Words - sounds and meanings you couldn't have imagined!

Words are incredible!!  Words are what we use most often to understand the world and each other- needless to say, without them we'd be set back quite a lot.  No matter how much I read and learn, I am always finding new words.  Just recently, I came across some strange new words in a book I was reading: caduceus, grimoire, and ontology - the latter being a word I had come across before several times and looked up each time... but had forgotten the meaning.

In this page, I want to explore words I have come across and recorded, using this framework:

synonyms - (devil, divineness, heaven, hell, sophism, truth)


More often than not, I am as astounded at their meanings as I am at their pronunciation and obscurity.  For example, the word "asphodel" means "the flowers of Hell," which leads me to wonder... what kind of flowers can grow in Hell?

Other words describe things that take my mind into odd new dimensions - words such as "noumenon", which means "an object that can be intuited only by the intellect and not perceived by the senses," or "etiology," which is "the study of causes or origins" - how do you approach things like that?  Besides that there is the amazing Liar's Paradox, and the concept of the duck-billed platypus (what is it, really?).

Some words look interesting, but are actually banal, like "periphrasis," which ironically means "a roundabout means of expression," or "jejune," which simply means "boring."  I read a GQ article where someone was referred as an "ecdysiast."  If the writer had not been so pretentious, "stipper" would have done fine.  Check out what Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame) has to say about writers like this in my quotes section at the end of the page.

Some words sound interesting (like epizeuxis or gunsel or hirsute or hylozoism or ipecac or myrmidon or pulchitrudinous or nance or syzygy or yegg or Zyzzyva) and have interesting definitions to match, while others are difficult to tell apart - deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning, stalactite and stalagmite, pathos and bathos, egotism and egoism...

Some Latin terms pique my interest, and there are some in my list.  One of my new favorites is credo quoia absurdum - "I believe because it is absurd."  Is this another way of saying "truth is stranger than fiction"?

There are also a few words I have found where the word history or usage are just as interesting as the meaning.  To see what I mean, check out hoi polloi, shibboleth, and the awful word holocaust (which has a pre-twentieth century usage and meaning).

word list: acrostic - aether - ambiguity - anaphora - antihimeria - antinomian - antinomianismantinomic –  antinomy - antithesis - apocryphal - aphorismarchetype - asphodelbathos - belladonnacassus bellicasuistrycatechresis - catechumen - chilblainscogitio ergo sumcopulacosmologycredo quia absurdumdeductive reasondelirium tremensdevil - diacope - diasporadivineness - duck-billed platypus - echolalia - ecdysiast - egoism - egotism - emeticenallage - encomium - enteritis - epanepsis - epanorthosis - epexegesis - epiphanyepistrophe - epizeuxis - eponym - eschatology - esoteric - etiology - eureka - evil - exegetic - exegesisgunselharridan - heaven - hell - heresy - heuristichirsute - hoi polloiHolocausthyolotheismhylozoismhyperbaton - inchoate - incontinentinductive reasonineffable - ipecacisolcolon - jejune - je ne sais quoi - labilethe Law of Contradiction - the Law of Excluded Middle - Liar’s Paradox - licit - limnlogomachy - mandragoraManichaean - memento morimetamorphosis - metempsychosis - the mind-stuff theory of Monism - Monism - myrmidon - nance –  nonpareil - noumenon - noumenal - ontology - palimpsest - palingenesis - palindrome - paresispathos - pelmanism - peripatetic - periphrasis - petitio principiiphenomenologyPhyrric victorypimentoplatitude - poetry - polyptoton - post hoc - prosopopeia - pulchritudinous - recondite - redolentsatyriasis - scopophilia - seraglioshibbolethsocial contract - solecism - sophism (definition) - sophism (synonyms) - sophistry - soteriology - specious - stalactite - stalagmite - sub specie aeternitatis - syllogism - synchronicity - syncretism - syzygy - tergiversate - thaumaturgy - theosophytransubstantiation - treacletruth (definition) - truth (synonyms) - tu quoque argument - ululationwabi-sabiyeggzyzzyva...

Perry Smith's words:
Animal collectives:
Dubious words:
and unknown words:


acrostic - noun - 1. A poem or series of lines in which certain letters, usually the first in each line, form a name, motto, or message when read in sequence.  2. See word square.  [French acrostiche, from Old French, from Greek akrostikhis : akron, head, end. See acro- + stikhos, line.]
Word History: An acrostic gives the reader two for one, and the etymology of the word emphasizes one of these two. Our word goes back to the Greek word akrostikhis, acrostic, (which is a combination of Greek akron, head,) and stikhos, bow, line of verse.  (Literally akrostikhis means the line at the head,) emphasizing the fact that an acrostic has in addition to horizontal rows a vertical row formed of the letters at the head, or start of each line. In ancient manuscripts, in which a line of verse did not necessarily correspond to a line of text, an acrostic would have looked particularly striking, with each of its lines standing by itself and beginning with a capital letter. Our word for this type of composition is first found in English in the 16th century.

aether - noun - In Greek Mythology, the poetic personification of the clear upper air breathed by the Olympians.  [Latin, from Greek aither, upper air.]

ambiguity - noun - 1. Doubtfulness or uncertainty as regards interpretation: "Leading a life of alleged moral ambiguity." (Anatole Broyard).  2.  Something of doubtful meaning: a poem full of ambiguities.

