week's theme: Cooking like a gourmet!
1. to cook (meat or vegetables) by browning briefly in hot fat, adding a
small amount of liquid, and cooking at a low temperature in a covered pot:
"I am devoting the better part of this rainy afternoon to reading and
Approximately 1797; from French, 'braise': live coals; from Old French, 'brese':
embers; of Germanic origin.
1. to cook partially by boiling briefly, usually before frying or roasting:
"The trick to my amazing home fries is to parboil the potatoes, then fry
them with garlic and finish them with teriyaki sauce."
2. to make uncomfortably hot
Approximately 1381; from Medieval Latin, 'perbullire': to boil thoroughly;
from Latin, 'per': through, thoroughly + 'bullire': to boil. Main modern
meaning 'boil partially' is by mistaken association of the prefix with
(noun, transitive verb)
1. pieces of chicken or other meat stewed in gravy, often with carrots and
onions and served with noodles or dumplings: "Zoe subsists on salads while
her skinnier sister eats substantial meals like fricassee or lasagna every
2. to prepare (chicken or other meat) by cutting into pieces and stewing in
gravy; fricassee meats
Approximately 1568; from French, 'fricassee,' feminine past participle of 'fricasser':
to mince and cook in sauce; of uncertain origin, perhaps Medieval French 'frire':
to fry, from Latin, 'frigere': to fry or roast + 'casser,' 'quasser': to
break, to cut up, from Latin, 'quassare': to shake.
1. to extract the essence of something by boiling it: "To produce the ginger
flavor, restaurant staff will decoct the root for hours."
2. to cook until very little liquid is left; 'boil down'
noun form: decoction
Approximately 1450; from Latin, 'decoct-,' past participle of 'decoquere':
to boil down, from 'coquere': to boil, to cook.
1. a clear soup with vegetables cut into thin strips
2. (also: julienned) cut into long thin strips: "Where did my daughter learn
how to make julienne vegetables without cutting any fingers?"
Approximately 1841; from French, literally, (soup made) in the manner of
Julien, the proper name, from an otherwise unknown cook
week's theme: Going and going and going.
1. seemingly without end: "The interminable delays at the airport were
cutting into our vacation time."
2. tiresomely long; 'an interminable sermon'
noun form: interminability
adverb form: interminably
Approximately 1374; from Late Latin, 'interminabilis': unending ('in-': not
+ 'terminabilis,' from 'terminare,' from 'terminus': end, boundary).
1. unrelenting or unyielding in severity; 'relentless persecution'
2. unremitting, steady and persistent; never-ceasing; "The relentless beat
of the drums drew me in from across the park."
adverb form: relentlessly
noun form: relentlessness
Approximately 1592; from English, 'relent,' from Latin, 'lentus': slow,
viscous, supple + '-less': without.
1. not subject or susceptible to change or variation in form, quality, or
nature; unable to be changed; "The view of that time was that all species
were immutable, created by God."
noun forms: immutability, immutableness
adverb form: immutably
Approximately 1412; from Latin, 'immutabilis': unchangeable ('in-': not + 'mutabilis':
changeable, from 'mutare': to change).
1. continuing at full strength or intensity; 'the winds are unabated';
'unabated violence'; "The popularity of his books among young people
adverb form: unabatedly
Approximately 1611; from 'un-': not + 'abate,' from Latin 'ad': to + 'battuere':
1. extremely persistent and untiring; "She was an indefatigable advocate of
noun forms: indefatigability, indefatigableness
adverb form: indefatigably
Approximately 1586; from Latin, 'indefatigabilis': that cannot be wearied
('in-': not + 'defatigare': to tire out, from 'de-': utterly, away + 'fatigare':
week's theme: Making me uncomfortable.
1. to assail or attack from all sides: "The zebra was beset by leopards."
2. to annoy continually or chronically
3. to surround or hem in; 'the mountains which beset it round' (Nathaniel
4. to decorate something with jewels or other ornaments
noun form: besetment
from Old English, 'besettan': to surround; of Germanic origin.
1. lack of the basic necessities of life: "Jeff has chosen a life of
privation over steady employment."
2. the act of depriving someone of something
Approximately 1340; from Latin, 'privationem': a taking away, from 'privatus,'
past participle of 'privare': to deprive.
(noun) [dis-KUM-fi-choor', dis-KUM-fi-chahr]
1. anxious embarrassment: "Everyone shifted in their seats as the
discomfiture in the dining room grew."
Approximately 1325; from Middle English, 'desconfiture' ('discomfit,' from
Old French 'desconfire': to defeat, to destroy, from 'des-': not + 'confire':
to make, to accomplish + '-ure.')
1. the act of troubling or annoying someone: "The tight living arrangement
was a great source of vexation for the whole family."
2. the psychological state of being irritated or annoyed
3. something or someone that causes anxiety
Approximately 1375; from Latin, 'vexation-,' from 'vexare': to shake, to
harass + '-ion.'
1. a persistently annoying person: "I think I have finally figured out how
to shake this gadfly off, once and for all."
2. any of various large flies that annoy livestock
Approximately 1626; from English, 'gad': goad, metal rod; from Old Norse, 'gaddr':
spike, nail; of Germanic origin.
1. lacking spirit or liveliness; dreamy; languid: "Before Vincent found a
personal trainer, he spent most of his time in the gym wandering around in a
adverb form: lackadaisically
noun form: lackadaisicalness
Approximately 1768; from 'lackadaisy': alas, alack, from 'lack-a-day,' an
alteration of 'alack the day' + the suffix '-ical.'
