Rampallion A ruffian or scoundrel.
"Really, when you come down to it, the crowd at Hilda Erdleigh-Quixote's bash the other night were sheer rampallions. Ruffians. Scoundrels to a man actually. I left after five minutes."
Lamergeier: Giant, vulture-like European bird of prey.
"The boys at Eton during Dr. Keat's tenure as headmaster took to skulking along the passageways and cloisters out of sheer terror lest this lammergeier suddenly loom upon them with his cane."
Sam the Eagle, from The Muppets, was a lammergeier, right?
To blind by putting red-hot copper basin near the eyes.
"We found Miss Hurlothumbro collecting old bits of copper sheeting and threatening to heat them red hot and stage an abacination, so furious was she at having been omitted from the guest list at Mrs. Digby-Vane-Trumpington's cotillion."
I first heard this Yiddish word last year from my pal Suzanne as she was describing various boyfriend candidates who had not quite cut the mustard, so I was pleased when Grotto wordsmith Amo sent it along to worldwide headquarters, Word-of-the-Day division.
Etymology: Yiddish nebekh poor, unfortunate, from Czech nebohý
: a timid, meek, or ineffectual person
Amo's sample sentence is short, sweet, and incontrovertibly accurate:
"Mike Dukakis was a nebbish."
Etymology: Middle English flagicious, from Latin flagitiosus, from flagitium shameful thing
: marked by scandalous crime or vice : VILLAINOUS
"Well, I call it nothing short of flagitious, Count Zodiates pushing his way in to Mrs. Mountstuart’s soiree like that."
Thanks to Amo for submitting this excellent word! I asked both Amo and my father to supply sample sentences, and both delivered!
Etymology: pilled garlic
1 a : a bald head b : a bald-headed man
2 : a man looked upon with humorous contempt or mock pity
Amo's example: "Howie Mandel is the creepiest of pilgarlics whose success continues to baffle me and whose pointy pate persists in rankling me."
My father's example: "Oh yes, we used to see poor, bald Elmer van Tassel every Monday night at the opera. He'd arrive alone, sit alone, pace up and down alone at the intermissions, then leave alone, poor pilgarlic. Such a forlorn figure."
Howie Mandel, pilgarlic:
Inflected Form(s): plural -goes
Etymology: Latin farragin-, farrago mixed fodder, mixture, from far spelt -- more at BARLEY
: a confused mixture : HODGEPODGE
"What Miss Whittleseys came up with, instead of a cogent report on the cooperative movement in the Punjab, was the merest farrago - a scrapbook, a shambles."
Etymology: gray + malkin
: a domestic cat; especially : an old female cat
"Well, lets' face it: Aunt Lizzy Oxyrinkus turned herself into a grimalkin any number of decades ago in that Charles Addams house of hers."
Etymology: French, wild, shy, from Old French, alteration of forasche, from Late Latin forasticus living outside, from Latin foras outdoors; akin to Latin fores door -- more at DOOR
1 : WILD
2 : marked by shyness and lack of social graces
Peguine Yphantis, for all of her startling good looks, is one of the most unfortunately farouche young women you will ever have met."
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French costivé, past participle of costiver to constipate, from Latin constipare
1 a : affected with constipation b : causing constipation
2 : slow in action or expression
3 : not generous : STINGY
"M. le Comte de Pigwiggen is distinctly costive when it comes to ladling out compliments, you may be sure."
Having an abnormally long narrow skull.
[Greek skaphē, boat + –CEPHALIC.]
"Um, ah - we can't really say it in so many words, but we really cannot use Miss Upchurch in this ad. She's scaphocephalic."
Also, I think my own head is shaped a little bit like a not-so-seaworthy boat.
Amo sends these in, with the following usage example: "Grotto reporter CFC IV is both atrabilious and splenetic."
