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192 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
undulate • \UN-juh-layt\ • verb
1 : to form or move in waves : fluctuate
*2 : to rise and fall in volume, pitch, or cadence
3 : to present a wavy appearance

The opera singer's voice undulated as she expressed the grief and despair of the song.
seder • \SAY-der\ • noun
: a Jewish home or community service including a ceremonial dinner held on the first or first and second evenings of the Passover in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt

Example sentence:
Ari enjoys the stories, songs, and ceremonies that accompany dinner on the night of the seder.
lugubrious • \loo-GOO-bree-us\ • adjective
*1 : mournful; especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful
2 : dismal

Example sentence:
"The dogs . . . simultaneously lifting their noses, began to howl in most lugubrious fashion." (Bram Stoker, Dracula)
meliorism • \MEE-lee-uh-riz-um\ • noun
the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment

Example sentence:
Jane's resolute meliorism fueled her insistence that both world peace and the worldwide eradication of hunger were indeed attainable within her lifetime.
acceptation • \ak-sep-TAY-shun\ • noun
1 : acceptance; especially : favorable reception or approval
*2 : a generally accepted meaning of a word or understanding of a concept

Example sentence:
I may not be an "athlete," in the common acceptation of that word, but I do enjoy my daily workouts at the gym.
stentorian • \sten-TOR-ee-un\ • adjective
: extremely loud

Example sentence:
"Stop that man," Tom yelled in a stentorian voice as he jostled his way through the crowd after the pickpocket.
nidus • \NYE-dus\ • noun
1 : a nest or breeding place; especially : a place or substance in an animal or plant where bacteria or other organisms lodge and multiply
*2 : a place where something originates, develops, or is located

Example sentence:
The college, with its focus on human ecology, is widely known as a nidus of environmental activism.
cunctation • \kunk-TAY-shun\ • noun
: delay
Example sentence:
When a case that had been carried on the court calendar for nearly three years was brought before the judge, he admonished the lawyer for flagrant cunctation.
adduce • \uh-DOOSS\ • verb
: to offer as example, reason, or proof in discussion or analysis

Example sentence:
"Leon has made some pretty strong accusations here tonight," said Tim, "but he has adduced no convincing evidence in support of them."
bas-relief • \bah-ri-LEEF\ • noun
: sculptural relief in which the projection from the surrounding surface is slight and no part of the modeled form is undercut; also : a sculpture executed in bas-relief

Example sentence:
Jamal admired the bas-reliefs carved into the walls of the ancient Assyrian palace.
mien • \MEEN\ • noun
*1 : air or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality : demeanor
2 : appearance, aspect

Example sentence:
Professor Hart's cool and gallant mien was appealing to some students and off-putting to others.
sacrosanct • \SAK-roh-sankt\ • adjective
1 : most sacred or holy : inviolable
*2 : treated as if holy : immune from criticism or violation

Example sentence:
For years the respected scientist's theories were treated as sacrosanct by his colleagues, and only recently have his ideas been seriously challenged.
eolian • \ee-OH-lee-un\ • adjective
: borne, deposited, produced, or eroded by the wind

Example sentence:
For her senior project, Erin is studying the effects of eolian erosion on the desert environment.
peccadillo • \pek-uh-DIL-oh\ • noun
: a slight offense

Example sentence:
Michael's thank-you note to his hostess was sincere and touching; his only peccadillo, however, was addressing her by her first name instead of "Mrs. Buchanan."
: any body that gives light; also, a person of eminence or brilliant achievement.
daedal \DEE-duhl\, adjective:
1. Complex or ingenious in form or function; intricate.
2. Skillful; artistic; ingenious.
3. Rich; adorned with many things.
temerity \tuh-MER-uh-tee\, noun:
Unreasonable or foolhardy contempt of danger; rashness.
execrable \EK-sih-kruh-buhl\, adjective:
1. Deserving to be execrated; detestable; abominable.
2. Extremely bad; of very poor quality; very inferior.
rapine \RAP-in\, noun:
The act of plundering; the seizing and carrying away of another's property by force.
pablum \PAB-luhm\, noun:
Something (as writing or speech) that is trite, insipid, or simplistic.
in·sip·id adj.
Lacking flavor or zest; not tasty.
Lacking qualities that excite, stimulate, or interest; dull.
aspersion \uh-SPUR-zhuhn; -shuhn\, noun:
1. A damaging or derogatory remark; slander.
2. The act of defaming or slandering.
3. A sprinkling with water, especially in religious ceremonies.

Orley had once been forced to resign from a local men's club for casting aspersions on the character of another member's wife.
-- Thomas A. Underwood, Allen Tate: Orphan of the South
otiose \OH-shee-ohs; OH-tee-\, adjective:
1. Ineffective; futile.
2. Being at leisure; lazy; indolent; idle.
3. Of no use.
turgid \TUR-jid\, adjective:
1. Swollen, bloated, puffed up; as, "a turgid limb."
2. Swelling in style or language; bombastic, pompous; as, "a turgid style of speaking."
derogate \DER-uh-gayt\, intransitive verb:
1. To deviate from what is expected.
2. To take away; to detract; -- usually with 'from'.
virtu \vuhr-TOO; vir-\, noun:
1. love of or taste for fine objects of art.
2. Productions of art (especially fine antiques).
3. Artistic quality.

The Italian humanist Giovanni Pontano described these objects as "statues, pictures, tapestries, divans, chairs of ivory, cloth interwoven with gems, many-coloured boxes and coffers in the Arabian style, crystal vases and other things of this kind . . . [whose] sight . . . is pleasing and brings prestige to the owner of the house." They all spoke to the wealth, taste and virtu of their owner.
-- John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination

Divans, Persian rugs, easy chairs, books, statuary, articles of virtu and bric-a-brac are on every side, and the whole has the appearance of a place where one could dream his life away.
-- "Mark Twain's Summer Home", The New York Times, September 10, 1882
appurtenance \uh-PUR-tn-un(t)s\, noun:
1. An adjunct; an accessory; something added to another, more important thing.
2. [Plural]. Accessory objects; gear; apparatus.
3. [Law]. An incidental right attached to a principal property right for purposes such as passage of title, conveyance, or inheritance.

The inauguration of presidents, the coronation of monarchs, the celebration of national holidays--these events require everywhere the presence of the soldier as a "ceremonial appurtenance."
-- Barbara Ehrenreich, Blood Rites
cupidity \kyoo-PID-uh-tee\, noun:
Eager or excessive desire, especially for wealth; greed; avarice.

Curiosity was a form of lust, a wandering cupidity of the eye and the mind.
-- John Crowley, "Of Marvels And Monsters", Washington Post, October 18, 1998
av·a·rice n.
Immoderate desire for wealth; cupidity.
multifarious \muhl-tuh-FAIR-ee-uhs\, adjective:
Having great diversity or variety; of various kinds; diversified.

She is good at constructing a long, multifarious narrative, weaving many minor stories into one, so that you are left with a sense of the fluidity and ambiguity of historical interpretation.
-- Jason Cowley, "It's bright clever... but the result is academic", The Observer, May 27, 2001
fulsome \FUL-sum\, adjective:
1. Offensive to the taste or sensibilities.
2. Insincere or excessively lavish; especially, offensive from excess of praise.

He recorded the event in his journal: "Long evening visit from Mr. Langtree--a fulsome flatterer."
-- Edward L. Widmer, Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City

Concealed disgust under the appearance of fulsome endearment.
-- Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World
arrant \AR-unt\, adjective:
Thoroughgoing; downright; out-and-out; confirmed; extreme; notorious.

More deplorable is his arrant and compulsive hypocrisy . . . Under all the chest hair, he was a hollow man.
-- J. D. McClatchy, review of Crux: The Letters of James Dickey, New York Times, December 19, 1999

I think a pilot would be a most arrant coward, if through fear of bad weather he did not wait for the storm to break but sank his ship on purpose.
-- Georges Minois, History Of Suicide translated by Lydia Cochrane

The moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun.
-- Shakespeare, Timon of Athens
spurious \SPYUR-ee-uhs\, adjective:
1. Not proceeding from the true or claimed source; not genuine; false.
2. Of illegitimate birth.

Some of these graves are clearly spurious and were manufactured by nineteenth-century royalists who wanted evidence of an unbroken 2,000-year-old imperial line.
-- Gale Eisenstodt, "Behind the Chrysanthemum Curtain", The Atlantic, November 1998
land of Nod

We were fast going off to the land of Nod, when - bang, bang, bang - on the scuttle, and "All hands, reef topsails, ahoy!" started us out of our berths.
-- Richard Henry Dana Jr., Two Years Before The Mast

For the jet-lagged insomniac, here are a few suggestions of what to do in Manhattan once the last bar has chucked you out and the land of nod seems further away than the night bus to Camberwell.
-- William Hide, "The night shift", The Guardian, February 24, 2001
harridan \HAIR-uh-din\, noun:
A worn-out strumpet; a vixenish woman; a hag.

With the insight of hindsight, I'd have liked to have been able to protect my mother from the domineering old harridan, with her rough tongue and primitive sense of justice, but I did not see it like that, then.
-- Angela Carter, Shaking a Leg

Whatever compassion we may feel towards Seraphie, charged with managing the Beyle household and provided with little in the way of emotional or material recompense, evidence scarcely softens Stendhal's portrait of an ignorant, vindictive, mean-spirited harridan.
-- Jonathan Keates, Stendhal
gloaming \GLOH-ming\, noun:
Twilight; dusk.