anaphora - repetition of the first word or words from one sentence to another - "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." - Matthew 5:3.  "We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." - Winston Churchill.

antihimeria - a type of enallage that substitutes one part of speech for another:  "Lord Angelo dukes it well." -  Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.  "I am going in search of the great perhaps." - Rabelais.

antinomian -  noun, An adherent of antinomianism.  adjective; of or relating to the doctrine of antinomianism.  Opposed to or denying the fixed meaning or universal applicability of moral law: “By raising segregation and racial persecution to the ethical level of law, it puts into practice the antinomian rules of Orwell's world. Evil becomes good, inhumanity is interpreted as charity, egoism as compassion.”  (Elie Wiesel).

antinomianism – noun; Theology. The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.  The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal.

antinomic – noun; Contradiction or opposition, especially between two laws or rules.  A contradiction between principles or conclusions that seem equally necessary and reasonable; a paradox.

antinomy - noun - 1.  Contradiction or opposition, especially between two laws or rules.  2.  A contradiction between principles or conclusions that seem equally necessary and reasonable; a paradox.  [Latin antinomia, from Greek : anti-, anti- + nomos, law.]

antithesis - saying something two different ways, specifically by denying its contrary and asserting it:  "A man should be mourned at his birth, not at his death." - Montesquieu.  "The greatest crimes are caused by surfeit, not by want." - Aristotle.

apocryphal - Of questionable authorship or authenticity.  Erroneous; fictitious: “Wildly apocryphal rumors about starvation in Petrograd . . . raced through Russia's trenches.”

aphorism – a tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage

archetype - An original model or type after which other similar things are patterned; a prototype: “Frankenstein… Dracula… Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the archetypes that have influenced all subsequent horror stories.”  (New York Times).  An ideal example of a type; quintessence: an archetype of the successful entrepreneur.

asphodel – flowers of Hell

bathos - noun - 1. a. An abrupt, unintended transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. b. An anticlimax.  2.  a. Insincere or grossly sentimental pathos: "A richly textured man who . . . can be . . . sentimental to the brink of bathos." (Kenneth L. Woodward). b. Banality; triteness.  [Greek, depth, from bathus, deep.]

belladonna – nightshade, very poisonous

cassus belli – noun, An act or event that provokes or is used to justify war.

casuistry – noun; Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.  The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by the application of general principles of ethics.

catechresis - the substitution of one word with a seemingly inappropriate one:  "the Cold War." - Bernard Baruch.  "And that White Sustenance despair." - Emily Dickinson

catechumen - noun - 1. One who is being taught the principles of Christianity.  2.  One who is being instructed in a subject at an elementary level.
[Middle English cathecumine, from Old French catechumene, from Latin catechenus, from Greek katchoumenos, present passive participle of katchein, to instruct. See catechize.]

chilblains – An inflammation followed by itchy irritation on the hands, feet, or ears, resulting from exposure to moist cold.

cogitio ergo sum – I think, therefore I am

copula – noun; Grammar.. A verb, such as a form of be or seem, that identifies the predicate of a sentence with the subject. Also called linking verb.  Logic. The word or set of words that serves as a link between the subject and predicate of a proposition.

cosmology – noun; The study of the physical universe considered as a totality of phenomena in time and space.  The astrophysical study of the history, structure, and constituent dynamics of the universe.  A specific theory or model of this structure and these dynamics.

credo quia absurdum – I believe because it’s irrational

deductive reason – a priori: from general -> specific
(Inductive reason – a posteriori/empirical: from specific -> general)

delirium tremens – An acute, sometimes fatal episode of delirium usually caused by withdrawal or abstinence from alcohol following habitual, excessive drinking. It also may occur during an episode of heavy alcohol consumption.

diacope - repetition of a word with another word interposing:  "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow..." - Shakespeare's Macbeth.  "A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" - Shakespeare's Richard III.

diaspora – noun; The dispersion of Jews outside of Israel from the sixth century B.C., when the Jews were exiled to Babylonia, until the present time.  Often diaspora. The body of Jews or Jewish communities outside Palestine or modern Israel.  A dispersion of an originally homogeneous people.  A dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or a culture: “The diaspora of English into several mutually incomprehensible languages.”  (Randolph Quirk).

duck-billed platypus - Platypus (Greek platys, broad - pous, foot), also duckbill, semiaquatic, egg-laying mammal native to Tasmania and southern and eastern Australia. The animal has a bill that resembles a duck bill but is actually an elongated snout covered with soft, moist, leathery skin and sensitive nerve endings. The body of the platypus is 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) long; the flattened tail measures 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) in length. The feet are webbed. The body and tail are covered with a thick, soft, woolly layer of fur, from which long, flat hairs protrude. The most conspicuous feature of the small head is the bill, which is about 6 cm (about 2.5 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) wide and which the animal uses for detecting prey and stirring up mud at the bottom of rivers in order to uncover the insects, worms, and shellfish on which it feeds. The head is joined directly to the body without an apparent neck. The platypus's eyes are small, and it has no external ears, but it has keen senses of sight and hearing. Young platypuses have rudimentary teeth; in adults the teeth are replaced by a few horny plates. Adult males have a hollow, horny spur on the inner side of the hind leg, from which a toxic fluid is ejected and which may be used as a weapon of defense. The call of the platypus is a low growl.  Duckbills are shy animals and are seldom observed, even in localities where they abound. They are active only during the early morning and late evening, and are excellent swimmers and divers. They live in long, winding burrows, which are usually dug by the females in the banks of rivers or streams. The burrows are blocked with earth in several places as fortification against intruders and flooding. At the end of the burrow, which may be from about 9 to 18 m (about 30 to 59 ft) in length, the female constructs a bed of weeds, leaves, and grass, which it uses as a nest for the eggs and young, and for a retreat. The male is excluded from the nesting burrow. The female lays usually two but sometimes as many as four eggs in a clutch. The young animals have no fur when they hatch. The female uses its tail to clasp the young to its abdomen, enabling them to nurse. Platypuses are unfortunately sometimes captured as biological curiosities, but the hunting of platypuses is forbidden by law.  Scientific classification: The platypus makes up the family Ornithorhynchidae, in the order Monotremata. It is classified as Ornithorhynchus anatinus.

