High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Posts Tagged ‘dictionary’


Posted by kazvorpal on August 12, 2010


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

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


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)


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 »


Posted by kazvorpal on August 5, 2010


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.


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


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

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


Posted by kazvorpal on October 4, 2009

Surely there is no fitter solecistic archetype than Huck Fin.

We said there warn't no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don't. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.

Solecism (plural Solecisms)

n. A grammatical mistake or absurdity, or even simply a non-standard language usage.

  • We don’t need no education! (Pink Floyd’s infamous double-negative self-refutation.)
  • This is just between you and I. (Hypercorrection to avoid the common, nonstandard “you and me” form in the subject of sentences…in this case, “me” would have been correct, the standard pronoun for the object of a preposition.)
  • Surely there is no fitter solecistic archetype than Huck Finn. (While fitter is a valid construction, the grammatical norm in English is to say “more fitting” — an example of how valid language can still be a solecism.)

In ancient Greece, the colony of Soli in Sicily spoke a very corrupted version of Greek, and came to be seen as a model of silly language usage.

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

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