The children squealed and waved and smiled, their teeth flashing white in the gloaming.
-- Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: His Life

It was the gloaming, when a man cannot make out if the nebulous figure he glimpses in the shadows is angel or demon, when the face of evening is stained by red clouds and wounded by lights.
-- Homero Aridjis, 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezon of Castile (translated by Betty Ferber)

Arrived at the village station on a wintry evening, when the gloaming is punctuated by the cheery household lamps, shining here and there like golden stars, through the leafless trees.
-- Margaret Sangster
provenance \PROV-uh-nuhn(t)s\, noun:
Origin; source.

In a world awash in information of dubious provenance, whom can you trust to tell you the truth?
-- Gerald Jonas, review of The Jazz, by Melissa Scott, New York Times, June 18, 2000

There may have been as many as one hundred antique statues of Roman provenance in the city at the time of the Fourth Crusade.
-- Patricia Fortini Brown, Venice & Antiquity

The provenance of his possessions traced back to dukes and duchesses, kings, queens, czars, emperors, and dictators.
-- John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
equipoise \EE-kwuh-poiz; EK-wuh-\, noun:
1. A state of being equally balanced; equilibrium; -- as of moral, political, or social interests or forces.
2. Counterbalance.

What matters is the poetry, and the truest readings of it "are those which are sensitive to the strangeness of Marvell's genius: its delicate equipoise, held between the sensual and the abstract, its refusal to treat experience too tidily, the uncanny tremor of implication that makes the poems' lucid surfaces shimmer with a sense of something undefined and undefinable just beneath."
-- James A. Winn, "Tremors of Implication", New York Times, July 9, 2000

I cannot see how the unequal representation which is given to masses on account of wealth becomes the means of preserving the equipoise and the tranquillity of the commonwealth.
-- Edmund Burke, "Reflections on The Revolution In France"

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires.
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Haunted Houses"
rebarbative \ree-BAR-buh-tiv\, adjective:
Serving or tending to irritate or repel.

Over the past couple of hours a lot of rebarbative, ulcerated and embittered people had been working hard at bedding their resentments down in sensory-deprivation tanks full of alcohol.
-- Will Self, The Sweet Smell of Psychosis

I still think this true, yet can't help regret the unretrievable hours lavished on so much rebarbative critical prose, convinced that the nearly impenetrable must be profound.
-- Michael Dirda, "In which our intrepid columnist visits the Modern Language Association convention and reflects on what he found there", Washington Post, January 28, 2001
agog \uh-GOG\, adjective:
Full of excitement or interest; in eager desire; eager, keen.

Kobe Bryant left the Minnesota Timberwolves agog after a series of eye-popping moves in a game last week.
-- New York Times, February 5, 1998

He was now so interested, quite so privately agog, about it, that he had already an eye to the fun it would be to open up to her afterwards.
-- Henry James, The Ambassadors
itinerant \eye-TIN-uhr-uhnt\, adjective:
1. Passing or traveling from place to place; wandering.

1. One who travels from place to place.

Like many itinerant vendors in rural places, he was a smooth-talking purveyor of dreams along with tawdry trinkets, and Eliza responded to this romantic wanderer.
-- Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller

Molds were therefore used only for small amounts of fat, shared with neighbors at cooperative candle dippings or supplied by itinerant candlemakers who went from house to house, helping with the task.
-- Susan Strasser, Waste and Want
caveat \KAY-vee-at; KAV-ee-; KAH-vee-aht\, noun:
1. (Law) A notice given by an interested party to some officer not to do a certain act until the opposition has a hearing.
2. A warning or caution; also, a cautionary qualification or explanation to prevent misunderstanding.

Two young Harvard M.B.A.'s worked up some highly optimistic projections -- with the caveat that these were speculative and should of course be tested.
-- Roy Blount Jr., "Able Were They Ere They Saw Cable", New York Times, March 9, 1986

One caveat: If you plan to travel by car in Europe, expect a serious erosion of your buying power. Gasoline costs twice as much in France as in the U.S. (and triple the U.S. price in the U.K.).
-- Lynn Woods, "Euro Trashed", Kiplinger's, November 2000
patina \PAT-n-uh; puh-TEEN-uh\, noun:
1. The color or incrustation which age gives to works of art; especially, the green rust which covers ancient bronzes, coins, and medals.
2. The sheen on any surface, produced by age and use.
3. An appearance or aura produced by habit, practice, or use.
4. A superficial layer or exterior.

[The ship] was sleek and black, her decks scrubbed smooth with holystones, her deckhouses glistening with the yellowed patina of old varnish.
-- Gary Kinder, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea

A patina of coal dust lies over everything.
-- "A Railroad Runs Through It," review of Stations: An Imagined Journey, by Michael Flanagan, New York Times, October 23, 1994
implacable \im-PLAK-uh-bull\, adjective:
Not placable; not to be appeased; incapable of being pacified; inexorable; as, an implacable foe.

For it is my office to prosecute the guilty with implacable zeal.
-- Paola Capriolo, Floria Tosca (translated by Liz Heron)

He... then continued on up the road, his shoulders bent beneath the implacable sun.
-- Arturo Pérez-Reverte, The Fencing Master
taw·dry n
adj. taw·dri·er, taw·dri·est
Gaudy and cheap in nature or appearance. See Synonyms at gaudy1.
Shameful or indecent: tawdry secrets.

Cheap and gaudy finery.
expeditious \ek-spuh-DISH-uhs\, adjective:
Characterized by or acting with speed and efficiency.

His problem was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley in the most expeditious way possible.
-- Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs

The criminal may of course use some short-term act of violence to 'terrorize' his victim, such as waving a gun in the face of a bank clerk during a robbery in order to ensure the clerk's expeditious compliance.
-- Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism
choler \KOLL-ur; KOLE-ur\, noun:
Irritation of the passions; anger; wrath.

And at last he seems to have found his proper subject: one that genuinely engages his intellect, truly arouses his characteristic choler and fills him with zest.
-- "Black Humor': Could Be Funnier", New York Times, January 12, 1998
hortatory \HOR-tuh-tor-ee\, adjective:
Marked by strong urging; serving to encourage or incite; as, "a hortatory speech."

He later gave up the ministry in the conviction that he could reach thousands with his beguiling pen and only hundreds with his hortatory voice.
-- Carl Van Doren, The American Novel, 1789-1939

Instead of "Home Run, Jack," the hortatory message that greets the batter at the plate is the subliminal one that surfaces: "Run Home, Jack."
-- Marjorie Garber, Symptoms of Culture
desuetude \DES-wih-tood, -tyood\, noun:
The cessation of use; discontinuance of practice or custom; disuse.

Nuns and priests abandoned the identifying attire of the religious vocation and frequently also the vocation itself, experimental liturgies celebrated more the possibility of cultural advancement than that of eternal life, and popular Marian devotions fell into desuetude.
-- Michael W. Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism

Probably only one in a hundred girls who give birth clandestinely even knows that an edict of King Henry II, now fallen into desuetude, once made their action punishable by death.
-- Nina Rattner Gelbart, The King's Midwife

Where specific restrictions on personal freedom and on communal activity had not explicitly been lifted they were allowed to fall into desuetude by default.
-- David Vital, A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939

The exercise of rights which had practically passed into desuetude.
-- John Richard Green, Short History of the English People
salmagundi \sal-muh-GUHN-dee\, noun:
1. A salad plate usually consisting of chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, and onions, served with oil and vinegar.
2. Any mixture or assortment; a medley; a potpourri; a miscellany.

A glance at the schedule is enough to make one feel that one would rather go out and shoot songbirds than stay in and watch the dismal salmagundi of game shows, repeats and soap operas.
-- Jane Shilling, "My brother and other animals", Daily Telegraph, August 22, 1998

What the BBC has the nerve to call Vanity Fair is a baffling salmagundi of Nineties accents, 1800s clothes, Wardour Street plotting, and a sort of language never spoken by any human being at any point in history.
-- "Stop betraying the classics", Independent, November 4, 1998
coeval \koh-EE-vuhl\, adjective:
1. Of the same age; originating or existing during the same period of time -- usually followed by 'with'.

1. One of the same age; a contemporary.

According to John Paul, this longing for transcendent truth is coeval with human existence: All men and women "shape a comprehensive vision and an answer to the question of life's meaning."
-- "Culture, et cetera", Washington Times, October 6, 2000
panoply \PAN-uh-plee\, noun:
1. A splendid or impressive array.
2. Ceremonial attire.
3. A full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering.
The beige plastic bedpan that had come home from the hospital with him after his deviated-septum operation . . . now held ail his razors and combs and the panoply of gleaming instruments he employed to trim the hair that grew from the various features of his face.
-- Michael Chabon, Werewolves in Their Youth

To the east, out over the Ocean, the winter sky is a brilliant panoply of stars and comets, beckoning to adventurers, wise and foolish alike, who seek to divine its mysteries.
-- Ben Green, Before His Time

Labor was hard pressed to hold the line against erosion of its hard-won social wage: the panoply of government-paid benefits such as unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, Medicare, and Social Security.
-- Stanley Aronowitz, From the Ashes of the Old
stripling \STRIP-ling\, noun:
A youth in the state of adolescence, or just passing from boyhood to manhood; a lad.

