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.

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.

When I first started building this catalog, I expected the plurality to be from the NYT crossword 2, and the data appears to bear that out:

vranyo white lies or half-lies in Russian culture, told without the intention of (maliciously) deceiving, but as a fantasy, suppressing unpleasant parts of the truth

integument a tough outer protective layer, especially that of an animal or plant.

matutinal of or occurring in the morning.

shufti a look or reconnoiter, especially a quick one.

mahout a person who works with, rides, and tends an elephant

hob a flat metal shelf at the side or back of a fireplace, having its surface level with the top of the grate and used especially for heating pans.

pied having two or more different colors.

mandamus a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty.

eigengrau the uniform dark gray background that many people report seeing in the absence of light

hegira an exodus or migration

bracken a tall fern with coarse lobed fronds, which occurs worldwide and can cover large areas.

gastrique caramelized sugar, deglazed with vinegar or other sour liquids, used as a sweet and sour flavoring for sauces

mittelstand a group of stable business enterprises in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that have proved successful in enduring economic change and turbulence

strix in the mythology of classical antiquity, was a bird of ill omen, the product of metamorphosis, that fed on human flesh and blood

souq A street market, particularly in Arabic- and Somali-speaking countries; a place where people buy and sell goods; a bazaar.

favela a slum or shantytown located within or on the outskirts of the country’s large cities

coracle a small round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle

atelic showing an action or happening as being unfinished

ignosticism the philosophical position that the question of the existence of God is meaningless

mawkish sentimental in a feeble or sickly way

leveret a young hare in its first year

orgone a supposed sexual energy or life force distributed throughout the universe that can be collected and stored (in an orgone box) for therapeutic use

grook a form of short aphoristic poem or rhyming aphorism

choreomania n uncontrollable urge to dance, especially in a frenzied, convulsive manner

spoor the track or scent of an animal

geognosis knowledge of the world

scaffa a cocktail prepared at room temperature

segigniorage revenue or a profit taken from the minting of coins, usually the difference between the value of the bullion used and the face value of the coin.

veridical coinciding with reality

dipsomania alcoholism, specifically in a form characterized by intermittent bouts of craving for alcohol.

nullifidian a person having no faith or religious belief.

ectopic in an abnormal place or position

banlieue a suburb of a French city, especially Paris.

gurn to make a grotesque face

apposite apt in the circumstances or in relation to something.

genetrix a female parent; a mother

ischemia an inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body, especially the heart muscles

narthex an antechamber, porch, or distinct area at the western entrance of some early Christian churches

parataxis the placing of clauses or phrases one after another, without words to indicate coordination or subordination, as in Tell me, how are you?

allograft a tissue graft from a donor of the same species as the recipient but not genetically identical

chrism a mixture of oil and balsam, consecrated and used for anointing at baptism

modiste a fashionable milliner or dressmaker

glasnost the policy or practice of more open consultative government and wider dissemination of information

jalopy an old car in a dilapidated condition

chiaroscuro the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.

hosanna an expression of adoration, praise, or joy

excursus a detailed discussion of a particular point in a book, usually in an appendix.

quadrille a square dance performed typically by four couples and containing five figures, each of which is a complete dance in itself.

apperception the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses.

paternoster an elevator consisting of a series of linked doorless compartments moving continuously on an endless belt.

sumptuary relating to or denoting laws that limit private expenditure on food and personal items

catafalque a decorated wooden framework supporting the coffin of a distinguished person during a funeral or while lying in state.

oneiromancy the interpretation of dreams in order to foretell the future.

apricity the warmth of the sun in winter

oology the collection and study of birds' eggs especially in relation to their shape and coloration

terroir the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced

nephology the study or contemplation of clouds

txoko a typically Basque type of closed gastronomical society where men come together to cook, experiment with new ways of cooking, eat and socialize

yegg a burglar or safecracker

marotte a prop stick or sceptre with a carved head on it

aubade a piece sung or played outdoors at dawn, usually as a compliment to someone

chrestomathy a selection of passages from an author or authors, designed to help in learning a language.

holon something that is simultaneously a whole in and of itself, as well as a part of a larger whole

feve a small trinket hidden in a king cake or similar dessert

scopophilia pleasure in looking; in Freudian psychoanalytic theory, an infantile instinct

apoptosis the death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism's growth or development.

