High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category

Matriculate

Posted by kazvorpal on December 18, 2012


Matriculate

Matriculate is easy to remember, the same origin as Alma Mater.

Matriculate is easy to remember, the same origin as Alma Mater.

To register for higher education, or as an ornate way of referring to one’s time therein

Examples:

He matriculated at Rostock, where he found little astronomy but a good deal of astrology.
— Walter William Bryant, Kepler (1920)

The peak of my school experience of Shakespeare came in my senior matriculation year; the set play was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and it was taught by a solemn donkey who understood nothing but the political organization of fairyland.
Robertson Davies, Shakespeare over the Port (1960)

Congratulations lad, you’re a fully matriculated student at State University.
— Colonel Gathers, The Venture Brothers

Etymology:

Latin, ultimately from the same source as “mater” (mother), like “alma mater”, your bountiful mother school.

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Haptic

Posted by kazvorpal on January 14, 2011


This was going to be a caption about the haptic experience depicted above...but this editor is too distracted to remember what he was going to say

Haptic

Having to do with the sense of touch, as in haptic poetry

A search of Google Books will produce hundreds of engineering books using this word, and one may anticipate it becoming common in society, as technology becomes more touch-oriented.

Examples:

Does ontological chaos (whether acoustic, visual, or haptic in origin) actively nourish equivocal magic, or is magic uncertain because it is rarely, barely discernible behind the chaos of the everyday?
— Hugues Azèrad, Peter Collie, Twentieth-Century French Poetry: A Critical Anthology

Haptic displays can be considered to be devices which generate mechanical impedances.
— D. W. Weir and J. E. Colgate, “Stability of Haptic Displays

The haptic system is the perceptional system by which animals and men are literally in touch with the environment. When we say figuratively that a man is in touch with the environment by looking or listening, the metaphor is something to think about.
— James J Gibson, The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems

Etymology:

  • From the Greek hap (to grab), the same origin as “have”, and ticos, used to form an adjective from another part of speech

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Aphorism

Posted by kazvorpal on January 10, 2011


Aphorism

A defining observation of the truth, always short

Examples:

The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other very well.
— Elias Canetti, The Human Province (1942–1972)

Santayana’s aphorism must be reversed: too often it is those who can remember the past who are condemned to repeat it.
— Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, The Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy

The poem and the aphorism are Nietzsche’s two most vivid means of expression but they have a determinate relation to philosophy.
— Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and philosophy (1962)

Etymology:

  • Aphorismus, Latin for “to define”

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Autodidact

Posted by kazvorpal on January 1, 2011


Leonardo da Vinci

Having taught himself more about the sciences than any teacher of his age already knew, Leonardo Da Vinci is a quintessential autodidacts.

Autodidact (plural: autodidacts)

n. A self-taught person; an automath.

We’re back! The High Vocabulary Word of the Day is starting a new year with 365 words, including a reformatting of some old ones.

Examples:

When it came to formal classes, I was a slacker. But I’ve always been a diligent autodidact and can teach myself virtually any subject — if I have a serious interest in it.
— Dean Koontz, “Q&A” column, Dean Koontz: The Official Website (16 June 2006)

He was the perfect autodidact. He wanted to know it all.
— Gore Vidal, “Edmund Wilson: This Critic and This Gin and These Shoes“, The New York Review of Books (1980-09-25)

I’ve also incorporated into my autodidacticism a distrust of schools as inefficient, repressive institutions. It’s part of my new “damn the man” persona!
— T. Rex, Dinosaur Comics

Public-library intellectuals, magpies of knowledge, like most autodidacts we were incapable of evaluating our sources.
— Edmund White, “My Women,” ‘The New Yorker‘ (2005-06-06)

Etymology

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Apodictic

Posted by kazvorpal on August 9, 2010


Apodictic

Absolutely certain, having been shown

In case it’s not obvious, we like to use real quotes that have working examples, but don’t necessarily endorse their contents…

Examples:

We know this apodictic rock beneath our feet. That dogmatic sun above our heads. The world of dreams, the agony of love and the foresight of death. That is all we know. And all we need to know? Challenge that statement.
— Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

But all these ideas, regardless of how convincing they may be for the individual, are submitted to the critical examination of this individual and hence to a fluctuating affirmation or negation until emotional divination or knowledge assumes the binding force of apodictic faith.
— Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

Etymology:

Greek, apo = “away”, dieknynai = “to show”

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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.

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Penumbra

Posted by kazvorpal on August 5, 2010


Penumbra

A vague, poorly defined area or idea

This usage comes from the euphemistic use of the word, which originally referred to actual, shadowed areas. Made infamous by judicial activists on the Supreme Court.

