Ok everyone in pursuit of increasing my vocab. I'm starting a word of the day post. Anyone/everyone can add a word, but only one a day. Please don't make up words. This is to help increase writing vocabulary. Please post words you believe a writer could benefit in knowing, understanding, or are unique. If you wish to do a comparative like effect vs affect that's fine. The idea is you can come to this post each day, read the words, and then learn/take what you like. So with that - let's begin. W.
–adjective 1. lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory: the ephemeral joys of childhood. 2. lasting but one day: an ephemeral flower. –noun 3. anything short-lived, as certain insects.
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 16, 2010).]
1: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone <a body of esoteric legal doctrine> 2: requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group <esoteric terminology>; 3: difficult to understand <esoteric subjects> 4: limited to a small circle <engaging in esoteric pursuits> 5: private, confidential <an esoteric purpose> 6: of special, rare, or unusual interest <esoteric building materials>
On my blog (which I don't update or anything) I have an app that does a word every day. I mostly use my blog just to see what other blogs have been updated recently so even if I don't update, I do check nearly daily. Today's: liminal:relating to the point beyond which a sensation becomes too faint to be experienced.
Posts: 232 | Registered: Apr 2010
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phantasmagorical: a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection, or assemblage
Edited based on MattLeo's suggestion: I use this word in my WIP novel when a the protag sees a number of alien creatures communicating in a very unusual way that involves a physical interaction. In that sense they create a 'bizarre assemblage', and I wanted a strange word to convey the strangeness the protag felt.
[This message has been edited by Osiris (edited December 19, 2010).]
Let me suggest an additional wrinkle to this exercise. You don't want to sling unusual words around for no good reason. Unless you happen to be H.P. Lovecraft or E.E. "Doc" Smith, you don't win any prizes for using an unusual word where a common one might do.
So let's say that in addition to defining a word, you explain why and where you would use it, and where you might want to avoid it.
Let me give an example:
blench 1 /blɛntʃ/ to shrink; flinch; quail.
"Blench" an antique word commonly found in Victorian adventure romances, where it is often used in a figurative sense for any involuntary reaction to danger. In those stories it can describe any kind of backing down or or hesitating in the face of a threat, not just a physical action.
"Blench" is not familiar to many modern readers, even reasonably literate ones, so you're probably better off using "flinch" or "blink" or "back down" instead. The exception might be if you have a specific reason to evoke those old Ruritanian Romances (e.g. your story is set in the Victorian era or lampoons the stories of that era).
i actually have to agree with matt here. i picked up an ebook a couple weeks back, under an amoral bridge by gary a ballard, it's a self published book through amazon. I picked it up because i wanted to see what some of the more current writers of cyberpunk were doing. i couldn't couldn't finish it because of both the cursing(and i was a marine, i can make sailors wanna leave a bar)and the fact that the author would use random obscure words when a common word would have worked just as well. Half the time when i looked the word up he was even using them incorrectly. i dont mind looking stuff up but damn it if im going to look it up you better be using it right..
Posts: 55 | Registered: Nov 2010
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1. a. Hardened in wrongdoing or wickedness; stubbornly impenitent: "The obdurate conscience of the old sinner" b. Hardened against feeling; hardhearted: an obdurate miser. 2. Not giving in to persuasion; esp to moral persuasion
from Latin obdūrāre to make hard, from ob- (intensive) + dūrus hard More commonly used words are stubborn, obstinate, intractable, inflexible.
The stubborn old miser... or The obdurate old miser...
Matt and eye - I'm fine with the added detail. I think it helps remember the word and it's usage. I didn't start this for writers to fling around big words carelessly. It's more about increasing vocabulary. So that when you need the right word you have it in mind. If Hatrackers want to just add a word, that's fine. If they want to add detail that's great. But the basic idea is to add a word - what's done with it is up to the writer.
And 'eye' you owe me a word. Admission fee is one word.
