This is a collection of terms that are useful when reading Billy Budd.
Because Melville's diction is highly sophisticated, one should use this page to help build control of the difficult vocablulary.
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ab·er·ra·tion (àb´e-râ¹shen) noun 1. A deviation from the proper or expected
course. 2. A departure from the normal or typical: events that were
aberrations from the norm. 3. Psychology. A disorder or abnormal alteration
in one's mental state. 4. a. A defect of focus, such as blurring in an image.
b. An imperfect image caused by a physical defect in an optical element, as
in a lens. [Latin aberrâtio, aberrâtion-, diversion, from aberrâtus, past
participle of aberrâre, to go astray : ab-, away from. See AB- + errâre, to
abrogate: ab·ro·gate (àb¹re-gât´) verb, transitive
ab·ro·gat·ed, ab·ro·gat·ing, ab·ro·gates To abolish, do away with, or annul,
especially by authority. [Latin abrogâre, abrogât- : ab-, away. See AB- +
rogâre, to ask.] . ab´ro·ga¹tion noun
acerbic: a·cer·bic (e-sûr¹bîk) also a·cerb (e-sûrb¹)
adjective Sour or bitter, as in taste, character, or tone: "At times,
the playwright allows an acerbic tone to pierce through otherwise arid or
flowery prose" (Alvin Klein). [From Latin acerbus.] . a·cer¹bi·cal·ly
acquiesce: ac·qui·esce (àk´wê-ès¹) verb,
intransitive ac·qui·esced, ac·qui·esc·ing, ac·qui·esc·es To consent or comply
passively or without protest. [Latin acquiêscere : ad-, ad- + quiêscere, to
rest (from quiês, rest).] Usage Note: When acquiesce takes a preposition, it
is usually used with in (acquiesced in the ruling) but sometimes with to
(acquiesced to her parents' wishes). Acquiesced with is obsolete.
acquit: ac·quit (e-kwît¹) verb, transitive ac·quit·ted,
ac·quit·ting, ac·quits 1. Law. To free or clear from a charge or accusation.
2. To release or discharge from a duty. 3. To conduct (oneself) in a
specified manner. 4. Obsolete. To repay. [Middle English aquiten, from Old
French aquiter : a-, to (from Latin ad-). AD- + quite, free, clear (from
Medieval Latin quittus, variant of Latin quiêtus, past participle of
quiêscere, to rest).] . ac·quit¹ter noun
adulterate: a·dul·ter·ate (e-dùl¹te-rât´) verb,
transitive a·dul·ter·at·ed, a·dul·ter·at·ing, a·dul·ter·ates To make impure
by adding extraneous, improper, or inferior ingredients. adjective (-ter-ît)
1. Spurious; adulterated. 2. Adulterous. [Latin adulterâre, adulterât-, to
pollute.] . a·dul´ter·a¹tion noun . a·dul¹ter·a´tor noun Synonyms:
adulterate, debase, doctor, load, sophisticate. The central meaning shared by
these verbs is "to make impure or inferior by adding foreign substances,
especially by way of fraudulently increasing weight or quantity":
adulterate coffee with ground acorns; silver debased with copper; doctored
the wine with water; rag paper loaded with wood fiber; alcohol sophisticated
ambidexter: am·bi·dex·ter·i·ty (àm´bî-dèk-stèr¹î-tê) noun 1. The state
or quality of being ambidextrous. 2. Deceit or hypocrisy.
annals: an·nals (àn¹elz) plural noun Abbr. ann. 1. A
chronological record of the events of successive years. 2. A descriptive
account or record; a history: "the short and simple annals of the
poor" (Thomas Gray). 3. A periodical journal in which the records and
reports of a learned field are compiled. [Latin (lìbrì) annâlês, yearly
(books), annals, pl. of annâlis, yearly, from annus, year.]
antipathy: an·tip·a·thy (àn-tîp¹e-thê) noun plural
an·tip·a·thies 1. A strong feeling of aversion or repugnance. 2. An object of
aversion. [Latin antipathìa, from Greek antipatheia, from antipathês, of
opposite feelings : anti-, anti- + pathos, feeling.]
aridity: ar·id (àr¹îd) adjective 1. Lacking moisture,
especially having insufficient rainfall to support trees or woody plants: an
arid climate. 2. Lacking interest or feeling; lifeless and dull: a
technically perfect but arid musical performance. [Latin âridus, from ârêre,
to be dry.] . a·rid¹i·ty (e-rîd¹î-tê) or ar¹id·ness noun
ascetic: as·cet·ic (e-sèt¹îk) noun A person who
renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline,
especially as an act of religious devotion. adjective 1. Leading a life of
self-discipline and self-denial, especially for spiritual improvement. 2.
Pertaining to or characteristic of an ascetic; self-denying and austere: an
ascetic existence. [Late Greek askêtikos, from Greek askêtês, practitioner,
hermit, monk, from askein, to work.] . as·cet¹i·cal·ly adverb
athwart: a·thwart (e-thwôrt¹) adverb 1. From side to
side; crosswise or transversely. 2. So as to thwart, obstruct, or oppose;
perversely. preposition 1. From one side to the other of; across: "the
Stars that shoot athwart the Night" (Alexander Pope). 2. Contrary to;
against. 3. Nautical. Across the course, line, or length of. [Middle English
: a-, on. See A-2 + thwert, across]
augury: au·gu·ry (ô¹gye-rê) noun plural au·gu·ries 1.
The art, ability, or practice of auguring; divination. 2. A sign of something
coming; an omen. [Middle English augurie, from Old French, from Latin
augurium, from augur, augur.]
austerity: aus·tere (ô-stîr¹) adjective aus·ter·er,
aus·ter·est 1. Severe or stern in disposition or appearance; somber and
grave: the austere figure of a Puritan minister. 2. Strict or severe in
discipline; ascetic: a desert nomad's austere life. 3. Having no adornment or
ornamentation; bare: an austere style. [Middle English, from Old French, from
Latin austêrus, from Greek austêros.] . aus·tere¹ly adverb . aus·tere¹ness
auxiliary: aux·il·ia·ry (ôg-zîl¹ye-rê, -zîl¹e-rê)
adjective Abbr. aux., auxil. 1. Giving assistance or support; helping. 2.
Acting as a subsidiary; supplementary: the main library and its auxiliary
branches. 3. Held in or used as a reserve: auxiliary troops; an auxiliary
power generator. 4. Nautical. Equipped with a motor as well as sails. 5.
Grammar. Of, relating to, or being an auxiliary verb. noun plural
aux·il·ia·ries Abbr. aux., auxil. 1. An individual or a group that assists or
functions in a supporting capacity: a volunteers' auxiliary at a hospital. 2.
A member of a foreign body of troops serving a country in war. 3. Grammar. An
auxiliary verb. 4. Nautical. a. A sailing vessel equipped with a motor. b. A
vessel, such as a supply ship or a tug, that is designed for and used in
instances and services other than combat. [Middle English, from Latin
auxiliârius, from auxilium, help.]
avaricious: av·a·rice (àv¹e-rîs) noun Immoderate
desire for wealth; cupidity. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin
avâritia, from avârus, greedy, from avêre, to desire.]
ballasted: bal·last (bàl¹est) noun 1. Heavy material
that is placed in the hold of a ship or the gondola of a balloon to enhance
stability. 2. a. Coarse gravel or crushed rock laid to form a bed for roads
or railroads. b. The gravel ingredient of concrete. 3. Something that gives
stability, especially in character. verb, transitive bal·last·ed,
bal·last·ing, bal·lasts 1. To stabilize or provide with ballast. 2. To fill
(a railroad bed) with or as if with ballast. [Perhaps from Old Swedish and or
Old Danish barlast : bar, mere, bare + last, load.]
ban: ban (bàn) verb, transitive banned, ban·ning, bans 1.
To prohibit, especially by official decree. See synonyms at FORBID. 2. South
African. To deprive (a person suspected of illegal activity) of the right of
free movement and association with others. 3. Archaic. To curse. noun 1. An
excommunication or condemnation by church officials. 2. A prohibition imposed
by law or official decree. 3. Censure, condemnation, or disapproval expressed
especially by public opinion. 4. A curse; an imprecation. 5. A summons to
arms in feudal times. [Middle English bannen, to summon, banish, curse, from
Old English bannan, to summon, and from Old Norse banna, to prohibit, curse.]
benediction: ben·e·dic·tion (bèn´î-dîk¹shen) noun
1. A blessing. 2. An invocation of divine blessing, usually at the end of a
church service. 3. Often Benediction. Roman Catholic Church. A short service
consisting of prayers, the singing of a Eucharistic hymn, and the blessing of
the congregation with the host. [Middle English benediccioun, from Old French
benedicion, from Latin benedictio, benediction-, from benedictus, past
participle of benedicere, to bless : bene, well + dìcere, to speak.] .
ben´e·dic¹tive or ben´e·dic¹to·ry (-dîk¹te-rê) adjective
bigoted: big·ot (bîg¹et) noun One who is strongly
partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of
those who differ. [French, from Old French.] Word History: A bigot may have
more in common with God than one might think. Legend has it that Rollo, the
first duke of Normandy, refused to kiss the foot of the French king Charles
III, uttering the phrase bi got, his borrowing of the assumed Old English
equivalent of our expression by God. Although this story is almost certainly
apocryphal, it is true that bigot was used by the French as a term of abuse
for the Normans, but not in a religious sense. Later, however, the word, or
very possibly a homonym, was used abusively in French for the Beguines,
members of a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood. From the 15th century on Old
French bigot meant "an excessively devoted or hypocritical person."
Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense "a
bluff: bluff (blùf) noun A steep headland, promontory,
riverbank, or cliff. adjective bluff·er, bluff·est 1. Rough and blunt but not
unkind in manner. 2. Having a broad, steep front. [Probably from obsolete
Dutch blaf and or Middle Low German blaff, broad.] . bluff¹ly adverb .
capacious: ca·pa·cious (ke-pâ¹shes) adjective Capable of
containing a large quantity; spacious or roomy. [From Latin capâx, capâc-,
from capere, to take.] . ca·pa¹cious·ly adverb . ca·pa¹cious·ness noun
capricious: ca·pri·cious (ke-prîsh¹es, -prê¹shes)
adjective Characterized by or subject to whim; impulsive and unpredictable. .
ca·pri¹cious·ly adverb . ca·pri¹cious·ness noun
castigation: cas·ti·gate (kàs¹tî-gât´) verb,
transitive cas·ti·gat·ed, cas·ti·gat·ing, cas·ti·gates 1. To inflict severe
punishment on. 2. To criticize severely. [Latin castìgâre, castìgât-, from
castus, pure.] . cas´ti·ga¹tion noun . cas¹ti·ga´tor noun
casuist: ca·su·ist·ry (kàzh¹¡-î-strê) noun plural
ca·sui·ist·ries 1. Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to
rationalize or mislead. 2. The determination of right and wrong in questions
of conduct or conscience by the application of general principles of ethics.
celerity: ce·ler·i·ty (se-lèr¹î-tê) noun Swiftness of
action or motion; speed. [French célérité, from Old French, from Latin
celeritâs, from celer, swift.]
chafed: chafe (châf) verb chafed, chaf·ing, chafes verb,
transitive 1. To wear away or irritate by rubbing. 2. To annoy; vex. 3. To
warm by rubbing, as with the hands. verb, intransitive 1. To rub and cause
irritation or friction: The high collar chafed against my neck. 2. To become
worn or sore from rubbing. 3. To feel irritated or impatient: chafed at the
delay. noun 1. Warmth, wear, or soreness produced by friction. 2. Annoyance;
vexation. [Middle English chafen, from Old French chaufer, to warm, from
Vulgar Latin *calefâre, alteration of Latin calefacere : calêre, to be warm +
facere, to make.] Synonyms: chafe, abrade, excoriate, fret, gall. The central
meaning shared by these verbs is "to wear down or rub away a surface by
or as if by scraping": chafed my skin; a swift stream abrading boulders;
an excoriated elbow; rope that fretted a groove in the post; his heel galled
by an ill-fitting shoe.
chevalier: chev·a·lier (shèv´e-lîr¹) noun 1. A
member of certain male orders of knighthood or merit, such as the Legion of
Honor in France. 2. a. A French nobleman of the lowest rank. b. Used as a
title for such a nobleman. 3. A knight. 4. A chivalrous man. [Middle English
chevaler, from Old French chevalier, from Late Latin caballârius, horseman,
from caballus, horse.]
(sûr´kem-àm¹bê-ent) adjective Encompassing on all sides; surrounding. .
cir´cum·am¹bi·ence or cir´cum·am¹bi·en·cy noun . cir´cum·am¹bi·ent·ly adverb
coadjutor: co·ad·ju·tor (ko´e-j¡¹ter, ko-àj¹e-ter)
noun 1. A coworker; an assistant. 2. An assistant to a bishop, especially one
designated to succeed the bishop. [Middle English coadjutour, assistant, from
Latin coadiútor : co-, co- + adiútor, assistant (from adiútâre, to aid).]
colloquy: col·lo·quy (kòl¹e-kwê) noun plural
col·lo·quies 1. A conversation, especially a formal one. 2. A written
dialogue. [From Latin colloquium, conversation.]
contumelious: con·tu·me·ly (kòn¹t¡-me-lê, -ty¡-,
-tem-lê) noun plural con·tu·me·lies 1. Rudeness or contempt arising from
arrogance; insolence. 2. An insolent or arrogant remark or act. [Middle
English contumelie, from Old French, from Latin contumêlia; akin to contumâx,
insolent.] . con´tu·me¹li·ous (kòn´te-mê¹lê-es) adjective .
countenance: coun·te·nance (koun¹te-nens) noun 1.
Appearance, especially the expression of the face. 2. The face or facial
features. 3. a. A look or expression indicative of encouragement or of moral
support. b. Support or approval. 4. Obsolete. Bearing; demeanor. verb,
transitive coun·te·nanced, coun·te·nanc·ing, coun·te·nanc·es To give or
express approval to; condone: The college administration will not countenance
cheating. [Middle English contenaunce, from Old French, from contenir, to
behave.] . coun¹te·nanc·er noun
cynic: cyn·ic (sîn¹îk) noun 1. A person who believes all
people are motivated by selfishness. 2. Cynic. A member of a sect of ancient
Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control
to be the only means of achieving virtue. adjective 1. Cynical. 2. Cynic. Of
or relating to the Cynics or their beliefs. [Latin cynicus, Cynic
philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from kuon, kun-, dog.] Word History: A cynic
may be pardoned for thinking that this is a dog's life. The Greek word
kunikos, from which cynic comes, was originally an adjective meaning
"doglike," from kuon, "dog." The word was most likely
applied to the Cynic philosophers because of the nickname kuon given to
Diogenes of Sinope, the prototypical Cynic. He is said to have performed such
actions as barking in public, urinating on the leg of a table, and
masturbating on the street. The first use of the w ord recorded in English,
in a work published from 1547 to 1564, is in the plural for members of this
philosophical sect. In 1596 we find the first instance of cynic meaning
"faultfinder," a sense that was to develop into our modern sense.
The meaning "faultfinder" came naturally from the behavior of
countless Cynics who in their pursuit of virtue pointed out the flaws in
others. Such faultfinding could lead quite naturally to the belief associated
with cynics of today that selfishness determines human behavior.
cynosure: cy·no·sure (sì¹ne-sh¢r´, sîn¹e-) noun 1. An
object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration. 2. Something
that serves to guide. [French, Ursa Minor (which contains the guiding star
Polaris), from Latin cynosúra, from Greek kunosoura, dog's tail, Ursa Minor :
kuon, kun-, dog + oura, tail.] . cy´no·sur¹al adjective
decamped: de·camp (dî-kàmp¹) verb, intransitive
de·camped, de·camp·ing, de·camps 1. To depart secretly or suddenly. 2. To
depart from a camp or camping ground. [French décamper, from Old French
descamper, to strike camp : des-, de- + camper, to camp (from camp, camp] .
decoction: de·coct (dî-kòkt¹) verb, transitive
de·coct·ed, de·coct·ing, de·cocts 1. To extract the flavor of by boiling. 2.
To make concentrated; boil down. [Middle English decocten, to boil, from
Latin dêcoquere, dêcoct-, to boil down or away : dê-, de- + coquere, to boil,
to cook.] . de·coc¹tion noun
deferred: de·fer (dî-fûr¹) verb de·ferred, de·fer·ring,
de·fers verb, transitive 1. To put off; postpone. 2. To postpone the
induction of (one eligible for the military draft). verb, intransitive To
procrastinate. [Middle English differren, to postpone, differ.] .
de·fer¹ra·ble adjective . de·fer¹rer noun Synonyms: defer, postpone, shelve,
stay, suspend. The central meaning shared by these verbs is "to put off
until a later time": deferred paying the bills; postponing our trip;
shelved the issue; stay an execution; suspending train service.
Delphic: Del·phic (dèl¹fîk) also Del·phi·an (-fê-en)
adjective 1. Greek Mythology. Of or relating to Delphi or to the oracle of
Apollo at Delphi. 2. Obscurely prophetic; oracular: made a great deal of
Delphic pronouncements. . Del¹phi·cal·ly adverb
demur: de·mur (dî-mûr¹) verb, intransitive de·murred,
de·mur·ring, de·murs 1. To voice opposition; object: demurred at the
suggestion. 2. Law. To enter a demurrer. 3. To delay. noun 1. The act of
demurring. 2. An objection. 3. A delay. [Middle English demuren, to delay,
from Anglo-Norman demurer, from Latin dêmorârì : dê-, de- + morârì, to delay
(from mora, delay).] . de·mur¹ra·ble adjective
dereliction: der·e·lict (dèr¹e-lîkt´) adjective 1.
Deserted by an owner or keeper; abandoned. 2. Run-down; dilapidated. 3.
Neglectful of duty or obligation; remiss. noun 1. Abandoned property,
especially a ship abandoned at sea. 2. A homeless or jobless person; a
vagrant. 3. Law. Land left dry by a permanent recession of the water line.
[Latin dêrelictus, past participle of dêrelinquere, to abandon : dê-, de- +
relinquere, to leave behind.]
digression: di·gress (dì-grès¹, dî-) verb,
intransitive di·gressed, di·gress·ing, di·gress·es To turn aside, especially
from the main subject in writing or speaking; stray. [Latin dìgredì, dìgress-
: dì-, dis-, apart.]
discomfit: dis·com·fit (dîs-kùm¹fît) verb, transitive dis·com·fit·ed,
dis·com·fit·ing, dis·com·fits 1. To make uneasy or perplexed; disconcert. 2.
