Tag Archives: dictionary

Brummagem

To finish out Word Nymph’s Enhance Your Vocabulary Week, the following word has been plucked from one of her favorite sources, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich.

Friday’s, and our final, selection is:

Brummagem: cheap and showy but inferior and worthless.

Can you use it in a sentence three times today? If so, it’s yours.

There are still more good words from The Highly Selective Dictionary than time allows me to share this week. So if you see new words sprinkled into future posts, don’t think me bombastic, just look them up–and use them three times.

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Maenad

After reflecting on the importance of vocabulary enhancement, Word Nymph has declared this Enhance Your Vocabulary Week.

She has consulted one of her favorite sources, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich and is pleased to share Thursday’s selection, which has two definitions:

Maenad:  1. a riotous or frenzied woman; 2. a Bacchante–a priestess of Bacchus–in classical mythology, the god of wine

Can you use it in a sentence three times today? If so, it’s yours.  If you have a little time, or if mythology strikes your fancy, look up maenad and see how the two definitions come together. How did they come up with this stuff?

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Steatopygia

After reflecting on the importance of vocabulary enhancement, Word Nymph has declared this Enhance Your Vocabulary Week.

She has consulted one of her favorite sources, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich and is pleased to share Wednesday’s selection: 

Steatopygia:  Excessive development of fat on the buttocks, especially of women

Can you use it in a sentence three times today? If so, it’s yours.

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Lycanthropy

After reflecting on the importance of vocabulary enhancement, Word Nymph has declared this Enhance Your Vocabulary Week.

She has consulted one of her favorite sources, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich and is pleased to share Tuesday’s selection: 

Lycanthropy:  a delusion in which one imagines oneself to be a wild animal, especially a wolf, and exhibits depraved appetites

Can you use it in a sentence three times today? If so, it’s yours.

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Defenestration

After reflecting on the importance of vocabulary enhancement, Word Nymph has declared this Enhance Your Vocabulary Week.

She has consulted one of her favorite sources, The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich and is pleased to share Monday’s selection: 

Defenestration:  The act of throwing a thing or person out of a window

Can you use it in a sentence three times today? If so, it’s yours.

Happy Birthday Dad!

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Learn it, use it, own it

My parents home schooled my brothers and me—on top of the six-plus hours a day we spent in school. 

For example, they believed we should constantly expand our vocabularies, and my father created a process for making this happen. Periodically he went though the dictionary, picked out words he thought we should know, wrote out the words and their definitions on index cards, bundled them and placed them for our use in the, ahem, restroom. Don’t just sit there; learn something.

Those old index cards are still in the family, but not in my house. I still like to learn new vocabulary words, but I prefer a softer chair. As an aside, I also enjoy teaching new words to kids. Want to get a teenage boy to learn a new word? Ask him if he likes to masticate at the dinner table.

A few years ago, a friend gave me The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrlich. You’d like this book because it is written as a direct affront to something you and I have complained about. It’s what Ehrlich calls “the poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness—aided by permissive lexicographers who blithely acquiesce to the depredations of unrestrained language butchers.”

What he’s referring to essentially is what happens when is a word is misused so often it ends up being added as a new definition to an existing dictionary entry. Ehrlich explains that the so-called “functionally illiterate” take the new use as acceptable, giving them license to say, “Well, it’s in the dictionary, so it’s OK to use.” He also notes how this happens with mispronunciation as well.

If you too are frustrated with what is happening, then The Highly Selective Dictionary is for you. Unlike most dictionaries, this contains only the most interesting words and concise definitions. I recently pulled my copy off the shelf and thumbed through it, noticing that I had highlighted passages and words I liked, for what purpose I couldn’t tell you.

As we set upon Back to School season, I thought it might be fun—or at least instructive—for us all to learn some new words. Who’s in? How about we devote the coming week to becoming extraordinarily literate? You might not find this as fun as last week’s Name that Weed contest but, hey, I try to offer a little something for everyone.

Each day for the next few days, I will give you a word from this Dictionary. If you use it in a sentence three times, it belongs to you. Isn’t that a momily?

Rest assured, no index cards will be harmed.

Please take tomorrow off with me and rest up for the fun. Also feel free to send in your favorites.

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Let’s talk for a moment about “momentarily”

If the pilot announces, “we will be in the air momentarily,” it means you’re going to crash.

If the waiter assures you, “your food will be here momentarily,” it means you’d better eat fast.

If you are told “a customer service representative will be with you momentarily,” it means she won’t have much time to assist you.

If the theater manager says “doors will open momentarily,” you’d better hope you’re at the front of the line.

“Momentarily” means “for a moment” or “briefly,” not “in a moment” or “soon.”  You may disagree, lots of people do—usually the ones who use it incorrectly or who quote a source that has just plain given up and added the erroneous definition.

I won’t be surprised by comments that cite sources accepting “in a moment” as an acceptable definition.  It happens all the time.  I once lost a bet with someone when I claimed “irregardless” wasn’t a word and that it couldn’t be found in the dictionary.  I placed my bet, looked it up and there it was:  “irregardless:  an incorrect use of regardless.”  As with “sherbert,” some sources have just shrugged their shoulders and looked the other way.

But I am fair and have an open mind.  If you do disagree with me, feel free to state your case.  I will listen to you momentarily.

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