1. empty; unfilled; void; vacant: "Kiesha usually spent her days running
from meeting to meeting, but on this late summer week, her calendar was
2. devoid of intelligence or significance; 'a vacuous comment'
3. lacking serious occupation; idle
adverb form: vacuously
noun form: vacuousness
Approximately 1648; borrowed from Latin, 'vacuus': empty, void, related to 'vacare':
to be empty + the suffix '-ous.'
1. marked by blithe unconcern: "Opie raised a nonchalant eyebrow, and
shrugged his shoulders for emphasis."
adverb form: nonchalantly
Approximately 1813; borrowed from French, 'nonchalant,' from present
participle of 'nonchaloir': to be indifferent to ('non-': not + 'chaloir':
to have concern for, to care for, from Latin 'calere': to be warm, to be
1. generally incompetent and ineffectual: "We accidentally mixed up our
passports before we got to customs, but the feckless official took no notice
and sent us on our way."
2. not fit to assume responsibility
adverb form: fecklessly
noun form: fecklessness
Approximately 1599; formed in English from 'feck,' 'fek': effect, value,
vigor, from the Scottish shortening of 'effect' + the suffix '-less.'
1. unproductive of success; unavailing; unprofitable; useless: "Our bootless
publicity efforts lacked both focus and follow through."
adverb form: bootlessly
From Old English, 'botleas': irremediable, from 'boot': to be of help + the
(adjective) [NOO-gah-tor'-ee, NOO-gah-toer'-ee, NYOO-gah-tor'-ee]
1. trifling; vain; futile; insignificant: "This place is still a complete
mess, so your efforts were nugatory."
2. of no real value; of no force; inoperative; ineffectual; 'a nugatory law'
adverb form: nugatorily
Approximately 1603; borrowed from Latin, 'nugatorius': worthless, futile,
from 'nugator': jester, trifler (genitive 'nugatoris'), from 'nugari': to
trifle, from 'nugae': jokes, trifles (genitive 'nugarum').
theme: Big Change
1. to transform the outward appearance of: "The treatment and diet
transfigured her into a beautiful young woman."
2. to glorify or exalt
noun form: transfigurement
Approximately 1300; from Latin, 'transfigurare': to change the shape of
('trans-': across + 'figurare': to form, to fashion, from 'figura': form,
1. to move or swing from side to side regularly: "The car drifted to a slow
stop as the gas gauge needle oscillated momentarily and dropped past the E."
2. to waver between conflicting positions or courses of action; vacillate;
to be undecided about something: "He oscillates between accepting the new
position and retirement."
3. (as in physics) to cause something to produce predictable variations
between extremes, usually within a set period of time
noun form: oscillator
adjective form: oscillatory
Approximately 1725; from Latin, 'oscillat-,' past participle of 'oscillare':
to swing, from 'oscillum': swing, mask, diminutive of 'os': mouth, face.
1. a complete change in character or condition: "When Jake landed his first
significant movie role, his ego underwent a permutation that made him
2. the reordering or rearranging of a set of objects in a group
3. (as in mathematics) a rearrangement of a set of distinct elements
adjective form: permutational
Approximately 1362; from Latin, 'permutationem' (nominative 'permutatio'),
from 'permutatus,' past participle of 'permutare': to change thoroughly, to
exchange ('per-': thoroughly + 'mutare': to change).
1. a complete change of physical form or substance, as by magic or
witchcraft: "The metamorphosis was so complete that my closest friends
barely recognized me."
2. a striking change in appearance, character, or circumstances; 'the
metamorphosis of the old house into something new and exciting'
3. (as in biology) a change in the form and often habits of an animal after
the embryonic stage during normal development, as the transformation of a
caterpillar into a butterfly or a tadpole into a frog
4. (as in pathology) a usually degenerative change in the structure of a
particular body tissue
Approximately 1533; from Greek, 'metamorphosis': a transforming, from 'metamorphoun':
to transform ('meta-': change + 'morphe': form).
(noun) [vi-SIS-i-tood', vi-SIS-i-tyood']
1. mutability in life or nature, especially successive alternation from one
condition to another; variability
2. (often plural) one of the variations in circumstances or fortune
encountered at different times in one's life or in the development of
something; unexpected changes: "We all have a tremendous amount of respect
for the way you have dealt with the vicissitudes of this disease."
Approximately 1570; from Latin, 'vicissitudinem': change (nominative 'vicissitudo'),
from 'vicissim': changeably, by turns, from 'vicis: a turn, a change, from 'vix':
This week's theme: At the
1. a spring that is the source of a stream: "This tiny fountainhead turns
into a rushing stream 5 miles from here."
2. an abundant source of something abstract, as knowledge etc.
Approximately 1580; from 'fountain' + 'head.'
(noun) [pri-KUR-sahr, PREE-kur'-sahr]
1. somebody or something that precedes, and is often considered to lead to
the development of, another person or thing: "Sweet drinks are the
precursor, the gateway to full-blown dessert on a daily basis!"
2. somebody that precedes, as in a job or position; forerunner; predecessor
3. a substance from which another substance is formed; 'a precursor of
Approximately 1504; from Latin, 'praecursor': forerunner, from 'praecursus,'
past participle of 'praecurrere' ('prae-': before + 'currere': to run).
1. the first ancestor
2. an ancestor in the direct line: "Nick is quite convinced that he is of
noble blood and has spent years looking for the primogenitor that will serve
Approximately 1475; from Late Latin, 'primogenitor'; from Latin, 'primo': at
first, from 'primus': first + 'genitor': father, from 'genitus,' past
participle of 'gignere': to beget.
