High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

Endeavoring to contribute to your perspicacious lexicon.

  • Follow Daily

    You can follow High-Vocab WotD here, on Twitter

    You can follow High-Vocab WotD here, on Twitter

    And you can follow High-Vocab WotD, via our Facebook Page, here.

    And you can follow High-Vocab WotD, via our Facebook Page, here.

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Refulgent — Shining

Posted by kazvorpal on August 22, 2016


REFULGENT adjective Brightly shining, glowing radiantly From brightening fields of ether fair-disclosed, Child of the Sun, refulgent Summer comes... — James Thomson, The Seasons, Summer (1727)

REFULGENT
adjective
Brightly shining, glowing radiantly
From brightening fields of ether fair-disclosed,
Child of the Sun, refulgent Summer comes…
— James Thomson, The Seasons, Summer (1727)

Refulgent

Brightly shining, glowing radiantly

Examples:

“Celestial choir! enthron’d in realms of light,
Columbia’s scenes of glorious toils I write.
While freedom’s cause her anxious breast alarms,
She flashes dreadful in refulgent arms.”
Phillis Wheatley, letter to George Washington (1775)

“God is more to me than a grand and solitary Being,
though refulgent with infinite perfections.”
Horace Mann, Congressional speech (1849)

“From brightening fields of ether fair-disclosed,
Child of the Sun, refulgent Summer comes”
James Thomson, The Seasons, Summer (1727)

Etymology:

Refulgent comes from the Latin word for “flashing”, fulgere.

Advertisements

Posted in history | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Shibboleth

Posted by kazvorpal on January 17, 2013


Shibboleth: Southerner vs YankeesShibboleth

A term, trait, belief, or action used to identify people belonging to the same group

Example:

The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same, which has been a shibboleth for some well known writers, is interfered with by school laws, by the Post Office, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not.
Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr. Lochner v. New York

He boldly challenged the most cherished shibboleths of American political thought…a systematic critique of the very principle of American democracy.
— S. T. Joshi, Mencken’s America (2004)

During the war Gramsci drew these concerns together in a vitriolic attack on the favourite shibboleth of prewar anarchism and socialism: Esperanto.
Carl Levy, Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red (2012)

But maybe prayer is a road to rise,
A mountain path leading toward the skies
To assist the spirit who truly tries.
But it isn’t a shibboleth, creed, nor code,
It isn’t a pack-horse to carry your load,
It isn’t a wagon, it’s only a road.
And perhaps the reward of the spirit who tries
Is not the goal, but the exercise!
— Edmund Vance Cooke, Prayer, The Uncommon Commoner.

Etymology:

According to Judges 12 of the Old Testament, people called Ephraimites were unable to say “shibboleth” (a word meaning “flood”), pronouncing it “sibboleth”. This allows them to be identified and killed by enemy Gileadites:

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay; 6 Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Judges 12:4-6

Posted in Culture, Grammar / Syntax, history | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Nabob

Posted by kazvorpal on January 13, 2011


Nabob

Wealthy, powerful or influential individual, usually of exaggerated self-importance

Examples:

In the United States today, we have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H club — the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.
— William Safire, written for a Spiro Agnew speech (1970)

We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village. Army after army. And they call me an assassin. What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? They lie. They lie, and we have to be merciful, for those who lie. Those nabobs. I hate them. I do hate them.
— Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now (1979)

How can republican institutions, free schools, free churches, free social intercourse exist in a mingled community of nabobs and serfs; of the owners of twenty thousand acre manors with lordly palaces, and the occupants of narrow huts inhabited by “low white trash?”
— Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, to a meeting of the Pennsylvania delegation in Congress (1865)

Etymology:

  • Used in India and Pakistan, originally for governors imposed by the Mongol empire, this is related to the Arabic honorific, na’ib

Posted in Culture, history, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nefandous

Posted by kazvorpal on January 7, 2011


Chthulu, on the Nefandous Southpark

Nefandous

Unspeakable.

