Tag Archives: words

Word of the Week – July 30, 2022

Notionate

[NO-shuh-nit]

Adjective

English, 19th century

Notional. Existing as or based on a suggestion, estimate, or theory; not existing in reality.  Given to fanciful thinking or exaggerated imagination.

The term is a combination of the English word “notion,” from the Latin “nōtiō,” with the suffix “-ate,” with creates an adjective based on “notion.”

“Notionate” has been overtaken in English by its synonym “notional,” and exists today mainly as a regional expression in the Southern U.S., Northern Ireland, and in Scotland. In nearly all contexts, the term has been used to describe a state of exaggerated imagination. For example, a person describing their grandfather as “old-fashioned and notionate” might be implying that the man is very superstitious and believes in ghosts, elves, or other notionate creatures.

Example: My tendency towards notionate thinking as a kid helped me get through the difficulties of those years.

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Word of the Week – July 23, 2022

Irrupt

[i-ˈrəpt]

Verb

Latin, 19th century

To enter suddenly or forcibly; to become suddenly active; referring to a natural population, to expand suddenly in numbers due to a change in the natural balance

Irrupt is very close in sound and meaning to erupt, though only irrupt can mean to enter a room uninvited.

Example: After recent Supreme Court decisions, I feel the number of concerned voters will irrupt into positive social change.

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Word of the Week – July 16, 2022

Eunomy

[YOO-nə-mee]

Noun

Ancient Greek

Equal law, or a well-adjusted constitution of government.

This word comes from the ancient Greek “eu-,” meaning “well, good” and “-nomy,” rooted in the Greek “​​nómos,” meaning “law or custom.” The word “eunomy” can easily be mistaken for “euonym” because they are anagrams for each other. While the former means “equal law,” the latter is “a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named.” Both have the Greek suffix “eu-” that means “good.” The “-onym” in “euonym” is the Greek root for “name.”

Example: After the last few months, I’m no longer certain our government is a true eunomy.

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Word of the Week – July 9, 2022

Inveigle

[in-VAY-ɡəl]

Verb

French, 15th century

Persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery. Gain entrance to (a place) by persuading (someone) with deception or flattery.

Inveigle is a verb that can be used with an object – “She inveigled him into giving her a better table.”  Or it can be used in a sense specifically related to gaining entry to a place – “He inveigled himself into the meeting room.”  Either way, there’s some trickery afoot.

You might claim that you made a good case for your request, but if your persuasion involved deception or flattery, you need to learn the verb inveigle.  It comes from an Old French verb “aveugler”, meaning to blind. Just don’t turn a blind eye to your true motivations.

Example: I feel the most conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court inveigled their way onto the bench.

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Word of the Week – July 2, 2022

Trenchant

[TREN-chənt]

Adjective

Middle English, 13th century

Being sharp, intense, and forceful. Characterized by energy and effectiveness

Trenchant is often used to describe commentary or criticism. If you have a trenchant delivery, you’re known for your biting wit. An obsolete definition of trenchant means physically having a sharp blade. While the adjective is now used in a more figurative sense, a powerful, trenchant remark can still leave wounds.

Example: My trenchant descriptions of U.S. politics alienates some people, but excites others.

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Word of the Week – June 25, 2022

Ratiocinate

[rash-ee-OH-sin-ate]

Verb

Latin, 17th century

Form judgments by a process of logic. Reason.

This word comes from the Latin word “ratiocinat,” which means “deliberated; calculated.”  To ratiocinate, you must develop your critical and logical thinking skills.

Example: In working through my science fiction novel, I have to ratiocinate through the menagerie of characters and situations I’ve created.

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Word of the Week – June 18, 2022

Esemplastic

[es-em-PLAS-tik]

Adjective

Greek, early 19th century

Molding into one; unifying.

While constructed from Greek root, this word was coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, likely from the German “ineinsbildung,” meaning “forming into one.” The word “esemplastic” can be traced back to a singular source: English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In his 1817 autobiography, “Biographia Literaria,” he formed the word by combining the Greek phrase “es hen,” meaning “into one,” with “plastic.” This fulfilled his desire for a term that depicted the imagination’s ability to meld vastly different experiences into a unified form — such as crafting various sensations, images, and experiences into a poem.

Example: I always try to relay my work experience to potential employers in an esemplastic manner.

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Word of the Week – June 11, 2022

Eudaemonism

[yoo-DEE-mə-niz-əm]

Noun

Greek, early 19th century

A system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood of actions producing happiness.

“Eudaemonism” entered English in the 19th century from the Greek “εὐδαιμονία,” meaning happiness, with the suffix “-ism” to indicate a system of belief or practice.  “Eudaemonism” is based on the Greek term “eudaemonia,” introduced by Aristotle.  Aristotle’s “eudaemonia” described the positive condition of doing and living well.  It was not, in fact, a synonym for happiness, but rather it described a greater state of positive existence, which combined wisdom, contemplation, virtue, and other beneficial attributes for personal success.

Example: Through all the anxiety and drama, I detected a true sense of eudaemonism in viewing the opening session of the January 6 Committee hearings.

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Word of the Week – June 4, 2022

Conspectus

[kən-SPEK-təs]

Noun

Latin, 1830s

A summary or overview of a subject.

This word stems from the Latin “conspectus,” meaning a “looking at, sight, view; range or power of vision.” It is the noun use of the past participle of “conspicere,” meaning “to look at”, which originates from “specere,” meaning “to look at”.  “Conspectus” sounds like another word that’s more common in modern English: “prospectus.” They also share a Latin root, “specere,” which means “to look at.” But while “conspectus” means an overview of a particular subject, a “prospectus” is “a printed document that advertises or describes a school, commercial enterprise, forthcoming book, etc., in order to attract or inform clients, members, buyers, or investors.”

Example: A conspectus of my work experience helped solidify my credentials for the engineering company.

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Word of the Week – May 28, 2022

Habile

[HA-bəl]

Adjective

Latin, 15th century

Deft; skillful.

In Latin, “habilis” means something is easily handled. The French word habile means skillful, and we kept that definition in Middle English as well.  Able is the more common word today, but habile remains a particularly skillful word.  In today’s parlance, you’re more likely to use the word able rather than habile.  The pronunciations are somewhat similar, and the meanings are close.  Able implies you have at least the basic ability to do something.  But to be habile is to be quite talented.

Example: I had to explain my habile approach to composing documentation for software development to the project manager.

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