1. a passage, hall, or room between the outer door and the interior of a
building: "The cold wind howled through the beautiful but decaying
2. an enclosed area at the entrance of a passenger car on a railroad train
3. (as in anatomy) any of various bodily cavities leading to another cavity
(as of the ear or vagina)
This week's theme: Way over
1. a quantity much larger than is needed; superfluity: "My mother expressed
her love by piling our plates with a nimiety of food every evening."
Approximately 1560; from Latin, 'nimius': excessive, from 'nimis':
1. extravagant wastefulness: "Stan's prodigality led to financial troubles,
despite his income."
2. giving or producing in large amounts
Approximately 1340; from Latin, 'prodigalitas': wastefulness, from 'prodigus':
wasteful, from 'prodigere': to drive away, to waste ('pro-': forth + 'agere':
1. to do or perform beyond what is required or expected; to act beyond the
call of duty: "I intend to supererogate since this project will be
noun form: supererogation
Approximately 1735; from Late Latin, 'supererogare': to spend over and
above; from Latin, 'super-': super-, over, above + 'erogare': to spend
('e-': ex-, outside + 'rogare': to ask).
1. indulgence in sensual pleasures; scandalous activities involving sex,
alcohol or drugs: "Jill and Mollie shuddered at memories of last night's
Approximately 1640; from 'debauch,' from Old French, 'desbaucher': to lead
astray, supposedly literal, to trim (wood) to make a beam, from 'bauch':
beam + '-ery.'
This week's theme: Full.
1. jammed; squeezed: "The cheering fans were chock-a-block in the stadium."
2. packed full to capacity; 'chowder chockablock with pieces of fish'
3. (nautical) when the lower block of a tackle is pulled as close as
possible to the upper one so it can be drawn no higher
Approximately 1850; alteration of chock and block (nautical): with pulleys
drawn close together.
1. pressed together, especially in rows as of troops or mountains: "The
serried houses looked cozy on the ocean hillside."
adverb form: serriedly
Approximately 1667; past participle of obsolete 'serry': to press close
together, a military term; from French, 'serrer': to press close together;
from Latin, 'serare,' from 'sera' bolt, lock.
1. to fill to satisfaction: "It takes Misha's weight in food to satiate
2. to satisfy to excess
3. filled to satisfaction
noun form: satiation
Approximately 1440; from Latin, 'satiatus,' past participle of 'satiare': to
fill full, to satisfy, from 'satis': enough, sufficient.
(adjective) [PLEE-nah-ree, PLEN-ah-ree]
1. full in all respects; complete; entire; 'a diplomat with plenary powers':
"Rick may be the man of this house, but I have plenary powers here."
2. fully attended; 'a plenary session of the legislature'
adverb form: plenarily
noun form: plenariness
Approximately 1517; from Medieval Latin, 'plenarius': entire, complete; from
Latin, 'plenus': full.
(adjective) [ZAWF-tik, ZAWF-tig]
1. having a plump and sexually attractive figure: "In her eternal quest to
lose weight, Helena has reduced her formerly zaftig figure to that of a
2. full-bodied; well-proportioned
Approximately 1937; from Yiddish, 'zaftik,' literally, juicy, from 'zaft':
juice; from Middle High German, 'saft': juice.
This week's theme:
Opportune and Lucky
producing a good profit or wealth; profitable:
"If Eva does not start doing something more lucrative with her time, she
will not be able to afford this new car."
Approximately 1412; from Latin, 'lucrativus': gainful, profitable, from 'lucratus,'
past participle of 'lucrari': to gain, from 'lucrum': gain, profit.
1. highly suitable; appropriate; apt: "The
helped me see the decision before me in a different light."
2. exhibiting an agreeably appropriate manner or style; 'a felicitous
marked by good fortune; 'a felicitous life'
adverb form: felicitously
noun form: felicitousness
Approximately 1550; from 'felicity'; from Latin, 'felicitatem': happiness
(nominative 'felicitas'), from 'felix': happy, fortunate (genitive 'felicis').
1. resulting from divine providence; 'providential care'; 'a providential
2. as if by divine intervention; opportune; very lucky: "Our dog made a
providential recovery after being hit by a car."
adverb form: providentially
Approximately 1645; from Latin, 'providentia': foresight, precaution, from 'providentem,'
past participle of 'providere': to look ahead, to prepare ('pro-': ahead + 'videre':
1. attended by favorable circumstances; propitious; favorable: "What an
auspicious time to have met your new girlfriend!"
2. marked by success; prosperous; 'miracles are auspicious accidents'
adverb form: auspiciously
noun form: auspiciousness
Approximately 1596; from Latin, 'auspicium': divination by observing the
flight of birds, from 'auspex' ('avis': bird + 'specere': to look).
1. relating to or abundant in palm trees: "Adam always thought that he
wanted to live in a palmy paradise, but instead found himself in New York
2. prosperous or flourishing, especially formerly; prosperous; 'a palmy time
for stockbrokers'; 'in her palmy days'
Approximately 1600; 'palm' + '-y'; from Latin, 'palma': palm tree,
originally, palm of the hand, the tree so called from the shape of its
leaves, like fingers of a hand.
theme: Tis the season to be careful.
stupefied or excited
by or as if by alcohol: "On an empty stomach, Jayme was
helplessly inebriated by her second drink."
Approximately 1425; from Latin, 'inebriatus,' past participle of 'inebriare':
to make drunk ('in-': in + 'ebriare': to make drunk, from 'ebrius': drunk).
act of pouring a liquid offering,
especially wine, as a religious ceremony
2. a serving of liquid, especially wine, poured out as a religious offering:
"Robert never intends to open that scotch, except perhaps for a
libation at his own funeral."