To thwart the plans of; frustrate. 3. Archaic. To defeat in battle; vanquish.
noun Discomfiture. [Middle English discomfiten, from Old French desconfit,
past participle of desconfire, descumfire, to defeat : des-, dis- + confire,
to make (from Latin conficere, to prepare).] Usage Note: It is true that
discomfit originally meant "to defeat, frustrate," and that its
newer use meaning "to embarrass, disconcert," probably arose in
part through confusion with discomfort. But the newer sense is now the most
common use of the verb in all varieties of writing and should be considered
disdain: dis·dain (dîs-dân¹) verb, transitive
dis·dained, dis·dain·ing, dis·dains 1. To regard or treat with haughty
contempt; despise. 2. To consider or reject as beneath oneself. noun A
feeling or show of contempt and aloofness; scorn. [Middle English disdeinen,
from Old French desdeignier, from Vulgar Latin *disdignâre, from Latin
dêdignârì : dê-, de- + dignârì, to deem worthy (from dignus, worthy).]
dissemble: dis·sem·ble (dî-sèm¹bel) verb
dis·sem·bled, dis·sem·bling, dis·sem·bles verb, transitive 1. To disguise or
conceal behind a false appearance. 2. To make a false show of; feign. verb,
intransitive To disguise or conceal one's real nature, motives, or feelings
behind a false appearance. [Middle English dissemblen, from Old French
dessembler, to be different : des-, dis- + sembler, to appear, seem.] .
dis·sem¹blance noun . dis·sem¹bler noun . dis·sem¹bling·ly adverb
dubieties: du·bi·e·ty (d¡-bì¹î-tê, dy¡-) noun plural
du·bi·e·ties 1. A feeling of doubt that often results in wavering. 2. A
matter of doubt. [Late Latin dubietâs, from Latin dubius, doubtful. See
dubious: du·bi·ous (d¡¹bê-es, dy¡¹-) adjective 1.
Fraught with uncertainty or doubt; undecided. 2. Arousing doubt; doubtful: a
dubious distinction. 3. Of questionable character: dubious profits. [From
Latin dubius.] . du¹bi·ous·ly adverb . du¹bi·ous·ness noun
effacement: ef·face (î-fâs¹) verb, transitive ef·faced,
ef·fac·ing, ef·fac·es 1. To rub or wipe out; erase. 2. To make indistinct as
if by rubbing: "Five years' absence had done nothing to efface the
people's memory of his firmness" (Alan Moorehead). 3. To conduct
(oneself) inconspicuously: "When the two women went out together, Anna
deliberately effaced herself and played to the dramatic Molly" (Doris
Lessing). [Middle English effacen, from French effacer, from Old French
esfacier : es-, out (from Latin ex-, ex-) + face, face (from Latin faciês).]
. ef·face¹a·ble adjective . ef·face¹ment noun . ef·fac¹er noun
ejaculated: e·jac·u·late (î-jàk¹ye-lât´) verb
e·jac·u·lat·ed, e·jac·u·lat·ing, e·jac·u·lates verb, transitive To utter
suddenly and passionately; exclaim. verb, intransitive [Latin êiaculârì,
êiaculât- : ê-, ex-, ex- + iaculârì, to throw (from iaculum, dart).] .
emissary: em·is·sar·y (èm¹î-sèr´ê) noun plural
em·is·sar·ies An agent sent on a mission to represent or advance the
interests of another. [Latin êmissârius, from êmissus, past participle of
êmittere, to send out.]
enervate: en·er·vate (èn¹er-vât´) verb, transitive en·er·vat·ed,
en·er·vat·ing, en·er·vates 1. To weaken or destroy the strength or vitality
of: "the luxury which enervates and destroys nations" (Henry David
Thoreau). 2. Medicine. To remove a nerve or part of a nerve. adjective (î-nûr¹vît)
Deprived of strength; debilitated. [Latin ênervâre, ênervât- : ê-, ex-, ex- +
nervus, sinew.] . en´er·va¹tion noun . en¹er·va´tive adjective . en¹er·va´tor
epithet: ep·i·thet (èp¹e-thèt´) noun 1. a. A term used
to characterize a person or thing, such as rosy-fingered in rosy-fingered
dawn or the Great in Catherine the Great. b. A term used as a descriptive
substitute for the name or title of a person, such as The Great Emancipator
for Abraham Lincoln. 2. An abusive or contemptuous word or phrase. [Latin
epitheton, from Greek, neuter of epithetos, added, attributed, from
epitithenai, to add to : epi-, epi- + tithenai, to place.] . ep´i·thet¹ic or
ep´i·thet¹i·cal adjective Usage Note: Strictly speaking, an epithet need not
be derogatory, but the term is commonly used as a simple synonym for
"term of abuse" or "slur," as in the sentence There is no
place for racial epithets in a police officer's vocabulary. This usage is
accepted by 80 percent of the Usage Panel.
equivocal: e·quiv·o·cal (î-kwîv¹e-kel) adjective 1.
Open to two or more interpretations and often intended to mislead; ambiguous.
2. Of uncertain significance. 3. Of a doubtful or uncertain nature. [From
Late Latin aequivocus : Latin aequi-, equi- + Latin vox, voc-, voice.] .
e·quiv´o·cal¹i·ty (-kàl¹î-tê) or e·quiv¹o·cal·ness noun . e·quiv¹o·cal·ly
euthanasia: eu·tha·na·sia (y¡´the-nâ¹zhe, -zhê-e)
noun The act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a
terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the
suspension of extraordinary medical treatment. [Greek, a good death : eu-,
eu- + thanatos, death.]
evanescent: ev·a·nes·cent (èv´e-nès¹ent) adjective
Vanishing or likely to vanish like vapor.. ev´a·nes¹cent·ly adverb
evince: e·vince (î-vîns¹) verb, transitive e·vinced,
e·vinc·ing, e·vinc·es To show or demonstrate clearly; manifest: evince
distaste by grimacing. [Latin êvincere, to prevail, prove.] . e·vinc¹i·ble
unfeigned: feign (fân) verb feigned, feign·ing, feigns
verb, transitive 1. a. To give a false appearance of: feign sleep. b. To
represent falsely; pretend to: feign authorship of a novel. 2. To imitate so
as to deceive: feign another's voice. 3. To fabricate: feigned an excuse. 4.
Archaic. To invent or imagine. verb, intransitive To pretend; dissemble.
[Middle English feinen, from Old French feindre, from Latin fingere, to
fervid: fer·vid (fûr¹vîd) adjective 1. Marked by great
passion or zeal: a fervid patriot. 2. Extremely hot; burning. [Latin
fervidus, from fervêre, to boil.] . fer¹vid·ly adverb . fer¹vid·ness noun
finesse: fi·nesse (fe-nès¹) noun 1. Refinement and
delicacy of performance, execution, or artisanship. 2. Skillful, subtle
handling of a situation; tactful, diplomatic maneuvering. 3. A stratagem in
which one appears to decline an advantage. verb fi·nessed, fi·ness·ing,
fi·ness·es verb, transitive 1. To accomplish by the use of finesse. 2. To
handle with a deceptive or evasive strategy. [French, fineness, subtlety,
from fin, fine.]
finial: fin·i·al (fîn¹ê-el) noun 1. Architecture. An
ornament fixed to the peak of an arch or arched structure. 2. An ornamental
terminating part, such as the screw on top of a lampshade. [Middle English,
last, finial, variant of final.]
foment: fo·ment (fo-mènt¹) verb, transitive fo·ment·ed,
fo·ment·ing, fo·ments 1. To promote the growth of; incite. 2. To treat (the
skin, for example) by fomentation. [Middle English fomenten, to apply warm
liquids to the skin, from Old French fomenter, from Late Latin fomentâre,
from Latin fomentum, from *fovementum, from fovêre, to warm.] . fo·ment¹er
forebear: for·bear (fôr-bâr¹) verb for·bore (-bôr¹,
-bor¹) for·borne (-bôrn¹, -born¹) for·bear·ing, for·bears verb, transitive 1.
To refrain from; resist: forbear replying. 2. To desist from; cease. 3.
Obsolete. To avoid or shun. verb, intransitive 1. To hold back; refrain. 2.
To be tolerant or patient in the face of provocation. [Middle English
forberen, from Old English forberan, to endure.] . for·bear¹er noun
frank: frank (fràngk) adjective frank·er, frank·est 1.
Open and sincere in expression; straightforward. 2. Clearly manifest;
evident: frank enjoyment. Synonyms: frank, candid, outspoken,
straightforward, open. These adjectives mean revealing or disposed to reveal
one's thoughts freely and honestly. Frank implies forthrightness of
expression, sometimes to the point of bluntness: You can tell me what you
think, and you may just as well be frank. Candid stresses openness and
sincerity and often suggests refusal to evade difficult or unpleasant issues:
"Save, save, oh save me from the candid friend!" (George Canning).
Outspoken usually implies bold lack of reserve: It is possible to be
outspoken without being rude. Straightforward denotes directness of manner
and expression: "George was a straightforward soul . . . 'See here!' he
said. 'Are you engaged to anybody?'" (Booth Tarkington). Open suggests
freedom from all trace of reserve or secretiveness: "I will be open and
sincere with you" (Joseph Addison).
freshet: fresh·et (frèsh¹ît) noun 1. A sudden overflow
of a stream resulting from a heavy rain or a thaw. 2. A stream of fresh water
that empties into a body of salt water.
functionary: func·tion·ar·y (fùngk¹she-nèr´ê) noun
plural func·tion·ar·ies One who holds an office or a trust or performs a
particular function; an official.
fustian: fus·tian (fùs¹chen) noun 1. a. A coarse,
sturdy cloth made of cotton and flax. b. Any of several thick, twilled cotton
fabrics, such as corduroy, having a short nap. 2. Pretentious speech or
writing; pompous language. adjective 1. Made of or as if of fustian:
"[He] disliked the heavy, fustian . . . and brocaded decor of Soviet
officialdom" (Frederick Forsyth). 2. Pompous, bombastic, and ranting:
"Yossarian was unmoved by the fustian charade of the burial
ceremony" (Joseph Heller). [Middle English, from Old French fustaigne,
from Medieval Latin fustâneum, possibly from Latin fústis, wooden stick, club
(loan translation of Greek xulina (lina), wood-linen, cotton) and or from El
Fostat (El Fustat), a section of Cairo, Egypt.]
gelid: gel·id (jèl¹îd) adjective Very cold; icy: gelid
ocean waters. [Latin gelidus, from gelú, frost.] . ge·lid¹i·ty (je-lîd¹î-tê)
or gel¹id·ness noun . gel¹id·ly adverb
gravel: grav·el verb, transitive grav·eled or
grav·elled grav·el·ing or grav·el·ling grav·els or grav·els 1. To apply a
surface of rock fragments or pebbles to. 2. To confuse; perplex. 3. Informal.
