Collecting Words

GRE word study for the visual learner - picture dictionary of GRE words. Click on the alphabetical list to see the complete list of words.

Monday, April 11, 2011

MORIBUND: "at the point of death; lacking vitality and vigor"

Either literally or figuratively near death. Marble Wall Plaque in The Kilmorey Mausoleumphoto © 2010 Maxwell Hamilton | more info (via: Wylio)

American Heritage Dictionary (2 definitions)

1. Approaching death; about to die.
2. On the verge of becoming obsolete: moribund customs; a moribund way of life.

Century Dictionary (2 definitions)

1. In a dying state.
2. A dying person.

A "moribund economy"

Rij werklozen in een stempellokaal / Unemployed queueing for social benefit photo © 2011 Nationaal Archief | more info (via: Wylio)


QUOTIDIAN: "found in the ordinary course of events"

A quotidian commute...

Study in Movement

American Heritage Dictionary (2 definitions)
1. Everyday; commonplace: "There's nothing quite like a real . . . train conductor to add color to a quotidian commute” ( Anita Diamant).
2. Recurring daily. Used especially of attacks of malaria.

Century Dictionary (4 definitions)

1. Daily; occurring or returning daily: as, a quotidian fever.
2. Something that returns or is expected every day; specifically, in medicine, a fever whose paroxysms return every day.
3. A cleric or church officer who does daily duty.
4. Payment given for such duty.

From Visual Thesaurus (check it out)


Saturday, April 9, 2011

ABROGATE: "Repeal or do away with (a law, right, or formal agreement)"

: to abolish by authoritative action : annul
: to treat as nonexistent

Repeal of Prohibitionphoto © 2006 Kent Wang | more info (via: Wylio)

From Merrium-Webster Word of the Day

If you can't simply wish something out of existence, the next best thing might be to "propose it away." That's more or less what "abrogate" lets you do -- etymologically speaking, at least. "Abrogate" comes from the Latin root "rogare," which means "to propose a law," and "ab-," meaning "from" or "away." We won't propose that you try to get away from the fact that "rogare" is also an ancestor in the family tree of "prerogative" and "interrogate." "Abrogate" first appeared in English as a verb in the 16th century; it was preceded by an adjective sense meaning "annulled" or "cancelled" which is now obsolete.

SO abrogate means "to propose a law -- away"


Monday, March 7, 2011

DAEDAL: "rich; adorned with many things"

I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal earth,
And of heaven, and the giant wars,
And love, and death, and birth.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Hymn Of Pan",

Earth Day Embracephoto © 2006 Steve Jurvetson | more info (via: Wylio)

Daedal comes from Latin daedalus , "cunningly wrought," from Greek daidalos , "skillful, cunningly created."

SANGUINE: "cheerfully optimistic"

Cheerful Givers - Great Minnesota Birthday Partyphoto © 2010 Cheerful Givers | more info (via: Wylio)

1275–1325; Middle English sanguyne  a blood-red cloth < Old French sanguin  < Latin sanguineus  bloody, equivalent to sanguin-,  stem of sanguis  blood + -eus -eous

san·guine·ly, adverb
san·guin·i·ty, san·guin·ness, noun
non·san·guine, adjective
non·san·guine·ly, adverb
non·san·guine·ness, noun
o·ver·san·guine, adjective
o·ver·san·guine·ly, adverb
o·ver·san·guine·ness, noun
pre·san·guine, adjective
qua·si-san·guine, adjective
qua·si-san·guine·ly, adverb
su·per·san·guine, adjective
su·per·san·guin·i·ty, noun
un·san·guine, adjective
un·san·guine·ly, adverb

sanguinary, sanguine .

1.  enthusiastic, buoyant, animated, lively, spirited.

1.  morose.

Supermarket Produce (and Poem)photo © 2009 Faith Goble | more info (via: Wylio)

cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident: a sanguine disposition; sanguine expectations.
reddish; ruddy: a sanguine complexion.
(in old physiology) having blood as the predominating humor and consequently being ruddy-faced, cheerful, etc.
bloody; sanguinary.
blood-red; red.
Heraldry . a reddish-purple tincture.

