High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Gormless

Posted by kazvorpal on January 22, 2013


Gormless Charlie BrownGormless

Weak of mind or (occasionally) body, especially if one is gullible or clumsy

Examples:

And then you look at me gormless, like the salmon’s raw when it was requested medium. And what did you say?
Gordon Ramsey, Hell’s Kitchen (2005)

Now, If I were you, which arguably I am, I would be asking myself in a gormless sort of voice, “Did that bridge really collapse or is my good friend Clarence just playing an hilarious jape?” The answer, monkey man, is that I don’t even know myself. One way to find out. Please, don’t get us killed.
— Clarence, Penumbra (the video game)

[After Angel stops Spike from biting Cordelia]
Spike: She’s evil, you gormless tit!
Cordelia: Excuse me? Who bit whom?
Angel: Did you call me a tit?
Cordelia: I thought he had a soul.
Spike: I thought she didn’t.
Cordelia: I do.
Spike: So do I.
Cordelia: Well, clearly mine’s better!
Angel, episode You’re Welcome

Etymology:

The word is actually “gaumless”, gaum meaning “attentiveness”. But the British tendency to add an R into their pronunciation (America can sound like Americer) has altered the spelling.

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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

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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 »

Dolorous

Posted by kazvorpal on August 6, 2010


Dolorous

Deeply sorrowful, or causing great sadness

Dolor is its own legitimate word, for sadness or pain, even physical pain

Examples:

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread—
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of
dolorous pitch
Thomas Hood, Song of the Shirt

He is not violent, nor tormented by immeasurable and dolorous conceptions; his painting is healthy, exempt from morbid questionings and from painful complications; he paints incessantly, without turmoil of the brain and without passion during his whole life.
Hippolyte Taine, writing about Renaissance artist, Titian

From time to time Sancho gave forth profound sighs and dolorous groans; and on Don Quixote asking him the cause of is sore anguish, he answered that from the end of his backbone to the nape of his neck he was aching, so that it drove him out of his senses.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote de la Mancha

Etymology:

Dolor is Latin for “pain, painful”

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Risible

Posted by kazvorpal on July 31, 2010


Risible

Laughable, ridiculous

This word once meant “capable of laughter”, like “Man is a risible animal”, but it’s meaning has transferred from active to passive, the same error as using “done” to mean “finished”.

Examples:

The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life.
Samuel Johnson, The Life of Browne (1756)

The adventure of the fulling-mills in Don Quixote, is extremely risible, so is the scene where Sancho, in a dark night, tumbling into a pit, and attaching himself to the side by hand and foot, hangs there in terrible dismay till the morning, when he discovers himself to be within a foot of the bottom.
— Lord Henry Home Kames, Elements of Criticism (1761)

Orwell’s attempt to connect the leader of the Petrograd Soviet to the stalwarts of “Dad’s Army” is nearly, but not quite, risible.
Christopher Hitchens, Why Orwell Matters (2002)

Etymology:

Risus is latin the past tense of ridere, to laugh, so this can be remembered as coming from the same word as “ridicule”, however different it now sounds.

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

Malamanteau

Posted by kazvorpal on July 29, 2010


Malamanteau

A neologism for a portmanteau created by incorrectly combining a malapropism with a neologism.

It is itself a portmanteau of “malapropism” and “portmanteau”

Examples:

Malamanteau is a cromulent word
Randall Munroe, (∞)

Etymology:

Mala is Greek for “bad”, manteau is French for “cloak” (same origin as the word mantle)

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Cromulent

Posted by kazvorpal on July 14, 2010


Cromulent

adj. Acceptable, or more than acceptable

Wednesday shall heretofore be our day for neologisms and other cromulent amusement…previously, this was done on the weekends

Edna Krabappel: “Embiggens”? I never heard that word before I came to Springfield.
Miss Hoover: I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly
cromulent word.
Lisa the Iconoclast

Don’t get flusterated. Everything I say is perfectly cromulent, and it might do you well to embiggen your vocabulary before you fling accretions my discretion.
— Qui the Promoter, Jade Empire

It’s a perfectly cromulent word
— Dan Conner

Etymology: Crom; Cimmerian solar deity, -ulent Latin (ulentus); “having the quality of”, writer David X. Cohen

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

Osculation

Posted by kazvorpal on July 13, 2010


Osculation

v. To kiss, or come into contact with something or someone in a way that could be referred to as kissing by simile

This may not be the most romantic way to say “kiss”, but it’s certainly among the most interesting

All animals copulate but only humans osculate. Parakeets rub beaks? Sure they do, but only little old ladies who murder schoolchildren with knitting needles to steal their lunch money so that they can buy fresh kidneys to feed overweight kitty cats would place bird billing in the realm of the true kiss.
Tom Robbins, Wild Ducks Flying Backward (2005)

He kissed the plump mellow yellow smellow melons of her rump, on each plump melonous hemisphere, in their mellow yellow furrow, with obscure prolonged provocative melonsmellonous osculation.
— James Joyce, Ulysses (1923)

According to a famous Yale professor
Osculation
is a sensation that is nice”
— Dean Martin, Tonda Wanda Hoy (1951)

Greetings, Gate. Let’s osculate.
— Daffy Duck, The Wise Quacking Duck (1943)

Etymology: From the Latin osculum, literally “little mouth”

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

Antidisestablishmentarianism

Posted by kazvorpal on October 24, 2009


Metric PopeAntidisestablishmentarianism

n. A political philosophy opposed to the separation of a religious group (“church”) and a government (“state”), esp. the belief held by those in 19th century England opposed to separating the Anglican church from the civil government.

A quick search produces no noteworthy quotations making use of this word for its actual function. Indeed, it’s not the word of the day because it could possibly be useful to you, but because it’s so commonly utilized by sesquipedalian-wannabes who haven’t the slightest idea what it means.

I’ll be back before you can say ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism‘.
Edmund Blackadder III

Extraordinary. There’s no other word for it. Antidisestablishmentarianism extraordinary, that is.
— Murphy, Rayman 3

I think we all know why. Anti-taco legislation! Disestablishmentarianism!
Turkatron, Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Etymology Pretty simple, really… Establishment, plus “dis” to end that establishment, plus “anti” to oppose ending it, and with -arianism to refer to it as a cohesive movement.

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Hobbledehoy

Posted by kazvorpal on October 11, 2009


ron3Hobbledehoy

n. An awkward boy, especially adolescent.

The son stayed with the third Professor for one more year, and when he came home again and his father asked, “My dimwitted hobbledehoy, what have you learnt?”
Lemony Snicket, Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Nothing but infantilism — the erotic visions of a hobbledehoy behind the barn.
— Henry Seidel Canby, “Mr. O’Hara and the Vulgar School”, a Saturday Review of Appointment in Samarra

Etymology
This is a very iffy one, with completely conflicting origins documented here and there. “hob” is a word used elsewhere to refer to a clown or troublemaker, as in hobgoblin. de hey translates as “of the hedge”, used to mean “wild or feral”. These may comprise some of its 16th century roots.

Note
On weekends, we may include more controversial or amusing words than during the week, but they should still be potentially useful in controversial or amusing situations.

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