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 18, 2010).]
Today I'd like to introduce a word we all know -- but maybe not so well. The word is "scarf".
Scarf usually refers to a strip of cloth, either to be worn around the neck or draped decoratively on a table. But there are two identically spelled homonyms.
"Scarf" can refer to a kind of wood joint where each piece of wood is tapered. It comes from the Old Norse "scarfr" -- "to cut", and has several derived meanings related to tapered forms or using tapered forms:
noun 1. a tapered or otherwise-formed end on each of the pieces to be assembled with a scarf joint. 2. Whaling . a strip of skin along the body of the whale.
verb (used with object) 3. to assemble with a scarf joint. 4.to form a scarf on (the end of a timber). 5.Steelmaking . to burn away the surface defects of (newly rolled steel). 6. Whaling . to make a groove in and remove (the blubber and skin).
There is a third and more intriguing homonym spelled "scarf". It is a slang word meaning "to eat rapidly and voraciously." Etymological speculation puts the origins of this word around 1960, as a derivative of a similar slang word "scoff" with the same meaning that is attested as early as the mid 1800s. The idea is that somehow "scoff" attained a superfluous "r" on the way to becoming "scarf".
I have personal reason to doubt this. Growing up in Boston in the 1960s, "scarf" meaning "to eat voraciously" was in universal use among folk of Irish descent, young or old -- including those too old to pick up the slang of the 50s and 60s. Seamus Heaney, in the introduction to his translation of Beowulf, mentions the phenomenon of English words that have become extinct in England after the Tudor conquest of Ireland that remained in use in Irish dialects of English. I am inclined to suspect "scarf" is one of these. The Old English word "sceorfan" is a candidate root. It means "to gnaw or bite".
In any case, I remember coming across the following line in Macbeth: Come, seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond Which keeps me pale!
Shakespeare is talking about *blindfolding* here -- I think. But my first reading of this was that Macbeth was calling on the night to *gobble up* the tender eye of the pitiful day.
Except that hibernate means "to pass winter". We already have a word for passing water. Several, actually, of varying degrees of crudeness.
Portentous –adjective 1. of the nature of a portent; momentous. 2. ominously significant or indicative: a portentous defeat. 3. marvelous; amazing; prodigious.
I don't like definitions that use other forms of the word, so you get a twofer with a quick definition of portent: noun an indication or omen of something about to happen, esp. something momentous.
Portentous things tend to precede or encompass epic ones. The word can be used to describe: The glowing seals on the ancient evil's chamber, moments before it awakens. The clarion call to battle. The calm before the storm. Most any act of prophecy or seeing/clairvoyance. Harry Potter's divination teacher, Prof. Trelawney, those few times she wasn't acting like a crackpot and actually had a bona fide vision, was downright portentous. Dreams that have a symbolic or mystic component can often fit the bill.
From Prentice Alvin, by our own beloved host: "Oh, it was a portentous thing. My daughter stood there and looked afar off and saw that your big brother was still alive as you came out of the womb--"
[This message has been edited by EP Kaplan (edited December 20, 2010).]
1: darken: to make obscure <obfuscate the issue> 2: confuse: Bewilder <obfuscate the reader> 3: Render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible. <As in obfuscated code for computer science>
#Their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse.
Obfuscation: Is the concealment of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, intentionally ambiguous, and more difficult to interpret.
Late Latin obfuscatus, past participle of obfuscare, from Latin ob- in the way + fuscus dark brown
More common words used instead: Blur, cloud, muddy, confuse
"Eschew obfuscation", also stated as "eschew obfuscation, espouse elucidation", is a humorous fumblerule used by English teachers and professors when lecturing about proper writing techniques.
Literally, the phrase means "avoid being unclear" or "avoid being unclear, support being clear", that the use of relatively uncommon words causes confusion, making the phrase an example of irony, and more precisely a heterological or hypocritical phrase (it does not embody its own advice).