EXIGENT- "demanding attention"

Legislative sessions are long, constituents' demands are exigent , policy problems are increasingly complicated.

-- Anthony King, "Running Scared", The Atlantic , January 1997

PM Harper-Sign or Resignphoto © 2009 Tavis Ford | more info (via: Wylio)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

BATHOS- "insincere pathos; triteness; mawkishness"

No, please, don't photograph me in this mawkish clothes! by AnEnchantingMood.

Visual Definition

Word Definition

a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax.
insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness.
triteness or triviality in style.

Word Origin

from Greek word meaning "depth"

Word Usage


After one character undergoes a particularly lightning-speed change in temperament, the director lays on a ludicrously coincidental plot twist with sentimental bathos that nearly swamps everything that has gone before.
-- Ann Hornaday, "Movie review: In 'Mother and Child,' Bening and Epps give strong performances", Washington Post, May 2010

Neither, in the end, can Jacob weave his own pattern. His trans-oceanic dream of liberty and learning will close in the damp bathos of a Zeeland backwater - until, in a last spine-shivering gasp, the free spirit of the story walks again...
-- David Mitchell, Book review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet", Belfast Telegraph, May 2010

Related Words

see pathos


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DAEDAL - "skillful, artistic, intricate, adorned"

Word of the Day at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009



1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.

2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious.

3. Rich; adorned with many things.


Most Web-site designers realize that large image maps and daedal layouts are to be avoided, and the leading World Wide Web designers have reacted to users' objections to highly graphical, slow sites by using uncluttered, easy-to-use layouts.
-- "Fixing Web-site usability", InfoWorld, December 15, 1997

Daedal Layout

He gathered toward the end of his life a very extensive collection of illustrated books and illuminated manuscripts, and took heightened pleasure in their daedal patterns as his own strength declined.
-- Florence S. Boos, preface to The Collected Letters of William Morris

I sang of the dancing stars,
I sang of the daedal earth,
And of heaven, and the giant wars,
And love, and death, and birth.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Hymn Of Pan",
Daedal comes from Latin daedalus, "cunningly wrought," from Greek daidalos, "skillful, cunningly created."

Daedal Earth

Monday, September 7, 2009

ODIOUS: "highly offensive; inspiring and deserving hatred"


adjective: Highly offensive; inspiring and deserving hatred.

From Latin odium (hatred), from odisse (to hate). Ultimately from the Indo-European root od- (to hate) that is also the source of the words annoy, noisome, and ennui.

"All over the US there are people whose lives are being destroyed for lack of proper health care provision, and there is no sight more odious than the rich, powerful, and arrogant trying to keep it that way."
Simon Hoggart; Why the American Right Make Me Sick; The Guardian (London, UK); Aug 15, 2009.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

CIRCUMLOCUTION - "a style that involves indirect ways of expressing things"

Word of the Day at
Monday, August 01, 2005
\sir-kuhm-loh-KYOO-shuhn\ , noun:

The use of many words to express an idea that might be expressed by few; indirect or roundabout language.

Dickens gave us the classic picture of official heartlessness: the government Circumlocution Office, burial ground of hope in "Little Dorrit."

-- "Balance of Hardships", New York Times, September 28, 1999
In a delightful circumlocution, the Fed chairman said that "investors are probably revisiting expectations of domestic earnings growth".

-- "US exuberance is proven 'irrational'", Irish Times, October 31, 1997
Courtesies and circumlocutions are out of place, where the morals, health, lives of thousands are at stake.

-- Charles Kingsley, Letters
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.

-- H.W. Fowler, The King's English
Circumlocution comes from Latin circumlocutio, circumlocution-, from circum, "around" + loquor, loqui, "to speak."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ANOMALOUS - "peculiar; unique, contrary to the norm"

Deviating from a general rule, method, or analogy; abnormal; irregular; as, an anomalous proceeding.

