DanRiley.org

Words for clarity:

  • Abashed: Embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed.
  • Abridge: To curtail a right or privilege; to shorten a piece of writing without losing the sense.
  • Abrogate: To repeal or do away with a law, right, or formal agreement.
  • Abscess: A swollen area within body tissue, containing an accumulation of pus.
  • Abscond: To leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection of or arrest for an unlawful action such as theft.
  • Abstemious: Not self-indulgent, especially when eating and drinking.
  • Accede: Agree to a demand, request, or treaty.
  • Acidulous: Sharp-tasting; sour.
  • Acrid: Having an irritatingly strong and unpleasant taste or smell.
  • Adjunct: A thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part.
  • Advent: The arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
  • Aegis: The protection, backing, or support of a particular person or organization.
  • Affront: An action or remark that causes outrage or offense.
  • Agile: Able to move quickly and easily.
  • Ague: Malaria or some other illness involving fever and shivering.
  • Akimbo: With hands on the hips and elbows turned outward.
  • Alacrity: Brisk and cheerful readiness.
  • Alms: Money or food given to poor people.
  • Aloof: Not friendly or forthcoming; cool and distant.
  • Amiss: Not quite right; inappropriate or out of place.
  • Amity: A friendly relationship.
  • Analgesic: A drug that relieves pain.
  • Analysand: A person undergoing psychoanalysis.
  • Anathema: Something or someone that one vehemently dislikes.
  • Anglophile: A person who is fond of or greatly admires England or Britain.
  • Anima: The feminine part of a man's personality.
  • Animus: The masculine part of a woman's personality.
  • Anneal: To heat and allow it to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it.
  • Annuity: A fixed sum of money paid to someone each year, typically for the rest of their life.
  • Anodyne: Not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so.
  • Anodynes: A painkilling drug or medicine.
  • Antidote: A medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.
  • Antipathy: A deep-seated feeling of dislike; aversion.
  • Aperçu: A comment or brief reference that makes an illuminating or entertaining point.
  • Aplomb: Self-confidence or assurance in a demanding situation.
  • Apocryphal: A story of doubtful authenticity, circulated as being true.
  • Apoplectic: Overcome with anger.
  • Apotheosis: The highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax.
  • Approbation: Approval or praise.
  • Apropos: Very appropriate to a particular situation; with reference to; concerning.
  • Aquiline: Like an eagle.
  • Arcade: A succession of contiguous arches, with each arch supported by a colonnade of columns or piers.
  • Arcana: Secrets or mysteries.
  • Arrears: Money that is owed and should have been paid earlier.
  • Askance: With an attitude or look of suspicion or disapproval.
  • Asperity: Harshness of tone or manner.
  • Assuage: To make an unpleasant feeling less intense.
  • Attenuate: To reduce the force, effect, or value of.
  • Audacity: A willingness to take bold risks.
  • Auspicious: Conducive to success; favorable.
  • Autodidact: A self-taught person.
  • Autophagy: Consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in starvation and certain diseases.
  • Avidity: Extreme eagerness or enthusiasm.
  • Avocation: A hobby or minor occupation.
  • Avoidance: The effort to avoid dealing with a stressor.
  • Azure: Bright blue in color like a cloudless sky.
  • Babble: To talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way.
  • Bacchanalian: Characterized by or given to drunken revelry; riotously drunken.
  • Baleful: Threatening harm; menacing.
  • Bane: A cause of great distress or annoyance.
  • Bashful: Reluctant to draw attention to oneself; shy.
  • Bedizen: Dress up or decorate gaudily.
  • Beleaguered: In a very difficult situation.
  • Belie: To give a false impression of; to present an appearance not in agreement with.
  • Benighted: In a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance, typically owing to a lack of opportunity.
  • Beset: A problem or difficulty that troubles or threatens persistently.
  • Bête noire: A person or thing that one particularly dislikes.
  • Bibulous: Excessively fond of drinking alcohol.
  • Bicuspid: Having two cusps or points.
  • Bigoteer: Someone who seeks to profit from calling other people bigots, whether it be sexist, racist, etc.
  • Blithe: Lacking due thought or consideration; showing a casual and cheerful indifference considered to be callous or improper.
  • Blue streak: Something that moves very fast.
  • Brainwash: To make someone adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.
  • Bromide: A trite and unoriginal idea or remark, typically intended to soothe or placate.