There are precious few constants in the story of the yen. For a start, it is a stripling among the monies of the world, being not much more than a century old.
-- Pico Iyer, "Tacos in Kyoto, Kimonos in Peru", New York Times, April 28, 1991
fustian \FUHS-chuhn\, noun:
1. A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc.
2. An inflated style of writing or speech; pompous or pretentious language.

1. Made of fustian.
2. Pompous; ridiculously inflated; bombastic.

Don't squander the court's patience puffing your cheeks up on stately bombast and lofty fustian. Speak plainly!
-- Richard Dooling, Brain Storm

His stated motive is to meet "the flood of cant, fustian and emotional nonsense which pollutes the intellectual atmosphere."
-- Walter H. Waggoner, "Joseph W. Bishop Jr., Law Professor and Author", New York Times, May 21, 1985

It would take a stout heart to read through all the loyal effusions and fustian birthday odes of the 18th-century laureates -- Nahum Tate, Colley Cibber and the rest.
-- John Gross, "In Search of a Laureate: Making Book on Britain's Next Official Poet", New York Times, July 15, 1984
rusticate \RUHS-tih-kayt\, intransitive verb:
1. To go into or reside in the country; to pursue a rustic life.

transitive verb:
1. To require or compel to reside in the country; to banish or send away temporarily.
2. (Chiefly British). To suspend from school or college.
3. To build with usually rough-surfaced masonry blocks having beveled or rebated edges producing pronounced joints.
4. To lend a rustic character to; to cause to become rustic.

Ezra holds out in London, and refuses to rusticate.
-- T. S. Eliot to Conrad Aiken, "21 August 1916", The Letters of T. S. Eliot: Volume I, 1898-1922 edited by Valerie Eliot

For the longest time, we're stuck in a cabin hewn out of the ground in a parcel of woods as the boys hide and mend; for another, we rusticate on a farm bounded by fields that must be tilled by the hard labor of man and beast.
-- Stephen Hunter, "When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home", Washington Post, December 17, 1999
bonhomie \bah-nuh-MEE\, noun:
Good nature; pleasant and easy manner.

That bonhomie which won the hearts of all who knew him.
-- Washington Irving, Oliver Goldsmith

And what of the salesman's fabled bonhomie, the Willy Lomanesque emphasis on the importance of being liked?
-- "How to Manage Salespeople", Fortune, March 14, 1988

I would carefully study the exploits of positiverole models like Peter Gabriel, Jimmy Carter, and Alec Baldwin, and attempt to emulate their radiant bonhomie.
-- Joe Queenan, My Goodness: A Cynic's Short-Lived Search for Sainthood
chicanery \shih-KAY-nuh-ree\, noun:
1. The use of trickery or sophistry to deceive (as in matters of law).
2. A trick; a subterfuge.

Wordsworth's paternal grandfather, Richard, had first come to Westmorland from South Yorkshire in 1700, to recoup his fortunes with the then baron Lonsdale, having been done out of his fortune by his own guardian's chicanery.
-- Kenneth R. Johnston, The Hidden Wordsworth

True, Gramm-Rudman's deficit targets were often met only by chicanery -- by anticipating revenues and moving expenses off-budget.
-- David Frum, "Righter Than Newt", The Atlantic, March 1995
martinet \mar-t'n-ET\, noun:
1. A strict disciplinarian.
2. One who lays stress on a rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods.

He is an unmitigated tyrant, a martinet, the sort of man who disapproves of his son's eating the morning oatmeal with sugar -- instead of salt, which he himself prefers.
-- David Quammen, "Punishing Natty", New York Times, April 14, 1985

His insistence on strict discipline began to earn him a reputation among his men as an unfeeling martinet.
-- Michiko Kakutani, "Still Pondering the Myth Of Custer's Last Stand", New York Times, May 28, 1996
edacious \i-DAY-shus\, adjective:
Given to eating; voracious; devouring.

Swallowed in the depths of edacious Time.
-- Thomas Carlyle

Something that... will dismay edacious lips.
-- "The late showman", Independent, August 21, 1999
benignant \bih-NIG-nuhnt\, adjective:
1. Kind; gracious.
2. Beneficial; favorable.

After the captain and ladies had sat down, the autocratic steward rang a second bell, and with a majestic wave of the hand, and a calm, benignant smile, signified his pleasure that we should sit down.
-- Sir Henry Stanley, "Grand tours - Mind your manners at the captain's table", Independent, August 18, 2002

At the meeting it was strange to see, amidst the peaceful, benignant faces, this woe-begone old man, with his thick white hair and his deeply furrowed placid cheeks, looking wistfully from one to the other, and listening anxiously, hoping some day to hear the words which should bring peace to his soul.
-- Alexander L. Kielland, Skipper Worse
invidious \in-VID-ee-uhs\, adjective:
1. Tending to provoke envy, resentment, or ill will.
2. Containing or implying a slight.
3. Envious.

But to the human hordes of Amorites -- Semitic nomads wandering the mountains and deserts just beyond the pale of Sumer -- the tiered and clustered cities, strung out along the green banks of the meandering Euphrates like a giant's necklace of polished stone, seemed shining things, each surmounted by a wondrous temple and ziggurat dedicated to the city's god-protector, each city noted for some specialty -- all invidious reminders of what the nomads did not possess.
-- Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews

In his experience people were seldom happier for having learned what they were missing, and all Europe had done for his wife was encourage her natural inclination toward bitter and invidious comparison.
-- Richard Russo, Empire Falls
superfluous \soo-PER-floo-us\, adjective:
More than is wanted or is sufficient; rendered unnecessary by superabundance; unnecessary; useless; excessive.

And it's hard to realize economies of scale without shedding superfluous jobs.
-- "The Health of Valley Hospitals: Merger of Holy Cross, Providence Made Sense but Still Caused Pain", Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1999

Power Grubs make a dead skunk smell like a rose by comparison. The 'Not for human consumption' warning is superfluous.
-- "Smelly grub a smash", Toronto Star, May 1, 1999

Everything superfluous is more noticeable in him [Hemmingway] than in other writers.
-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Gabriel Garcia Marquez Meets Ernest Hemingway", New York Times, July 26, 1981
confluence \KON-floo-uhn(t)s\, noun:
1. A flowing or coming together; junction.
2. The place where two rivers, streams, etc. meet.
3. A flocking or assemblage of a multitude in one place; a large collection or assemblage.

At the confluence of continents, at the narrow neck of the Nile Valley just before it spreads into the flat water-maze of the Delta, this has always been a place where elements mingle and cultures collide.
-- Max Rodenbeck, Cairo: The City Victorious

It's the combination of these various factors, then -- their historical confluence, if you will -- that must be held responsible for the rapid erosion of the church's authority over sexual matters since the Second Vatican Council.
-- Michael W. Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan
metier \met-YAY; MET-yay\, noun:
1. An occupation; a profession.
2. An area in which one excels; an occupation for which one is especially well suited.

The pairing of Maynard and Salinger -- the writer whose metier is autobiography and the writer who's so private he won't even publish -- was an unlikely one.
-- Larissa MacFarquhar, "The Cult of Joyce Maynard", New York Times Magazine, September 6, 1998

In Congress, I really found my metier. . . . I love to legislate.
-- Charles Schumer, quoted in "Upbeat Schumer Battles Poor Polls and Turnouts and His Own Image", New York Times, May 16, 1998

He is in the position of a good production engineer suddenly shunted into salesmanship. It is not his metier.
-- James R. Mursell, "The Reform of the Schools", The Atlantic, December 1939
stolid \STOL-id\, adjective:
Having or revealing little emotion or sensibility; not easily excited.

Normally stolid, she occasionally joined in the frequent applause and smiled along with the laughter at the high-spirited session.
-- Seth Mydans, "Indonesia Leader Imposes a Decree to Fight Removal", New York Times, July 23, 2001

The inherent irrationality of markets was first demonstrated in the 17th century, when the normally stolid Dutch population was seized by a tulip craze that caused the people to pay insane prices for a single bulb.
-- Robert Reno, "Analysis: A market that rides on bubbles", Newsday, August 7, 2002

Republicans hailed Kemp as a quick-tongued charmer who would . . . appear in attractive contrast to the stolid Al Gore.
-- James Fallows, "An Acquired Taste", The Atlantic, July 1, 2000
succor \SUH-kuhr\, noun:
1. Aid; help; assistance; especially, assistance that relieves and delivers from difficulty, want, or distress.
2. The person or thing that brings relief.

transitive verb:
1. To help or relieve when in difficulty, want, or distress; to assist and deliver from suffering; to relieve.

In Asakusa, a crowd sought succor around an old and lovely Buddhist temple, dedicated to Kannon, goddess of mercy.
-- Richard B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire

Ever since I was five, I have inserted myself into every movie I've seen and gratefully, humbly found succor there.
-- Laurie Fox, My Sister from the Black Lagoon
dudgeon \DUH-juhn\, noun:
A state or fit of intense indignation; resentment; ill humor -- often used in the phrase "in high dudgeon."

Higgins was so frustrated by such a basic error that he stormed out of the arena for the mid-session interval in high dudgeon.
-- Phil Yates, "Stevens begins to feel pressure as Swail stages customary revival", Times (London), April 29, 2000

This woman is forever in a state of spiritual high dudgeon, and a list of her dislikes is as long as the Omaha phone book.
-- Jim Harrison, The Road Home
amalgam \uh-MAL-guhm\, noun:
1. An alloy of mercury with another metal or metals; used especially (with silver) as a dental filling.
2. A mixture or compound of different things.