To irritate. [Middle English, from Old French gravele, diminutive of grave,
pebbly shore, of Celtic origin.]
heinous: hei·nous (hâ¹nes) adjective Grossly wicked or
reprehensible; abominable: a heinous crime. [Middle English, from Old French
haineus, from haine, hatred, from hair, to hate, from Frankish *hatjan.] .
hei¹nous·ly adverb . hei¹nous·ness noun
homage: hom·age (hòm¹îj, òm¹-) noun 1. Ceremonial
acknowledgment by a vassal of allegiance to his lord under feudal law. 2.
Special honor or respect shown or expressed publicly. [Middle English, from
Old French, probably from omne, homme, man, from Latin homo, homin-.]
huzzah: huz·zah also huz·za (he-zä¹) interjection Used
to express joy, encouragement, or triumph. noun 1. A shout of
"huzzah." 2. A cheer. [Perhaps variant of Middle English hisse,
iconoclast: i·con·o·clast (ì-kòn¹e-klàst´) noun 1.
One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or
institutions. 2. One who destroys sacred religious images. [French
iconoclaste, from Medieval Greek eikonoklastês, smasher of religious images :
Greek eikono-, icono- + -klastês, breaker (from Greek klan, klas-, to
break).] . i·con´o·clas¹tic adjective . i·con´o·clas¹ti·cal·ly adverb Word
History: An iconoclast can be unpleasant company, but at least the modern
iconoclast only attacks such things as ideas and institutions. The original
iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art. Eikonoklastês, the ancestor of
our word, was first formed in Medieval Greek from the elements eikon,
"image, likeness," and -klastês, "breaker," from klan,
"to break." The images referred to by the word are religious images,
which were the subject of controversy among Christians of the Byzantine
Empire in the 8th and 9th centuries, when iconoclasm was at its height. Those
who opposed images did not, of course, simply destroy them, although many
were demolished; they also attempted to have the images barred from display
and veneration. During the Protestant Reformation images in churches were
again felt to be idolatrous and were once more banned and destroyed. It is
around this time that iconoclast, the descendant of the Greek word, is first
recorded in English (1641), with reference to the Greek iconoclasts. In the
19th century iconoclast took on the secular sense that it has today, as in
"Kant was the great iconoclast" (James Martineau).
ignominious: ig·no·min·i·ous (îg´ne-mîn¹ê-es)
adjective 1. Marked by shame or disgrace: "It was an ignominious end. .
. . as a desperate mutiny by a handful of soldiers blossomed into full-scale
revolt" (Angus Deming). 2. Deserving disgrace or shame; despicable. 3.
Degrading; debasing: "The young people huddled with their sodden gritty
towels and ignominious goosebumps inside the gray-shingled bathhouse"
(John Updike). . ig´no·min¹i·ous·ly adverb . ig´no·min¹i·ous·ness noun
immure: im·mure (î-my¢r¹) verb, transitive im·mured,
im·mur·ing, im·mures 1. To confine within or as if within walls; imprison. 2.
To build into a wall: immure a shrine. 3. To entomb in a wall. [Medieval
Latin immúrâre : Latin in-, in.] . im·mure¹ment noun
imperial: im·pe·ri·al (îm-pîr¹ê-el) adjective 1. Of,
relating to, or suggestive of an empire or a sovereign, especially an emperor
or empress: imperial rule; the imperial palace. 2. Ruling over extensive
territories or over colonies or dependencies: imperial nations. 3. a. Having
supreme authority; sovereign. b. Regal; majestic. 4. Outstanding in size or
quality. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin imperiâlis, from
imperium, command.] . im·pe¹ri·al·ly adverb
impetuous: im·pet·u·ous (îm-pèch¹¡-es) adjective 1.
Characterized by sudden and forceful energy or emotion; impulsive and
passionate. 2. Having or marked by violent force: impetuous, heaving waves.
[Middle English, violent, from Old French impetueux, from Late Latin
impetuosus, from Latin impetus, impetus.] . im·pet¹u·ous·ly adverb .
im·pet¹u·ous·ness noun Synonyms: impetuous, heedless, hasty, headlong,
precipitate, sudden. These adjectives describe people and their actions when
they are marked by abruptness or lack of deliberation. Impetuous suggests
forceful impulsiveness or impatience: "[a race driver who was]
flamboyant, impetuous, disdainful of death" (Jim Murray). Heedless
implies carelessness or lack of a sense of responsibility or proper regard
for consequences: "Hobbling down stairs with heedless haste, I set my
foot full in a pail of water" (Richard Steele). Hasty and headlong both
stress hurried, often reckless action: "Hasty marriage seldom proveth
well" (Shakespeare). The soldiers made a headlong rush for cover.
Precipitate suggests impulsiveness and lack of due reflection: "Some of
the fickle populace began to doubt whether they had not been rather
precipitate in deposing his brother" (Washington Irving). Sudden applies
to what becomes apparent abruptly or unexpectedly: The patient is given to
sudden and inexplicable paroxysms of anger.
impale: im·pale (îm-pâl¹) also em·pale (èm-) verb,
transitive im·paled, im·pal·ing, im·pales 1. a. To pierce with a sharp stake
or point. b. To torture or kill by impaling. 2. To render helpless as if by
impaling. [Medieval Latin impâlâre : Latin in-, in.] . im·pale¹ment noun .
impress: im·press (îm-près¹) verb, transitive
im·pressed, im·press·ing, im·press·es 1. To compel (a person) to serve in a
military force. 2. To seize (property) by force or authority; confiscate.
noun (îm¹près) Impressment. [influenced by IMPREST, advance on a soldier's
incipient: in·cip·i·ent (în-sîp¹ê-ent) adjective
Beginning to exist or appear: detecting incipient tumors; an incipient
personnel problem. [Latin incipiêns, incipient-, present participle of
incipere, to begin.] . in·cip¹i·en·cy or in·cip¹i·ence noun . in·cip¹i·ent·ly
incumbent: in·cum·bent (în-kùm¹bent) adjective 1.
Imposed as an obligation or a duty; obligatory: felt it was incumbent on us
all to help. 2. Lying, leaning, or resting on something else: incumbent rock
strata. 3. Currently holding a specified office: the incumbent mayor. [Middle
English, holder of an office, from Medieval Latin incumbêns, incumbent-, from
Latin, present participle of incumbere, to lean upon, apply oneself to : in-,
o] . in·cum¹bent·ly adverb
ineffable: in·ef·fa·ble (în-èf¹e-bel) adjective 1.
Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. 2. Not to be
uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of the Deity. [Middle English, from Old
French, from Latin ineffâbilis : in-, not. IN-1 + effâbilis, utterable (from
effârì, to utter : ex-, ex- + fârì, to speak).] . in·ef´fa·bil¹i·ty or
in·ef¹fa·ble·ness noun . in·ef¹fa·bly adverb
ineffectual: in·ef·fec·tu·al (în´î-fèk¹ch¡-el)
adjective 1. a. Insufficient to produce a desired effect: an ineffectual
effort to block the legislation. b. Useless; worthless: an ineffectual
treatment for cancer. 2. Lacking forcefulness or effectiveness; weak: an
ineffectual ruler. . in´ef·fec´tu·al¹i·ty (-àl¹î-tê) or in´ef·fec¹tu·al·ness
noun . in´ef·fec¹tu·al·ly adverb
inimical: in·im·i·cal (î-nîm¹î-kel) adjective 1.
Injurious or harmful in effect; adverse: habits inimical to good health. 2.
Unfriendly; hostile: a cold, inimical voice. [Late Latin inimìcâlis, from
Latin inimìcus, enemy.] . in·imi·cal·ly adverb
injunction: in·junc·tion (în-jùngk¹shen) noun 1.
The act or an instance of enjoining; a command, a directive, or an order. 2.
Law. A court order prohibiting a party from a specific course of action.
[Middle English injunccion, from Late Latin iniúnctio, iniúnction-, from
Latin iniúnctus, past participle of iniungere, to enjoin : in-, in.] .
insinuate: in·sin·u·ate (în-sîn¹y¡-ât´) verb
in·sin·u·at·ed, in·sin·u·at·ing, in·sin·u·ates verb, transitive 1. To
introduce or otherwise convey (a thought, for example) gradually and
insidiously. 2. To introduce or insert (oneself) by subtle and artful means.
[Latin ìnsinuâre] . in·sin¹u·a´tive adjective . in·sin¹u·a´tor noun .
in·sin¹u·a·tor´y (-y¡-e-tôr´ê, -tor´ê) adjective
insolvent: in·sol·vent (în-sòl¹vent) adjective 1. a.
