High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Archive for the ‘rhetoric’ Category

Minatory

Posted by kazvorpal on January 7, 2013


Hulk Hogan's minatory confrontation with Rocky Balboa

Minatory

Daunting, or threatening

Examples:

A traffic warden, a lady of a minatory aspect, stood by the car. She pointed to a notice on the wall. “Can’t you read?” she said.
William Golding, nobel lecture

In the recurring dream
   my mother stands
      in her bridal gown
under the burning lilac,
   with Bernard Shaw and Bertie
      Russell kissing her hands;
the house behind her is in ruins;
   she is wearing an owl's face
      and makes barking noises.
Her minatory finger points.

Stanley Kunitz, The Testing Tree

The Spanish action was Minatory. It was a matter for our discretion to determine whether it was also hostile.
Theodore Roosevelt, Letter to Munroe Smith

Etymology:

This word has the same origin as “menace”; the Latin word minari

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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”.

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Penury

Posted by kazvorpal on January 3, 2011


Penury

Being very poor; poverty.

Often hyperbolic or poetic in use

Examples:

The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death.
— William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act III, sc. i

It is beyond belief that we know so little about how people get rich or poor, about how it is they come to dwell in comfort and health or die in penury and disease.
— Benoît Mandelbrot, The (Mis)Behavior of Markets (2004)

That sovereign of insufferables, Oscar Wilde has ensued with his opulence of twaddle and his penury of sense. He has mounted his hind legs and blown crass vapidities through the bowel of his neck, to the capital edification of circumjacent fools and foolesses, fooling with their foolers. He has tossed off the top of his head and uttered himself in copious overflows of ghastly bosh. The ineffable dunce has nothing to say and says it—says it with a liberal embellishment of bad delivery, embroidering it with reasonless vulgarities of attitude, gesture and attire.
— Ambrose Bierce, Wasp, 1882

The price of contributing to the greatest literature the world has ever seen is often struggle and penury: art is still too often its own reward. It is salutary sometimes to think of the early deaths of Keats, Shelley, Byron, Chatterton, Dylan Thomas, of the Grub Street struggles of Dr. Johnson, the despair of Gissing and Francis Thompson.
— Anthony Burgess, English Literature: A Survey for Students (1958)

I wanted to see if the sky would fall: you see writers are routinely schooled by their peers that maximal copyright is the only thing that stands between us and penury
— Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Etymology:

Penuria is Latin for “want or need”. Same origin as “paena”, “barely or almost”, like “paena insula”, “almost an island”…now peninsula.

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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 »

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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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.

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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”)

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Hypophora

Posted by kazvorpal on July 12, 2010


Hypophora

n. What is hypophora? It is the rhetorical technique of asking a  question, then immediately answering it.

This is not to be confused with a “rhetorical question”, which is asked for the sake of convincing the audience, but might not be answered at all. Note that, in fact, people mis-use “rhetorical question” to mean any time a did not need an answer, even when it was not for rhetorical purposes. “Ouch! Why did I do that?” is not a rhetorical question.

Aside from our clever demonstration of the word above, it’s difficult to find famous quotations actually including the word hypophora, but we found some examples of quotations demonstrating the technique:

ARTHUR: Well, I am king!
DENNIS: Oh king, eh, very nice. And how d’you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers!

What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage!
— Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Is He the God of the Jews only?
Is He not also of the Gentiles?
Yes, of the Gentiles also

— Romans 3.29

Etymology: Hypo is Greek for “without”, phoros; Greek for “to bear or have”, related to anthypophora; to give an opposing argument, and immediately refute it

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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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Sesquipedalian

Posted by kazvorpal on October 6, 2009


booked-on-phonics

That's why I've cremated this new program called "Booked on Phonics". I'll teach you how to testiculate my way. To computate how it works, I will intersects with a perverted deviant by using one of my own penal implants.

Sesquipedalian

n. A person who uses long words, or a long word, itself.

usage
A pseudointellectual often tries to be sesquipedalian, but is not sufficiently pedantic to know how the words should actually be used. (As with the famous Damon Wayans sketch, at right)

etymology
Roman poet Horace coined the term while mocking words “a foot and a half long”; sesqui – “half again”, pedi – “foot”. The full phrase was actually sesquipedalia verba.

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Hortatory

Posted by kazvorpal on October 5, 2009


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.

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.
J N L Myres, in R G Collingwood and J N L Myres Roman Britain and the English Settlements (1937) p. 329

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

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