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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Vocab - Word of the day. (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Vocab - Word of the day.
walexander
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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.

12-15-2010

Ephemeral

–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).]


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walexander
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12-16-2010

Esoteric

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>


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Robert Nowall
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horticulture

from the Latin hortus, a garden, and cultura, culture.

The art of cultivating a garden, be it flowers or shrubs or fruits or vegetables...or the cultivation of a garden itself.

Use the word in a sentence:

"You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." (---attributed to Spider Robinson.)

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited December 16, 2010).]


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RoxyL
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I found this one reading a political blog and had to look it up:

lacuna (n) or lacunal (adj)

1. gap - a gap or place where something is missing, e.g. in a manuscript or a line of argument.

2. small cavity - anatomoy a small cavity, e.g.in bone or cartilage


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TamesonYip
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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.

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PB&Jenny
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quintessential - Representing the perfect example of a class or quality.

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Osiris
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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).]


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Tiergan
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Sward

noun
1
: a portion of ground covered with grass
2
: the grassy surface of land


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walexander
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12-17-2010

Conclave

1. A secret or confidential meeting. A lockable room.
2. A meeting of family members or associates.
3. Roman Catholic Church
a. The private rooms in which the cardinals meet to elect a new pope.

Rox - I found Lacuna can also mean-

A decorative sunken panel in a ceiling, dome, soffit, or vault. Similar to the word Coffer

Thank you to everyone who has added so far.

[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 17, 2010).]


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babooher
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mawkish

1: having an insipid often unpleasant taste
2: sickly or puerilely sentimental


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MattLeo
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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).


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eyegore242
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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..

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walexander
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12-18-2010

Obdurate

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.

W.

[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 18, 2010).]


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Robert Nowall
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meretricious

An adjective, describing something that's superficially attractive but without value, or false though plausible at first glance.

From, ultimate, the Latin meretrix, a prostitute.

Used:

"This work is meretricious."

"Pardon me, but what was that word you used?"

"Meretricious!"

"Oh...and a Happy New Year to you, too!"


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walexander
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12-19-2010

Insipid

1: lacking taste or savor : tasteless <insipid food>
2: lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge: dull, flat <insipid prose>

# The soup was rather insipid.
# - an apple pie with a mushy, insipid filling that strongly resembled soggy cardboard.

French & Late Latin; French insipide, from Late Latin insipidus, from Latin in- + sapidus savory, from sapere to taste.
First Known Use: 1609


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EP Kaplan
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Prehensile
–adjective
1.
adapted for seizing, grasping, or taking hold of something: a prehensile tail.
2.
able to perceive quickly; having keen mental grasp.
3.
greedy; grasping; avaricious.

Use it when describing alien body parts (or, even those of earth creatures, since let's face it, the coolest thing monkeys do is hang from their prehensile tails).

[This message has been edited by EP Kaplan (edited December 19, 2010).]


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PB&Jenny
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yeoman - the owner of a small farm
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MattLeo
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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.


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babooher
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excoriate

1: to wear off the skin of : abrade
2: to censure scathingly

Although it was physically painless when the boss excoriated me in front of everyone, I still felt like I had been spanked.


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shimiqua
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Hydronate

verb - Hibernate in water. Used in a sentence, "After a day like I just had, I'm gonna hydronate for the next hour or so. Use the other bathroom."

I made it up, but I feel it is a necessary word, and that there is a gap in the English language just large enough for hydronate to fit in.

~Sheena


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EP Kaplan
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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).]


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walexander
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12-20-2010

Obfuscate

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).

Antonyms: clarify, illuminate


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Robert Nowall
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isthmus

From isthmos, Greek for island.

A narrow strip of land between two larger land masses; i. e. the Isthmus of Panama between North and South America.

Used in a sentence:

"Isthmus be my lucky day."

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited December 20, 2010).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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It appears that we need to find the Salmon of Correction and give Robert a WHAP! or two with it.
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MattLeo
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roué
n.
1. A rakish boulevardier, much given to opprobrious amatory inveiglements.