In that year, Zola struck back at the novelist and critic Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly, that curious amalgam of religious conservative and blasphemous melodramatist -- Zola called him a"hysterical Catholic" -- whom he had long detested for his superior bearing and his unfortunate sallies against writers Zola admired.
-- Gary B. Nash, History on Trial

The so-called "protest" literature of the thirties was often an amalgam of the private rebellion of youth with social revolt.
-- Nona Balakian, The World of William Saroyan
verdant \VUR-dnt\, adjective:
1. Covered with growing plants or grass; green with vegetation.
2. Green.
3. Unripe in knowledge, judgment, or experience; unsophisticated; green.

Drab in winter, then suddenly sodden with alpine runoff, the region turns dazzlingly verdant in spring.
-- Patricia Albers, Shadows, Fire, Snow

Dry as the region just outside the delta may be, it would still be covered with grasses, yellowish in the dry season, verdant in the wet.
-- Niles Eldredge, Life in the Balance

I was verdant enough to think her Agrippine very fine.
-- Henry James, "The Théâtre Français"
megalomania \meg-uh-lo-MAY-nee-ah; -nyuh\, noun:
1. A mania for grandiose or extravagant things or actions.
2. A mental disorder characterized by delusions of grandeur.

Eighteen months generally elapse nowadays between the time a publisher accepts a manuscript and its appearance in book form -- the gestation period of an elephant. During that year and a half of waiting, a writer is visited by every emotion in the fun house, from rosy anticipation to exultation, megalomania, brooding, dread, cringing humility, avarice, guilt and, finally, stolid acceptance.
-- Phillip Lopate, "Waiting for the Book: Storms Before the Calm", New York Times, May 24, 1987

He too often allows us to laugh off notions that science might occasionally be the handmaiden of megalomania, greed, and sadism.
-- David J. Skal, Screams of Reason: Mad Science and Modern Culture
uxorious \uk-SOR-ee-us; ug-ZOR-\, adjective:
Excessively fond of or submissive to a wife.

It is batty to suppose that the most uxorious of husbands will stop his wife's excessive shopping if an excessive shopper she has always been.
-- Angela Huth, "All you need is love", Daily Telegraph, April 24, 1998

Flagler seems to have been an uxorious, domestic man, who liked the comfort and companionship of a wife at his side.
-- Michael Browning, "Whitehall at 100", Palm Beach Post, February 22, 2002
manse \MAN(T)S\, noun:
1. A large and imposing residence.
2. The residence of a clergyman (especially a Presbyterian clergyman).

A two-story white Greek Revival manse, with a front porch and a terrace in the back.
-- Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy

That Carol was a certified divorcee was one of many facts about her which failed to fit, along with her still living with her widowed father in this weird gothic Victorian manse.
-- Erik Tarloff, The Man Who Wrote the Book
parvenu \PAR-vuh-noo; -nyoo\, noun:
1. One that has recently or suddenly risen to a higher social or economic class but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class; an upstart.

1. Being a parvenu; also, like or having the characteristics of a parvenu.

But the favourite's power and influence provoke intense ill-feeling among other courtiers, who regard him as a sinister usurping parvenu with ideas above his station, or perhaps even a sorcerer.
-- Francis Wheen, "The whole truth about Peter's friends", The Guardian, January 31, 2001

However, the Creoles, French, Spanish, and Acadians who preceded the American parvenus were deeply entrenched and incredibly snobbish and clannish in relation to outsiders.
-- Laurence Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life
A morally unprincipled person.
One who is predestined to damnation.

Morally unprincipled; shameless.
Rejected by God and without hope of salvation.

tr.v. rep·ro·bat·ed, rep·ro·bat·ing, rep·ro·bates
To disapprove of; condemn.
To abandon to eternal damnation. Used of God.
crapulous \KRAP-yuh-lus\, adjective:
1. Suffering the effects of, or derived from, or suggestive of gross intemperance, especially in drinking; as, a crapulous stomach.
2. Marked by gross intemperance, especially in drinking; as, a crapulous old reprobate.

These were the dregs of their celebratory party: the half-filled glasses, the cold beans and herring, the shouts and smells of the crapulous strangers hemming them in on every side, the dead rinsed-out April night and the rain drooling down the windows.
-- T. Coraghessan Boyle, Riven Rock

The crapulous life which her future successor led.
-- Lord Brougham, Historical Sketches of Statesmen in the Time of George III

The new money was spent in so much riotous living, and from end to end there settled on the country a mood of fretful, crapulous irritation.
-- Stephen McKenna, Sonia
ululate \UL-yuh-layt; YOOL-\, intransitive:
To howl, as a dog or a wolf; to wail; as, ululating jackals.

He had often dreamed of his grieving family visiting his grave, ululating as only the relatives of martyrs may.
-- Edward Shirley, Know Thine Enemy: A Spy's Journey into Revolutionary Iran

She wanted to be on the tarmac, to ululate and raise her hands to the heavens.
-- Deborah Sontag, "Palestinian Airport Opens to Jubilation", New York Times, November 25, 1998

She used harrowing, penetrating nasal tones and a rasp that approached Janis Joplin's double-stops; she made notes break and ululate.
-- Jon Pareles, "On the Third Day There Was Whooping and There Was Moshing", New York Times, August 18, 1998
contradistinction \kon-truh-dis-TINK-shuhn\, noun:
Distinction by contrast; as, "sculpture in contradistinction to painting."

In the quarter-century since "Gravity's Rainbow," American novelists have increasingly fixed their boldest inventions in the past, usually their own early years or a time long before they were born -- in contradistinction to postwar writers who vigorously peeled away World War II and the social fabric of the 1950's.
-- Gary Giddins, "Escape to New York", New York Times, September 20, 1998

The music was breathing constantly, in contradistinction to the willfully suffocated feeling of most heavy music.
-- Ben Ratliff, "A Brazilian Band Emerges From the Loss of Its Leader", New York Times, July 28, 2000
perambulate \puh-RAM-byuh-layt\, intransitive verb:
1. To walk about; to roam; to stroll; as, "he perambulated in the park."

transitive verb:
1. To walk through or over.
2. To travel over for the purpose of surveying or inspecting.

Every weekend, the police close off ten to fifteen blocks of some Manhattan avenue. The merchants line the curbs, and the New Yorkers slowly perambulate up and down.
-- Richard Brookhiser, "Island Bazaar", National Review, July 1, 2002

At Syon, we perambulate a succession of rooms of the greatest magnificence, beginning with the entrance hall, with an apse of columns -- characteristic of Adam, all dazzling whiteness.
-- A. L. Rowse, "At Home with History in London", New York Times, January 19, 1986

If you don't like boats -- and it's surprising how many people who come here don't like boats -- you can perambulate the shoreline, take a swim, sit in the lounge and read, or do nothing more than sit on the dock
-- Eric Kraft, Leaving Small's Hotel
expropriate \ek-SPROH-pree-ayt\, transitive verb:
1. To deprive of possession.
2. To transfer (the property of another) to oneself.

Very few voters, after all, really believe Europe's new generation of social democratic leaders are wild Bolsheviks plotting to expropriate their Toyotas.
-- Fintan O'Toole, "The last gasp of social democracy", Irish Times, March 19, 1999

The Spanish constitution declared the country "a democratic republic of workers of all classes" and laid down that property might be expropriated "for social uses."
-- Mark Mazower, Dark Continent

Farmlands that had belonged to Bosnia's Muslim beys . . . and agas were expropriated without compensation and handed over to their former tenant sharecroppers.
-- Chuck Sudetic, Blood and Vengeance
countermand \KOWN-tuhr-mand; kown-tuhr-MAND\, transitive verb:
1. To revoke (a former command); to cancel or rescind by giving an order contrary to one previously given.
2. To recall or order back by a contrary order.

1. A contrary order.
2. Revocation of a former order or command.

And given the mixed results, a constitutional amendment that could countermand both the law and the original order by Vermont's Supreme Court seems unlikely.
-- Stanley Kurtz, "Florida? Try Vermont", National Review Online, November 13, 2000

Her aunt and uncle kept hoping her father would countermand his orders since his promises to her seemed to be without effect.
-- Dumas Malone, quoted in The Long Affair, by Conor Cruise O'Brien
toothsome \TOOTH-suhm\, adjective:
1. Pleasing to the taste; delicious; as, "a toothsome pie."
2. Agreeable; attractive; as, "a toothsome offer."
3. Sexually attractive.

Fleming was impressed not only by its taste but by its astonishing durability: Caudle's apple, after ten months in storage, was still toothsome and fragrant.
-- David Guterson, "The Kingdom of Apples", Harper's Magazine, October 1999

Their topic, naturally: business niches that offer toothsome opportunities and comparatively limited competition.
-- Dick Youngblood, "Business niches can be opportunities", Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 2, 2003
simulacrum \sim-yuh-LAY-kruhm; -LAK-ruhm\, noun;
plural simulacra \sim-yuh-LAY-kruh; -LAK-ruh\:
1. An image; a representation.
2. An insubstantial, superficial, or vague likeness or semblance.