Unable to meet debts or discharge liabilities; bankrupt. b. Insufficient to
meet all debts, as an estate or a fund. 2. Of or relating to bankrupt persons
insignia: in·sig·ni·a (în-sîg¹nê-e) also in·sig·ne
(-nê) noun plural insignia or in·sig·ni·as 1. A badge of office, rank,
membership, or nationality; an emblem. 2. A distinguishing sign. [Latin
ìnsignia, pl. of ìnsigne, badge of office, mark, from neuter of ìnsignis,
distinguished, marked : in-, in.] Usage Note: Insignia in Latin is the plural
form of insigne, but it has long been used in English as both a singular and
a plural form: The insignia was visible on the wingtip. There are five
insignia on various parts of the plane. From the singular use of insignia
comes the plural insignias, which is also common in reputable writing. The
Latin singular insigne is rare and may strike some readers as pedantic.
interloper: in·ter·lop·er (în¹ter-lo´per) noun 1.
One that interferes with the affairs of others, often for selfish reasons; a
meddler. 2. Archaic. a. One that trespasses on a trade monopoly, as by
conducting unauthorized trade in an area designated to a chartered company.
b. A ship or other vessel used in such trade. [INTER- + probably Middle Dutch
loper, runner (from loopen, to run).] . in¹ter·lope´ verb Word History: The word
interloper comes to us from the days when England was embarking on the course
that would lead to the British Empire. Interloper, first recorded in
connection with the Muscovy Company, which was the earliest major English
trading company (chartered in 1555), was soon being used as well in regard to
the East India Company (chartered in 1600). Since these companies were
monopolies, independent traders called interlopers were not wanted. The term
is probably partly derived from Dutch, the language of one of the great trade
rivals of the English at that time. The inter- is simply a use of the prefix
inter-, which English has borrowed from Latin, meaning "between,
among." The element -loper is probably related to the same element in
landloper, "vagabond," a word adopted from Dutch landlooper, with
the same sense and composed of land, "land," and loper, from lopen,
"to run, leap." The word interloper, first recorded around 1590,
was too useful in a world of busybodies to be restricted to its original
specialized sense and came to be used in the extended sense
"busybody" in the 17th century.
intrigue: in·trigue (în¹trêg´, în-trêg¹) noun 1. a. A
secret or underhand scheme; a plot. b. The practice of or involvement in such
schemes. 2. A clandestine love affair. verb in·trigued, in·trigu·ing,
in·trigues (în-trêg¹) verb, intransitive To engage in secret or underhand
schemes; plot. verb, transitive 1. To effect by secret scheming or plotting.
2. To arouse the interest or curiosity of: Hibernation has long intrigued
biologists. [Probably from French intriguer, to plot, from Italian intrigare,
to plot, from Latin intrìcâre, to entangle.] . in·trigu¹er noun .
in¹trigu´ing·ly adverb Usage Note: The introduction of the verb intrigue to
mean "to arouse the interest or curiosity of" was initially
resisted by writers on usage as an unneeded French substitute for available
English words such as interest, fascinate, or puzzle, but it now appears to
be well established. Seventy- eight percent of the Usage Panel accepts it in
the sentence The special- quota idea intrigues some legislators, who have
asked a Washington think tank to evaluate it, whereas only 52 percent
accepted it in a 1968 survey.
invidious: in·vid·i·ous (în-vîd¹ê-es) adjective 1.
Tending to rouse ill will, animosity, or resentment: invidious accusations.
2. Containing or implying a slight; discriminatory: invidious distinctions.
3. Envious. [From Latin invidiosus, envious, hostile, from invidia, envy.] .
in·vid¹i·ous·ly adverb . in·vid i·ous·ness noun
irascible: i·ras·ci·ble (î-ràs¹e-bel, ì-ràs¹-)
adjective 1. Prone to outbursts of temper; easily angered. 2. Characterized
by or resulting from anger. [Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin
ìrâscibilis, from Latin ìrâscì, to be angry, from ìra, anger.] .
i·ras´ci·bil¹i·ty or i·ras¹ci·ble·ness noun . i·ras¹ci·bly adverb
judicious: ju·di·cious (j¡-dîsh¹es) adjective Having
or exhibiting sound judgment; prudent. [From French judicieux, from Latin
iúdicium, judgment, from iúdex, iúdic-, judge.] . ju·di¹cious·ly adverb .
jugglery: jug·gler·y (jùg¹le-rê) noun plural
jug·gler·ies 1. The skill or performance of a juggler. 2. Trickery;
juxtapose: jux·ta·pose (jùk´ste-poz¹) verb,
transitive jux·ta·posed, jux·ta·pos·ing, jux·ta·pos·es To place side by side,
especially for comparison or contrast. [French juxtaposer : Latin iuxtâ,
close by + French poser, to place (from Old French).]
lodgment: lodg·ment also lodge·ment (lòj¹ment) noun
1. a. The act of lodging. b. The state of being lodged. 2. A place for
lodging. 3. An accumulation or a deposit. 4. A foothold or beachhead gained
by troops in enemy or neutral territory.
magnanimous: mag·nan·i·mous (màg-nàn¹e-mes)
adjective 1. Courageously noble in mind and heart. 2. Generous in forgiving;
eschewing resentment or revenge; unselfish. [From Latin magnanimus : magnus,
great + animus, soul, mind.] . mag·nan¹i·mous·ly adverb . mag·nan¹i·mous·ness
malignity: ma·lig·ni·ty (me-lîg¹nî-tê) noun plural
ma·lig·ni·ties 1. a. Intense ill will or hatred; great malice. b. An act or a
feeling of great malice. 2. The condition or quality of being highly
dangerous or injurious; deadliness.
marplot: mar·plot (mär¹plòt´) noun A stupid, officious
meddler whose interference compromises the success of an undertaking. [After
Marplot, a character in The Busy Body, a play by Susannah Centlivre
martial: mar·tial (mär¹shel) adjective 1. Of, relating
to, or suggestive of war. 2. Relating to or connected with the armed forces
or the profession of arms. 3. Characteristic of or befitting a warrior.
[Middle English, from Latin Mârtiâlis, from Mârs, Mârt-, Mars.] .
mar¹tial·ism noun . mar¹tial·ist noun . mar¹tial·ly adverb
martinet: mar·ti·net (mär´tn-èt¹) noun 1. A rigid
military disciplinarian. 2. One who demands absolute adherence to forms and
rules. [After Jean Martinet (died 1672), French army officer.]
mercenary: mer·ce·nar·y (mûr¹se-nèr´ê) adjective 1.
Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain. 2. Hired for
service in a foreign army. noun plural mer·ce·nar·ies 1. One who serves or
works merely for monetary gain; a hireling. 2. A professional soldier hired
for service in a foreign army. [Middle English mercenarie, a mercenary, from
Old French mercenaire, from Latin mercênârius, from mercês, wages, price.] .
mer´ce·nar¹i·ly adverb . mer¹ce·nar´i·ness noun
mesmerically: mes·mer·ize (mèz¹me-rìz´, mès¹-) verb,
transitive mes·mer·ized, mes·mer·iz·ing, mes·mer·iz·es 1. To spellbind; enthrall:
"He could mesmerize an audience by the sheer force of his presence"
(Justin Kaplan). 2. To hypnotize. . mes´mer·i·za¹tion (-mer-î-zâ¹shen) noun .
mitigate: mit·i·gate (mît¹îgât´) verb mit·i·gat·ed,
mit·i·gat·ing, mit·i·gates verb, transitive To moderate (a quality or
condition) in force or intensity; alleviate. verb, intransitive To become
milder. [Middle English mitigaten, from Latin mìtigâre, mìtigât- : mìtis,
soft + agere, to drive, do. See ACT.] . mit¹i·ga·ble (-ge-bel) adjective .
mit´i·ga¹tion noun . mit¹i·ga´tive or mit¹i·ga·to´ry (-ge-tôr´ê, -tor´ê)
adjective . mit¹i·ga´tor noun
monomania: mon·o·ma·ni·a (mòn´e-mâ¹nê-e, -mân¹ye) noun 1.
Pathological obsession with one idea or subject, as in paranoia. 2. Intent
concentration on or exaggerated enthusiasm for a single subject or idea. .
mon´o·ma¹ni·ac´ (-mâ¹nê-àk´) noun . mon´o·ma·ni¹a·cal (-me-nì¹e-kel)
adjective . mon´o·ma·ni¹a·cal·ly adverb
nonage: non·age (nòn¹îj, no¹nîj) noun 1. The period
during which one is legally underage. 2. A period of immaturity: "The
bravest achievements were always accomplished in the nonage of a nation"
(Thomas Paine). [Middle English nounage, from Anglo-Norman, variant of Old
French nonaage : non-, non- + aage, age.]
nonplus: non·plus (nòn-plùs¹) verb, transitive
non·plused also non·plussed non·plus·ing non·plus·sing non·plus·es
non·plus·ses To put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; bewilder. noun
A state of perplexity, confusion, or bewilderment. [From Latin non plús, no
more : non, not.]
pa·ren·the·sis (pe-rèn¹thî-sîs) noun
plural par·en·the·ses (-sêz´) Abbr. par., paren. 1. Either or both of the
upright curved lines, ( or ), used to mark off explanatory or qualifying remarks
in writing or printing or enclose a sum, product, or other expression considered
or treated as a collective entity in a mathematical operation. 2. a.
A qualifying or amplifying word, phrase, or sentence inserted within written
matter in such a way as to be independent of the surrounding grammatical
structure. b. A comment departing from the theme of discourse; a digression.
