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

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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ETIOLATE: "to make feeble; to deprive of natural vigor"

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for May 27, 2008 is:
etiolate • \EE-tee-uh-layt\ • verb

*1 : to bleach and alter the natural development of (a green plant) by excluding sunlight

2 a : to make pale
b : to deprive of natural vigor : make feeble

Example Sentence:
The bean plants that Grace grew for her lab project became weak and etiolated when they were kept in a dark closet for a week.
Did you know?
When we first started using "etiolate" in the late 1700s (borrowed from the French verb "étioler"), it was in reference to purposely depriving growing celery of light. The word traces back to an Old French word for "straw" and is related to the Latin word for "straw" or "stalk," which is "stipula." Nowadays the term for growing veggies as pale as straw is now more likely to be "blanch," which can mean "to bleach (the leaves or stalks of plants) by earthing, boarding, or wrapping," among other things. "Etiolate" is more apt to refer to depriving plants in general of light; when "etiolated," they are sickly, pale, and spindly. The figurative sense of "etiolate" ("to make pallid or feeble") first appeared in the 1800s as a natural outgrowth of the original sense.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

BOULEVARDIER: "A visitor of a city boulevard (especially in Paris)"

Sideshow, originally uploaded by serakatie.

BOULEVARDIER: "a frequenter of city boulevards, especially in Paris"

Word of the Day for Wednesday, May 21, 2008

boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY; bul-uh-\, noun:

1. A frequenter of city boulevards, especially in Paris.

2. A sophisticated, worldly, and socially active man; a man who frequents fashionable places; a man-about-town.

Oswald, whose idea of excitement is breakfasting with a penguin, is a boulevardier: Hat cocked precariously on his head, he saunters out into the sunny city.
-- Tom Gliatto, "Tube", People, July 22, 2002

Bratton had been running about town, having his picture
taken in trendy restaurants, seeking and getting headlines -- a regular
gay boulevardier from the Roaring Twenties.
-- Sydney H. Schanberg, "Cops' D.C. Spree Calls for Outside Watchdog", Newsday, May 30, 1995

The "Night Mayor of New York" was, Mitgang writes, "a hometown boy, part Kilkenny sentimentalist, part Greenwich Village boulevardier."
-- David Walton, "Go Fight City Hall", New York Times, January 9, 2000

Boulevardier is from French, from boulevard, from Old French bollevart, "rampart converted to a promenade," from Middle Low German bolwerk, "bulwark." Entry and Pronunciation for boulevardier

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

LATITUDINARIAN: "Having or expressing broad and tolerant views, especially in religious matters"

Word of the Day for Saturday, May 17, 2008

latitudinarian \lat-uh-too-din-AIR-ee-un; -tyoo-\, adjective:

1. Having or expressing broad and tolerant views, especially in religious matters.

2. A person who is broad-minded and tolerant; one who displays freedom in thinking, especially in religious matters.

3. [Often capitalized] A member of the Church of England, in the
time of Charles II, who adopted more liberal notions in respect to the
authority, government, and doctrines of the church than generally

More was nothing like his supposed example, the gently latitudinarian
Cicero, for instance: Cicero's philosophical and religious dialogues
(as opposed to his legal and political speeches, of course) often read
as if he delighted in being contradicted, while More's are spittingly
-- Caleb Crain, American Sympathy

. . .the optimism preached in England by latitudinarians trying to soften the Puritan concepts of an inscrutable, cruel God and an abject, fallen humanity.
-- James Wood, The Broken Estate

Latitudinarian comes from Latin latitudo, latitudin-, "latitude" (from latus, "broad, wide") + the suffix -arian. Entry and Pronunciation for latitudinarian

POTEMKIN VILLAGE: "An impressive facade or display that hides an undesirable fact or state"

Word of the Day for Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Potemkin village \puh-TEM(P)-kin\, noun:

An impressive facade or display that hides an undesirable fact or state; a false front.

When will the West have the guts to call Russia what it really is: a semi-totalitarian state with Potemkin village-style democratic institutions and a fascist-capitalist economy?
-- "Western Investors Defend a Potemkin Village", Moscow Times, January 9, 2004

It's a lie, a huge Potemkin village designed to give North Korea the appearance of modernity.
-- Kevin Sullivan, "Borderline Absurdity", Washington Post, January 11, 1998

Unless U.S. imperial overstretch is acknowledged and corrected, the United States may someday soon find that it has become a Potemkin village superpower -- with a facade of military strength concealing a core of economic weakness.
-- Christopher Layne, "Why the Gulf War Was Not in the National Interest", The Atlantic, July 1991

The "evil empire" had been a mighty facade at least since Kruschev, a termite-infested Potemkin village congenitally incapable of regeneration.
-- Frank Pellegrini, "Reagan At 90: Still A Repository For Our American Dreams", Time, February 6, 2001

A Potemkin village is so called after Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin,
who had elaborate fake villages built in order to impress Catherine the
Great on her tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea in the 18th century. Entry and Pronunciation for Potemkin village

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UMBRAGE: "shady branches : foliage"

Umbrage, originally uploaded by KiwiNessie.

UMBRAGE: derived from Latin, Umbra "shade" of the Day Archive/umbrage
Word of the Day Archive
Friday May 7, 1999

Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Previous Words | Subscribe for Free | Help

umbrage \UHM-brij\, noun:
1. Shade; shadow; hence, something that affords a shade, as a screen of trees or foliage.
2. a. A vague or indistinct indication or suggestion; a hint.
3. b. Reason for doubt; suspicion.
4. Suspicion of injury or wrong; offense; resentment.