3. a beverage, especially an alcoholic one (often used humorously)
adjective form: libationary
Approximately 1382; from Latin, 'libationem': a drink offering (nominative 'libatio'),
from 'libare': to pour out (an offering).
1. an agent that causes intoxication,
especially an alcoholic beverage:
"Thanks for the offer, but I really just want orange juice, sans
adjective form: intoxicant
Approximately 1860; from Medieval Latin, 'intoxicant-,' past participle of 'intoxicare':
to poison; from Latin, 'in-': in + 'toxicare': to poison, from 'toxicum':
(noun) [dip'-sah-MAY-nee-ah, dip'-sah-MAYN-yah]
an intense persistent desire to drink alcoholic beverages:
"George was finding his dipsomania increasingly difficult to hide."
adjective and noun form: dipsomaniac
adjective form: dipsomaniacal
Approximately 1843; from Greek, 'dipsa': thirst + 'mania': an exaggerated
This week's theme: Like a blimp.
1. pompous; bombastic: "Why do we have to stay here and listen to all this
orotund political talk?'
2. characterized by fullness, clarity, strength, and smoothness of sound;
noun form: orotundity
Approximately 1792; from Latin, 'ore rotundo': in well-rounded phrases,
literally, with round mouth, hence clear, loud ('os,' 'oris': the mouth + 'rotundus':
(adjective) [TOO-mid, TYOO-mid]
1. swollen or enlarged: "Stuffing my tumid, damp feet into heels after a
long hot shower proved challenging."
3. ostentatiously lofty in style; bombastic;
'tumid political prose'
noun form: tumidity
This week's theme: The Cat's
1. worthy of being praised; praiseworthy; commendable; as, laudable motives;
laudable actions; laudable ambition: "Despite the laudable efforts of his
owners and several trainers, Biff's hatred of mailmen would persist to the
noun forms: laudability, laudableness
adverb form: laudably
Approximately 1425; borrowed from Old French, 'laudable'; from Latin, 'laudabilis':
praiseworthy, from 'laudare': to praise, from 'laus': praise, glory
1. capable of being estimated or valued; as, estimable damage
2. worthy of esteem or respect; deserving our good opinion or regard:
"George loved working for a company that manufactured great products, paid
well, and made an estimable effort to give back to the community."
noun form: estimableness
adverb form: estimably
Approximately 1475; from Middle English; borrowed from Old French,
'estimable'; from Latin, 'aestimabilis': worthy of estimation, from 'aestimare':
1. of a quality inspiring mingled admiration and reverence; having an aspect
of solemn dignity or grandeur; sublime; majestic; grand; having exalted
birth, character, state, or authority: "Even in old age and ill health, her
august presence at any event was cherished."
adverb form: augustly
noun form: augustness
also: August (the eighth month of the year, containing thirty-one days)
Approximately 1664; borrowed from Latin, 'augustus': venerable (assumed as a
title by the Roman emperors), from 'augus': increase (genitive 'augoris'),
from 'augere': to magnify, to increase.
(adjective) [mer'-i-TOR-ee-ahs, mer'-i-TOER-ee-ahs]
1. deserving of reward or honor; worthy of recompense; valuable: "Such
meritorious service should not go unrecognized."
adverb form: meritoriously
noun form: meritoriousness
Approximately 1425; from Middle English; borrowed from Latin, 'meritorius':
serving to earn money, from 'meritus,' past participle of 'merere,' 'mereri':
to earn, to deserve, to acquire.
This week's theme: Here to Stay!
1. continuing through the year; 'perennial fountains'
2. continuing without cessation or intermission; perpetual; unceasing:
"Recent efforts in Jason's perennial struggle with lateness have given us
all reason for hope."
3. (as in botany) continuing more than two years; 'perennial root,'
4. (as in botany) a plant which lives or continues more than two years,
whether it retains its leaves in winter or not
5. something that continues or seems to continue without cessation
adverb form: perennially
Approximately 1644; formed in English from Latin, 'perennis': lasting
through the year ('per-': through + 'annus': year) and English suffix '-al.'
(adjective) [am'-ah-RAN-thin, am'-ah-RAN-thien]
1. of or pertaining to an amaranth
2. undying and unfading, like the amaranth (an imaginary flower): "The
amaranthine beauty of the park is protected by the National Park Service."
3. having a color inclining to purple
Date uncertain; from 'amaranth' (1616); from Latin, 'amarantus'; from Greek,
'amarantos': literally, everlasting ('a-': not + 'marainesthai': to wither,
to decay, related to 'marnasthai': to fight).
1. firmly established by long continuance; obstinate; deep-rooted; of long
standing; as, an inveterate disease, an inveterate abuse
2. having habits fixed by long continuance; confirmed; habitual; as, an
inveterate idler or smoker: "I don't know how my stomach will survive a
weekend with those inveterate overeaters."
noun forms: inveteracy, inveterateness
adverb form: inveterately
Approximately 1392; from Middle English, 'inveterat': chronic; from Latin, 'inveteratus':
of long standing, chronic, from past participle of 'inveterare': to become
old, to endure ('in-': in, into + 'vetus,' genitive 'veteris': old).
(adjective) [pahr-DOOR-ah-bahl, pahr-DYOOR-ah-bahl]
1. very durable; lasting; continuing long: "The perdurable statues in the
town square have remained virtually unchanged, even as the buildings around
them have been renovated, rebuilt, and refaced."
noun form: perdurability
adverb form: perdurably
13th century; from Middle English; from Old French; from Late Latin, 'perdurabilis';
from Latin, 'perdurare': to endure ('per-': throughout + 'durare': to last).