3. An interruption of continuity; an interval: "This is one of
the things I wasn't prepared for. the amount of unfilled time, the long
parentheses of nothing" (Margaret Atwood). [Late Latin, insertion of a
letter or syllable in a word, from Greek, from parentithenai, to insert :
parley: par·ley (pär¹lê) noun plural par·leys A
discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of truce
or other matters. verb, intransitive par·leyed, par·ley·ing, par·leys To have
a discussion, especially with an enemy. [Middle English, from Old French
parlee, from feminine past participle of parler, to talk, from Vulgar Latin
*paraulâre, from Late Latin parabolâre, from Late Latin parabola, discourse.]
paroxysm: par·ox·ysm (pàr¹ek-sîz´em) noun 1. A sudden
outburst of emotion or action: a paroxysm of laughter. 2. Medicine. a. A
sudden attack, recurrence, or intensification of a disease. b. A spasm or
fit; a convulsion. [Middle English paroxism, periodic attack of a disease,
from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Greek paroxusmos, from paroxunein, to
stimulate, irritate : para-, intensive pref.] . par´ox·ys¹mal (-ek-sîz¹mel)
adjective . par´ox·ys¹mal·ly adverb
passion: pas·sion (pàsh¹en) noun 1. A powerful
emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. 2. a. Ardent love. b. Strong
sexual desire; lust. c. The object of such love or desire. 3. a. Boundless
enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the
game. b. The object of such enthusiasm: soccer is her passion. 4. An
abandoned display of emotion, especially of anger: He's been known to fly
into a passion without warning. 5. Passion a. The sufferings of Jesus in the
period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion. b. A
narrative, musical setting, or pictorial representation of Jesus's sufferings.
6. Archaic. Martyrdom. 7. Archaic. Passivity. [Middle English, from Old
French, from Medieval Latin passio, passion-, sufferings of Jesus or a
martyr, from Late Latin, physical suffering, martyrdom, sinful desire, from
Latin, an undergoing, from passus, past participle of patì, to suffer.]
Synonyms: passion, fervor, fire, zeal, ardor. These nouns all denote
powerful, intense emotion. Passion is a deep, overwhelming emotion: "an
ardent, generous, perhaps an immoderate passion for fame" (Edmund Burke).
"There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as
envy" (Richard Brinsley Sheridan). The term may signify sexual desire
but can also refer to anger: "He flew into a violent passion and abused
me mercilessly" (H.G. Wells). Fervor is great warmth and intensity of
feeling: "The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with
measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal" (William
James) . Fire is burning passion: "In our youth our hearts were touched
with fire" (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.). Zeal is strong, enthusiastic
devotion to a cause, an ideal, or a goal and tireless diligence in its
furtherance: "his fervent zeal for the interests of the state"
(Macaulay). "We are sometimes stirred by emotion and take it for
zeal" (Thomas à Kempis). Ardor is fiery intensity of feeling: "the
furious ardor of my zeal repressed" (Charles Churchill).
pedantic: pe·dan·tic (pe-dàn¹tîk) adjective
Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and
formal rules: a pedantic attention to details. . pe·dan¹ti·cal·ly adverb
Synonyms: academic, bookish, donnish, scholastic. The central meaning shared
by these adjectives is "marked by a narrow, often tiresome focus on or
display of learning and especially its trivial aspects": a pedantic
style of writing; an academic insistence on precision; a bookish vocabulary;
donnish refinement of speech; scholastic and excessively subtle reasoning.
penultimate: pe·nul·ti·mate (pî-nùl¹te-mît) adjective
Next to last. noun The next to last [From Latin paenultimus.] .
perdue: per·du or per·due (per-d¡¹, -dy¡¹) noun
Obsolete. A soldier sent on an especially dangerous mission. [From French
sentinelle perdue, forward sentry : sentinelle, sentinel + perdu, past
participle of perdre, to lose (from Latin perdere).]
peremptory: per·emp·to·ry (pe-rèmp¹te-rê) adjective
1. Putting an end to all debate or action: a peremptory decree. 2. Not
allowing contradiction or refusal; imperative: The officer issued peremptory
commands. 3. Having the nature of or expressing a command; urgent: The
teacher spoke in a peremptory tone. 4. Offensively self-assured; dictatorial:
a swaggering, peremptory manner. [Latin peremptorius, from peremptus, past
participle of perimere, to take away : per-, per- + emere, to obtain.] .
per·emp¹to·ri·ly adverb . per·emp¹to·ri·ness noun
perfunctory: per·func·to·ry (per-fùngk¹te-rê)
adjective 1. Done routinely and with little interest or care: The operator
answered the phone with a perfunctory greeting. 2. Acting with indifference;
showing little interest or care. [Late Latin perfúnctorius, from Latin perfúnctus,
past participle of perfungì, to get through with : per-, per- + fungì, to
perform.] . per·func¹to·ri·ly adverb . per·func¹to·ri·ness noun
perjurious: per·ju·ry (pûr¹je-rê) noun plural
per·ju·ries 1. Law. The deliberate, willful giving of false, misleading, or
incomplete testimony under oath. 2. The breach of an oath or a promise.
[Middle English periurie, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin periúrium, from
periúrâre, to perjure.] . per·ju¹ri·ous (per-j¢r¹ê-es) adjective .
phenomenon: phe·nom·e·non (fî-nòm¹e-nòn´, -nen)
noun plural phe·nom·e·na (-ne) 1. An occurrence, a circumstance, or a fact
that is perceptible by the senses. 2. plural phe·nom·e·nons a. An unusual,
significant, or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel. b. A remarkable
or outstanding person; a paragon. 3. Philosophy. a. That which appears real
to the mind, regardless of whether its underlying existence is proved or its
nature understood. b. In Kantian philosophy, the appearance of an object to
the mind as opposed to its existence in and of itself, independent of the
mind. 4. Physics. An observable event. [Late Latin phaenomenon, from Greek
phainomenon, from neuter present participle of phainesthai, to appear.] Usage
Note: Phenomenon is the only singular form of this noun; phenomena is the
usual plural. Phenomenons may also be used as the plural in nonscientific
writing when the meaning is "extraordinary things, occurrences, or
persons": They were phenomenons in the history of music.
phlegm: phlegm (flèm) noun 1. Thick, sticky, stringy
mucus secreted by the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, as during a
cold or other respiratory infection. 2. One of the four humors of ancient
physiology, described as cold and moist and thought to cause sluggishness,
apathy, and evenness of temper. 3. Sluggishness of temperament. 4. Calm
self-possession; equanimity. [Middle English fleume, mucous discharge, the
humor phlegm, from Old French, from Medieval Latin phlegma, flegma, from Late
Latin phlegma, the humor phlegm, from Greek, heat, the humor phlegm, from
phlegein, to burn.] . phlegm¹y adjective
pinions: pin·ion (pîn¹yen) noun 1. The wing of a bird.
2. The outer rear edge of the wing of a bird, containing the primary
feathers. 3. A primary feather of a bird. verb, transitive pin·ioned,
pin·ion·ing, pin·ions 1. a. To remove or bind the wing feathers of (a bird)
to prevent flight. b. To cut or bind (the wings of a bird). 2. a. To restrain
or immobilize (a person) by binding the arms. b. To bind (a person's arms).
3. To bind fast or hold down; shackle. [Middle English, from Old French
pignon, from Vulgar Latin *pinnio, pinnion- , from Latin penna, pinna,
portmanteau: port·man·teau (pôrt-màn¹to, port-,
pôrt´màn-to¹, port´-) noun plural port·man·teaus or port·man·teaux (-toz,
-toz¹) A large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments.
[French portemanteau : porte, imperative of porter, to carry (from Old
precocious: pre·co·cious (prî-ko¹shes) adjective 1.
Manifesting or characterized by unusually early development or maturity,
especially in mental aptitude. 2. Botany. Blossoming before the appearance of
leaves. [From Latin praecox, praecoc-, premature, from praecoquere, to boil
before, ripen fully : prae-, pre- + coquere, to cook, ripen.] .
pre·co¹cious·ly adverb . pre·coc¹ity (-kòs¹î-tê) or pre·co¹cious·ness noun
preeminent: pre·em·i·nent or pre-em·i·nent
(prê-èm¹e-nent) adjective Superior to or notable above all others;
outstanding. [Middle English, from Latin praeêminêns, present participle of
praeêminêre, to excel : prae-, pre- + êminêre, to stand out.] .
pre·em¹i·nence noun . pre·em¹i·nent·ly adverb
primeval: pri·me·val (prì-mê¹vel) adjective Belonging
to the first or earliest age or ages; original or ancient: a primeval forest.
[From Latin prìmaevus, early in life : prìmus, first + aevum, age.] .
proffer: prof·fer (pròf¹er) verb, transitive
prof·fered, prof·fer·ing, prof·fers To offer for acceptance; tender. noun The
act of proffering; an offer. [Middle English profren, from Old French
poroffrir, profrir : por-, forth (from Latin pro-). See PRO-1 + offrir, to
offer (from Latin offerre).] . prof¹fer·er noun
proficient: pro·fi·cient (pre-fîsh¹ent) adjective
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation,
profession, or branch of learning. noun An expert; an adept. [Latin
proficiêns, proficient-, present participle of proficere, to make progress.]
. pro·fi¹cient·ly adverb Synonyms: proficient, adept, skilled, skillful,
expert. These adjectives mean having or showing knowledge, ability, or skill,
as in a vocation, profession, or branch of learning. Proficient implies an
advanced degree of competence acquired through training: A proficient surgeon
is the product of lengthy training and experience. Adept suggests a natural
aptitude improved by practice: The dress designer was adept at draping and
cutting the fabric without using a pattern. Skilled implies sound, thorough
competence and often mastery, as in an an art, a craft, or a trade: Only the
most skilled gymnasts are accepted for the Olympic team. Skillful adds to
skilled the idea of natural dexterity in performance or achievement: The
crafts teacher is skillful in knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and the use
of the hand loom. Expert applies to one with consummate skill and command: A
virtuoso is one who is expert in playing a musical instrument.
promiscuous: pro·mis·cu·ous (pre-mîs¹ky¡-es)
adjective 1. Indiscriminate in the choice of sexual partners. 2. Lacking
standards of selection; indiscriminate. 3. Casual; random. 4. Consisting of
diverse, unrelated parts or individuals; confused: "Throngs promiscuous
strew the level green" (Alexander Pope). [From Latin promiscuus,
possessed equally : pro-, intensive pref.] . pro·mis¹cu·ous·ly adverb .
promulgated: prom·ul·gate (pròm¹el-gât´,
pro-mùl¹gât´) verb, transitive prom·ul·gat·ed, prom·ul·gat·ing, prom·ul·gates
1. To make known (a decree, for example) by public declaration; announce
officially. 2. To put (a law) into effect by formal public announcement.
