Kanonical

Words

May 13, 2017

Language

Philology is an underrated study. Tolkien was a diehard - that alone should tell you something. He invented something over 20 languages in his lifetime. I’ve always been horrible with foreign languages, which is perhaps amusing given that I write code for a living. Code is something different though, more a grammar and a syntax than actual language. But it has the same abilities in articulating dense thought.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping a list for several years of words I come across while reading that are interesting. Many I’d never heard before. Some just sound interesting, or in some other way provide a revelatory glance into their meaning without just simply looking up the definition. I began jotting them down as a reference, so here they are..

  • sycophant - self-seeking flatterer
  • antediluvian - a long time ago
  • allegorical - speak figuratively
  • obsequious - compliancy, subserviant
  • hoary- gray or white with age
  • palpable - easily perceptible
  • mellifluous - having a smooth rich flow
  • syncopated - a temporary displacement of the regular musical rhythm by stressing the weak beat
  • subsume - to include or place within something larger or more comprehensive
  • proselytize - to induce or recruit someone to convert to one’s faith
  • zeitgeist - the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era
  • orthogonal - intersecting or lying at right angles
  • antithetical - being in direct and unequivocal opposition
  • morose - having a sullen and gloomy disposition
  • asseveration - positive affirmation, solemn declaration.
  • dowager - a dignified elderly woman
  • polymath - someone with great and varied abilities
  • denizen - inhabitant
  • loquacious - given to excessive talk
  • bayou - any of various usually marshy or sluggish bodies of water
  • quotidian - commonplace, ordinary, occuring every day
  • maleficent - working evil
  • acervation - A heaping up; accumulation.
  • architrave - The lowermost part of an entablature in classical architecture that rests directly on top of a column. Also called epistyle. The molding around a door or window.
  • perambulation - To walk through. To inspect (an area) on foot.
  • accoutrements - An accessory item of equipment or dress. Often used in the plural.
  • cornice - A horizontal molded projection that crowns or completes a building or wall. The uppermost part of an entablature. The molding at the top of the walls of a room, between the walls and ceiling. An ornamental horizontal molding or frame used to conceal rods, picture hooks, or other devices.
  • escutcheon - A shield or shield-shaped emblem bearing a coat of arms. An ornamental or protective plate, as for a keyhole.
  • embrasure - An opening in a thick wall for a door or window, especially one with sides angled so that the opening is larger on the inside of the wall than on the outside.
  • frisson - A moment of intense excitement; a shudder:
  • plinth - A block or slab on which a pedestal, column, or statue is placed.
  • armature - Iron bars or framing employed for the consolidation of a building, as in sustaining slender columns, holding up canopies, etc
  • armature - Armor; whatever is worn or used for the protection and defense of the body, esp. the protective outfit of some animals and plants.
  • diffident - Lacking or marked by a lack of self-confidence; shy and timid.
  • cupola - A vaulted roof or ceiling. A small dome set on a circular or polygonal base or resting on pillars. A domelike structure surmounting a roof or dome, often used as a lookout or to admit light and air.
  • august - Inspiring awe or admiration; majestic. Venerable for reasons of age or high rank.
  • functionary - One who holds an office or a trust or performs a particular function; an official.
  • trapping - Articles of dress or adornment, especially accessories. Characteristic or symbolic signs: all the trappings of power.
  • ingenue - A naive, innocent girl or young woman.
  • vexatious - Full of annoyance or distress; harassed.
  • misapprehend - To take in a wrong sense; to misunderstand
  • sordid - Filthy or dirty; foul.
  • sinecure - A position or office that requires little or no work but provides a salary.
  • dolcemente - Softly; sweetly; with soft, smooth, and delicate execution.
  • superannuate - To allow to retire on a pension because of age or infirmity. To set aside or discard as old-fashioned or obsolete.
  • manifold - Many and varied; of many kinds; multiple
  • arcanum - A deep secret; a mystery. A secret essence or remedy; an elixir.
  • foment - To promote the growth of; incite.
  • velour - A closely napped fabric resembling velvet
  • consummate - having or revealing supreme mastery or skill; “a consummate artist”; “consummate skill”;
  • diaphanous - Of such fine texture as to be transparent or translucent. Characterized by delicacy of form. Vague or insubstantial
  • torpid - Deprived of the power of motion or feeling; benumbed. Dormant; hibernating. Lethargic; apathetic.
