QUOTIDIAN WORD ARCHIVES
MASTER LIST – updated 11.20.2006
Abulia (ay-BOO-lee-uh) noun
1. abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions
Ex. It was one of those mid-afternoon classes, when
abulia settles in and the desire to learn is overtaken by
a longing to toss a frisbee on the quad.
Etym. From a New Latin word that combines the prefix a-
"without" and boulē "will."
Agio (AZH-ee-oh) noun
1. a fee charged for exchanging currencies (more commonly
known as commission)
Ex. The agio is typically lower at banks and ATMs than in
Alma mater (AL-muh MAU-ter) noun
1. a school or university which one has attended or from
which one has graduated
2. the song or hymn of such school
Ex. I recently sent a donation to my alma mater.
Apocryphal (a-POK-ri-ful) adj.
1. of doubtful authenticity
2. spurious; false
Ex. He lays claim to this parcel of land with an
Apropos (a-pre-PO) adverb
1. at an opportune time; seasonably
Ex. Your arrival was apropos.
2. adj.ective – being to the point
Ex. I appreciate the clarity of an apropos speech.
Argentiferous (ar-jen-TI-fer-us) adj.
1. containing silver
Ex. I see you have bedecked yourself in argentiferous
riches in an effort to dissuade me from ogling other
Ex. 2. The Mississippi is often mined for its
argentiferous deposits of galena.
Etym. From the Latin argentum, meaning silver.
Barrio (BAR-ee-oh) noun
1. a district of a city or town in Spanish speaking
2. a Spanish-speaking area of a city or town in the
United States, esp. in the Southwest.
Ex. The barrios are often the poorest parts of large U.S.
Etym. Spanish for “neighborhood,” ultimately from Arabic
barriya, “open country.”
Blackball (BLAK-bawl) verb
1. to vote against; esp. to exclude from membership by
casting a negative vote
2. to exclude socially; ostracize
3. noun – a negative vote
Ex. Calvin and Hobbes routinely blackball girls in their
frequent treetop G.R.O.S.S. meetings.
Boondoggle (BOON-daw-gul) noun, verb
1. a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a hatband or
2. a wasteful or impractical project often involving
3. verb : to do useless, wasteful, or trivial work
4. verb : to deceive or attempt to deceive
Ex. Enron’s CEO was jailed for boondoggling investors.
Etym. Unknown, though attributed to American scoutmaster
R.H. Link as a name for the braided cord described in
Brainiac (BRAY-knee-ack) noun
1. a very intelligent person
Ex. Her son is a brainiac when it comes to computers.
Ex. 2. Video game companies employ armies of brainiacs to
do the best graphic design work.
Etym. From Braniac, superintelligent villain in Superman.
Brainiac first appeared in Action Comics #242 (July
1. unwavering loyalty to a political party
2. having the characteristic of always voting along party
Ex. Grandpa is a diehard, brass-collar Democrat, having
never voted for a Republican in his life.
Etym. Likely from the image of a faithful dog, bound by a
collar and leash.
Brumal (BREW-mul) adj.
1. archaic : indicative of or occurring in the winter;
Ex. The brumal winds howled like a pack of wolves and
sucked the warmth from my bones.
Etym. From the Latin bruma, “winter”
Callipygian (cal-i-PIJ-i-en) adj.
1. pertaining to or having shapely buttocks
Ex. The gym was full of men on a quest for the
Catoptromancy (ka-TOP-tro-man-see) noun
1. divination by means of a mirror
Ex. In the world of children's animation, catoptromancy
is largely the province of evil overlords and jealous
queens, whose mirrors tend to give them painful truths.
Etym. From katoptron, mirror + manteia, divination
Celerity (se-LER-i-tee) noun
1. speed or rapidity of motion
Ex. She speaks with great celerity.
Ex. 2: The army moved toward its target with a celerity
Chilblain (CHIL-blayne) noun
1. an inflammatory swelling produced by exposure to cold,
affecting the hands and feet, accompanied with heat,
itching, and occasionally ulceration
Ex. After hours of camping in a damp chill, his hands
were covered in gruesome chilblains.
Etym. From chill + blain
Cloying (KLOY-ing) adj.
1. something originally pleasing that is made disgusting
or distasteful by excess
Ex. The air was full of the cloying smell of sweet
Concupiscence (con-CUE-pi-sens) noun
1. ardent sexual desire; LUST
Ex. Her presence aroused in him an uncontrollable
concupiscence that was not easily slaked.
