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December 21st, 2016  |  Published in LITERATURE & VOCAB

| These are words we didn’t know before we started this site that we got from Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day feature. There’s a lot! But that’s ok. We know them now. Thanks for being around, Merriam Webster!


daedal \DEE-dul\ – adjective

1 a: skillfull, artistic
1 b: intricate
2: adorned with many things

The filmmaker makes daedal use of lighting effects and camera angles to create a noirish atmosphere.

“Applying makeup on trains … is not easy. That innumerable Japanese women choose to do so while commuting should, therefore, be seen as a testament to their steady hands as well as that country’s steady trains. Indeed, undertaking such a daedal exercise on the Indian railway system—or any other public transport—would be foolhardy unless the intention is to emerge looking like Heath Ledger as the Joker.”
— The Economic Times, 29 Oct. 2016


gallimaufry \gal-uh-MAW-free\ – noun

a heterogeneous mixture : jumble

The essay collection covers a gallimaufry of subjects, from stamp collecting to Portuguese cooking.

“Upon entering the gallery, one of the first things that catches my eye is a gallimaufry of vibrant, oversized collages.”
— Rosalie Spear, The Las Vegas Weekly, 29 Mar. 2016


obstreperous \ub-STREP-uh-rus\ – adjective

1 : marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness : clamorous

2 : stubbornly resistant to control : unruly

After two months at sea with dwindling food supplies and declining confidence in the captain, the ship’s crew became obstreperous and began to plot a mutiny.

“It is Rob she calls for when crankily refusing to go to bed, and when Alan attempts to calm her she grows only more obstreperous.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times, 9 Nov. 2015


obnubilate (\ahb-NOO-buh-layt\ – verb

becloud, obscure

“The writer’s essay includes some valid points, but they are obnubilated by his convoluted prose style.
“Early street lighting had the disconcerting effect of obnubilating as well as illuminating urban space.” — Matthew Beaumont, Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London, 2015


sub rosa (\sub-ROH-zuh\) – adverb

in confidence : secretly

“For 30 years he kept notes, almost sub rosa, finally publishing his work with his own funds just before his death.” — Jeannette Ferrary, The New York Times Book Review, 31 May 1987

“Now, when you say you think they will test it, do you think they will test it openly, essentially, or that they will try to do something sub rosa and wait to be caught?” — Margaret Warner, on PBS.org, 9 Sept. 2015


ABULIA (ay-BOO-lee-uh) – noun

abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions

“Abulia is a motivational deficit that is associated with apathy, loss of will, and lack of initiating behaviors.” — Handbook of the Neuroscience of Language, 2008

“The remoteness of the country house made him feel isolated and displaced—feelings that worsened his abulia and melancholy—so he decided to move back closer to town, where he felt more at home.” — Adam Sobsey, Independent Weekly (Durham, North Carolina), March 7, 2007


PERSEVERATE (per-SEV-uh-rayt) – verb

1 : to repeat or recur persistently
2 : to go back over previously covered ground

To ensure the accuracy of his or her data, the scientist necessarily perseverates, repeating each experiment many times and comparing the results.

“In a world of sport, where we perseverate on numbers and titles to measure success, Duval’s self-measurement is refreshing.” — Bill Dwyre, Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2012


MYTHOMANIA (mith-uh-MAY-nee-uh) – noun

an excessive or abnormal propensity for lying and exaggerating

The idea of trust is an important theme in the book; the reader is never sure of the extent of the protagonist’s mythomania.

“The pathological liar … cannot help lying, even when the lie causes harm. It is this aspect of mythomania that distinguishes it as an illness rather than a habit.” — Gloria Wall, Journal Review (Crawfordsville, Indiana), April 27, 2012


FATIDIC (FAY-tid-ik) – adjective

of or relating to prophecy

I hope the dream I had last night about losing my wedding ring doesn’t prove fatidic.