Burr finally took umbrage, and challenged him to a duel.
-- Richard A. Samuelson, "Alexander Hamilton: American", Commentary, June 1999

In almost all the walks of his life, he appears to have been both astoundingly rude and genuinely astonished that anyone should take umbrage.
-- Robert Winder, "A dying game", New Statesman, June 19, 2000

He had a devastating smile, which could wipe away the slightest umbrage.
-- Alec Guinness, A Positively Final Appearance

The river tumbling green and white, far below me; the dark high banks, the plentiful umbrage, many bronze cedars, in shadow; and tempering and arching all the immense materiality, a clear sky overhead, with a few white clouds, limpid, spiritual, silent.
-- Walt Whitman, Specimen Days & Collect

Umbrage is derived from Latin umbra, "shade."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

PANTAGRUELIAN: "Enormous; displaying extravagant and coarse humor"

A.Word.A.Day -- pantagruelian
Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

This week's theme: eponyms.

pantagruelian (pan-tuh-groo-EL-ee-uhn) adjective

1. Enormous.

2. Displaying extravagant and coarse humor.

[After Pantagruel, a giant king with an enormous appetite, the son of Gargantua, depicted in a series of novels by François Rabelais (c. 1490-1553).]

-Anu Garg (words at

"[Ilan Ros's] jowls are scarlet, and he's wearing a loose apron over his Pantagruelian belly. He begins by gobbling up three slices of cold meat in quick succession and then wipes his mouth on a paper napkin." Yasmina Khadra (pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul); The Attack (translated by John Cullen); Doubleday; 2006.

The louder he talks of honour, the faster we count our spoons. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

Odium: "the state or fact of being subjected to hatred and contempt as a result of a despicable act or blameworthy circumstance"

mental_floss Vocab Rehab » odium (n.)
February 7, 2008

the state or fact of being subjected to hatred and contempt as a result of a despicable act or blameworthy circumstance


In a sentence:
The odium resulting from his plagiarism of a well-known Shakespearean sonnet was too much for Dr. Leonard to bear—he drank a glass of poison lemonade, sat behind his mahogany desk, and waited.

In a different sentence:
Mrs. Bancroft had anticipated the odium to come while bombing the mailboxes of her son’s more intelligent classmates around report card time. But it had to be done.

MOIETY: "One of two (approximately) equal parts"

Half Past Pie, originally uploaded by rickumali.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

MOIETY: "a portion, or half" of the Day Archive/moiety
Word of the Day Archive
Thursday May 8, 2008

moiety \MOY-uh-tee\, noun:
1. One of two equal parts; a half.
2. An indefinite part; a small portion or share.
3. One of two basic tribal subdivisions.

Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety.
-- Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Cut off from news at home, fearful of a blood bath, anxious to salvage a moiety of the reform program, the Prague leadership accepted Moscow's diktat.
-- Karl E. Meyer, "Pangloss in Prague", New York Times, June 27, 1993

Barunga society is sharply divided into two complementary, descent-based branches (a structure anthropologists call "moiety"), which permeate relationships, spirituality, and many other aspects of life.
-- Claire Smith, "Art of The Dreaming", Discovering Archaeology, March/April 2000

Moiety comes from Old French meitiet, from Late Latin medietas, from Latin medius, "middle." Entry and Pronunciation for moiety

ETHEREAL: Imagine her dismay, on stealing a glance of timid admiration at the poet whose lines suggested an ethereal being fed on `spirit, fire, and d

Search literature by keyword - Free Online Library

Search results for ethereal

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The Scarlet Letter
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

It kept him down on a level with the lowest; him, the man of etherealattributes, whose voice the angels might else have listened to and answered

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Mosses From An Old Manse and other stories
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

strange it is," whispered Owen Warland to himself, leaning his head
upon his hand, "that all my musings, my purposes, my passion for the
beautiful, my consciousness of power to create it,--a finer, more ethereal
power, of which this earthly giant can have no conception,--all, all,
look so vain and idle whenever my path is crossed by Robert Danforth

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Moon and Sixpence
by Maugham, W. Somerset

It may be that among them a more fervid Keats, a more ethereal Shelley, has already published numbers the world will willingly remember.

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Moby Dick I-LXVII
by Melville, Herman

then, to meanest mariners, and renegades and castaways, I shall
hereafter ascribe high qualities, though dark; weave round them tragic
graces; if even the most mournful, perchance the most abased, among
them all, shall at times lift himself to the exalted mounts; if I shall
touch that workman's arm with some ethereal
light; if I shall spread a rainbow over his disastrous set of sun; then
against all mortal critics bear me out in it, thou just spirit of
equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my

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A Lute of Jade
by Cranmer-Byng, L.

I revel in flowers without let, An atom at random in space; My soul dwells in regions ethereal, And the world is my dreaming-place.

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Thuvia, Maid of Mars
by Burroughs, Edgar Rice

I believe, in fact I know, that there are some truly ethereal creatures.

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The Sea Wolf
by London, Jack

She was a delicate, ethereal creature, swaying and willowy, light and graceful of movement.

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Tess of the d'Urbervilles - A Pure Woman
by Hardy, Thomas

It lacked the intensely blue atmosphere of the rival vale, and its heavy soils and scents; the new air was clear, bracing, ethereal.