hebetude the state of being dull or lethargic

deixis the function or use of deictic words, forms, or expressions.

pycnocline a layer in an ocean or other body of water in which water density increases rapidly with depth.

hircinous Of, or pertaining to goats; hircine

bogatyr a stock character in medieval East Slavic legends, akin to a Western European knight-errant

antinomy a contradiction between two beliefs or conclusions that are in themselves reasonable; a paradox.

adipose fat

propinquity the state of being close to someone or something; proximity.

sere (especially of vegetation) dry or withered

anosognosia a condition in which a person with a disability is cognitively unaware of having it due to an underlying physical condition

arrogate take or claim (something) without justification.

chiton a marine mollusk that has an oval flattened body with a shell of overlapping plates

hapax a word that only appears once in a work of or genus of literature or in a body of work by a particular author

etiology the investigation or attribution of the cause or reason for something, often expressed in terms of historical or mythical explanation.

polysemy the coexistence of many possible meanings for a word or phrase

slew to turn (something, such as a telescope or a ship's spar) about a fixed point that is usually the axis

berm a flat strip of land, raised bank, or terrace bordering a river or canal.

gantry a bridge-like overhead structure with a platform supporting equipment such as a crane, railroad signals, lights, or cameras.

mare large, dark, basaltic plains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions

latibulate to hide oneself in a corner

enconium a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly.

xerophagy the practice of eating dry food, especially food cooked without oil

interstice a space that intervenes between things

figurant one that figures in a scene without speaking or without taking a prominent part

demotic denoting or relating to the kind of language used by ordinary people; popular or colloquial.

teratogen an agent that can disturb the development of the embryo or fetus

fictile capable of being molded; made of earth, clay, etc.; by a potter.

harridan an angry and unpleasant woman

concupiscence strong sexual desire; lust

picayune of little value or account; small; trifling

formulary an official list giving details of medicines that may be prescribed.

hybristophilia sexual interest in and attraction to those who commit crimes

widdershins in a direction contrary to the sun's course, considered as unlucky; counterclockwise.

pullulate to send forth sprouts, buds, etc.; germinate; sprout

factotum an employee who does all kinds of work.

gasconade extravagant boasting.

muliebrity womanly qualities; womanhood.

callipygian having well-shaped buttocks

meretricious apparently attractive but having in reality no value or integrity.

cloche a small translucent cover for protecting or forcing outdoor plants.

nictitate to blink

battement a movement in which one leg is moved outward from the body and in again

dissimulation concealment of one's thoughts, feelings, or character; pretense

ruction a noisy fight

propitiation the act of appeasing or making well-disposed a deity, thus incurring divine favor or avoiding divine retribution

lazarette a small compartment below the deck in the after end of a vessel, used for stores.

lordotic having an increased inward curving of the lumbar spine

bafflegab incomprehensible or pretentious language, especially bureaucratic jargon.

tonneau the part of an automobile, typically an open car, occupied by the back seats

redolent exuding fragrance : aromatic

snee to cut or thrust with a knife, esp when fighting

agnate a relative whose kinship is traceable exclusively through males

wainscott line (a room or wall) with wooden paneling

ariose characterized by melody; songlike

sangfroid composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances.

erumpent bursting forth or through a surface

mell to blend; mix; meld. to meddle; concern oneself

thurible censer

aureate denoting, made of, or having the color of gold

transom a strengthening crossbar, in particular one set above a window or door

febrile feverish

travois a type of sledge used to carry goods, consisting of two joined poles pulled by a horse or dog.

agential of, relating to, or expressive of an agent or agency

chaparral vegetation consisting chiefly of tangled shrubs and thorny bushes.

gamine a young woman with a mischievous, boyish charm

novena a form of worship consisting of special prayers or services on nine successive days.

oscular related to kissing

alterity the state of being other or different; otherness.

uxorious having or showing an excessive or submissive fondness for one's wife

interpellate to question (someone, such as a foreign minister) formally concerning an official action or policy or personal conduct

oriel a projection from the wall of a building, typically supported from the ground or by corbels

caconym an incorrect name for something

perihelion the point in the orbit of a planet, asteroid, or comet at which it is closest to the sun

pettifogging placing undue emphasis on petty details

agnotology the study of deliberate, culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, typically to sell a product or win favour

ontogenesis the development of an individual organism or anatomical or behavioral feature from the earliest stage to maturity

hiatal of, relating to, or involving a hiatus

hamartia a fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine.