Off the Wall by you.

TP Wall = Anomalous/contrary to the norm

1. deviating from or inconsistent with the common order, form, or rule; irregular; abnormal: Advanced forms of life may be anomalous in the universe.
2. not fitting into a common or familiar type, classification, or pattern; unusual: He held an anomalous position in the art world.
3. incongruous or inconsistent.
4. Grammar. irregular.
1640–50; (< ML, LL anōmalus) < Gk anmalos irregular, equiv. to an- an- 1 + homalós even, with ō by analogy with other Gk privatives (cf. anopheles ); see homo-, -ous

Related forms:
a⋅nom⋅a⋅lous⋅ly, adverb
a⋅nom⋅a⋅lous⋅ness, noun

BARQUE: "A sailing ship with 3 (or more) masts"

"File:Hatshepsut barque - 83d40m - Punt expedition - Karnak.JPG

SEDULOUS - "diligent; careful; industrious; persistent"

Word of the Day
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
\SEJ-uh-luhs\ , adjective:

1.Diligent in application or pursuit; steadily industrious.

2.Characterized by or accomplished with care and perseverance.

He did not attain this distinction by accident but by sedulous study from the cradle forward.
-- Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Al Gore: A User's Manual

This writing is clearly the product of sedulous art, but it has the flame of spontaneity and the grit of independence both as to mode and spirit.
-- "The Wonder and Wackiness of Man", New York Times, January 17, 1954
And so he reminded the legion that, even though his veneration of his country's flag may not have inhibited sedulous avoidance of the inconveniences of serving under it, he is a patriot so wholehearted that he signed the Arkansas law that forbids flag-burning.
-- Murray Kempton, "Signs of Defeat In the Wind", Newsday, August 30, 1992
Sedulous is from Latin sedulus, "busy, diligent," from se-, "apart, without" + dolus, "guile, trickery."

ASSIDUOUS - "Constant; persistent; industrious"




From from the Indo-European root sed- (to sit) that is also the source of sit, chair, saddle, assess


(uh-SIJ-oo-uhs)adjective: Constant; persistent; industrious.

From Latin assiduus, from assidere (to attend to, to sit down to), from ad- (toward) + sedere (to sit). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sed- (to sit) that is also the source of sit, chair, saddle, assess, sediment, soot, cathedral, and tetrahedron.

"The reason for his presence there [a Donald Duck statue in a temple garden] remains a mystery despite the author's most assiduous inquiries."
Jeff Kingston; Chiang Mai: Thailand's beguiling Rose of the North; The Japan Times (Tokyo); Jun 28, 2009.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"The earth belongs in USUFRUCT to the living" ~ Thomas Jefferson

Earth Day Logo

The Word for the Day

July 12, 2009


usufruct • \YOO-zuh-frukt\ • noun
*1 : the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another
2 : the right to use or enjoy something

Example Sentence:

Dorothy's will bequeathed one-third of her estate to her husband; the remaining two-thirds was bequeathed to him as a lifetime usufruct, later to be donated to charity.

Did you know?

Thomas Jefferson said, "The earth belongs in usufruct to the living." He apparently understood that when you hold something in usufruct, you gain something of significant value, but only temporarily. The gains granted by usufruct can be clearly seen in the Latin phrase from which the word developed, "usus et fructus," which means "use and enjoyment." Latin speakers condensed that phrase to "ususfructus," the term English speakers used as the model for our modern word. "Usufruct" has been used as a noun for the legal right to use something since at least the 1630s. Any right granted by usufruct ends at a specific point, usually the death of the individual who holds it.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

TYRO: "novice; greenhorn; rank amateur"

Tyro - a beginner in learning something; a novice; newbie
From Latin Tiro - recruit
Medieval Latin = Tyro - squire

LUCULLAN = "marked by lavishness and richness; sumptuous"

Lemon Tart

A Christmas Past

lucullan (loo-KUHL-uhn) adjective

Lavish, luxurious.

