Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Obscure Words (part 1)

I think my vocabulary is pretty well endowed, but I always love learning new words. In the past few years I’ve gotten in the habit of making sure to record (the unknown to me at the time) words and the meaning I looked up. They’re suitably obscure that if I don’t write them down with their definition, I might forget them in time. Or it’s just good to go back and review them once in a while to help refresh the memory. This is the list I compiled from about a 5 year period. (And I think a good quarter of the words were from various essays by Christopher Hitchens.)

Words are cool!

Adumbrate: (v)
report or represent in outline; indicate faintly; foreshadow or symbolize.
Afflatus: (n)
a strong creative impulse, especially as a result of divine inspiration.
Aleatory: (adj)
depending on the throw of a dice or on chance; random.
Anfractuous: (adj)
sinuous or circuitous.
Angary: (n)
the right in international law of a belligerent to seize, use, or destroy property of neutrals, or to take over use of neutral ships in case of necessity.
Apodictic: (adj)
clearly established or beyond dispute.
Aporia: (n)
(“impasse, difficulty of passing, lack of resources, puzzlement”) denotes in philosophy, a philosophical puzzle or state of puzzlement, and in rhetoric, a rhetorically useful expression of doubt.
Ashlar: (n)
squared masonry, the finest stone masonry unit, generally cuboid or less frequently trapezoidal.
Asperity: (n)
harshness of tone or manner.
Asteism: (n)
polite irony; a genteel and ingenious manner of deriding another.
Besprent: (adj)
Boîte: (n)
nightclub (French - literally - “a box”).
Brattice: (n)
1. a partition or lining, as of planks or cloth, forming an air passage in a mine.
2. (in medieval architecture) any temporary wooden fortification, especially at the top of a wall.
Caesura: (Caesurae {pl.}): (n)
a complete pause in a line of poetry or in a musical composition; any break, pause or interruption.
Calenture: (n)
1. A heat stroke or fever, caused by the heat in the tropics.
2. A delirium occurring from such symptoms, in which a stricken sailor pictures the sea as grassy meadows and wishes to dive overboard into them.
Caryatid: (n)
a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means “maidens of Karyai”, an ancient town of Peloponnese.
Celeritous: (adj)
Cephalomegalic: (n)
enlargement of the head.
Cineritious: (adj)
like ashes; having the color of ashes.
Cloaca: (n)
1. (Zoology)The common cavity that serves as the opening for the intestinal, genital, and urinary tracts in many vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, many fishes, and certain mammals.
2. A sewer or latrine.
Coarct: (v)
to cause (the aorta) to become narrow or (the heart) to constrict.
Concinnity: (n)
the skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something. studied elegance of literary or artistic style.
Congeries: (n)
a disorderly collection; a jumble.
Deasil: (adv)
to go clockwise or in a direction following the apparent course of the sun. Considered lucky or auspicious. (See also “Widdershins”.)
Decussation: (n)
1. a process of becoming or condition of being crossed in the form of an X.
2. Anatomy. a nerve or tract of nerve fibers that crosses from one side of the central nervous system to the other.
Degustate: (v)
to taste or savor carefully or appreciatively.
Descry: (v)
catch sight of.
Desuetude: (n)
The cessation of use; discontinuance of practice or custom; disuse.
Disquisition: (n)
a long or elaborate essay or discussion on a particular subject.
Effulgent: (adj)
shining brightly; radiant.
Elide: (v)
omit (a sound or syllable) when speaking; join together; merge.
Emolument: (n)
profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services. (originally a miller’s fee for grinding grain, from the French ēmolere, “to grind out”.)
Encomium: (n)
a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly.
Etiolated: (adj)
1. (of a plant) pale and drawn out due to a lack of light.
2. having lost vigor or substance; feeble.
Filatory: (n)
a machine for forming threads.
(adj) denoting a type of consonant made by the friction of breath in a narrow opening, producing a turbulent air flow.
(n) a fricative consonant, e.g., f and th.
Gallimaufry: (n)
1. a hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.
2. a delightful collection of unrelated objects
3. a ragout or hash.
Gelid: (adj)
icy; extremely cold.
Glossolalia: (n)
speaking in tongues; incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language, sometimes occurring in a trance state, an episode of religious ecstasy, or schizophrenia.
Gracile: (adj)
(of a hominid species) of slender build.
(of a person) slender or thin, especially in a charming or attractive way.
Gravid: (adj)
1. pregnant; carrying eggs or young.
2. full of meaning or a specified quality.
Hegira: (n) (Islamic. Also, hejira, hijra.)
any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place.
Illaqueation: (n)
the act of ensnaring; a catching or entrapping
Immanent: (adj)
existing or operating within; indwelling; inherent
“the protection of liberties is immanent in constitutional arrangements”.
Ineluctable: (adj)
unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.
Irredentist: (n)
one who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically related to one’s nation but now subject to a foreign government.
Irruption: (n)
1. a breaking or bursting in; a violent incursion or invasion.
2. (ecology) a sudden increase in an animal population.
Laïcité: (n)
French secularity. The absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as absence of government involvement in religious affairs.
Lambent: (adj)
(of light or fire) glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance.
Lamina: (n)
a thin plate or scale.
(v informal) To beat, flog, whip or thrash.
(n) A blow.
Lissajous: (n)
