Monthly Archives: September 2017

Ensconce

September 30, 2017Read More

ensconce
\in-SKAHNSS\
verb

1 : to place of hide securely : conceal

2 : to establish or settle firmly, comfortably or snugly

A sconce refers to a candleholder, but also to a defensive fortification built of earth. So originally someone was hidden in such an enclosure, out of harm’s way. This word was used by Shakespeare. I definitely remember it from tenth grade english class and reading about catacombs. I spent this beautiful afternoon at Longwood Gardens. Today’s image comes from their new Grotto. It is a very dramatic space that almost feels “other worldly.” When I walked inside, I felt like it was the prefect embodiment of the word, since it was both fortified with lots of stone and dirt and it was hidden behind the fountains. It got me to thinking about many traditions that become ensconced in our lives…some are done openly, but others are hidden away and not discussed. What should we shed light on? What should be ensconced? Deep thoughts that burrow into my brain.

I have been writing in what feels like secret. I launched my site, only a few people seem to read what I have to say. I would love to expand my reach. If you like what you see, please share my posts with other like-minded individuals who would find this intriguing. I would love to come out of the catacombs and into the light. I finally joined Twitter. I am @TheVocabGirl – check me out there too.

Pace

September 29, 2017Read More

pace
\PAY-see\
preposition

: contrary to the opinion of —usually used as an expression of deference to someone’s contrary opinion

This word has been around sine the 19th century, but it has kept its Latin mantle, so it is only really found in formal writing. The Latin word pace is a form of pax, meaning “peace” or “permission.” It is unrelated to the noun pace, as in the speed of motion, or “keeping pace.” Or the verb pace, as in to pace the floor. Those both come from the Latin word pandere, meaning “to spread.”

Prepositions, I tell my students, are anyplace a mouse can go: between, beneath, among, through, etc. And if you identify a subject in a prepositional phrase, it isn’t the important part of the sentence because it gets removed.

Is this a version of this word that you have ever seen before? It is not a version of this word that I can say that I can truly wrap my head around. Reading the comments online of others, they questioned the pronunciation – like should it be PAH-say. That is a word I have heard. So I will leave my confusion at that for tonight. I found one of my favorite images of a tulip that was original in a crowd. We often have contrary opinions, yet we don’t often show deference to the dissenter.

Disparate

September 28, 2017Read More

disparate
\DISS-puh-rut\
adjective

1 : containing or made up of fundamentally different and often incongruous elements

2 : markedly distinct in quality or character

Disparate derives from disparatus, the past participle of the Latin verb disparare, meaning “to separate.” Disparare comes from parare, a verb meaning “to prepare.” Other English descendants include: separate, prepare, repair, apparatus, and vituperate (“to harshly criticize” – one of my fun SAT words!) Disparate also acts as a noun and is extremely rare and usually used in the plural sense, meaning “one of two or more things so unequal or unlike that they cannot be compared with each other.”

We inhabit such radically different states – not only geographically, but idealistically. We live such fragmented lives. We used to be exposed to all the same media and understand all the same jokes and pop culture references, but now with the overabundance of media outlets, it is possible to not have the same contextual reference points. I feel like this divides us more. Media also invites us to all state our opinions. Many experiences we have today seem so drastically unlike the world we used to know and take comfort in. Everything from the weather, to politics just seems so uncharted and new – so disparate.

Broadside

September 27, 2017Read More

broadside
\BRAWD-syde\
noun

1 a : a sizable sheet of paper printed on one side; also : a sheet of paper printed on one or both sides and folded (such as for a mailing)

b : something (such as a ballad) printed on a broadside

2 : all the guns on one side of a ship ; also : their simultaneous discharge

3 : a volley of abuse or denunciation : a strongly worded attack

4 : a broad or unbroken surface

Amazing how many definitions this word has, from a mailing to a ship filled with guns. Both meanings developed independently of each other. Though, paper can cut you and words can attack you by surprise. Those closest to us often have the proper ammunition to carry out a broadside barrage. I try not to participate in these types of attacks that have become a daily occurrence on social media. Many of us are very free with our views and how we feel about the opinions of others that don’t match our own. This world has gone mad, or so it feels. Can’t we all just get along and build each other up instead of tearing each other down? We could accomplish so much more without broadside attacks. How about broadside praise?

Anathematize

September 26, 2017Read More

anathematize
\uh-NATH-uh-muh-tyze\
verb

: curse, denounce

Anathema was a 16th century verb that meant “to condemn by church authority.”

My Dad always used to yell at other drivers from the comfort of his own car. No one heard him but those in the car with him. People honk at me an say stuff occasionally too. I don’t care. I am not going to risk my life for them. Many people’s favorite pastime is yelling at the television set – also…as if the people on it can hear them. How many times do people curse us without our knowing about it? And when those ill wishes fly out into the universe, where do they all go? All that energy has to go somewhere. On the message board across from my house, the message yesterday was: If you wouldn’t write it down and sign it, then don’t say it. We are very quick to denounce things that we don’t like. Spread love – don’t anathematize.

Legerity

September 25, 2017Read More

legerity
\luh-JAIR-uh-tee
noun

: alert facile quickness of mind or body

Spell check wants to make this word into legality.
When legerity first showed up in English in the 1500s, it pulled from the concept of being “light on one’s feet.” It derived from Middle and Old French legerete, “lightness,” which was formed from the Old French adjective leger “light in weight.”