  • disingenuous - Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating.
  • convalescence - Gradual return to health and strength after illness.
  • dissemble - To disguise or conceal behind a false appearance.
  • greensward - Ground that is green with grass; turf.
  • panegyric - A formal eulogistic composition intended as a public compliment. Elaborate praise or laudation; an encomium.
  • abattoir - A slaughterhouse.
  • vaunt - To speak boastfully of; brag about.
  • misanthrope - One who hates or mistrusts humankind.
  • incarnadine - Of a fleshy pink color. Blood-red.
  • decrepitude - The quality or condition of being weakened, worn out, impaired, or broken down by old age, illness, or hard use.
  • festoon - A string or garland, as of leaves or flowers, suspended in a loop or curve between two points
  • gentrification - The restoration and upgrading of deteriorated urban property by middle-class or affluent people, often resulting in displacement of lower-income people.
  • corpulence - The condition of being excessively fat; obesity.
  • attenuate - To reduce in force, value, amount, or degree; weaken
  • Mephistophelean - showing the cunning or ingenuity or wickedness typical of a devil; “devilish schemes”.
  • appurtenance - Something added to another, more important thing; an appendage.
  • schadenfreude - Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
  • voluble - Marked by a ready flow of speech; fluent.
  • apotheosis - a model of excellence or perfection of a kind.
  • fructuous - fruitful; productive.
  • nonpareil - having no equal.
  • senescence - the state of being or growing old.
  • foofaraw - excessive or flashy ornamentation; also, a fuss over a trivial matter.
  • congeries - a collection; an aggregation.
  • supernal - being on high; celestial.
  • aerie - a nest or dwelling built in a lofty place.
  • aegis - a shield; protection.
  • puckish - whimsical; mischievous; impish.
  • mountebank - a quack; also, a charlatan
  • lucubration - nocturnal study.
  • verisimilitude - the quality of seeming to be true.
  • insuperable - incapable of being passed over, surmounted, or overcome.
  • penury - extreme poverty; also, insufficiency.
  • effete - infertile; also, worn out; also, decadent, effeminate.
  • termagant - a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman.
  • phantasmagoria - a shifting series or succession of things seen or imagined.
  • rueful - Inspiring pity or compassion.
  • sangfroid - Coolness and composure, especially in trying circumstances
  • diener - a laboratory helper especially in a medical school
  • suppuration - The formation or discharge of pus.
  • pedantic - Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules
  • descry - To catch sight of something difficult to discern. To discover by careful observation or scrutiny
  • crenellated - Having battlements
  • effervescence - To show high spirits or animation.
  • redolent - Having or emitting fragrance; aromatic. Suggestive; reminiscent:
  • officious - Marked by excessive eagerness in offering unwanted services or advice to others
  • pugnacious - Combative in nature; belligerent
  • consternation - A state of paralyzing dismay
  • nonplussed - A state of perplexity, confusion, or bewilderment. To be put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do
  • ineffable - Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable
  • acumen - Quickness, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight.
  • hauteur - Haughtiness in bearing and attitude; arrogance.
  • couloir - A deep mountainside gorge or gully
  • expectorate - To eject from the mouth; spit
  • macadam - Pavement made of layers of compacted broken stone, now usually bound with tar or asphalt.
  • pusillanimous - Lacking courage; cowardly
  • acrimonious - Bitter and sharp in language or tone; rancorous
  • garrulous - Given to excessive and often trivial or rambling talk; tiresomely talkative
  • tumescent - Becoming swollen; swelling
  • ebullience - Zestful enthusiasm.
  • peregrination - To journey or travel from place to place, especially on foot.
  • adumbrate - To give a sketchy outline of. To prefigure indistinctly; foreshadow.
  • faience - A moderate to strong greenish blue.
  • sepulcher - A burial vault. A receptacle for sacred relics, especially in an altar.
  • sybaritic - Devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury.
  • rubric - A class or category: “This mission is sometimes discussed under the rubric of ‘horizontal escalation’… from conventional to nuclear war” (Jack Beatty). A title; a name.