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Paradise Lost
by Milton, John

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Burning Daylight
by London, Jack

the light of the tragic event, he could understand everything--her
quietness, that calm certitude as if all vexing questions of living had
been smoothed out and were gone, and that certain ethereal sweetness about all that she had said and done that had been almost maternal.

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Anne's House of Dreams
by Montgomery, Lucy Maud

asked Diana, cuddling Small Anne Cordelia with the inimitable gesture
of motherhood which always sent through Anne's heart, filled with
sweet, unuttered dreams and hopes, a thrill that was half pure pleasure
and half a strange, ethereal pain.

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Don Quixote
by Cervantes, Miguel

these and a variety of other great exploits are, were and will be, the
work of fame that mortals desire as a reward and a portion of the
immortality their famous deeds deserve; though we Catholic Christians
and knights-errant look more to that future glory that is everlasting
in the ethereal regions of heaven than to the
vanity of the fame that is to be acquired in this present transitory
life; a fame that, however long it may last, must after all end with
the world itself, which has its own appointed end.

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The Red Badge of Courage
by Crane, Stephen

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Tanglewood Tales
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

looks, and is, as evanescent as a dream; and yet, in its rustic network
of boughs, it has somehow enclosed a hint of spiritual beauty, and has
become a true emblem of the subtile and ethereal mind that planned it.

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by Poe, Edgar Allan

There are, nevertheless, three or four female heads, of an ethereal beauty-portraits in the manner of Sully.

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The Red One
by London, Jack

Unlike the Diana type of Polynesian, she was almost ethereal.

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A History of English Literature
by Fletcher, Robert Huntington

first impulse was an unselfish love for his fellow-men, with an
aggressive eagerness for martyrdom in their behalf; his nature was
unusually, even abnormally, fine and sensitive; and his poetic quality
was a delicate and ethereal lyricism unsurpassed in the literature of the world.

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Anne of The Island
by Montgomery, Lucy Maud

sea was roaring hollowly in the distance, the fields were bare and
sere, scarfed with golden rod, the brook valley below Green Gables
overflowed with asters of ethereal purple, and
the Lake of Shining Waters was blue -- blue -- blue; not the changeful
blue of spring, nor the pale azure of summer, but a clear, steadfast,
serene blue, as if the water were past all moods and tenses of emotion
and had settled down to a tranquility unbroken by fickle dreams.

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Martin Eden
by London, Jack

idea of love was more that of placid affection, serving the loved one
softly in an atmosphere, flower-scented and dim-lighted, of ethereal calm.

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Anne Of Green Gables
by Montgomery, Lucy Maud

Afar in the southwest was the great shimmering, pearl-like sparkle of an evening star in a sky that was pale golden and ethereal rose over gleaming white spaces and dark glens of spruce.

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Little Dorrit
by Dickens, Charles

Still, her youthful and ethereal
appearance, her timid manner, the charm of her sensitive voice and
eyes, the very many respects in which she had interested him out of her
own individuality, and the strong difference between herself and those
about her, were not in unison, and were determined not to be in unison,
with this newly presented idea.

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Our Mutual Friend
by Dickens, Charles

least, Bella no sooner stepped ashore than she took Mr John Rokesmith's
arm, without evincing surprise, and the two walked away together with
an ethereal air of happiness which, as it were, wafted up from the earth and drew after them a gruff and glum old pensioner to see it out.

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The Arrow of Gold
by Conrad, Joseph

At this he made a faint, almost ethereal grimace.

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Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
by Jerome, Jerome K.

He can never stretch out his legs, put his hands behind his head, and, closing his eyes, sink into the ethereal blissfulness that encompasses the well-dined man.

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Little Women
by Alcott, Louisa May

Imagine her dismay, on stealing a glance of timid admiration at the poet whose lines suggested an ethereal
being fed on `spirit, fire, and dew', to behold him devouring his
supper with an ardor which flushed his intellectual countenance.

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House Of Seven Gables
by Hawthorne, Nathaniel

When a lady, in a delicate and costly summer garb, with a floating veil and gracefully swaying gown, and, altogether, an ethereal
lightness that made you look at her beautifully slippered feet, to see
whether she trod on the dust or floated in the air,--when such a vision
happened to pass through this retired street, leaving it tenderly and
delusively fragrant with her passage, as if a bouquet of tea-roses had
been borne along, --then again, it is to be feared, old Hepzibah's
scowl could no longer vindicate itself entirely on the plea of

INCHOATE: "imperfectly formed; partly there"

Word of the Day Archive Tuesday May 14, 2002 

inchoate \in-KOH-it\, adjective: 1. In an initial or early stage; just begun. 2. Imperfectly formed or formulated.