  • Bruit: Spread a rumor widely.
  • Bugaboo: Something that causes fear or worry.
  • Bumptious: Self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree.
  • Burnout: A state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.
  • Buttress: To reinforce; to increase the strength of or justification for; a projecting support of stone or brick built against a wall.
  • Bystander: A person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.
  • Cabal: A secret political clique or faction.
  • Cad: A man who behaves dishonorably, especially toward a woman.
  • Callow: An inexperienced and immature young person.
  • Calumny: Slander; the making of false and defamatory statements about someone in order to damage their reputation.
  • Cantonment: A military garrison or camp.
  • Capacious: Having a lot of space inside; roomy.
  • Carte blance: Complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best.
  • Cat's-paw: A person used to serve the purposes of another.
  • Caustic: Sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way.
  • Cavalcade: A formal procession of people walking, on horseback, or riding in vehicles.
  • Caviar socialist: One who claims to be a socialist while living in a way that contradicts socialist values.
  • Cavil: To make petty or unnecessary objections.
  • Censure: To express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement.
  • Chasten: A rebuke or misfortune that has a restraining or moderating effect.
  • Cherubic: Having the childlike innocence or plump prettiness of a cherub.
  • Circumspect: Wary and unwilling to take risks.
  • Clemency: Mercy; lenience.
  • Cloying: Excessively sweet, rich, or sentimental, to a sickening degree.
  • Coiffure: A person's hairstyle, typically an elaborate one.
  • Colloquy: A conversation.
  • Commiserate: To express or feel sympathy or pity; sympathize.
  • Comport: Conduct oneself; behave.
  • Conciliation: The action of stopping someone from being angry; placation.
  • Concomitant: Naturally accompanying or associated.
  • Condescension: An attitude of patronizing superiority.
  • Conflagration: An extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property.
  • Congenital: Present from birth.
  • Conjectural: An opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information.
  • Constitutional: A walk, typically one taken regularly to maintain or restore good health.
  • Contour: An outline, especially one representing or bounding the shape or form of something.
  • Contretemps: A minor dispute or disagreement.
  • Convalescent: Recovering from an illness or operation.
  • Copacetic: In excellent order.
  • Coquettish: Flirtatious.
  • Coterie: A small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people.
  • Coup de grâce: A final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal.
  • Courtier: A person who attends a royal court as a companion or adviser to the king or queen.
  • Cower: To crouch down in fear.
  • Coy: Making a pretense of shyness or modesty that is intended to be alluring.
  • Cracker-barrel: A plain, simple, and unsophisticated philosophy.
  • Crestfallen: Sad and disappointed.
  • Cri de coeur: A passionate appeal, complaint, or protest.
  • Criollo: A person from Spanish South or Central America, especially one of pure Spanish descent; a horse or other domestic animal of a South or Central American breed.
  • Crypt: An underground room or vault beneath a church, used as a chapel or burial place.
  • Cunning: Having or showing skill in achieving one's ends by deceit or evasion.
  • Curtail: Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on.
  • Cutlass: A short sword with a slightly curved blade, formerly used by sailors.
  • Daemon: A supernatural being whose nature is intermediate between that of a god and that of a human being; a subordinate deity, as the genius of a place or a person's attendant spirit; an inner source that always knows.
  • Dandy: A man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance.
  • Decorous: In keeping with good taste and propriety; polite and restrained.
  • Defame: To slander or libel; to damage the good reputation of someone.
  • Defray: To provide money to pay for a cost or expense.
  • Delimit: Determine the limits or boundaries of.
  • Demur: Raise doubts or objections or show reluctance.
  • Demure: Reserved, modest, and shy.
  • Denouement: The final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.
  • Derisory: Ridiculously small or inadequate.
  • Derivative: Imitative of the work of another person, and usually disapproved of for that reason.
  • Desideratum: Something that is needed or wanted.
  • Desist: Abstain; cease.
  • Desultory: Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.
  • Didactic: Intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive.
  • Diffident: Modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence.
  • Dilatory: Slow to act.
  • Disconsolate: Without consolation or comfort; unhappy.
  • Disillusioned: Disappointed in someone or something that one discovers to be less good than one had believed.
  • Disinter: Dig up something that has been buried, especially a corpse.
  • Disjunctive: Lacking connection.
  • Dispensation: Exemption from a rule or usual requirement.
  • Doleful: Expressing sorrow; mournful.
