Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Word Nerds”

Word Nerds: Precise Language

Sometimes we blunder through trying to find that exact word to describe what we are talking about. This list of words provide the exact word for a particular situation.

dorveille: a dreamlike semi-conscious state like when falling asleep or waking up.

foehn: a warm, dry wind coming off a mountain

hyponopedia: learning while asleep through listening to taped recordings

image: mpora

abseil: descending by moving down a steep incline or overhang by using a secured double rope placed around the body

ailurophile: a person who likes cats

cognoscenti: people who possess superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the area of fine arts, literature, and fashion.

juku: a school that is attended in addition to regular school as a means of preparing for college entrance examinations

xocolatophobia: an irrational fear of chocolate

dwy: a brief storm accompanied by rain

leveret: a young hare

What word can you now precisely insert into your conversation?

Word Nerds: Distinctive Adjectives

Nouns are helpful identifiers, to be sure. Add an adjective and the noun goes from blah to ta-dah. This month’s list provides a host of dazzling adjectives to pair up with the nouns in your life.

fustian: pompous or bombastic

haimish: cozy and unpretentious

Parnassian: relating to poetry

volant: having the power of flight

tatterdemalion: unkempt or dilapidated

tenebrific: producing darkness

heliotropic: turning or growing toward the light

perse: of a very deep shade of blue or purple

Word Nerd: A Bevy of “S” words

Bobbling through my collection of words I noticed more than a few “S” words and thought a shaking out might be a good idea.

saponify: convert into soap

segue: smoothly transitioning from one thing to another

scholarch: the head of a school

swain: a male admirer

stravage: to wander aimlessly

sinsyne: from that time; since then

sylvan: relating to the woods

Out of all these I do so like stravage, as wandering aimlessly is an enjoyable pastime.

There are benefits to wandering aimlessly, I suppose. Being a person who usually has an agenda, I find the concept of walking without purpose I find it difficult to accept the idea of walking without an aim. Yet, this video provides a convincing persuasion that wandering aimlessly actually has a purpose.

Are you one who wanders with purpose or one who wanders without aim?

Word Nerd: Places

Oh, the places you’ll go or at least get to know with this batch of terms.

firth: a long, narrow indentation of the seacoast.

wynd: a narrow street or alley.

Wind your way down a wynd

peregrinate: to walk or travel by foot; journey.

saltigrade: move by leaping.

Nothing like saltigrade by the sea

natant: swimming.

wampish: to wave about or flop to and fro.

estivate: to spend the summer, as at a specific place or in a certain activity.

Natant, wampish, estivate: water wonderful words

Word Nerd: Miscellany

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The word bank is beginning to burst forth once again with the many marvelous lexiconical delights gathered. Time to set a few free to frolic unfettered and perhaps adopted by word discerners, like you.

yakka: work, especially hard work. Teaching these days is yakka, yakka, yakka.

gnomon: the raised part of a sundial that casts the shadow. It’s nice knowing about the gnomon.

ataraxia: a state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility. The last couple of years of covid controversy leads to the need of some ataraxia.

whigmaleerie: a whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance; gimmick. Is a whirligig kin to a whigmaleerie?

skookum: large; powerful; impressive. A snookum could be a skookum.

tchotchke: an inexpensive souvenir, trinket. Perhaps a whigmaleerie can be a tchotchke.

wintle: to tumble over; capsize. I would appreciate an Austen heroine to wintle in an appropriate moment.

mussitation: silent movement of the lips in simulation of the movements made in audible speech. It’s more than just talking to one’s self.

armscye: the armhole opening in a garment through which the hand, and then the arm, passes, and to which a sleeve may be attached. So that’s what’s it’s called.

zugzwang: in chess, a situation in which a player is limited to moves that cost pieces or have a damaging positional effect. Does checkers possess such a term?

Definitely an eclectic assortment that deserve finding their way into your personal dictionary. Which words will you wangle into your next conversation?

Word Nerd: January

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While some revel in the Christmas season I am all for the New Year. New digits on the paystub, closer to spring, which means closer to June, which means summer break!