Mildred Spock believed that, at about the age of three, her children's inchoate wills were to be shaped like vines sprouting up a beanpole. -- Thomas Maier, Dr. Spock: An American Life

She also had a vision, not yet articulated, an inchoate sense of some special calling that awaited her. -- Linda Lear, Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature

You take on a project because of the feeling, perhaps inchoate, that it may in some way contribute to your deeper understanding of the larger-scale research program you have chosen as your life's work. -- Christopher Scholz, Fieldwork: A Geologist's Memoir of the Kalahari

 Inchoate comes from the past participle of Latin inchoare, alteration of incohare, "to begin." of the Day Archive/inchoate

inchoate.jpg (JPEG Image, 449x324 pixels)
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Abate . subside , or moderate
Aberrant . abnormal, or deviant
Abeyance . suspended action
Abscond . depart secretly and hide
Abstemious . sparing in eating and drinking; temperate
Admonish . warn; reprove
Adulterate . make impure by adding inferior or tainted substances
Aesthetic . artistic; dealing with or capable of appreciating the beautiful
Aggregate . gather; accumulate
Alacrity . cheerful promptness; eagerness
Alleviate . relieve
Amalgamate . combine; unite in one body
Ambiguous . unclear or doubtful in meaning
Ambivalence . the state of having contradictory or conflicting emotional attitudes
Ameliorate . improve
Anachronism . something or someone misplaced in time
Analogous . comparable
Anarchy . absence of governing body; state of disorder
Anomalous . abnormal; irregular
Antipathy . aversion; dislike
Apathy . lack of caring; indifference
Appease . pacify or soothe; relieve
Apprise . inform
Approbation . approval
Appropriate . v. acquire; take possession of for one’s own use
Arduous . hard; strenuous
Artless . without guile; open and honest
Ascetic . practicing self-denial; austere
Assiduous . diligent
Assuage . v. ease or lessen (pain); satisfy (hunger); soothe (anger)
Attenuate . make thinner
Audacious . daring; bold
Austere . forbiddingly stern; severely simple and unornamented
Autonomous . self-governing; independent
Aver . assert confidently or declare; as used in law, state formally as a fact

Banal . hackneyed; commonplace; trite; lacking originality
Belie . contradict; give a false impression
Beneficent . kindly; doing good
Bolster . support; reinforce
Bombastic . pompous; using inflated language
Boorish . rude; insensitive
Burgeon . grow forth; send out buds
Burnish . make shiny by rubbing; polish
Buttress . v. support; prop up

Capricious . unpredictable; fickle
Castigation . punishment; severe criticism
Catalyst . agent that increases the pace of a chemical action
Caustic . burning; sarcastically biting
Chicanery . trickery; deception
Coagulate . thicken; congeal; clot
Coda . concluding section of a musical or literary composition; summarizes or concludes
Cogent . convincing
Commensurate . adj. corresponding in extent, degree, etc.; proportionate
Compendium . brief, comprehensive summary
Complaisant . trying to please; overly polite; obliging
Compliant . yielding; conforming to requirements
Conciliatory . reconciling; soothing
Condone . overlook; forgive; give tacit approval; excuse
Confound . confuse; puzzle
Connoisseur . person competent to act as a judge of art; a lover of art
Contention . claim; thesis
Contentious . quarrelsome
Contrite . penitent
Conundrum . riddle; difficult problem
Converge . approach; tend to meet; come together
Convoluted . coiled around; involved; intricate
Craven . cowardly

Daunt . intimidate; frighten
Decorum . propriety; orderliness and good taste in manners
Default . failure to act
Deference . courteous regard for another’s wishes
Delineate . portray; depict; sketch
Denigrate . blacken
Deride . ridicule; make fun of
Derivative . unoriginal; obtained from another source
Desiccate . dry up
Desultory . aimless; haphazard; digressing at random
Deterrent Something that discourages; hindrance
Diatribe . n. bitter scolding; invective
Dichotomy . split; branching into two parts (especially contradictory ones)
Diffidence . Shyness
Diffuse . adj. wordy, rambling, spread out (like a gas)
Digression . Wandering away from the subject
Dirge . Lament with music
Disabuse . correct a false impression; undeceive
Discerning . mentally quick and observant; having insight
Discordant . not harmonious; conflicting
Discredit . defame; destroy confidence in; disbelieve
Discrepancy . lack of consistency; difference
Discrete . adj. separate; unconnected; consisting of distinct parts
Disingenuous . lacking genuine candor; insincere
Disinterested . unprejudiced
Disjointed . lacking coherence; separated at the joints
Dismiss . eliminate from consideration; reject
Disparage . belittle
Disparate . adj. basically different; unrelated
Dissemble . v. disguise; pretend
Disseminate . distribute; spread; scatter (like seeds)
Dissolution . disintegration; looseness in morals
Dissonance . discord; opposite of harmony
Distend . expand; swell out
Distill . purify; refine; concentrate
Diverge . vary; go in different directions from the same point
Divest . strip; deprive
Document . provide written evidence
Dogmatic . opinionated; arbitrary; doctrinal
Dormant . sleeping; lethargic; latent
Dupe . someone easily fooled

Ebullient . showing excitement; overflowing with enthusiasm
Eclectic . selective; composed of elements drawn from disparate sources
Efficacy . power to produce desired effect
Effrontery . impudence; shameless boldness; sheer nerve; presumptuousness
Elegy . poem or song expressing lamentation
Elicit . draw out by discussion
Embellish . adorn; ornament; enhance, as a story
Empirical . based on experience
Emulate . imitate; rival
Endemic . prevailing among a specific group of people or in a specific area or country
Enervate . weaken
Engender . cause; produce
Enhance . increase; improve
Ephemeral . short-lived; fleeting
Equanimity . calmness of temperament; composure
Equivocate . lie; mislead; attempt to conceal the truth
Erudite . learned; scholarly
Esoteric . hard to understand; known only to the chosen few
Eulogy . expression of praise, often on the occasion of someone’s death
Euphemism . mild expression in place of an unpleasant one
Exacerbate . worsen; embitter
Exculpate . clear from blame
Exigency . urgent situation; pressing needs or demands; state of requiring immediate attention
Extrapolation . projection; conjecture