Etymology: Latin atra bilis black bile
1 : given to or marked by melancholy : GLOOMY
2 : ILL-NATURED, PEEVISH
Pronunciation: spli-'ne-tik, archaic 'sple-n&-(")tik
Etymology: Late Latin spleneticus, from Latin splen spleen
1 archaic : given to melancholy
2 : marked by bad temper, malevolence, or spite
gres·so·ri·al /grɛˈsɔriəl, -ˈsoʊr-/
Pronunciation Key - [gre-sawr-ee-uhl, -sohr-]
|adapted for walking, as the feet of some birds.|
Pronunciation: "fla-j&-'let, -'lA
Etymology: French, from Old French flajolet, from flajol flute, from Vulgar Latin *flabeolum, from Latin flare to blow -- more at BLOW
: a small fipple flute resembling the treble recorder
"Why Mr. Quilp brought his flageolet to tea at the duchess’s the other day, none of us could quite understand."
Here's a diagram of a flageolet. There may be a pop quiz about this later:
Thanks again to our favorite detail-oriented lawyer for this one. . . .
: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust
Carol discovered that Mike had purloined her idea for her essay and used it in his own paper.
Did you know?
"Purloin," "pilfer," and "filch" may just seem like fancy words for "steal," but each has a slightly different connotation.
"Pilfer" implies stealing repeatedly in small amounts, as in this sentence: "It was months before her boss realized she was pilfering office supplies."
"Filch" adds a suggestion of snatching quickly and surreptitiously (e.g., "He filched an apple from the tray").
"Purloin" stresses removing or carrying off something for one's own use or purposes ("She purloined the manuscript and tried to pass it off as her own work").
1. A scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; a shrew.
2. Overbearing; shrewish; scolding.
The termagant who had dragged him out on long, boring walks, who had tried in vain to censor his reading, who had labelled him an impious liar and criminal, was dead at last, and the boy, hearing a servant say 'she has passed away', sank to his knees on the kitchen floor to thank God for so great a deliverance.
-- Jonathan Keates, Stendhal
Family legend recounts that Sister Garrison once quite literally brokeup her husband's drinking party by smashing the offending bottles, and this is sometimes taken to mean that Abijah Garrison was driven to desert his family by his termagant of a wife.
-- Henry Mayer, All on Fire
The music critic Maclintick, with his termagant wife and his book which will never be finished, who in a moment of drunken despair throws his cherished text down the lavatory and then gasses himself.
-- David McKie, "Secret harmonies", The Guardian, March 30, 2000
Termagant comes from Middle English Termagaunt, alteration of Tervagant, from Old French. Termagant was an imaginary Muslim deity represented in medieval morality plays as extremely violent and turbulent. By the sixteenth century, termagant was used for a boisterous, brawling, turbulent person of either sex, but eventually it came to refer only to women.
|1.||a silver coin of 16th-century England, equal to about twopence.|
Etymology: French rébarbatif, from Middle French, from rebarber to be repellent, from re- + barbe beard, from Latin barba -- more at BEARD
: REPELLENT, IRRITATING
"In spite of her heroic efforts, Miss Malseed’s cosmetic efforts have nonetheless left her, alas, with a somewhat rebarbative look."
|1.||a natural covering, as a skin, shell, or rind.|
|2.||any covering, coating, enclosure, etc.|
|1.||not to be broken or violated; inviolable: an irrefrangible rule of etiquette.|
|2.||incapable of being refracted.|
Etymology: Late Latin irrefragabilis, from Latin in- + refragari to oppose, from re- + -fragari (as in suffragari to vote for); akin to Latin suffragium suffrage
1 : impossible to refute <irrefragable arguments>
2 : impossible to break or alter <irrefragable rules>
"The case that the Marquis of Chaff and Bran presented in The Lords struck the whole House as irrefragable. The Labour opposition collapsed."
Etymology: Latin temerarius, from temere
: marked by temerity : rashly or presumptuously daring
"Miss Thigpen's notion of jettisoning all of the office inkpots and quills on the very morning when fountain pens were invented struck us all as verging on the temerarious."
Etymology: French, from Spanish postizo
: WIG; especially : TOUPEE
"We were all somewhat bemused by the little postiche which Professor Trogmeyer suddenly showed up with at the prize-giving at Balliol the other night."
Here's Muhammad Ali examining Howard Cosell's postiche:
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin quodlibetum, from Latin quodlibet, neuter of quilibet any whatever, from qui who, what + libet it pleases, from libEre to please
1 : a philosophical or theological point proposed for disputation; also : a disputation on such a point
2 : a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts
"The only thing I could think of to say, when he brought up the topic of supralapsarianism at Mrs. Digby-Vane-Trumpington's table the other night, was, 'Well, now, there's a quodlibet for us all.'"