  • Dotage: The period of life in which a person is old and weak.
  • Dotty: A somewhat mad or eccentric person.
  • Doughty: Brave and persistent.
  • Dour: Relentlessly severe, stern, or gloomy in manner or appearance.
  • Dower: A widow's share for life of her husband's estate.
  • Downcast: A person's eyes looking downward.
  • Downtrodden: Oppressed or treated badly by people in power; suffering oppression.
  • Doyenne: A woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field.
  • Droll: Curious or unusual in a way that provokes dry amusement.
  • Dudgeon: A feeling of offense or deep resentment.
  • Dumbshow: Gestures used to convey a meaning or message without speech; mime.
  • Dysthymia: Persistent mild depression.
  • Effigy: A sculpture or model of a person.
  • Elegy: A poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead.
  • Elysian: Relating to or characteristic of heaven or paradise.
  • Emporium: A large retail store selling a wide variety of goods.
  • Encomium: A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly.
  • Enervating: Causing one to feel drained of energy or vitality.
  • Ennui: A feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
  • Epigenetic: Relating to or arising from nongenetic influences on gene expression.
  • Epiphenomenon: A secondary effect or byproduct that arises from but does not causally influence a process; a mental state regarded as a byproduct of brain activity.
  • Ergodic: A system is in which the expected value of an activity performed by a group is the same as for an individual carrying out the same action over time.  Rolling a dice is an example of an ergodic system.
  • Erstwhile: Former; formerly.
  • Eschew: To abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid.
  • Esprit de corps: Morale; a feeling of fellowship by the members of a particular group.
  • Etiology: The cause, set of causes, or manner of causation of a disease or condition.
  • Euphemism: A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
  • Eustress: Moderate or normal psychological stress interpreted as being beneficial for the experiencer.
  • Excise: A tax levied on certain goods and commodities produced or sold within a country and on licenses granted for certain activities.
  • Exegesis: Critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture.
  • Exigency: An urgent need or demand.
  • Expatiate: Speak or write at length or in detail.
  • Expeditious: Done with speed and efficiency.
  • Extricate: To free someone from a constraint or difficulty.
  • Facile: Superficial; appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue.
  • Factotum: A person having many diverse activities or responsibilities.
  • Fait accompli: A thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept it.
  • Farsighted: Unable to see things clearly, especially if they are relatively close to the eyes.
  • Feckless: Incompetent; lacking strength of character; irresponsible.
  • Feeble: Lacking physical strength, especially as a result of age or illness.
  • Felicity: Intense happiness.
  • Fidelity: Faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.
  • Filial: Of or due from a son or daughter.
  • Fillip: Something which acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.
  • Fitful: Having an erratic or intermittent character; not regular or steady.
  • Flâneur: Someone who, unlike a tourist, makes a decision opportunistically at every step to revise his schedule (or his destination) so he can imbibe things based on new information obtained; an experimenter, a master of trial and error; a self-learner who is never the prisoner of a plan.
  • Fodder: Food, especially dried hay or feed, for cattle and other livestock.
  • Footloose: Able to travel freely and do as one pleases due to a lack of responsibilities or commitments.
  • Foppish: Concerned with one's clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way.
  • Force majeure: Unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.
  • Ford: A shallow place in a river or stream allowing one to walk or drive across.
  • Forbearance: Patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.
  • Foreboding: Fearful apprehension; a feeling that something bad will happen.
  • Forlorn: Pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely.
  • Forswear: To agree to give up or do without something.
  • Fortuitous: Happening by accident or chance rather than design.
  • Fracas: A noisy disturbance or quarrel.
  • Frission: A sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill.
  • Gadfly: An annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism.
  • Gallic: French or typically French.
  • Gallows: A structure, typically of two uprights and a crosspiece, for the hanging of criminals.
  • Gambit: A device, action, or opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage.
  • Gaslight: To manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
  • Gauche: Lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.
  • Germane: Relevant to a subject under consideration.
  • Gestalt: An organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
  • Glib: A person who is fluent and voluble but insincere and shallow.
  • Gussy: To make someone or something more attractive, especially in a showy or gimmicky way.
  • Haberdasher: A dealer in men's clothing.
  • Halcyon: Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
  • Hardscrabble: Involving hard work and struggle.
  • Harlot: A prostitute.
  • Hasten: Be quick to do something; move or travel hurriedly; cause something to happen sooner than it otherwise would.
