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When I was in high school and even more insufferable than I am now, a friend and I started a tumblr called “sun words”. The concept of this was to collect words that we discovered that were particularly succulent or mellifluous. 1

I have found myself learning more and more words recently. This is fun and good: I was worried for a while that my days of adapting and playing with the English language were largely behind me. I thought it would be interesting and illustrative to collect a list of the words I’ve learned recently alongside the sources from which I’ve gleaned them. (I expect the majority to be from the NYT crossword, which I recommend you start doing.)

word definition source date
ablation a procedure for restoring normal heart rhythm

Twitter

2020-10-13
clement mild and peaceful 2020-10-13
oracular hard to interpret; enigmatic

Patrick Collison

2020-10-12
carom strike and rebound

Reddit

2020-10-11
dysgenic exerting a detrimental effect on later generations through the inheritance of undesirable characteristics

Twitter

2020-10-05
oleaginous rich with, covered in, or heavily producing oil or grease

Twitter

2020-10-04
extirpate root out and destroy completely

Twitter

2020-10-01
suet the hard white fat on the kidneys and loins of cattle, sheep, and other animals, used to make foods including puddings, pastry, and mincemeat

NYT Crossword

2020-10-01
offal the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food.

NYT Crossword

2020-09-30
syncytium a single cell or cytoplasmic mass containing several nuclei, formed by fusion of cells or by division of nuclei

Wikipedia

2020-09-30
funicular a cable railroad, especially one on a mountainside, in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced. 2020-09-29
salvific leading to salvation

Twitter

2020-09-24
missal a book containing the texts used in the Catholic Mass throughout the year

NYT Crossword

2020-09-23
aporia an irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction in a text, argument, or theory

Twitter

2020-09-22
slatternly (relating to a woman’s appearance) dirty and untidy

Wikipedia

2020-09-21
chthonic concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld. 2020-09-20
gongoozler a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom

Wikipedia

2020-09-17
soteriology the doctrine of salvation

Twitter (Liz Bruenig)

2020-09-17
trilemma a difficult choice from three options, each of which is (or appears) unacceptable or unfavourable

Twitter

2020-09-16
alimentary relating to nourishment or sustenance.

Twitter

2020-09-15
squamous covered with or characterized by scales

The City We Became

2020-09-14
helpmate a helpful companion or partner, especially one's husband or wife.

The City We Became

2020-09-14
dropsy a non-technical edema

Twitter

2020-09-13
dewclaw a rudimentary inner toe present in some dogs

The Art of Raising a Puppy

2020-09-13
weir a low dam built across a river to raise the water level upstream

NYT Crossword

2020-09-12
concomitant naturally accompanying or associated

Twitter

2020-09-12
miserablist a person who appears to enjoy being depressed, esp a performer of or listener to gloomy music

Twitter

2020-09-10
autarky economic independence or self-sufficiency

Twitter

2020-09-09
slue turn or slide violently or uncontrollably in a particular direction.

NYT Crossword

2020-09-09
toyetic potentially marketable as a toy or having merchandising potential

Twitter

2020-09-06
elucubrate to solve, write, or compose by working studiously at all hours

Postwar

2020-09-06
scripturient having a strong urge to write

Max Read

2020-09-04
oryx a species of large antelopes

2020 NBA Playoffs, Game 2 Heat-Bucks

2020-09-02
lustration a rite of purification, especially washing

Postwar

2020-09-02
saturnine slow and gloomy

Better Living Through Criticism

2020-08-30
orts table scraps

NYT Crossword

2020-08-30
glabrous free from hair or down; smooth

A Spell of Songs

2020-08-30
loge a small enclosure or booth in a theatre or arena

NYT Crossword

2020-08-27
cachinnate to laugh loudly or immoderately

NYT Crossword

2020-08-27
varietist one who varies from the norm

The Decline And Fall Of Practically Everybody

2020-08-23
sestet the last six lines of a sonnet

NYT Crossword

2020-08-21
impecunious having little or no money

Postwar

2020-08-20
doctrinaire seeking to impose a doctrine in all circumstances without regard to practical considerations.

Zach Lowe

2020-08-20
arrant complete; utter

NYT Crossword

2020-08-16
goldbrick invent excuses to avoid a task; shirk.

NYT Crossword

2020-08-15
cartouche a carved tablet or drawing representing a scroll with rolled-up ends

NYT Crossword

2020-07-26
timpani kettledrums, especially when played by one musician in an orchestra

NYT Crossword

2020-07-26
coati a type of raccoon with a long snout and a striped tail

NYT Crossword

2020-07-25
besserwisser know-it-all, wiseguy, wiseacre, smart aleck

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
olio a miscellaneous collection of things

NYT Crossword

2020-07-22
eunoia beautiful thinking

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
amphigory nonsense verse

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
phrontistery a place for studying

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
enchiridion carried reference book

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
apothegm short, witty aphorism

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
selcouth strange; unfamiliar; marvelous

Brendan Schlagel

2020-07-22
piste a ski run of compacted snow.

Mike Towber

2020-07-21
autochthonous native to the place where found (ant. allochthonous)

Twitter

2020-07-20
polity an organized society; a state as a political entity

Against the Grain

2020-07-20
calf a floating piece of ice detached from an iceberg.

NYT Crossword

2020-07-17
  1. Why “sun words”? Because we were high schoolers, and because we learned of the concept of “SAT words” — words that made Flesch-Kincaid salivate — and because _Sun_day comes after _Sat_urday. (I told you — insufferable.) 

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