Monday, June 18, 2007
Word of the Day: disquisition
disquisition \dis-kwuh-ZISH-uhn\, noun:
A formal discourse on a subject.
Hence, although the publisher calls Mr. Roth's work "An Essay on Evil in the Modern World," it will be found to differ materially in approach and manner of treatment from the usual disquisition on an ancient topic. -- Percy Hutchison, "That Old Arch-Enemy of Man the Antichrist", New York Times, May 12, 1935
Friday, June 15, 2007
Word of the day: clamber
clamber \KLAM-buhr; KLAM-uhr\, intransitive verb:
1. To climb with difficulty, or on all fours; to scramble.
noun: 1. The act of clambering.
At one point a whole horde of them fell over a shallow cliff. Plumes of red dust rose in the air as they struggled to clamber back up. -- Thomas Beller, The Sleep-Over Artist
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Word of the day: proselytize
proselytize \PROS-uh-luh-tyz\, intransitive verb:
1. To induce someone to convert to one's religious faith.
2. To induce someone to join one's institution, cause, or political party.
transitive verb: 1. To convert to some religion, system, opinion, or the like.
Jesuit missionaries appeared; the Japanese allowed them to proselytize. -- Walter LaFeber, The Clash: A History of U.S.-Japan Relations
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Word of the day: contravene
contravene \kon-truh-VEEN\, transitive verb:
1. To act or be counter to; to violate.
2. To oppose in argument; to contradict.
In 1620 most people considered the likelihood of reversing the seasons inside a building impossible, and many deemed it sacrilege, an attempt to contravene the natural order, to twist the configuration of the world established by God. -- Tom Shachtman, Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Word of the day: fulminate
fulminate \FUL-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb:
1. To issue or utter verbal attacks or censures authoritatively or menacingly.
2. To explode; to detonate.
1. To utter or send out with denunciations or censures.
2. To cause to explode.
This mass culture--global, immediate, accessible, buoyant, with shared heroes, models, and goals--is immensely intoxicating. Ayatollahs fulminate against it; dictators censor it; mandarins try to slam the door on it. -- Lawrence M. Friedman, The Horizontal Society
Monday, June 11, 2007
Word of the Day: quiescent
quiescent \kwy-ES-uhnt; kwee-\, adjective:
Being in a state of repose; at rest; still; inactive.
The solution, Dr. Wilmut discovered, was to, in effect, put the DNA from the adult cell to sleep, making it quiescent by depriving the adult cell of nutrients. -- Gina Kolata, "Scientist Reports First Cloning Ever of Adult Mammal", New York Times, February 23, 1997
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Word of the Day: epicene
epicene \EP-uh-seen\, adjective:
1. Having the characteristics of both sexes.
2. Effeminate; unmasculine.
3. Sexless; neuter.
4. (Linguistics) Having but one form of the noun for both the male and the female.
1. A person or thing that is epicene.
2. (Linguistics) An epicene word.
He has a clear-eyed, epicene handsomeness -- cruel, sensuous mouth; cheekbones to cut your heart on -- the sort of excessive beauty that is best appreciated in repose on a 50-foot screen. -- Franz Lidz, "Jude Law: He Didn't Turn Out Obscure at All", New York Times, May 13, 2001
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Word of the Day: lumpen
lumpen \LUHM-puhn; LUM-puhn\, adjective;
plural lumpen, also lumpens:
1. Of or relating to dispossessed and displaced individuals, especially those who have lost social status.
2. Common; vulgar.
noun: 1. A member the underclass, especially the lowest social stratum.
. . .an academic sweatshop where underpaid lumpen intellectuals slave for a pittance. -- Ashlea Ebeling, "I got my degree through e-mail", Forbes, June 16, 1997
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Word of the Day: incipient
incipient \in-SIP-ee-uhnt\, adjective:
Beginning to exist or appear.
Also, improved diagnostic techniques can alert individuals to incipient illnesses. -- James Flanigan, "Patients' Rights and Health-Care Costs Are Expanding Together", Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1999
Monday, June 04, 2007
Word of the Day: perfunctory
perfunctory \pur-FUNGK-tuh-ree\, adjective:
1. Done merely to carry out a duty; performed mechanically or routinely.
2. Lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent.
The city's moderate hotels, however, tend to offer minimal comforts, perfunctory service and dreary decor. -- Paula Butturini, "What's Doing in Naples", New York Times, April 14, 1996
Friday, June 01, 2007
Word of the Day: omnipresent
omnipresent \om-nuh-PREZ-uhnt\, adjective:
Present in all places at the same time; ubiquitous.