A most severe pejorative

Examples:

Then the earth
In birth nefandous Coeus life produced
And Iapetus and Typhoeus dire
And that bad brotherhood which joined in league
To abolish heaven
— Dante Alighieri, Inferno (1308)

Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the cellar, some mineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of that nefandous well.
— H.P. Lovecraft, The Colour out of Space (1927)

No Topsman to your Tarpeia! This thing, Mister Abby, is nefand.
—  James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

Etymology:

  • In Latin, ne = not, fandus = to speak

Posted in Grammar / Syntax, history, poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hortatory

Posted by kazvorpal on January 4, 2011


Barry Goldwater, delivering a hortatory speech

Barry Goldwater, delivering a hortatory speech

Hortatory

adj. Giving exhortation or advice; encouraging; exhortatory; inciting; as, a hortatory speech.

Companion to the word “minatory”, which means to threaten instead of simply urging

Examples:

Considering the avowed purpose of his work, which is rather hortatory than historical, we are fortunate indeed to be given so much first-hand information by this embittered preacher.
— Nowell Myres, in Roman Britain and the English Settlements (1937) p. 329

The hortatory narrative was a peculiar species of literature which was frequently cultivated during our period. Stories of a purely fictitious character were composed which the author no doubt intended to be regarded as founded on fact, though at the same time the object in view was not so much to impart historical information, as to use these stories as a vehicle for conveying oral and religious lessons and exhortations.
— Emil Schürer, A History of the Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ

As I begin this hortatory address to you, ye men of Greece, I pray God that I may know what I ought to say to you, and that you, shaking off your habitual love of disputing, and being delivered from the error of your fathers, may now choose what is profitable
— Justin Martyr, Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks

Etymology:
15th century, neoclassical Latin, Hortati means “to exhort”, an intensified version of Horiri, “to urge”. Same origin as “exhortation”.

Posted in history, rhetoric | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sockdolager

Posted by kazvorpal on August 12, 2010


Sockdolager

A decisive blow or (by metaphor) remark, or something similarly powerful

Possibly a tent revival word, but reached popularity as a boxing term.

Examples:

Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap
— Tom Taylor, Our American Cousin (the laugh line Boothe used as cover, to shoot Lincoln)

Every second or two there’d come a glare that lit up the white-caps for a half a mile around, and you’d see the islands, looking dusty through the rain, and the trees thrashing around in the wind; then comes a H-WHACK!-bum! bum! bumble-umble-um-bum=bum-bum-bum- and the thunder would go rumbling and grumbling away, and quit – and then RIP comes another flash and another sockdolager.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

That’s a sockdolager of a skill set, ain’t it? Back then, the buldge on everybody.
— Brian D’Amato, Courts of the Sun (2009)

Jim restrained himself.
“Look, carrot-face, get the murerk, else I’ll fetch you a sockdolager what’ll lay you out till Christmas,” he said.
— Phillip Pullman, The Shadow of the North (1986)

Etymology:

Invented in the 19th century, “sock”, as to hit, plus perhaps a variation on “doxology”, which of course is a Christian term for praising God.

Posted in history, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Obsequious

Posted by kazvorpal on August 11, 2010


Obsequious

Fawning, submissively eager to please and agree

Examples:

Those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrews at home.
— Washington Irving, Rip van Winkle

She what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approv’d
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn; all heaven
And happy constellations on that hour
John Milton, Paradise Lost

Prison taught him the false smile, the rubbed hand of hypocrisy, the fawning, greased obsequious leer.
— Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange

But it is hard to know them from friends, they are so obsequious, and full of protestations; for as a wolf resembles a dog, so doth a flatterer a friend.
— Sir Walter Raleigh, writing about flatterers, in The Voyage of the Destiny.

Etymology:

Latin: Ob = after and sequi = follow. Think “follower”, with sequi as “sequence”

Posted in history, rhetoric | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Polymath

Posted by kazvorpal on August 5, 2010


Polymath

One with many skills or fields of knowledge; a renaissance man

Examples:

A Catholic sense of sin and a social sense of disaster, a fascination with the polymathic and polyglot artist and the strange and often gross and unbidden sources of art. Nor had Burgess taught languages or studied Joyce for nothing…
Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel (1993)

You could give Aristotle a tutorial. And you could thrill him to the core of his being. Aristotle was an encyclopedic polymath, an all time intellect. Yet not only can you know more than him about the world.
Richard Dawkins, The Richard Dimbleby Lecture (1996)

Etymology:

A classical greek word, its parts are poly, many, and mathes, learned. The word “mathematics” does come from the same root word, as understanding numbers was once a sign of being educated.