Facetious . joking (often inappropriately); humorous
Facilitate . help bring about; make less difficult
Fallacious . false; misleading
Fatuous . brainless; inane; foolish, yet smug
Fawning . trying to please by behaving obsequiously, flattering, or cringing
Felicitous . apt; suitably expressed; well chosen
Fervor . glowing ardor; intensity of feeling
Flag . droop; grow feeble
Fledgling . inexperienced
Flout . reject; mock; show contempt for
Foment . stir up; instigate
Forestall . prevent by taking action in advance
Frugality . thrift; economy
Futile . useless; hopeless; ineffectual

Gainsay . deny
Garrulous . loquacious; talkative; wordy
Goad . urge on
Gouge . overcharge
Grandiloquent . pompous; bombastic; using high-sounding language
Gregarious . sociable
Guileless . without deceit
Gullible . easily deceived

Harangue . long, passionate, and vehement speech
Homogeneous . of the same kind
Hyperbole . exaggeration; overstatement

Iconoclastic . attacking cherished traditions
Idolatry . worship of idols; excessive admiration
Immutable . unchangeable
Impair . injure; hurt
Impassive . without feeling; imperturbable; stoical
Impede . hinder; block
Impermeable . impervious; not permitting passage through its substance
Imperturbable . calm; placid
Impervious . impenetrable; incapable of being damaged or distressed
Implacable . incapable of being pacified
Implicit . understood but not stated
Implode . burst inward
Inadvertently . unintentionally; by oversight; carelessly
Inchoate . adj. recently begun; rudimentary; elementary
Incongruity . lack of harmony; absurdity
Inconsequential . insignificant; unimportant
Incorporate . introduce something into a larger whole; combine; unite
Indeterminate . uncertain; not clearly fixed; indefinite
Indigence . poverty
Indolent . Lazy
Inert . inactive; lacking power to move
Ingenuous . naive and trusting; young; unsophisticated
Inherent . firmly established by nature or habit
Innocuous . Harmless
Insensible . unconscious; unresponsive
Insinuate . hint; imply; creep in
Insipid . lacking in flavor; dull
Insularity . narrow-mindedness; isolation
Intractable . unruly; stubborn; unyielding
Intransigence . n. refusal of any compromise; stubbornness
Inundate . overwhelm; flood; submerge
Inured . adj. accustomed; hardened
Invective . n. abuse
Irascible . irritable; easily angered
Irresolute . uncertain how to act; weak
Itinerary . plan of a trip

Laconic . brief and to the point
Lassitude . languor; weariness
Latent . potential but undeveloped; dormant; hidden
Laud . v. praise
Lethargic . drowsy; dull
Levee . stone embankment to prevent flooding
Levity . lack of seriousness or steadiness; frivolity
Log . record of a voyage or flight; record of day-to-day activities
Loquacious . talkative
Lucid . easily understood; clear; intelligible
Luminous shining; issuing light

Magnanimity . Generosity
Malingerer . one who feigns illness to escape duty
Malleable . capable of being shaped by pounding; impressionable
Maverick . rebel; nonconformist
Mendacious . lying; habitually dishonest
Metamorphosis . change of form
Meticulous . excessively careful; painstaking; scrupulous
Misanthrope . one who hates mankind
Mitigate . appease; moderate
Mollify . soothe
Morose . ill-humored; sullen; melancholy
Mundane . worldly as opposed to spiritual; everyday

Negate . cancel out; nullify; deny
Neophyte . recent convert; beginner

Obdurate . adj. stubborn
Obsequious . lavishly attentive; servile; sycophantic
Obviate . make unnecessary; get rid of
Occlude . shut; close
Officious . meddlesome; excessively pushy in offering one’s services
Onerous . burdensome
Opprobrium . infamy; vilification
Oscillate . vibrate; waver
Ostentatious . showy; pretentious; trying to attract attention

Paragon . model of perfection
Partisan . one-sided; prejudiced; committed to a party
Pathological . pertaining to disease
Paucity . Scarcity
Pedantic . showing off learning; bookish
Penchant . strong inclination; liking
Penury . severe poverty; stinginess
Perennial . something long-lasting
Perfidious . treacherous; disloyal
Perfunctory . superficial; not thorough; lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm
Permeable . penetrable; porous; allowing liquids or gas to pass through
Pervasive . spread throughout
Phlegmatic . calm; not easily disturbed
Piety . devoutness; reverence for God
Placate . pacify; conciliate
Plasticity . ability to be molded
Platitude . n. trite remark; commonplace statement
Plethora . excess; overabundance
Plummet . fall sharply
Porous . full of pores; like a sieve
Pragmatic . practical (as opposed to idealistic); concerned with the practical worth or impact of something
Preamble . introductory statement
Precarious . uncertain; risky
Precipitate . adj. rash, premature, hasty, sudden
Precursor . forerunner
Presumptuous . arrogant; taking liberties
Prevaricate . lie
Pristine . characteristic of earlier times; primitive; unspoiled
Probity . uprightness; incorruptibility
Problematic . doubtful; unsettled; questionable; perplexing
Prodigal . wasteful; reckless with money
Profound . deep; not superficial; complete
Prohibitive . tending to prevent the purchase or use of something; inclined to prevent or forbid
Proliferate . grow rapidly; spread; multiply
Propensity . natural inclination
Propitiate . appease
Propriety . fitness; correct conduct
Proscribe . ostracize; banish; outlaw
Pungent . stinging; sharp in taste or smell; caustic