It was rather that myth was omnipresent; the whole people thought in this way and were long confirmed in their belief. -- Jacob Burckhardt, The Greeks and Greek Civilization
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Word of the Day: disconsolate
disconsolate \dis-KON-suh-lut\, adjective:
1. Being beyond consolation; deeply dejected and dispirited; hopelessly sad; filled with grief; as, "a bereaved and disconsolate parent."
2. Inspiring dejection; saddening; cheerless; as, "the disconsolate darkness of the winter nights."
Midway through the course he came to the table with the disconsolate expression of a basketball coach whose team had just been trounced. -- Bryan Miller, "Odd Couples Can Make Magic", New York Times, March 2, 1994
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Word of the Day: chortle
chortle \CHOR-tl\, transitive and intransitive verb:
1. To utter, or express with, a snorting, exultant laugh or chuckle.
1. A snorting, exultant laugh or chuckle.
Benjamin himself chortled now, an odd laugh to which I grew accustomed in years to come. -- Jay Parini, Benjamin's Crossing
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Word of the Day: fecund
fecund \FEE-kuhnd; FEK-uhnd\, adjective:
1. Capable of producing offspring or vegetation; fruitful; prolific.
2. Intellectually productive or inventive.
For 21 years after the birth of the Prince of Wales, the fecund royal couple produced children at the rate of two every three years -- eight boys and six girls in all. -- Saul David, Prince of Pleasure
Friday, May 25, 2007
Word of the Day: fiat
fiat \FEE-uht; -at; -aht; FY-uht; -at\, noun:
1. An arbitrary or authoritative command or order.
2. Formal or official authorization or sanction.
He found a provision in the college constitution that said there were to be no executive committees, and arguing that those stodgy impediments to serious change had grown up only by convention and tradition; he abolished them and ruled these faculty meetings by fiat, using each as an occasion to announce what he was going to do next that was sure to stir up even more resentment. -- Philip Roth, The Human Stain
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Word of the Day: redolent
redolent \RED-uh-luhnt\, adjective:
1. Having or exuding fragrance; scented; aromatic.
2. Full of fragrance; odorous; smelling (usually used with 'of' or 'with'). 3. Serving to bring to mind; evocative; suggestive; reminiscent (usually used with 'of' or 'with').
The 142-foot-long sidewheeled steamer . . . ferried people from place to place, . . . its two decks redolent with the aroma of fresh grapes, peaches, and other fruit headed for the rail spur at the Canandaigua pier, then on to markets in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. -- A. M. Sperber and Eric Lax, Bogart
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Word of the Day: delectation
delectation \dee-lek-TAY-shun\, noun:
Great pleasure; delight, enjoyment.
In the eighteenth century, the Qing emperor, Qianlong, created . . . a park for his own delectation, full of diminutive Chinese landmarks, so that he could canter round his whole kingdom without leaving home. -- Kate Lowe and Eugene McLaughlin, "Dollars and dim sum", History Today, June 1995
Monday, May 21, 2007
Word of the Day: insuperable
insuperable \in-SOO-pur-uh-bul\, adjective:
Incapable of being passed over, surmounted, or overcome; insurmountable; as, "insuperable difficulties."
They have overcome almost insuperable odds that the poor facilities and elements have brought about. -- Raimund E. Goerler (Editor), To the Pole: The Diary and Notebook of Richard E. Byrd, 1925-1927
Friday, May 18, 2007
Word of the Day: bombast
bombast \BOM-bast\, noun:
Pompous or pretentious speech or writing.
A more serious difficulty, though, is that "love" has inspired a vast deal of high-toned rhetoric, and Ms. Ackerman seems determined to boost the bombast that already engulfs this troublesome word. -- "This Crazy Thing Called Love", New York Times, June 26, 1994
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Word of the Day: penchant
penchant \PEN-chunt\, noun:
Inclination; decided taste; a strong liking.
Ben was a dreamy little boy, recalls Hiddy, who always thought her brother's penchant for reveries might lead him to become an artist or a great philosopher. -- Thomas Maier, Dr. Spock: An American Life