Confabulate (con-FAB-u-late) verb
1. to talk informally; CHAT
2. to fill in gaps in memory by fabrication
Ex. Dad is in the parlor confabulating with a prospective
Crosier (KRO-zher) noun
1. a staff with a crook or cross at one end, carried
before an abbot, bishop, or archbishop as a symbol of
2. the coiled young frond of any of various ferns, some
of which are considered a delicacy when cooked (also
called a fiddlehead)
Ex. The abbot carried a wooden crosier before him,
resting upon it from time to time as though it were a
Demimonde (DEM-i-mond) noun
1. a distinctive class or group that is often an isolated
part of a larger class or group, esp. one having
little reputation or prestige
2. a class of women on the fringes of respectable society
supported by wealthy lovers
Ex. He was but one member of the great literary demimonde
of trashy romance novels and throw-away teen ghost
Deracinate (dee-RAY-sin-ate) verb
2. to displace from one’s native or accustomed
Ex. To keep an orderly garden, you must frequently
deracinate unwanted weeds.
Ex. 2: During World War II, Hitler deracinated millions
of German-born Jews as a part of his “final solution.”
Diablerie (dee-OB-lur-ee) noun
1. black magic; sorcery
2. a representation, in words or pictures, of black magic
or dealings with the devil
3. devilish or mischievous conduct
Ex. One’s tendency to engage in diablerie is greater in a
place like Las Vegas, where everyone shares the common
purpose of drinking too much and sleeping too little.
Etym. From the Greek diabolos, meaning “accuser” or
Doppelganger (DOP-el-GANG-er) noun
1. a ghostly counterpart of a living person
2. alter ego
Ex. Each full moon, a doppelganger follows in his steps,
driving all traces of sanity from his brain.
Etym. German, meaning “double goer”
Eldritch (EL-dritch) adj.
1. strange or unearthly
Ex. The eldritch screams froze his bones and sent a chill
through his heart.
eleemosynary (e-li-MAW-sin-air-ee) adj.
1. of, relating to, or supported by charity; CHARITABLE
Ex. Victims of large natural disasters frequently depend
on eleemosynary relief from private individuals.
Ex. 2: The church is supported by donations from an
anonymous, eleemosynary benefactor.
Etym. From the Late Latin eleemosyna, “alms.”
Encyclical (in-SICK-li-kul) adj.
1. addressed to all the individuals of a group
2. noun : a letter, esp. one sent by the Pope to the
bishops of the church
Ex. My inbox is constantly overflowing with daily
encyclicals from the school dean.
Enfant terrible (ahn-FAHN ter-EE-bluh) noun
1. a child whose inopportune remarks cause embarrassment
2. a person known for shocking comments or outrageous
3. a usu. young and successful person who is strikingly
unorthodox or innovative
Ex. Five years ago, Napster founder Sean Fanning was the
enfant terrible of the file-sharing business.
Escamotage (es-cam-oh-TAZH) noun
1. spiriting away (as of a person) by magic
2. a retraction; evasion
3. fraudulent appropriation of the results of the labor
of others; trickery [Lenin]
Ex. The old rabbit out of the hat trick is mere
Etym. From the French verb escamoter, which means “to
evade, get around, dodge, or conjure away.”
Esprit d’escalier (eh-SPREE des-kal-i-YE) noun
1. a witty remark thought of too late
Etym. From the notion that one thinks of the perfect
remark on his way out (literally, “wit of the
Feuilleton (foi-yay-TON) noun
1. the part of a European newspaper or magazine devoted
to light literature, reviews, and things of interest
to the general reader
2. an article appearing in this section
3. a novel published in installments
Ex. In the 19th century, feuilletons were commonplace;
readers were thus accustomed to waiting a full week to
read the next chapter of a novel.
Note. Because this word is French, the final ‘n’ should
be pronounced nasally.
Flabbergast (FLA-bur-gast) verb
1. to put to confusion or embarrassment; to astonish
Ex. Ms. Tippet was so flabbergasted by the appearance of
her son at the wedding that she fainted, and not even the
strongest smelling salts could avail her.
Etym. Perhaps a combination of flabber + aghast,
suggestive of the shaking one does when utterly
Fuliginous (fyoo-LI-juh-nus) adjective
1. sooty, obscure, murky
2. having a dark or dusky color
Ex. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, London
was perhaps the most fuliginous city on earth.
Ex. 2: The mountains were obscured in a fuliginous mantle
Etym. From the Latin fuligo, “soot.”
Gasconade (gas-kuh-NADE) noun
1. bravado or exaggerated boasting
Ex. Despite all his gasconade, he failed to finish the
job on time.
Etym. from the French gascon, “boaster,” in turn from
Gascon, an inhabitant of the town of Gascony, notorious
for its boastful citizens.