any of an infinite variety of curves formed by combining two mutually perpendicular simple harmonic motions, commonly exhibited by the oscilloscope, and used in studying frequency, amplitude, and phrase relations of harmonic variables.
Longinquity: (n)
remoteness or isolation, or any vast distance in space or time.
Ludibund: (adj)
sportive, recreational, playful, frolicsome
Marmoreal: (adv)
of, relating to, or suggestive of marble or a marble statue especially in coldness or aloofness.
Mickle: (n) Archaic Scottish
a large amount.
Micturition: (n)
the act of passing urine; urination.
Muniment: (n) Archaic
a means of defense.
Nefandous: (adj)
unfit to be spoken of, impious, execrable, unspeakable, appalling.
Nictation‎: (n)
the process of winking or blinking rapidly, as in certain birds or animals or as the result of a tic in humans.
Niddering‎: (n) Archaic 
a cowardly person; a wretch.
Niddicock: (n)
a foolish person; a noodle.
Nuncupatory: (adj)
existing in name only. Can also be used to describe a verbal rather than written agreement.
Obambulate: (v)
to walk about
Obequitate: (v)
to ride about on horseback
Obscurantism: (n)
1. opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge.
2. deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity.
Opisthognathous: (adj)
having receding jaws.
Orrery: (n)
1. an apparatus for representing the positions, motions, and phases of the planets, satellites, etc., in the solar system.
2. any of certain similar machines, as a planetarium.
Pachysandra: (n)
a genus of five species of evergreen perennials or subshrubs, belonging to the boxwood family Buxaceae.
Palimpsest: (n)
writing material (ie. parchment) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
Panjandrum: (n)
a person who has or claims to have a great deal of authority or influence.
(adj archaic) full of danger or uncertainty; precarious.
(adv archaic) greatly or excessively.
Parturition: (n)
childbirth, the process of delivering the baby and placenta from the uterus to the vagina to the outside world. Also called labor and delivery.
Pellucid: (adj)
translucently clear. lucid in style or meaning; easily understood. (of music or other sound) clear and pure in tone.
Perfervid: (adj)
very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned.
Persiflage: (n)
light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter; a frivolous or flippant style of treating a subject.
Pervigilation: (n)
careful watching.
Phenakistoscope: (n)
an early animation device that used a spinning disk of sequential images and the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.
(adj) Of, relating to, or being a speech sound produced by complete closure of the oral passage and subsequent release accompanied by a burst of air, as in the sound (p) in pit or (d) in dog.
(n) A plosive speech sound.
Pollard: (n)
a tree or animal which has been polled (had its branches, horns or antlers removed).
1. A tree whose top branches have been cut back to the trunk so that it may produce a dense growth of new shoots.
2. An animal, such as an ox, goat, or sheep, that no longer has its horns.
Postprandial (adj)
following a meal, especially dinner.
Prognathous: (adj)
having protrusive jaws; in Craniometry, having a gnathic index over 103.
Pullulating: (v)
1. to send forth sprouts, buds, etc.; germinate; sprout.
2. to breed, produce, or create rapidly.
3. to increase rapidly; multiply.
4. to exist abundantly; swarm; teem.
5. to be produced as offspring.
Ragyaba: (n)
Tibetan “untouchables” who perform sky burials.
Rebarbative: (adj)
causing annoyance, irritation, or aversion; repellent.
Saccade: (n)
a small rapid jerky movement of the eye especially as it jumps from fixation on one point to another (as in reading).
Sinecure: (n)
an office or position requiring little or no work, especially one yielding profitable returns.
Sphex: (n)
wasp genus (commonly known as digger wasps) of the family Sphecidae that sting and paralyze prey insects.
Stepney: (n)
spare tire.
Sui Generis: (adj)
being the only example of its kind; unique; in a class or group of its own; not like anything else.
Syncretic: (n)
the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.
(n) a rapid gallop or ride
(adj) moving or riding swiftly
Tardigradous: (adj)
slow-paced; moving or stepping slowly.
Tensegrity: (n)
the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not.
Torus: (n)
1. (Architecture) a large convex molding, more or less semicircular in profile, commonly forming the lowest molding of the base of a column, directly above the plinth, sometimes occurring as one of a pair separated by a scotia and fillets. and column.
2. (Geometry) a doughnut-shaped surface generated by the revolution of a conic, especially a circle, about an exterior line lying in its plane.
the solid enclosed by such a surface.
3. (Botany) the receptacle of a flower.
a thickening of the wall membrane in the bordered pits occurring in the tracheid cells of the wood of many conifers.
4. (Anatomy) a rounded ridge; a protuberant part.
Totipotent: (adj)
capable of developing into a complete organism or differentiating into any of its cells or tissues.
(adj) a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise.
(n) an ultracrepidarian person.
Usufruct: (n)
the temporary right to the use and enjoyment of the property of another, without damaging or changing the character of the property.
Verbigeration: (n)
the involuntary repetition of meaningless words and phrases.
Volar: (adj)
the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot.
Widdershins: (adv)
to go counter-clockwise, or to go lefthandwise, “in a direction opposite to the usual”, or to walk around an object by always keeping it on the left. i.e. literally, it means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun viewed from the Arctic Circle. Considered unlucky. (See also “Deasil”)
(adj) proceeding by inquiry; investigating
(n) inquirer

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