“Shakespeare strews his plays with portents; Pushkin probes his life forfatidic dates; but no writer can have been more fascinated by patterns in time than Nabokov.” — Brian Boyd, Stalking Nabokov: Selected Essays, 2011


JEUNESSE DORÉE (zheuh-ness-dor-RAY) – noun

young people of wealth and fashion
It was clear that the magazine was targeting the jeunesse dorée based on its ads for expensive trendy clothes and profiles of the hottest nightspots.

“On a walk in Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighborhood, the streets were quiet but inside restaurants were buzzing and the city’s jeunesse doréewere shoulder-to-stylish-shoulder at gallery openings.” — Christopher Muther, Boston Globe, October 18, 2014


CLERISY (KLAIR-uh-see) – noun

intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite: intelligentsia

The book’s author claims that a successful society must have both a strong commitment to democratic ideals and a well-established clerisy.

The situation was so dire that it required nothing less than scientific experts freed from constitutional strictures to run the government and the elevation of intellectuals and artists to the status of a new cultural clerisy.” — Daniel DiSalvo, The Washington Times, February 18, 2014


DEROGATE (DAIR-uh-gayt) – verb

to cause to seem inferior : disparage
It is easy to derogate the prom committee for its lackluster theme now, but nobody came forward with any better ideas while it was being discussed.


ESURIENT (ih-SUR-ee-unt) – adjective

hungry, greedy
No one was surprised that the esurient media mogul planned to expand his empire into the social-media marketplace.
“She sat opposite him …, as plump and indifferent to his presence as an old tabby cat whose esurient eye was wholly focused on a particularly toothsome mouse.” — Pamela Aidan,An Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman, 2006


EPENTHESIS – ih-PEN-thuh-sis – noun

the insertion of a sound or letter in the body of a word

“When Yogi Bear talks about swiping ‘pick-a-nick’ baskets in Jellystone Park, it sounds as if he’s just having fun, but he’s also demonstrating ‘epenthesis,’ inserting a vowel to avoid the consonants bumping up against each other.” — Ruth Walker, The Christian Science Monitor, August 15, 2012


HOMONYMOUS – adjective

(1) having the same designation
(2) of, relating to, or being homonyms

“We always called the elder Michael “Big Mike” to distinguish him from his homonymous son.

“Weezer’s latest disc and its third to be self-titled (it’s being referred to as ‘The Red Album’ just as the previous pair of homonymous albums are commonly called the ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ albums, respectively) has no shortage of the kind of pure pop melodies that endeared Weezer to millions of geek-rock kids back in the mid-’90s.” — Jonathan Perry, The Boston Globe, September 23, 2008


DUPLICITY – \doo-PLISS-uh-tee\ – noun

the disguising of true intentions by deceptive words or action
In a shameful act of duplicity, Jerry took the money he was entrusted to donate to the homeless shelter and instead used it to buy drugs.



a person who goes from place to place in social activity
“Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston star as an undead European gadabout and a reclusive Detroit rocker who reignite their centuries-old love affair.” — Good Times Weekly (Florida), May 23, 2014


NEBBISH – noun

a timid, meek, or ineffectual person
He is a nebbish who might be played effectively by Woody Allen. He attracts the sympathy of lower-echelon mammals but finds it difficult to relate to dogs and human beings.
— Evan Hunter, “American Mayhem, Soviet Intrigue”, New York Times , October 9, 1983


FILCH – verb

to appropriate furtively or casually; to steal (something that is small or that has little value)

(Shia) LaBeouf directed a 2012 short film, HowardCantour.com. Until Dec. 16, one would have imagined that he wrote the film, too. But no, as BuzzFeed revealed (as though the saga lacked intellectual-property intrigue!), he had filched the plot from ‘Justin M. Damiano,’ a 2007 comic by artist Daniel Clowes.” — From a post by Jack Dickey on TIME.com, December 23, 2013

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Featured Phrase

gallimaufry \gal-uh-MAW-free\ - noun

a heterogeneous mixture : jumble

The essay collection covers a gallimaufry of subjects, from stamp collecting to Portuguese cooking.

"Upon entering the gallery, one of the first things that catches my eye is a gallimaufry of vibrant, oversized collages."
— Rosalie Spear, The Las Vegas Weekly, 29 Mar. 2016