(adjective) [im'-ah-MOR-ee-ahl, im'-ah-MOER-ee-ahl]
1. extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition; indefinitely
ancient; as, existing from time immemorial; 'immemorial elms' (Tennyson);
'immemorial usage or custom' (Sir M. Hale): "Alex considers barbecues to be
an extension of the immemorial tradition of cooking meat over an open fire."
adverb form: immemorially
Approximately 1602; probably from French, 'immemorial': old beyond memory or
record; from Medieval Latin, 'immemorialis': literally, not belonging to
memory; from Latin 'in-': not + 'memorialis': memorial.
This week's theme: Country
1. relating to or characteristic of the countryside or country life; rustic;
country-styled: "For just a moment, Jane pictured herself living on this
bucolic lane, caught in the oceanside see-saw of glorious sun and dramatic
2. relating to or characteristic of shepherds or flocks; pastoral
3. a short descriptive poem about rural or pastoral life
4. a farmer or shepard
adverb form: bucolically
Approximately 1523; from Greek, 'boukolikos': rustic, from 'boukolos':
herdsman ('bous': cow + '-kolos': tending, related to Latin, 'colere': to
till (the ground), root of colony).
1. of or relating to rural life; rural: "Tammy longed for more than the
georgic lifestyle of the farming town she was raised in."
2. a poem about farming or rural life
Approximately 1513; used by Virgil as title of poems on rural life, from
Greek, 'georgikos': of a farmer ('ge': earth + 'ergon': work).
1. relating to shepherds or herdsmen or devoted to raising sheep or cattle;
'pastoral land': "A livestock virus could devastate our pastoral economy."
2. relating to the country or to rural life; rural; 'pastoral living'
3. relating to or being a literary or other artistic work that evokes rural
life, especially idealized rural life
4. of or relating to a pastor; 'pastoral work'; 'a pastoral letter'
5. a literary or other artistic work that evokes rural life, especially
idealized rural life
6. (as in music) a musical composition that evokes rural life (also:
noun form: word
adverb form: word
Approximately 1432; from Latin, 'pastoralis,' from 'pastor': shepard.
1. characteristic of rural life: "I really don't see how that satellite dish
will fit with the rustic decor of our house and property."
2. awkwardly simple and provincial: 'rustic farmers'
3. made of unfinished or roughly finished wood, especially branches with the
bark left on them; 'rustic chairs on the front deck'
4. (as in masonry) unfinished or roughly finished work; rusticated
5. a rural person
6. an unsophisticated country person
adverb form: rustically
Approximately 1440; from Latin, 'rusticus,' from 'rus': open land, country
This week's theme:
1. to wear off the skin of, as a person or animal; abrade
2. to censure or denounce very strongly: "When Kendra decided to excoriate
the administration's policies in an editorial for the local paper, she
acquired some powerful enemies."
noun forms: excoriation, excoriator
Approximately 1425; from Middle English, 'excoriaten'; borrowed from Late
Latin, 'excoriatus,' past participle of 'excoriare': to strip off the hide;
from Latin, 'ex-': off + 'corium': hide, skin.
This week's theme: A
bad taste in my mouth.
1. cloyingly or overly sentimental; mawkish: "At certain points in Jasmine's
hormonal cycle, treacly television commercials would leave her sobbing."
Approximately 1340; from English, 'treacle': molasses; from Middle English,
'triacle': medicinal compound (antidote for poison); borrowed from Old
French, 'triacle': antidote; from Latin, 'theriaca'; from Greek, 'theriake (antidotos)':
antidote for poisonous wild animals, from feminine of 'theriakos': of a wild
animal, from 'therion': wild animal, diminutive of 'ther': wild animal,
1. slightly sour in taste, manner, or tone: "Michael didn't like hearing
'no,' so all of his comments for the rest of the evening were acidulous."
Approximately 1750; from Latin, 'acidulus,' diminutive of 'acidus': sour,
from 'acere': to be sour, related to 'acer': to be sharp.
1. loathsome or distasteful from overindulgence:"Working at the bakery was
fun and gastrically rewarding until I could no longer stand the cloying,
note: cloying is also the present participle of cloy (verb)
adverb form: cloyingly
Approximately 1530; from Middle English, 'cloyen,' shortened from 'acloyen'
and 'encloyen': to cripple a horse by driving a nail into the hoof; from Old
French, 'encloer': to drive a nail into; from Vulgar Latin, 'inclavare';
from Latin, 'clavus': nail, related to 'clavis': key.
1. containing or having the qualities of oil; oily; 'oleaginous seeds'
2. falsely or unpleasantly eager to ingratiate; unctuous: "The real estate
agent sprinkled her pitch with oleaginous flattery and then looked at us
expectantly, as if it had turned the property into a good investment."
adverb form: oleaginously
noun form: oleaginousness
Approximately 1634; from Middle English, 'oliaginose'; borrowed from French,
'oleagineux'; from Latin, 'oleaginus': of the olive, from 'olea': olive,
alteration (influenced by 'oleum': olive oil) of 'oliva': olive.
1. moderately salty, especially from being a mixture of seawater and fresh
water: "The most adventurous trips Pat had taken with his new vessel were in
the brackish waters of the bay."
2. unpalatable; unappealing; 'brackish coffee'
noun form: brackishness
Approximately 1538; from Dutch, 'brak': brackish; akin to Middle Low German,
This week's theme: Pricey!
1. of, relating to, or suitable for a palace: "I don't need palatial
furnishings, but I'm ready to move on from the cheap, dormroom style stuff
we have now."
2. on a grand scale; 'a palatial yacht'
adverb form: palatially
noun form: palatialness
Approximately 1754; from French, 'palatial': magnificent; from Latin, 'palatium':
palace, from 'Mons Palatinus': the Palatine Hill (one of the seven hills of
ancient Rome, where Augustus Caesar's house stood, the original 'palace',
later the site of the splendid residence built by Nero).
