Word of the Day

A good vocabulary is one of a speaker’s most important tools. Without words, a speaker is much like a carpenter without a saw, or for that matter, wood.

This page contains selected vocabulary words which will make sure your “toolbox” is always full of powerful, effective words.


prosateur /pro-zuh-TUR/ (noun) A person who writes prose, especially as a livelihood.

bumptious /BUMP-shus/ (adj.) Presumptuously, obtusely, and often noisily self-assertive.

carapace /CARE-uh-pace/ (n.) A hard, bony outer covering, such as the shell of a turtle or crustacean.

vituperative /vi-TOO-per-uh-tiv/ (adj.) Using or marked by harshly abusive censure.

voluble /VOL-u-ble/ (adj.) Characterized by ready or rapid speech.

turgid /TUR-jid/ (adj.) Swollen and distended; (Of language) pompous, bombastic.

noisome /NOY-sum/ (adj.) Offensive to the point of arousing disgust; harmful or dangerous.

hirsute /her-soot or her-SOOT/ (adj.) Roughly hairy; having long, thick, or untrimmed hair.

scurf /skurf/ (noun) Scaly or shredded dry skin, such as dandruff; a loose, scaly crust coating a surface, especially of a plant.

flounce /flauns/ (verb, noun) To move or go with emphatic movements.

eleemosynary /e-lee-MO-sin-ary/ (adj.) Of or dependent on charity.

apostasy /euh-POSS-tuh-see/ (n.) Abandonment of one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause.

omerta /o-MER-tah/ (noun) Secrecy sworn to by oath; code of silence.

melancholia /mel-en-KO-lee-uh/ A mental disorder characterized by severe depression, apathy and withdrawal.

fata morgana /fata mor-GAH-nuh/ (noun) An optical phenomenon that creates the illusion of water, often with inverted reflections of distant objects, and results from distortion of light by alternate layers of hot and cool air. Also called mirage.

imbroglio /im-BROL-yoh/ (noun) A difficult or intricate situation; an entanglement; a confused or complicated disagreement; a confused heap; a tangle.

provenance /PROV-eh-nens, also PROV-eh-NAHNTS/ (n.) Place of origin, derivation. Proof of authenticity of past ownership (esp., art works and antiques).

pedantic /pe-DAN-tik/ (adjective) Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules.

nonpareil /non-peh-REL or [rarely] non-peh-REY/ (n.) An individual of unequaled excellence, a paragon. A small flat disk of chocolate covered with white sugar pellets, or sugar in small pellets of various colors.

contumacious /con-toom-AY-shius/ (adj.) Stubbornly resistant to authority.

pedagogue /PED-a-gog/ (noun) A schoolteacher; an educator; one who instructs in a pedantic or dogmatic manner.

peregrination /PARE-ih-gri-nate/ A journey from place to place, especially on foot; a journey through or over, a traversal.

flummery /FLUM-uh-ree/ (n.) Meaningless flattery or silly talk.

afflatus /eh-FLAY-tuhs/ (n.) A strong creative impulse; divine inspiration.

oenophile /OH-nee-uh-file or oh-nee-uh-FYLE/ (n.) A lover or connoisseur of wine.

bromidic /bro-MID-ik/ (adj.) Lacking originality, trite.

gasconade /gas-kuh-NAHD/ (n.) Boastful or blustering talk.

shambolic /sham-BOHL-ik/ (adj.) Disorderly, chaotic, or undisciplined in procedure, behavior or manner.

muzzy /MUH-zee/ (adj.) Muddled or confused in mind; blurred or hazy.

dearth /durth/ An inadequate amount, esp. of food; scarcity.

rubicund /ROO-bi-cund/ (adjective) Inclined to a healthy rosiness; ruddy.

palilogy /puh-LIL-uh-jee/ (noun) The technique of repeating a word or phrase for emphasis.

aspersion /aeh-SPER-zhun or aeh-SPER-shen/ (n.) An unfavorable or damaging remark; slander. A sprinking, especially with holy water.

battology /buh-TOL-uh-jee/ (noun) Wearisome repetition of words in speaking or writing.

hubris /HYOO-bris/ (n.) Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance.

assiduous /a-SID-yoo-us/ (adj.) Hard-working; persevering. Undertaken with perseverance and care.

vexatious /vek-SAY-shus/ (adj.) Causing or creating irritation, annoying. Full of annoyance or distress; harassed. Intended to irritate or annoy.

bloviation /BLOH-vee-ay’-shun/ (noun) Speech or writing characterized by verboseness and windiness; long-winded speech lacking substance.

execration /EHK-sih-KRAY-shun/ (noun) The act of cursing; a curse; something that is cursed or loathed.

raillery /RAY-ler-ee/ (n.) Good-natured ridicule, banter. An instance of teasing, jest.

bovarism /BO-vuh-riz-em/ (noun) An exaggerated, especially glamorized, estimate of oneself; conceit.

sedulous /SEJ-e-les/ (adj.) Involving or accomplished with careful perseverance. Diligent in application or pursuit.

improvident /im-PROV-I-dent/ (adjective) Not providing for the future; thriftless. Rash; incautious.