salubrious favorable to or promoting health or well-being

canticle a hymn or chant, typically with a biblical text, forming a regular part of a church service.

sacristy a room in a church where a priest prepares for a service, and where vestments and other things used in worship are kept.

cay a low bank or reef of coral, rock, or sand

palooka a stupid, clumsy, or uncouth person

deontic relating to duty and obligation as ethical concepts

tatterdemalion a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person

pythonist a person who professes to prophesy through some divine or esoteric inspiration

ataraxy a state of serene calmness

sybarite a person who is self-indulgent in their fondness for sensuous luxury

snood an ornamental hairnet or fabric bag worn over the hair at the back of a woman's head

peripatetic traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

antrum a natural chamber or cavity in a bone or other anatomical structure

aneuploidy the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell, for example a human cell having 45 or 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46

passerine relating to or denoting birds of a large order distinguished by feet that are adapted for perching, including all songbirds.

rill a small stream

gouache a method of painting using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a gluelike substance.

friable easily crumbled

panegyric a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something

efflux something given off in as or as if in a stream

tenebrous dark; shadowy or obscure

doyenne a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field

chiral asymmetric in such a way that the structure and its mirror image are not superimposable

solecism a grammatical mistake in speech or writing

exaptation a trait that has been co-opted for a use other than the one for which natural selection has built it

lustic vigorous; jovial

voluptuary a person devoted to luxury and sensual pleasure

bedizen dress up or decorate gaudily.

locavore a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

ostinato a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice and/or pitch

martinet a strict disciplinarian, especially in the armed forces.

attar a fragrant essential oil, typically made from rose petals.

apophasis a rhetorical device wherein the speaker or writer brings up a subject by either denying it

belletrist a person who writes essays, particularly on literary and artistic criticism, that are composed and read primarily for their aesthetic effect

psychosphere the sphere or realm of human consciousness

clowder a group of cats

ort a scrap or remainder of food from a meal

afflatus a divine creative impulse or inspiration

desacralize to divest of sacred qualities or status

apophenia the tendency to perceive meaningful connections between seemingly unrelated things

stertoreous snoring; hardly breathing

chiffonier a tall chest of drawers, often with a mirror on top.

recusancy refusal to submit to established authority

denude strip (something) of its covering, possessions, or assets; make bare

nudnik a pestering, nagging, or irritating person; a bore.

collimate make (rays of light or particles) accurately parallel

naphtha a flammable oil

threnody a lament

mishegaas craziness; senseless behavior or activity

antapex the point of the celestial sphere from which the solar system is moving

fissile able to undergo nuclear fission; easily split

dun to nag someone about paying a debt

quorate having a sufficient number of members to constitute a quorum

parimutuel a form of betting in which those backing the first three places divide the losers' stakes

graphomania the compulsion to write

pluviophile a lover of rain

remainderman the person who inherits or is entitled to inherit property upon the termination of the life estate of the former owner

fillip something which acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.

unicursal relating to or denoting a curve or surface which is closed and can be drawn or swept out in a single movement

pikuach nefesh the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious rule. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta'aseh of the Torah becomes inapplicable

shirr bake an egg without its shell

asperity harshness of tone or manner

gangue the commercially valueless material in which ore is found

pericarp the part of the fruit formed from the wall of the ripened ovary

pleonastic needlessly wordy or redundant (“I heard it with my own ears”)

poryphyry a hard igneous rock containing crystals, usually of feldspar, in a fine-grained, typically reddish groundmass.

syntony the state of being normally responsive to and in harmony with the environment

crypticity the condition or state of something being cryptic

quirt a short-handled riding whip with a braided leather lash

ailurophobe someone who is irrationally afraid of cats

votary a person, such as a monk or nun, who has made vows of dedication to religious service

anneal to heat something and allow it to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it.