Gorgonize (GOR-gu-nize) verb
1. to have a paralyzing or mesmerizing effect on; STUPEFY
Ex. The young lass was instantly gorgonized by the
shapely frame of the newly arrived stranger from New
Etym. From the Greek gorgos, for "terrifying."
Gourmand (GOR-mawnd) noun
1. one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking
2. one who is heartily interested in good food and drink
Ex. My father is a regular gourmand; he can recommend a
good glass of wine with any meal.
Grandiloquent (gran-DIL-o-kwent) adj.
1. pompously eloquent
2. making a show of knowledge by using large words
Ex. He was so grandiloquent I could barely understand
Gretna Green noun
1. a place where many eloping couples are married
Ex. Since Nevada has no waiting period for a marriage
license, it has long been an ideal Gretna Green for
Etym. from the Scottish village of the same name
Haver (HAY-ver) verb
1. to talk nonsense (Scotland & N England)
Ex. Don’t ask him, he’ll just haver at you about how good
things used to be.
Note. havers! = nonsense!
hyperborean (high-per-BOR-ee-un) adjective
1. of or relating to an extreme northern region: frozen
2. of or relating to any of the arctic peoples
Ex. Although she had endured many a hyperborean winter
during her childhood, she always wore a jacket whenever
the mercury dipped below 60.
Etym. From Greek hyper- "above" + Boreas "god of the
north wind." Literally, "beyond the north wind."
Lariat (LAR-ee-et) noun
1. a long light rope with a running noose used to catch
Ex. The rancher showed his new cowhand how to tie a
lariat, so that he might go out and bring in the
Etym. From Spanish la reata, “the lasso.”
Legerdemain (le-jer-duh-MAIN, le-ZHER-du-) noun
1. a display of skill or cleverness, esp. for deceitful
Ex. The Democratic candidate won a senate seat in a
dazzling display of political legerdemain.
Etym. From the French leger de main, or “light of hand.”
Lexiphanicism (lex-i-FAN-i-ciz-em) noun
1. the use of pretentious words or language
Ex. The style of many 19th-century poets suggests they all
took a university-level course in lexiphanicism.
Libidinous (le-BID-i-nus) adj.
1. having or exhibiting lustful desires
Ex. It is perhaps every young man’s dream to find a
libidinous mate and her like-minded circle of friends.
Lido (LEE-doh) noun
1. a fashionable beach resort
Ex. The beaches of Hawaii are sprinkled with innumerable
lidos, which transform into lively hot spots during the
lucrative tourist season.
Etym. from the Italian lido, “shore, bank,” and the
Italian beach resort of the same name
Lothario (lo-THER-ee-oh) noun
1. a man whose chief interest is seducing women
Ex. Don’t let his dashing looks deceive you – he’s
nothing more than a conniving lothario with no interest
in a long-term commitment.
Etym. From Lothario, character in Nicholas Rowe's 1703
play The Fair Penitent.
Magniloquent (mag-NIL-o-kwent) adj.
1. extravagance in speech
2. bombastic in style or manner
Ex. He was so magniloquent I could barely understand him.
Matrocliny (MA-truh-klin-ee) noun
1. inheritance of traits primarily from the mother
(patrocliny is the male equivalent of this term)
Ex. His matrocliny was apparent because he shared the
same knowing smile and brown eyes.
Misandry (MIS-an-dree) noun
1. hatred or oppression of men (misogyny is the female
Ex. Some women are so scarred by turbulent breakups that
a deep misandry afflicts them for the rest of their
Miter (MIGHT-er) noun
1. a headdress worn by bishops and abbots
Ex. The Pope was laid in state and arrayed in full
clerical robes, a crosier beneath one arm and a miter
atop his head.
Muliebrity (myoo-lee-EB-ri-tee) noun
1. womanly qualities
2. femininity (virility is the male equivalent)
Ex. John found the muliebrity of the club quite
overwhelming, so he promptly turned about and made for
Munificent (myoo-NIF-i-cent) adj.
1. liberal in giving or bestowing
2. characterized by great generosity
Ex. Bill Gates is perhaps the most munificent individual
in the world’s history, having contributed billions of
his own money to charities worldwide.
Ex. 2: as a noun. She relied on the munificence of her
father when she asked for a new pony.
Nabob (NAY-bob) noun
1. a person of great wealth or prominence
Ex. The president was surrounded by the nabobs of Saudi
royalty at last week’s fundraising dinner.
Etym. From the Urdu word nawAb, a provincial governor.
Also a high title for Muslim nobles.
Noblesse oblige (no-BLESS uh-BLEEZH) noun
1. the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable
and generous to those of lower status
Ex. John D. Rockefeller believed that noblesse oblige was
the price of great wealth.