maudlin /MOD-linn/ (adj.) Excessively and effusively sentimental; foolishly and tearfully sentimental. Also, tearfully sentimental from too much liquor.

tractate /TRAK-tayt/ (noun) A treatise; an essay.

abjure /ab-JOOR/ (verb) To renounce under oath; forswear. To recant solemnly; repudiate. To give up (an action or practice, for example); abstain from.

 jejune /juh-JOON/ (adj.) not interesting; dull; lacking maturity; childish

rue /ROO/ (noun and verb) To feel regret, remorse, or sorrow for

impressment /im-PRES-ment/ (noun) The act of seizing for public use or of impressing into public service

officious /eh-FISH-es/ (adj.) Marked by excessive eagerness in offering unwanted services or advice to others; impertinent, meddlesome

interrex /IN-tuhr-reks/ (noun) A person holding supreme authority in a state during an interregnum (the interval of time between the end of a sovereign’s reign and the accession of a successor)

pandiculation /pan-DIK-yuh-lay-shuhn/ (noun) The act of stretching oneself.

trichotillomania /trik-uh-til-uh-MAY-nee-uh/ (noun) A compulsion to pull out one’s hair

contumely /CON-too-muh-lee/ (noun) Rudeness or contempt arising from arrogance; insolence

emolument /ih-MAL-ye-ment/ (noun) Compensation or perquisites arising from office or employment

cathexis /kuh-THEK-sis/ (noun, plural cathexes) /-THEK-seez/ Concentration of emotional energy on an object or idea

arctophile /ARK-tuh-fyl/ (noun) A person who is very fond of and is usually a collector of teddy bears

abulic /a-BYOO-lik/ (adj.) Having an abnormal lack of ability to act or to make decisions; experiencing a paralysis of the will

acedia /uh-SEE-dee-uh/ (noun) Spiritual torpor and apathy; ennui

symbiosis /sim-bee-O-sis, -bi-/ (noun, plural symbioses /-seez) A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member; A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence

thanatophobia /than-uh-tuh-FO-bee-uh/ (noun) An abnormal fear of death

amusia /ay-MYOO-zee-uh/ (noun) The inability to produce or comprehend music or musical sounds

dysesthesia /dis-es-THEE-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh/ (noun) Any impairment of the senses, especially of the sense of touch; A condition in which light physical contact of the skin causes pain

doggerel /DO-ger-el or DOG-er-el/ (noun) Crudely or irregularly fashioned verse, often in a humorous or burlesque nature; poetic verse marked by triviality or inferiority

sanctimonious /sang-ti-MOAN-ee-us/ (adj.) Affecting piety or making a display of holiness

acalculia /ay-kal-KYOO-lee-uh/ (noun) Inability or loss of the ability to perform arithmetic operations

anhedonia /an-hee-DO-nee-uh/ (noun) Lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it

anosmia /an-OZ-mee-uh, -OS-/ (noun) Absence or loss of the sense of smell

paramnesia /par-am-NEE-zhuh/ (noun) A distortion of memory in which fact and fantasy are confused; the inability to recall the correct meaning of a word

abstruse /ab-STROOS/ (adj.) Not easy to understand

farrago /feh-RAH-go/ (noun) A confused mixture; jumble; hodgepodge

palliate /PAL-ee-ate/ (verb) To lessen the severity of (pain, disease, etc.) without curing

brachiate /BRAY-kee-ate/ (verb) To swing by the arms from branch to branch, like an ape

animus /AN-i-muhs/ (noun) A feeling of animosity; ill will; An attitude that informs one’s actions; disposition

freshet /FRESH-it/ (noun) A great rise or overflowing of a stream caused by heavy rains or melted snow

allision /uh-LISH-shen/ (noun) The act of dashing against, or striking upon

cupidity /kyoo-PID-ih-tee/ (noun) Excessive desire, especially for wealth; covetousness or avarice

hawkshaw /HAWK-shaw/ (noun) A detective

tautological /to-TOL-oj-ical/ adj. needlessly repetitive

strategem /STRAT-a-jem/ n. deceptive scheme

decorous /DEK-o-rus/ adj. proper

puerile /PU-er-il/ adj. childish

archipelago /ark-i-PEL-a-go/ n. a group of closely located islands

apotheosis /a=po-the-O-sis/ n. to glorification

cower /COW-er/ v. shrink, as from fear

verbiage /VERB-e-age/ n. pompous array of words

retrench /re-TRENCH/ v. economize

compunction /kom-PUNGK-shon/ n. remorse

germinal /JURM-in-ul/ adj. in the earliest stage of development

jaunty /JONT-i/ adj. stylish or carefree

conflagration /kon-fla-GRASH-on/ n. great fire

unicameral /yu-ni-KA-me-rul/ adj. having only one lawmaking chamber

elocution /e-le-KYU-shun/ n. the art of effective public speaking

megalopolis /meg-e-LA-pe-lis/ n. a very large city

manumission /man-yu-MI-shen/ v. the act of freeing from slavery

mercurial /mer-KYUR-e-ul/ adj. having rapid and unpredictable mood swings

primogeniture /pri-mo-GEN-e-chur/ n. an exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son of a set of parents

