Favourite Words A to Z

I have read every word and entry of the unabridged Second Edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary and during that time I kept notebooks on hand to make note of words that captured my interest. Some I liked how they sounded, some I liked the definition, some made me laugh, some stirred up memories and nostalgic moments, some made me contemplate aspects of society, and so I ended up filling two notebooks of words that impacted me in some way. This list is the very condensed version of those two notebooks.

Acidulous – sharp tongued, sour-tempered

Acrimonious – extremely bitter in manner or temper

Afflatus – a divine creative impulse; inspiration

Affluenza – pursuit/obsession with wealth, material things, an affluent lifestyle to a degree that is detrimental to one’s mental health and to society as a whole

Ahimsa – (in Hindu, Buddhist and Jainist tradition) respect for all living things and avoidance of violence against others in thought and deed

Akimbo – (of the arms) with hands on the hips and elbows turned outwards

Alfresco – in the open air

Alligator Pear – an avocado

Almighty Voice – Jean-Baptise, who held off 100 cops for 2 days because he illegally butchered a cow in 1897

Alpenglow – rosy light of the setting or rising sun on high mountains

Alterity – state of being other or different

Amen – so be it

Animal spirits – natural exuberance

Anxious – uneasy in the mind

Arcane – mysterious; secret; understood by few

Ardour – burning enthusiasm, passion

Arsenic hour – the period in the late afternoon when youngsters become particularly cranky and unmanageable

Auld lang syne – times lost past

Azoic – having no trace of life

Badinage – humorous or playful ridicule

Bafflegab – official or professional jargon which confuses more than it clarifies

Banjax – ruin, incapacitate

Barf – an attack of vomiting

Barley sandwich – a beer

Bedazzle – confuse by excess of brilliance

Bibliomania – an extreme enthusiasm for collecting and possessing books

Blood and thunder – sensational, melodramatic

Bob’s your uncle – an expression of completion or satisfaction

Bone shaker – 1. A type of bike with solid tires 2. A decrepit or uncomfortable old vehicle

Boondoggle – work of little or no value done merely to appear busy

Brobdingnagian – gigantic, colossal (from Gulliver’s Travels)

Go bush – leave one’s usual surroundings; run wild

Cadaverous – 1. Corpse-like 2. Deathly pale or gaunt

Caprice – an unaccountable or whimsical change of mind or conduct

Careworn – showing the effects of prolonged worry

Carpe diem – seize the day; enjoy the present and give little thought to the future (Latin)

Catachresis – an incorrect use of words

Catawampus – askew, awry

Confute – prove (a person) to be in error

Constellate – 2. adorn as with stars

Contumacy/contumacious – stubborn refusal to obey or comply

Corduroy road – a road made of tree trunks laid across muddy or swampy ground

Corpulent – portly; fat

Create – 1a. cause to exist; make (something) new or original

Crepuscular – 1a. of twilight b. dim

Crocodile – 2. A line of school children etc walking in pairs

Dalliance – 1. A leisurely or frivolous passing of time

Dance of death (also danse macabre) – a medieval dance in which a personified Death is represented as leading all to the grave

Darkling – in the dark; in the night

Defenestration – the action of throwing (esp. a person) out of a window

Delete – remove or obliterate (written or printed matter)

Devastating – crushingly effective

Dinkum oil – the honest truth

Disabuse – 1. Free from a mistaken idea 2. Disillusion, undeceive

The dogs of war – the havoc accompanying war

Dolce far niente – pleasant idleness (Italian for “sweet doing nothing”)

Dream in colour – be wildly unrealistic

Effulgent – radiant, resplendent, or shining out brilliantly

Egg beater – a helicopter

Egghead – a person regarded as intellectual or highbrow

Eldritch – 1. Weird, spooky 2. Hideous

Elegiac – 1. Having a pleasing quality of gentle and wistful mournfulness

Empurple – 2. Make angry

Empyrean – the visible heavens

Ennui – boredom or mental weariness from lack of occupation or interest

Ephemeron – 1b. a short lived thing

Eructation – the act or an instance of belching

Ex nihilo – out of nothing (Latin)

Fantods – a state or attach of uneasiness or unreasonableness

Fart – 2. An annoying or unpleasant person

Fie – (archaic) expressing disgust, shame, or a pretense of outraged propriety (Old French from Latin, fi, an exclamation of disgust at a stench)

Formication – a sensation as of ants crawling over the skin

Frankenfood – a genetically modified food

Fuddle duddle – go to hell; drop dead

Fugacious – 1. Fleeting, evanescent, hard to capture or keep

Futureshock – a state of distress or disorientation due to rapid social or technological change