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Robert Nowall
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salmonella

Any of a number of bacteria from the genus Salmonella, that are associated with food poisoning---or the food poisoning itself.

Used in a sentence:

"Salmonella, sitting in a tree..."


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genevive42
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Disparate

distinct in kind; essentially different; dissimilar: disparate ideas.

Used in a sentence:

There are too many disparate ideas here that don't make a cohesive argument.


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babooher
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First off, Mr. Nowall, hats off to you, sir!

Now for my entry:

aquiline
adj

1. of or like an eagle
2. of a nose, curved like an eagle's beak; hooked

She could have been a model but for her aquiline nose.


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walexander
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12-21-2010

Veracious vs. Voracious

Veracious
1. Habitually speaking the truth; truthful; honest: a veracious witness.
2. Characterized by truthfulness; true, accurate, or honest in content: a veracious statement; a veracious account.

from Latin vērax, from vērus true]

He has a reputation for being veracious, so people generally take his word.

Antonym: Mendacious

Voracious

1. Craving or consuming large quantities of food: a voracious appetite.
2. Exceedingly eager or avid: voracious readers; a voracious collector.

Latin vorac-, vorax, from vorare to devour; akin to Old English ācweorran to guzzle, Latin gurges whirlpool, Greek bibrōskein to devour.

The voracious appetite of the werewolf only fed its hunger to kill.

Antonym: apathetic

The two words are spelled the same except for the difference of e or o.

[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 21, 2010).]


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walexander
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12-21-2010

Overt

1: Done or shown openly; plainly or readily apparent, not secret or hidden; an overt act of aggression; in untreated cases, overt psychosis may occur

2: open and observable; "an overt lie"; "overt hostility"; "overt intelligence gathering"; "overt ballots"

Middle English, from Old French, past participle of ovrir, to open, of Latin - aperre

overtly - in an overt manner; "he did it overtly"
overtness - The state of being overt; openness

covert (concealed, covered, hidden) is the opposite of overt.

Overt is sometimes confused with: Avert (which means to prevent or turn away)

Words regularly used: apparent, clear, observable, open, visible

[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 22, 2010).]


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babooher
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jactation (n)

boasting or bragging

I could not stand his jactation.


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philocinemas
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Sometimes a word just pops up and haunts you. You start seeing it everywhere you go. The following word has been haunting me of late, so I thought I'd just exercise it here:

apotheosis

1 - (noun) the elevation to divine status
2 - (noun) the glorification/deification of an act, person, principle, etc.
3 - (noun) the perfect example

Gk -
apo- preposition meaning to separate, possibly to divine as...
theos - god/godly
-is - suffix, making word a noun.
- something recognized or established as godly or an example of perfection.

The tree of life was the apotheosis of humankind's yearning for immortality.

[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited December 22, 2010).]


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babooher
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Hey MattLeo,

I just wanted to say that after I looked up all the words in your definition for roué, I decided that it would fit perfectly in a short I'm working on. Thanks.


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Foste
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This one popped up at my blog today:

nyctophobia
noun: An abnormal fear of night or darkness.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin nycto (night) + -phobia (fear)


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Robert Nowall
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egregious

From the Latin egregius, which means "out of the common flock."

Adjective: doing something flamboyantly bad and / or undesireable, in the sense of a blunder.

Example: "Egregious Philbin hosts a talk show in the mornings with Kelly Ripa."


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walexander
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12-23-2010

vehement

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

Antonyms: nonassertive, nonemphatic, unemphatic


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walexander
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12-24-2010

Fervent

1. intensely passionate; <a fervent desire to change society>
2. Archaic or poetic boiling, burning, or glowing <fervent heat>

[from Latin fervēre to boil, glow]

May your lover have a fervent soul this Christmas.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!
I'll keep my fingers crossed that you made the good list
No hope for me this year. Naughty list all the way - Another lump of coal in the ol' sock.