ephemeral /I-FE-me-rul/ adj. lasting a very short time

sinecure /si-ne-KYUR/ n. a salaried job requiring little work

servile /ser-VIL/ adj. humbly submissive

evince /i-VINS/ n. to show or reveal

antipathy /an-TI-pe-thy/ n. a strong dislike

abstemious /ab-STE-me-us/ adj. restrained, particularly with food or alcohol

occlusion /uh-KLU-shun/ n. an obstruction or blockage

prophylaxis /uh-KLU-shun/ n. treatment aimed at preventing the spread of disease

auspicious /o-SPI-shes/ adv. favorable or fortunate

panegyric /pa-ne-GYR-ick/ n. a formal speech praising someone or something

aegis /E-jis/ n. sponsorship by an individual or organization

anachronism /a-NA-kre-ni-zm/ n. the error of placing a person or thing in the wrong time period

magnum opus /MAG-nem O-pes/ n. the greatest achievement of an artist, composer, or writer

complaisant /com-PLAY-sent/ adj. seeking to please

peripatetic /per-i-pa-TE-tik/ adj. moving or traveling from place to place

tendentious /ten-DEN-shus/ adj. biased

polychromatic /pa-le-kro-MA-tik/ adj. multicolored

nestor /NES-tor/ n. a leader in one’s field

laconic /le-KA-nik/ adj. using very few words

sybaritic /si-bu-RI-tik/ adj. marked by a luxurious was of life

impetus /IM-pe-tes/ n. a driving force or incentive

punctilious /punk-TI-le-us/ adj. marked by exact agreement to codes or conventions

abstruse /AB-stroos/ adj. deep or complex

peremptory /pe-REMPT-te-re/ adj. urgent or commanding in tone

adumbrate /A-dem-brate/ v. to hint at or foretell

moribund /MOR-e-bend/ adj. becoming outmoded

lucubration /lu-kyu-BRA-shun/ n. hard and difficult study

quartile /KWAR-tile/ n. One of four equal groups each containing a quarter of a statistical population

convivial /ken-VI-ve-ul/ adj. fond of eating, drinking, and company

mellifluous /me-LI-flu-es/ adj. sweetened, as if with honey

acquisitive /eh-KWI-ze-tive/ adj. greedy

discursive /dis-KER-sive/ adj. passing from one topic to another

matriculate /me-TRI-kyu-layte/ v. to enroll as a member of a group, especially a school or college

abrogate /A-bre-gate/ v. to ignore or treat as if nonexistent

effusive /i-FYU-sive/ adj. freely expressed

hubris /HYU-bris/ n. unreasonable pride or self-confidence

tactile /TAK-tile/ adj. relating to the sense of touch

superannuated /SU-per AN-yu-ate-ed/ adj. old-fashioned or out of date

egregious /i-GRE-jus/ adj. standing out, especially in a bad way

transient /TRAN-che-ant/ adj. short-lived

porcine /POR-sin/ adj. piglike

spartan /SPAR-ten/ adj. marked by simplicity or self-denial

inimical /i-NI-mi-kel/ adj. hostile or harmful

explicate /EKS-pli-cate/ v. to explain in detail

attenuate /a-TEN-u-wate/ v. to weaken or reduce in value

duplicity /du-PLI-se-te/ n. deception by pretending to feel and act one way while acting in another

temporize /TEM-pe-rize/ adj. to draw out the discussion to gain time

sentient /SEN-shent/ adj. aware of and responsive to sense impressions

stentorian /sten-TOR-e-un/ adj. extremely loud, with deep richness of sound

credence /KRE-dens/ adj. belief

perfidy /PER-fide/ n. disloyalty or treachery

elucidate /i-LU-se-date/ v. explain or shed light on

perspicacious /per-spi-KA-shes/ adj. having shrewd mental vision

appendage /a-PEN-dij/ n. something joined on to a larger or more important thing

abnegation /ad-ni-GAY-shun/ v. self-denial

primeval /pri-ME-val/ adj. primitive or ancient

factotum /fak-TO-tum/ n. a person with several different jobs or responsibilities

tenable /TE-ne-bel/ adj. reasonable or capable of being defended

investiture /in-VES-te-chure/ n. the formal ceremony placing someone in office

umbrage /UM-brij/ n. a feeling of resentment at an insult, often one that is imagined rather than real

jovial /JO-ve-ul/ adj. extremely good-natured

panoply /PA-ne-ply/ n. a magnificent or impressive display

internecine /in-ter-NE-sen/ adj. mutually destructive

biennial /bi-E-ne-ul/ adj. occurring every two years

codex /KO-deks/ n. a book in manuscript or handwritten form

antecedent /an-te-SE-dent/ n. a preceding event, state, or cause

fiduciary /fi-DU-she-er-e/ adj. having to do with confidence or trust

penurious /pen-YUR-e-us/ adj. stingy

dilatory /DIL-a-tor-ee/ adj. delaying

malingerer /me-LIN-gu-rer/ adj. someone who fakes an illness to escape duty