Incorporating simulacra of historic buildings and exotic landscapes the Emperor saw on his extensive travels through his dominions, the villa is high-style multiculturalism.
-- Martin Filler, New York Times, December 3, 1995

It becomes harder . . . to distinguish the genuine from its simulacrum.
-- Wayne Curtis, "The Tiki Wars", The Atlantic, February 2001

The Wilson who at last recovered some of his health was a pale simulacrum of the man he had been.
-- Louis Auchincloss, Woodrow Wilson
largess \lar-ZHES; lar-JES; LAR-jes\, noun:
1. Generous giving (as of gifts or money), often accompanied by condescension.
2. Gifts, money, or other valuables so given.
3. Generosity; liberality.

Four years after her marriage she exclaimed giddily over her father-in-law's largess: "He has given Waldorf the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for a birthday present!"
-- Stacy Schiff, "Otherwise Engaged", New York Times, March 19, 2000

The recipients of Johnson's largesse were understandably indifferent to what propelled him.
-- Robert Dallek, Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973

A swelling chorus has arisen recently to complain that the PRI has been up to its old tricks, showering voters with largesse (ranging from washing machines to bicycles and cash).
-- "Mexico's vote", Economist, June 24, 2000
doula \DOO-luh\, noun:
A woman who assists during childbirth labor and provides support to the mother, her child and the family after childbirth.

Chris Morley launched Tender Care Doula Service in Valencia, California, seven years ago to provide nonmedical postpartum care workers (or doulas) to frazzled new moms.
-- Roy Huffman, "Healthy returns", Entrepreneur Magazine, February 1, 1996

Unlike midwives, who deliver babies and are licensed to perform medical tasks, labor doulas provide emotional and physical support to the laboring parents.
-- Stephen L. Richmond, "One Labor-Intensive Job", Time, March 12, 2001
dilettante \DIL-uh-tont; dil-uh-TONT; dil-uh-TON-tee; -TANT; -TAN-tee\, noun:
1. An amateur or dabbler; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge sporadically, superficially, or for amusement only.
2. An admirer or lover of the fine arts.

1. Of or characteristic of a dilettante; amateurish.

As he had put it, it was a matter of principle, not money: Mistler family trusts, over which he exercised discretionary powers, had not been established to support dilettantes or would-be litterateurs waiting for inspiration.
-- Louis Begley, Mistler's Exit
Ides \YDZ\, plural noun:
In the ancient Roman calendar the fifteenth day of March, May, July, and October, and the thirteenth day of the other months.

In one measure of how fast this calendar has become in recent years, by the Ides of March 1984, seven states had held primaries, said Rhodes Cook, the author of "Race for the Presidency".
-- Robin Toner, "Both Parties Seek Ways to Tame Fast and Furious Primary Process.", New YorkTimes, January 24, 2000

Oh he is a very fast horse, and on the Ides of November you will know just how fast he is.
-- "The Aristocracy of the Democratic Party.", New York Times, November 9, 1864

A soothsayer bids you beware of the Ides of March.
-- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
paragon \PAIR-uh-gon; -guhn\, noun:
A model of excellence or perfection; as, "a paragon of beauty; a paragon of eloquence."

Even his friends and business associates, men and women alike, were paragons of health: avoiders of fatty foods, moderate drinkers, health-club habitues, lovers of cross-country skiing, weekend canoe trips, and daylong hikes in the North Woods.
-- Alvin Greenberg, How the Dead Live

Voters, if they chose, could easily convince themselves that the people running their government were faithful spouses and temperate drinkers, paragons whose public images were in perfect accord with their private behavior.
-- Gail Collins, Scorpion Tongues
anemia (noun):
Lack of vigor or vitality.
aphorism (noun):
General truth expressed in concise saying.

A master of the soundbite, the politician has a huge repertoire of aphorisms which he used with great rhetorical effect.
bellicose (adj):
Inclined to war or contention; warlike; pugnacious.
brigand (noun):
A lawless fellow; one of a band of robbers.

Kumar told reporters that the state government should take immediate action against the brigand who kidnapped Indian matinee idol Rajkumar in November.
cabal (noun):
A secret association composed of a few designing persons.
circuitous (adj):
Roundabout, not following a direct path, following a winding or circular path; using indirect speech, not forthright.
cogent (adj):
Having the power to compel conviction or move the will.
corporeal (adj):
Having a body; pertaining to the body.
disconsolate (adj):
Deeply dejected and dispirited; hopelessly sad; comfortless.
ennui (noun):
A feeling of weariness and disgust; tedium.
furtive (adj):
Stolen; obtained or characterized by stealth; sly; secret.
gallant (adj):
Noble in spirit; brave; showy; splendid.

As he put his raincoat in the puddle so that she could step without muddying her shoe, he thought to himself "This might possibly be the most gallant -- and the most ridiculous -- thing I'll ever do!"
gustatory (adj):
Relating to the sense of taste.
hamlet (noun):
A small village; a little cluster of houses in the country.
inculcate (verb):
Teach something by frequent repetition or repeated warnings.
mendacious (adj):
Given to deception or falsehood; lying.
preponderance (noun):
A great amount (of something. Could refer to weight, quantity, power, influence, etc.)
pretext (noun):
Ostensible reason or motive assigned or assumed cover for the real reason or motive; pretense; disguise.
prosaic (adj):
Commonplace; unimaginative.
supersede (verb):
To displace, or set aside, and put another in place of.
supple (adj):
Strong and flexible, limber, able to bend without breaking, adaptable.
supplicant (noun):
One who entreats or asks submissively.
tessellated (adj):
Set in a mosaic pattern of small blocks.
waggish (adj):
Mischievous in sport; frolicsome.
pollyannish (adj):
Irrepressibly or excessively optimistic, capable of seeing good in anyone.
mettlesome \MET-ul-sum\ adjective
: full of vigor and stamina : spirited

Example sentence:
The mettlesome bronco kicked and bucked, but the rider kept his balance and rode him out.
forfend \for-FEND\, transitive verb:
1. a. (Archaic) To prohibit; to forbid. b. To ward off; to prevent; to avert.
2. To defend; to protect; to preserve.

If one of us is missing, heaven forfend, then the king's forces are diminished.
-- Leon Wieseltier, Kaddish
The river of discovery will continue to flow without cessation, deepening our understanding of the world and enhancing our capacity to forfend calamity and live congenial lives.
-- John Maddox, What Remains To Be Discovered
oriflamme \OR-uh-flam\ noun
: a banner, symbol, or ideal inspiring devotion or courage

Example sentence:
"My [word-a-day] calendar had become an oriflamme, inspiring me to try out my new grasp of the language, non-stop." (May Brown, _Times Colonist_ [Victoria, BC], January 5, 2003)
equable \EK-wuh-buhl; EE-kwuh-\, adjective:
1. Equal and uniform; not varying.
2. Not easily disturbed; not variable or changing -- said of the feelings, temper, etc.

An equable climate, evidently due to the large area of sea compared with the land, seems to extend over the greater part of the southern hemisphere; and, as a consequence, the vegetation partakes of a semi-tropical character.
-- Charles Darwin, The Voyage Of Beagle
Now, there can be no doubt that Irving . . . possesses great wit and charm, as well as a temperament that is equable, cheerful, and almost relentlessly easygoing.
-- Norman Podhoretz, Ex-Friends
cerebration \ser-uh-BRAY-shuhn\, noun:
The act or product of thinking; the use of the power of reason; mental activity; thought.

Generally, to the 2 1/2-year-old apple of her parents' eye, who bravely negotiates her ABC's, the recitation must seem, if anything other than pure nonsense, more like a physical task -- like rafting a river or running a steeplechase -- than cerebration.
-- Daniel Menaker, "Lletters for Yyoungsters", New York Times, November 9, 1986
Celebration of cerebration is not what the public wants. Indeed, the opposite is probably true. We are suspicious of excessive smartness.
-- David R. Slavitt, "You Can Go Holmes Again", New York Times, October 17, 1993
Unpleasant, harmful, offensive.
cavalier \kav-uh-LEER\ adjective
1 : debonair
*2 : marked by or given to offhand and often disdainful dismissal of important matters

Example sentence:
"I'm tired of the cavalier way you brush off my concerns," Mom said, "so I'm taking away the car keys until you start listening to me."
malcontent \mal-kuhn-TENT; MAL-kuhn-tent\, noun:
1. One who is discontented or dissatisfied.
2. A discontented subject of a government; one who opposes an established order.
3. Discontented; uneasy; dissatisfied.

Her antagonism inspired him, pushed him into ever more extreme positions, and by the time he was ready to leave the house, and go off to college, he had indelibly cast himself in his chosen role: as malcontent, as rebel, as outlaw poet prowling the gutters of a ruined world.
-- Paul Auster, Timbuktu
Willy, who grew up in Brooklyn, the son of Holocaust survivors, was a malcontent in college, a rebel with "a noisy, fractious disdain for Everything-That-Was."
-- Michiko Kakutani, "My Life as a Dog", New York Times, June 25, 1999
How would you like to be locked in a room for a couple of days with an irritable, depressed malcontent who also happens to be imperiously smart, bored and more than a little spoiled?
-- Robert Nathan, "Irritable, Depressed, Spoiled and Terrific", New York Times, September 26, 1993
travesty \TRAV-uh-stee\ noun
1 : a burlesque translation or literary or artistic imitation usually grotesquely incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter
*2 : a debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation

Example sentence:
The new movie is a travesty of a documentary, likely to appeal only to the lowest sense of humor.
variegated \VAIR-ee-uh-gay-tid\, adjective:
1. Having marks or patches of different colors; as, "variegated leaves or flowers."
2. Varied; distinguished or characterized by variety; diversified.

