, she elected to become a vegetarian so that she would not contribute to the suffering of farm animals."
Sanskrit ahimsa : a-, not + himsa, injury (from himsati, he injures).
dotty \DOT-ee\ (adjective) - 1 : Mentally unbalanced; crazy. Amusingly eccentric or unconventional. Ridiculous or absurd. 2 : Having a feeble or unsteady gait; shaky. 3 : Obsessively infatuated or enamored.
"When Roy retired from his business to play golf full-time in Florida there were those in the company who considered him dotty, while ...Read more
perpend \pur-PEND\ (verb tr. and intr.) - To reflect upon; to consider; to ponder.
"Gentle Reader, perpend; but finish your breakfast first."
From Latin perpendere (to weigh thoroughly), from per- (thoroughly) + pendere (to weigh), ultimately from Indo-European root (s)pen- (to draw, to spin) that is also the source of pendulum, spider, ...Read more
Sentences, like radios, often require fine-tuning. Misplaced modifiers, ambiguous pronoun references and faulty parallelism can create static. How would you tweak each of these sentences to make its signal clear and strong? (One sentence contains no errors.)
1. Thousands of contestants, hoping to find wealth, adventure or to gain fame, try ...Read more