1. lacking principles or conscience; 'an unconscionable liar';
2. greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation; excessive: "Daniel, you
cannot rationalize this unconscionable spending until your investments in
the lottery begin to pay off."
noun form: unconscionableness
adverb form: unconscionably
Approximately 1565; from 'un-': not + now rare 'conscionable':
conscientious, from 'conscioned': having a conscience.
1. someone who spends money recklessly or extravagantly: "Such a spendthrift
cannot be trusted to come home with his earnings on payday."
2. tending to spend money recklessly or extravagantly; wasteful;
Approximately 1601; from 'spend' + 'thrift,' in the archaic sense of
savings, profits, wealth. Replaced earlier 'scattergood' and 'spend-all'
(both 16th century).
1. impossible to compute; incalculable; 'inestimable damage'
2. of immeasurable value; invaluable: "The museum kept an inestimable
classics collection in a secured viewing area of the basement."
adverb form: inestimably
Approximately 1375; from Latin, 'inaestimabilis' ('in-': un-, not + 'aestimabilis,'
from 'aestimare': to estimate, to assess).
1. of, related to, or typifying extortion
2. greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation; exorbitant;
'extortionate prices': "I would rather starve for a couple of hours than pay
these extortionate prices for terrible food."
adverb form: extortionately
Approximately 1785; 'extortion,' from Latin, 'extorquere': to wrench out, to
wrest away ('ex-': out + 'torquere': to twist) + '-ate.'
This week's theme: A Mighty
(noun, transitive verb)
[BOOL-wahrk, BOOL-work', BUL-work']
1. an embankment built around a space for defensive purposes
2. a means of defense or protection: "Jason viewed his car as a bulwark
against the chaos and grime of the city, and refused to take public
transportation to work."
3. a protective structure of stone or concrete that protects a shore or
harbor from the full impact of waves; breakwater
4. the sides of a ship projecting above the upper deck
5. to defend with an embankment
6. to protect or defend
Approximately 1416; from Middle English, 'bulwerke': rampart, fortification;
borrowed from Middle Dutch, 'bolwerc' or Middle Low German, 'bolwerk':
rampart made of tree trunks ('bolle': plank, tree trunk + 'werc,' 'werk':
(noun) [BAS-chahn, BAS-tee-ahn]
1. a projecting part of a rampart or other fortification
2. a fortified position or stronghold: "Sam had his king safely tucked into
a bastion in the corner of the board, with with his rook, knight, and queen
3. a person or group that is considered a defensive stronghold for
something, as a principle or cause; 'the last bastion of communism'; 'she is
a bastion of strength'
adjective form: bastioned
Approximately 1562; borrowed from Middle French, 'bastion' (possibly
influenced by Italian 'bastione'), a variant of 'bastillon,' diminutive of 'bastille':
fortress; alteration of Old Provencal, 'bastida,' from 'bastir': to build.
1. a small, and usually a roughly constructed, fort or outwork of varying
shape, commonly erected for a temporary purpose, and without flanking
defenses; used especially in fortifying tops of hills and passes, and
positions in hostile territory: "The police officers surveyed the homeless
man's sidewalk redoubt, and then launched into a series of animated gestures
and veiled threats to get him up and packing."
2. a minor fortification placed within and reinforcing a permanent
3. a stronghold
Approximately 1608; borrowed from French, 'redoute'; from Italian, 'ridotto';
from Medieval Latin, 'reductus': refuge, retreat, concealed place; from
Latin, 'reduct-,' stem of the past participle of 'reducere': to lead or
bring back. The 'b' in 'redoubt' is an alteration in English influenced by
(noun) [SIT-ah-dahl, SIT-ah-del']
1. a fortress in or near a fortified city, commanding the city and
fortifications, and intended as a final point of defense: "In a company as
large as QWERTY Inc, the real decisions were made by executives in a
corporate citadel far away."
2. a stronghold
Approximately 1586; borrowed from Middle French, 'citadelle'; from Italian 'cittadella,'
diminutive of 'cittade': city; from Latin, 'civitatem': citizenship,
citizenry, the state, city (nominative 'civitas'), from 'civis': citizen.
This week's theme: Intricate.
1. impossible or difficult to explain or account for; obscure;
incomprehensible; as, an inscrutable design or event: "Joel is an attractive
bachelor who finds women inscrutable and prefers the company of pets."
noun forms: inscrutability, inscrutableness
adverb form: inscrutably
Approximately 1500; from Middle English; from Late Latin, 'inscrutabilis'
(from Latin 'in-': not + 'scrutari': to examine, to scrutinize).
1. bent in different directions; twisted; winding; as, a tortuous road; a
tortuous leaf: "Chris was a loving caretaker for his old and tortuous
2. not straightforward; indirect; erroneous; deceitful; 'tortuous reasoning'
3. highly involved or intricate; 'tortuous legal procedures'
adverb form: tortuously
noun form: tortuousness
Approximately 1390; from Middle English; borrowed from Anglo-French,
'tortuous'; from Latin, 'tortuosus': full of twists, from 'tortus': a
twisting, from 'tort-,' stem of 'torquere': to twist, to wring.
1. complex and ingenious in design or function: "Gretta mused over the
myriad of daedal inventions that have changed everyday life so dramatically
in her lifetime."
2. cunningly or ingeniously formed or working; skillful; artistic; ingenious
Approximately 1585; from Latin, 'daedalus': skillful; from Greek, 'daidalos':
skillful, equivalent to 'daidal(lein)': to work with skill.