[Latin promulgâre, promulgât-.] . prom´ul·ga¹tion (pròm´el-gâ¹shen, pro´mel-)
noun . prom¹ul·ga´tor noun
prosaic: pro·sa·ic (pro-zâ¹îk) adjective 1. a.
Consisting or characteristic of prose. b. Matter-of-fact; straightforward. 2.
Lacking in imagination and spirit; dull. [Late Latin prosaicus, from Latin
prosa, prose.] . pro·sa¹i·cal·ly adverb . pro·sa¹ic·ness noun
protuberant: pro·tu·ber·ant (pro-t¡¹ber-ent,
-ty¡¹-, pre-) adjective Swelling outward; bulging. [Late Latin protúberâns,
protúberant-, present participle of protúberâre, to bulge out.] .
prudent: pru·dent (pr¡d¹nt) adjective 1. Wise in
handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense. 2.
Careful in regard to one's own interests; provident. 3. Careful about one's
conduct; circumspect. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin prúdêns,
prúdent-, contraction of providêns, present participle of providêre, to
provide for.] . pru¹dent·ly adverb
pugnacious: pug·na·cious (pùg-nâ¹shes) adjective
Combative in nature; belligerent. [From Latin pugnâx, pugnâc-, from pugnâre,
to fight, from pugnus, fist.] . pug·na¹cious·ly adverb . pug·na¹cious·ness or
pug·nac¹i·ty (-nàs¹î-tê) noun
punctilious: punc·til·i·ous (pùngk-tîl¹ê-es)
adjective 1. Strictly attentive to minute details of form in action or
conduct. 2. Precise; scrupulous. . punc·til¹i·ous·ly adverb .
queer: queer (kwîr) adjective queer·er, queer·est 1.
Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation. 2. Odd or
unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric. 3. Of a questionable nature or
character; suspicious. 4. Slang. Fake; counterfeit. 5. Feeling slightly ill;
queasy. verb, transitive queered, queer·ing, queers Slang. 1. To ruin or
thwart: "might try to queer the Games with anything from troop movements
. . . to a bomb attack" (Newsweek). 2. To put (someone) in a bad
position. [Perhaps from Low German, oblique, off-center, from Middle Low
German dwer.] . queer¹ish adjective . queer¹ly adverb . queer¹ness noun
quidnunc: quid·nunc (kwîd¹nùngk´) noun A nosy person;
a busybody. [Latin quid nunc?, what now? : quid, what + nunc, now.]
rattan: rat·tan (rà-tàn¹, re-) noun 1. Any of various
climbing palms of the genera Calamus, Daemonorops, or Plectomia of tropical
Asia, having long, tough, slender stems. 2. a. The stems of any of these
palms, used to make wickerwork, canes, and furniture. b. Work made of the
stems of these palms. 3. A switch or cane made from these palms. [Malay rotan
(perhaps from raut, to pare or trim for use).]
recondite: rec·on·dite (rèk¹en-dìt´, rî-kòn¹dìt´)
adjective 1. Not easily understood; abstruse. 2. Concerned with or treating
something abstruse or obscure: recondite scholarship. 3. Concealed; hidden.
[Latin reconditus, past participle of recondere, to put away : re-, re- +
condere, to put together, preserve.] . rec¹on·dite´ly adverb .
rectitude: rec·ti·tude (rèk¹tî-t¡d´, -ty¡d´) noun 1.
Moral uprightness; righteousness. 2. The quality or condition of being
correct in judgment. 3. The quality of being straight. [Middle English, from
Old French, from Late Latin rêctitúdo, from Latin rêctus, straight.] .
restiveness: res·tive (rès¹tîv) adjective 1.
Uneasily impatient under restriction, opposition, criticism, or delay. 2.
Resisting control; difficult to control. 3. Refusing to move. Used of a horse
or other animal. [Middle English restif, stationary, from Old French, from
rester, to remain, from Latin restâre, to keep back : re-, re- + stâre, to
stand.] . res¹tive·ly adverb . res¹tive·ness noun Usage Note: Restive is
properly applied to the impatience or uneasiness induced by external coercion
or restriction and is not a general synonym for restless: The government has
done nothing to ease export restrictions, and domestic manufacturers are
growing restive (not restless). The atmosphere in the office was congenial,
but after five years she began to grow restless (not restive).
rigor: rig·or (rîg¹er) noun 1. Strictness or severity,
as in temperament, action, or judgment. 2. A harsh or trying circumstance;
hardship. 3. A harsh or cruel act. [Middle English rigour, from Old French,
from Latin rigor, from rigêre, to be stiff.]
ruminate: ru·mi·nate (r¡¹me-nât´) verb ru·mi·nat·ed,
ru·mi·nat·ing, ru·mi·nates verb, intransitive To turn a matter over and over
in the mind. verb, transitive To reflect on over and over again. [Latin
rúminâre, rúminât-, from rúmen, rúmin-, throat.] . ru¹mi·na´tive adjective .
ru¹mi·na´tive·ly adverb . ru¹mi·na´tor noun
sagacious: sa·ga·cious (se-gâ¹shes) adjective Having
or showing keen discernment, sound judgment, and farsightedness. [From Latin
sagâx, sagâc-, of keen perception.] . sa·ga¹cious·ly adverb . sa·ga¹cious·ness
sally: sal·ly (sàl¹ê) verb, intransitive sal·lied,
sal·ly·ing, sal·lies 1. To rush out or leap forth suddenly. 2. To issue
suddenly from a defensive or besieged position to attack an enemy. 3. To set
out on a trip or an excursion: sallied forth to see the world. noun plural
sal·lies 1. A sudden rush forward; a leap. 2. An assault from a defensive
position; a sortie. 3. A sudden emergence into action or expression; an
outburst. [From French saillie, a sally, from Old French, from feminine past
participle of salir, to rush forward, from Latin salìre, to leap.]
scruple: scru·ple (skr¡¹pel) noun An uneasy feeling arising
from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action. verb, intransitive
scru·pled, scru·pling, scru·ples To hesitate as a result of conscience
or principle: . A man who could make so vile a pun would not
scruple to pick a pocket. (John Dennis). [Middle English scrupul, from Old
French scrupule, from Latin scrúpulus, small unit of measurement, scruple,
diminutive of scrúpus, rough stone, scruple.]
(sèlf´àb´nî-gâ¹shen) noun The setting aside of self-interest for the sake of
others or for a belief or principle. . self´-ab¹ne·gat´ing adjective
sententious: sen·ten·tious (sèn-tèn¹shes) adjective
1. Terse and energetic in expression; pithy. 2. a. Abounding in aphorisms. b.
Given to aphoristic utterances. 3. a. Abounding in pompous moralizing. b.
Given to pompous moralizing. [Middle English, from Old French sententieux,
from Latin sententiosus, full of meaning, from sententia, opinion.] .
sen·ten¹tious·ly adverb . sen·ten¹tious·ness noun
sequestration: se·ques·ter (sî-kwès¹ter) verb
se·ques·tered, se·ques·ter·ing, se·ques·ters verb, transitive 1. To cause to
withdraw into seclusion. 2. To remove or set apart; segregate. [Middle
English sequestren, from Old French, from Latin sequestrâre, to give up for
safekeeping, from Latin sequester, depositary, trustee.]
sham: sham (shàm) noun 1. Something false or empty that is
purported to be genuine; a spurious imitation. 2. The quality of deceitfulness;
empty pretense. 3. One who assumes a false character; an impostor:
. He a man! Hell! He was a hollow sham!. (Joseph Conrad). 4. A decorative
cover made to simulate an article of household linen and used over or in
place of it: a pillow sham. verb, intransitive To assume a false appearance
or character; dissemble. [Perhaps dialectal variant of SHAME.] . sham¹mer
shoddy: shod·dy (shòd¹ê) adjective shod·di·er,
shod·di·est 1. Made of or containing inferior material. 2. a. Of poor quality
or craft. b. Rundown; shabby. 3. Dishonest or reprehensible: shoddy business
practices. 4. Conspicuously and cheaply imitative. [Origin unknown.] . shod¹di·ly
adverb . shod¹di·ness noun
sober: so·ber (so¹ber) adjective so·ber·er, so·ber·est
1. Habitually abstemious in the use of alcoholic liquors or drugs; temperate.
2. Not intoxicated or affected by the use of drugs. 3. Plain or subdued:
sober attire. 4. Devoid of frivolity, excess, exaggeration, or speculative
imagination; straightforward: gave a sober assessment of the situation. 5.
Marked by seriousness, gravity, or solemnity of conduct or character. 6.
Marked by circumspection and self-restraint. verb, transitive &
intransitive so·bered, so·ber·ing, so·bers To make or become sober. [Middle
English, from Old French sobre, from Latin sobrius.] . so¹ber·ly adverb .
stridor: stri·dor (strì¹der, -dôr´) noun 1. A harsh,
shrill, grating, or creaking sound. 2. Pathology. A harsh, high-pitched sound
in inhalation or exhalation. [Latin strìdor, from strìdêre, to make harsh
sounds, ultimately of imitative origin.]
striplings: strip·ling (strîp¹lîng) noun An
adolescent youth. [Middle English, possibly from strip.]
suffuse: suf·fuse (se-fy¡z¹) verb, transitive suf·fused,
suf·fus·ing, suf·fus·es To spread through or over, as with liquid, color,
or light: . The sky above the roof is suffused with deep colors.
