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Posts Tagged ‘etymology’

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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Cynosure

Posted by kazvorpal on January 11, 2011


Cynosure

Something bright that attracts the eyes, (therefore) something that serves as a beacon, guide

Examples:

Yes, we have throned Him in our minds and hearts — the cynosure of our wandering thoughts — the monarch of our warmest affections, hopes, desires.
— Richard Fuller, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

The age demanded a hero, Lawrence qualified, and the 20th century then got what it deserved: a loner, an ascetic, a man who might have been happier as a medieval monk than as the public cynosure he became
— Paul Gray, in The Hero Our Century Deserved, about T.E. Lawrence (1989)

Meadows trim, with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide;
Towers and balements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighboring eyes.
— John Milton, L’Allegro (1631)

Etymology:

  • Greek: Cyno means “dog”, oura is “tail”. referring to the tail of the Little Dipper, which contains Polaris, the star used to navigate in the northern hemisphere

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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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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

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Brobdingnagian

Posted by kazvorpal on January 5, 2011


 

 

We couldn’t find a pic from the Jack Black movie that didn’t involve Lilliputians

Brobdingnagian

Truly colossal, enormous beyond normal bounds.

Wednesday is the day we try to pick a fun word. Thank Jonathan Swift for this one, via Gulliver’s Travels. It’s the opposite of Lilliputian.

Examples:

Sheldon:       This isn’t a desk, this is a Brobdingnagian monstrosity!
Kuthrapali: Is that an American idiom for “Giant, big-assed desk?”
Sheldon:      It’s actually British.
— Big Bang Theory, Brobdingnagian Monstrosity (2010)

I want you to understand something, Luthor. Although my distaste for you as a human being is Brobdingnagian, what I’m about to do isn’t personal.
— Question, Question Authority, The Justice League (2006)

We have the first rule of thumb: what has never been known to occur probably can’t. Then an application: Brobdingnagian and Lilliputian people have never been known to occur, so they can’t.
— Dennis Des Chene, Physiologia, Natural Philosophy in Late Aristotelian and Cartesian Thought (1996)

He has the wit to insist on his tininess. He makes the most of his inches by clothing himself in a Brobdingnagian dress-coat, a Brobdingnagian waistcoat, a Brobdingnagian shirt front, Brobdingnagian trousers, and Brobdingnagian boots.
— James Douglas, Adventures in London (1909)

Etymology:

  • Brobdingnag is the (fictional) nation of gigantic people that Gulliver visits in Jonathan Swift’s book, Gulliver’s Travels.

Posted in poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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”.

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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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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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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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Senescence

Posted by kazvorpal on October 24, 2009


Grasping ElderlySenescence

adj. Growing old; decaying with the lapse of time.

It is by a blend of lively curiosity and intelligent selfishness that the artists who wish to mature late, who feel too old to die, the Goethes, Tolstoys, Voltaires, Titians and Verdis, reach a fruitful senescence.
Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise (1938)

Senescence begins
And middle age ends
The day your descendents
Outnumber your friends.

Ogden Nash, Crossing The Border

Etymology
Latin senescere, easy to remember as the same origin as senile and senator.

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

Concupiscence

Posted by kazvorpal on October 10, 2009


Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, an allegorical painting by Agnolo Bronzino (1545)

Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time, an allegorical painting by Agnolo Bronzino (1545)

Concupiscence

Any ardent desire, but especially sexual desire; lust.

Good men seek it by the natural means of the virtues; evil men, however, try to achieve the same goal by a variety of concupiscences, and that is surely an unnatural way of seeking the good. Don’t you agree?
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

Under a forehead roughly comparable to that of the Javanese or the Piltdown man are visible a pair of tiny pig eyes, lit up alternately by greed and concupiscence.
S. J. Perelman, The Best of S. J. Perelman, Introduction (1947)

Like the use of the word ‘concupiscence‘ in an earlier age to describe sexual desire, the use of the word ‘pollution’ to describe essential aspects of the productive activities of an industrial society represents an attempt to defame an entirely proper human capacity by means of using an evil sounding name for it.
George Reisman, Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (1996)

Etymology
Neoclassical euphemism, adopted from Latin concupiscens, very desirous: com; an intensifier, and cupere, meaning “to long for”. Easy to remember, because Cupid comes from the same root.

Note
With the rise of sexual repression in Christianity, this word sometimes took on a pejorative connotation as a sexual euphamism, but is originally a poetic term for desire in general.

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