High-Vocabulary Word of the Day

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Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary words’

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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Oleaginous

Posted by kazvorpal on January 13, 2011


Mad Man Mooney, used car salesman, oleaginous in spirit and person

Oleaginous

Oily in nature, either literally, or as an obsequious or manipulative personality

Example:

This is English at its very best. Easing is not one of the great events of life; it does not call for Beethoven; it is not an idea to get drunk on, to wallow in, to engage in multiple oleaginous syllabification until it becomes a pompous ass of a word like “facilitate.”
— Russel Baker, So This is Depravity (1981)

On the wooden desk above this coop sits a grinning young butcher, showing off the flesh and organs of recently chopped-up chicken, still oleaginous with a coating of dark blood.
— Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger (2008)

Disraeli once described the manner of Bishop Wilberforce as “unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous.” And the good prelate was ever afterward known as Soapy Sam. For every man there is something in the vocabulary that would stick to him like a second skin. His enemies have only to find it.
— Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1906)

Etymology:

Olea ultimately comes from the same Latin word as both “olive” and “oil”.

Posted in poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in Culture, history, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted in Grammar / Syntax, history, poetry | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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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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

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

Desideratum

Posted by kazvorpal on October 16, 2009


My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you but by the time I'm through I lose my desideratum. -- Fiona Apple

My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you but by the time I'm through I lose my desideratum. -- Fiona Apple

Desideratum

n. Something that is wished for, or considered desirable.

My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you but by the time I’m through I lose my desideratum.
Fiona Apple, To Your Love (1999)

A presumption of equality may be contrary to present fact, and yet not contrary to a desideratum. We are not as a fact all equally fit to live, equally responsible, or equally deserving of the protection of the law: but it will hardly be doubted that it would be desirable if we were.
William Ernest Hocking, Present Status of the Philosophy of Law and of Rights (1926)

Etymology
From Latin, desidaratus, same origin as the word “desire”.

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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 »

 
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