Important Infrequently Used Words To Know

(The Capitalized syllable gets the emphasis)


alacrity a-LACK-ra-tee
cheerful willingness and promptness
anathema a-NATH-a-ma
a thing or person cursed, banned, or reviled
anodyne AN-a-dine
anything that sooths or comforts
aphorism AFF-oar-ism
a short, witty saying or concise principle
apostate ah-POSS-tate (also: apostasy)
person who has left the fold or deserted the faith.
arrogate ARROW-gate
to make an unreasonable claim
atavistic at-a-VIS-tic
reverting to a primitive type
avuncular a-VUNC-you-lar
"like an uncle"; benevolent
bathos BATH-ose
an anticlimax
bereft ba-REFT
to be deprived of something valuable
"He was bereft of reason."
calumny KAL-um-knee
a slander or false accusation
canard kan-ARD
a fabricated story (French="duck"; morte canard=dead duck)

cant kant
insincerity
chimera ki-MEER-ah (not: chim-er-ah)
Originally: a mythical beast; any unreal thing; foolish fancy
(adj=chimerical ki-MEER-a-cal)
cloy
to grow sick from an abundance of something
comitatus com-a-TAY-tus
loyalty to one's band or group
concatenation con-CAT-a-nation
things linked together or joined in a chain
copacetic
"going just right"

A favorite word used my father in the 1940s and beyond. Google the word and
you will get at least five suspected origins. The one among them I prefer is
from Louisiana French: "couper sètique" which translates as "able to
cope with".


cosseted KOS-a-ted
pampered
cupidity que-PID-a-tee
greed; avarice
cynosure SIGH-na-shore (from the Greek: "dog's tail")
center of attention; point to which all eyes are drawn.

(Really? From "dog's tail"? Yes. The "dog's tail" appears in a constellation,
locating the North star, which rivets the attention of sailors at sea. Thus:
center of attention.)


(see also: sinecure)

dilettante DILL-ah-tent
1. having superficial/amateurish interest in a branch of knowledge;
2. a connoisseur or lover of the fine arts
discursive dis-KUR-seive
covering a wide field of subjects
docent DOE-cent
a teacher, but not regular faculty; a museum tour guide
egregious a-GREE-jous
conspiculously bad; flagrant; shocking
epigone EP-a-goan
a second rate imitator or follower
fatuous FAT-chew-us
foolish; stupid; silly
felicity fa-LISS-a-tee
bliss; a pleasing aptness in speech and deportment; grace
furtive FURR-tive
sly; shifty; secretive
gratuitous gra-TOO-a-tus
given freely
haik HIKE
a large piece of cloth worn as an outer garment by Arabs.
heuristic HYOUR-is-tik (noun)
an idea or speculation acting as a guide to an investigation
hubris HUE-bris
arrogance from excessive pride or passion (hubristic)
ignominy IG-na-min-ee (noun) (also: ignoble)
signifying disgrace or dishonour (ignominious)
incisive in-SI-seive
displaying sharp mental perception; direct and effective
inimical in-IM-a-cal
unfriendly; hostile
insipid in-SIP-id (adj.)
Lacking flavor, zest, or interest; dull
insuperable in-SUPER-a-bul
not able to be overcome
inveigh in-VAY
attack verbally
iterative IT-ter-a-tive
something recurring or repeating
("An iterative process")
jeremiad jer-a-MY-add
a series of doleful, dismal complaints
lagniappe lan-yap (noun) (a Creole word)
something given away as a gift for buying something else;
(such as an ashtray given for buying a full tank of gas)
leitmotif LIGHT-moe-teef
a dominant or recurring theme or pattern
luddite LUD-ite
a person who tries to halt progress by smashing machines
manque mon-KAY
unfulfilled; frustrated (literally: maimed)
"He was an artist manque."
maudlin MAUDE-lin
easily emotional
mendacious men-DAY-shous (adj.)
untruthful. (the noun is mendacity)
meretricious mer-a-TRISH-ous
deceitful; tawdry

(Note that the two words above are pejorative, but if the
meaning is not known, they "sound" meritorious.)


misanthrope MISS-an-throwp
a person who dislikes the human race
nugatory NEW-ga-tory
trifling; worthless; ineffective
obloquy OB-la-key
a public reproach
opprobrium ah-PROBE-re-um
disgrace arising from shameful conduct;
a reproach mingled with contempt
"That word - a term of opprobrium - cut him like a knife."
paradigm PEAR-ah-dime
"side by side"; a pattern or example. A "paradigm shift" is
usually used to signify a major change in thinking or acting,
in the sense of employing new examples.
parvenue PAR-ven-oou
an upstart; someone trying to rise above their proper place
pejorative pa-JOUR-a-tive
tending to be worse; downgrading; disparaging
penury PEN-your-ee
extreme poverty
peremptory per-EM-tory
a command which may not be refused
perdition per-DISH-un
future misery, such as in going to Hell
perfidy PUR-fa-dee
treachery; falsehood (perfidious is the adjective)
perfunctory pur-FUNK-tory
done routinely, with little interest or care
peripatetic PER-ee-pa-TET-ick
walking about; itinerant (Often used to describe Aristotle)
philistine PHIL-a-stine
a person lacking culture; narrow minded with common tastes
poignant POIN-yent An adjective with multiple flavors:
1: appealing to emotion 2: physically painful 3: sharp, pungent
4: piercing, incisive 5: astute, pertinent 6: neat, skillful
poltroon pole-troon
a thouroughly cowardly person
polymath polly-math
a person of great or (more usually) varied learning.
(poly=much math=learning)
presentiment pre-SENT-a-ment
a foreboding of misfortune
propitiate pro-PISH-ee-ate
pacify
puerile PURE-ill (Fr.: "puer" - child)
juvenile, immature, childish
punctilio punk-TILL-ee-oh (noun)
a fine point of etiquette; precise observance of formalities
or ceremony; precise to the letter
rancor RANG-kur
vindictive malice
rapacity ra-PASS-a-tee
act of seizing that which is coveted; greed
recondite REK-in-dite
hard to understand; profound; obscure; concealed
regnant REG-nant
reigning; predominant; widespread
samizdat SAM-iz-dot
an underground newspaper
sanguine SANG-win
cheerful, confident
sanguinary SANG-win-airy
bloody

(note the huge difference in meaning between the above two
similarly sounding words)


saturnine SAT-ter-nine
morose; gloomy
scurrilous SKER-a-less
grossly offensive and vulgar
seriatim sir-ee-AT-um
occuring one after another; in serial fashion
sinecure SIN-a-cure
a job (usually politically appointed) requiring little or no
work.
(See also: cynosure)
sobriquet so-bric-KAY
a nickname or an assumed name ("Minnesota Fats")
solecism SOL-a-sys-um
an ungrammatical combination of words
specious SPEE-shous
appearing to be right; deceptively good looking
spurious SPYOUR-ee-ous
false
sycophant SIGH-ko-phant
a flattering parasite
terse
short and to the point; pithy
turpitude TUR-pa-toode
depravity
unctuous UNK-shus
oily and persuasive
venal VEE-nal
a sacrifice of honor for profit
veracity ver-ASS-a-tee
truthfulness
voracity vor-ASS-a-tee
greed

(the above two words are very close in spelling and
pronunciation, but mean quite different things.)


verisimilitude ver-ah-SIM-ah-la-tude
the quality of appearing to be true or real