We spotted variegated hollies, wild mahonia, bergenia, vinca and cotoneaster growing freely between the markers, and as we made our way up and down the fragrant paths, pausing over the monuments to the dead that nestled, neglected, in the tousled undergrowth, we felt like explorers in a haunted jungle.
-- Caroline Seebohm, "Ambushed by Brussels", New York Times, August 22, 1999
Colours range from golden yellow to blue and include conspicuously variegated examples.
-- Catherine Fieldman, "Hostas don't bear grudges", Times (London), September 2, 2000
But as no one was being hurt, you were right to sit quietly and marvel at the variegated -- and sometimes idiotic -- beliefs of humanity.
-- Randy Cohen, "What Can I Say?", New York Times Magazine, July 11, 1999
expiate \EK-spee-ayt\ verb
1 : to extinguish the guilt incurred by
*2 : to make amends for
intransitive : to make expiation

Example sentence:
"It seemed to me that I was hurried on by an inevitable and unseen fate to this day of misery, and that now I was to expiate all my offences at the gallows...." (Daniel Defoe, _Moll Flanders_)
georgic \JOR-jik\ adjective
: of or relating to agriculture

Example sentence:
"Lanford Wilson has created yet another remarkable play... a fascinating tale of a georgic Midwestern community and the secrets lurking beneath the surface of its bucolic hum." (_Adweek_, March 25, 2004)
torpid \TOR-pid\, adjective:
1. Having lost motion or the power of exertion and feeling; numb; benumbed.
2. Dormant; hibernating or estivating.
3. Dull; sluggish; apathetic.

Canary Islanders are citizens of Spain, but geography asserts itself from time to time, as a reminder that this land will always be Africa's: the trade winds get interrupted by strong gusts from the east that bring hot dust and sometimes even torpid, wind-buffeted locusts.
-- Barbara Kingsolver, "Where the Map Stopped", New York Times, May 17, 1992
For more than twenty years--all my adult life--I have lived here: my great weight sunk, torpid in the heat, into this sagged chair on my rooftop patio.
-- Peggy Payne, Sister India
Some animals became torpid in winter, others were torpid in summer.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life
The debacle over signatures has roused the normally politically torpid Mayor, who dislikes pressing the flesh.
-- Jan Cienski, "Petition bungle robs Mayor of spot on ballot", National Post, July 30, 2002
It is a man's own fault . . . if his mind grows torpid in old age.
-- Samuel Johnson, quoted in James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, Life of Samuel Johnson
protean \PRO-tee-un; pro-TEE-un\, adjective:
1. Displaying considerable variety or diversity.
2. Readily assuming different shapes or forms.

The [Broadway] musical was ceaselessly protean in these years, usually conventional but always developing convention, twisting it, replacing it.
-- Ethan Mordden, Coming Up Roses
Roosevelt's performance in the civil rights meeting illustrated one of the central operating principles of his protean executive style, a style that transformed the presidency, and the nation: a willingness to delay decisions, change his mind, keep his options open, avoid commitments, or even deceive people in the relentless pursuit of noble objectives.
-- William Doyle, Inside the Oval Office
He was a protean character who constantly adapted to his environment.
-- David Maraniss, The Clinton Enigma
hortative \HOR-tuh-tiv\ adjective
: giving exhortation : advisory

Example sentence:
Amy suspected that her hortative letter to her son about the values of hard work and education would be ignored in the swirl of freshman partying, but she sent it anyway.
incontrovertible \in-kon-truh-VUR-tuh-buhl\, adjective:
Too clear or certain to admit of dispute; indisputable; unquestionable.

It is in the nature of philosophical questions that they do not have final, incontrovertible answers, or, more exactly, that every answer raises new questions.
-- George Soros, Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism
And although the evidence was substantial, it was not incontrovertible.
-- Al Strachan, "Phantom Goal, part 2", Toronto Sun, May 23, 1999
Despite speculation based on ancient tales and ancient art, no incontrovertible evidence has been discovered of polio's existence before the nineteenth century, at least not in its epidemic form.
-- Sherwin B. Nuland, "A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors", New Republic, October 16, 1995
bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH\ noun
: construction achieved by using whatever comes to hand; also : something constructed in this way

Example sentence:
Knowing that the motor was assembled from a hasty bricolage of junk parts, Raphael had little hope that it would run effectively.
bombinate \BOM-buh-nayt\, intransitive verb:
To buzz; to hum; to drone.

He is often drunk. His head hurts. Snatches of conversation, remembered precepts, prefigured cries of terror bombinate about his skull.
-- Elspeth Barker, "Nobs and the rabble, all in the same boat", Independent, September 22, 1996
Sometimes the computer bombinates way into the night, stops for a bit of rest, then resumes its hum at the early hours of the morning.
-- Cheryl Glenn and Robert J. Connors, New St. Martins Guide to Teaching Writing
esoteric \es-uh-TAIR-ik\ adjective
*1 : designed for or understood by a small number of people; broadly: difficult to understand
2 : private, confidential

Example sentence:
Computer programming was once an esoteric subject, but beginner courses and how-to books have made it easier to grasp.
cognoscente \kon-yuh-SHEN-tee; kog-nuh-; -SEN-\, noun;
plural cognoscenti \-tee\:
A person with special knowledge of a subject; a connoisseur.

However, I thought it well to acquaint myself with the latest scientific thinking, so as not to write a tale that would embarrass me among the cognoscenti.
-- Ronald Wright, A Scientific Romance
In the early 1600s, however, beliefs that decried curiosity and restricted information about the "secrets" of nature to a handful of cognoscenti were under attack.
-- Tom Shachtman, Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold
Greenspan, to his credit, tells the truth about what he does, but until now, he has done it in a way that only the cognoscenti can understand.
-- Paul Krugman, "Labor Pains", New York Times Magazine, May 23, 1999
1 a : wise through reflection and experience b archaic : GRAVE, SOLEMN
2 : proceeding from or characterized by wisdom, prudence, and good judgment <sage advice>
scion \SY-uhn\, noun:
1. A detached shoot or twig of a plant used for grafting.
2. Hence, a descendant; an heir.

Convinced he was the scion of Louis Alexandre Lebris de Kerouac, a noble Breton, he was off to do genealogical research in the Paris libraries and then to locate his ancestor's hometown in Brittany.
-- Ellis Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac

Sassoon, scion of a famously wealthy Jewish banking family, had never needed to earn his living.
-- Philip Hoare, Oscar Wilde's Last Stand
posit \POZ-it\, transitive verb:
1. To assume as real or conceded.
2. To propose as an explanation; to suggest.
3. To dispose or set firmly or fixedly.

It is not necessary to posit mysterious forces to explain coincidences.
-- Bruce Martin, "Coincidences: Remarkable or Random?", Skeptical Inquirer, September/October 1998

Among other things, the researchers posit that the behavior of the muscles during laughter probably explains why phrases like "weak with laughter" pops up in many different languages.
-- "How Muscles Can Go Weak With Laughter", New York Times, September 14, 1999
apothegm \AP-uh-them\, noun:
A short, witty, and instructive saying.

Nineteen Eighty-four the most contemporary novel of this year and who knows of how many past and to come, is a great examination into and dramatization of Lord Acton's famous apothegm, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
-- Mark Schorer, "When Newspeak Was New", New York Times, October 6, 1996

The rare talent of compressing a mass of profound thought into an apophthegm.
-- Henry Hart Milman, The History of Latin Christianity
cogent \KOH-juhnt\, adjective:
Having the power to compel conviction; appealing to the mind or to reason; convincing.

One woman, Adrian Pomerantz, was so intelligent that the professors always lit up when Adrian spoke; her eloquent, cogent analyses forced them not to be lazy, not to repeat themselves.
-- Meg Wolitzer, Surrender, Dorothy
munificent \myoo-NIF-i-suhnt\, adjective:
Very liberal in giving or bestowing; very generous; lavish.

Another munificent friend has given me the most splendid reclining chair conceivable.
-- George Eliot, Letters
alacrity \uh-LACK-ruh-tee\, noun:
A cheerful or eager readiness or willingness, often manifested by brisk, lively action or promptness in response.

As for his homemade meatloaf sandwich with green tomato ketchup, a condiment he developed while working in New York, I devoured it with an alacrity unbecoming in someone who gets paid to taste carefully.
-- R.W. Apple Jr., "Southern Tastes, Worldly Memories", New York Times, April 26, 2000
salutary \SAL-yuh-ter-ee\, adjective:
1. Producing or contributing to a beneficial effect; beneficial; advantageous.
2. Wholesome; healthful; promoting health.

Alexis de Tocqueville famously observed during his sojourn in this country that America was teeming with such associations -- charities, choral groups, church study groups, book clubs -- and that they had a remarkably salutary effect on society, turning selfish individuals into public-spirited citizens.
-- Fareed Zakaria, "Bigger Than the Family, Smaller Than the State", New York Times, August 13, 1995
jovial \JOH-vee-uhl\, adjective:
Merry; joyous; jolly; characterized by mirth or jollity.

One pupil of the sixteen-year-old Custer remembered him as "socially inclined," jovial, and full of life.
-- Louise Barnett, Touched by Fire
titivate \TIT-uh-vayt\, transitive and intransitive verb:
To smarten up; to spruce up.

