Plaintive is an adjective for describing someone or something with a pleading, sorrowful, desperate tone. If you have ever heard the plaintive howl of a wolf, then you know what we are getting at here.,A plaint, as in complaint, is an expression of sorrow or grief. This word has also been bent a little at the ends to become plaintiff, or complainantأ¢آ€آ"the suffererأ¢آ€آ"in a lawsuit. So, whether you are hearing a plaintive tone in a courtroom, at a funeral, or in the wild (as in an animal's plaintive howl), you can be assured that someone or something desires something desperately. Plaster is a building material that's applied as a wet paste and dries very hard and smooth. The walls inside your house might be made of plaster.,New houses typically have interior walls made of drywall, rather than plaster, but older homes usually have many plaster surfaces. Plaster starts as a mixture of lime, gypsum, sand, or cement that's mixed with water. This soft substance is applied to surfaces where it hardens أ¢آ€آ" either for walls, works of art, or as casts used to hold broken bones steady. In Britain, a plaster is also a sticky bandage, while an American would call this a Band-Aid. A plebiscite is a direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question, such as a change to the constitution, secession, or a similar issue of national or regional importance.,The word plebiscite comes from the Latin word plebiscitum, meaning a decree of the people, with the roots plebs, "the common people," and scitum, "decree." A plebiscite can also be called a referendum. Periodically, for example, Quebec separatists hold a plebiscite to determine whether Quebec should secede from Canada. So far, the secessionists have not prevailed at the polls. A plebiscite is a direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question, such as a change to the constitution, secession, or a similar issue of national or regional importance.,The word plebiscite comes from the Latin word plebiscitum, meaning a decree of the people, with the roots plebs, "the common people," and scitum, "decree." A plebiscite can also be called a referendum. Periodically, for example, Quebec separatists hold a plebiscite to determine whether Quebec should secede from Canada. So far, the secessionists have not prevailed at the polls. To pluck is to pick or pull a single item out of many, like a flower or a hair. As a noun, pluck is energy or enthusiasm, even when things are looking grim.,Don't pluck only the best cherries off the tree: that's cherry-picking! Before you cook a goose, you need to pluck its feathers. If it looks like your goose is cooked, however, then show some pluck, and figure out a way to save yourself. Some characters who are famous for showing pluck include the Artful Dodger, Little Orphan Annie, and Benji the dog. They all kept their chins up and kept on trying, even when things looked really dark. To pluck is to pick or pull a single item out of many, like a flower or a hair. As a noun, pluck is energy or enthusiasm, even when things are looking grim.,Don't pluck only the best cherries off the tree: that's cherry-picking! Before you cook a goose, you need to pluck its feathers. If it looks like your goose is cooked, however, then show some pluck, and figure out a way to save yourself. Some characters who are famous for showing pluck include the Artful Dodger, Little Orphan Annie, and Benji the dog. They all kept their chins up and kept on trying, even when things looked really dark. The verb plummet means "to drop sharply," like eagles that plummet toward earth, seeking prey, or school attendance that plummets when there is a flu outbreak.,To correctly pronounce plummet, say "PLUH-met." This verb describes something that drops sharply or quickly, like a roller coaster that plummets down a hill, temperatures that plummet overnight, or sales of roses and candy that plummet after Valentine's Day. If something plummets, this doesn't mean it will stay down or low forever, just that it has experienced a sharp drop. The idea of polar suggests equal opposites. For example, the North and South Poles are at opposite ends of the planet, and both are equally glacial, or very cold, which, by the way, is another meaning of polar.,The English word polar derives from the Latin polus and the Greek polos, which means "axis." (See the connection with the North and South Poles?) The discovery of polar bears was first recorded in the mid- 18th century, while the idea of "polar opposites" came about in 1832. The adjective polar is also used to describe something vitally important, an idea that came from the importance of Polaris, the North Star, which has always been a voyagerأ¢آ€آ™s guide. "Strike a pose," sang Madonna in her most famous song, "Vogue." But if the pose you're striking is fake, pretentious, or arrogant, you're a poseur. Be yourself: it's cooler.,It's one thing to be smart, funny, or cool. It's another thing to pretend to be that way: that's the life of a poseur. (Say it in the French way: poh-ZUHR.) It's all too easy to spot a poseur from their ridiculous posing. Why poseurs think that they come across as anything other than fake is beyond me. They must be really insecure to think they need to pretend to be something they're not. Every once in a while, though, a poseur can fake it till they make it. Then they're no longer a poseur. A potentate is a person so powerful they don't have to follow the rules that govern everyone else. Potentate normally refers to a king or dictator, but you can call anyone with virtually unlimited power a potentate.,The king of a country, the conductor of an orchestra, the commander of a battleshipأ¢آ€آ"all of these are examples of a potentate. Take a look at potentate, and you'll see the word potent, which means "powerful," as in "that's one potent cup o' joe!" It's easy to see, then, how potent becomes potentate just by adding a few letters. A potentate is a powerful person. Anna Wintour is a potentate of the fashion world, and her decisions can make or break whole careers. If you meet up with any witches on Halloween, donأ¢آ€آ™t drink the potion they offer you. This liquid could be poisonous, magical, or it could simply taste very strange.,While a potion can be any drinkable liquid, it usually refers to medicinal concoctions or mysterious brews, as found in fairy tales and fables. This noun is related to the Latin verb, potare, which means, أ¢آ€آœto drink.أ¢آ€آ You might also notice its similarity to the adjective potable, another word for أ¢آ€آœdrinkable.أ¢آ€آ Some common types you may read about or hear about are أ¢آ€آœsleeping potions,أ¢آ€آ أ¢آ€آœlove potions,أ¢آ€آ and أ¢آ€آœmagic potions.أ¢آ€آ The next time you have a cut or an infection, maybe you should put some cereal on it. A poultice is a soft material أ¢آ€آ" often cereal-like أ¢آ€آ" used for healing. Think of a poultice as a mushy, sticky bandage.,If you have a wound, infection, rash, or inflammation, you will probably cover it with a bandage or apply medicine to it: a poultice may accomplish both at once. Used in many cultures, a poultice may be mixed with medicine or heated. It can be made of clay, porridge, or even bread! Not surprisingly, the word poultice can be traced to the Latin route puls, meaning أ¢آ€آœporridgeأ¢آ€آ or "a warm cereal. When you prance, you swagger around with exaggerated, proud movements. If you've seen many rock concerts, you've seen people prance around onstage.,When people prance, they're showing off, strutting for the benefit of their audience. Horses prance too, with a gait that's also a little artificial, using high, springy steps. You might prance a little when you run up on stage to accept an award, and a show horse might be equally inclined to prance as it moves past the judges. The horse gait definition is the original meaning of prance, and it probably comes from the Middle English pranken, "to show off." Cartoon characters often end up on a precipice, the edge of a steep cliff, where their chubby toes curl and cling as they totter and eventually fall, making a hole in the ground below and getting up again. Most real people avoid precipices.,Unless you're a skilled climber or mountain-sport enthusiast, a precipice is a scary thing. Some imagine falling off and making the sharp drop, while others get dizzy just thinking about looking down. This makes sense, considering that the 17th-century English word precipice comes, through French, from Latin words meaning "headlong" and even "abrupt descent." In modern use, precipice also describes how it feels to fall, or fail, in areas of life that don't involve mountains, such as being "on the precipice of losing everything." A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy, such as a cardinal, abbot, or bishop, who has authority over lesser clergy. Both Catholic and Protestant religions have prelates in their ranks.,The source of prelate is the Latin adjective praelatus, "noble," whose meaning is appropriate to the modern meaning, a high-level church dignitary. The word was applied to those high-ranking clergymen around the beginning of the 13th century, the Middle English coming from the Middle French prelat. As the church's importance increased, so did the importance implied by the word prelate. Ambrose Bierce referred to a prelate as "one of Heaven's aristocracy." Primary means basically "first." When you vote in a primary, that is the first election in a series. When a matter is of primary concern, it means it's of first importance. Primary school is the first you go to (after nursery school, at least).,There's an interesting alternate system for counting first, second, third, etc. up to tenth. It's primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, and denary. There's also a word for twelfth, duodenary, though that أ¢آ€آ" along with all the words after tertiary أ¢آ€آ" is rarely used. A primate is a monkey, ape, human, or other similar mammal. You've probably visited the primate house at the zoo.,When you see the word primate, you probably think of monkeys. A monkey is just one example of a primate, though أ¢آ€آ" lemurs are primates too, and so are gibbons, and even people. The things we all have in common are large brains, opposable thumbs, bendy toes, and good eyesight. The Latin word primas, or "first," is the root of primate, which scientists sometimes call "the highest order of mammals." A sing-song rhyme may help in remembering the word progeny: "All of you, all of me, together we make progeny." The "you" and "me" can be a man and a woman making a baby, or trees and plants making little offshoots, or progeny of their own.,Synonyms for progeny include "descendants," "product," and "offspring," and the word is applied to more than just living creatures. An idea can give birth to, so to speak, progeny, or similar ideas from the main seed idea; and a suite of products, such as a progeny of handheld applications, can come from a main prototype. Children are progeny of their parents, just as tomatoes are the progeny of plant pairings. Most anything that is the fruit of something planted or seeded is progeny. A prong, like a spike, a tine, or a spoke, is something that sticks out and is pointy. The prongs of your fork are useful for spearing food and delivering it to your mouth.,Besides forks, many other objects have prongs, from hoes and rakes to electrical plugs to an animal's horns or antlers (in fact there's a specific group of antelopes commonly called pronghorns). Before it was spelled prong, the word was prange, "pointed instrument," from the Anglo-Latin pronga, "pointed tool," and possibly the Germanic prange, "stick." Prophylactic might sound like a prehistoric period when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but it actually describes something that can prevent something negative, such as disease. Prophylactic surgery to remove a mole can prevent skin cancer.,If you want to avoid getting sick, you can get a vaccine, take medicine, or have surgery أ¢آ€آ" all of which are considered prophylactic measures. Delve deeper into the history of this four-syllable word and you'll find the Greek term prophulaktikos, which means to "guard before." Prophylactic can also describe a contraceptive used to prevent pregnancy. This use of the word started because condoms, which are prophylactics, were originally designed to prevent disease, not pregnancy. The proscenium of a theater stage is a structure in front of the stage that frames the action of the play. It can be square or arched, and the stage curtain is generally directly behind it.,The ancient Greeks gave us the modern concept of theater and, with it, the proscenium, one of the divisions of the stage. The word itself can be broken down into prأ...