anile \AN-yl, AY-nyl\ (adjective) - Of or like an old woman.
"Thirty-year-old Margaret was constantly cursing her prematurely anile bones, which kept her from doing many physical activites which she had previously taken great pleasure in."
From Latin anilis, from anus old woman.
dudgeon \DUH-juhn\ (noun) - A state or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humor -- often used in the phrase "in high dudgeon."
"Clarice had managed to work herself into a high dudgeon over the pet peeves and pecadillos of her latest beau."
The origin of dudgeon is unknown.
dyspeptic \dis-pep-tik\ (adjective) - Suffering from indigestion or morose or disgruntled as if suffering from an upset stomach.
"No one in the office was certain if the new supervisor's dyspeptic attitude was indicative of an actual stomach problem or merely an affectation to keep those in his department off balance."
Today's word derives ...Read more
quibble \kwi-bl\ (verb) - To raise petty questions, to hesitate or argue over trivial issues, to cavil.
"Always one to quibble, Ivan would tend to cause club meetings to run hours longer than necessary while he debated petty minutiae that concerned no one and mattered even less."
Just as a dribble is a small drip, and a nibble is a small nip,...Read more
lamia \LAY-mee-uh\ (noun) - 1 : In Greek mythology, a monster represented as a serpent with the head and breasts of a woman and reputed to prey on human beings and suck the blood of children. 2 : A female vampire.
"To hear his friends speak of her, Jeff's new girlfriend wasn't merely unpleasant but a hideous lamia who was determined to suck him...Read more
toxophilite \tok-SOF-uh-lyt\ (noun) - One who is fond of or expert at archery.
"While barely competent with firearms of any sort, Jan was a toxophilite of the highest magnitude, able to pit a cherry with an arrow at over ten yards."
Coined by Roger Ascham (1515-1568), scholar and writer, as a proper name and the title of his book Toxophilus, ...Read more
gloaming \GLO-ming\ (noun) - Twilight; dusk.
"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls." John Muir...Read more
discommode \dis-kuh-MOD\ (verb tr.) - To put to inconvenience.
"Most of Susan's art has abandoned the ambition to please the viewer aesthetically, rather seeking to shock, discommode, repulse, proselytize, or startle."
From French discommoder, dis- + commode, convenient.
conversant \kuhn-VUHR-suhnt\ (adjective) - Having familiarity by study or experience.
"Seeing as she was passingly conversant with the techniques involved in the deactivation of improvised explosive devices from watching the 'A-Team," Jen decided that she was just the person to take care of the situation in the two minutes that remained."
augury \AW-gyuh-ree\ (noun) - 1 : The art or practice of foretelling events; divination. 2 : An omen; prediction; prognostication; indication of the future.
"Pauline's new work is a bleak monument to a conflict that is remembered now mainly as an augury of World War II."
Augury is from Latin augurium, from augur, a soothsayer.
megalopolis \meg-uh-LOP-uh-lis\ also megapolis \mi-GAP-uh-lis, me-\ (noun) - A region made up of several large cities and their surrounding areas in sufficient proximity to be considered a single urban complex.
"While members of one end of the city tended to be intensely loyal to their own neighborhoods, there were inevitably indifferent to the...Read more
constitutional \kon-stih-TOO-shuhn-uhl; -TYOO-\ (noun) - A walk taken for one's health.
"Every morning, beginning at precisely 6 am, Thomas could be seen out walking, taking the air, engaging in his daily constitutional; each day wearing the same outfit consisting of shorts, a t-shirt, and running shoes, regardless of the weather."
A ...Read more
futilitarian \fyoo-til-i-TAR-ee-uhn\ (adjective) - Holding the belief that human striving is useless. (noun) One who holds such belief.
"While management had promised an all-out effort to improve profits, everyone in the office seemed to have adopted a futilitarian attitude."
Blend of futile and utilitarian.
bibulous \BIB-yuh-luhs\ (adjective) - 1 : Of, pertaining to, marked by, or given to the consumption of alcoholic drink. 2 : Readily absorbing fluids or moisture.
"Ever since he discovered the joys of the fermented grape, a bibulous Frank had been waking up each Saturday and Sunday feeling the worse for wear."
Bibulous comes from Latin bibulus,...Read more
Anyone who regularly reads this column knows that I'm an easygoing guy who customarily accepts and even welcomes changes in language usage. Henry Higgins' self-description from "My Fair Lady" comes to mind: "I'm a very gentle man ... who you never hear complain,/ who has the milk of human kindness/ by the quart in every vein." (Well, OK, the ...Read more
gallimaufry \gal-uh-MAW-free\ (noun) - A medley; a hodgepodge.
"Terry was wont to express her freespiritedness in her clothing which was a gallimaufry of styles, textures, and colors, all merged together into a style uniquely 'Terry.'"
Gallimaufry, originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," comes from French galimafrA(c)e, from Old...Read more
atrabilious \ae-treh-BI-li-ehs\ (adjective) - Peevishly gloomy; melancholic in the original sense of the word and exhibiting a proclivity for hypochondria.
"Don't waste your jokes on Jacobsen, as that atrabilious old goat has no sense of humor."
The medieval assumption was that a superfluity of black bile (atrabile) caused melancholy, a ...Read more
mugwump \MUHG-whump\ (noun) - A person who acts independently, whose position is distinct from all other positions on an issue; in particular, a politician who acts independent of any party. A frog that sits on a fence with his mug on one side and his 'wump' on the other? Just another urban legendfolk etymology out of control.
"Janice, you'...Read more
chagrin \shuh-GRIN\ (noun) - Acute vexation, annoyance, or embarrassment, arising from disappointment or failure.
(transitive verb) - To unsettle or vex by disappointment or humiliation; to mortify.
"Chagrined to find that her current boyfriend has become best pals with her ex-boyfriend Bill, Jeanette went and talked to him about it."
gearhead \GEER-hed\ (noun) - A technology enthusiast, e.g. a person with a deep interest in the inner working of computers, automobiles, etc.
"Randy and his compatriots were true hard-core gearheads who loved the oily complexities of machines and understood the internal mechanics that are, to the rest of us, an inscrutable mesh of wires and ...Read more