  • inculcate - To impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; instill: inculcating sound principles.
  • intransigence - Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising.
  • obstreperous - Noisily and stubbornly defiant. Aggressively boisterous
  • catafalque - A decorated platform or framework on which a coffin rests in state during a funeral
  • insouciant - Marked by blithe unconcern; nonchalant
  • saccharine - Having a cloyingly sweet attitude, tone, or character: a saccharine smile. Excessively sentimental
  • panoply - A splendid or striking array.. ceremonial attire with all accessories.. something that covers and protects.. the complete arms and armor of a warrior
  • antecedent - Going before; preceding.
  • abstruse - Difficult to understand; recondite
  • recondite - Not easily understood; abstruse
  • immanence - Existing or remaining within; inherent
  • amanuensis - One who is employed to take dictation or to copy manuscript
  • accede - To give one’s consent, often at the insistence of another; concede
  • renascence - A new birth or life; a rebirth. A cultural revival; a renaissance.
  • lucubrations - scholarly writings
  • frenetic - wild, frenzied
  • succor - Assistance in time of distress; relief
  • concomitant - Occurring or existing concurrently; attendant
  • fustian - Pretentious speech or writing; pompous language.
  • ablution - A washing or cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite.
  • etiolated - To cause to appear pale and sickly: a face that was etiolated from years in prison.
  • denouement - The outcome of a sequence of events; the end result
  • perspicacious - Having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted.
  • fecundity - The quality or power of producing abundantly; fruitfulness or fertility.
  • pander - To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses
  • sanguine - Of the color of blood; red. Cheerfully confident; optimistic
  • nadir - low point
  • apotheosis - An exalted or glorified example
  • gauche - Lacking social polish; tactless
  • physiognomy - Estimation of one’s character and mental qualities by a study of the face and general bodily carriage.
  • irascible - Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered
  • otiose - Lazy; indolent
  • staid - Characterized by sedate dignity and often a strait-laced sense of propriety; sober
  • cogent - Appealing to the intellect or powers of reasoning; convincing
  • irrupt - To break or burst in
  • ebullient - Zestfully enthusiastic
  • philatelist - The collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks, and related materials; stamp collecting
  • eremitic - reclusive, monastic
  • sententious - Terse and energetic in expression; pithy. or Abounding in pompous moralizing
  • churlish - Having a bad disposition; surly
  • puerile - Belonging to childhood; juvenile
  • penury - Extreme want or poverty; destitution
  • hebetate - To make obtuse or dull.
  • prescind - To separate or divide in thought; consider individually.
  • oblative - from the greek.. “ascending”
  • ablution - A washing or cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite
  • avuncular - Of or having to do with an uncle. Regarded as characteristic of an uncle, especially in benevolence or tolerance.
  • ergodic - positive recurrent aperiodic state of stochastic systems; tending in probability to a limiting form that is independent of the initial conditions
  • apothegm - A terse, witty, instructive saying
  • indurate - To make hard; harden
  • insolvent - Unable to meet debts or discharge liabilities; bankrupt
  • praxis - Practical application or exercise of a branch of learning. Habitual or established practice; custom.
  • crepuscular - Of or like twilight; dim:
  • pellucid - Admitting the passage of light; transparent or translucent. Transparently clear in style or meaning: pellucid prose.
  • lambent - Flickering lightly over or on a surface
  • miasma - A noxious atmosphere or influence
  • aspersion - An unfavorable or damaging remark; slander. The act of defaming or slandering. A sprinkling, especially with holy water.
  • lassitude - A state or feeling of weariness, diminished energy, or listlessness
  • salubrious - Conducive or favorable to health or well-being.
  • effulge - To cause to shine with abundance of light; to radiate; to beam
  • endemic - natural to or characteristic of a specific people or place; native; indigenous
  • tenable - capable of being held, maintained, or defended, as against attack or dispute
  • irrefragable - not to be disputed or contested.
  • ornery - ugly and unpleasant in disposition or temper. stubborn.
  • pecuniary - of or pertaining to money
  • redolent - having a pleasant odor; fragrant
  • risible - causing or capable of causing laughter; laughable; ludicrous
  • ossified - converted into or caused to harden like bone.