I will spare you a photo on this one. . . .
Etymology: Latin cariosus, from caries
: affected with caries
And the definition of caries:
Inflected Form(s): plural caries
Etymology: Latin, decay; akin to Old Irish ara-chrinn it decays
: a progressive destruction of bone or tooth; especially : tooth decay
"My most sedulous efforts at devotion at the Easter liturgy proved nugatory last night: the breath of the woman next to me, exhaled through carious teeth, swept all before it."
This word is not only good and interesting, but also somewhat confusing, because it IS a totally different word than "vice-regent" but the meaning seems to be pretty much the same!
Etymology: Medieval Latin vicegerent-, vicegerens, from Late Latin vice- + Latin gerent-, gerens, present participle of gerere to carry, carry on
: an administrative deputy of a king or magistrate
I think the dude on the left might be a vicegerent:
Referring to the largest possible saurians (bronto- etc.), but by extension metaphorically, as in: "Mr. Tulkinghorn's intermittent efforts at affability always capsize under the weight of his megalosaurian vanity."
Etymology: Middle English copies cutover area overgrown with brush, from Middle French copeis, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *colpaticium, from *colpare to cut, from Late Latin colpus blow -- more at COPE
1 : a thicket, grove, or growth of small trees
2 : forest originating mainly from shoots or root suckers rather than seed
"The poor fox, in despair, ran into a coppice, only to be set upon by the hounds."
Etymology: Latin glaucus, from Greek glaukos gleaming, gray
1 a : of a pale yellow-green color b : of a light bluish-gray or bluish-white color
2 : having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance and tends to rub off
Etymology: de- + Latin fenestra window
1 : a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
2 : a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin epicoenus, from Greek epikoinos, from epi- + koinos common -- more at CO-
1 of a noun : having but one form to indicate either sex
2 a : having characteristics typical of the other sex : INTERSEXUAL b : EFFEMINATE
3 : lacking characteristics of either sex
Etymology: New Latin, from dys- + -topia (as in utopia)
1 : an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives
2 : ANTI-UTOPIA
Goodman notes that he's been reminded of this word in almost every review of the new Clive Owen-Julianne Moore movie Children of Men, set in a world of despair in 2027.
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): coz·ened; coz·en·ing /'k&z-ni[ng], 'k&-z&-/
Etymology: perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader
1 : to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery
2 : to gain by cozening someone
"Try to buy a good Montrachet at that wine shop there, and you're sure to be cozened."
Etymology: Middle English Jack Napis, nickname for William de la Pole died 1450 duke of Suffolk
1 a : an impudent or conceited fellow b : a saucy or mischievous child
"Young Twistleton, if you ask me, is an insufferable jackanapes."
Function: foreign term
: studied nonchalance : perfect conduct or performance of something (as an artistic endeavor) without apparent effort
"If Sir Philip Sidney doesn't display the most breathtaking sprezzatura in everything he undertakes, I can't think who does."
Etymology: origin unknown
: an awkward gawky youth
"You hobbledehoys have no notion of the stratospheric level of my love for Miss Digby-Vane-Trumpington."
Here's an aurora crowning Jupiter's North Pole:
Now, here's the definition of Aurora:
Inflected Form(s): plural auroras or au·ro·rae /-(")E/
Etymology: Latin -- more at EAST
1 : DAWN
2 capitalized : the Roman goddess of dawn -- compare EOS
3 : a luminous phenomenon that consists of streamers or arches of light appearing in the upper atmosphere of a planet's magnetic polar regions and is caused by the emission of light from atoms excited by electrons accelerated along the planet's magnetic field lines
Etymology: Middle English scald, scold, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skAld poet, skald, Icelandic skAlda to make scurrilous verse
1 a woman who disturbs the public peace by noisy and quarrelsome or abusive behavior
"She was acting like a henwife or a scold when her husband came home deeply in his cups."
As a new feature for the Word of the Day category, I've asked my father to provide some original examples of the words' uses in sentences.
Etymology: Middle English papejay parrot, from Middle French papegai, papejai, from Arabic babghA'
: a strutting supercilious person
"Well, don't be put off when you meet him: he's a popinjay, and you have to take than into account."