Celebrating the joy of the new year requires presenting a menu of festive, inspiring words that ring out the gladness of a new, and it’s hoped, better year.

proceleusmatic: inciting, animating, or inspiring

sweven: a vision; dream

pandiculation: the act of stretching oneself especially on waking

pulchritudinous: physically beautiful

perorate: to speak at length; make a long usually grandiloquent speech

Fletcherize: to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly

celerity: swiftness; speed

irrefragable: not to be disputed or contested

chuffle: to make a low snuffling sound analogous to the purring of smaller cat species, often as a greeting

heigira: any flight or journey to a more desirable or congenial place

mickle: great; large; much

prelapsarian: characteristic of or pertaining to any innocent or carefree period

rapprochement: an establishment or reestablishment of harmonious relations

yclept: called; named

azure: of or having a light, purplish shade of blue, like that of a clear and unclouded day

evanesce: to disappear gradually; vanish; fade away

hiemal: of or relating to winter; wintry

cavort: to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner; make merry

A broad range of words, ’tis true. Yet January can be a month of variance. There is the hiemal aspect, the evanesce of snow, it’s hoped, unless a new snowfall creates a mickle of the white muck, which generates a heigira urge for sunnier locale. Once January’s snows lessen, the landscape becomes more pulchritudinous as azure skies beckon overhead leading to prelapsarian attitude, although some would state the new year still holds over the old winter. Aye, that fact is irrefragable; however, a proceleusmatic sweven inspires the need towards pandiculation of outlook. Spring is closer in January than it was in November and I shall indeed cavort when the last snowflake falls. I might even chuffle once January’s page is turned aside to welcome February. Longer days and Valentines to anticipate create the need to Fletcherize in preparation to perorate upon the celerity of winter’s passing.

May your January and the meeting of the new year be one of rapprochement since the first month of the year was named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings. A fitting yclept month as January is the doorway to the rest of the year.

Word Nerd: December

It’s December, the last month of the year. Getting through another tough year might involve celebrating and celebrating might also involve some appropriate words.

nimiety: excess, overabundance

galimatias: confused or unintelligible talk

pharaonic: impressively or overwhelmingly large, luxurious, etc.

foozle: to bungle; play clumsily

effulgent: shining forth brilliantly; radiant

specious: apparently good or right though lacking real merit; superficially pleasing or plausible

brummagem: showy but inferior and worthless

encomium: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly

terpsichorean: pertaining to dancing

shivoo: a boisterous party or celebration

So, celebrate this last month of a challenging year, and let’s hope the new year brings new hope and healing.

Word Nerd: November

Photo by Askar Abayev on

Thanksgiving comes around in November and getting together with friends and family can be emotional for some. Needing a few choice words to express feelings might be handy.

verklempt: overly emotional and unable to speak.

velleity: a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.

stultify: to render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means

thrawn: contrary; peevish; stubborn

longanimity: patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance

foofaraw: a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant

megillah: a lengthy, detailed explanation or account

brabble: to argue stubbornly about trifles; wrangle

fustigate: to criticize harshly; castigate

gasconade: extravagant boasting; boastful talk

nescience: lack of knowledge; ignorance

frumious: very angry

snollygoster: a clever, unscrupulous person

beamish: bright, cheerful, and optimistic

Let’s hope if someone should start a megillah at the table no one will fustigate or brabble should it lead to gasconade. Instead, the gathering be one that is beamish.

UPDATE: Read about a picture book that features delightful words here:

Word Nerd: Special Edition

Girandole: a spinning, rotating firework

Happy Fourth of July!

May you go Fourth and sparkle!

Word Nerds: Contronyms

I was quite chuffed, having received quite a positive response from my Kangaroo Words post.

And there it was—another strange lexiconical usage of a word. You see “chuffed” (British slang) can mean one is pleased or displeased. It becomes its own antonym. These words are known as “contronyms.”

Here’s a list to get a better idea:

bolt – to secure; to run away

cleave – separate, adhere

clip – fasten, detach

custom- usual, special

dust – add fine particles, remove fine particles

enjoin – prescribe, prohibit

fast – quick, unmoving

fix – restore, castrate

garnish – enhance (e.g., food), curtail (e.g., wages)

give out – produce, stop production

handicap – advantage, disadvantage

left – remaining, departed from

mean – average, excellent (e.g., “plays a mean game”)

out – visible (e.g., stars), invisible (e.g., lights)

put out – extinguish, generate (e.g., something putting out light)

quite – rather, completely

ravel – tangle, disentangle

sanction – approve, boycott

screen – show, hide

table – propose (in the United Kingdom), set aside (in the United States)

unbending – rigid, relaxing

weather – withstand, wear away

Talk about shades of ambiguity! Then again it keeps people on their toes to pay closer attention to the context to better understand the content.

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