Examples:

Greetings traveller. Who am I? Perhap’ you have met me twixt sleep and wank, in the penumbra of uncertainty you call “unconsciousness”.
Garth Marenghi, Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place

William James used to preach the “will to believe.” For my part, I should wish to preach the “will to doubt.” None of our beliefs are quite true; all at least have a penumbra of vagueness and error.
Bertrand Russel, Skeptical Essay

Stalking and martyrdom are acts that are seen, to their executors, to fall under the penumbra of “love”.
Kaz Vorpal

Etymology:

Paena is Latin for “almost”, umbra for “shadow”…an umbrella is a “little shade”

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Logolepsy

Posted by kazvorpal on July 28, 2010


Logolepsy

n. A severe fascination or obsession with words

Pretty straighforward

Examples:

Thanks to the magic of teleconferencing, often the format for a given show is call-in, and the phones and airwaves crackle with logolepsy.
— Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words (2003)

A case of logolepsy is easily distinguished from the perfectly sane mood which demands and imperiosly seizes the pregnant sign, and makes it the exponent of a hidden power.
— Maurice Thompson, My winter garden: a nature-lover under southern skies (1900)

Etymology:

Logos is Greek for “word”, -lepsy is Greek, “to seize”


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Fillip

Posted by kazvorpal on July 23, 2010


Fillip

v. To flick one’s finger (or the act of doing so), by bracing it against and snapping it away from the thumb, often euphemism or simile for encouragement

This may be a dismissive gesture, be used to indicate a direction, or to discard probuscine effluvium

Examples:

If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle.
— Falstaff, Henry IV part 2, by William Shakespeare (1599)

Eat, drink, and love; the rest’s not worth a fillip.
Lord Byron, Sardanapalus (1821)

Faithful horoscope-watching, practiced daily, provides just the sort of small but warm and infinitely reassuring fillip that gets matters off to a spirited start.
— Shana Alexander, “A delicious appeal to unreason” (2005)

Etymology: Appearing in the 15th century, it seems simply to remind one of the sound that the gesture would make

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Evanescent

Posted by kazvorpal on July 22, 2010


Evanescent

adj. Something that is disappearing, or that only happens for moments; ephemeral

Yes, it sounds like the name of that band…but many people don’t know what the actual word means.

Examples:

Human life, with all its unreal ills and transitory hopes, is as a dream, which departs before the dawn, leaving no trace of its evanescent lines.
Percy Shelley, Essay on Christianity (1859)

It was a dark world; it was full of preventable disorder, preventable diseases, and preventable pain of harshness and stupid unpremeditated cruelties; but yet, it may be even by virtue of the general darkness, there were moments of a rare and evanescent beauty that seems no longer possible in my experience.
H. G. Wells, In the Days of the Comet (1906)

He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments.
James Joyce, Stephen Hero (1944)

Our knowledge of physics only takes us back so far. Before this instant of cosmic time, all the laws of physics or chemistry are as evanescent as rings of smoke.
Joseph Silk, The Infinite Cosmos (2006)

Etymology: Easier than it sounds: Latin, “ex” (out of) and vanescere, which also forms the word “vanish”

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Epistolary

Posted by kazvorpal on October 13, 2009


Email_IconEpistolary

adj. Conducted or contained entirely in correspondence

The Screwtape Letters is C.S. Lewis’ most famous epistolary novel.

Today, our social life on Facebook may be centered around entirely epistolary friendships, fervently emailing people we’ve never actually met.

Etymology
Greek, epi: over or near, stol: send. People are more familiar with the noun “Epistle”.

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Apothegm

Posted by kazvorpal on October 9, 2009


Ben Franklin may be best known for the apothegms he printed in Poor Richard's Almanac, such as "A penny saved is a penny earned", and "haste makes waste".

Ben Franklin may be best known for the apothegms he printed in Poor Richard's Almanac, such as "apenny saved is a penny earned", and "haste makes waste".

Apothegm archaic sp: Apophthegm

n. A short witty instructive saying; an aphorism or maxim.

Ben Franklin may be best known for the apothegms he printed in Poor Richard’s Almanac. Julius Caesar did write a collection of apophthegms, as appears in an epistle of Cicero, so did Macrobius, a consular man…they are mucrones verborum, pointed speeches. “The words of the wise are as goads,” saith Solomon. Cicero prettily calleth them salinas, salt-pits, that you may extract salt out of, and sprinkle where you will. — Francis Bacon, “Apophthegms, New and Old” (1625) Etymology As these ten dollar words often are, this one has a neoclassical, Renaissance origin: “To speak plainly”, in Ancient Greek: apo: from; phthengesthai: to speak

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

Irrefragable

Posted by kazvorpal on October 7, 2009


We may appeal to every page of history we have hitherto turned over, for proofs <b>irrefragable</b>, that the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power. -- John Adams

We may appeal to every page of history we have hitherto turned over, for proofs irrefragable, that the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power. -- John Adams

Irrefragable

adj. Which cannot be refuted; indisputable, clearly right, incontrovertible.

We may appeal to every page of history we have hitherto turned over, for proofs irrefragable, that the people, when they have been unchecked, have been as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as any king or senate possessed of uncontrollable power.
— John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson (11-13-1815)

Etymology
Neoclassical Latin, refragari means “to oppose or contest”, the Latin frag means to break, as in fragment and fraction. Same Indo-European root as “break”.

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Autodidactic

Posted by kazvorpal on October 3, 2009


Leonardo da Vinci

We deliberated between da Vinci, Ben Franklin, and Samuel Clemens as the quintessential autodidact

Autodidact (plural: autodidacts)

n. A self-taught person; an automath.

Having taught himself more about the sciences than any teacher of his age already knew, Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the greatest autodidacts.

Etymology

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

 
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