(Eugene O'Neill). [Latin suffundere, suffús- : sub-, sub- + fundere, to
pour.] . suf·fu¹sion noun . suf·fu¹sive (-fy¡¹sîv, -zîv) adjective
summarily: sum·ma·ry (sùm¹e-rê) adjective 1.
Presenting the substance in a condensed form; concise: a summary review. 2.
Performed speedily and without ceremony: summary justice; a summary
rejection. noun plural sum·ma·ries A presentation of the substance of a body
of material in a condensed form or by reducing it to its main points; an
abstract. [Middle English, from Medieval Latin summârius, of or concerning
the sum, from Latin summa, sum.] . sum·mar¹i·ly (se-mèr¹e-lê) adverb .
superannuated: su·per·an·nu·at·ed (s¡´per-àn¹y¡-â´tîd)
adjective 1. Retired or ineffective because of advanced age:
. Nothing is more tiresome than a superannuated pedagogue. (Henry Adams).
2. Outmoded; obsolete: superannuated laws. [From Medieval Latin
superannuâtus, over one year old : Latin super-, super- + Latin annus, year.]
surmise: sur·mise (ser-mìz¹) verb sur·mised,
sur·mis·ing, sur·mis·es verb, transitive To infer (something) without
sufficiently conclusive evidence. verb, intransitive To make a guess or
conjecture. noun An idea or opinion based on insufficiently conclusive
evidence; a conjecture. [Middle English surmisen, to accuse, from Old French
surmise, feminine past participle of surmettre : sur-, sur- + mettre, to put
(from Latin mittere).]
tacit: tac·it (tàs¹ît) adjective 1. Not spoken:
indicated tacit approval by smiling and winking. 2. a. Implied by or inferred
from actions or statements: Management has given its tacit approval to the
plan. b. Law. Arising by operation of the law rather than through direct
expression. 3. Archaic. Not speaking; silent. [Latin tacitus, silent, past
participle of tacêre, to be silent.] . tac¹it·ly adverb . tac¹it·ness noun
temerity: te·mer·i·ty (te-mèr¹î-tê) noun Foolhardy disregard
of danger; recklessness. [Middle English temerite, from Old French, from
Latin temeritâs, from temere, rashly.] Synonyms: temerity, audacity, effrontery,
nerve, cheek, gall. These nouns refer to striking, often aggressive
boldness. Temerity implies a foolhardy flouting of danger: Conducting
the premiere of a symphony without a rehearsal requires temerity. Audacity
suggests heedlessness of the restraints imposed by prudence, propriety,
or convention: . In war nothing is impossible, provided you use
audacity. (George S. Patton). Effrontery and nerve denote impudent, arrogant,
or shameless boldness: He had the effrontery to suggest that she enjoyed
being unhappy. A raise? When your work is so slipshod? You do have a nerve!
Cheek connotes cool impertinence and brashness: Do you really have the cheek
to insult your hosts? Gall suggests brazenness and unconscionable insolence:
With unmitigated gall he crashed the party and then criticized the food.
tempestuous: tem·pes·tu·ous (tèm-pès¹ch¡-es)
adjective 1. Of, relating to, or resembling a tempest: tempestuous gales. 2.
Tumultuous; stormy: a tempestuous relationship. [Middle English, from Late
Latin tempestuosus, from tempestús, tempest, variant of tempestâs.] .
tem·pes¹tu·ous·ly adverb . tem·pes¹tu·ous·ness noun
thews: thew (thy¡) noun 1. A well-developed sinew or
muscle. 2. Muscular power or strength. Often used in the plural. [Middle
English, a virtue, from Old English thêaw, a custom, habit.] . thew¹y
twain: twain (twân) noun & adjective & pronoun
Two. [Middle English tweien, twaine, from Old English twêgen.]
ursine: ur·sine (ûr¹sìn´) adjective Of or
characteristic of bears or a bear. [Latin ursìnus, from ursus, bear.]
usurp: u·surp (y¡-sûrp¹, -zûrp¹) verb u·surped,
u·surp·ing, u·surps verb, transitive 1. To seize and hold (the power or
rights of another, for example) by force and without legal authority. 2. To
take over or occupy without right: usurp a neighbor's land. verb,
intransitive To seize another's place, authority, or possession wrongfully.
[Middle English usurpen, from Old French usurper, from Latin úsúrpâre, to
take into use, usurp.] . u·surp¹er noun . u·surp¹ing·ly adverb
veracity: ve·rac·i·ty (ve-ràs¹î-tê) noun plural
ve·rac·i·ties 1. Adherence to the truth; truthfulness. 2. Conformity to fact
or truth; accuracy or precision: a report of doubtful veracity. 3. Something
that is true. [Medieval Latin vêrâcitâs, from Latin vêrâx, vêrâc-, true.]
vicissitude: vi·cis·si·tude (vî-sîs¹î-t¡d´,
-ty¡d´) noun 1. a. A change or variation. b. The quality of being changeable;
mutability. 2. Often vicissitudes. One of the sudden or unexpected changes or
shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings. [Latin
vicissitúdo, from vicissim, in turn, probably from vicês, pl. of *vix,
vitiate: vi·ti·ate (vîsh¹ê-ât´) verb, transitive
vi·ti·at·ed, vi·ti·at·ing, vi·ti·ates 1. To reduce the value or impair the
quality of. 2. To corrupt morally; debase. 3. To make ineffective;
invalidate. [Latin vitiâre, vitiât-, from vitium, fault.] . vi¹ti·a·ble
(vîsh¹ê-e-bel) adjective . vi´ti·a¹tion noun . vi¹ti·a´tor noun
vitriol: vit·ri·ol (vît¹rê-ol´, -el) noun Bitterly
abusive feeling or expression. verb, transitive vit·ri·oled or vit·ri·olled
vit·ri·ol·ing or vit·ri·ol·ling vit·ri·ols or vit·ri·ols To expose or subject
to vitriol. [Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin vitriolum,
from Late Latin vitreolum, neuter of vitreolus, of glass, from Latin vitreus.]
volition: vo·li·tion (ve-lîsh¹en) noun 1. The act or
an instance of making a conscious choice or decision. 2. A conscious choice
or decision. 3. The power or faculty of choosing; the will. [French, from
Medieval Latin volitio, volition-, from Latin velle, vol-, to wish.] .
vo·li¹tion·al adjective . vo·li¹tion·al·ly adverb
wanton: wan·ton (wòn¹ten) adjective 1. Immoral or unchaste;
lewd. 2. a. Gratuitously cruel; merciless. b. Marked by unprovoked,
gratuitous maliciousness; capricious and unjust: wanton destruction. 3.
Unrestrainedly excessive: wanton extravagance; wanton depletion of oil
reserves. 4. Luxuriant; overabundant: wanton tresses. 5. Frolicsome; playful.
6. Undisciplined; spoiled. 7. Obsolete. Rebellious; refractory. verb
wan·toned, wan·ton·ing, wan·tons verb, intransitive To act, grow, or move in
a wanton manner; be wanton. verb, transitive To waste or squander extravagantly.
noun 1. One who is immoral, lewd, or licentious. 2. One that is playful or
frolicsome. 3. One that is undisciplined or spoiled. [Middle English wantowen
: wan-, not, lacking (from Old English; akin to wana, lack).] . wan¹ton·ly
adverb . wan¹ton·ness noun
wax: wax (wàks) verb, intransitive waxed, wax·ing, wax·es 1.
To increase gradually in size, number, strength, or intensity. 2. To show a
progressively larger illuminated area, as the moon does in passing from new to
full. 3. To grow or become as specified: . could afford . . . to wax
sentimental over their heritage. (John Simon). [Middle English waxen, from
Old English weaxan.]
welkin-eyed: wel·kin (wèl¹kîn) noun 1. The vault
of heaven; the sky. 2. The upper air. [Middle English welken, from Old
English wolcen, weolcen, cloud.]
wont: wont (wônt, wont, wùnt) adjective 1. Accustomed or used:
. The poor man is wont to complain that this is a cold world. (Henry
David Thoreau). 2. Likely: chaotic as holidays are wont to be. noun Customary
practice; usage. verb wont or wont·ed wont·ing, wonts verb, transitive To
make accustomed to. verb, intransitive To be in the habit of doing something.
[Middle English, past participle of wonen, to be used to, dwell.]
(yûrn) verb, intransitive yearned, yearn·ing, yearns 1. To
have a strong, often melancholy desire. 2. To feel deep pity, sympathy, or
tenderness: yearned over the poor child's fate. [Middle English yernen, from
Old English geornan, giernan.] . yearn¹er noun . yearn¹ing·ly adverb Synonyms: yearn,
long, pine, hanker, hunger, thirst. These verbs mean to have
a strong desire for something. Yearn and long both stress earnest, heartfelt, often melancholy
desire, as for the return of something lost or the attainment
of something unfulfilled or beyond reach: . She yearned for reconciliation. (W.H.
Hudson). . You don't really long for another country. You
long for something in yourself that you don't have, or haven't been able
to find. (John Cheever). Pine implies a lingering, often nostalgic desire that
saps strength or spirit: . Like all sailors ashore, I at last pined
for the billows. (Herman Melville). Hanker refers to a persistent or restless
desire: . What business had he to be hankering after this girl at
all!. (John Galsworthy). Hunger and thirst are applied to compelling desire
likened to the need for food or drink: The child hungered for approval.
Actors thirst for acclaim.