charlie's blog

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

new words

This post is long overdue, but things have been busy. Here's a new batch of words, which as usual are either ones I've never seen before or ones I had to 'fess up to not knowing. The words came from various places, including Antarctica, Avenue Q (highly recommended), Anvil of Stars, The Prefect, and The Steel Remains.

quiddity - the essence or inherent nature of something (or, a trifling or academic distinction)
schadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortune of others
indolent - habitually lazy or slothful (I somewhat knew this one already)
eleemosynary - relating to alms, charity, or charitable donations
nacreous - iridescent, resembling mother-of-pearl
quincunx - an arrangement of five objects, with four of the objects forming a square around the fifth object
onomastics - the study of proper names
orrery - a clockwork model of the solar system
pangolin - a type of scaly anteater
rubicon (as in "cross the rubicon") - to undertake an action that cannot be reversed
snarge - the remains of a bird after it has collided with an airplane (wow, there's really a word for this?)
otiose - serving no useful purpose or having no effect
acrostic - a verse in which certain letters (e.g. the first letter of each line) form another word or phrase
sesquipedalian - a very long word, or a person prone to using such words
garrulous - wordy or talkative, possibly to an extreme
horology - the art of designing and making clocks
lagniappe - an extra or unexpected gift or benefit ("luh-nyapp")
oneiric - relating to or suggestive of dreams
tergiversation - to verbally evade or equivocate, or to change sides
pellucid - transparent or clear
gestalt - a configuration or pattern of elements that as a whole exceeds the sum of its parts
quotidian - something which is common or occurs daily
insipid - bland, boring, lacking in flavor
integument - something that covers or encloses
sinecure - a position that requires no work but still gives payment

My favorites from this list are "sesquipedalian" (which literally translates as "a foot and a half"), "lagniappe", and "snarge", mostly because I like how they sound.

"Rubicon" and "insipid" both caught me by surprise. I thought I had a vague idea what "rubicon" meant, but my vague idea was totally wrong. As for "insipid", I was quite sure that it was meant to describe a person or food that was really horrible, but no. Mom gets credit for setting me straight on this one.