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.

You may access the list either from the main page or by clicking on words in text highlighted in blue. If accessed from the text, you may click the "Back" button on your browser to return.

aberration: 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 stray.]

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 adverb

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 Acquiesced with is obsolete.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 with ether.

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 noun

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 superstitious hypocrite."

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 . bluff¹ness noun

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.]

circumambient: cir·cum·am·bi·ent (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 . con´tu·me¹li·ous·ly adverb

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] . de·camp¹ment noun

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 entirely standard.

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.]

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).] . e·jac¹u·la´tor noun

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 noun

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 adverb

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 adjective

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 shape, form.]

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 noun

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, heave!.]

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 . im·pal¹er 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 pay (obsolete).]

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 adverb

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.] . in·junc¹tive adjective

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 or entities.

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 . ju·di¹cious·ness noun

jugglery: jug·gler·y (jùg¹le-rê) noun plural jug·gler·ies 1. The skill or performance of a juggler. 2. Trickery; deception.

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 noun

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 (1669-1723).]

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 . mes¹mer·iz´er 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.]

parenthesize: 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 : para-, beside.]

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.] . pe·nul¹ti·mate·ly adverb

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 . per·ju¹ri·ous·ly adverb

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, feather.]

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 French).]

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.] . pri·me¹val·ly adverb

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 . pro·mis¹cu·ous·ness noun

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.] . pro·tu¹ber·ant·ly adverb

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 . punc·til¹i·ous·ness noun

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 . rec¹on·dite´ness noun

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.] . rec´ti·tu¹di·nous adjective

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 noun

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.]

self-abnegation: self-ab·ne·ga·tion (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 noun

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 . so¹ber·ness noun

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 . sum¹ma·ri·ness noun

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 adjective

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, change.]

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.]

yearn: yearn (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.