  • Haughty: Arrogantly superior and disdainful.
  • Henchman: A faithful follower or political supporter, especially one prepared to engage in crime or dishonest practices by way of service.
  • Hessian: Relating to or characteristic of the German state of Hesse; German troops hired by the British to help fight during the American Revolution.
  • High-handed: Using power or authority without considering the feelings of others.
  • Hinterland: The often uncharted areas beyond a coastal district or a river's banks.
  • Hispaniola: The island of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
  • Hobbyhorse: A preoccupation or favorite topic.
  • Hobnob: Mix socially, especially with those of higher social status.
  • Huffy: Annoyed or irritated and quick to take offense at petty things.
  • Hugger-mugger: Confused; disorderly. Secret; clandestine.
  • Idiom: A group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g., "raining cats and dogs," "see the light").
  • Ignominious: Deserving or causing public disgrace or shame.
  • Illusion: A false idea or belief; a deceptive appearance or impression.
  • Imago: An unconscious idealized mental image of someone, especially a parent, which influences a person's behavior.
  • Impassive: Not feeling or showing emotion.
  • Impertinent: Not showing proper respect; rude.
  • Impervious: Unable to be affected by; not allowing fluid to pass through.
  • Impetuous: Acting or done quickly and without thought or care.
  • Improvident: Not having or showing foresight; spendthrift or thoughtless.
  • Improvise: To act, create, or perform spontaneously or without preparation.
  • Impudent: Not showing due respect for another person; impertinent.
  • Imputation: A charge or claim that someone has done something undesirable; an accusation.
  • Incipient: In an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop.
  • Incisive: Intelligently analytical and clear-thinking.
  • Incorrigible: A person not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed.
  • Inculcate: Instill by persistent instruction.
  • Indefatigable: A person persisting tirelessly.
  • Indemnification: Compensation for harm or loss.
  • Indignant: Feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment.
  • Indisposed: Slightly unwell.
  • Individuation: The development of the individual, apart from the universal.
  • Ineluctable: Unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.
  • Infirm: Not physically or mentally strong, especially through age or illness.
  • Inimical: Tending to obstruct or harm.
  • Inimitable: So good or unusual as to be impossible to copy; unique.
  • Innocuous: Not harmful or offensive.
  • Innuendo: An allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one.
  • Inscrutable: Impossible to understand or interpret.
  • Insipid: Lacking flavor; lacking enthusiasm or interest.
  • Insolence: Rude and disrespectful behavior.
  • Insuperable: A difficulty or obstacle that's impossible to overcome.
  • Insurrection: A violent uprising against an authority or government.
  • Inter: To place a corpse in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites.
  • Interminable: Endless.
  • Interregnum: A period when normal government is suspended, especially between successive reigns or regimes.
  • Intimation: An indication or hint.
  • Intransigent: Refusal to change one's views or to agree about something.
  • Intrepid: Fearless; adventurous.
  • Intone: Say or recite with little rise and fall of the pitch of the voice.
  • Inured: To become accustom to something, especially something unpleasant.
  • Invective: Insulting, abusive, or highly critical language.
  • Inveterate: Having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change.
  • Invictus: Unconquered; strength in the face of adversity; invincible.
  • Invidious: An action or situation likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others.
  • Itinerant: Traveling from place to place.
  • Jacobin: The most radical and ruthless of the political groups formed in the wake of the French Revolution, and in association with Robespierre they instituted the Terror of 1793–4.
  • Judgment: The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
  • Junket: An extravagant trip or celebration, in particular one enjoyed by a government official at public expense.
  • Jeremiad: A long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes.
  • Kind: Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature; of a good or benevolent nature or disposition.
  • Kingpin: A main or large bolt in a central position.
  • Kleig light: A powerful electric lamp used in filming.
  • Knave: A dishonest or unscrupulous man.
  • Lachrymose: Tearful or given to weeping.
  • Laconic: Using very few words.
  • Lagniappe: Something given as a bonus or extra gift.
  • Lambent: Glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance.
  • Lame: Unable to walk without difficulty as the result of an injury or illness affecting the leg or foot.
  • Lament: A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
  • Lapidary: Relating to stone and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting, or polishing.
  • Lascivious: Feeling or revealing an overt and often offensive sexual desire.
  • Leitmotif: A recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.
  • Libertine: A person who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.