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PB&Jenny
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Vernacular - adj: Being or characteristic of or appropriate to everyday language
"a vernacular term"; "vernacular speakers"

noun: 1. A characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves)
2. The everyday speech of the people (as distinguished from literary language)

Used in a sentence: "I have not heard such spectacular vernacular as I have witnessed today."


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mfreivald
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defenestrate

verb
throw through or out of the window; "The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President"


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MikeL
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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


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Robert Nowall
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boondoggle

Originally from American slang, probably deriving from the same Phillipine source as "boondocks."

Noun (usually), meaning something that's a complete and utter waste of time, usually at government expense.

Sentence: "How much is that boondoggle in the window? The one with the waggly tail?"


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DRaney
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Christmastide;

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!"


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walexander
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12-25-2010 Yeah! Christmas!

Indecorous

1: Lacking propriety or good taste.

2: Improper or ungraceful; unseemly

3: Not decorous : conflicting with accepted standards of good conduct or good taste

Due to my indecorous behavior all year long Santa created a whole new list category: Irremediable.

Latin indecorus, from in- + decorus decorous

Usual word used - Naughty

Antonym: Nice

Merry Christmas Hatrackers! May you all have a day filled with wonder and joyous delight!


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Robert Nowall
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mnemonic

from the Greek mnemonikos, pertaining to memory, back to mnemon, mindful, and mnasthai, to remember---the same root as mind.

Noun: memory training, often involving the substitution or use of humor to force remembrances: "Oh, be a fine girl and kiss me..." (figure out what that decodes to!)

Used in a sentence: "The efforts at study were hampered by a mnemonic influence."


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walexander
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12-26-2010 Booo! Christmas is over! Only 365 day left to go till christmas again! Yeeaahhh!

Ok word nerds hears a duesy!

Either

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).]


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PB&Jenny
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aberration [ab-uh-rey-shuhn] – noun

1. the act of departing from the right, normal, or usual course.

2. the act of deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type.

3. deviation from truth or moral rectitude.

4. mental irregularity or disorder, esp. of a minor or temporary nature; lapse from a sound mental state.

5. Astronomy - apparent displacement of a heavenly body, owing to the motion of the earth in its orbit.

6. Optics - any disturbance of the rays of a pencil of light such that they can no longer be brought to a sharp focus or form a clear image.

7. Photography - a defect in a camera lens or lens system, due to flaws in design, material, or construction, that can distort the image.

[This message has been edited by PB&Jenny (edited December 27, 2010).]


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Robert Nowall
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tachyon

...not in my late 1970s dictionary, but would seem to derive from the Greek tachys, "quick."

Noun, a hypothetical (far as I know) particle that always moves faster than the speed of light. Useful in assorted science fiction scenarios.

Used in a sentence: "My stars, girl, that dress sure looks tachyon you..."


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DRaney
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Well one of us has to slip the bounds... completely;

Lopadotemachoselachogale-okranioleipsanodrimhypot-rimmatosilphioparaome-litokatakechymenokichlepi-kossyphophattoperisteralek-tryonoptekephlliokigklop-eleiolagoiosiraiobaphetrag-ano pterygon.

“a goulash composed of all the leftovers from the meals of the leftovers from the meals of the last two weeks.” Or, hash (from Aristophanes’ The Ecclesiazusae).

Pg 118 of Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words, University Books, 1974.

[This message has been edited by DRaney (edited December 27, 2010).]


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PB&Jenny
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Like I said. Aberration. LOL
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walexander
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12-27-2010

Loquacious

1. talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous: <a loquacious dinner guest.>

2. characterized by excessive talk; wordy: <easily the most loquacious play of the season.>

1660–70; loquaci(ty) + -ous

* DR now you have to use it in a sentence.
* Robert your best pun yet.
* It's a fitting word PB&J.

[This message has been edited by walexander (edited December 27, 2010).]


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