Words of the Day

Antique typewriter - Words of the day
I pluck one word from among its raucous company, and give it primacy that day.

When I encounter a word I don’t know, or don’t know well, I look it up and write it on a list. Often later, reviewing the list, I’ve forgotten what the word means, this word that had such audacity as to be new to me—me, a word person, right? So I look it up again, and since I’ve read its meaning once before, the word is a little more familiar. But it’s now bereft of context, detached from its original mooring, stripped clean, incorporeal. It’s no longer noun or adjective or verb; it cannot do the work of meaning making. It just lies indignantly among its brethren, waiting.

I look at this list every day, lately, this impertinent, chanting crowd: violacious, adumbrate, exculpate, eidetic. And I pluck one word from its raucous company, and give it primacy that day. One day recently was cathexis. It was a deeply cathexis day. Another day was jejune, another revenant.

And so the word, connected to its day, re-acquires context, meaning, its queer significance. It can do some work, and so it lives again.

addlepated
adumbrate
ambage
ambit
ambsace
anent
anodyne
antipodal
aperçu
apothegm
apposite
argot
asperse
assay
asseveration
atrabilious
augury
bathos
bight
bonnyclapper
carom
cathexis
cenobite
chimera
cidevant
crepitate
demotic
dithyrambic
doppelgänger
dulcet
echolalia
éclat
eidetic
elision
enate
endomusia
equerry
eristic
esurient
exculpate
exiguous
fantod
farrago
febrile
felix culpa
fixity
folderol
frit
gelid
gnomic
grimalkin
hamartia
heliopause
heuristic
hight
holpen
hortatory
ignominy
illation
inveigle
invigilate
isogloss
jejune
jeremiad
kilderkin
landrace
lanthorn
magus
malefic
manqué
merlon
metonymy
monitory
noumenon
nowell
numinous
panegyric
parvenu
pelage
pelf
pellucid
percipience
peripeteia
perspicuous
philter
pinguid
pis aller
plangent
plash
pleonastic
pneuma
popliteal
praxis
prolix
propinquity
prosody
punctilio
purlieu
radix
refulgent
revenant
rubescent
runcible
sanguine
sapid
sate
sept
shrive
sigil
solecism
stilly
stochastic
stria
sublunary
surcease
syncretize
temerarious
thew
thill
threnody
Torschlusspanik
triskelion
twee
ungual
uxorious
veraison
videlicet
violaceous
virescent
vocable
wattle
witting
wont

 

 

Original copyright 1 January 2010.

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1 Comment

  • Actually, full disclosure: I did know some of these words before I used them as words of the day. But they’re just such cool words, and they sound so great when you say them, that they went on the list anyway. Words like dulcet, doppelgänger, wont, and magus; isogloss, heuristic, sanguine, and twee.
    Et cetera, ad infinitem. Amen.

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