(noun) [GOR-dee-ahn not]
1. a very difficult problem, insoluble in its own terms; an inextricable
difficulty; to cut the Gordian knot is to remove a difficulty by bold and
energetic measures: "A territorial dispute over an incredibly small plot of
land had become a multi-generational Gordian knot."
2. an intricate knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia, and cut by the
sword of Alexander the Great after he heard that whoever undid it would
become ruler of Asia
Approximately 1579; an allusion to the knot tied in legend by Gordius, king
1. designed for, and understood by, the specially initiated alone; not
communicated, or not intelligible, to the general public: "The esoteric
religious references make the novel a difficult read."
2. private; interior; confidential; 'an esoteric purpose'
adverb form: esoterically
Approximately 1660; borrowed from Greek, 'esoterikos': belonging to an inner
circle, from 'esotero': inner, comparative adverb of 'eso': within
This week's theme: Little One.
1. very small; below the average size; little: "The story of Thumbelina gave
Hailey, a diminutive 10 year old, great inspiration."
2. (as in grammar) used to describe a suffix that indicates smallness (such
as -let or -kin)
3. (as in grammar) a word that is formed with a suffix (such as -let or
-kin) to indicate smallness; as, gosling, eaglet, lambkin
4. something of very small size or value; an insignificant thing; 'Such
water flies, diminutives of nature' (Shakespeare)
adverb form: diminutively
noun form: diminutiveness
Approximately 1398; from Middle English, 'dymynutyf'; borrowed from Old
French, 'diminutif' (feminine 'diminutive'); from Latin, 'diminutivum,'
variant of 'deminutivum,' from 'deminutivus': small, from 'deminuere': to
1. very small: "Susan knew that her husband didn't like fluffy handbag dogs,
but the wee pup was simply too adorable to pass up."
2. very early; 'the wee hours of the morning'
Approximately 1449; from Middle English, 'wei': a small amount, as in 'a
littel wei'; developed from Old English, 'waege': weight.
This week's theme: Little One.
1. a variety of small barnyard fowl
2. a small person with a spirited and aggressive disposition: "Josh was a
bantam who always dragged his larger friends into bar fights."
3. very small
4. spirited and aggressive or overconfident
Approximately 1749; after 'Bantam,' the town in Indonesia from where the
small fowl were supposed to have been first imported.
(noun, transitive verb)
1. (as in folklore) fairies that are somewhat mischievous: "Oleg was
convinced that the magic and petty troubles of his life were caused by imps
who inhabited his country garden."
2. a playfully mischievous child
3. a small demon; fiend
4. (as in falconry) to graft with new feathers, as a wing; to splice a
broken feather; 'Imp out our drooping country's broken wing' (Shakespeare)
1. a very small person
2. very small: "I'll say this slowly so your Lilliputian brain can grasp
3. small and of little importance; 'our worries are Lilliputian compared
with those of countries that are at war'
Approximately 1726; from the imaginary country of 'Lilliput' in 'Gulliver's
Travels,' by Jonathan Swift, whose people were only 6 inches high.
This week's theme: Under
1. exemption from punishment or loss: "The child's beautiful face and golden
curls often allowed him to commit mischief with impunity."
Approximately 1532; borrowed from Latin, 'impunitatem': omission of
punishment (nominative 'impunitas'), from 'impunis': unpunished ('im-': not
+ 'poena': punishment, penalty).
(noun) [TOOT-l-ij, TYOOT-l-ij]
1. attention and management implying responsibility for safety
2. teaching pupils individually: "Under his older brother's tutelage, Jason
had moved on from lying to shoplifting."
3. the state of being under a guardian or tutor
Approximately 1605; from Latin, 'tutela': a watching, guardianship, from
'tut-,' variant past participle stem of 'tueri': to watch over + English
1. protection against future damage or loss: "A consistently excellent
record had given our coach indemnity through several school
2. legal exemption from liability for damages
3. a sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury; compensation;
Approximately 1444; from Middle English, 'indempnite': payment for loss;
borrowed from Middle French, 'indempnite,' 'indemnite'; from Late Latin, 'indemnitatem':
security for damage (nominative 'indemnitas'); from Latin, 'indemnis':
uninjured, undamaged ('in-': not + 'damnum': damage).
(noun) [PROE-tah-zhay', proe'-tah-ZHAY]
1. a person who receives support and protection from an influential patron
who furthers their career: "His protégé enjoyed access to his extensive
rolodex, which included senators, business leaders, and even prominent
Approximately 1778; borrowed from French, 'protégé': one who is protected;
from past participle of Middle French, 'protéger': to protect; from Latin, 'protegere':
1. kindly endorsement and guidance: "Under her aegis, the museum became a
favorite local attraction."
2. (as in Greek Mythology) the shield or armor plate that protects the chest
of Zeus or Athena
also form: egis
Approximately 1793; borrowed from Latin, 'aegis'; from Greek, 'aigis': the
shield of Zeus (said to be made of goatskin), derived from 'aig-,' the stem
of 'aix': goat.
This week's theme: So sleepy.
1. causing or inducing sleep: "Mark struggled to stay awake through the
of Economics 101." adverb form: somniferously
Date unknown; from Latin, 'somnus': sleep + 'ferre': to bring
1. to live or spend a period of time in a dull, inactive, unchallenging way:
"After a hard day's work, I
vegetate in front of the television."
2. to grow or sprout like a plant
3. (as in pathology) to grow or spread abnormally: "Warts and polyps can
vegetate if not removed."