  • Liminal: Relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  • Lithe: A thin, supple, and graceful person.
  • Luminous: Full of or shedding light; bright or shining, especially in the dark.
  • Macabre: Disturbing and horrifying because of involvement with or depiction of death and injury.
  • Machinations: A plot or scheme.
  • Maladroit: Ineffective or bungling; clumsy.
  • Malapropism: The mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect; for example, “dance a flamingo” (rather than flamenco).
  • Malign: To speak about someone in a spitefully critical manner; evil in nature or effect; malevolent.
  • Malinger: Exaggerate or feign illness in order to escape duty or work.
  • Manifold: Many and various, as in the implications of a decision.
  • Manumission: Release from slavery.
  • Marginal: Relating to or situated at the edge or margin of something.
  • Marquis: A nobleman ranking above a count and below a duke.
  • Martinet: A strict disciplinarian, especially in the armed forces.
  • Mauve: A pale purple color.
  • Mercurial: A person subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind.
  • Metanoia: To change in one's way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.
  • Milieu: A person's social environment.
  • Ministration: The provision of assistance or care.
  • Minuet: A slow, stately ballroom dance for two in triple time, popular especially in the 18th century.
  • Mirage: Something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.
  • Mirth: Amusement, especially as expressed in laughter.
  • Missive: A written message; a letter; an official or especially long letter.
  • Modicum: A small quantity of a particular thing, especially something considered desirable or valuable.
  • Mollify: To appease the anger or anxiety of someone.
  • Moniker: A name.
  • Monocrat: A person favoring monarchy.
  • Monomaniacal: Obsessed with a single subject or idea.
  • Moratorium: A temporary prohibition of an activity.
  • Morose: Sulky, gloomy, and ill-tempered.
  • Motley: Incongruously varied in appearance or character; disparate.
  • Munificence: The quality or action of being lavishly generous; great generosity.
  • Mutable: Liable to change.
  • Navel-gazing: Self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.
  • Neologism: A newly coined word or expression.
  • Neomania: Obsession with the new.
  • Nettlesome: Causing annoyance or difficulty.
  • Neurotic: An automatic, unconscious effort to manage deep anxiety.
  • Nonplussed: Surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.
  • Nostrum: A medicine, especially one that is not considered effective, prepared by an unqualified person.
  • Noxious: Harmful, poisonous, or very unpleasant.
  • Nuance: A quality of something that is not easy to notice but may be important; a very slight difference in appearance, meaning, sound, etc.
  • Numinous: Appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense; spiritual or supernatural.
  • Obdurate: Stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or course of action.
  • Obsequious: Obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.
  • Obstinate: Stubbornly refusing to change one's opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so.
  • Obtuse: Stupid; annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand.
  • Odious: Extremely unpleasant or repulsive.
  • Ontology: The study of what things exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped according to similarities and differences.
  • Opprobrium: Harsh criticism.
  • Orthopedic: Relating to the branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles.
  • Out of whole cloth: False; made up.
  • Quotidian: Of or occurring every day; daily.
  • Pacific: Peaceful in character or intent.
  • Paean: A song of praise or triumph.
  • Palapa: A traditional Mexican shelter roofed with palm leaves or branches.
  • Pallid: A pale face, typically because of poor health.
  • Panegyric: A public speech or published text in praise of someone or something.
  • Panoply: A complete or impressive collection of things.
  • Paragon: A person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality.
  • Parlous: Full of danger or uncertainty; precarious.
  • Parochialism: Narrow-mindedness; a limited or narrow outlook, especially focused on a local area.
  • Paterfamilias: The male head of a family or household.
  • Patrician: An aristocrat or nobleman.
  • Pauper: A very poor person.
  • Payola: The practice of bribing someone to use their influence or position to promote a particular product or interest.
  • Pecuniary: Relating to money.
  • Peevish: Easily irritated, especially by unimportant things.
  • Pell-mell: In confusion or disorder.
  • Penurious: Extremely poor; poverty-stricken.
  • Perdure: To remain in existence throughout a substantial period of time; endure.
  • Pére: Used after a surname to distinguish a father from a son of the same name.
  • Perfidy: Deceitfulness; untrustworthiness.
  • Pernicious: Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
  • Perspicacity: The quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness.
  • Phalanx: A body of troops or police officers standing or moving in close formation.
  • Phlegmatic: Having an unemotional and calm disposition.