آچ-, "in front of," and skأ„آ"nأ„آ", "scene": The proscenium is thus the part "in front of the scenery." In a modern theater, the proscenium makes up the so-called "fourth wall," the invisible barrier that separates the stage from the audience and through which the audience watches the action. If you have a new car, a new high-paying job, and some flashy new shoes, then you could be described as prosperous, meaning you have material success that seems like it will continue to grow.,The adjective prosperous often describes a person or a personأ¢آ€آ™s future, but it can apply to anything thatأ¢آ€آ™s experiencing growth and success. Prosperous derives from the Latin word prosperus, meaning أ¢آ€آœdoing well.أ¢آ€آ Great pronouns of this happy word include golden, well-heeled, flourishing, and thriving. If something is provocative, it provokes a reaction. A provocative book might get people talking about a controversial idea. A provocative statement, such as "I hate babies," will get another kind of reaction.,The action, thought, or feeling is often a desired one, called forth on purpose. In fact, provocative is often used to describe actions or ways of dressing that cause sexual feelings. But provocative things can also call forth something unwanted: "She was angered by the provocative remarks." This adjective was borrowed from French provocatif, from Late Latin provocativus "calling forth," from Latin provocare "to call forth, challenge." A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders. Sigmund Freud is the founder of the field of psychiatry, pioneering psychoanalytic treatment.,The noun psychiatrist has Greek roots in psykhe, meaning mind, and iatreia, meaning healing, so the word psychiatrist is literally one who heals the mind. As opposed to a psychologist, who also offers psychotherapy, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor and, as such, can prescribe medication for things like depression and anxiety. Pretend that you are living during the Cretaceous period. Then look up at the sky. That fierce winged creature swooping down on you is a pterodactyl, a flying reptile.,The word pterodactyl, pronounced "tear-uh-DACK-til," refers to a now-extinct group of winged reptiles known as pterosaurs. The word comes from the Latin Pterodactylus, the creatures' genus name, which originated in the Greek pteron, meaning أ¢آ€آœwing,أ¢آ€آ and daktulos, meaning أ¢آ€آœfinger.أ¢آ€آ Although technically not a dinosaur, this flying reptile thrived during the same time period is as often seen among dinosaurs in movies. Pucker is a verb for what happens when something smooth or flat gets folded up into little wrinkles, like how you pucker your lips when you go to kiss someone أ¢آ€آ" you, wild flirt, you!,When you use a sewing machine, sometimes the cloth puckers in wrinkly clumps that make it hard to sew in a straight line. Most of the time, itأ¢آ€آ™s lips that do the puckering, maybe because you want a kiss, but also sucking on a lemon can make your lips pucker. If someone tells you to أ¢آ€آœpucker up,أ¢آ€آ they might want to kiss you, or they might throw a sour pickle at your head. Either way, get ready. Pudding is a sweet, creamy dessert that you eat with a spoon. The song أ¢آ€آœWe Wish You a Merry Christmasأ¢آ€آ implores someone to أ¢آ€آœbring us some figgy pudding,أ¢آ€آ but chocolate or vanilla would be much easier to find.,Most pudding is made with milk, sugar, and flavoring with a thickening agent like cornstarch. Your favorite might be dark chocolate, butterscotch, or rice pudding. These are delicious, smooth, and usually served cold. In Britain, pudding simply means "dessert," but in North America pudding is a specific kind of after-dinner treat. Back in the 1300s, pudding had a different meaning: "a kind of sausage." You can still get that kind of blood pudding in England. If you must. If you suspect that something in your yard is in a state of putrefaction, there's probably something stinky and rotten out there.,The relatives of this word in English all resemble it and fit neatly into one meaning category, "rotten." The mother of them all is putrid, from Latin putris, "rotten." This leads to putrefy, which means "make rotten," and finally putrefaction, the process of rotting or a state of being rotten. The ending is -faction rather than -fication on the pattern of many nouns that have Latin facere in their pasts: benefaction, malefaction, and liquefaction أ¢آ€آ" to name a few. A squirrel, a zebra, a deer, a wolf, and a grizzly bear meet in a field. Yes, a disaster in the making, but also a bunch of quadrupeds أ¢آ€آ" animals that walk on four feet.,Cut quadruped in half and it makes sense: quadru means four, like when a woman births four babies they are called quadruplets. And أ¢آ€آ"ped is for the feet: think of centipedes and millipedes, insects that have so many feet itأ¢آ€آ™s disturbing. A human is a biped because they walk on two feet. If you meet a human with four feet, you could call him a quadruped. You could also call the circus and let them know their quadruped is loose. Quash means to put down, stop, extinguish, and itأ¢آ€آ™s usually used to talk about ideas, feelings, or political movements. You wouldnأ¢آ€آ™t quash a grape underfoot; you would squash it. But if you were a military dictator, you would quash a revolution.,Quash is an extreme word. It comes from the French word for smash, or shatter. If something is quashed it is completely suppressed, usually by something or someone very powerful or authoritative. If you wrote a poem and asked your favorite teacher to read it, and that teacher tore it to pieces, then your hopes were most likely quashed. Queer originally just meant "weird," but it's unfortunately evolved into an offensive term for "homosexual.",Like many words, queer has many meanings. One is "odd," as in "I feel kind of queer today." The other is "gay." Calling someone queer is a slur: it has about the same meaning and level of offensiveness as fag. As a verb, queering can mean to endanger or expose to risk, and also to hinder, thwart, foil, or baffle. As usual, you can figure out which meaning of queer someone intends by the other words around it. A query is a question, or the search for a piece of information.,The Latin root quaere means "to ask" and it's the basis of the words inquiry, question, quest, request, and query. Query often fits the bill when referring to Internet searches, polite professional discourse, and subtle pleas. You could query as to the whereabouts of the lavatory, but you'd sound a bit prim and be better off asking "Where's the toilet?" If your job entails dealing with annoying questions and complaints, you could make it sound better by proclaiming, "I respond to customer queries." The quintessence of something is its perfect, ideal example. Some people say that the quintessence of American cuisine is the hamburger. Vegetarians may beg to differ.,Ancient Greek philosophers claimed there were five elements: earth, wind, air, fire, and a fifth substance that made up objects in the heavens. This idea was passed down through the ages to Latin-speaking scholars who called the fifth element quintessence أ¢آ€آ" from the Latin words quintus, meaning أ¢آ€آœfifth,أ¢آ€آ and essentia, meaning أ¢آ€آœbeing.أ¢آ€آ Eventually, the wordأ¢آ€آ™s meaning evolved into our modern definition of an ideal, a potentially heavenly example of something أ¢آ€آ" you know, like a hamburger. A quorum is not necessarily a majority of members of a group, but the minimum needed in order to conduct business. For example, if two members of a group are absent, there can still be a quorum, meaning the meeting can go on without them.,The noun quorum is plural of qui in Latin, meaning "of whom." The first quorum was an eminent group of justices of the peace. The word quorum was used in the commission papers that gave them the authority to act. Over time the current meaning, the minimum number needed to conduct business, was added, but the word still retains the meaning of a select group, as well. Rambunctious means "noisy and out of control," like a rambunctious child who is so hard to handle that no babysitter has ever come back a second time.,People who are rambunctious, pronounced "ram-BUNK-shus," can be fun أ¢آ€آ" to a point. Laughing a little too loudly, or too often, seems refreshing at first أ¢آ€آ" so what if people sitting at other tables have started to look over? But after a while, rambunctious behavior makes you feel tired. You never know when the high energy of the rambunctious is going to cross over to obnoxiousness, when things will spill, feelings get hurt, and apologizes need to be made. The word rancor is best when you're not just talking about anger, you're talking about a deep, twisted bitter type of anger in your heart. The open rancor in political discussion prevents cooperation between political parties.,The most helpful way to remember rancor with all its dark, miserable bitterness is to think of how rancor rhymes with canker, as in canker sore, the horrible painful burning on your lip. Or, you might want to remind yourself that rancor has its roots in the word rancid meaning "rotten." Rancor refers particularly to the sort of ill-will associated with resentment, envy, slow-brewing anger, and a very personal sort of hatred. The word rancor is best when you're not just talking about anger, you're talking about a deep, twisted bitter type of anger in your heart. The open rancor in political discussion prevents cooperation between political parties.,The most helpful way to remember rancor with all its dark, miserable bitterness is to think of how rancor rhymes with canker, as in canker sore, the horrible painful burning on your lip. Or, you might want to remind yourself that rancor has its roots in the word rancid meaning "rotten." Rancor refers particularly to the sort of ill-will associated with resentment, envy, slow-brewing anger, and a very personal sort of hatred. When you ransack, you rifle through things, steal some of them, and leave a huge mess behind. If