It's easy to laugh at a book in which the heroine's husband says to her, "You look beautiful," and then adds, "So stop titivating yourself."
-- Joyce Cohen, review of To Be the Best, by Barbara Taylor Bradford, New York Times, July 31, 1988
probity \PRO-buh-tee\, noun:
Complete and confirmed integrity; uprightness.

Unless some light is shed on shady dealings and some probity restored, more young lives will be blighted and careers choked off.
-- Norman Lebrecht, Who Killed Classical Music?
canard \kuh-NAHRD\, noun:
1. An unfounded, false, or fabricated report or story.
2. A horizontal control and stabilizing surface mounted forward of the main wing of an aircraft.
3. An aircraft whose horizontal stabilizer is mounted forward of the main wing.

This is just a canard that is assumed to be true because it has been repeated so often.
-- Bruce Bartlett, "Lower Taxes Higher Revenue?", National Review, March 13, 2003
imbue \im-BYOO\, transitive verb:
1. To tinge or dye deeply; to cause to absorb thoroughly; as, "clothes thoroughly imbued with black."
2. To instill profoundly; to cause to become impressed or penetrated.

Beauty is equal parts flesh and imagination: we imbue it with our dreams, saturate it with our longings.
-- Nancy Etcoff, Survival of the Prettiest
malaise \muh-LAYZ; -LEZ\, noun:
1. A vague feeling of discomfort in the body, as at the onset of illness.
2. A general feeling of depression or unease.

The first sign of illness is a malaise no worse than influenza.
-- Steve Jones, Darwin's Ghost
desideratum \dih-sid-uh-RAY-tum; -RAH-\, noun;
plural desiderata:
Something desired or considered necessary.

No one in Berkeley -- at least, no one I consorted with -- thought art was for sissies, or that a pensionable job was the highest desideratum.
-- John Banville, "Just a dream some of us had", Irish Times, August 24, 1998
spoony \SPOO-nee\, adjective:
1. Foolish; silly; excessively sentimental.
2. Foolishly or sentimentally in love.

Nevertheless, because we're spoony old things at heart, we like to believe that some showbiz marriages are different.
-- Julie Burchill, "Cut!", The Guardian, February 7, 2001
concupiscence \kon-KYOO-puh-suhn(t)s; kuhn-\, noun:
Strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.

The "Tretis" is an argument in favor of chastity and contrasts the "Wise Virgins" who devote themselves to God with the "Foolish Virgins" who taste "the fruits of forbidden concupiscence" and, of course, pay for it.
-- Michael Gorra, "Loved for his Diphthongs", New York Times, November 27, 1983
eleemosynary \el-uh-MOS-uh-ner-ee\, adjective:
1. Of or for charity; charitable; as, "an eleemosynary institution."
2. Given in charity; having the nature of alms; as, "eleemosynary assistance."
3. Supported by or dependent on charity; as, "the eleemosynary poor."

We also need to revive the great eleemosynary institutions through which compassionate people serve those in need with both greater flexibility and discipline than government agencies are capable.
-- Clifford F. Thies, "Bring back the bridewell", The World & I, September 1, 1995
stertorous \STUR-tuh-ruhs\, adjective:
Characterized by a heavy snoring or gasping sound; hoarsely breathing.

In the cinder-block motel room he set the alarm, but his own stertorous breathing woke him before it rang.
-- E. Annie Proulx, "The Half-Skinned Steer", The Atlantic, November 1997
autodidact \aw-toh-DY-dakt\, noun:
One who is self-taught.

He is our ultimate autodidact, a man who made himself from nothing into a lawyer, a legislator -- a president.
-- Kevin Baker, "Log Cabin Values", New York Times, April 2, 2000

Consider the autodidact in Sartre's Nausea, who is somewhat unbelievably working his way alphabetically through an entire library.
-- James Wood, "Human, All Too Inhuman", New Republic, July 24, 2000
deus ex machina \DAY-uhs-eks-MAH-kuh-nuh; -nah; -MAK-uh-nuh\, noun:
1. In ancient Greek and Roman drama, a god introduced by means of a crane to unravel and resolve the plot.
2. Any active agent who appears unexpectedly to solve an apparently insoluble difficulty.

In times of affluence and peace, with technology that always seems to arrive like a deus ex machina to solve any problem, it becomes easy to believe that life is perfectible.
-- Stephanie Gutmann, The Kinder, Gentler Military
milieu \meel-YUH; meel-YOO\, noun;
plural milieus or milieux \-(z)\:
Environment; setting.

These were agricultural areas, populated with prosperous farming families and rural artisans -- a completely different milieu from the Monferrands', which was more closed, more cultured, but less affluent.
-- Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana, Truffaut
tendentious \ten-DEN-shuhs\, adjective:
Marked by a strong tendency in favor of a particular point of view.

Most writing about Wagner has been like political pamphleteering--tendentious, one-sided and full of revisionist zeal.
-- Erich Leinsdorf, "The Cruel Face of Genius", New York Times, May 15, 1988
excoriate \ek-SKOR-ee-ayt\, transitive verb:
1. To express strong disapproval of; to denounce.
2. To tear or wear off the skin of.

In his speech to Congress of May 16th -- a speech that France found very insulting -- the President's "rage almost choked his utterance," as he excoriated the French for rejecting his ambassador, urged defensive measures against French dangers from abroad, and warned about French dangers at home.
-- Richard N. Rosenfeld, American Aurora
visage \VIZ-ij\, noun:
1. The face, countenance, or look of a person or an animal; -- chiefly applied to the human face.
2. Look; appearance; aspect.

Older than most, and taller -- taller than Perlman, in fact -- she had a long and lean visage that might once have passed for fair but which age had turned more knowing and severe.
-- Brooks Hansen, Perlman's Ordeal
sapient \SAY-pee-uhnt\, adjective:
Wise; sage; discerning.

By actual measurement they are the brainiest of birds, and on subjective evidence they seem more sapient than most other living creatures.
-- David Quammen, "Bird Brains", New York Times, August 1, 1999
disparate \DIS-puh-rit; dis-PAIR-it\, adjective:
1. Fundamentally different or distinct in quality or kind.
2. Composed of or including markedly dissimilar elements.

Science at its best isolates a common element underlying many seemingly disparate phenomena.
-- John Horgan, The Undiscovered Mind
parlous \PAR-luhs\, adjective:
Attended with peril; fraught with danger; hazardous.

It was a parlous time on the Continent, when Communists and fascists vied brutally for supremacy.
-- Howard Simons, "Shots Seen Round the World", New York Times, September 22, 1985
malleable \MAL-ee-uh-buhl\, adjective:
1. Capable of being extended or shaped by beating with a hammer, or by the pressure of rollers; -- applied to metals.
2. Capable of being altered or controlled by outside forces; easily influenced.
3. Capable of adjusting to changing circumstances; adaptable.

His image for his own imagination is the acid, the catalyst, that is mixed in to make the gold malleable, and is then wiped away.
-- "Nothing is too wonderful to be true", Times (London), June 7, 2000
vim \VIM\, noun:
Power; force; energy; spirit; activity; vigor.

The 76-year-old retired Malaysian schoolteacher displayed so much vim during a recent hike through a national park in Sarawak, astonished rangers began calling her a "recycled teenager."
-- Choong Tet Sieu, "The Power to Go On and On", Asiaweek, July 28, 2000
plenary \PLEE-nuh-ree; PLEN-uh-ree\, adjective:
1. Full in all respects; complete; absolute; as, plenary authority.
2. Fully attended by all qualified members.

Judges like to quote a 1936 Supreme Court opinion that spoke of "the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the Federal Government in the field of international relations."
-- "Like Interpreting the Dreams of Pharaoh", New York Times, November 6, 1988
gastronome \GAS-truh-nohm\, noun:
A connoisseur of good food and drink.

If "poultry is for the cook what canvas is for a painter," to quote the 19th-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin, why paint the same painting over and over again?
-- John Willoughby and Chris Schlesinger, "From Poussin to Capon a Chicken in Every Size", New York Times, September 22, 1999
sine qua non \sin-ih-kwah-NON; -NOHN; sy-nih-kway-\, noun:
An essential condition or element; an indispensable thing.

Women's enfranchisement was crucial to them -- indeed, a sine qua non, since all other progress for which they worked, such as higher education and entrance into the professions, would be meaningless if women continued to be second-class citizens.
-- Lillian Faderman, To Believe in Women
exegete \EK-suh-jeet\, noun:
A person who explains or interprets difficult parts of written works.

All the things said in this passage are clear and should be paid attention to, without an exegete interpreting.
-- Galen, "Commentary on Hippocrates", On the Nature of Man
recondite \REK-uhn-dyt\, adjective:
1. Difficult to understand; abstruse.
2. Concerned with obscure subject matter.

And his fondness for stopping his readers short in their tracks with evidence of his recondite vocabulary is wonderfully irritating.
-- "Books of the Times", New York Times, February 23, 1951
diktat \dik-TAHT\, noun:
1. A harsh settlement unilaterally imposed on a defeated party.
2. An authoritative decree or order.