[After a Roman general Lucius Licinius Lucullus (c. 110-57 BCE), who was

known for his sumptuous banquets.]

-Anu Garg (words at

"Mr. Buzzi's tastes run the gamut from the simplest to the most Lucullan."

Aram Bakshian Jr.; Gastronomy; The Wall Street Journal (New York);

Sep 24, 2005.

INEFFABLE - "incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; not to be uttered; taboo"


Word of the Day for Sunday, July 12, 2009

ineffable \in-EF-uh-buhl\, adjective:

1. Incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable.
2. Not to be uttered; taboo.

. . .the tension inherent in human language when it attempts to relate the ineffable, see the invisible, understand the incomprehensible.
-- Jeffrey Burton Russell, A History of Heaven
Pope John Paul II notes that people are drawn to religion to answer the really big questions--for example, "What is the ultimate ineffable mystery which is the origin and destiny of our existence?"
-- William A. Sherden, The Fortune Sellers
One cannot blame them very much; explaining the ineffable is difficult.
-- Edward O. Wilson, "The Biological Basis of Morality", The Atlantic, April 1998

Ineffable is from Latin ineffabilis, from in-, "not" + effabilis, "utterable," from effari, "to utter," from ex-, "out" + fari, "to speak."

TORTUOUS - "highly complex or intricate and occasionally devious"

Adj.1.tortuous - highly complex or intricate and occasionally devious; "the Byzantine tax structure"; "Byzantine methods for holding on to his chairmanship"; "convoluted legal language"; "convoluted reasoning"; "the plot was too involved"; "a knotty problem"; "got his way by labyrinthine maneuvering"; "Oh, what a tangled web we weave"- Sir Walter Scott; "tortuous legal procedures"; "tortuous negotiations lasting for months"
complex - complicated in structure; consisting of interconnected parts; "a complex set of variations based on a simple folk melody"; "a complex mass of diverse laws and customs"

2.tortuoustortuous - marked by repeated turns and bends; "a tortuous road up the mountain"; "winding roads are full of surprises"; "had to steer the car down a twisty track"
crooked - having or marked by bends or angles; not straight or aligned; "crooked country roads"; "crooked teeth"

3.tortuoustortuous - not straightforward; "his tortuous reasoning"
indirect - extended senses; not direct in manner or language or behavior or action; "making indirect but legitimate inquiries"; "an indirect insult"; "doubtless they had some indirect purpose in mind"; "though his methods are indirect they are not dishonest"; "known as a shady indirect fellow"

Monday, July 6, 2009

DEFENESTRATION- "the act of throwing a thing or esp. a person out of a window"



with Anu Garg


verb tr.: To throw someone or something out of a window.

From Latin de- (out of) + fenestra (window).

There have been many defenestrations over the course of history, but the most famous, and the one that inspired the word defenestration, was the Defenestration of Prague on May 23, 1618 . Two imperial regents and their secretary were thrown out of a window of the Prague Castle in a fight over religion. The men landed on a dung heap and survived. The Defenestration of Prague was a prelude to the Thirty Years' War.
See a Lego sculpture of the Defenestration of Prague. Also, check out the defenestration of various articles of furniture in this unique San Francisco sculpture.

"When someone in a Joe Lansdale novel is defenestrated, you feel like shaking the glass shards out of your lap."
Jeff Salamon; The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard; The Austin American-Statesman (Texas); Jul 4, 2009 .

This word is a Merrium-Webster top 10 favorite.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

POTENTATE: "One who possesses great power or sway; a ruler, sovereign, or monarch" of the Day Archive/potentate
potentate \POH-tuhn-tayt\, noun:
One who possesses great power or sway; a ruler, sovereign, or monarch.