  • jejune - without interest or significance; dull; insipid
  • susurrus - a soft murmuring or rustling sound; whisper.
  • ablation - the removal, esp. of organs, abnormal growths, or harmful substances, from the body by mechanical means, as by surgery.
  • delectation - delight; enjoyment.
  • affectation - an effort to appear to have a quality not really or fully possessed
  • sibilant - hissing sound
  • prolix - extended to great, unnecessary, or tedious length; long and wordy.
  • miscegenation - marriage or cohabitation between a man and woman of different races.
  • requiescat - a wish or prayer for the repose of the dead.
  • argosy - a large merchant ship, esp. one with a rich cargo. a fleet of such ships.
  • vermillion - A vivid red to reddish orange
  • raiment - clothing; apparel; attire.
  • nepotist - a powerful person who shows favoritism to relatives or close friends
  • soporific - pertaining to or characterized by sleep or sleepiness; sleepy; drowsy
  • anodyne - anything that relieves distress or pain
  • celerity - swiftness; speed.
  • misfeasance - the wrongful performance of a normally lawful act; the wrongful and injurious exercise of lawful authority
  • desiderata - highly needed and wanted things (plural)
  • brogue - any strong regional accent
  • lacuna - a gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument; hiatus
  • quinine - used in medicine chiefly in the treatment of resistant forms of malaria
  • jape - to jest; joke; gibe
  • surfeit - excess; an excessive amount
  • perfidy - deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery
  • uxorious - doting upon, foolishly fond of, or affectionately submissive toward one’s wife
  • mollify - to soften in feeling or temper, as a person; pacify; appease
  • deleterious - injurious to health; harmful
  • idyll - a poem or prose composition, usually describing pastoral scenes or events or any charmingly simple episode, appealing incident, or the like
  • skerry - a small, rocky island
  • heresiarch - a leader in heresy; the leader of a heretical sect
  • suborn - to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime
  • colloquy - a conversational exchange; dialogue
  • insouciance - lack of care or concern; indifference
  • depauperate - poorly or imperfectly developed
  • stygian - of or pertaining to the river Styx or to Hades, dark or gloomy, infernal; hellish
  • postprandial - after dinner
  • liminal - Relating to a threshold
  • catarrh - inflammation of a mucous membrane, accompanied by excessive secretions
  • castellan - the governor of a castle
  • extant - in existence; still existing; not destroyed or lost
  • prolegomenon - a preliminary discussion; introductory essay, as prefatory matter in a book; a prologue
  • obduracy - the state or quality of being intractable or hardened
  • protean - readily assuming different forms or characters; extremely variable
  • bucolic - of, pertaining to, or suggesting an idyllic rural life
  • trenchant - incisive or keen, as language or a person; caustic; cutting
  • numismatic - of, pertaining to, or consisting of coins, medals, paper money
  • excoriate - to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally
  • interregnum - an interval of time between the close of a sovereign’s reign and the accession of his or her normal or legitimate successor. any period of freedom from the usual authority
  • soubriquet - an affectionate or humorous nickname
  • amaranthine - unfading; everlasting; of purplish-red color
  • basilect - The variety of speech that is most remote from the prestige variety, especially in an area where a creole is spoken. For example, in Jamaica, Jamaican Creole is the basilect whereas Standard Jamaican English is the acrolect or prestige language
  • adroitness - expert or nimble in the use of the hands or body
  • indigent - lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished
  • enthymeme - a syllogism or other argument in which a premise or the conclusion is unexpressed
  • shibboleth - a slogan; catchword
  • pleochroic - The property possessed by some crystals of exhibiting different colors, especially three different colors, when viewed along different axes
  • Boustrophedon - an ancient method of writing in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right
  • acrostic - a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc
  • escritoire - secretary or writing table
  • piquant - agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart
  • vertiginous - whirling; spinning; rotary
  • febrile - pertaining to or marked by fever; feverish
  • pedant - a person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning
  • obscurantist - opposition to the increase and spread of knowledge
  • oeuvre - the works of a writer, painter, or the like, taken as a whole
