Tag Archives: smart words

There’s a Word for That: Jouissance

atkins-bookshelf-wordsDefinition: intellectual or physical pleasure or enjoyment; sexual pleasure (e.g. orgasm)

Etymology: Formed from the French word jouir (meaning “enjoy”)

Related word: joie de vivre (joy of living)

Pronunciation: jwee SANS

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist


There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist

atkins-bookshelf-wordsDefinition: a person who is a great or witty conversationalist at the dinner table.

Related word: raconteur

Etymology: From the Greek word deipnosophistes that translated literally means “one learned in the affairs of the kitchen.” The word is formed from the Greek words deipno (“dinner”) and sophistes (master of a craft, expert). The word was introduced by the Greek rhetorician, Athenaeus, in his 15-volume work titled The Deipnosophistae (circa 3 AD).

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor


Abecedarian Insult

A multiple-word insult where the words are arranged in alphabetical order. As lexicographer Peter Bowler, author of The Superior Person’s Book of Words, notes, “Words are not only tools, they are weapons.” Bowler suggests this exquisite example: “‘You are an apogenous, bovaristic, coprolalial, dasypygal, excerebrose, facinorous, gnathonic, hircine, ithyphallic, jumentous, kyphotic, labrose, mephitic, napiform, oligophrenial, papuliferous, quisquilian, rebarbative, saponaceous, thersitical, unguinous, ventripotent, wlatsome, xylocephalous, yirning zoophyte.” Translated from highbrow English to regular English, the insult reads like this: “‘You are an impotent, conceited, obscene, hairy-buttocked, brainless, wicked, toadying, goatish, indecent, stable-smelling, hunchbacked, thick-lipped, stinking, turnip-shaped, feeble-minded, pimply, trashy, repellant, smarmy, foul-mouthed, greasy, gluttonous, loathsome, wooden-headed, whining, extremely low form of animal life.” Most likely the recipient of such an insult will be challenged to come up with a respectable comeback.

Read related post: Esprit de l’escalier

For further reading: The Superior Person’s Book of Words by Peter Bowler, Godine Press (1982)


Raison d’être

Definition: Noun. The most important reason or purpose for someone’s existence.

Pronounced “ray-ZAHN-daytre”

Etymology: From the French, literally meaning “reason for existence”

For further reading: Les Bons Mots: How to Amaze Tout le Monde with Everyday French by Eugene Ehrlich, Henry Holt (1997).


Oxymoron

Definition: Noun. A figure of speech in which two contradictory terms are combined.

Etymology: The word oxymoron is in fact an oxymoron itself, derived from the Greek word oxus (meaning “keen or sharp”) and moros (“foolish”).

Related words:
Sophomore: A student in second year of study at college or a high school; literally “wise fool” derived from the Greek word sophos (“wisdom”) and moros (“foolish”)
Morology: Foolish talking or foolish words.

Single-word oxymorons:
firewater
spendthrift
wholesome
superette

Two-word oxymorons:
jumbo shrimp
military intelligence
political science
good grief
sight unseen
negative growth
lead balloon

Literary oxymorons:
Sweet sorrow (William Shakespeaere)
Hateful good (Geoffrey Chaucer)
Proud humility (Edmund Spenser)
Darkness visible (John Milton)
Melancholy merriment (Lord Byron)
Falsely true (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

For further reading: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press (1991). Amazing Words by Richard Lederer, Marion Street Press (2012).


There’s a Word for That: Macroverbumsciolist

atkins-bookshelf-wordsA macroverbumsciolist is a person who is ignorant of large words or who pretends to know what a word means. Is considered a nonce word, i.e., a word that was coined for a particular occasion or use that is not expected to occur again. Nonce words are generally not found in conventional dictionaries. The word is derived from the Greek macro, “large” and Latin verbum, “word” and the Late Latin sciolus, “smatterer, pretender of knowledge” (diminutive of scius, “knowing”).

Related words: dabbler, dilettante, ultracrepidarian

Read related posts: There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier
There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist
There’s a Word for That: Pareidolia
There’s a Word for That: Macroverbumsciolist

For further reading: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press (1991). http://www.urbandictionary.com.


Emacity

Definition: Noun. The desire or fondness for buying things, or more generally for spending money.

Etymology: From the Latin emaciates, “the desire to buy.”

Related words: shopaholic, conspicuous consumer

From the Urban Dictionary:
Shopping: buying a whole lot of stuff that you don’t really need.
Shoplete: one who shops for sport

For further reading: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press (1991). http://www.urbandictionary.com.


There’s a Word for That: Esprit de l’escalier

Definition: Noun. The witty remark you wish you had made.

Pronounced: (es-PREED les-kah-LYAY)

Etymology: Literally, “staircase wit” from the French esprit meaning “wit” and escalier meaning “stairs.” The phrase was coined by philosopher and encyclopedist Denis Diderot in his essay, Paradoxe Sur le Comédien: “a sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him [by statesman Jacques Necker], becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he reaches] the bottom of the stairs.” In other words, Diderot did not come up with a witty comeback until he reached the bottom of the stairs, too late to make an impact on the conversation.

Variants: l’esprit de l’escalier (lay SPREED les-kah-LYAY)
esprit d’escalier (es-PREED des-kah-LYAY)

There’s a Word for That: Jouissance
There’s a Word for That: Abibliophobia
There’s a Word for That: Petrichor
There’s a Word for That: Deipnosophist

For further reading: Les Bons Mots: How to Amaze Tout le Mond with Everyday French by Eugene Ehrlich, Henry Holt (1997). http://www.merriam-webster.com 


Ineffable

Definition: Adjective. Something that is so great or wonderful that it cannot be described with words.

Etymology: From the Latin ineffabilis meaning “unutterable;” lietrally, “not speakable from in- “not” and effabilis “speakable.”

Related words: ineffably (adverb) and ineffability (noun).

For further reading: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press (1991).


Obstreperous

Defintion: Adjective. Noisy, excessively loud or unruly.

Etymology: From the Latin obstreperus meaning “clamorous”

For further reading: The Book of Hard Words by David Bramwell, Adams Media (2008).


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