Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Another word with multiple meanings, but I'll skip the obvious one and jump to the more interesting one :)

Pronunciation: vet (listen to it on

Verb: to verify the accuracy, authenticity, validity of something. Brit: to investigate someone thoroughly to make sure they are suitable for a job requiring trustworthiness and loyalty.

Etymology: 19th century

Usage: The doc fully vetted the new royal dog and declared him free of bugs, both literally and figuratively.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Pitch. I love a word with so many different meanings but the one I love the most because it appeals to my gothic youth: black as tar. (For a fuller definition, see pitch defined on

Pronunciation: pich (listen to it on

Noun: a sticky resinous substance of a dark black or brown color obtained from the boiling or distillation of tar.

Etymology: 8th century, from the Old English pic, Latin pix

Usage: proverbially: black or dark as pitch (e.g pitch black)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I have indeed been dilatory in updating this blog :) But instead of excoriating myself, I offer you this new word.

Pronunciation: ek skȯr ee eyt (listen to it on

Verb: literally means to flay or strip off the skin of a person. 2. flay verbally: denounce or berate scathingly.

Etymology: 15th century, Middle English, from the Late Latin excoriatus (past participle of excoriāre to strip, skin)

Usage: From The Decameron:

The sun was now in the zenith, and smote with extreme fervour full and unmitigated upon her tender and delicate frame, and upon her bare head, insomuch that his rays did not only scorch but bit by bit excoriate every part of her flesh that was exposed to them, and so shrewdly burn her that, albeit she was in a deep sleep, the pain awoke her.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Pronunciation: dil-uh-tohr-ee (listen to it on

Adjective: tending to or intending to cause delay; slow, tardy.

Etymology: 13th century in legal terms (a dilatory plea), more common usage dates from the 16th century. Middle English (Anglo-French) dilatorie, Latin dilatus (past participle of differre, to delay).

Usage: Google book search results are incredibly boring and consist mostly of a) law related texts, b) books on boys' behavior, c) dictionaries, and d) medical or scientific research texts so here's an example of usage I made up: Due to my dilatory nature, this blog entry sat around for over a month before I finally posted it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Pronunciation: es-kyuh-luhnt (listen to it on

Adjective: edible; Noun: something that is edible

Etymology: 17th century. From the Latin esculentus (edible)

Usage: For example, esculent roots or mushrooms.

Taste, defined by the early-nineteenth-century French gastronome Brillat-Savarin as that sense "by means of which we approve the sapidity [tastiness] and esculence [edibility] of things," is in fact physiologically bound up with smell and with touch.
From The hungry soul: eating and the perfecting of our nature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Pronunciation: dee-fen-uh-strey-shuhn (listen to it on

Noun The act of throwing a person or thing out of a window; immediate dismissal or expulson (as from a public office).

Etymology: 17th century. From the Latin de (away from; off), fenestra (window). This word has a funny little tale of origin. It was invented for the "Defenestration of Prague," three men were thrown out of a castle window into the moat by Protestant radicals, marking the start of the Thirty Years War (read more about its origins on

Usage: Here is a poem that makes good and frequent use of the word defenestration called Transcendental Sonnet #519 Defenestration Then and Now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Pronunciation: hyoo-bris (listen to it on

Noun: excessive pride or extreme self confidence; arrogance

Etymology: Late 19th century; From Greek hybris (insolence). In Greek mythology, Hybris was the goddess of insolence, violence, wantonness, reckless pride, arrogance and outrageous behavior in general.

Usage: Funnily, there are a lot of a) political, b) self help, c) religious, and d) financial books in Google Book search results.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

lint licker

This commercial makes hilarious use of words:


Pronunciation: loo-goo-bree-uhs (listen to it on

Adjective: mournful, gloomy, especially affected in an exaggerated manner; dismal.

Etymology: Late 16th century. From the Latin lugere (mourn; lament)

Usage: Lots of results for it in Google Books search, including this lovely example from The Alhambra by Washington Irving.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Pronunciation: hingk-tee (listen to it on

Adjective: conceited, stuck-up.

Etymology: early 1920s; of unknown origin.

Usage: Slang term. Here's a great example of usage from a book of poems from Harlem.