Posted in history, Knowledge | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ablution

Posted by kazvorpal on July 26, 2010


Ablution

Cleansing with water, literally or metaphorically

This word was often used when the purification achieved had a religious backing, as in Islam and Christianity, but when Christian purification spread to the 19th century Victorian obsession with cleanliness, this word went with it.

Examples:

Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art-
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure
ablution round earth’s human shores.
John Keats, Bright Star (1819)

If his ankles be weak, let them every morning be bathed, after the completion of his morning’s ablution, for five minutes each time, with bay salt and water…
— Pye Henry Chavasse, “Advice to a mother on the management of her children” (1868)

In the center of the court is a large fountain, and a small stream surrounds the piazzas, where the Moors perform the ceremony of ablution.
— John Pinkerton, Voyages and Travels (1814)

Etymology:

From the Latin Ab (off) and luere (wash), related to another less-used English word for washing, “lave

Posted in history, poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Malversation

Posted by kazvorpal on July 21, 2010


Malversation

n. Corruption, as of a public official

Yes, we are aware that “corruption of a public official” may be redundant. See “criminal lawyer”.

Examples:

He charged him with several grievous acts of malversation in office, with abuses of a public trust of a great and heinous nature.
— Edmund Burke, speech “On the Nabob of Arcot’s debts.” (1785)

They protest against the malversation of the whole of the moneys raised by additional taxes as a Famine Insurance fund to other purposes.
— Rudyard Kipling, The Enlightenments of Agett, M. P.

Destitute of the lawful means of supporting his rank, his dignity presents a motive for malversation, and his power furnishes the means.
— Jeremy Bentham, The Rationale of Reward

The odium lies in the malversation of the real, the faking of the event and the malversation of the war.
— Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War did not take place

Etymology: Mal is, of course, Latin for “bad” (think malicious), and versari is Latin for “to behave” (think “versatile”)

Posted in history, rhetoric | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Heliolatry

Posted by kazvorpal on July 16, 2010


Heliolatry

n. Worship of the sun, whether real or metaphorical

Sun-worship was ancient in Peru, but it was the Incas who made it the great state religion, and their heliolatry was organized for political ends.
— Rushton M. Dorman, “The Origin of Primitive Superstitions”

I remember hearing stories in college about Ibiza, where big-breasted women laid out naked practicing heliolatry on the beaches, and E pills were as abundant as hard candy in an old folks’ home.
— Chris Baker

I am certain that if our preparations for greeting the returning sun were seen by other people, either civilised or savage, we would be thought disciples of heliolatry.
— Frederick Albert Cook, Through the first Antarctic night

Etymology: Helios was the Greek god of the sun (Apollo the god of light, not the sun, although his worship became so popular that it eventually adopted many of the stories that originated with Helios, including that of the sun being a chariot he drove)

Posted in history, poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Defenestrate

Posted by kazvorpal on July 15, 2010


Defenestrate

v. To throw out of a window, or by simile for throwing out, or a lack of windows

A term made famous by the Defenestrations of Prague, the start of a growing tradition of throwing bad politicians out of windows when ousting them from power.

Now, I don’t want to go on a rant here, but America’s foreign policy makes about as much sense as Beowulf having sex with Robert Fulton at the first Battle of Antietam. I mean, when a neo-conservative defenestrates, it’s like Raskolnikov filibuster deoxymonohydroxinate.
— Dennis Miller, our honorary solecistic sesquipedalian, on The Family Guy

Apple lost its opportunity to defenestrate Windows
Nick Farrell (2007)

All of this gets defenestrated (right out the window) if we find we cannot trust the Bible regular, day-to-day, earthly information.
Cliff Walker, March 31, 2008

Etymology: This is a back-construction from the word “fenestrated”, meaning “to have windows”, originating with the original, 17th century Defenestration of the Prague.

Posted in history | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: