This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

A Word a Day 4 (May+Jun 2005)


undefined, object
copy deck
gordian (GOR-dee-uhn) adjective
Highly intricate; extremely difficult to solve.

[In Greek mythology, King Gordius of Phrygia tied a knot that defied all who tried to untie it. An oracle prophesied that one who would undo this Gordian knot would rule Asia. Alexander the Great simply cut it with his sword. Hence "to cut the Gordian knot" means to solve a difficult problem by a simple, bold, and effective action.]
mammon (MAM-uhn) noun
1. Wealth; money.

2. The personification of wealth and of inordinate desire for it; the material wealth considered having an evil influence.

[From Middle English, from Late Latin mammona, from Greek mammonas, from Aramaic mamona (riches). Mammon was personified as a false god in the New Testament.]
gorgonize or gorgonise (GOR-guh-nyz) verb tr.
To paralyze, petrify, or hypnotize.

[After Gorgon, any of the three monstrous sisters Stheno, Euryale, and Medusa in Greek mythology, who had snakes for hair. They turned into stone anyone who looked into their eyes.]
cain (kayn) noun
A murderer.

[After Cain, a Biblical character, the first son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy.]
To raise Cain
1. To become angry; to reprimand someone angrily.

2. To behave in a boisterous manner; to create a commotion.

[After Cain, a Biblical character, the first son of Adam and Eve, who killed his brother Abel out of jealousy.]
phoenix (FEE-niks) noun
1. A person or thing of unparalleled beauty or excellence.

2. A person or thing that has regenerated or rejuvenated after a great misfortune.

[After a fabulous bird of great beauty in Egyptian mythology. It lived to 500 years and burned itself on a funeral pyre to be born again from the ashes.]
delitescent (del-i-TES-uhnt) adjective
Hidden; latent.

[From Latin delitescent-, stem of delitescens, present participle of delitescere (to hide away).]
comedogenic (kom-i-do-JEN-ik) adjective
Causing or aggravating acne.

[From New Latin comedo, from Latin comed (glutton, from the worm-shaped pasty mass that can be squeezed from the hair follicles; from the name formerly given to worms which feed on the body), from comedere (to eat up),
from com- + edere (to eat) + -genic (producing), from Greek -gens (born).]
provender (PROV-uhn-duhr) noun
1. Dry food used as livestock feed.

2. Food or provisions.

[From Middle English provendre, from Old French, alteration of provende, from Medieval Latin provenda, alteration of praebenda.]
bindlestiff (BIN-dl-stif) noun
A hobo who carries a bundle of bedding and other possessions.

[From English bindle (bundle) + stiff (tramp).]
persiflage (PUR-sih-flazh) noun
Light-hearted or flippant treatment of a subject; banter.

[From French persiflage, from persifler (to banter), from per- (thoroughly) + siffler (to whistle or hiss), from Old French, from Late Latin sifilare, an alteration of Latin sibilare (to hiss).]
abigail (AB-i-gayl) noun
A lady's maid.

[After Abigail, an attendant in The Scornful Lady (1610), a play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. She was probably named after the Biblical character Abigail the Carmelitess, who often called herself a handmaid. The name Abigail derives from Hebrew Avigayil meaning "father's joy".]
Gresham's law (GRESH-ums law) noun
The theory that bad money drives good money out of circulation.

[Coined by economist Henry Dunning Macleod in 1858 after Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-1579), financier and founder of the Royal Exchange in London. Gresham, a financial adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, wrote to her "good and bad coin cannot circulate together."]
Rubenesque (roo-buh-NESK) adjective
Full-figured; rounded; voluptuous,

[After Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) known for depiction of plump female figures in his paintings.]
Apgar score (AP-gar skor) noun
A method of assessing a newborn's health.

[After anesthesiologist Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) who devised it.]
Lady Bountiful (LAY-dee BOUN-ti-ful) noun
Someone, especially a woman, known for charity and generosity.

[After Lady Bountiful, a character in the 1707 comedy Beaux' Stratagem by the playwright George Farquhar (1678-1707).]
fustilugs (FUS-ti-lugs) noun
A fat and slovenly person.

[From Middle English fusty (smelly, moldy) + lug (to carry something heavy).]
rampallion (ram-PAL-yuhn) noun, also rampallian
A ruffian or scoundrel.

[Of unknown origin.]
effete (i-FEET) adjective
1. Worn out; no longer fertile or productive.

2. Weak, ineffectual.

3. Marked by decadence or self-indulgence.

4. Effeminate.

[From Latin effetus (worn out from bearing), from ex- + fetus (bearing young).]
sudoriferous (soo-duh-RIF-uhr-rus) adjective
Sweaty or sweat producing.

[From Late Latin sudorifer, from Latin sudor sweat, from sudare (to sweat).]
scut (skut) noun
1. A worthless, contemptible fellow. This term often appears in the form "scut work".

2. A short erect tail, especially of a hare, rabbit, or deer.

[Or uncertain origin, 1. perhaps from scout.]
bravura (bruh-VYOOR-uh, -VOOR-) noun, plural bravuras, bravure
1. A musical piece or performance involving great skill and a display of flair and brilliant style.

2. A display of spirit, daring, or boldness.

[From Italian bravura (bravery), from Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros (barbarous).]
bravura (bruh-VYOOR-uh, -VOOR-) adjective
Marked by display of flair, spirit, style, boldness, etc.

[From Italian bravura (bravery), from Latin barbarus, from Greek barbaros
crescendo (kri-SHEN-do) noun, plural crescendos, crescendi
1. A gradual increase in loudness, intensity, or force.

2. The peak or climax.

[From Italian crescendo (growing), present participle of crescere (to increase), from Latin crescere (to grow).]
crescendo (kri-SHEN-do) adjective, adverb
With a gradual increase in loudness.

[From Italian crescendo (growing), present participle of crescere (to increase), from Latin crescere (to grow).]
crescendo (kri-SHEN-do) verb intr.
To grow in force, loudness, intensity, etc.

[From Italian crescendo (growing), present participle of crescere (to increase), from Latin crescere (to grow).]
gamut (GAM-uht) noun
The complete range of something.

[From Medieval Latin, contraction of gamma ut, from gamma (Greek letter), used to represent the lowest tone + ut, from the notes ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si (ut and si later do and ti). Gamma + ut contracted to gamut and the meaning expanded to denote all notes. The names of the notes are derived from the initial syllables of a Latin hymn.]
coda (KO-duh) noun
1. The concluding passage of a piece of music added to bring it to a satisfactory close.

2. An additional section at the end of a piece of literature, serving to summarize it or to add related information.

3. Any concluding part.

[From Italian coda (tail), from Latin cauda (tail), the source of other words such as queue, coward, French queue (tail) and Spanish cola (tail).]
finale (fi-NAL-ee) noun
The last section of a piece of music, the final scene of a drama, or the concluding part of a performance or event.

[From Italian, from Latin finalis (last), from finis (end) that's also the source of such words as final, finish, finance, define, and fine.]
terete (tuh-REET, ter-EET) adjective
Smooth-surfaced, cylindrical, and tapering at the ends.

[From Latin teret-, stem of teres (round).]
hodiernal (ho-di-ER-nuhl) adjective
Of or pertaining to the present day.

[From Latin hodiernus, from hodie (today).]
oligopsony (ol-i-GOP-suh-nee) noun
The market condition where a few buyers control the market for a product.

[From Greek oligo- (few, little) + opsonia (purchase).]
peccavi (pe-KAH-vee) noun
An admission of guilt or sin.

[From Latin peccavi (I have sinned), from peccare (to err).]
agio (AJ-ee-o) noun
1. The charge for exchanging currency.

2. The premium or percentage when paying in a foreign currency to compensate for the exchange cost.

3. Foreign exchange business.

[From Italian agio (ease, convenience).]
spruik (sprook) verb intr.
To make an elaborate speech, especially to attract customers.

[Of unknown origin.]
hubba-hubba (HUB-uh HUB-uh) interjection
Used to express approval, enthusiasm, or excitement. Also, akin to wolf whistle.

[Of unknown origin.]
spondulicks also spondulix (spon-DOO-liks) noun
Money; cash.

[Of unknown origin.]
shellac (shuh-LAK) verb tr.
1. To coat or treat with varnish.

2. To defeat easily or decisively.

3. To strike repeatedly; batter.

[From shell + lac (translation of French laque en ecailles: lac in thin plates).]
shellac (shuh-LAK) noun
1. Purified lac (a resinous substance secreted by the lac insect) in the form of thin sheets.

2. Varnish made by dissolving this in a solvent.

3. A '78 rpm' phonograph record made of this substance.

[From shell + lac (translation of French laque en ecailles: lac in thin plates).]
mopery (MO-puh-ree) noun
1. Violation of a trivial or imaginary law, for example, loitering, used to arrest someone when no other crime can be charged.

2. Mopish behavior: to have pouted face, be gloomy or disappointed.

[From mope, from mop, of uncertain origin.]
kleptomaniac (klep-tuh-MAY-nee-ak) noun
A person having an obsessive urge to steal, driven by emotional disturbance rather than material need.

[From Greek klepto-, from kleptes (thief) + -mania (madness).]
dissemble (di-SEM-buhl) verb tr., intr.
To hide true feelings, motives, or the facts.

[By alteration of Middle English dissimulen, from Latin dissimulare,
from simulare, from similis (similar).]
mendacious (men-DAY-shuhs) adjective
Telling lies, especially as a habit.

[From Latin mendac-, stem of mendax (lying), from mendum (fault or defect) that also gave us amend, emend, and mendicant.]
resolute (REZ-uh-loot) adjective
Determined; firm; unwavering.

[From Middle English, from Latin resoltus, past participle of resolvere
(to resolve), from re- + solvere (to untie or loosen).]
pandemonium (pan-duh-MO-nee-uhm) noun
1. Wild uproar.

2. A place marked by disarray, noise, chaos, confusion, etc.

3. Hell.

[From Pandaemonium, the capital of hell in Paradise Lost by John Milton (1608-1674).]
caliginous (kuh-LIJ-uh-nuhs) adjective
Dark, gloomy, obscure, misty.

[From Latin caliginosus (misty, dark).]
quotha (KWO-thuh) interjection

[From quoth a, an alteration of quoth he (said he).]
cark (kark) verb tr., intr.
To worry.

[From Middle English carken (to load or burden), from Norman French carquier, from Latin carricare.]
cark (kark) noun
A worry or care.

[From Middle English carken (to load or burden), from Norman French carquier, from Latin carricare.]
crasis (KRAY-sis) noun
1. Composition; constitution; blending.

2. Contraction of two vowels into one long vowel or into a diphthong.

[From Greek krasis (mixture, blend), from kerannynai (to mix).]

Deck Info