1. Characterized by forcefulness of expression or intensity of emotion or conviction; fervid: <a vehement denial><vehement patriotism> 2: by or full of vigor or energy; strong: <a vehement storm> 3: marked by forceful energy : powerful <a vehement wind> 4: deeply felt <a vehement suspicion> 5: forcibly expressed <vehement denunciations> 6: bitterly antagonistic <a vehement debate>
He issued a vehement denial of the accusation.
Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin vehement-, vehemens, vement-, vemens
chaffer \ CHAF-er \ verb: 1. To bargain; haggle. 2. To bandy words; chatter.
noun: 1. Bargaining; haggling.
"Ours was a place where profit-seeking Phoenician master mariners would come to chaffer the ten thousand gewgaws in their ships: also my father had a Phoenician woman among his bond-maids." -- Homer, The Odyssey
the season of Christmas extending from Dec 24th to Jan 6 (the Festival of Epiphany or Twelfth Night).
Santa; "Bahhh... Christmastide... I have one night to delivery Everything to Everyone and they get to party for Twelve Days!" After a few moments of reflection he chuckles, "Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
12-26-2010 Booo! Christmas is over! Only 365 day left to go till christmas again! Yeeaahhh!
Ok word nerds hears a duesy!
1.one or the other (of two) <either coat will do>: (as pronoun) <either is acceptable> 2. both one and the other <there were ladies at either end of the table> 3. (coordinating) used preceding two or more possibilities joined by ``or'' >you may have either cheese or a sweet> adv (sentence modifier) (used with a negative) used to indicate that the clause immediately preceding is a partial reiteration of a previous clause <John isn't a liar, but he isn't exactly honest either>
[Old English ǣgther, short for ǣghwæther each of two; related to Old Frisian ēider, Old High German ēogihweder
More rules than you can imagine - Warning! You may walk away dizzy after reading the first time.
Usage Notes: The traditional rule holds that either should be used only to refer to one of two items and that any is required when more than two items are involved: Any (not either) of the three opposition candidates still in the race would make a better president than the incumbent. But reputable writers have often violated this rule, and in any case it applies only to the use of either as a pronoun or an adjective. When either is used as a conjunction, no paraphrase with any is available, and so either is unexceptionable even when it applies to more than two clauses: Either the union will make a counteroffer or the original bid will be refused by the board or the deal will go ahead as scheduled. · In either ... or constructions, the two conjunctions should be followed by parallel elements. The following is regarded as incorrect: You may either have the ring or the bracelet (properly, You may have either the ring or the bracelet). The following is also incorrect: She can take either the examination offered to all applicants or ask for a personal interview (properly, She can either take ... ). · When used as a pronoun, either is singular and takes a singular verb: The two left-wing parties disagree with each other more than either does (not do) with the Right. When followed by of and a plural noun, either is often used with a plural verb: Either of the parties have enough support to form a government. But this usage is widely regarded as incorrect; in an earlier survey it was rejected by 92 percent of the Usage Panel. · When all the elements in an either ... or construction (or a neither ... nor construction) used as the subject of a sentence are singular, the verb is singular: Either Eve or Herb has been invited. Analogously, when all the elements in the either ... or construction are plural, the verb is plural too: Either the Clarks or the Kays have been invited. When the construction mixes singular and plural elements, however, there is some confusion as to which form the verb should take. It has sometimes been suggested that the verb should agree with whichever noun phrase is closest to it; thus one would write Either Eve or the Kays have been invited, but Either the Kays or Eve has been invited. This pattern is accepted by 54 percent of the Usage Panel. Others have maintained that the construction is fundamentally inconsistent whichever number is assigned to the verb and that such sentences should be rewritten accordingly.
PS: don't confuse with Ether: A volatile, highly flammable liquid, C2H5OC2H5,
W. X-Mas -1
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 26, 2010).]