Qualified . limited; restricted
Quibble . minor objection or complaint
Quiescent . at rest; dormant; temporarily inactive

Rarefied . made less dense (of a gas)
Recalcitrant . obstinately stubborn; determined to resist authority; unruly
Recant . disclaim or disavow; retract a previous statement; openly confess error
Recluse . hermit; loner
Recondite . abstruse; profound; secret
Refractory . stubborn; unmanageable
Refute . disprove
Relegate banish to an inferior position; delegate; assign
Reproach . express disapproval or disappointment
Reprobate . person hardened in sin; devoid of a sense of decency
Repudiate . disown; disavow
Rescind . cancel
Resolution . Determination
Resolve . determination; firmness of purpose
Reticent . reserved; uncommunicative; inclined to silence
Reverent . respectful; worshipful

Sage . person celebrated for wisdom
Salubrious . healthful
Sanction . approve; ratify
Satiate . satisfy fully
Saturate . soak thoroughly
Savor . enjoy; have a distinctive flavor, smell, or quality
Secrete . hide away or cache; produce and release a substance into an organism
Shard . fragment, generally of pottery
Skeptic . doubter; person who suspends judgment until having examined evidence supporting a point of view
Solicitous . worried; concerned
Soporific . sleep-causing; marked by sleepiness
Specious . seemingly reasonable but incorrect; misleading (often intentionally)
Spectrum . colored band produced when a beam of light passes through a prism
Sporadic . occurring irregularly
Stigma . token of disgrace; brand
Stint . v. be thrifty; set limits
Stipulate . make express conditions; specify
Stolid . dull; impassive
Striated . marked with parallel bands; grooved
Strut . pompous walk
Strut . supporting bar
Subpoena . writ summoning a witness to appear
Subside . settle down; descend; grow quiet
Substantiate . establish by evidence; verify; support
Supersede . cause to be set aside; replace; make obsolete
Supposition . hypothesis; surmise

Tacit . understood; not put into words
Tangential . peripheral; only slightly connected; digressing
Tenuous . thin; rare; slim
Tirade . extended scolding; denunciation; harangue
Torpor . lethargy; sluggishness; dormancy
Tortuous . winding; full of curves
Tractable . docile; easily managed
Transgression . violation of a law; sin
Truculence . aggressiveness; ferocity

Vacillate . waver; fluctuate
Venerate . revere
Veracious . truthful
Verbose . wordy
Viable . practical or workable
Viscous . sticky, gluey
Vituperative . adj abusive; scolding
Volatile . changeable; explosive; evaporation rapidly

Warranted . justified; authorized
Wary . very cautious
Welter . turmoil; bewildering jumble
Whimsical . capricious; fanciful

Zealot . fanatic; person who shows excessive zeal

LUGUBRIOUS: from Latin - Lugere - to mourn of the Day Archive/lugubrious
Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday May 27, 2003

lugubrious \lu-GOO-bree-us; -GYOO-\, adjective:
1. Mournful; indicating sorrow, often in a way that seems feigned, exaggerated, or ridiculous.
2. Gloomy; dismal.

Oh yes, he says, and his lugubrious expression suggests that the loss afflicts him still.
-- Mary Riddell, New Statesman, September 19, 1997

His patriarchy often seemed lugubrious; he would often have tears in his eyes when elucidating all my failings.
-- Richard Elman, Namedropping: Mostly Literary Memoirs

He was looking out at the green whorls of English fields and English woods, at the enchanting chalky blue of the English sky, and wondering if this tilled and agreeable little country might not be just the place for a man to revive himself, to shake off those morbid dawn vigils, those nights when it seemed some demonic lapdog crouched on his chest, panting into his face; those lugubrious moods that had troubled him ever since Munich like a cough one could never quite be rid of . . .
-- Andrew Miller, Casanova in Love

Previous visits hadn't yielded this art-after-death aura, which had everything to do with two installations on display, work so lugubrious it cast a pall over . . . well, just over me, but dark clouds hovered above the city, and the gloomy weather might as well have emanated from the art.
-- Bernard Cooper, "The Uses of the Ghoulish", Los Angeles Magazine, February 2001

Lugubrious comes from Latin lugubris, from lugere, to mourn. Entry and Pronunciation for lugubrious

VERITABLE: "being in fact the thing named and not false, unreal, or imaginary"

Merriam-Webster Online
The Word of the Day for May 06, 2008 is:
veritable • \VAIR-uh-tuh-bul\ • adjective

: being in fact the thing named and not false, unreal, or imaginary

Example Sentence:
Melissa is a veritable wellspring of information on local history and folklore.
Did you know?
"Veritable," like its close relative "verity" ("truth"), came to English through Anglo-French from Latin. It is ultimately derived from "verus," the Latin word for "true," which also gave us "verify," "aver," and "verdict." "Veritable" is often used as a synonym of "genuine" or "authentic" ("a veritable masterpiece"), but it is also frequently used to stress the aptness of a metaphor, often in a humorous tone ("a veritable swarm of lawyers"). In the past, usage commentators have objected to the latter use, but today it doesn't draw much criticism.

ODIUM: "Intense hatred or dislike; loathing; abhorrence" of the Day Archive/odium
Word of the Day Archive
Saturday June 4, 2005

odium \OH-dee-uhm\, noun:
1. Intense hatred or dislike; loathing; abhorrence.
2. The state or fact of being intensely hated as the result of some despicable action.
3. Disgrace or discredit attaching to something hated or repugnant.