Whether with the rapid reaction force or with the Bosnian government, the United States should vigorously support efforts to lift the siege of Sarajevo and help to piece back together a contiguous territory so that the Bosnian government can come to the bargaining table free of a Serbian diktat.
-- "Why Bosnia matters", Commonweal, July 14, 1995
esurient \ih-SUR-ee-uhnt; -ZUR-\, adjective:
Hungry; voracious; greedy.

The enemy then was an esurient Soviet Union which, having swallowed up Eastern Europe, had imposed a totalitarian system on countries just liberated from Nazism.
-- Arnold Beichman, "As Truman envisioned our role", Washington Times, April 23, 2002
ineffable \in-EF-uh-buhl\, adjective:
1. Incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable.
2. Not to be uttered; taboo.

. . .the tension inherent in human language when it attempts to relate the ineffable, see the invisible, understand the incomprehensible.
-- Jeffrey Burton Russell, A History of Heaven
dubiety \doo-BY-uh-tee; dyoo-\, noun:
1. The condition or quality of being doubtful or skeptical.
2. A matter of doubt.

Kennedy and O'Connor may think that Title 3 has been violated, but O'Connor and the chief justice are not convinced that the Supreme Court was meant to litigate challenges under that federal statute, and their dubiety here is shared by Justices Scalia and Souter.
-- Hadley Arkes, "A Morning at the Court", National Review, December 2, 2000
pugilist \PYOO-juh-list\, noun:
One who fights with the fists; especially, a professional prize fighter; a boxer.

I had escaped my years as a pugilist with few of the badges that gave fellow-veterans of the ring the appearance of ruffians--missing eyes, mashed noses, or suchlike disfigurements--and had no more to show for my beatings than some small scars about my face and a nose that bore only the mild bumps and jagged edges that come with several breakings.
-- David Liss, A Conspiracy of Paper
renascent \rih-NAS-uhnt\, adjective:
Springing or rising again into being; showing renewed vigor.

Their goal: to give voters in theJune presidential elections a realistic choice between the rough-and-tumble reforms of President Boris Yeltsin and the Soviet-era nostalgia of Gennadi Zyuganov, leader of the renascent Russian Communist Party.
-- James O. Jackson, "Can Opposites Attract?", Time, May 13, 1996
sesquipedalian \ses-kwuh-puh-DAYL-yuhn\, adjective:
1. Given to or characterized by the use of long words.
2. Long and ponderous; having many syllables.

1. A long word.

As a sesquipedalian stylist, he can throw a word like 'eponymous" into a sentence without missing a beat.
-- Campbell Patty, "The sand in the oyster", The Horn Book Magazine, May 15, 1996
encumbrance \en-KUHM-brun(t)s\, noun:
1. A burden, impediment, or hindrance.
2. A lien, mortgage, or other financial claim against a property.

As Prince of Wales, George V had himself taken his wife on several foreign or imperial tours, without the encumbrance of their young children.
-- Ben Pimlott, The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II
pugnacious \puhg-NAY-shuhs\, adjective:
Inclined to fight; combative; quarrelsome.

Roberto's pugnacious grandmother lived across the meadow and would yell threats and curses helplessly from her balcony.
-- Tag Gallagher, The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini
capricious \kuh-PRISH-us; -PREE-shus\, adjective:
Apt to change suddenly; whimsical; changeable.

Molly was a capricious woman. Her moods were unpredictable, her anger petty and vicious.
-- Rand Roberts and James Olson, John Wayne: American

The Countess was a capricious minx, by turns seductive and aloof.
-- Saul David, Prince of Pleasure: The Prince of Wales and the Making of the Regency
comity \KOM-uh-tee\, noun:
1. A state of mutual harmony, friendship, and respect, especially between or among nations or people; civility.
2. The courteous recognition by one nation of the laws and institutions of another.
3. The group of nations observing international comity.

In Athens last week, E.U. leaders offered a picture of comity as they formally signed accession treaties with 10 new members.
-- James Graff, "Can France Put a Cork In It?", Time Europe, April 28, 2003
quondam \KWAHN-duhm; KWAHN-dam\, adjective:
Having been formerly; former; sometime.

A quondam flower child, she spent seven years at the Royal College of Art, before becoming a lecturer at Edinburgh School of Art.
-- "Interview: Cool, calm collector", Independent, December 13, 1997
ergo \UR-go; AIR-\, adverb:
Therefore; consequently; -- often used in a jocular way.

The general observation has always been: Dogs form packs; the leader of the pack is the strongest, wisest, and largest individual; a human being among dogs fits that description; ergo we are the leader of any dog pack.
-- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Dogs Never Lie About Love: Reflections on the Emotional World of Dogs

Armani isn't interested in fashion that moves on (ergo he isn't interested in fashion).
-- Sinead Lynch, "The waist land", Times (London), October 9, 2000
susurration \soo-suh-RAY-shun\, noun:
A whispering sound; a soft murmur.

. . .the soft susurration of the wind through a stand of whistling thorn.
-- Ann Jones, "Kenya on horseback", Town & Country, August 1, 1994

Across the road I can make out the grassy park that runs along the sand and hear, in the distance, the steady susurration of the Atlantic Ocean.
-- Michael Dirda, "Excursions", Washington Post, January 2, 2000
irrefragable \ih-REF-ruh-guh-buhl\, adjective:
Impossible to refute; incontestable; undeniable; as, an irrefragable argument; irrefragable evidence.

I had the most irrefragable evidence of the absolute truth and soundness of the principle upon which my invention was based.
-- Sir Henry Bessemer, Autobiography
tutelage \TOO-tuhl-ij; TYOO-\, noun:
1. The act of guarding or protecting; guardianship; protection.
2. The state of being under a guardian or tutor.
3. Instruction, especially individual instruction accompanied by close attention and guidance.

But he was not yet free of his father's legal tutelage and had still to decide on a career.
-- Roland Huntford, Nansen: The Explorer as Hero

This was the Puerto Rico that the United States invaded on July 25, 1898--a country that wanted political, economic, and social justice, but not colonial tutelage, however well meant.
-- Jose Trias Monge, Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World
incommunicado \in-kuh-myoo-nih-KAH-doh\, adverb or adjective:
Without the means or right to communicate.

Western diplomats in Cuba said yesterday that the fact that the six have been held incommunicado for so long suggests that the Cubans fear they pose a security threat.
-- Daniel McGrory, "Cuba to explain why it is holding six Britons", Times (London), October 25, 2000
predilection \preh-d'l-EK-shun; pree-\, noun:
A predisposition to choose or like; an established preference.

Wilson doesn't see any inconsistency between his socialism and his predilection for the high life.
-- Marina Cantacuzino, "On deadly ground", The Guardian, March 13, 2001

. . .youth's predilection for revolt.
-- Terry McCarthy, "Lost Generation", Time Asia, October 23, 2000
flippant \FLIP-uhnt\, adjective:
Lacking proper seriousness or respect; showing inappropriate levity; pert.

In the mid-1950s we both wrote for the same weekly, where her contributions were a good deal more serious and less flippant than mine.
-- Anthony Howard and Jason Cowley, "Decline and Fall", New Statesman, March 13, 2000
grandee \gran-DEE\, noun:
1. A man of elevated rank or station.
2. In Spain or Portugal, a nobleman of the first rank.

Jack Byron still harbored delusions of being a local grandee, attempting to influence district politics; as the final humiliation, in the parliamentary election of 1786 his vote was disallowed.
-- Benita Eisler, Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame
wunderkind \VOON-duhr-kint\, noun;
plural wunderkinder \-kin-duhr\:
1. A child prodigy.
2. One who achieves great success or acclaim at an early age.

It was even written that, at 20, his best days were behind him. He had gone from a wunderkind to an object of sympathy, a hero struggling not to be forgotten.
-- "Owen shines like a beacon amid the wrecks", Times (London), May 29, 2000
lucre \LOO-kuhr\, noun:
Monetary gain; profit; riches; money; -- often in a bad sense.

His stories began to be published in the American Mercury before he moved to L.A., lured by the dream of Hollywood lucre.
-- Jerome Boyd Maunsell, "Truly madly weepy", Times (London), June 10, 2000

They ought to feel a calling for service rather than lucre.
-- Sin-Ming Shaw, "It's Time to Get Real", Time Asia, July 1, 2002
epigone \EP-uh-gohn\, noun:
An inferior imitator, especially of some distinguished writer, artist, musician, or philosopher.

He probably was influenced by John le Carré. . . . But Mr. Crisp . . . is no mere epigone.
-- Newgate Callendar, "Who's The Mole?", New York Times, October 9, 1988
sang-froid \sang-FRWAH\, noun;
also sangfroid:
Freedom from agitation or excitement of mind; coolness in trying circumstances; calmness.

The Treasury Secretary's sang-froid in moments of crisis.
-- "Keeping the Boom From Busting", New York Times, July 19, 1998

Both men were mightily impressed by the calmness of the Americans on board, particularly among the women. "I had, during my sojourn in America," Beaumont said later, "a thousand occasions to see the sang-froid of the American."
-- Michael Kammen, "Wrecked on the Fourth of July", New York Times, July 6, 1997
consanguineous \kon-san(g)-GWIN-ee-us\, adjective:
Of the same blood; related by birth; descended from the same parent or ancestor.

These Neolithic people practiced agriculture in a settled communal life and are widely supposed to have had consanguineous clans as their basic social grouping.
-- Bruce Cumings, Korea's Place in the Sun

Am not I consanguineous? am I not of her blood?
-- William Shakespeare, Twelfth-Night