neighborhood dogs got into a cupcake shop, they would probably ransack it.,You can use the verb ransack to describe a careful search أ¢آ€آ" you might ransack your backpack looking for your car keys, for example. Marauding armies, feral cats, burglars, and other troublemakers are often described as ransacking towns, rooms, gardens, or shops, especially if they take things and leave disarray in their wake. The word ransack comes from the Old Norse rannsaka, which has a similar meaning but is literally "search the house." The noun reaper refers to a person who harvests crops. If your part-time job involves harvesting corn by hand, then you're a reaper. Reaper can also refer to a piece of farm equipment used to harvest crops, especially grains.,It's not a coincidence that reap looks a lot like the word ripe. When the crops are ripe أ¢آ€آ" in Old English, "ready for reaping, fit for eating" أ¢آ€آ" a reaper, either human or mechanical, can harvest them. Reap means "to cut grain with a hook or sickle." This might remind you of the Grim Reaper, the personification of death in art, movies, and stories, who is shown carrying a sickle and is said to be the harvester of souls. If you rebuff someone, you reject or snub him. You might decide to rebuff a classmate's invitation to the dance after hearing him gossip meanly about a friend.,Although the verb rebuff is a somewhat old fashioned one to use for social relationships, it's still common in the world of diplomacy. One country's rebuff of another might start a war, or end peace talks, or otherwise reverberate through the world of international relations. You can also use rebuff as a noun أ¢آ€آ" deliberately ignoring your sister's text message is one example of a rebuff. The Italian root word, ribuffo, combines ri, expressing opposition, and buffo, "a puff." When two people debate, one of them makes an argument, and the other follows with a rebuttal, which, plainly put, is the "no, you're wrong and this is why" argument.,We often associate rebuttals with arguments made in the courtroom or public debates that occur around election time, but the word can really apply to any situation in which an argument is put forth and someone disagrees, and explains why. Sports fans, for instance, like to argue about the likely winner of an upcoming game and when you make a case for why your friend is wrong, you are offering a rebuttal of his argument. You reciprocate when you return a favor, return a compliment, or respond "the same to you" to the angry guy in the car you just passed. In short, you react to an action, statement, or emotion by mirroring it.,This one comes from the Latin verb reciprocare, meaning to move back and forth. Its root makes it sound as if reciprocate implies only a physical action, but it's also used for the less tangible. If you fail to pay the rent, your landlord might reciprocate by evicting you. If your crush acts like he doesn't know you exist when you pass him in the halls, it's probably safe to say he does not reciprocate your amorous feelings. You reduce something when you lessen its volume, size, or degree. That's why we say when someone goes on a diet, it's because they want to reduce; it's a polite way of suggesting they need to drop pounds and become a smaller size.,The word reduce first appeared in Old French during the 14th Century, when it meant "bring back." From the Latin re, which meant "back," coupled with ducere, meaning "bring or lead" أ¢آ€آ" we ended up with reduce. The current meaning, "to lessen," appeared in the late 1700's, drawn from the word's military use, "reduce to ranks," which meant break into smaller units. Cooks use the word reduce when they reduce a liquid, boiling it down until it has less volume and is thicker. When you reinstate someone, you return that person to a position or job. A principal might reinstate a laid off teacher when the school starts hiring again.,Bosses can reinstate employees, countries can reinstate kings and queens, and governments can reinstate, or bring back, old laws. For example, during times of war the United States could very well reinstate the draft, which is not currently a law but has been in the past. Although it's not as common as reinstate, the word instate, from which it comes, means "to put someone in a certain state or condition." Being unwilling to relent is a good qualification for a sales person. You have to keep trying to make the sale and never give in until you've made it.,The root of relent is the Latin "lentus," which means "to slow down or soften," and the original meaning (from the 15th century, no less) most likely had to do with the heart أ¢آ€آ" as in "to stop resisting love". Now, however, relent can have all manner of relevant applications, but the meaning is always the same: to let up, soften, yield or give in. Often, you'll hear the adjective relentless used to describe someone who won't relent: "The firemen refused to relent; they banged relentlessly on the door until I woke up." Renown is fame and acclaim أ¢آ€آ" the kind of celebrity that most people only dream about. Renown is not only about celebrity, though; it also means being highly respected in one's field.,Actors, musicians, and artists practice their art, sometimes for many years, to gain the kind of renown, or fame, that will launch their faces onto the covers of magazines and make their name known in every household. Greta Garbo, Luciano Pavarotti, and Salvador Dali all became renowned in their respective fields. They won numerous awards, and who isn't familiar with their names? Even things or places can achieve renown if they offer something worth celebrating. An ice cream parlor can become renowned for its incredible mint chip ice cream, or a bank can be renowned for its excellent customer service. If something is broken or lost but can be put back together, or replaced, then it is reparable. You may be disappointed if someone knocks over your house of cards, but you can take comfort knowing that the structure is reparable.,Reparable is a close relative of its more common synonym repairable (both basically mean أ¢آ€آœable to be repaired"). The word reparable, though, is usually reserved for damages or injuries that can be reversed or losses that can be replaced, while the word repairable is more for things or problems that can be fixed. For example, if your friend broke your glasses, they are repairable, but if he hurt your pride, it is reparable أ¢آ€آ" hopefully. Residue is anything that's left over when a substance has been removed, like the grease left over on a frying pan. It can also mean, simply, "remainder.",When residue refers to a liquid, itأ¢آ€آ™s whatأ¢آ€آ™s left at the bottom of a bottle, a pot, or a can after the rest has been poured out. Legally, the residue is the remainder of the money in an estate, after bills and taxes have been paid. So if your millionaire aunt leaves you her estate, but didnأ¢آ€آ™t pay any bills for the last ten years, you may not get much residue! To resound is to echo with sounds, usually loudly. When you sing in the shower, your voice resounds.,If you remember that re means again, then resounding makes a lot of sense: it's what happens when a sound rings out or echoes. A loud, booming voice is more likely to resound than a little whisper. If you stand on a building, yell your name, and then here it again, it resounded. Resounding is also called echoing, ringing, and reverberating. If you've ever heard a ring announcer, the microphone helps his or her voice resound to the crowd. Restraint is the act of holding something back. For example, if you exercise restraint over your emotions, you won't burst out into tears in public.,As you may have guessed from its similar spelling, the word restraint comes from the verb restrain, which in turn comes from the Latin word restringere, meaning "draw back tightly, confine, check." When talking about an object, a restraint is a device used to maintain control of something. For example, if your leg is operated on, the doctors will use a restraint to hold it still. To resuscitate is to revive a person who has lost consciousness. In recent years it's become important for people to learn CPR so that they might resuscitate someone who loses consciousness, and many schools and hospitals offer classes in CPR.,The Latin word suscitأ„آپre, "to raise," combines with re-, "again," to create the base of the verb resuscitate. Through the years, methods of resuscitation have advanced to the current sophisticated and effective levels of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and defibrillation paddles that can shock a heart back to life. In fact, some patients nowadays ask to sign a "do not resuscitate" (DNR) order to allow them to die without medical interventions like resuscitation. If you give a loud shout in a cavernous place, like a gym, or a church, the sound of your voice will reverberate throughout the room. Reverberate means sound waves traveling back and forth, as in an echo.,Often we use reverberate to talk about sound, or sometimes light. If a noise echoes for a long time, we can say the space reverberates with that noise. You may have heard of a reverb effect in audio processing, which is basically a long echo. We also use the word metaphorically to describe the impact of huge events. For example, the 2008 mortgage crisis in the US reverberated throughout the worldأ¢آ€آ™s economy, causing a global recession. If you're relaxing on the beach, dreaming of how you will never have to get up and go back to work, you're engaged in a reverie, or pleasant daydream.,There's nothing wrong with reverie, but if you follow its path into English, you'll see how closely it is connected to madness. The noun is from French rأƒآھverie, from a Middle French word meaning "wild speech, delirium," from rever "to roam, speak wildly." Middle French rever is also the source of English rave, as in raving mad. If something is reviled, you alone donأ¢آ€آ™t dislike it; a whole community of like-minded souls has to hate its guts. For instance, spam is widely reviled. (The junk e-mails, not the potted meat. Somebody out there really does like that potted meat.),If youأ¢آ€آ™re the only one who hates, say, your math teacher, itأ¢آ€آ™s not fair to say that person is reviled. If she is majestically unpopular with the entire senior class and is routinely the butt of geometry-themed insults, well then sadly, this instructor is indeed reviled. Generally, when someone or something is reviled, much of the poison aimed is in print, such as critical reviews or insulting editorials. Riders are people who are in motion أ¢آ€آ" riding bicycles, subways, horses, roller coasters and much more. Another kind of rider is a special list that attaches to, or "rides along" with, a contract.,The noun rider means "one who rides," but its other meaning is "a document that is added to legal or official documents." On Capitol Hill, lawmakers add riders to legislation documents to try to get certain stipulations to be part of new laws. You may have heard of touring musicians who demand that certain rare flowers be placed in their hotel rooms, which must have Italian linen sheets on the bed, and be exactly 71 degrees. It's all in the rider of the tour contract. If you see your name on the roster of players for the new softball team, then congratulations! Better start practicing, because youأ¢آ€آ™re on the list of