Words of the Week 3/5/2014

This week’s words:

mummer n. a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume while merrymaking or participating in traditional masked mime

standoffish adj. distant and cold; unfriendly

vignette n. a brief evocative description, account, or episode

ribald adj. referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude way

hurly burly n. a disturbance

This week I try the words in paragraph. Or even– if you will– in vignette:

There arose a great hurly burly in the streets as a mummer wearing a Guy Fawkes mask– wearing only a Guy Fawkes mask– streaked past the curbside café. The baker’s wife, a standoffish and notoriously conservative woman, gaped at the ribald display over her coffee and pretentious literary magazine.

Mardi Gras,” she huffed as the other patrons cheered and whistled. She buried herself pointedly in the vignette she’d been reading, though when no one was looking stole another private glance out from under it.


Words of the Week 1/1/2014

Happy New Year! In addition to being the first day of the year, today is also the first Wednesday– and so begins my new segment, Words of the Week. I’ll now be posting something vocabulary-related every Wednesday in order to expand my lexicon and give me an excuse to practice all those words I’ve looked up from reading and promptly forgotten. Word-a-holics, welcome!

In addition to the variable definitions, sentences, illustrations, and other mischief I’ll provide, I hope the weekly posts can also act as prompts for challenge-hungry logophiles. Sentence contributions will always be welcome. Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll even organize a word-off!

For now, here are the 5 words of the week:

wont 1. adj. in the habit of doing something; accustomed to 2. n. one’s customary behavior in a certain situation

disabuse v. to persuade someone that an idea or belief is mistaken

conjugal adj. of or relating to marriage or the relationship between spouses

sacramental 1. adj. related to religious ceremony 2. n. a sign of divine grace

tribulation n. a cause or state of great suffering/trouble

And here are five sentences that use them:

  1. A terrible musician but a cunning ladies’ man, it was Harrison’s wont to carry an acoustic guitar and practice chords in public places in order to pick up women.
  2. Or at least, it was, until Harrison met Rachel, who disabused him of his women-attracting strategy by bringing around her very single, very eager-to-date musician friend, Robbie, to flirt with him.
  3. Fortunately, Rachel revealed herself as orchestrating prankster just as Robbie was approaching conjugal topics with Harrison.
  4. Despite, or perhaps because of Rachel’s prank, Harrison took her appearance as a sacramental and asked her out.
  5. “Okay,” Rachel agreed, “But only because your terrible playing has been such a tribulation to the people who live and work around here.”

3 Words: Mummer, Antiphonic, Valise – Featuring JEDWARD!

Today’s edition 3 Words of the Day is special for two reasons:

  1. Contains Jedward (incidentally, you have been warned)
  2. 3 Words of the Day is going on hiatus during the course of April for National Poetry Month. Make way for the poetry– and be sure to come back and visit, as I’ll be orchestrating interactive poetry activities!

Right, then. Here are your words:

mummer: a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume in traditional masked mime

antiphonic: resembling alternate/response singing by a choir in two parts

valise: a small traveling bag or suitcase

And sentences:

1. Might a mummy be a mummer, or must a mummer be a mime?

2. Jedward are my absolute favorite annoying antiphonic duo. When they’re not finishing one another’s sentences and competing to squeeze in the last word, they’re being told to kindly SHUT UP!!! (See clips below.)

3. Wow. Those sentences (and Jedward) were so offensively awful that I must now pack my valise and pretend I was never here. Three sentences? What three sentences? I have no idea what you’re talking about. LOOK, WHAT’S THAT?

GASP! IT’S JEDWARD! Well, since you’re still here, why not enjoy a complimentary performance? They sing better than they interview. …And dress. …And groom.

3 Words: Anisette, Compendium, Dander

Happy Saturday! Today’s three words come with un petit flourish Français.

anisette: a liqueur flavored with aniseed (with a taste similar to licorice)

compendium: a collection of things/information, systematically gathered

dander: (in the story in which it appeared) anger or temper

1. L’anisette a l’air délicieuse. Est-ce que vous la recommandez? Bon, alors je vais prendre un verre s’il vous plait.

2. All of the files, images, research and print-outs I’ve made in the course of writing a book make one heaping, haphazard compendium.

3. Apparently “getting one’s dander up,” while referring literally to dandruff (as in hackles), is synonymous with anger or losing one’s temper.