The shah of Persia, although he had to acknowledge that the sultan was a worthy rival, still considered himself a mighty potentate, as did the sultan himself.
-- Olivier Bernier, The World in 1800

How can he run the operation, an industry potentate wonders, "when the operations people don't report to him?"
-- "Michael Mouse", Time, August 28, 1995

After the capture of Tunis, the Emperor passed through Paris with the consent of his brother-in-law, King Francis, who wanted to present him with something worthy of so great a potentate.
-- Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography

Potentate derives from Late Latin potentatus, "a powerful person," from Latin potentatus, "power, especially political power; supremacy," from potens, "able, powerful," from posse, "to be able." It is related to potent, "powerful," and potential, "having possibility or capability." Entry and Pronunciation for potentate

NIMIETY: "excess, redundancy"

too much orange juice by poopface_productions.

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for June 07, 2008 is:
nimiety • \nih-MYE-uh-tee\ • noun

: excess, redundancy

Example Sentence:
"To avoid receiving a nimiety of kitchenware," advised the bridal guide, "be sure to register for a wide range of gifts for your guests to choose from."
Did you know?
There's no scarcity of English words used for too much of a good thing -- words like "overkill," "plethora," "superfluity," "surfeit," "surplus," and "preponderance," to name a few. In fact, you might just feel that "nimiety" itself is a bit superfluous. And it's true -- we've never used the word excessively, though it has been part of our language for nearly 450 years. (We borrowed it from Late Latin "nimietas," a noun taken, in turn, from the Latin adjective "nimius," meaning "excessive.") Superfluous or not, "nimiety" still turns up occasionally. For example, in his 1991 book Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction, about "the habitual longing to purchase, read, store, admire and consume books in excess," author Tom Raabe blames one bookstore's "nimiety of overstuffed chairs" for exacerbating this condition.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

HORS D'OEUVRES: literally "outside the main work" ... appetizers

Chickpea Radish Hors d'Oeuvres by teenytinyturkey.

The Straight Dope Mailbag: What's the origin of "hors d'oeuvres"?
Quoting William and Mary Morris' Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins: The French phrase hors d'oeuvres literally means "outside the works." Originally it was an architectural term referring to an outbuilding not incorporated into the architect's main design. The phrase was borrowed by France's culinary experts to indicate appetizers customarily served apart from the main course of a dinner. Thus hors d'oeuvres are, quite literally, outside the main design of the meal. Vraiment, c'est simple, n'est-ce-pas?

HORS DE COMBAT: "out of combat: disabled"

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for June 02, 2008 is:
hors de combat • \or-duh-kohng-BAH (the "ng" is not pronounced, but the preceding vowel is nasalized)\ • adjective or adverb

: out of combat : disabled

Example Sentence:
With their best pitcher hors de combat with a shoulder injury, the team faced a bleak season.
Did you know?
We picked up "hors de combat" directly from French back in the mid-18th century. Benjamin Franklin put the term to use in a 1776 letter, observing that an "arrow sticking in any part of a man puts him hors du [sic] combat till it is extracted." But you don't have to use the word as literally as Franklin did. "Combat" can refer to any fight or contest, not just fighting in a war. A politician who's out of the running in a political race could be declared "hors de combat," for example. But the adjective (or adverb) need not refer only to humans or animals: if you own a car, chances are your vehicle has been hors de combat at least once.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

GARRULOUS: "wordy; pointlessly talkative"

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for May 30, 2008 is:
garrulous • \GAIR-uh-lus\ • adjective

1 : pointlessly or annoyingly talkative

*2 : wordy

Example Sentence:
With a few judicious revisions, a good editor can often transform garrulous writing into elegant prose.
Did you know?
English has many adjectives that share the meaning "given to talk" or "talking." "Talkative" may imply a readiness to talk or a disposition to enjoy conversation, while "loquacious" suggests the power of expressing oneself articulately, fluently, or glibly. "Voluble" suggests a free, easy, and unending talkativeness, and "garrulous" implies talkativeness that is dull, rambling, or tedious. "Garrulous," by the way, derives from the Latin verb "garrire," which means (no surprise here) "to chatter" or "to babble."

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

Word Index