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
explicate \EK-spluh-kayt\ (transitive verb) - To explain; to clear of difficulties or obscurity.
"Every day I would come home from the office to find him waiting and he would stay until dinnertime. During that time I would read and explicate a German introduction to philosphy to him. In return he would instruct me on the Yuishikiron, the ...Read more
bivouac \BIV-wak, BIV-uh-wak\ (noun) - An encampment for the night, usually under little or no shelter.
(intransitive verb) - To encamp for the night, usually under little or no shelter.
"When the weather suddenly turned snowy and cold, Jack and Pete decided it would be better to bivouac where they were rather than risk getting lost in the ...Read more
unique \yu-NEEK\ (adjective) - Sole, one of a kind, without equal or match.
"Going out with Mary Ellen to the county sausage-eating contest was an almost unique experience in my life."
Today's word comes to us, as so many others, from Latin "unicus" via Old French. The underlying root is oi-no- from which English "one" is ...Read more
cacodylic \kae-keh-DI-lik\ (adjective) - 1 : Belonging to the arsenic group of poisons. 2 : Foul-smelling.
"After playing in the yard, Meghan found a cacodylic substance clinging stubbornly to the bottom of her right shoe."
Greek kakos "bad, ugly" + od from od-ein "to smell" + yl + ic. Kakos is related to kakka, a ...Read more
spoony \SPOO-nee\ (adjective) - 1 : Foolish; silly; excessively sentimental. 2 : Foolishly or sentimentally in love.
"There is no doubt whatever that I was a lackadaisical young spoony; but there was a purity of heart in all this, that prevents my having quite a contemptuous recollection of it, let me laugh as I may." -- Charles Dickens, 'David...Read more
solipsism \sa-LIP-si-zehm\ (noun) - The view that only the self can be known or that the self is the only reality (egotism).
"When Catherine is writing, she falls into a solipsistic state impervious to the outside world."
Latin solus "alone" +ipse "self" + -ism. "Solus" is the origin of "solo" but also can be found in "solitary," "soliloquy...Read more
frisson \free-SOHN\ (noun) - A moment of intense excitement; a shudder; an emotional thrill.
"While Carol loved the frisson of watching movies where hapless ladies became victims through no fault of their own, she hated to think about what she might do should she actually find herself in such a situation."
Frisson comes from the French, from ...Read more
rebarbative \ree-BAR-buh-tiv\ (adjective) - Serving or tending to irritate or repel.
"Over the several hours of the party a lot of rebarbative, ulcerated and embittered people had been working hard at bedding their resentments down in sensory-deprivation tanks full of alcohol."
Rebarbative comes from French rebarbatif, "stern, surly, grim, ...Read more
collude \kuh-LOOD\ (intransitive verb) - To act in concert; to conspire; to plot.
"Sadly, well-heeled contributors and interest groups that seek political power routinely collude with needy office-seekers to find new paths around the hollow contribution limits."
Collude derives from Latin colludere, from con-, "together" + ludere, "to play."
trencherman \TREN-chuhr-muhn\ (noun) - A hearty eater.
"Dr. Zollner was arranging his large lunch in front of him with the expertise of a real trencherman." -- Nelson DeMille, 'Plum Island'
Trencherman is from trencher, "a wooden board or platter on which food is served or carved" (which itself is from Medieval French trencheoir, from Old ...Read more
Q: Musicians used to "release" a new album, but now a new album is "dropped." What the heck is that? -- Randy, Green Bay, Wisconsin
A: Indeed. Whenever I hear that a group has "dropped a new album," I always picture an old-fashioned 78 rpm record falling to the floor and shattering. Am I showing my age? Am I starting to sound like a broken ...Read more
languor \LANG-guhr; LANG-uhr\ (noun) - 1 : Mental or physical weariness or fatigue. 2 : Listless indolence, especially the indolence of one who is satiated by a life of luxury or pleasure. 3 : A heaviness or oppressive stillness of the air.
"She had been particularly unwell, however, suffering from headache to a degree, which made her aunt ...Read more
gewgaw \G(Y)OO-gaw\ (noun) - A showy trifle; a trinket; a bauble.
"Many in the office felt that new secretary's tendency to be festooned with gewgaws, as well as her gaudy makeup, reflected poorly on the company's image."
The origin of gewgaw is uncertain.
recrudescent \ree-kroo-DES-uhnt\ (adjective) - Breaking out again after temporary abatement or suppression; as, a recrudescent epidemic.
"Jenna's recrudescent acne had a tendency to make its appearance at the most inconvenient of times, such as when she had a date or public appearance."
Recrudescent derives from the present participle of Latin...Read more
corybantic \kor-i-BAN-tik\ (adjective) - Wild; frenzied; uncontrolled.
"Harold felt that the radio show was worse than merely 'bad,' thinking that it penetrated the mind, filling it with a babble of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, and continually repeated doses of drama that brought no catharsis."
After Corybant, an ...Read more
mephitic \muh-FIT-ik\ (adjective) - 1 : Offensive to the smell; as, mephitic odors. 2 : Poisonous; noxious.
"The mephitic stench from the bilge became overpowering." -- Richard Holmes, Coleridge: Darker Reflections, 1804-1834
Mephitic is the adjective form of mephitis, "a foul-smelling or noxious exhalation from the earth; a stench from any ...Read more
contumely \kon-TYOO-muh-lee; -TOO-; KON-tyoo-mee-lee; -too-; KON-tum-lee\ (noun) - 1 : Rudeness or rough treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt; scornful insolence. 2 : An instance of contemptuousness in act or speech.
"But surely it would be desperate unkindness to add contumely to our self-protection, unless, indeed, we believe that ...Read more
tete-a-tete \TAYT-uh-TAYT; TET-uh-TET\ (adjective) - Private; confidential; familiar.
(noun) - 1 : A private conversation between two people. 2 : A short sofa intended to accommodate two persons.
"There was a phone in her office, but she wasn't near brave enough to hang around having a tete-a- tete with a corpse while she waited for the police...Read more
"Watch the birds as they hunt for fish using your own binoculars." Will the birds swoop down and grab your binoculars?
"(A suspect) pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud for improperly pocketing $5 million in state tax money in Albany County Court." Right in front of the judge?
"(The sitcom 'I Dream of Jeannie') featured a childlike blonde ...Read more