  • Pied-a-terre: A small apartment, house, or room kept for occasional use.
  • Pithy: Brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; terse; forcible.
  • Plaintive: Sounding sad and mournful.
  • Plenary: Unqualified; absolute.
  • Pliable: Easily bent; flexible; easily influenced.
  • Plucky: Having or showing determined courage in the face of difficulties.
  • Pomade: A scented ointment or oil applied to the hair.
  • Porphyria: King George III's cause of madness; can cause psychological states such as anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, disorientation or paranoia.
  • Portent: A sign or warning that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen.
  • Portico: A structure consisting of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals, typically attached as a porch to a building.
  • Postprandial: During or relating to the period after dinner or lunch.
  • Posthaste: With great speed or immediacy.
  • Postscript: An additional remark at the end of a letter, after the signature and introduced by “P.S.”.
  • Potable: Safe to drink; drinkable.
  • Pratfall: A fall on to one's buttocks.
  • Preclude: Prevent from happening; make impossible.
  • Prepossessing: Attractive or appealing in appearance.
  • Précis: A summary or abstract of a text or speech.
  • Priggish: Self-righteously moralistic and superior.
  • Pro forma: For the sake of form; made or carried out as a formality.
  • Procrustean: Enforcing uniformity or conformity without regard to natural variation or individuality.
  • Prodigious: Remarkably or impressively great in extent, size, or degree.
  • Progeny: A descendant or the descendants of a person, animal, or plant; offspring.
  • Prolixity: Verbose; the state or quality of being unnecessarily or tediously wordy.
  • Propitiate: To win or regain the favor of a god, spirit, or person by doing something that pleases them.
  • Proscribe: Forbid, especially by law.
  • Protracted: Lasting for a long time or longer than expected or usual.
  • Psychopathology: The expression of the suffering of the soul; the scientific study of mental disorders.
  • Pusillanimity: Lack of courage or determination; timidity.
  • Pyrrhic: A victory won at too great a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor.
  • Quiddity: The inherent nature or essence of someone or something.
  • Quondam: Former; that once was.
  • Raconteur: A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way.
  • Racy: Lively, entertaining, and typically mildly titillating sexually.
  • Raffish: Suggestive of vulgarity or crudeness; slightly disreputable; gaudily vulgar or cheap.
  • Raison D'être: The most important reason or purpose for someone or something's existence.
  • Rampart: A defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet.
  • Rapacious: Aggressively greedy or grasping.
  • Rapine: The violent seizure of someone's property.
  • Rapprochement: An establishment or resumption of harmonious relations.
  • Rathskeller: A beer hall or restaurant in a basement.
  • Recalcitrant: Having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline.
  • Recourse: A source of help in a difficult situation.
  • Recriminate: To make counteraccusations; an accusation in response to one from someone else.
  • Recrudescence: The recurrence of an undesirable condition.
  • Redoubtable: A formidable person, especially as an opponent.
  • Refract: To make a ray of light change direction when it enters at an angle.
  • Refractory: Stubborn or unmanageable.
  • Regicide: The action of killing a king.
  • Reify: To make something abstract more concrete or real.
  • Relinquish: To voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.
  • Remonstrate: To say or plead in protest; to make a forceful protest.
  • Repartee: Conversation or speech characterized by quick, witty comments or replies.
  • Repine: Feel or express discontent; fret.
  • Repose: A state of rest, sleep, or tranquility.
  • Reprise: A repeated passage in music.
  • Repudiate: To refuse to accept or be associated with.
  • Resplendent: Attractive and impressive through being richly colorful or sumptuous.
  • Restitution: The restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner.
  • Restive: A person unable to keep still or silent and becoming increasingly difficult to control, especially because of impatience, dissatisfaction, or boredom.
  • Reticent: Not revealing one's thoughts or feelings readily.
  • Retinue: A group of advisers, assistants, or others accompanying an important person.
  • Reverie: A daydream; a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts.
  • Rhapsodize: To speak or write about someone or something with great enthusiasm and delight.
  • Rheumatism: Any disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue, especially rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Ribald: Referring to sexual matters in an amusingly coarse or irreverent way.
  • Rostrum: Any platform, stage, or the like, for public speaking.
  • Rote: Habitual repetition of something to be learned.
  • Ruminate: To go over in the mind repeatedly and often casually or slowly; to think deeply about something.