Galoot – a person, esp. a strange or clumsy one

Galumph – 2. Go prancing in triumph

Goober – a peanut

Gourmandize – 1. Eat or devour voraciously

Grandiloquent – 1. Pompous or inflated in language 2. Given to boastful talk

The great unwashed – the mass or multitude of ordinary people

Hell’s half acre – a great distance

Hirsutism – the excessive growth of hair on the face and body

Hoodwink – deceive, delude

Iconoclasm – 1. The breaking of images 2. The assailing of cherished beliefs or conventions

Ill-starred – unlucky; destined to failure

Inkhorn – 2. (of a term, word, language, etc) obscure; literary

Intestinal fortitude – courage; guts

Kiss of death – an act or situation (often apparently friendly) which causes ruin

Limpid – 2. (of writing) clear and easily comprehended

Lower the boom on – 1. Inflict a physical defeat on (a person)

Magniloquent – grand or grandiose speech

Moonstruck – 1. Romantically captivated 2. Mentally deranged

Nimrod – a skilled hunter

Normal school – a school or college for training teachers

Nullity – 2a. the condition of being non-existent b. a mere nothing

Obscurantism – opposition to knowledge and enlightenment

Obstinate – 3. Inflexible, self-willed

Obstreperous – 1. Unruly, resisting control 2. Noisy, vociferous

Odium – 1. A general or widespread dislike or reprobation incurred by a person or association with an action. 2. Hatred

Offence – 2. A wounding of the feelings

Olivaceous – olive green; of a dusky yellowish green

Otiose – serving no practical purpose; not required; functionless

Palooka – an oaf or lout (origin unknown)

Paper tiger – an apparently threatening but ineffectual person or thing

Peregrinate – travel; journey, esp. extensively or at leisure

Perfervid – impassioned; very intense

Perishing – freezing cold, extremely chilly

Pinguid – fat, oily, or greasy

Perspicacious – having or showing discernment or insight; perceptive

Phantasmagoria – a shifting series of real or imaginary figures as seen in a dream or as created as an effect in a film, etc

Poisoned chalice – an assignment, award, honour, etc which is likely to prove a disadvantage or source of problems to the recipient

Pugnacious – quarrelsome; disposed to fight

Purple – 2. (of writing, speech, etc) excessively elaborate or ornate

Pyrrhic – (of a victory) won at too great a cost to be of use to the victor

Redivivus – (placed after a noun) come back to life

Refulgent – shining, radiant; gloriously bright

Rusticate – 1. Retire to or live in the country

Saturnine – 1. A sluggishly gloomy temperament 2. Dark and brooding

Sayonara – goodbye (Japanese, lit. “if it be so”)

Scintillate – 1. Talk cleverly or wittily; be brilliant

Self-willed – obstinately pursuing one’s wishes

Snafu – 1. A confused, muddled, or messed up condition or state (acronym from Situation Normal: All Fucked (or Fouled) Up)

Snarf – eat or drink greedily

Sough – make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound as of the wind in trees, etc; a gentle rushing or murmuring sound

Suggest itself – (of an idea, etc) come into the mind

Svelte – slender, graceful, elegant

Tatterdemalion – a person in ragged or tattered clothing; ragged or tattered, dilapidated

Tenebrous – dark, gloomy

Thunder mug – a chamber pot

Timorous – 1. Timid; easily alarmed 2. Frightened

Transmogrify – transform or be transformed esp. in a magical or surprising manner

Triskaidekaphobia – fear or superstition regarding the number 13

Troglodyte – 2a. a person regarded as living in wilful ignorance, esp. of current trends and subjects; a conservative or old-fashioned person

Truculent – 1. Vehemently defiant

Tube steak – a wiener

Unctuous – 1. Unpleasantly flattering

The Unknown – the postulated absolute or ultimate reality

Vacuity – 1a. absolute emptiness 2a. complete absence of ideas; vacancy of mind or thought

Veracious – 1. Speaking or disposed to speak the truth

Verdant – green, fresh-coloured

Welkin – (archaic) sky; the upper air

Weltschmerz – a feeling of pessimism; an apathetic or vaguely yearning outlook on life (German from welt world + schmerz pain)

Wisdom – 2. Experience and knowledge together with the power of applying them critically or practically

Word painting – a vivid description in writing

The worm turns – a meek person retaliates after being pushed too far

Wound – 3. (literary) the pangs of love

Wunderkammer – a place where a collection of curiosities and rarities is exhibited (German, lit. “wonderchamber”)

Xanadu – used to convey an impression of a place as almost unattainably luxurious or beautiful

Yaffle – an armful or small load, esp. of cod, firewood, etc

Zeitgeist – 1. The spirit of the times

Zephyr – (literary) a mild gentle wind or breeze