echolalia - in psychiatry, the immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases just spoken by others, often a symptom of autism or some types of schizophrenia.  Also an infant's repetition of the sounds made by others, a normal occurrence in childhood development.

ecdysiast - A striptease artist.

egoism - The ethical doctrine that morality has its foundations in self-interest.  The ethical belief that self-interest is the just and proper motive for all human conduct.  Excessive preoccupation with one's own well-being and interests, usually accompanied by an inflated sense of self-importance.  Egotism; conceit. See Synonyms at conceit.

egotism - The tendency to speak or write of oneself excessively and boastfully.  An inflated sense of one's own importance; conceit. See Synonyms at conceit.

emetic – causing vomiting

enallage - an effective grammatical error:  "We was robbed!" - Joe Jacobs, professional prize fight manager.  "Curioser and curioser." - Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

encomium - noun - 1.  Warm, glowing praise.  2.  A formal expression of praise; a tribute.  [Latin encomium, from Greek enkomion (epos), (speech) praising a victor, from enkomios, of the victory procession : en-, in. See en-2 + komos, celebration.]

enteritis - Inflammation of the intestinal tract, especially of the small intestine.

epanepsis - ending a sentence or clause with the same word or phrase with which it began:  "Nothing can be created out of nothing." - Lucretius.  "Common sense is not so common." - Voltaire.

epanorthosis - a statement followed by a correction:  "Religion is a disease, but it is a noble disease." - Heraclitus.  "God, make me pure, but not yet." - Saint Augustine.

epexegesis - noun; epexegetic or epexegetical; - adjectiveepexegetically - adverb;  Additional explanation or explanatory material.
[Greek epexêgêsis, from epexêgeisthai, to explain in detail : ep-, epi-, epi- + exêgeisthai, to explain. See exegesis.]

epiphany – noun; A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.  January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.  A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.  A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.   A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself.”  (Frank Maier).

epistrophe - repetition of the last word or words from one sentence to another:  "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." - 1 Cor. 13:11.  "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes to live." - Thomas Macaulay.

epizeuxis - the immediate repetition of a word or phrase:  "A dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon." - John Milton.  "Then kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill." - Shakespeare's King Lear.

eponym - A person whose name is or is thought to be the source of the name of something, such as a city, country, or era. For example, Romulus is the eponym of Rome.  Medicine. A name of a drug, structure, or disease based on or derived from the name of a person.

eschatology - noun - 1.  The branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.  2.  A belief or a doctrine concerning the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, or the Last Judgment.  [Greek eskhatos, last + -LOGY.]

esoteric – not meant to be understood by all

etiology - noun - 1.  a. The study of causes or origins. b. The branch of medicine that deals with the causes or origins of disease.  2.  a. Assignment of a cause, an origin, or a reason for something. b. The cause or origin of a disease or disorder as determined by medical diagnosis.  [Late Latin aetiologia, from Greek aitiologia : aitia, cause + -logia, -logy.]

eureka - interjection.  Used to express triumph upon finding or discovering something.  [Greek heurka, I have found (it) (supposedly exclaimed by Archimedes upon discovering how to measure the volume of an irregular solid and thereby determine the purity of a gold object), first person perfect of heuriskein, to find.]

evil - adjective - 1.  Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant. See Synonyms at bad.  2.  Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.  3.  Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.  4.  Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.  5.  Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
evil - noun - 1.  The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.  2.  That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader's power to do both good and evil.  3.  An evil force, power, or personification.  4.  Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.  [Middle English, from Old English yfel.]

exegetic, exegesis – critical analysis, especially of a text

gunsel – noun, Slang.  A hoodlum or other criminal, especially one who carries a gun.
[Perhaps alteration (influenced by GUN), of Yiddish gendzl, gosling, diminutive of gandz, goose, from Middle High German gans, from Old High German.]

harridan - A woman regarded as scolding and vicious

heresy - noun - 1.  a. An opinion or a doctrine at variance with established religious beliefs, especially dissension from or denial of Roman Catholic dogma by a professed believer or baptized church member. b. Adherence to such dissenting opinion or doctrine.  2.  a. A controversial or unorthodox opinion or doctrine, as in politics, philosophy, or science. b. Adherence to such controversial or unorthodox opinion.  [Middle English heresie, from Old French, from Late Latin haeresis, from Late Greek hairesis, from Greek, a choosing, faction, from hairesthai, to choose, middle voice of hairein, to take.]