At the back of the Tyn Church, we were told about the young Jesuit whose harshness earned him the odium of his congregation.
-- Will Cohu, "High spirits and gloomy spectres", Sunday Telegraph, May 16, 1999

The point here is that, for all its efforts at avoiding offence, new Labour has still managed to attract the odium of the paper that regards itself as the voice of Middle England.
-- "Will Mr Brown hang for a sheep or a lamb?", New Statesman, December 2, 2002

But this brought forth nothing but odium on his head, so much so that he had to backtrack soon afterwards.
-- Andrew Stephen, "A nation left unprotected", New Statesman, November 5, 2001

Moralists warn against the spurious sorrow that afflicts the first-person plural of so many collective apologies: We erred, says the penitent, though he clearly intends to shift blame and odium to his fellows.
-- "The Week", National Review, April 19, 2004

Odium comes from the Latin odium, "hatred," from odisse, "to hate." Entry and Pronunciation for odium

ODIUM: "State of disgrace resulting from detestable behavior; hate coupled with disgust"

Bush Executive Order: Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement
Blogged with the Flock Browser

OBFUSCATION: "The activity of obscuring people's understanding, leaving them baffled or bewildered"

shr0464l.jpg (JPEG Image, 334x400 pixels)

OBFUSCATION: "the concealment of meaning in communication"

Obfuscation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• Find out more about navigating Wikipedia and finding information •
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For the term as used in computer science, see Obfuscated code.
Look up Obfuscation in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Obfuscation is the concealment of meaning in communication, making it confusing and harder to interpret.

Obfuscation may be used for many purposes. Doctors have been accused of using jargon to conceal unpleasant facts from a patient. American author Michael Crichton has claimed that medical writing is a "highly skilled, calculated attempt to confuse the reader".[1] B. F. Skinner, noted psychologist, commented on medical notation as a form of multiple audience control which allows the doctor to communicate to the pharmacist things which might be opposed by the patient if they could understand it.[2] Similarly text-based language, like gyaru-moji and some forms of leet are obfuscated to make them incomprehensible to outsiders.

In cryptography, obfuscation refers to encoding the input data before it is sent to a hash function or other encryption scheme. This technique helps to make brute force attacks unfeasible, as it is difficult to determine the correct cleartext.

In network security, obfuscation refers to methods used to obscure an attack payload from inspection by network protection systems.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"I OBJURGATE the centipede, a bug we do not really need." ~ Ogden Nash

And You will be mine!, originally uploaded by Ceslavs.

Word of the Day for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

objurgate \OB-juhr-gayt\, transitive verb:

To express strong disapproval of; to criticize severely.

I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
-- Ogden Nash, "The Centipede"

The act about to be objurgated here calls on the Food and Drug Administration to oversee a broad revision of food labeling.
-- Daniel Seligman, "Federal Food Follies", Fortune, July 1, 1991

Objurgate comes from the past participle of Latin from objurgare, "to scold, to blame," from ob-, "against" + jurgare, "to dispute, to quarrel, to sue at law," from jus, jur-, "law" + -igare (from agere, "to lead"). Entry and Pronunciation for objurgate

Sunday, March 23, 2008


A.Word.A.Day -- cartesian
Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

Cartesian (kar-TEE-zhuhn) adjective

Of or relating to Descartes, his theories, methods, or philosophy, especially its emphasis on mechanistic interpretation.

[From Cartesius, Latin form of Descartes, after philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650).]

Today's word in Visual Thesaurus.

"To visit a modern CAFO (Confined/Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) is to enter a world that, for all its technological sophistication, is still designed according to Cartesian principles: animals are machines incapable of feeling pain. Since no thinking person can possibly believe this any more, industrial animal agriculture depends on a suspension of belief on the part of the people who operate it and a willingness to avert your eyes on the part of everyone else."
Michael Pollan; An Animal's Place; The New York Times; Nov 10, 2002.

When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. -Thomas Carlyle, historian and essayist (1795-1881)

CARTESIAN: "of or relating to Descartes"


Cartesian (kar-TEE-zhuhn) adjective

Of or relating to Descartes, his theories, methods, or philosophy,

especially its emphasis on mechanistic interpretation.

[From Cartesius, Latin form of Descartes, after philosopher René Descartes


"To visit a modern CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) is to enter a

world that, for all its technological sophistication, is still designed

according to Cartesian principles: animals are machines incapable of

feeling pain. Since no thinking person can possibly believe this any more,

industrial animal agriculture depends on a suspension of disbelief on the

part of the people who operate it and a willingness to avert your eyes on

the part of everyone else."

Michael Pollan; An Animal's Place; The New York Times; Nov 10, 2002.

KARUNA: "loving compassion"


karuna (KUH-roo-na) noun

Loving compassion.

[From Sanskrit karuna (compassion).]

"Once we experience and feel this inter-dependence of all living beings,

we will cease to hurt, humiliate, exploit and kill another. We will want

to free all sentient beings from suffering. This is karuna, compassion,

which in turn gives rise to the responsibility to create happiness and

its causes for all."

Suresh Jindal; Interdependence of All Living Beings; The Times of India

(New Delhi); Nov 13, 2003.