Approximately 1605; perhaps a back-formation from 'vegetation,' or from
Latin, 'vegetatus,' past participle of 'vegetare': to enliven, to animate,
(noun) [SING-kah-pee, SIN-kah-pee]
1. (as in grammar) the shortening of a word by the loss of sounds or letters
in the middle of the word (as in bos'n for boatswain)
2. (as in pathology) a spontaneous
loss of consciousness caused by insufficient blood to the brain; swoon;
"She did everything short of feigning syncope to flirt with him."
adjective forms: syncopal, syncopic
Approximately 1400; from Greek, 'synkope': contraction of a word,
originally, a cutting off, from 'synkoptein': to cut up ('syn-': thoroughly
+ 'koptein': to cut).
1. a state of
fatigue, sluggishness, and inactivity: "It took me weeks to shake the
lethargy from the dramatic time shift."
2. a state of apathy with lack of emotion or interest
3. a state of comatose torpor (as found in sleeping sickness)
Approximately 1374; from Greek, 'lethargia': forgetfulness, from 'lethargos':
forgetful ('lethe': forgetfulness + 'argos': idle).
1. a sleepy state; sleepiness: "Without electricity,
somnolence creeps up on our cabin early every evening."
Approximately 1386; from Latin, 'somnolentia': sleepiness, from 'somnolentus,'
from 'somnus': sleep.
This week's theme: Emphatic
(adjective) [sim-PAW-ti-koe', sim-PAT-i-koe']
1. sharing similar interests or temperaments; compatible; congenial: "Her
husband wanted no part in her hobbies, so Sharon spent many of her evenings
with simpatico friends."
2. likable; pleasing; agreeable
Approximately 1888; borrowed from Spanish, 'simpatico,' from 'simpatia':
sympathy, or borrowed from Italian, 'simpatico,' from 'simpatia': sympathy;
ultimately from Latin, 'sympathia': sympathy.
1. to feel or express sympathy or compassion; sympathize: "Should I recount
my own troubles to commiserate, or just listen?"
adjective form: commiserative
adverb form: commiseratively
noun form: commiserator
Approximately 1606; borrowed from Latin, 'commiseratus,' past participle of
'commiserari': to pity ('com-': with + 'miserari': to bewail, to lament,
from 'miser': wretched, miserable).
1. a quality that arouses emotions (especially pity or sorrow): "Without the
benefit of dialogue or emotive music, silent film actors had to have pathos
in their eyes."
2. a feeling of sympathy and sorrow for the misfortunes of others
Approximately 1668; borrowed from Greek, 'pathos': suffering, feeling,
related to 'paschein': to suffer, and 'penthos': grief, sorrow.
1. to express sympathetic grief, on the occasion of someone's death:
"Michael, the third generation owner of a funeral parlor, could condole any
adjective form: condolatory
noun form: condoler
Approximately 1588; borrowed from Late Latin, 'condolere': to suffer with;
from Latin, 'con-': with + 'dolere': to grieve, to suffer pain.
(adjective) [vie-KAIR-ee-ahs, vie-KAR-ee-ahs, vi-KAR-ee-ahs]
1. experienced at secondhand: "Eve hungrily devoured the personal stories of
successful entrepreneurs until she was ready to exchange her vicarious
experiences for the real thing."
2. suffered or done by one person as a substitute for another; 'vicarious
3. delegated to somebody else, as powers or authority, or performing a
function that has been delegated; 'vicarious authority'
4. (as in physiology) occurring in an abnormal part of the body instead of
the usual site involved in that function; 'vicarious menstruation'
adverb form: vicariously
noun form: vicariousness
Approximately 1637; borrowed from Latin, 'vicarius': substitute, deputy,
from 'vic-': found only in oblique cases and plural, 'vices': turn, change,
This week's theme: Got skills!
(noun -- slang)
1. fortitude and determination: "Her moxie got her through school, work, and
single motherhood -- all at the same time."
2. energy; pep
3. know-how; expertise
Approximately 1930; from 'Moxie,' a trademark for a bitter-tasting soft
drink originally marketed as 'nerve tonic.'
1. quick or skillful or adept in action or thought: "Jim is the kind of
adroit host that keeps the drinks full and the conversations flowing."
2. skillful (or showing skill) in adapting means to ends; 'an adroit
adverb form: adroitly
noun form: adroitness
Approximately 1652; borrowed from French; from Old French, 'adroit,' 'adreit'
('a-': to, from Latin 'ad-,' + 'droit,' 'dreit': right, from Late Latin 'directum':
right, justice, from Latin accusative of 'directus': straight).
1. superior skill: "Hal's driving prowess did not prevent him from amassing
a large collection of speeding tickets."
2. distinguished bravery or valor, especially military bravery and skill
Approximately 1225; from Middle English, 'prouesse,' 'pruesse'; borrowed
from Old French, 'proece' ('pro,' 'prou,' variants of 'prod,' 'prud': brave,
valiant + '-ece,' from Latin, '-itia': a quality or condition)
(noun) [FOR-tay', fort]
1. an asset of special worth or utility: "Spotting talent was Kara's forte."
2. the stronger part of a sword blade between the hilt and the foible
Approximately 1648; borrowed from French, 'fort': strong point, fort; from
Middle French, 'fort': fort; from Latin, 'fortis.' The 'e' was added in the
1700's, on analogy with Italian, 'forte': strong.
(noun) [me-TYAY, may-TYAY]
1. an occupation for which you are especially well suited: "James went
through three major career changes before finding his true métier as a
2. an asset of special worth or utility
Approximately 1792; borrowed from French, 'métier': trade, profession; from
Old French, 'mestier'; from Gallo-Romance, 'misterium'; contraction of
Latin, 'ministerium': office, service, from 'minister': servant.