Etym. French for “nobility obligates”
Non sequitur (non SEK-wet-er) noun
1. an inference that does not follow from the premises
2. a statement that does not follow logically from
anything previously said
Ex. A well-timed non sequitur can be humorous, but an
ill-timed one will make you look like a fool.
Etym. Latin for “it does not follow”
Obnubilate (aub-NOO-bi-late) verb
1. to becloud or obscure
Ex. The judge’s ruling included excessive amounts of
dicta, which did nothing but obnubilate his main points.
Oneiric (o-NIGH-rik) adjective
1. of or relating to dreams; DREAMY
Ex. Salvador Dali was a master of oneiric landscapes.
Ex. 2: The warm rays of the sun and the subtle buzzing of
insects cast an oneiric haze over the whole afternoon.
Peccadillo (peck-uh-DIL-oh) noun
1. a slight offense
Ex. While much of Europe wrote off Clinton’s escapade
with Lewinsky as a mere peccadillo, the American public
was in an uproar.
Etym. Diminutive of the Spanish pecado, or “sin.”
Prestidigitation (pres-tuh-dij-i-TAY-shun) noun
1. 1. sleight of hand, esp. when performing magic tricks
Ex. Had I not dealt the cards myself, I would have sworn
my friend had engaged in prestidigitation to win the
Prodigal (PRAW-di-gul) adj.
1. recklessly extravagant
2. characterized by wasteful expenditure; LAVISH
3. yielding abundantly
Ex. His prodigal ways earned him many friends, but
quickly left him bereft of any wealth.
Psephology (say-FOAL-a-gee) noun
1. the scientific analysis of political elections and
Ex. To most, psephology is more of an inexact art than a
Pulchritude (PUL-kri-tood) noun
1. physical beauty
Ex. He was a dashing figure of great pulchritude,
sculpted as from a stone by the gods.
Purlieu (PEARL-yew) noun
1. an outlying or adjacent district; plural : environs,
2. a frequently visited place : haunt; plural : confines,
Ex. The prince was visibly uncomfortable in the company
of unwashed peasants, having long since grown accustomed
to the cushy purlieu of his father's marble palace.
Etym. French, literally "pure place." In medieval English
law, land near a royal forest that was severed from it
was made purlieu; that is, pure or free from forest laws.
Rebarbative (re-BAR-buh-tiv) adj.
1. extremely unattractive; repellant; irritating
Ex. Her rebarbative demeanor made it difficult for me to
maintain my composure.
Regale (ri-GALE) verb
1. to entertain richly or agreeably
2. to give pleasure or amusement to
3. to feast oneself
Ex. After we had sated ourselves on ham and mead, the
bard regaled us with tales of kings.
Revenant (REV-eh-nah) noun, adj.
1. one who returns after death or a lengthy absence
2. characteristic of a revenant; recurring
Ex. Every Hallows Eve these grounds are haunted by that
Etym. From the French verb revenir, “to return”
Ruritanian (rur-i-TAY-knee-en) adj.
1. of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an
imaginary place of high romance
Ex. Tolkien set the standard for Ruritanian fiction when
he penned The Hobbit in the 1930s.
Etym. From the mythical kingdom of Ruritania, setting of
Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel The Prisoner of Zenda.
Sangfroid (san-FRWA) noun
1. self-possession; an imperturbable state, esp. under
Ex. The man’s sangfroid was admirable, though perhaps not
surprising given his military training.
Sansculotte (sanz-koo-LOT) noun
1. an extreme radical republican in France at the time of
2. a radical or violent extremist in politics
Ex. These days, it is not uncommon to hear about a group
of sansculottes taking over a school or other public
building to wring concessions from their government.
Etym. French for "without culottes (knee breeches)," from
the fact that radical republicans in the French
Revolution, usually from the poorer Third Estate, did not
Sapphic (SAF-ik) adj.
1. capitalized: of or relating to the Greek poet Sappho
Ex. The inclusion of a sapphic romantic subplot lent the
play an unusual allure.
Scabrous (SKAB-rus, SKAY-brus) adj.
2. rough to the touch; having small, raised dots or
3. dealing with indecent or scandalous themes
Ex. We found ourselves in a scabrous situation.
Ex. 2: The dragon’s scabrous skin was rough to the touch.
Ex. 3: The film was far too scabrous for my taste.
Sententious (sen-TEN-chus) adj.
1. using pompous language
Ex. There goes a sententious fellow; so vain with his
knowledge of the language that he can hardly speak it.
Sesquipedalian (ses-kwi-pi-DALE-yen) adj.