players who made the team.,The word roster originally meant a list of the names, duties, and schedule of members of the military. That meaning is still in use, but today, a roster is more likely to be a list of players on your favorite team, a list of artists whose artwork appears regularly in a certain gallery, or a list of participants, such as an airline that posts its roster of flight crew members for the red-eye to Phoenix. You've probably listened to speakers who stood on a raised platform, or watched the winners in sports competitions step up onto a platform to accept their awards. The platform they're standing on is called a rostrum.,Rostrum, originally "animal snout or bird's beak" in Latin, has a back-and-forth history. The word came to be used for the battering beak at a warshipأ¢آ€آ™s bow. The ancient Romans used beaks from captured ships to decorate a platform from which orators could speak, called the rostra, the plural of rostrum. In the mid-17th century, rostrum came to mean a platform for speeches, performances, or receiving awards. By the way, the plural of rostrum is still rostra. You've probably listened to speakers who stood on a raised platform, or watched the winners in sports competitions step up onto a platform to accept their awards. The platform they're standing on is called a rostrum.,Rostrum, originally "animal snout or bird's beak" in Latin, has a back-and-forth history. The word came to be used for the battering beak at a warshipأ¢آ€آ™s bow. The ancient Romans used beaks from captured ships to decorate a platform from which orators could speak, called the rostra, the plural of rostrum. In the mid-17th century, rostrum came to mean a platform for speeches, performances, or receiving awards. By the way, the plural of rostrum is still rostra. Rotund describes anything that's plump or round, like a teapot or your chubby Aunt Agnes.,Rotund describes someone who is round in shape, or obese. It's not a compliment. That's why it's probably okay to call Santa Claus rotund, but not your neighbor أ¢آ€آ" at least not to his face! It's fine to call round things rotund, however, like a rotund vase full of flowers, which particularly makes sense when you know that the root of rotund is the Latin word rotundus, meaning round, circular, like a wheel. If you've ever been "roused" out of your sleep by someone, then you'll have no trouble seeing that rousing refers to anything that gets you going, up on your feet, energized.,There's nothing like a rousing tournament of Twister to get you off your butt and into the game. Cheerleaders and rock stars are in the business of creating rousing spectacles. They want their audiences to get up on their feet, clap their hands, and get on the bandwagon. A good drinking song, too, is rousing, inspiring folks to clink their glasses, sway back and forth, and, well, keep drinking. Beethoven was a master of music that was thoughtful one minute and rousing the very next. The pile of crumbled debris that's left over after something breaks or collapses is rubble. Famous scenes of rubble include the fallen Twin Towers on September 11 and the remains of the Haitian capital after the 2010 earthquake.,Rubble rhymes with "bubble," but when a bubble bursts, it just dissolves into liquid, while rubble is piles of rock, concrete, brick, and other remains that are a very physical reminder of destruction. Rock slides create rubble from rocks, and natural disasters and explosions create rubble from buildings, cars, and trees. Unfortunately, rubble is usually heavy and can trap people or things beneath it, as when bodies are found in the rubble of a fire or earthquake. A ruffian is a bully, someone who is violent toward others. Maybe they had a bad childhood, or perhaps they like the sound of people in pain. No matter where they come from, ruffians are best avoided.,Soccer fans have a reputation for being ruffians. Sure, some are sensitive poetry-reading types, but the ones that get the most attention scream obscenities, break things, and fight each other. Ruffian comes from a Germanic word that literally translates as أ¢آ€آœscabbiness,أ¢آ€آ and perhaps ruffians are covered in scabs from all the fights they start. Sometimes a ruffian is a person involved in crime, however, the word is always used to describe someone whoأ¢آ€آ™s a cruel, violent jerk. Rummage means to search for something, but in a scattered, disorganized manner. You can rummage through your drawer looking for a lost sock, or you could even hold "a rummage sale" to sell off all your socks that are missing their mates.,Ahoy, mateys: the word rummage hails from a sea-faring background. The Middle Dutch ruim, Germanic rum, and Old English rum all referred to a compartment on a ship, probably stemming from the Middle French verb arrumer, "to stow goods in the hold of a ship." The idea of rummaging as searching was first recorded in the 1620s. The first rummage sale also had its ship connection, as it was a sale on the docks of unclaimed items. A rustle can be the dry sounds made by papers rubbing together or leaves crackling. It can also be the act of searching, stealing, finding food, or making rustle sounds.,Rustle has a whole lotta meanings! Walking home late at night, you hear a rustle behind you. Maybe itأ¢آ€آ™s just leaves, but youأ¢آ€آ™re spooked, so you rustle around in your knapsack, searching for a weapon. You turn, and itأ¢آ€آ™s just a hungry friend, so you bring him home and rustle up some food from your cupboards. As your friend leaves, he rustles all your cows and takes them away. Use salutary to describe something that's good for your health, like the salutary benefits of exercise, laughter, and getting enough sleep every night.,When you look at the word salutary, you might expect it to have something to do with showing respect to military personnel, perhaps by saluting. In fact, salutary and salute do share a Latin root: salus, which means "good health." When you salute someone, or say "Salud!" before clinking glasses and taking a first sip, you're essentially giving your salutary wish أ¢آ€آ" in other words, hoping a person enjoys good health. Use the adjective sapient to describe someone who always gives the smartest advice, like your brilliant, insightful teacher or your wise little brother.,Calling someone sapient is a compliment, since it means "insightful and wise," although it's often used in a sarcastic way: "My sapient adviser said I should major in Communications." The phrase "sapient life forms" shows up frequently in science fiction, as well. The Latin root is the verb sapere, "to be wise," which is also the origin of sapiens, "wise man," as in Homo sapiens, or the human species. A governor of an ancient Persian province was called a satrap. These areas ruled by satraps were called "satrapies.",The Persian emperor Cyrus the Great first chose satraps to rule individual provinces, around 530 BCE. Each satrap controlled a specific amount of land, collecting taxes and maintaining law and order. The word satrap continued to be used in various places, including India and East Asia, to refer to local rulers. The word comes from the Latin satrapes, with the Old Persian root xأ...آ،athrapavan, "guardian of the realm," from xأ...آ،athra-, "realm," and pavan-, "guardian." In classical mythology, satyrs were companions to Pan, a fertility god, and Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. As you might guess, satyrs were not known for their mild-mannered ways: Like their patrons, they were excessively fond of women, drink, and song.,In Greek art, the satyr was depicted as a man with the ears and tale of a horse. Roman artists emphasized this creature's relationship to the goat-god Pan by giving the satyr a goat's ears, horns, and haunches. In both cases, the satyr's animal aspect symbolized his immoderate appetites. This noun can also be used metaphorically for a man whose sexual desire is stronger than his sense of decency. When you scavenge, you pick through discarded things looking for whatever is salvageable and can be reused. If you're looking for a replacement part for a vintage car, you might scavenge at the dump for a suitable part.,If you're a freegan you've embraced the idea of trying to live for free, recycling and reusing what others have discarded, leaving a small footprint on the planet. Youأ¢آ€آ™re on the lookout for good places to scavenge, such as the dumpster behind a busy supermarket, where you might find edible food, or the trash bins at clothing stores, where wearable clothing is tossed out. Vultures, hyenas, and other animals that feed on carrion أ¢آ€آ" dead animals أ¢آ€آ" also scavenge. Use the word scion when talking about a young member of a family that is known to be wealthy, powerful or otherwise important, such as a prince, heiress or the children of, say, the President.,Scion sounds a little bit like son, which is helpful because it almost always means the son, daughter or descendant of a rich or prominent family. Its earliest examples were used to refer to the young shoots of larger, older plants. It's not surprising, then, that over the centuries its meaning has shifted to include the human offspring of certain well-established families. These days it's invariably used to talk about a person such as Prince William or, say, the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. أ¢آ€آ" both of whom are or were scions of their respective families. Use the word scion when talking about a young member of a family that is known to be wealthy, powerful or otherwise important, such as a prince, heiress or the children of, say, the President.,Scion sounds a little bit like son, which is helpful because it almost always means the son, daughter or descendant of a rich or prominent family. Its earliest examples were used to refer to the young shoots of larger, older plants. It's not surprising, then, that over the centuries its meaning has shifted to include the human offspring of certain well-established families. These days it's invariably used to talk about a person such as Prince William or, say, the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. أ¢آ€آ" both of whom are or were scions of their respective families. As both a noun and a verb, scuffle involves an all-out brawl. As a noun, it is the clash itself, like a scuffle between sworn enemies, or as a verb, it refers to the actual fighting, like a bully who will scuffle with just about anyone.,A scuffle is not an organized bout: it is a free-for-all, with fists flying in any and all directions. As a verb, it tells about the act of this kind of wild fighting, like angry kids who scuffle to try to settle their problems, but it can also mean "dragging one's feet while walking." Here, the meaning is not related to fighting, but rather the sound made by those shuffling feet. When a place is seedy, it's sleazy, run-down أ¢آ€آ" not the kind of place you'd take your mom. The East Village of New York was once known for being seedy, but now it's safe for children of all ages.,It's a mystery how the word seedy came to mean darkly rundown, slummy, and seamy, but it probably came from the appearance of flowers after they've shed their seeds. That's when they start to lose their color and eventually die. You'll find seedy used to describe places like dive bars, brothels, and those sections of town where dealers ply their drugs. Certain writers, such