heuristic – adjective; Of or relating to a usually speculative formulation serving as a guide in the investigation or solution of a problem: “The historian discovers the past by the judicious use of such a heuristic device as the ideal type.” (Karl J. Weintraub).  Of, relating to, or constituting an educational method in which learning takes place through discoveries that result from investigations made by the student.  Computer Science. Relating to or using a problem-solving technique in which the most appropriate solution of several found by alternative methods is selected at successive stages of a program for use in the next step of the program.  n. A heuristic method or process.  n. Heuristics (used with a sing. verb). The study and application of heuristic methods and processes.

hirsute - hairy

hoi polloi – noun - The common people; the masses.  [Greek, the many : hoi, nominative pl. of ho, the + polloi, nominative pl. of polus, many.]
Word History: We hoi polloi may want to be careful in our use of the term hoi polloi because a few pitfalls lie in wait for those without a knowledge of its background. Hoi polloi is a borrowing of the Greek phrase hoi polloi, which is made up of the form hoi, meaning “the” and used before a plural, and polloi, the plural of polus, “many.”  In Greek hoi polloi had a special sense, “the greater number, the people, the commonalty, the masses.”  This is what the phrase has tended to express in English since its first recorded instance, in an 1837 work by James Fenimore Cooper. One pitfall in the use of hoi polloi lies in the fact that hoi already expresses the sense “the,” so that technically one should not add another the to the phrase, as in the hoi polloi. But this technicality has not stopped many users of the phrase, including Cooper, from doing so. The other pitfall in the use of the phrase is the misuse of it to mean “the elite,” possibly brought about because hoi in the phrase the hoi polloi is reminiscent of high as in high and mighty and also because hoi polloi may recall hoity-toity.

holocaust – Great or total destruction, especially by fire.  Widespread destruction. A great disaster.  Holocaust. The genocide of European Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II: “Israel emerged from the Holocaust and is defined in relation to that catastrophe.” (Emanuel Litvinoff).  A massive slaughter: “An important document in the so-far sketchy annals of the Cambodian holocaust.” (Rod Nordland).  A sacrificial offering that is consumed entirely by flames.
[Middle English, burnt offering, from Old French holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).]
Usage Note: When referring to the massive destruction of human beings by other human beings, holocaust has a secure place in the language. Fully 99 percent of the Usage Panel accepts the use of holocaust in the phrase nuclear holocaust. Sixty percent accepts the sentence As many as two million people may have died in the holocaust that followed the Khmer Rouge takeover in Cambodia. But because of its associations with genocide, extended applications of holocaust may not always be received with equanimity. When the word is used to refer to death brought about by natural causes, the percentage of the Panel's acceptance drops sharply. Only 31 percent of the Panel accepts the sentence In East Africa five years of drought have brought about a holocaust in which millions have died. Just 11 percent approved the use of holocaust to summarize the effects of the AIDS epidemic. This suggests that other figurative usages such as the huge losses in the Savings and Loan holocaust may be viewed as overblown or in poor taste.
Word History: Totality of destruction has been central to the meaning of holocaust since it first appeared in Middle English in the 14th century and referred to the biblical sacrifice in which a male animal was wholly burnt on the altar in worship of God. Holocaust comes from Greek holokauston (“What which is completely burnt”, which was a translation of Hebrew (literally “That which goes up,” - that is, in smoke). In this sense of “burnt sacrifice,” holocaust is still used in some versions of the Bible. In the 17th century the meaning of holocaust broadened to “Something totally consumed by fire,” and the word eventually was applied to fires of extreme destructiveness. In the 20th century holocaust has taken on a variety of figurative meanings, summarizing the effects of war, rioting, storms, epidemic diseases, and even economic failures. Most of these usages arose after World War II, but it is unclear whether they permitted or resulted from the use of holocaust in reference to the mass murder of European Jews and others by the Nazis. This application of the word occurred as early as 1942, but the phrase the Holocaust did not become established until the late 1950's. Here it parallels and may have been influenced by another Hebrew word, shothh (Catastrophe).  In the Bible shoth has a range of meanings including “Personal ruin or devastation” and “Wasteland or desert.”  Shoth was first used to refer to the Nazi slaughter of Jews in 1939, but its phrase ha-shoth (the catastrophe) only became established after World War II. Holocaust has also been used to translate hurban (destruction), another Hebrew word used to summarize the genocide of Jews by the Nazis. This sense of holocaust has since broadened to include the mass slaughter of other peoples, but when capitalized it refers specifically to the destruction of Jews and other Europeans by the Nazis and may also encompass the Nazi persecution of Jews that preceded the outbreak of the war.

hyolotheism – matter is divine, the existence of God is disavowed apart from matter

hylozoism – matter and life are identical

hyperbaton - any intentional deviation from normal word order:  "Whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad." - Euripides.  "Arms and the man I sing." - Virgil.

inchoate - In an initial or early stage; incipient.  Imperfectly formed or developed: a vague, inchoate idea.  [Latin inchoeus, past participle of inchooe, to begin, alteration of incohoe : in-, in. See in-2 + cohum, strap from yoke to harness.]

incontinent – adjective; Not restrained; uncontrolled: incontinent rage.  Lacking normal voluntary control of excretory functions.  Lacking sexual restraint; unchaste.

inductive reason – a posteriori/empirical: from specific -> general
(Deductive reason – a priori: from general -> specific)

ineffable - adjective - 1.  Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. See Synonyms at unspeakable.  2.  Not to be uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of the Deity.  [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin ineffabilis : in-, not. See in-1 + effabilis, utterable (from effa: to utter : ex-, ex- + fable to speak).]