Better sentences? Leave ’em here! I wrote these late at night and I know there are more creative things to be done…

3 Words: Furtive, Owlish, Longhair

Three fun words to start your Friday off with a laugh (see illustrated sentences below):

furtive: attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically due to guilt or fear of discovery; nervous for guilt

owlish: resembling an owl; appearing wise or solemn

longhair: a person with long hair or characteristics of those associated with it: hippies, intellectuals. Also (what!) a devotee of classic music.

1. Is there anything more furtive than a group of priests wandering lost in the lingerie department?

2. Person A: “Do these big glasses make me look owlish?”

Person B: “No, but they make you look Woody Allen-ish.”

Ba-dum PSH.

3. Get a job, you vegetarian, soc-majoring, philosophizing, Bach-loving longhair!*

*Not intended to offend any unemployed vegetarian soc major philosopher Bach fans

**One day, the Mr. Aliens meme will get old. That day is not today.

3 Words: Nadir, Notwithstanding, Fusillade

Three words for the day:

nadir: the lowest point (in fortune, despair); the point on a celestial sphere directly below an observer

notwithstanding: in spite of/nevertheless

fusillade: a series of shots fired in rapid succession

Notwithstanding the fusillade of rejection letters and a nadir in income and material possessions, the writer found great pleasure in her work.

3 Words: Rubicund, Venerable, Enjoin

Your daily three-word omelet, containing two parts of speech and high in fiber:

rubicund: having a ruddy (healthy red) complexion

venerable: accorded great respect due to age, wisdom, character, status, etc.

enjoin: to instruct or urge someone to do something

Add a dash of context:

1. If thirsty senator Marco Rubio wasn’t rubicund during the televised Republican State of the Union response, you can bet he was when he saw The Daily Show make fun of him.

2. Make way for the venerable Princess Oreo!

“A glass of milk, please, Gerald.”

3. Mrs. Piegrande enjoined her husband not to participate in no-shave November, but he wouldn’t hear of it.

“But David, it’s hunting season!”

3 Words: Upheaval, Flippant, Razzing

Three words to get your Tuesday rolling (or huffing and puffing– as these words reek of drama!):

upheaval: a violent or sudden change in/disruption of something

flippant: not showing a sincere/respectful attitude; lacking in due seriousness

to razz (rhymes with JAZZ)/razzing: to mock or tease; teasing or derision

The sentences (feel free to enter your own below!):

1. Oh man– when Regina not only did not wear pink that Wednesday but sat at the Plastics table in sweat pants, there was a tangible upheaval in the general ambiance.

2.What do you mean, flippant? Can’t a man dance on a famous composer’s grave and listen to the historical tour guide at the same time?

3. Many friends bond via razzing and tasteful terms of endearment.

3 Words: Carom, Hoss Thief, Spurn

Things are about to get spicy.

Today’s vocabulary is two-alarm and comes with a side of habanero.

carom: a shot in billiards where the cue ball strikes two balls successively; to strike and rebound

hoss thief: “hoss” as in Old West for “horse”. Used as a term of endearment in the story in which I found it: “you mangy old son of a hoss thief.”

spurn: to reject with disdain; to despise

We’ve got the meat—let’s add Tabasco and call it lunch.

1. A duel of wit (or insults) starts with a smart, returns with a slap, and rejoins with a whopping knock. But the best and most lethal move is the carom that plays off and one-two punch/annihilates all that has been said.

2. I ever see that yowlin’ hoss thief o-gin, I give’m the what-for.

3. Mindy Jean spurned broccoli as fiercely as her cat spurned bubble bath.

The spice not to your liking? Throw down a few sentences of your own and check out the menu (fresh vocab) tomorrow.

3 Words: Mackinaw, Peat & Liturgy

Three words of the day, pulled from various short stories:

Mackinaw coat: refers to a heavy and dense woolen water-repellant cloth

peat: a brown, soil-like substance made of decomposed vegetable matter

liturgy: an official list according to which religious worship is conducted

The sentences:

1. Love that distinct, classic color of Mackinaw coats. What is it called: detective? Coffee stain? Camel turd?

2. PEAT! Perhaps that’s it.

3. The sisters watched The Princess Bride so often that various lines– including the rhymes between Fezzik, Inigo and Vizzini– became a liturgy of sorts. Whenever one started “Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?” the other responded, “If there are, we’ll all be dead!” and “No more rhymes now, I mean it!” was invariably answered with, “Anybody want a peanut?”