as Dennis Cooper and even Charles Dickens, are fascinated by the seedy underbelly of life in big cities, in scenes populated by wretched people and other outcasts. Anything that is pleasing to the senses can be called sensuous. The feel of a soft cashmere sweater on your skin, the taste of dark chocolate, even the smell of your favorite person أ¢آ€آ" all of these can be sensuous experiences.,Sensuous describes anything that feels, tastes, smells, looks, or sounds good. Eating delicious food or relaxing in a warm bath are sensuous activities. But something intellectually satisfying, like doing a crossword puzzle or solving a math problem, is not exactly sensuous, even if you really like doing it. Use sensuous to describe stuff that makes your five senses happy. Someone sentient is able to feel things, or sense them. Sentient usually occurs in phrases like "sentient beings" and "sentient creatures," making it clear that things that donأ¢آ€آ™t have life donأ¢آ€آ™t have feelings. Explain that to a pet rock.,Sentient comes from the Latin sentient-, "feeling," and it describes things that are alive, able to feel and perceive, and show awareness or responsiveness. Having senses makes something sentient, or able to smell, communicate, touch, see, or hear. Whether or not plants and living things other than animals and people are sentient depends on whom you ask. Someone sentient is able to feel things, or sense them. Sentient usually occurs in phrases like "sentient beings" and "sentient creatures," making it clear that things that donأ¢آ€آ™t have life donأ¢آ€آ™t have feelings. Explain that to a pet rock.,Sentient comes from the Latin sentient-, "feeling," and it describes things that are alive, able to feel and perceive, and show awareness or responsiveness. Having senses makes something sentient, or able to smell, communicate, touch, see, or hear. Whether or not plants and living things other than animals and people are sentient depends on whom you ask. A sentinel is a guard, a lookout, a person keeping watch. It's often a soldier, but not always. If you're watching a pot, waiting for it to boil, you're standing sentinel over it أ¢آ€آ" and incidentally, it won't boil until you leave.,Etymologists think sentinel stems from the Old Italian words sentina, meaning "vigilance," and sentire, "to hear or perceive." It's a close cousin of sentry, which means the same thing. You can use sentinel as a noun or a verb. A kid in a snowball war might be the sentinel, patrolling the entrance to the fort. Wolves stand sentinel over their kill, stepping aside only for the alpha male, who always eats first. A sepulcher is a burial vault or tomb, like the one that is featured prominently in the final scenes of Romeo and Juliet. (Of course, for those who havenأ¢آ€آ™t read the play yet, weأ¢آ€آ™re not suggesting that anyone dies, necessarily.),Sepulchers often appear in literature, probably because they instantly convey sadness, spookiness, and all sorts of other unpleasant emotions. For example, Edgar Allen Poeأ¢آ€آ™s poem أ¢آ€آœAnnabel Leeأ¢آ€آ tells the story of the narrator's true love, who now lies أ¢آ€آœ[i]n the sepulcher there by the sea.أ¢آ€آ When reading "Annabel Lee," Romeo and Juliet, and other similarly depressing works aloud, note that sepulcher is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable. You can describe something that is dried up, withered, or without moisture with the adjective sere. The desert climate, for example, is sere, as is your skin after a day in the wind.,Sereأ¢آ€آ™s shriveled and withered meaning crops up in things like Shakespeare's Macbeth ("My way of life Is fallأ¢آ€آ™n into the sere, the yellow leaf;" 5:III), or in archaic references to Sere-month (August), but it isn't frequently used in modern conversation. The variant spelling of sere is sear, which has other meanings that see more modern use. You can describe something that is dried up, withered, or without moisture with the adjective sere. The desert climate, for example, is sere, as is your skin after a day in the wind.,Sereأ¢آ€آ™s shriveled and withered meaning crops up in things like Shakespeare's Macbeth ("My way of life Is fallأ¢آ€آ™n into the sere, the yellow leaf;" 5:III), or in archaic references to Sere-month (August), but it isn't frequently used in modern conversation. The variant spelling of sere is sear, which has other meanings that see more modern use. A serrated edge is jagged. When a knife is described as having a serrated blade, its edge is lined with small teeth, similar to a saw's. It will cut tomatoes, bread, and meat more effectively than a smooth-edged blade.,The adjective serrated comes from the Latin word serratus, meaning أ¢آ€آœnotched like a saw.أ¢آ€آ Most often, it is swords and knives that are described as serrated, but some leaves, like those of the Ash and Maple trees, as well as certain flower petals, like carnations and some tulips, also have serrated edges. Great White sharks have serrated teeth so they can more easily rip the flesh of their prey. Yum. To sever something is to cut it off from the whole. If your girlfriend breaks up with you on your anniversary, you might respond by severing the blossoms off the roses you were planning to give her. (Just an idea.),Sever rhymes with ever, but it looks like the word severe, which means "harsh." The similarity between sever and severe is a good reminder to reserve sever for harsh, unpleasant circumstances. If youأ¢آ€آ™re trimming your fingernails, you might use the word clip, but sever wouldnأ¢آ€آ™t be appropriate. If, however, you somehow cut off your finger while clipping your fingernails, youأ¢آ€آ™re free to use the word sever أ¢آ€آ" or any other word you like أ¢آ€آ" on your way to the hospital. Severity is a plain, no-frills hardnessأ¢آ€آ"أ¢آ€آ"or the degree of hardness. You might talk about the severity of the northern winter, or the severity of your grandfather's discipline.,Severity, with its root in severe, has several nuances. It can mean a hardship, like warأ¢آ€آ™s severity. It also refers to an extreme plainness. Think of the severity of Amish life: no phones, cars, or other modern technology. And you might use it to describe your math teacherأ¢آ€آ™s manner: his severity is indicated by his short, clipped sentences, angry stare, and propensity to fail students without mercy. Originally a word for a slaughterhouse, shambles now usually means "one heck of a mess," as in "You were supposed to clean your room, but it's still a shambles!,When the job market is in a shambles, people have trouble finding work. When a supermarket is in a shambles, there might be melons and milk spilled all over the floor. If everyone in a classroom is talking and yelling at once, the class is a shambles, because no one can hear each other or get any work done. People say things are "in shambles" or "a shambles" أ¢آ€آ" they mean the same thing. However you say it, a shambles is chaotic, disorderly, out of hand, and off the hook أ¢آ€آ" a major, five-alarm mess. Use the noun shrew أ¢آ€آ" at your own risk أ¢آ€آ" to refer to a woman who is argumentative, nagging, and ill tempered.,The noun shrew can also refer to a mouse-like animal with tiny eyes, a long snout, and a sharp bite. Superstitions associated with this small mammal led people in the thirteenth century to use the word shrew to describe a spiteful person, male or female. The word later came to be used to describe a nagging, ill-tempered woman, as in William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Unless you are a famous dead author, however, you may want to steer clear of this one in conversation: itأ¢آ€آ™s considered offensive. Something muscular, with a tight and stretched toughness, is sinewy. Tennis players' lean arms have a sinewy beauty, all the muscles showing as they hit their smoking serves.,A sinew is a tendon that attaches muscles to bones, and something sinewy has a lot of sinew or shows a lot of built-up tissues. If you're a carpenter or a piano player, you probably have well-exercised, sinewy hands and fingers. Lines in nature, such as tree limbs and roots, can be sinewy too. Being sinewy is attractive when it's in good health, but it can also make you look too stretched or thin, even scrawny. Tough meat can be sinewy and unchewable. To skim is to remove something from the surface of a liquid. Some cooks skim the fat off of the top of their chicken noodle soup, others skim the cream off milk to make skim (or skimmed) milk.,Cream is what you skim off the surface of milk, and if you don't like the whipped version, you might skim it from your hot chocolate. Another way to use the word skim is to mean "read quickly," like when you skim the newspaper, catching just the headlines as you search for the comics section. Skim has an Old French root, escumer, "remove scum," from escume, "scum." The "glance through a book" meaning came later, in the late 1700أ¢آ€آ™s. Skulking is cowardly. It means hiding out, either because you're trying to pull something off in secret, or you're trying to get out of doing something you're supposed to be doing.,If you cut school, it makes sense to do it in the style of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and enjoy yourself. Will the punishment be worse than if you skulk around town, avoiding teachers and people your parents know, not doing anything you really want to do? In spy movies, there are always bad guys in hotel lobbies, skulking about, hiding behind open newspapers. If you slow down at the end of a race, you slack off. When you use slack this way, it means to reduce your speed, to be sluggish, or to be negligent.,If something is loose, it's also said to be slack. A clothesline, for example, is slack if it is just hanging loosely between two trees. If you pull the clothesline tight, you reduce the slack. The root word of slack is the Old English word slأƒآ¦c, which means loose or careless. When you scold your friend for being careless about his responsibilities, you can say, "Pick up the slack!" Sometimes, when you really want something, you might resort to whining and blubbering to get it أ¢آ€آ" in other words, you'll snivel. It's never pretty, so try to keep your dignity, and don't snivel!,If you want a real picture of the verb snivel, consider that the meaning of the assumed Old English word snyflan meant "to run at the nose, to sniffle." Even worse, that was derived from snofl, or "mucus." Pretty picture, eh? The word came to mean "be tearful," and it suggested someone who was weak or nasty. Today it is often used in its adjective form, sniveling, followed by a contemptuous noun like "coward." To soar means more than just to fly; it means to rise swiftly, to feel the wind slipping below you as you ride it higher, higher, higher. Flying is just moving through the air. Soaring, though, suggests exhilaration, even joy.,Think about the anticipation you feel when you buy a lottery ticket أ¢آ€آ" your hopes soar as you contemplate the possibilities. It's the same wonderful feeling you get when someone you have a crush on notices you, when you land that perfect job, when you hold your child. The word soar comes from the Latin, ex-, which means "out," and aura, meaning "breeze, air," together meaning "out of the air," which is precisely how it feels to soar. If you're somnolent, you're feeling sleepy or drowsy. It's best to avoid operating speedboats or motorcycles when you're somnolent.,Somnolent comes from the Latin word somnolentia, meaning sleepiness, which in turn is from the Latin root somnus, for sleep. You can feel somnolent, or describe something as somnolent. As an adjective it describes something that is likely to induce sleep, like a boring movie in an overheated theater, or the low, somnolent lighting in a museum exhibit of fragile, old illuminated manuscripts. A sonnet is a poem, often a love poem, of 14 rhyming lines. Is that a love letter from your secret admirer or a formal sonnet?,The word sonnet comes from the Italian sonetto, meaning أ¢آ€آœlittle song.