ipecac – noun; A low-growing tropical American shrub (Cephaelis ipecacuanha) having roots and rhizomes that yield emetine. The dried roots and rhizomes of this shrub.  A medicinal preparation made from the dried roots and rhizomes of this shrub that is used to induce vomiting, particularly in cases of poisoning and drug overdose.

isolcolon - repetition of the same grammatical forms in different words:  "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse." - Charles V.  "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

jejune - boring

je ne sais quoi - A quality or an attribute that is difficult to describe or express: "Fishing has lacked a certain je ne sais quoi in terms of its public image, as all activities must that involve beer, worms and one-size-fits-all gimme caps." (Charles Leerhsen).  [French : je, I + ne, not + sais, first person present indicative of savoir, to know + quoi, what.]

labile – adjective; Open to change; adaptable: an emotionally labile person.  Chemistry: constantly undergoing or likely to undergo change; unstable: a labile compound.

the Law of Contradiction: both cannot be true

the Law of Excluded Middle: either a proposition or its denial must be true

liar’s Paradox: “I am a liar.”  Is this a true statement?  “I am an actor.”  “The next statement that I will say will be falst.  The last statement that I said was false.”  “I always lie, but this is a true statement.”  “I am lying.”  Etc.

licit - legal

limn – to describe, to illustrate by drawing

logomachy - noun - 1.  A dispute about words.  2.  A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.  [Greek logomakhia, from logomakhein, to fight about words : logo-, logo- + makh_, battle.]

mandragora – mandrake, a poisonous root

manichaean - A believer in Manichaeism.  Of or relating to Manichaeism; dualistic.

memento mori – remember you too will die.

metamorphosis - noun - 1.  A transformation, as by magic or sorcery.  2.  A marked change in appearance, character, condition, or function.  3.  Biology. A change in the form and often habits of an animal during normal development after the embryonic stage. Metamorphosis includes, in insects, the transformation of a maggot into an adult fly and a caterpillar into a butterfly and, in amphibians, the changing of a tadpole into a frog.  4.  Pathology. A usually degenerative change in the structure of a particular body tissue.  [Latin metamorphosis, from Greek, from metamorphoun, to transform : meta-, meta- + morph form.]

metaphysics: a priori speculation upon questions that are unanswerable to scineific observation, analysis or experiment.  Examines the nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, substance and attribute, fact and value.

metempsychosis - noun - Reincarnation.  [Late Latin metempsyhosis, from Greek metempsukhosis, from metempsukhousthai, to transmigrate : meta-, meta- + empsukhos, animate (en, in; See en-2 + psukh + soul).]

the mind-stuff theory of Monism: matter and mind are consubstantial, each being an aspect of the other

Monism - noun, Philosophy.  1. The view in metaphysics that reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system.     2.  The doctrine that mind and matter are formed, or reducible to, the same ultimate substance or principle of being.

myrmidon - Greek Mythology. A member of a warlike Thessalian people who were ruled by Achilles and followed him on the expedition against Troy.  myrmidon. A faithful follower who carries out orders without question.

nance – noun, Offensive Slang.  Used as a disparaging term for an effeminate man, especially a gay or homosexual man.  [Short for the name Nancy.]

nonpareil - Having no equal; peerless: the Yankees' nonpareil center fielder.  Noun; A person or thing that has no equal; a paragon. See Synonyms at paragon.  See painted bunting.  A small, flat chocolate drop covered with white pellets of sugar.

noumenon - An object that can be intuited only by the intellect and not perceived by the senses.  An object independent of intellectual intuition of it or of sensuous perception of it. Also called thing-in-itself.  In the philosophy of Kant, an object, such as the soul, that cannot be known through perception, although its existence can be demonstrated.  Noumenal/noumenon

ontology - noun - The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being.

palimpsest - noun - 1.  A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible.  2.  An object, a place, or an area that reflects its history: "Spaniards in the sixteenth century . . . saw an ocean moving south . . . through a palimpsest of bayous and distributary streams in forested paludal basins."  (John McPhee).  [Latin palimpsitum, from Greek palimpsiton, neuter of palimpsitos, scraped again : palin, again + psi, to scrape.]

palingenesis - noun - 1.  The doctrine of transmigration of souls; metempsychosis.  2.  Biology. The repetition by a single organism of various stages in the evolution of its species during embryonic development.  [Greek palin, again + -GENESIS.]

palindrome - repetition in which the sentence reads the same forward or backward:  "Able was I ere I saw Elba." - attributed to Napoleon.  "Madam, I'm Adam." - attributed to the first man addressing the first woman.  "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama." - John Frostad.

paresis – slight or partial paralysis

pathos - noun - 1.  A quality, as of an experience or a work of art, that arouses feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow.  2.  The feeling, as of sympathy or pity, so aroused.  [Greek, suffering.]

pelmanism - mnemonics, mnemotechnics, mnemotechny, art of memory.

peripatetic - Walking about or from place to place; traveling on foot.  Peripatetic. Of or relating to the philosophy or teaching methods of Aristotle, who conducted discussions while walking about in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.  One who walks from place to place; an itinerant.  Peripatetic. A follower of the philosophy of Aristotle; an Aristotelian.

periphrasis - a roundabout means of expression:  "To meet the demands of nature." - Sallust.  "From pro's and con's they fell to a warmer way of disputing." - Cervantes.

petitio principii – In logic, the fallacy of assuming in the premise of an argument that which one wishes to prove in the conclusion; a begging of the question.

phenomenology – noun, philosophy; The study of all possible appearances in human experience, during which considerations of objective reality and of purely subjective response are left out of account.  A movement based on this study, originated about 1905 by Edmund Husserl.