REMUNERATE: "to pay an equivalent to for any service, loss, or expense"


Word of the Day for Saturday, March 22, 2008

remunerate \rih-MYOO-nuh-rate\, transitive verb:

1. To pay an equivalent to for any service, loss, or expense; to recompense.

2. To compensate for; to make payment for.

Not to suggest that our bosses remunerate
us for our high moral standards, but creative bureaucrats at Mesa City
Hall have invented a new fund from tax revenue that sets up a $20,000
account for each virtuous City Council member.
-- Art Thomason, "Mesa Puts Quite a Price on Discretion", Arizona Republic, May 18, 2000

The plaintiff could therefore only recover payment for her
services if there was evidence of an implied or express contract by the
business of which he was a partner (or by the plaintiff personally) to remunerate her for the work which she had done.
-- Kate O'Hanlon, "No damages for wife's gratuitous work", Independent, May 27, 1999

[The firm] wanted to meet long-term investment requirements out of retained profits and also to be able to properly remunerate all the staff and give them a share of the profits.
-- Roger Trapp, "Legal firms 'go offshore' to avoid litigation", Independent, May 2, 1996

Remunerate comes from Latin remunerari, "to reward," from re-, "back, again" + munerari, "to give, to present," from munus, "a gift." Entry and Pronunciation for remunerate

ANATHEMA: "a ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity" ALSO "unpleasant person"

Word of the Day for Sunday, March 23, 2008

anathema \uh-NATH-uh-muh\, noun:

1. A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by
ecclesiastical authority, and accompanied by excommunication. Hence:
Denunciation of anything as accursed.

2. An imprecation; a curse; a malediction.

3. Any person or thing anathematized, or cursed by ecclesiastical authority.

4. Any person or thing that is intensely disliked.

The Communists were not prepared to accept any compromises; it was anathema to them that Tibet should have an international personality beyond being a region of China.
-- Tsering Shakya, The Dragon in the Land of Snows:A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947

Academies, the argument went, were anathema to creativity.
-- Deborah Solomon, "How to Succeed In Art", New York Times, June 27, 1999

Advertising was anathema to the Internet ethos, theysaid, and people would never pay for on-line material.
-- Steve Lohr, "The Freewheeling Net Meets the Free Market", New York Times, June 9, 1996

Anathema comes from the Greek word meaning "a thing devoted," especially a thing devoted to evil, hence "a curse," from anatithenai, "to dedicate, to set up," from ana, "up" + tithenai, "to place or put." Entry and Pronunciation for anathema

Friday, March 14, 2008

DIFFIDENT: "lacking self-confidence; timid; unassertive"

Word of the Day for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

diffident \DIF-uh-dunt; -dent\, adjective:

1. Lacking self-confidence; distrustful of one's own powers; timid; bashful.

2. Characterized by modest reserve; unassertive.

He lived naturally in a condition that many greater poets never had, or if they had it, were embarrassed or diffident about it: a total commitment to his own powers of invention, a complete loss of himself in his materials.
-- James Dickey, "The Geek of Poetry", New York Times, December 23, 1979

This schism is embodied in Clarence's two sons: cheerful,
pushy, book-ignorant Jared, a semicriminal entrepreneur who has caught
"the rhythm of America to come" and for whom life is explained in brash
epigrams from the trenches, versus slow, diffident
Teddy, the town postman, uncomfortable with given notions of manhood,
uncompetitive ("yet this seemed the only way to be an American") and
disturbed that others misstate "the delicate nature of reality as he
needed to grasp it for himself."
-- Julian Barnes, "Grand Illusion", New York Times, January 28, 1996

Minny was too delicate and diffident to ask her cousin outright to take her to Europe.
-- Brooke Allen, "Borrowed Lives", New York Times, May 16, 1999

Diffident is from the present participle of Latin diffidere, "to mistrust, to have no confidence," from dis- + fidere, "to trust." The noun form is diffidence. Entry and Pronunciation for diffident

CIRCUMBENDIBUS: "in a roundabout way"

circumbendibus (sur-kuhm-BEN-duh-buhs) noun


[From Latin circum- (around) + English bend + Latin -ibus.]

-Anu Garg (words at

"There are times when [George] Steiner does the exact opposite, dressing
up banalities in the most clotted, Latinate and circumbendibus waffle
in order to make them appear profound."
Christopher Hart; Speaking in Tongues; Sunday Times (London, UK);
Jan 6, 2008.

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BEDIZEN: "To dress or adorn in gaudy manner"

Word of the Day for Friday, March 14, 2008

bedizen \bih-DY-zuhn\, transitive verb:

To dress or adorn in gaudy manner.

At 18, he attended a party "frizzled, powdered and curled, in radiant pink satin, with waistcoat bedizened
with gems of pink paste and a mosaic of colored foils and a hat blazing
with 5,000 metallic beads," according to Michael Battersberry in
"Fashion, The Mirror of History."
-- Donna Larcen, "Details Details: Everything Old Is New Again", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 19, 1994

. . .Ford's 2001-model F-150 SuperCrew "Harley-Davidson" model. This special edition pickup truck is bedizened with enough chrome, leather, and H-D logos to bring a RUBbie (Rich Urban Biker) weeping to his knees.
-- "Summer Autos 2001", Newsday, May 19, 2001

Bedizen is the prefix be-, "completely; thoroughly; excessively" + dizen, an archaic word meaning "to deck out in fine clothes and ornaments," from Middle Dutch disen, "to dress (a distaff) with flax ready for spinning," from Middle Low German dise, "the bunch of flax placed on a distaff." Entry and Pronunciation for bedizen

Word Index