1. having many syllables
2. tending to use long words
Ex. I prefer the more sesquipedalian Wall Street Journal
to the local papers.
Sine qua non (sin-i kwa NAWN, KNOWN) noun
1. an indispensable or essential thing
Ex. For nearly 20 years, Alan Greenspan has been the sine
qua non of the Federal Reserve Board.
Etym. Latin for “without which not”
Somnolent (SOM-no-lent) adj.
1. drowsy; sleepy
2. inducing or tending to induce sleep
Ex. The quiet murmur of the somnolent stream made
vigilance a chore.
Sororal (suh-ROR-ul) adj.
1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a sister;
sisterly (fraternal is the male equivalent)
Ex. Tennis has attracted a whole new following: avid fans
of the intense, sororal showdowns between Venus and
Surfeit (SUR-fit) noun
1. an overabundant supply
2. excessive indulgence in something
3. disgust caused by excess
Ex. There appears to be a surfeit of unqualified
applicants this year.
Ex. 2: My friend’s surfeit in liquor is a source of
constant amazement for me.
Sybarite (SIB-uh-rite) noun
1. a person whose chief interests are luxury and the
gratification of sensual appetites
Ex. That old sybarite is easy to entertain! Just give him
some feminine distractions and a glass of wine and you
won’t hear from him all night.
Tenterhook (TEN-tur-hook) noun
1. a sharp, hooked nail for fastening cloth to a tenter
2. something that causes suffering or painful suspense
Ex. Fans of thrillers enjoy being kept on tenterhooks
until the final minutes.
Etym. From the Middle English teyntur, from medieval
Latin tentura, from tenta, "tent" + hook
Theophany (thee-AW-fan-ee) noun
1. the appearance of a deity in a visible form to a
Ex. I just witnessed a theophany — Jesus himself came and
spoke to me.
Tomfoolery (tom-FOO-luh-ree, -FOOL-ree) noun
1. the action or behavior of a tomfool; playful or
foolish behavior; silly trifling
Ex. Mother got so fed up with the neighbors' tomfoolery
that she up and moved.
Etym. From the Middle English nickname Thom Foole, given
to any half-witted man.
Toothsome (TOOTH-sum) adj.
1. pleasing to the taste; delicious
2. sexually attractive
Ex. That Chinese restaurant across the way has been
serving up toothsome dishes for years.
Ex. 2: Every eye was on the toothsome young blonde as she
entered the room in a swirl of white linen and lace.
Trenchant (TREN-chent) adj.
1. keen; vigorously effective and articulate
3. clear-cut and distinct
Ex. He gave a very trenchant analysis.
Ex. 2. His trenchant remarks were quite upsetting.
Ex. 3. There are trenchant divisions between right and
Trichotillomania (try-kuh-ti-luh-MAY-nee-uh) noun
1. an abnormal desire to pull out one's hair
Ex. Greg's trichotillomania left him with frayed eyebrows
and a random array of bald spots.
Etym. From the Greek trich- "hair" + tillein "to pull,
pluck" + -mania "madness."
Triskaidekaphobia (tris-ky-dek-uh-FO-be-uh) noun
1. fear of the number 13
Ex. My cousin is so stricken with triskaidekaphobia that
he stays locked indoors on the 13th of every month.
Etym. From treis “three” + kai “and” + deka “ten” +
Vertiginous (ver-TIJ-i-nus) adj.
1. tending to produce vertigo or dizziness
2. inclined to frequent and often pointless change;
3. revolving; whirling; rotary
Ex. The ship hurtled along at a vertiginous speed as it
climbed to the very parapets of Heaven.
Vinaceous (vi-NAY-shus) adj.
1. having the color of red wine
Ex. The vinaceous petals stood out in stark contrast
against the surrounding greenery.
Ex. 2. The vinaceous rosefinch is a stunning find for a
Etym. From the Latin vinaceus, meaning "of wine."
Wassail (WAH-sul) verb
1. to sit carousing and health-drinking
2. to sing carols from house to house at Xmas
3. to drink to the health or thriving of
Ex. Our musically inclined neighbors typically wassail us
with beautiful carols on Christmas Day, but this year
they are out of town.
Etym. From the Old Norse toast ves heill, “be well”
Widdershins (WI-dur-shinz) adverb
1. in a direction opposite to the usual; the wrong way;
2. in a direction contrary to the apparent course of the
sun (considered as unlucky or causing disaster)
Ex. “The coracle whirled round, clockwise, then
widdershins.” (Anthony Bailey)
Etym. Chiefly a Scottish dialect word, probably from
Middle Low German weddersinnes, lit. "against the way"