Words to the Wise


The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  ~Mark Twain

There are many words I can’t define.
This is disconcerting to an aspiring writer. When I come across an unfamiliar word, I pause and decide whether or not to ignore the confrontation. In fact, I used to think there was shame in not knowing but, as the saying goes, the shame is in not finding out.

I now share a recent list of words that I needed to look up, a list that I will update as often as I come across new words or remember old ones that once baffled me. Perhaps you will join me in my attempt at growing a grandiloquent vocabulary?

Click the links for pronunciation. All definitions from http://www.thefreedictionary.com


Acolyte: Noun
One who assists the celebrant in the performance of liturgical rites.

Acrimonious: Adjective
Bitter and sharp in language or tone; rancorous; marked by strong resentment or cynicism an acrimonious debate between the two candidates.

Casuistry: Noun
Reasoning that is misleading or oversubtle [Latin casus case] intended to rationalize or mislead.

Cronyism: Noun
Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.

Adjective: abandoned or unused and falling into ruins
Noun: a social outcast or vagrant [Latin derelinquere to abandon]

Lackadaisical: Adjective
Lacking spirit, liveliness, or interest; languid: “There’ll be no time to correct lackadaisical driving techniques after trouble develops” (William J. Hampton).

Loquacious: Adjective
Very talkative; garrulous. Full of trivial conversation.

Patina: Noun
1. a film formed on the surface of a metal
2.the sheen on the surface of an old object, caused by age and much handling [Italian: coating]

Phantasmagoria: Noun
A fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as seen in dreams or fever; a shifting medley of dreamlike figures

Panoply: Noun
A splendid or striking array: a panoply of colorful flags. A magnificent array.

Paucity: Noun
Smallness of number; fewness. Scarcity; dearth: a paucity of natural resources.

Prescience: Noun
knowledge of events before they happen [Latin praescire to know beforehand]

Prurient: Adjective
Inordinately interested in matters of sex; lascivious.

Pugilism: Noun
The skill, practice, and sport of fighting with the fists; boxing.

Vicissitude: Noun
One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one’s life, activities, or surroundings. Often used in the plural.

Weltschmerz: Noun
Sorrow or sadness over the present or future evils or woes of the world in general; sentimental pessimism.

Please feel free to comment, perhaps with the definition of some words that once made you pause and scratch your head.


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