  • Ruddy: A face of a healthy red color.
  • Rue: Bitterly regret something one has done or allowed to happen.
  • Sangfroid: Composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances.
  • Sanguinary: Involving or causing much bloodshed.
  • Sardonic: Grimly mocking or cynical.
  • Savoir faire: The ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations.
  • Salubrious: Health-giving; healthy.
  • Scuttlebutt: Rumor; gossip.
  • Seat-of-the-pants: Done using only your own experience and trusting your own judgment.
  • Self-effacing: Not claiming attention for oneself; retiring and modest.
  • Self-possession: Calm, confident, and in control of one's feelings; composure.
  • Sentry: A soldier stationed to keep guard or to control access to a place.
  • Serried: Rows of people or things standing close together.
  • Sexual selection: Natural selection arising through preference by one sex for certain characteristics in individuals of the other sex.
  • Shadow: All aspects of oneself or one's affiliations that, when brought to consciousness, are troubling or inconsistent with one's intentions or values.
  • Shrewish: Bad-tempered or aggressively assertive.
  • Sibilant: Making or characterized by a hissing sound.
  • Sinecure: A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.
  • Sisyphean: A difficult task that can never be completed.
  • Skein: A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.
  • Slapdash: Done too hurriedly and carelessly.
  • Slapstick: Comedy based on deliberately clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events.
  • Sodden: Saturated with liquid, especially water; soaked through.
  • Solicitude: Care or concern for someone or something.
  • Somatic: Relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind.
  • Soothsay: The practice or art of foretelling events.
  • Sophomoric: Juvenile or pretentious.
  • Soporific: A drug or other agent that induces sleep.
  • Spectral: Of or like a ghost.
  • Spurious: Not being what it purports to be; false or fake.
  • Sprezzatura: Studied carelessness, especially as a characteristic quality or style of art or literature.
  • Stilted: Stiff and self-conscious or unnatural.
  • Straitened: Characterized by poverty.
  • Sublimate: To divert or modify an instinctual impulse into a culturally higher or socially more acceptable activity.
  • Sublunary: Belonging to this world as contrasted with a better or more spiritual one.
  • Succor: Assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.
  • Sundry: Of various kinds; several.
  • Surcease: Cessation.
  • Sylvan: Consisting of or associated with woods; wooded.
  • Stentorian: A loud and powerful voice.
  • Stolid: Calm, dependable, and showing little emotion or animation.
  • Stress: Trying to control what you cannot control.
  • Subterfuge: Deceit used in order to achieve one's goal.
  • Supercilious: Behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others.
  • Taciturn: Reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little.
  • Tautology: The saying of the same thing twice in different words.
  • Teak: Hard durable timber used in shipbuilding and for making furniture.
  • Tempest: A violent, windy storm.
  • Tenebrous: Dark; shadowy or obscure.
  • Tepid: Lukewarm; only slightly warm.
  • Terra incognita: Unknown or unexplored territory.
  • Tertiary: Third in order or level.
  • Thunderstruck: Extremely surprised or shocked.
  • Tidings: News; information.
  • Timidity: Lack of courage or confidence.
  • Timorous: Showing or suffering from nervousness, fear, or a lack of confidence.
  • Tincture: A trace; a small amount; a smack or smattering.
  • Toady: To act in an obsequious way.
  • Tony: Fashionable among wealthy or stylish people.
  • Torpor: A state of physical or mental inactivity; lethargy.
  • Trenchant: Vigorous or clear-thinking in expression or style.
  • Triennial: Recurring every three years.
  • Trifling: Unimportant or trivial.
  • Tripartite: Shared by or involving three parties.
  • Trite: A remark, opinion, or idea that's overused and consequently of little import; lacking originality or freshness.
  • Trowel: A small handheld tool with a flat, pointed blade, used to apply and spread mortar or plaster.
  • Truancy: The action of staying away from school without good reason.
  • Truculent: Eager or quick to argue or fight; aggressively defiant.
  • Tungsten: A chemical element, very hard silver-grey metal, used in making steel and in filaments for light bulbs.
  • Tyro: A beginner or novice.
  • Umbrage: Offense or annoyance.
  • Uncouth: Lacking good manners, refinement, or grace.
  • Unctuous: A person who is excessively or ingratiatingly flattering.
  • Unstinting: Given or giving without restraint; unsparing.
  • Untenable: A position or view not able to be maintained or defended against attack or objection.
