Words That Are Cool - 12/14/05
Along with this recent test binge I've been on, I've also been learning a lot of new vocabulary words over the past year. For instance, I never knew what a bailiwick was until a week ago, nor did I know what kind of a person a bellwether was. Half of the reason for this has to do with my aspirations of making my full living with words at some point... and the other half has to do with impressing potential SAT parents in order to make my living in the meantime. It also doesn't hurt that I'm a huge, raging nerd.

Most words I've found are simply superfluous synonyms for easier words I already know. Apparently the word pompous isn't enough; it's also important to be able to describe arrogant, overblown speech as orotund, eupheistic, and declamatory. But occasionally I'd come across a word that actually had some use to it. The following words, in my book, are cool:

Assiduous - Hard-working, diligent. I mostly like this word because it's easy to teach to SAT kids. The mnemonic? "One who is assiduous works their ASS off."

Persnickety - Fastidious; paying excessive attention to detail. This is sort of related to assiduous, only it sounds way funnier.

Onus - A burden. This word is great because it sounds like so many other funny words that could be put into a mnemonic... "Otis's onus was to own his own anus."

Onerous - Troubling or burdensome, often legally. I only like this (which stems from 'onus') because it acronyms into "Sour One", which is how I remember it.

Zeugma - "She left in a huff and a Chevy". The cool part about this word is you can't even define it except with an example. "Are you getting fit or having one?" It's a kind of literary device involving word confusion, but it's more fun to think of examples than to define it. "He broke the tape and the record."

Pugnacious - Aggressive, prone to fighting. It's always nice when somebody thinks up a word that just sounds cool.

Jingoism - Belligerent support of one's country. This is such a timely word in these days of civil unrest... and so much more smart-sounding than War-Hawking. I guess you could also define this as Pugnacious Patriotism.

Sinecure - A job (often a high-paying one) that requires little or no work. Finally, I have a wold to describe my security job! Except for the high-paying part.

Stultifying - Stifling or inhibiting to the point of absurdity or ineffect. Finally, I have a word to describe the bureaucracy that runs my security job.

Callipygian - Having shapely buttocks. How could you not love this word? My friend Tiff has declared it "her official favorite word of all time."

Sesquipedalian - Characterized by using long words. Ironic that only someone sesquipedalian would use the word sesquipedalian. An alternative definition means "having many syllables", which just further adds to the irony.

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