Phyrric victory – victory despite great losses

pimento – Spanish for Pepper [Spanish pimiento, red or green pepper, pepper plant, from pimienta, black pepper, pepper fruit, from Late Latin pigmenta, pl. of pigmentum, vegetable juice, condiment, pigment, from Latin, pigment, from pingere, to paint.]

platitude – noun; A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant, cliché.  Lack of originality; triteness.

poetry -  noun - 1.  The art or work of a poet.  2.  a. Poems regarded as forming a division of literature. b. The poetic works of a given author, group, nation, or kind.  3.  A piece of literature written in meter; verse.  4.  Prose that resembles a poem in some respect, as in form or sound.  5.  The essence or characteristic quality of a poem.  6.  The quality of a poem, as possessed by an object, act, or experience: the poetry of the dance movements.  [Middle English poetrie, from Old French, from Medieval Latin potria, from Latin pota, poet. See poet.]

polyptoton - repetition of the same word or root with different grammatical forms or functions:  "Who shall stand guard to the guards themselves?" - Juvenal.  "Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." - Robert Frost.

post hoc - In or of the form of an argument in which one event is asserted to be the cause of a later event simply by virtue of having happened earlier: coming to conclusions post hoc; post hoc reasoning.

prosopopeia - noun - 1.  A figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person is represented as speaking.  2.  See personification.  [Latin prosopopoeia, from Greek prosopopoiia : prosopon, face, mask, dramatic character (pros-, pros- + opon, face, from ops, eye). See myopia + poiein, to make.]

pulchritudinous - Characterized by or having great physical beauty and appeal.

recondite = abstruse = ?

redolent – adjective; Having or emitting fragrance; aromatic.  Suggestive; reminiscent: a campaign redolent of machine politics.

satyriasis - noun - Excessive, often uncontrollable sexual desire in a man.  [Late Latin, from Greek saturiasis, from saturos, satyr.]

scopophilia - voyeurism

seraglio – a large harem, or a sultan’s palace

shibboleth – A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another.  A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword.  A   commonplace saying or idea.  A custom or practice that betrays one as an outsider.  [Ultimately from Hebrew “Sibbolet”, torrent of water, from the use of this word to distinguish one tribe from another, who pronounced it sibboleth (Judges 12:4-6).]

the Social Contract - agreement by which human beings are said to have abandoned the state of nature in order to form the society in which they now live

solecism - A nonstandard usage or grammatical construction.  A violation of etiquette.  An impropriety, a mistake, or an incongruity.

sophism - noun - 1.  A plausible but fallacious argument.  2.  Deceptive or fallacious argumentation.  [Middle English sophime, sophisme, from Old French sophime, from Latin sophisma, from Greek, from sophizesthai, to be subtle, from sophos, clever, wise.]

sophistry - false reasoning:

soteriology -  noun - The theological doctrine of salvation as effected by Jesus.
[Greek sothion, deliverance (from soth, savior, from saos, sos, safe) + -LOGY.]

specious – adjective; Having the ring of truth or plausibility but actually fallacious: a specious argument.  Deceptively attractive.
Usage Note: A specious argument is not simply a false one but one that has the ring of truth. Those aware of the specialized use of the word may therefore sense a certain contradiction in hearing an argument described as obviously specious or specious on the face of things; if the fallaciousness is apparent, the argument was probably not plausible-sounding to begin with.

stalactite - An icicle-shaped mineral deposit, usually calcite or aragonite, hanging from the roof of a cavern, formed from the dripping of mineral-rich water.  [New Latin stalactìtês, from Greek stalaktos, dripping, from stalassein, stalak-, to drip.]
Word History: The words stalagmite and stalactite have confused many a person. A look into the history of the Greek sources of these two words may help. Both words can be traced back to the word stalassein, “to drip,” which is appropriate since both words denote deposits in caves formed by the dripping of mineral-rich water. The Greek base from which stalassein was formed was stalak- and to this base were added several endings that concern us, specifically -ma, a noun suffix most frequently denoting the result of an action, -mo-, a suffix denoting the action of a verb as well as a result, and -to-, an adjective suffix forming verbal adjectives. With these suffixes and the addition of the inflectional endings, as well as a sound change from (k) to (g) before (m), we get stalagma, “that which drops, a drop,” stalagmos, “dropping, dripping of stalactites,” and stalaktos, “dropping, dripping.” Using these Greek words, Olaus Wormius formed the Modern Latin word stalactìtês, the stalac- part meaning “dripping” and the -ìtês part being commonly used to name fossils and minerals when preceded by a form expressing a physical characteristic, in this case “dripping.” Wormius also used the term stalagmìtês, the stalag- portion expressing the notion of what drops, taken either from stalagma, “that which drops, a drop,” or stalagmos, “dropping of stalactites.” Stalactìtês and stalagmìtês, of course, are the sources of our English words stalactite (first recorded in 1677), the formation on the tops of caves, and stalagmite (first recorded in 1681), the formation on the bottoms of caves. They have been causing trouble ever since.