chanticleer rooster

burgess an inhabitant of a town or borough with full rights of citizenship

escheat the reversion of property to the state on the owner's dying without legal heirs

parson a beneficed member of the clergy; a rector or a vicar

ratiocination the process of exact thinking

stemwinder an entertaining and rousing speech

natant swimming or afloat

brumation a state or condition of sluggishness, inactivity, or torpor exhibited by reptiles

adumbrate report or represent in outline

dudgeon a feeling of offense or deep resentment

septentrional related to the north; northern

aileron a hinged surface in the trailing edge of an airplane wing, used to control lateral balance

antedating an example or instance of a word/phrase at a date earlier than previously known

antinomianism any view which rejects laws or legalism and argues against moral, religious or social norms

cotyledon an embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants

crenellation the battlements of a castle or other building

engram a unit of cognitive information inside the brain

fibril a small or slender fiber

flexion the action of bending or the condition of being bent

roan denoting an animal with gray/silvery hair

spinnaker a sail designed specifically for sailing off the wind

calumny the making of false and defamatory statements about someone in order to damage their reputation; slander.

vibratiuncle a miniscule or slight vibration

bollix to bungle (ie a task)

tonsorial relating to hairdressing

gravitic of or pertaining to gravity

susurrus whispering, murmuring, or rustling.

culvert a tunnel carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railroad

quidnunc an inquisitive and gossipy person

interwork be able to connect, communicate, or exchange data

kvell feel happy and proud

piolet ice axe

muon an unstable subatomic particle of the same class as an electron

plenum an assembly of all the members of a group or committee

rodomontade boastful or inflated talk or behavior.

tref not kosher

geometer a specialist in geometry (i.e. for mapmaking or exploration)

irenic aiming at peace

egest to discharge, as from the body; void (opposed to ingest)

dolorous feeling or expressing great sorrow or distress.

autogyro a type of rotorcraft that uses an unpowered rotor in free autorotation to develop lift

neonate a newborn child

neotony the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal

quincunx an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its center

neoteric new or modern; recent

ablation a procedure for restoring normal heart rhythm

clement mild and peaceful

oracular hard to interpret; enigmatic

carom strike and rebound

dysgenic exerting a detrimental effect on later generations through the inheritance of undesirable characteristics

oleaginous rich with, covered in, or heavily producing oil or grease

extirpate root out and destroy completely

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

offal the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food.

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

funicular a cable railroad, especially one on a mountainside, in which ascending and descending cars are counterbalanced.

salvific leading to salvation

missal a book containing the texts used in the Catholic Mass throughout the year

aporia an irresolvable internal contradiction or logical disjunction in a text, argument, or theory

slatternly (relating to a woman’s appearance) dirty and untidy

chthonic concerning, belonging to, or inhabiting the underworld.

gongoozler a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom

soteriology the doctrine of salvation

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

alimentary relating to nourishment or sustenance.

helpmate a helpful companion or partner, especially one's husband or wife.

squamous covered with or characterized by scales

dewclaw a rudimentary inner toe present in some dogs

dropsy a non-technical edema

concomitant naturally accompanying or associated

weir a low dam built across a river to raise the water level upstream

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

autarky economic independence or self-sufficiency

slue turn or slide violently or uncontrollably in a particular direction.

elucubrate to solve, write, or compose by working studiously at all hours

toyetic potentially marketable as a toy or having merchandising potential

scripturient having a strong urge to write

lustration a rite of purification, especially washing

oryx a species of large antelopes

glabrous free from hair or down; smooth

orts table scraps

saturnine slow and gloomy

cachinnate to laugh loudly or immoderately

loge a small enclosure or booth in a theatre or arena

varietist one who varies from the norm

sestet the last six lines of a sonnet

doctrinaire seeking to impose a doctrine in all circumstances without regard to practical considerations.

impecunious having little or no money

arrant complete; utter

goldbrick invent excuses to avoid a task; shirk.

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

timpani kettledrums, especially when played by one musician in an orchestra

coati a type of raccoon with a long snout and a striped tail

amphigory nonsense verse

apothegm short, witty aphorism

besserwisser know-it-all, wiseguy, wiseacre, smart aleck

enchiridion carried reference book

eunoia beautiful thinking

olio a miscellaneous collection of things

phrontistery a place for studying

selcouth strange; unfamiliar; marvelous

piste a ski run of compacted snow.

autochthonous native to the place where found (ant. allochthonous)

polity an organized society; a state as a political entity

calf a floating piece of ice detached from an iceberg.

Lightning bolt
Subscribe to my newsletter

I publish monthly roundups of everything I've written, plus pictures of my corgi.
© 2024 Justin Duke · All rights reserved · have a nice day.