As might be guessed from Monday’s post, I’m reading Dirda’s Classics for Pleasure. There’s much to learn from Dirda as a critic, but also for anyone looking to build vocabulary. Here are 20 words I’ve learned and been reminded of while reading his essays:
- antinomian – view that Christians are released from the obligation of observing moral law
- arch – affected playful teasing
- argot – the jargon or slang of a particular group or class
- bathos – anticlimax created by unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the ridiculous
- bruit – spread a report or rumor widely
- costive – constipated
- crepuscular – relating to twilight
- dithyramb – choral hymn of ancient Greece
- encomium – a speech or writing that praises highly
- epigrammatic – concise, clever, amusing
- etiology – the cause or reason for something
- irrupt – enter forcibly or suddenly
- jingoism – extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy
- lapidary – and elegant and concise statement
- lubricious – displaying or intending to arouse sexual desire
- purlieus – areas near or surrounding a place
- sanguine – cheerfully optimistic
- scabrous – indecent, salacious
- venal – motivated by susceptibility to bribery
- venery – sexual indulgence
Dirda seems especially fond, given the repetition, of these five words:
acme – point at which something is at the best, most successful
winsome – attractive or appealing in character
quotidian – mundane
chicanery – trickery to achieve a legal, political, or financial purpose
quicksilver – moves and changes quickly, hard to contain
All definitions from the OED
Categories: Amusements, Language
Thanks Lori–great words. Don’t quite roll off the tongue, do they, but engage the mind. Great publication, the TLS–the home of my first book reviews way back when.
I’ve not been challenged word-wise as much as I was the one day I picked up a copy of the Times Literary Supplement… So, some words for you to play with from a couple of articles (and recorded in the small notebook I carry in my bag):prorogationprolixpicaresquecasuitryprivityspeciousparthenogenesisEnjoy!
A great habit to have, and what an amazing boss. What field was he the boss of?
I have a friend who, when he walks in his front door each day and before he puts his briefcase down, stands at a lectern at which is opened an old copy of the Greater OD (its a great book and smells of old leather and dust(fantastic)) and reads out loud to himself a column of words. He’s been doing it for decades. Needless to say his vocab is powerful. Twenty years ago he was my boss and each day he would write in permanent ink a new word each day on the windows and we had to find the meaning. Needless to say the cleaners hated it but left it alone in the end (he was a big man!) so after two years you can imagine what the windows looked like.