stalagmite - A conical mineral deposit, usually calcite or aragonite, built up on the floor of a cavern, formed from the dripping of mineral-rich water.  [New Latin stalagmìtês, a drop, from Greek stalagma, a drop and or stalagmos, dropping, both from stalassein, stalak-, to drip.]

sub specie aeternitatis – “under the form of eternity.”  Spinoza

syllogism - noun - 1.  Logic. A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All human beings are mortal, the major premise, I am a human being, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion.  2.  Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.  3.  A subtle or specious piece of reasoning.  [Middle English silogisme, from Old French, from Latin syllogismus, from Greek sullogismos, from sullogizesthai, to infer : sun-, syn- + logizesthai, to count, reckon (from logos, reason).]

synchronicity - noun - 1.  The state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism.  2.  Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related, conceived in the theory of Carl Jung as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.

syncretism -  noun - 1.  Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.  2.  Linguistics. The merging of two or more originally different inflectional forms.  [Greek sunkruismos, union, from sunkruizein, to unite (in the manner of the Cretan cities)

syzygy - noun - 1.  Astronomy. a. Either of two points in the orbit of a celestial body where the body is in opposition to or in conjunction with the sun. b. Either of two points in the orbit of the moon when the moon lies in a straight line with the sun and Earth. c. The configuration of the sun, the moon, and Earth lying in a straight line.  2.  The combining of two feet into a single metrical unit in classical prosody.  [Late Latin sizygia, from Greek suzugia, union, from suzugos, paired : sun-, syn- + zugon, yoke.]

tergiversate - verb, intransitive - 1.  To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate.  2.  To change sides; apostatize.  [Latin tergiversa, tergiversa- : tergum, the back + versae, to turn.]

thaumaturgy - noun - The working of miracles or magic feats.

theosophy – religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the true nature of God.

transubstantiation - noun - 1.  Conversion of one substance into another.  2.  Theology. The doctrine holding that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, although their appearances remain the same.

treacle – noun; Cloying speech or sentiment.  Chiefly British. Molasses.  A medicinal compound formerly used as an antidote for poison.

truth - noun - 1.  Conformity to fact or actuality.  2.  A statement proven to be or accepted as true.  3.  Sincerity; integrity.  4.  Fidelity to an original or a standard.  5.  Reality; actuality.  6.  Truth. Christian Science. God.  [Middle English trewthe, loyalty, from Old English trewth.]

tu quoque argument - A retort accusing an accuser of a similar offense or similar behavior.  [Latin tu quoque, you also : tu you + quoque, also.]

ululation – to howl, to wail

wabi-sabi – Japanese: austere refinement/quiet simplicity

yegg - Slang. - A thief, especially a burglar or safecracker.  [Origin unknown.]

zyzzyva - noun - Any of various tropical American weevils of the genus Zyzzyva, often destructive to plants.  [New Latin Zyzzyva, genus name, probably from Zyzza, former genus of leafhoppers.]

From Perry Smith’s notes:

Perry Smith is the Kansas killer whose life and death was recorded in the Truman Capote book In Cold Blood.  He fancied himself an intellectual and also wrote down interesting words that he came across.  His choice of words to record reflects a certain grisly fixation: Thanatoid = deathlike, nescient = ignorance, facinorious = atrociously wicked, hagiophobia = a morbid fear of holy places, lapidicolous = living under stones, as with certain blind beetles, psiloger = a person who would fain pass as a philosopher, omophagia = eating raw flesh, megalodactylous = having unusually large fingers, myrtophobia = fear of night and darkness

A Collection of Animal Collectives:

a bale of turtles, a band of gorillas, a bed of clams or oysters, a bevy of quail or swans, a brace of ducks, a brood of chicks, a cast of hawks, a cete of badgers, a charm of goldfinches, a cloud of gnats, a clowder of cats, a clutch of chicks, a clutter of cats, a colony of ants, a congregation of plovers, a covey of quail or partridge, a crash of rhinoceri, a cry of hounds, a down of hares, a drift of swine, a drove of cattle or sheep, a exaltation of larks, a flight of birds, a flock of sheep or geese, a gaggle of geese, a gam of whales, a gang of elks, a grist of bees, a herd of elephants, a horde of gnats, a husk of hares, a kindle or kendle of kittens, a knot of toads, a leap of leopards, a leash of greyhounds or foxes, a litter of pigs, a mob of kangaroos, a murder of crows, a muster of peacocks, a mute of hounds, a nest of vipers, a nest or nide of pheasants, a pack of hounds or wolves, a pair of horses, a pod of whales or seals, a pride of lions, a school of fish, a sedge or siege of cranes, a shoal of fish or pilchards, a skein of geese, a skulk of foxes, a sleuth of bears, a sounder of boars or swine, a span of mules, a spring of teals, a swarm of bees, a team of ducks or horses, a tribe or trip of goats, a troop of kangaroos or monkeys, a volery of birds, a watch of nightingales, a wing of plovers, a yoke of oxen,

Dubious words section:

acubeating, aurora boreality, beatality or beatnality, creality or creativitality or creatality or creolality, coprolalia, galacticide, ostrokinesioposteriitis - distress at the ability to use words like this in a sentence(?), palilalia, pyroflatulation, secular popeyeism, shysiocracy, Siberiality or Hyper-boreality, stuperiority.

Unknown Words: vide supra, prima facie.