For today’s image, I opted for the play on words with light on your feet….so Synonym shined a flashlight on her feet. It works! Legerity is something I wish for on a constant basis. It is something little kids have an abundant supply of – and if I could find a way to bottle it and sell it I would be rich! Modern life is quite complicated and this takes a toll on our ability to be agile. Sleight of hand is a trick that often confuses people who aren’t mentally agile enough to notice what is transpiring. The secret is to pay attention and listen to the questions being asked. That is what leads to success on standardized testing. And don’t take too long! Legerity! I wish you much legerity this week. May your Monday be short!

Toothsome

September 24, 2017Read More

toothsome
\TOOTH-sum\
adjective

1 : agreeable, attractive

2 : of palatable flavor and pleasing texture : delicious

One meaning of tooth is “a fondness or taste for something specified.” Toothsome comes from that meaning of tooth plus the suffix -some, meaning “characterized by.” It was first used to convey attractiveness, then it was tied to the sense of taste by Chaucer. It is now showing signs of being tied to the word “toothy,” but not enough to qualify for an official entry in the dictionary – but maybe soon, since my brain keeps wanting to go there.

I am not sure that I would use this word in conversation either…I tried to have Synonym pose for my photo today, but when I told her to show me her teeth she did the opposite and covered them further with her lips. She was just happy to be having a watermelon popsicle for a snack on a hot fall day. “Did you like it?” I asked of the new kind of popsicles I had bought. “I can’t explain how good it was – awesome good and amazing – all those put together.” she exclaimed! Toothsome! Kinda sounds like awesome – with teeth. We drove past the dentist office earlier today, while we were out running some errands. We have an appointment in a week. She shouted, “See you this coming week, dentist office!” That girl cracks me up! What six year old says that? Mine!

Yeasty

September 23, 2017Read More


yeasty
\YEE-stee\
adjective

1 : of, relating to, or resembling yeast
2 a : immature, unsettled

b : marked by change
c : full of vitality
d : frivolous

I have to be honest, I groaned when I saw this word this morning. Yeasty? Really? It made me think of other words like moist that make some people cringe. After having shofar yesterday, I was just like, “What in the world am I going to write about this?” But then I got to thinking about alternate definitions. Our minds usually gravitate to the main meaning of a word, or the one we think is the only thing it means…but some words have multiple meanings, depending upon the context. The SAT loves to take a word you would know and then use it in the way you wouldn’t ever think to use it, which is why the majority of students will get the words in context questions wrong. So instead of pondering how yeast makes baked good rise, or causes unfortunate infections, I would rather think of this word in terms of being marked by change or full of vitality. Today was the first day of fall – although it has been pretty warm outside recently. It is the beginning of a new season – although there have been pumpkins and mums and Halloween decor around since mid August. The leaves are falling off the trees. I spent the afternoon checking out our latest butterfly that came out of its cocoon very appropriately today. Then I spent the evening watching Synonym jump around at a classmate’s birthday party at the trampoline park – full of vitality even after a super long week of school: yeasty!
And there you have it – another use for that word – although I kind of doubt I will start working it into conversations.

Shofar

September 22, 2017Read More

shofar
\SHOH-far\
noun

: the horn of an animal (usually a ram) blown as a trumpet by the ancient Hebrews in battle and during religious observances and used modern Judaism especially during Rosh Hashanah and the end of Yom Kippur.

I was just googling shofar videos at dinner yesterday to show them to Synonym.

SOUND THE ALARM. We need alarms to wake us up, or warn us of an imminent danger. We need alarms to go off to remind us so we don’t forget. We need alarms to help us track the passage of time so that we don’t lose too much of it. We need alarms to shock us into changing our ways.

Do you think of alarms as a beginning or an ending? Nowadays we all have alarms in our pockets at all times – in the form of our cell phones. We can set an alarm for however long and do what we need to do until they go off. So when you sound your alarm tomorrow, what battle will you take on? What beast will you slay? New year, new you! Let’s do this! Perhaps I should take on my closet holus-bolus. What do you think?

Holus-bolus

September 21, 2017Read More

holus-bolus
\hoh-lus-BOH-lus\
adverb

: all at once

Bolus comes from the Greek word bolos, meaning “lump.” In English it has also come to mean “a large pill,” “a mass of chewed food,” or “a dose of a drug given intravenously.” This all lumps together to make sense of why it means “all at once” or “all in a lump.”

This is a silly sounding word. It makes me think of hocus pocus, or cattywampus, or something one of the characters in Synonym’s many fairy books would shout out. My picture is of my laundry basket…..which is never not full.

Life comes at us a day at a time, although we often try to clump it together. I often wish I could lump unpleasant tasks together and get them over with for good. Though, I have yet to find a good way to get out of anything for that long. It is hard to get proper perspective when you are stuck in the daily grind. My mom always tells me to “pick one thing.” I simply can’t. I want to do everything. But instead I feel like I just do nothing.

Today is the start of Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year. It is a time to reflect on the past year and take stock. I spend a lot of time looking back and feeling like I made mistakes. I wish I was more care free and took better advantage of the situations I have been in. I feel like time is both flying and dragging. I want to figure out where I am going so I can be more productive with the scraps of time I find. So instead of trying to focus on one thing, I have split my focus into lots of things. Multi-tasked my way through life, sloppily taking on a thing too many to allow me to get it all together. I keep holding out hope that I will get it figured out and it will all fall into place. I am not there yet. I keep making the same mistakes…and biting off more than I can chew…or swallow. So I keep dribbling food all over myself and looking awkward. Maybe this will be my year. I keep hoping to find the chance to truly start over, and stop carrying around all these sins and petty criticisms and past negativity.