أ¢آ€آ The origin makes sense, since the first sonnets were developed by the Italian poet Petrarch. But the sonnet form we are most familiar with today is Shakespearean. Many of the most often quoted lines in poetry come from Shakespeareأ¢آ€آ™s sonnets, such as this ending couplet from Sonnet 18, أ¢آ€آœSo long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.أ¢آ€آ A soothsayer is someone who can foretell the future. If the convincing soothsayer at the state fair tells you you'll soon meet someone tall, dark, and handsome, you'll probably keep your eye out for someone who fits that description.,A fortune teller is also known as a soothsayer, or someone who claims to be able to predict the future. Long ago, a soothsayer might have been considered a useful consultant, even for a government, but today soothsayers are more likely to be scoffed at. Still, there are many soothsayers who have successful businesses telling people's fortunes and giving advice. Soothsayer comes from the Old English word for "truth," combined with "say," together meaning "an act of speaking the truth." Something thatأ¢آ€آ™s sparse is thin, not dense. If youأ¢آ€آ™re looking for the perfect place to build a tree house, a sparse forest is probably not your best bet.,From the Latin sparsus, meaning أ¢آ€آœscattered,أ¢آ€آ we get the adjective sparse, which means أ¢آ€آœfew and scattered.أ¢آ€آ Thinning hair is sparse, as is the population of an endangered species. Or a small and scattered crowd for an unpopular band. Synonyms include dispersed, infrequent, and scanty. Antonyms, on the other hand, include full, lush, and plentiful. Here's the official meaning of spoonerism: "The transposition of initial consonants in a pair of words." Zzzzzzzzz. Okay, pretty dull sounding, but in practice actually pretty funny: "My lips are zipped" becomes "my zips are lipped.","Popcorn" becomes "cop porn." "Son, it is now kisstumary to cuss the bride." You get the idea. We owe the invention of the Spoonerism, or at least its great fame, to a nineteenth-century English reverend named Archibald Spooner, who was famous for mixing up his words. He wasn't a drunk, although drunkenness can sometimes cause spoonerisms, just absent-minded. The first two examples above, by the way, are modern Spoonerisms, too risquأƒآ© for the good reverend himself. The last? A 100% genuine original Spoonerism. To be sprightly is to be full of youthful, vibrant energy. You donأ¢آ€آ™t have to be young to be sprightly, though, energetic old people can be sprightly, too. Weeeeeee!,The word sprightly comes from the word sprite, which is a small, elf-like fairy creature. If someone acts like a happy little fairy, has a lot of enthusiasm, and acts in a youthful way, sheأ¢آ€آ™s sprightly. To be sprightly is to be full of spirit and vitality, to be happy, and to have a positive attitude. Someone who radiates energy and positivity is sprightly. Squalid things appear neglected, or morally repulsive in nature, like a frat house after a semester of hard partying and zero cleanup.,Squalid comes from the Latin word squalare, meaning to أ¢آ€آœbe covered with a rough, scaly layer.أ¢آ€آ A few word evolutions later and we have squalid, a word that describes something distasteful, dirty, unattractive, and as unkempt in appearance as the dry, scaly skin of an armadillo, or a room filled with pizza boxes, flickering light bulbs, and stained wallpaper. Squalid behavior is dirty, too, like cheating on a test and lying about it. Something that is staid is dignified, respectable أ¢آ€آ" possibly even boring, like a staid dinner party that is heavy on the important guests but light on the laughs.,Staid is pronounced just like "stayed" أ¢آ€آ" in fact, it comes from stay, meaning "fixed" or "permanent." Something that is staid is sedate, slightly dull, and tends to stay the same. Whether itأ¢آ€آ™s a middle-class lifestyle, a conservative law firm, your unadventurous aunt, or an old navy plaid sofa, the word staid can be used to describe anything that maintains a respectable self-restraint and takes no chances. Something that is staid is dignified, respectable أ¢آ€آ" possibly even boring, like a staid dinner party that is heavy on the important guests but light on the laughs.,Staid is pronounced just like "stayed" أ¢آ€آ" in fact, it comes from stay, meaning "fixed" or "permanent." Something that is staid is sedate, slightly dull, and tends to stay the same. Whether itأ¢آ€آ™s a middle-class lifestyle, a conservative law firm, your unadventurous aunt, or an old navy plaid sofa, the word staid can be used to describe anything that maintains a respectable self-restraint and takes no chances. A stolid person canأ¢آ€آ™t be moved to smile or show much sign of life, in much the same way as something solid, like a giant boulder, is immovable. Both are expressionless.,It's hard to get excited about the word stolid. It refers to emotionless people or things, and it even sounds pretty dull. Your face may be stolid, as you plod through the unemotional history of the word born in the 17th century of little more than Latin words for "foolish." In some definitions, stolid does have more complimentary synonyms, such as "dependable" or "calm," but these can be overshadowed by other words for stolid أ¢آ€آ" "empty," "blank," and "vacant," to name a few. There are three ways to stump: you can ask someone a question they can't answer, you can travel making political speeches, or you can stomp.,Stump can mean many things as a verb. The most common use is when someone أ¢آ€آ" like a teacher أ¢آ€آ" asks a question that no one can answer. That's a case of the teacher stumping the class. Also, politicians traveling through a district, making speeches are stumping, giving what are called stump speeches. Once in a while, to stump means the same thing as two similar words, stomp and stamp. If you're stumping, stomping, and stamping around, you're making a lot of noise with your feet. A summation is a final review or conclusion, often given in a court of law. As the incompetent lawyer approached the bench for the final time, he told the judge and jury, "In summation, my client is guilty of all charges.",At the end of every court case, both the defense and prosecution give a summation أ¢آ€آ" a quick rundown of all the facts from the case to help the jury decide on a verdict. When used outside of the courtroom, summation simply means recounting a group of items or events. At the end of a father-son camping trip, the son gives his mother a summation of the trip. You'll note that summation begins with the prefix sum-, meaning "to add up." In fact, another definition for summation is the process of adding things together, or the final sum. Think of the word sunder as violently tearing something apart. A frequent line in a wedding ceremony is, "What God has joined together, let no man tear asunder." Keep that in mind, and you'll have the meaning of the word.,Throughout its history, the word sunder has carried the same basic meaning, "to tear or break apart." It is of good Germanic stock, coming from the Old English verb sundrian. All of the related Germanic words, then and now, carry the idea of separation, usually in a violent or unpleasant manner. A woman emptying out her purse after many years might find an old stick of gum, a pair of broken sunglasses, a few movie tickets, and sundry items, meaning that that her purse was filled with a random collection of unrelated things.,Most people associate the word sundry with the old-fashioned drugstore in their neighborhood that used to sell all sorts of odds and ends, from magazines to hairbrushes. The word is typically used as an adjective to describe a collection of various different items found in one place, as in أ¢آ€آ" "I discovered records, perfume bottles, and sundry items at my neighbor's yard sale." The phrase "all and sundry" refers collectively to a group of people, as in, "I invited all and sundry of my relatives to my tea party." You can be described as supine when you're lying face up أ¢آ€آ" for example, your favorite yoga poses might be the supine ones. Someone who is very passive or lethargic could also be called supine أ¢آ€آ" for instance, someone might be supine in the face of continuous threats and insults.,The adjective supine comes from a Latin word, supinus, which means أ¢آ€آœthrown backwardsأ¢آ€آ or أ¢آ€آœinactive.أ¢آ€آ Whenever a person or animal is lying on its back, belly-up, it is supine. When your hand is open, palm-up, it is also supine. Supine can even describe a person who gives insufficient resistance, or who is lazy and ineffectual. "When Jack refused to object to the landlordأ¢آ€آ™s repeated أ¢آ€آ" and gouging أ¢آ€آ" rent increases, he was supine." You can be described as supine when you're lying face up أ¢آ€آ" for example, your favorite yoga poses might be the supine ones. Someone who is very passive or lethargic could also be called supine أ¢آ€آ" for instance, someone might be supine in the face of continuous threats and insults.,The adjective supine comes from a Latin word, supinus, which means أ¢آ€آœthrown backwardsأ¢آ€آ or أ¢آ€آœinactive.أ¢آ€آ Whenever a person or animal is lying on its back, belly-up, it is supine. When your hand is open, palm-up, it is also supine. Supine can even describe a person who gives insufficient resistance, or who is lazy and ineffectual. "When Jack refused to object to the landlordأ¢آ€آ™s repeated أ¢آ€آ" and gouging أ¢آ€آ" rent increases, he was supine." A surge is a sudden strong swelling, like a tsunami wave that engulfs the land. Although a surge offers a fluid image, anything can experience a sudden surge, including emotions, political support, or an angry mob.,The original Latin word surgere, meaning أ¢آ€آœto spring up or rise,أ¢آ€آ serves as the basis for the word surge, which refers to a great sudden growth or swelling. If you are watching a sad movie and you experience a sudden surge of emotion, do you quietly reach for a tissue, pretend something's in your eye, or simply weep and sob with reckless abandon. Yeah, me too. Christmas shopping can be dangerous when there is a surge of interest in one toy and desperate shoppers surge into stores trying to grab it up. The adjective sylvan refers to a shady, wooded area. The word suggests a peaceful, pleasant feeling, as though you were far away from the noise of modern life.,As a noun, sylvan means a being that inhabits the woods. The Roman god of woods and fields was known as Silvanus, sometimes also known as the half-man, half-goat sylvan called Pan. Shakespeareأ¢آ€آ™s character Puck, in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," seems based on a sylvan, and other authors used the image as well. The adjectival use of the Middle French word sylvain evolved in the mid-16th century. The word is most often used today to describe an idyllic wooded area. A tart is small pie filled with fruit or custard, with no top crust, like the cherry tarts you bought at the bakery.,As an adjective, tart describes a sour taste, like lemon, or harsh words, like your friend's tart reply to a question that makes her mad. In the 19th century, tart was British slang for "pretty woman." Some believe it is a shortening of "sweetheart." But by the end of that century, tart described a prostitute, something many language scholars trace back to the tart that you get at the bakery. A tatter is a raggedy end or scrap of something, particularly paper or fabric. Your crazy cat might climb the curtains every night, until there's nothing left hanging from the rod but tatters.,It's most common to find this word in its plural form, tatters. A homeless person might dress in tatters, and a serious hiker might wear a pair of socks until they're just tatters, then throw them away and put on a new pair. Tatter comes from an earlier word, tatrys, "slashed garments," which has a Scandinavian root and is related to words like the Old Norse tأƒآ¶turr, "rags." Taut means "tight, not slack." "The tightrope ought to be taut and not dangling down by the lion cage.",It sounds like the word "taught" and means stretched tight, like a rope, muscles, or even nerves. It's nice to have a taut body with tight muscles, but not so great to have a taut mind أ¢آ€آ" tightly wound and tense. "The Olympic gymnast's taut body was something she worked hard for, but she gave a taut reply to reporters who asked her so many questions about her past, which she wished to keep a secret." Taut is derived from an Old English word, meaning basically "to pull." If you're fishing, you're happy when your line becomes taut, because there's probably a fish pulling at it. Or an old boot. A philosophy of teleology sees purpose in ends rather than stated causes, making the outcome the actual, or "final" cause. When you see things in terms of teleology, you explain actions by their results.,We can trace the origin of teleology to the Greeks: to teleos, meaning "complete," and its root telos, meaning "result." Then we add the suffix -logy, which means "logic," or "reason." The philosophy itself suggests that acts are done with a foregone purpose in mind أ¢آ€آ" people do things knowing the result they wish to achieve. As Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing in vain." So far, there's no teleology to explain why you haven't left the couch for several hours. Tenancy is the act of living somewhere, especially in a house, building, or apartment. You could say, for example, that your tenancy in the little white farmhouse lasted for six years, until you moved to the city.,The noun tenancy means a period of living in a certain place or having a business in a specific building. If you give up your tenancy, you move to a new place, and if your tenancy ends earlier than you expected, you may owe your landlord some money. The word tenancy is closely related to tenant, with its earliest meaning of "one who holds land," from a Latin root أ¢آ€آ" tenere, "to keep" or "to hold." A tenant is someone who lives in a place owned by someone else, usually paying rent. If you blast your music and let the cat pee in the corner, your landlord will not think that you're a very good tenant.,Tenant is often used to mean "renter," but it can mean anyone who has the right to live in a particular place, either because he signed a lease, which is a rental agreement, because he owns the land, or because government gave him a title to it. If you live in a big apartment building, you should be aware of your rights as a tenant, which usually include things like having heat in the winter and proper fire escapes. If something is tenuous it's thin, either literally or metaphorically. If you try to learn a complicated mathematical concept by cramming for 45 minutes, you will have a tenuous grasp of that concept, at best.,Tenuous comes from the Latin word tenuis, for thin, and is related to our word tender. Something can be physically tenuous, like a spiderweb or ice on a pond. We more often use it in a metaphorical sense, to talk about weak ideas. Tenuous arguments won't win any debate tournaments. Synonyms for tenuous, also used physically or metaphorically, are flimsy and shaky. Whether it refers to getting fired from a job, a contract running out, or the assassination of a deep-cover spy, termination is "the end of the line.",You may be familiar with a certain time-traveling cyborg assassin, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. His character was a "terminator," in a movie of the same name, and his goal was the termination of Sarah Connor. Lucky for Sarah, and the supposed future of our planet, the termination was unsuccessful. In the real world, you're more likely to see the word termination used when a contract, program, or job comes to an end, unexpectedly or as planned. Terminology is vocabulary associated with a certain field of study, profession, or activity. Knowing the terminology is an important part of being able to work in a given profession.,When your nuclear physicists friends start talking shop and it suddenly sounds like they are speaking a different language, they are probably using nuclear physics terminology. Education terminology includes "rubric," "lesson plan," "pop quiz," "term paper," "student engagement." Medical terminology includes "blood work," "CVC," "scalpel," "set." Lawyers sometimes use legal terminology such "forthwith," "heretofore" and "the part of the first part" to intimidate people they might want to threaten to sue. It works. Tertiary is another way of saying "third in importance," like socializing with co-workers being a tertiary reason for getting an after-school job أ¢آ€آ" less important than, first, earning money and second, gaining skills.,To correctly pronounce tertiary, say "TER-she-err-ee." If you are the third child born in your family, don't be tempted to call yourself the "tertiary child." This means you are less important that your two older siblings. However, in some cases, tertiary does not have to do with ranking third أ¢آ€آ" the Tertiary period marks the beginning of life for mammals, and in the United Kingdom, tertiary education means "college-level." Use tessellated, an adjective, to describe a mosaic pattern formed from small tiles, blocks, or stones pieced together: "The tessellated pavement of blue and gold stones glistened in the sunlight.",To correctly pronounce tessellated, accent the first syllable: "TESS-ul-ay-ted." It comes from the Greek word tessera, "a cube or square of stone or wood." Later, it came to mean "made of small square stones or tiles," or mosaics. Tessellated can also refer to an interlocking pattern, such as one made by paving stones on a walkway: "The tessellated pavement in front of the church was over 150 years old." Use tessellated, an adjective, to describe a mosaic pattern formed from small tiles, blocks, or stones pieced together: "The tessellated pavement of blue and gold stones glistened in the sunlight.",To correctly pronounce tessellated, accent the first syllable: "TESS-ul-ay-ted." It comes from the Greek word tessera, "a cube or square of stone or wood." Later, it came to mean "made of small square stones or tiles," or mosaics. Tessellated can also refer to an interlocking pattern, such as one made by paving stones on a walkway: "The tessellated pavement in front of the church was over 150 years old." When you make your last will and testament, you are the testator, and if the will is written and witnessed according to the law of the land, your estate will be divided in the way you, the testator, requested.,The noun testator comes from the Latin verb testari, meaning أ¢آ€آœmake a will,أ¢آ€آ أ¢آ€آœbe witness,أ¢آ€آ or أ¢آ€آœdeclare.أ¢آ€آ Perhaps your aunt, as testator of her will, indicated that she wanted you to inherit her collection of garden statuettes to keep her daughter from أ¢آ€آœsmashing them to bits and heaving them in the dump.أ¢آ€آ When you visit a museum and the cat paintings are grouped together in one room, and the fruit paintings in another, you could conclude that the curator favors a thematic arrangement, meaning grouped by topic, rather than chronologically or by artist.,Thematic relationships are everywhere. You could apply a thematic arrangement to your closet, putting the 1970s disco-wear in one section and your motorcycle gear in another. When you're studying the works of Charles Dickens, finding the thematic similarities across all the novels helps you remember them more easily. That song your garage band has been working on has a thematic development, too, starting with a line of melody, changing it a little, taking it in a different direction, then returning to the theme. The throttle of an engine controls the fuel going in, and if you're going at full throttle, you'd better hang onto your hat.,You can think of a throttle as a throat, and the two words may be related. But as with a throat, if you block a throttle, something bad is likely to happen. You can throttle your car أ¢آ€آ" cut off the air to the engine, also known as applying the choke أ¢آ€آ" and you might stall it out. You can also throttle a person أ¢آ€آ" the image is that you grab the person by the throat and cut off his air. It's much better to use throttle figuratively, as when you beat someone really badly at tennis, you could say "you throttled her," but nobody has to get hurt. A titter is an awkward laugh at something that you shouldnأ¢آ€آ™t be laughing at, like during dinner when Uncle Marvin makes a joke about your motherأ¢آ€آ™s new hairstyle. If you try to hide your laugh, itأ¢آ€آ™s probably a titter.,A laugh that you canأ¢آ€آ™t keep in but also canأ¢آ€آ™t let out, thatأ¢آ€آ™s a titter. It usually happens in situations where you shouldnأ¢آ€آ™t be laughing, like listening to your English teacher talk about a date he went on the night before, or when someone tells you a joke in a library. A titter is kinder than a snicker, less noticeable than a giggle, quieter than a chuckle, and way less fun than a chortle. Lifeأ¢آ€آ™s a joke, laugh it up! A toga is the draped, dress-like garment worn by men in ancient Rome. Today, businessmen wear suits and ties, but thousands of years ago, the business suit of Rome was a toga.,The "toga party" is practically a rite of passage in college. What could be more fun than dressing in a drapy, one-piece, off-the-shoulder tunic like they did in ancient Rome, while chugging beer and acting like an idiot. Frankly, it's hard to understand what the toga adds to the party. Is it more fun to get drunk in a weird, ancient half-dress than it is to get drunk in your own pants and shirt? The statue of Julius Caesar shows him wearing his toga, but much of it is hidden under his armored chest-plate. If you have ever tightened a bolt with a wrench, or tried to get the lid off a jar of strawberry jam, then you have dealt with the concept of torque أ¢آ€آ" a twisting action or a turning force.,The word torque, which rhymes with fork, is used in the field of physics as a measure of rotational force. For example, how much strength does it take to move an object, such as a screwdriver, around an axis, such as a screw? In ancient times, a torque was a necklace made of twisted metal. Now, torque is commonly used to describe the power of sports cars and their ability to accelerate, since car engines operate with rotating parts. A torrent is a heavy rain, or the flooding or wildly-running streams it causes, like the torrent that soaks everyone unlucky enough to be out on the street at that moment.,Because the noun torrent literally means "rushing stream," it is often describes fast-flowing water, like a rainstorm or creeks and rivers that overflow their banks. But the word can also describe any sudden inundation, like a deluge of words or thoughts, like when, in anger, you unleash a torrent of emotional words on your friend. Like a violent storm, you pour those words, not letting up in order to let him or her explain the other side of the story. A torso is the trunk of a human body أ¢آ€آ" minus arms, legs, and head. Anatomically, your torso's job is to protect your internal organs, like your heart, lungs, and kidney, which are all protected by your rib cage.,A statue of a torso in a museum, usually ancient Greek or Roman, is that of the trunk of a human body. These works of art, often carved from marble, are so old that they've frequently lost their arms and heads أ¢آ€آ" but still, the sturdy torso remains. Before the word described an actual human, it meant only "trunk of a statue," from the Greek root thyrsos, "stalk or stem of a plant." If you spin yourself around until you are dizzy, you will likely totter if you try to step forward. Totter is a verb that means "move unsteadily, as though you are about to fall down.",To totter is to move in a wobbly, unsteady manner. When a person totters, they look like they are going to fall down. In a boxing match, a boxer might totter after taking a blow to the head. During an earthquake, buildings may totter, or sway, appearing as though they may fall down. Totter can also imply a rocking motion; a playground seesaw, for instance, is sometimes called "a teeter-totter." To trample is to forcefully walk right over something or someone. If you fall down during a footrace, another runner might trample you.,When you trample, you're stomping or stamping: it's the opposite of walking on tippy toes. A dog might trample a flower garden while chasing a ball, and an angry child might deliberately trample her sister's sandcastle, flattening it with her feet. The verb trample comes from tramp, "walk heavily or stamp," which is rooted in the Middle Low German word trampen, "to tramp, stamp, or press upon." If your eyes are open but you're not fully awake and in control, you may be in trance. Someone might have hypnotized you, or just a glimpse of your latest heartthrob might send you into a trance.,Trances donأ¢آ€آ™t have to be magic or mysterious أ¢آ€آ" when you avoid facing your problems head-on, youأ¢آ€آ™re creating your own trance. President Obama once said, speaking of America's decades-long dependence on foreign oil, "We cannot keep going from shock when prices go up, to trance when they go back down." He meant that when prices rise, we all complain, but when they fall, we forget we ever had a problem and refuse to change a thing. Big house, shiny new car, a custom-made suit, an expensive watch, cool sunglasses... If you have these things, you have the trappings of success, which means you own things that give you the outward appearance of success.,The word trappings originally described the decorations people attached to their horse's bridle and saddle. The goal was to make a statement about the rider's power and privilege. Today, we still have trappings, but they take other forms, such as expensive clothing with big logos or big diamond earrings. Trappings are material items that tell the world that someone has money أ¢آ€آ" or a credit card أ¢آ€آ" but not about who he or she is on the inside. If youأ¢آ€آ™ve had to bust your behind, burn the midnight oil, and shed blood, sweat, and tears to get where you are today, you could say youأ¢آ€آ™ve endured significant travail. In other words, back-breakingly hard mental exertion or physical labor.,Travail comes to us from a sinister Latin word: trepalium, meaning أ¢آ€آœinstrument of torture.أ¢آ€آ The closest English word is probably toil, though travail means youأ¢آ€آ™re not just exerting monumental effort but suffering as you do so. If your life has been hard-knock enough to be the stuff of old blues songs or Shakespearean tragedies, youأ¢آ€آ™ve had your share of travails. In French, incidentally, travail simply means work. The Spanish trabajo (work) is closely related. A tribune was someone in the government of ancient Rome who looked out for ordinary people, in other words, an elected representative. Tribune is also a word that newspapers like, such as the "Chicago Tribune" or the "Des Moines Tribune.",There are many types of tribunes, but the earliest dates from ancient Rome. In Rome, a tribune was an elected representative of the common people. A tribune was expected to look after the interests of the people, just like our politicians today. Another type of tribune comes from the world of architecture, specifically the architecture of Christian churches. The tribune is a part of the church, often under a dome, where you can find the throne of a bishop. If youأ¢آ€آ™re the ancient Greek god of the sea, youأ¢آ€آ™re probably already familiar with a trident, a three-pronged spear you can use to stab things.,The trident, which is a spear with three points, or prongs, is often associated with the Greek god Poseidon, who used his trident to cause earthquakes and create sources of water. Mere mortals, however, are more likely to use a trident for spear fishing, or long ago, for military combat. Remember not to confuse a trident with a pitchfork, which is used mainly for lifting and tossing things. If youأ¢آ€آ™ve just started a trilogy of books, youأ¢آ€آ™ll be reading for a while. A trilogy is something that has three parts, so you'll have three books to read.,You can see the tri-, meaning "three," in trilogy. The word originates from the Greek word trilogia, meaning "series of three related tragedies performed at Athens at the festival of Dionysus." Today, you can use trilogy to describe three of anything, such as a trilogy of movies that has the same characters, settings, and themes. If you live on a farm, you already know that a trough is what animals eat out of. The word actually refers to the shape of the container, and can mean anything that is low and hollowed outأ¢آ€آ"أ¢آ€آ"a math curve, a depression in the ground.,In the olden days, people, like animals, ate from troughs. Gradually, we got fancy enough to divide our food between bowls and plates, but there is some lingering connection between the idea of trough and rough, peasant living. The noun trunk refers to the main stem of a tree. If you want to make maple syrup, you need to tap the trunk of the maple tree and collect the tree's sap, which can then be boiled into a sticky syrup.,The torso of the human body, from the neck to the groin أ¢آ€آ" but not including the head, neck, arms, or legs أ¢آ€آ" is sometimes referred to as the trunk. If you have hives on your trunk, you probably itch on your back, chest and abdomen. The word trunk comes from the Old French word tronc, which referred to the trunk of a tree or a headless body. The tundra is a vast treeless plain near the Arctic Circle where the subsoil is permanently frozen. Despite the stark cold, many animals thrive on the tundra, including insects, migrating birds, and foxes.,A tundra is a great description of any stark icy cold place أ¢آ€آ" say, the walk to class on a college campus during February أ¢آ€آ" but it is an actual geographic location, near the Arctic circle in North America, Russia, and Scandinavia. Smaller tundras can exist near the South Pole but it's often too cold there. The word comes from the Finnish tunturria which means "barren land." Santa's reindeer live on the tundra and go by the name of caribou in North America. Of course, none of them can fly. People, especially those in leadership positions, are described as unaccountable when they behave as though they don't need to explain themselves, answer to anyone else, or take responsibility for their actions.,We often complain about the need for "accountability" when our leaders spend our money, oversee our wars, or make confusing new laws without explaining to us what's going on. If there's nothing in place to keep them from being corrupt, we say that they are "unaccountable." Another interesting definition of unaccountable is "unexplainable." Crop circles, Big Foot sightings, and unidentified flying objects are mysterious and unaccountable. The word unassuming means modest, lacking in arrogance, pleasant, or polite. You'll find that some of the most unassuming people are actually the most interesting and powerful of all. They're just decent enough not to display it all the time.,It's been said that when you assume, you make an ass of you and me: that's because when you assume you draw conclusions that you shouldn't. If you're unassuming, you don't make that mistake. Even though he was a rock star, I found Jason to be unassuming and delightful. He treated everyone like a friend. It's the height of irony that the real Wizard of Oz turns out to be an unassuming country gentleman, when the image he projected was of fearsome, raw, tyrannical power. When you're at a fancy dinner party, if you burp after you eat, use your fingers to spread butter on your bread, and hang spoons from your nose, people will probably say you are uncouth, meaning vulgar and ill-mannered.,The adjective uncouth comes from Old English and it meant "unfamiliar or not well known." As the meaning developed, the word came to mean "rude, vulgar, or lacking refinement." Interestingly, the word uncouth came first and its antonym, couth, was developed to describe someone who is cultured, polished, and sophisticated. Although couth gets an entry in the dictionary, you will still hear the word uncouth used far more often. You might know the idea of the adjective unctuous by other words like "oily," "smarmy," or overly "flattering." When a person is unctuous, you can't trust their kindness, because they usually want something in return.,Interestingly, unctuous is derived from the Latin unctus which means "anointed with oil," which is where the "oily" connotation comes from. Unctuous and "oily" are synonyms that both suggest that someone is trying to butter you up; they're being nice, because they're hoping you'll give them what they want. Talk-show hosts, used-car salesmen, people who want your job: all of these are people we think of (rightly or wrongly) as being unctuous. Being an unctuous jerk, he gave me a gift, hoping I'd give him a record deal. If something is unexceptionable, don't bother trying to find something wrong with it أ¢آ€آ" you won't. Your unexceptionable character makes you the perfect candidate to run for public office, but if you run, people will be looking for things to criticize.,If you break it down, exceptionable describes something objectionable or unacceptable. Put an un on it, for أ¢آ€آœnot,أ¢آ€آ and unexceptionable is something no one can object to. If your baking is unexceptionable, your muffins are light and fluffy and melt in your mouth. In this arena, even a top baker would be unable to find fault. As for your run for public office, if your character is truly unexceptionable, you wonأ¢آ€آ™t mind those reporters snooping around!