Divineness: the Deity (noun):  the Deity, God, personal god, Supreme Being, Divine Being, Alpha and Omega, the Infinite, the Eternal, the All-wise, the Almighty, the Most High, the All-holy, the All-merciful
Ruler of Heaven and Earth, Judge of all men, Maker of all things, Creator, Preserver, Allah
Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah, Adonai, ineffable name, I AM, name of God, Tetragrammaton, God of Abraham, God of Moses, Lord of Hosts, God of our fathers, Our Father, Demiurge, All-Father, Great Spirit, manitou, Ahura Mazda, Ormazd, Krishna

Heaven: heaven (noun):  heaven, presence of God, abode of God, throne of God, kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, heavenly kingdom, kingdom come, Paradise, abode of the blessed, abode of the saints, gates of St. Peter, Abraham's bosom, eternal home, happy home, eternal rest, celestial bliss, blessed state, nirvana, seventh heaven, the Millennium, earthly Paradise, heaven on earth, Zion, Land of Beulah, New Jerusalem, Holy City, Celestial City, afterlife, the hereafter, eternal life, eternity, FUTURE STATE, resurrection, Assumption, translation, glorification, deification, apotheosis

Devil: Satan (noun):  Satan, Lucifer, fallen angel, rebel angel, Archfiend, Prince of Darkness, Prince of this world, serpent, Old Serpent, Tempter, Adversary, Antichrist, Common Enemy, Enemy of mankind, Diabolus, Father of Lies, evil genie, Shaitan, Eblis, King of Hell, angel of the bottomless pit, Apollyon, Abaddon, the Foul Fiend, the Devil, the Evil One, Wicked One, Old Nick, cloven hoof, spirit of evil, principle of evil, Angra Mainyu or Ahriman

Hell: hell (noun):  hell, place of the dead, lower world, nether world, nether regions, infernal regions, underworld, grave, limbo, Sheol, Hades, purgatory, perdition, place of the damned, abode of evil spirits, inferno, Satan's palace, Pandemonium, abyss, bottomless pit, Abaddon, place of torment, Tophet, Gehenna, lake of fire and brimstone, hellfire, everlasting fire, unquenchable fire, mythic hell, Hel, Niflheim, realm of Pluto, Hades, Tartarus, Avernus, Erebus, river of hell, Acheron, Styx, Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe, Stygian Ferryman, Charon, infernal watchdog, Cerberus, infernal judge, Minos, Rhadamanthus, nether gods, chthonians, Pluto, Osiris, CHTHONIAN DEITY, Pantheon: classical and nonclassical deities: chthonian deity (noun):  chthonian deity, Ge, Gaea or Gaia, Dis Pater, Orcus, Hades, Pluto, Persephone, Erectheus, Trophonius, Pytho, Eumenides, Erinyes, Furies

sophism - sophism, a sophistry, specious argument, insincere argument, exploded argument, fallacious argument, illogicality, fallacy, paralogism, bad logic, loose thinking, sloppy thinking, solecism, flaw, logical flaw, flaw in the argument, begging the question, petitio principio, circular reasoning, ignoratio elenchi, unwarranted conclusion, non sequitur, irrelevancy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, contradiction in terms, antilogy, ignotum per ignotius, weak case, bad case, false case

truth - veracity, verity, verisimilitude. These nouns refer to the quality of being in accord with fact or reality. Truth is a comprehensive term that in all of its nuances implies accuracy and honesty: "Every man is fully satisfied that there is such a thing as truth, or he would not ask any questions." (Charles S. Peirce).  "We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences." (Charles Seymour).  Veracity is adherence to the truth: "Veracity is the heart of morality." (Thomas H. Huxley).  Verity often applies to an enduring or repeatedly demonstrated truth: "Beliefs that were accepted as eternal verities" (James Harvey Robinson).  Verisimilitude is the quality of having the appearance of truth or reality: "Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." (W.S. Gilbert).


“Sir, you have tasted two whole worms; you have hissed all my mystery lectures and been caught fighting a liar in the quad; you will leave by the next town drain.”  Rev. W. A. Spooner (attributed to) (1844-1930), Warden of New College, Oxford.  One of many Spoonerisms (now considered apocryphal).

"Time is the substance from which I am made.  Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire."
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian author. Labyrinths, “A New Refutation of Time.” (1964).

"To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god."
Jorge Luis Borges (1899?986), Argentinian author. Other Inquisitions, “The Meeting in a Dream.” (1952).

"I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does."
Jorge Luis Borges (1899?986), Argentinian author. Labyrinths, “A New Refutation of Time.” (1964).

Quello che voi siele noi era vamo, Qhello cheroi siamo voi sarete.
Comme vous nous etrons, Comme nous vous serez.
Como vosotros nosotros eramos, como nosotros vosotros series
As you are so was I, As I am so you will be.

“Just because you’re an empiricist, doesn’t mean you’re infallible.  Just because you’re infallible doesn’t mean you’re omniscient.”  Peter Hoflich, Peter Hoflich, “Pornological Irritainments,” (1996)

"Talking at length about a topic that bores the listener is not only impolite but sometimes dangerous."  A.A. Milne

On writing: "For example, there's a trick that nearly every writer uses, of inserting at least one long, obscure word into each story.  This makes the reader think that the man is very wise and clever.  So I have the (writing) machine do the same thing.  There'll be a whole stack of long words stored away just for this purpose, in the word-memory section," he said, epexegetically.  Roald Dahl, "the Great Automatic Grammatizor."

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