  • thurible - a censer used in certain ecclesiastical ceremonies or liturgies
  • atavistic - reverting to or suggesting the characteristics of a remote ancestor or primitive type
  • vellicate - to pluck; twitch; to nip, pinch, or the like
  • sotto voce - in a low, soft voice so as not to be overheard
  • velleity - a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it
  • solipsist - the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist
  • coeval - of the same age, date, or duration; equally old
  • encomium - a formal expression of high praise; eulogy
  • antimacassar - a small covering, usually ornamental, placed on the backs and arms of upholstered furniture to prevent wear or soiling; a tidy
  • cretonne - a heavy cotton material in colorfully printed designs, used esp. for drapery and slipcovers
  • prestidigitation - sleight of hand; legerdemain
  • commingled - to mix or mingle together; combine
  • osseous - composed of, containing, or resembling bone; bony
  • beau geste - a fine or noble gesture, often futile or only for effect
  • quiescent - being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless
  • quiddity - the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing
  • legerdemain - sleight of hand; any artful trick
  • palimpsest - a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text
  • nascence - a coming into being; birth
  • sesquipedalian - given to using long words
  • deipnosophist - a person who is an adept conversationalist at table
  • esplanade - a flat open stretch of pavement or grass, especially one designed as a promenade along a shore
  • agglutinate - to unite or cause to adhere, as with glue
  • argent - like silver; silvery white
  • aposiopesis - a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed
  • tatterdemalion - a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person; ragged
  • syzygy - an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet
  • occidental - denoting or characteristic of countries of Europe and the Western Hemisphere
  • synecdoche - substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one
  • lagniappe - a small gift (especially one given by a merchant to a customer who makes a purchase)
  • simulacrum - a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance
  • aspic - a savory jelly usually made with meat or fish stock and gelatin, chilled and used as a garnish and coating for meats, seafoods, eggs, etc.
  • epaulets - an ornamental shoulder piece worn on uniforms, chiefly by military officers
  • ostinato - a constantly recurring melodic fragment
  • indigent - lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished
  • jamais vu - a disorder of memory characterized by the illusion that the familiar is being encountered for the first time
  • chamois - a soft, pliable leather from any of various skins dressed with oil
  • demitasses - a small cup for serving strong black coffee after dinner
  • divagating - to wander; stray
  • probity - integrity and uprightness; honesty
  • cudgel - a short, thick stick used as a weapon; club
  • quelle plaisir - what a pleasure
  • accrete - to grow together; adhere
  • quincunx - an arrangement of five objects, as trees, in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle
  • imprecation
  • ecce signum - behold the sign (or proof)
  • adipocere - a waxy substance produced by the decomposition of dead animal bodies in moist burial places or under water
  • raconteur - a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly
  • mensch - a person of integrity and honor
  • arachibutyrophobia
  • litotes
  • muliebrity
  • aposiopesis
  • myoclonic jerk
  • velleity
  • ugsome
  • periphrasis
  • fictile
  • glabrous
  • tacit
  • brobdingnagian
  • sternutation
  • quinquennial
  • orthology
  • incipient
  • inchoate
  • pentimentos
  • seneschal
  • leal
  • valonqar
  • nonce
  • solecism
  • gaucherie
  • creosote
  • recrudescence
  • unprepossessing
  • damascene
  • prate
  • tuile
  • descant
  • sotte voce
  • quire
  • chanteuse
  • ubriacant
  • bibulous
  • cognominate
  • serried
  • vitrine
  • ridibund
  • recrudescence
  • periphrasis
  • liminal
  • empyreal
  • echolalia
  • baize
  • abatis
  • patois
  • debouch
  • glaive
  • bardiches
  • shestopyor
  • harquebus
  • dipsomania
  • febrile
  • lunette
  • slimsy
  • adduce
  • maquette
  • inveigh
  • glossolalia
  • fissiparous
  • postpositive
  • acerbic
  • excoriate
  • gaudium de stilo
  • panglossian
  • superbity
  • eructation
  • jamoke
  • amonie
  • peroration
  • lachrymose
  • tendentious
  • banlieue
  • abnegation
  • pithilias
  • atelier
  • arriviste
  • quaquaversal
  • mundungus
  • mulatsag

Greg Olsen
Hi I'm Greg. Occasionally, I do things.ArchiveTumble