October 12, 2006


Thirteen words, vol. II

A while back I posted a Thirteen of words I won’t ever use inspired by Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day. Today I am inspired to offer up a Thirteen of some of my favorite “big” words, perhaps to blow off some steam from my work as a journalist, which suggests keeping most everything I write at about a 8th — 10th grade level. At times to my editor's chagrin, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level analysis on my articles rarely dips below 11.5; this is the curse of the wordy bastard.

Some of these on today's list I use frequently in speech or in my non-professional (as in yet to be paid for?) writing and others are just faves for their sound or meaning. I have also added my versions of usage, submitted for your approval.

acquiesce \ak-wee-ES\, intransitive verb:

To accept or consent passively or without objection -- usually used with 'in' or 'to'.

Acquiesce comes from Latin acquiescere, "to give oneself to rest, hence to find one's rest or peace (in something)," from ad, "to" + quiescere, "to rest, to be or keep quiet."

"Those who acquiesce are not entitled to later complain."

copious \KOH-pee-uhs\, adjective:

1. Affording an abundant supply; plentifully furnished; lavish.
2. Large in quantity; plentiful, profuse; abundant.
3. Full of information or matter.

Copious is from Latin copiosus, from copia, "plenty, abundance."

"Taking copious notes is not one of my strengths."

defenestrate \dee-FEN-uh-strayt\, transitive verb:

To throw out of a window.

Defenestrate is derived from Latin de-, "out of" + fenestra, "window." The noun form is defenestration.

"The firefighter, weary of the woman's recalcitrancy, shouted out for her to defenestrate the goddamn cat."

erudite \AIR-yuh-dyt; -uh-dyt\, adjective:

Characterized by extensive reading or knowledge; learned.

Erudite comes from Latin eruditus, from e-, "out of, from" + rudis, "rough, untaught," which is also the source of English rude. Hence one who is erudite has been brought out of a rough, untaught, rude state.

"As complex as humans are it is astounding how so many are so far from erudite."

fortuitous \for-TOO-uh-tuhs; -TYOO-\, adjective:

1. Happening by chance; coming or occurring by accident, or without any known cause.
2. Happening by a fortunate or lucky chance.
3. Fortunate or lucky.

Fortuitous comes from Latin fortuitus, "accidental," from fors, "chance, luck."

"I am a big fan of fortuitous violence in film."

grandiloquent \gran-DIL-uh-kwuhnt\, adjective:

Lofty in style; pompous; bombastic.

Grandiloquent comes from Latin grandiloquus, from grandis, "grand" + loqui, "to speak." The noun form is grandiloquence.

"Wow, that's grandiloquent, dude."

histrionic \his-tree-ON-ik\, adjective:

1. Of or relating to actors, acting, or the theater; befitting a theater; theatrical.
2. Overly dramatic; deliberately affected.

Histrionic comes from Latin histrionicus, from histrio, histrion-, "an actor."

"My affable and histrionic aunt has indeed crept the boards from time to time."

ostensible \ah-STEN-suh-bul\, adjective:

Represented or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.

Ostensible comes from Medieval Latin ostensibilis, from the Latin verb ostendere, "to show," and is related to ostentatious, "showy."

"His ostensible nature is that of a grump, but deep inside he is a puppy."

pablum \PAB-luhm\, noun:

Something (as writing or speech) that is trite, insipid, or simplistic.

Pablum comes from Pablum, a trademark used for a bland soft cereal for infants.

"The president's speechwriters, knowing the limits of his vocabulary, seem inclined to offer up little more than mushed pablum."

patina \PAT-n-uh; puh-TEEN-uh\, noun:

1. The color or incrustation which age gives to works of art; especially, the green rust which covers ancient bronzes, coins, and medals.
2. The sheen on any surface, produced by age and use.
3. An appearance or aura produced by habit, practice, or use.
4. A superficial layer or exterior.

Patina is adopted from Italian, from Latin patina, "a dish" (from the in-crustation on ancient metal plates and dishes).

"Despite her lame efforts to honor him, his face wore a patina of gratitude."

piebald \PY-bald\, adjective:

1. Having spots and patches of black and white, or other colors; mottled.
2. Mixed; composed of incongruous parts.

Piebald is from pie, the parti-colored bird + bald.

(One of my favorite words since reading C.S.Lewis' Perelandra)

"Like many Australian Shepherds, Ballou received a most adorable piebald coat, replete with cottony softness and salt-and-peppery cuteness."

quandary \KWAHN-duh-ree; -dree\, noun:

A state of difficulty, perplexity, doubt, or uncertainty.

Quandary is of unknown origin.

"This is another fine quandary you've gotten us into, Dick."

scuttlebutt \SKUHT-l-buht\, noun:

1. A drinking fountain on a ship.
2. A cask on a ship that contains the day's supply of drinking water.
3. Gossip; rumor.

Scuttlebutt comes from scuttle, "a small opening" + butt, "a large cask" -- that is, a small hole cut into a cask or barrel to allow individual cups of water to be drawn out. The modern equivalent is the office water cooler, also a source of refreshment and gossip.

"Arrr! Fill up the scuttlebutt ye bilge-suckin' blaggards!"

Salt and peppery goodness!!! Oh my!!!
Your example for #3 cracks me up...I admire how you snuck "recalcitrancy" in there. :)
Well, first of all, I think the only possible reason you could ever use the word defensestrate would be to address an issue with a cat.

Piebald? You mean we had piebald cows? Is that why cow shit is called cow pies?
"Pulchritude" is a great word.
"I think the only possible reason you could ever use the word defensestrate would be to address an issue with a cat."

Defenestration is the official terminology used to describe anyone thrown, or jumping, from a window.

"I am a big fan of fortuitous violence in film."

I hjave never heard of "fortuitous" violence. "Gratuitous" violence yes, fortuitous? Or is Tim being funny? ;o)>

Thanks for mentioning me in the "ostensibly" sentence.
Fortuitous violence - when the bad guy is sparring with the hero on the 28th floor and gets defenestrated.
I swear I commented on this. My comment isn't here.

You got mad at me and deleted it, didn't you? You didn't like that I said I'm fond of some of those words, did you?

Now I'm in a quandary. Obstensibly we are friends so I'm crushed. I could protest by writing copious comments here but I feel the need to go cry for a while. Don't think I'm sad enough to defenestrate, however, as I'm much too erudite to acquiesce, much less to behave in such a histrionic way.

Well I never.
Peej I swear it's not moi! Others including myself have had this happening on Blogger lately. Could my assimilation by the Beta be the cau.....ffffffffff.....

Desist from your mindless pablum and surrender now, human - resistance is futile!
Man, Blogger, Blogdrive, and Haloscan all having problems! Is nowhere in Blogovia safe?
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