  • Untoward: Unexpected and inappropriate or inconvenient.
  • Upshot: The final or eventual outcome or conclusion of a discussion, action, or series of events.
  • Urbane: A courteous and refined person.
  • Vagary: An unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone's behavior.
  • Valedictory: Serving as a farewell.
  • Veld: Open, uncultivated country or grassland in southern Africa.
  • Velleity: A wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.
  • Venal: Motivated by susceptibility to bribery.
  • Venerable: Accorded a great deal of respect, especially because of age, wisdom, or character.
  • Veritable: Being truly or very much so; being in fact the thing named and not false, unreal, or imaginary.
  • Vestibule: A small, enclosed entry chamber that traditionally has served as a buffer in winter between indoors and outdoors.
  • Vigor: Physical strength and good health.
  • Vindictive: Having or showing a strong or unreasoning desire for revenge.
  • Vis-à-vis: Compared with; as compared with; in relation to, with regard to; face-to-face with.
  • Vituperative: Bitter and abusive.
  • Vocation: A strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.
  • Vomitorium: A place in which, according to popular misconception, the ancient Romans are supposed to have vomited during feasts to make room for more food; a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance.
  • Waifs: A homeless, neglected, or abandoned person, especially a child.
  • Wane: To have a progressively smaller part of its visible surface illuminated, so that it appears to decrease in size.
  • Wanting: Lacking in a certain required or necessary quality; not existing or supplied; absent.
  • Wanton: A cruel and violent action, deliberate and unprovoked.
  • Waspish: Readily expressing anger or irritation.
  • Waylay: To interrupt someone in conversation or trouble them in some other way.
  • Wet blanket / wet noodle: Someone who is not interesting or convivial, or who dampens other people's fun or enjoyment; a killjoy.
  • Wile: A devious or cunning plan used to manipulate or persuade someone to do what you want.
  • Wily: Skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully.
  • Will-o’-the-wisp: A person or thing that is difficult or impossible to find, reach, or catch.
  • Willy-nilly: Without direction or planning; haphazardly; whether one likes it or not.
  • Wise: Having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
  • Wistful: Having or showing a feeling of vague or regretful longing.
  • Wry: Using or expressing dry, especially mocking, humor.

Words for forming a just society:

  • Rawls' Veil of ignorance: "(C)onsider which principles you would select for the basic structure of society, but you must select as if you had no knowledge ahead of time what position you would end up having in that society."

Words for thinking and decision-making:

  • A priori: Knowledge based on theoretical deduction rather than empirical observation.
  • Ad hominem: An argument directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.
  • Anchoring heuristic: Participants observed a roulette wheel that was predetermined to stop on either 10 or 65. Participants were then asked to guess the percentage of the United Nations that were African nations. Participants whose wheel stopped on 10 guessed lower values (25% on average) than participants whose wheel stopped at 65 (45% on average).  The pattern has held in other experiments for a wide variety of different subjects of estimation.
  • Availability heuristic: A mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person's mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision (e.g. shark attacks, plane crashes).
  • Fundamental attribution error: The tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others, while under-emphasizing situational explanations.
  • Hedonic adaptation: The tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.
  • Iatrogenic: Illness caused by medical examination or treatment.
  • Loss aversion: The tendency, in relationships and in finances, to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains.
  • Phronesis: A type of wisdom relevant to practical action, implying both good judgement and excellence of character and habits, sometimes referred to as "practical virtue" or "practical wisdom."
  • Overton window: The spectrum of ideas on public policy and social issues considered acceptable by the general public at a given time.
  • Posteriori: Knowledge that depends on empirical evidence.
  • Representativeness heuristic: A mental shortcut in which people forget base rates, overestimating the likelihood that something will occur.  Just because an event or object is representative does not mean its occurrence is more probable (e.g. Sarah loves to listen to New Age music and faithfully reads her horoscope each day. In her spare time, she enjoys aromatherapy and attending a local spirituality group.  Based on the description above, is Sarah more likely to be a school teacher or a holistic healer?)
  • Specious: Superficially plausible, but actually wrong.
  • Sophistry: An argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid.
  • Sunk cost fallacy: Remaining in failing relationships because of prior investments of time and energy.

Words with interesting roots:

  • Decide: "To cut off."
  • Essay: "To try."
  • Passion: "To suffer."
  • Quit: "To free” or “to release."