Updated on May 31, 2008
forgo \for-GO\, transitive verb;
Inflected forms: forwent, forgone, forgoing, forgoes:
To abstain from; to do without.
This one has given up smoking today, I knew; that one his weekly visit to the cafe, another will forgo her favorite foods.
— Joanne Harris, Chocolat
If my deepest wish is to sit on a beach in Maine fishing for bass, I might cheerfully forgo stock options in Microsoft to do it.
— Alan Ryan, “It’s Not Easy Being Equal”, New York Times, June 18, 2000
As much as I wanted to forgo college and head straight to New York to become an actress, my father said that all knowledge would serve me and that the more I knew the more I could bring to my work.
— Jane Alexander, Command Performance
Forgo derives from Old English forgan, “to go without, to forgo,” from for-, “without” + gan, “to go.”
Updated on May 30, 2008
schadenfreude \SHOD-n-froy-duh\, noun:
A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
That the report of Sebastian Imhof’s grave illness might also have been tinged with Schadenfreude appears not to have crossed Lucas’s mind.
— Steven Ozment, Flesh and Spirit
He died three years after me — cancer too — and at that time I was still naive enough to imagine that what the afterlife chiefly provided were unrivalled opportunities for unbeatable gloating, unbelievable schadenfreude.
— Will Self, How The Dead Live
Somewhere out there, Pi supposed, some UC Berkeley grad students must be shivering with a little Schadenfreude of their own about what had happened to her.
— Sylvia Brownrigg, The Metaphysical Touch
The historian Peter Gay — who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics — has said that it “can be one of the great joys of life.”
— Edward Rothstein, “Missing the Fun of a Minor Sin”, New York Times, February 5, 2000
Schadenfreude comes from the German, from Schaden, “damage” + Freude, “joy.” It is often capitalized, as it is in German.
Updated on May 28, 2008
ribald \RIB-uhld; RY-bawld\, adjective:
1. Characterized by or given to vulgar humor; coarse.
1. A ribald person; a lewd fellow.
Mr. Plummer’s Barrymore delights you with his own delight in his silly, ribald jokes (most of which are unprintable here).
— Ben Brantley, “A Dazzler of a Drunk, Full of Gab and Grief”, New York Times, March 26, 1997
The blues took form in the late nineteenth century as a musical synthesis that combined “worksongs, group seculars, field hollers, sacred harmonies, proverbial wisdom, folk philosophy, political commentary, ribald humor and elegiac lament.”
— Constance Valis Hill, Brotherhood in Rhythm
Their contrasting habits and preoccupations are telling and endearing: Piccard, the fussy one, sleeps in pajamas, Jones in the nude. Piccard scribbles homages in his journal to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, while Jones tosses off ribald limericks.
— Louise Jarvis, “Are We There Yet?”, New York Times, November 14, 1999
Ribald derives from Old French ribaud, from riber, “to be wanton,” from Old High German riban, “to be amorous” (originally, “to rub”).
Updated on May 26, 2008
ruminate \ROO-muh-nayt\, intransitive verb:
1. To chew the cud; to chew again what has been slightly chewed and swallowed.”Cattle free to ruminate.” –Wordsworth.
2. To think again and again; to muse; to meditate; to ponder; to reflect.
1. To chew over again.
2. To meditate or ponder over; to muse on.
They come, these scholars, in baseball hats clamped over bald pates or white hair, and polo shirts stretched over bellies more intimate with beer than situps, to ruminate on the game.
— Edward A. Gargan, “Scholars Look at Baseball and See the American Essence”, New York Times, June 27, 1998
Her lyrics are less narratives than fragments of personal philosophy; she ruminates about the miserable ways people treat each other, and looks for comfort in her own solitude.
— Karen Schoemer, “Good Case of the Blues”, Newsweek, March 22, 1999
The people, I observe, are… all of them much given to ruminate tobacco.
— William Howard Russell, quoted in A Bohemian Brigade:The Civil War Correspondents – Mostly Rough, Sometimes Ready, by James M. Perry
Ruminate derives from Latin ruminatus, past participle of ruminari, to chew the cud, to ruminate, to chew over again, from rumen, rumin-, throat.
Updated on May 22, 2008
Potemkin village \puh-TEM(P)-kin\, noun:
An impressive facade or display that hides an undesirable fact or state; a false front.
When will the West have the guts to call Russia what it really is: a semi-totalitarian state with Potemkin village-style democratic institutions and a fascist-capitalist economy?
— “Western Investors Defend a Potemkin Village”, Moscow Times, January 9, 2004
It’s a lie, a huge Potemkin village designed to give North Korea the appearance of modernity.
— Kevin Sullivan, “Borderline Absurdity”, Washington Post, January 11, 1998
Unless U.S. imperial overstretch is acknowledged and corrected, the United States may someday soon find that it has become a Potemkin village superpower — with a facade of military strength concealing a core of economic weakness.
— Christopher Layne, “Why the Gulf War Was Not in the National Interest”, The Atlantic, July 1991
The “evil empire” had been a mighty facade at least since Kruschev, a termite-infested Potemkin village congenitally incapable of regeneration.
— Frank Pellegrini, “Reagan At 90: Still A Repository For Our American Dreams”, Time, February 6, 2001
A Potemkin village is so called after Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, who had elaborate fake villages built in order to impress Catherine the Great on her tours of the Ukraine and the Crimea in the 18th century.
Updated on May 21, 2008
boulevardier \boo-luh-var-DYAY; bul-uh-\, noun:
1. A frequenter of city boulevards, especially in Paris.
2. A sophisticated, worldly, and socially active man; a man who frequents fashionable places; a man-about-town.
Oswald, whose idea of excitement is breakfasting with a penguin, is a boulevardier: Hat cocked precariously on his head, he saunters out into the sunny city.
— Tom Gliatto, “Tube”, People, July 22, 2002
Bratton had been running about town, having his picture taken in trendy restaurants, seeking and getting headlines — a regular gay boulevardier from the Roaring Twenties.
— Sydney H. Schanberg, “Cops’ D.C. Spree Calls for Outside Watchdog”, Newsday, May 30, 1995
The “Night Mayor of New York” was, Mitgang writes, “a hometown boy, part Kilkenny sentimentalist, part Greenwich Village boulevardier.”
— David Walton, “Go Fight City Hall”, New York Times, January 9, 2000
Boulevardier is from French, from boulevard, from Old French bollevart, “rampart converted to a promenade,” from Middle Low German bolwerk, “bulwark.”
Updated on May 20, 2008
tirade \TY-raid; tih-RAID\, noun:
A long angry speech; a violent denunciation; a prolonged outburst full of censure or abuse.
The force of this tirade made Matthew glance nervously at Coots, who shrugged and asked his partner, “You just about all through?”
— Trevanian, Incident at Twenty-Mile
Bobby wanted to enquire further, but knew better; more questions were apt to set off a tirade.
— Stephen King, Hearts In Atlantis
He was likeable, had panache, and his contemptuous tirades were rarely taken at face value.
— Michael Schaller, Altered States
Tirade comes from French, from Italian tirada, properly, “a pulling”; hence, “a lengthening out, a long speech, a tirade,” from tirare, “to pull, to draw.”
Updated on May 19, 2008
obtrude \uhb-TROOD; ob-\, transitive verb:
1. To thrust out; to push out.
2. To force or impose (one’s self, remarks, opinions, etc.) on others with undue insistence or without solicitation.
1. To thrust upon a group or upon attention; to intrude.
Moreover, crime is something which the citizen is happy to forget when it does not obtrude itself into public consciousness.
— “Voting On Crime”, Irish Times, May 30, 1997
For the next few months, Polidori continued to obtrude himself on Byron’s attention in every possible way — popping into every conversation, sulking when he was ignored, challenging Percy Bysshe Shelley to a duel, attacking an apothecary and getting arrested “accidentally” banging his employer on the knee with an oar and saying he wasn’t sorry — until finally Byron dismissed him.
— Angeline Goreau, “Physician, Behave Thyself”, New York Times, September 3, 1989
He was, in his relationships with his few close friends, a considerate, delightful, sensitive, helpful, unpretentious person who did not obtrude his social and political views, nor make agreeing with them a condition of steadfast friendship.
— Alden Whitman, “Daring Lindbergh Attained the Unattainable With Historic Flight Across Atlantic”, New York Times, August 27, 1974
And, as is common in books sewn together from previously published essays, certain redundancies obtrude.
— Maxine Kumin, “First, Perfect Fear; Then, Universal Love”, New York Times, October 17, 1993
Obtrude is from Latin obtrudere, “to thrust upon, to force,” from ob, “in front of, before” + trudere, “to push, to thrust.”
Updated on May 9, 2008
sentient \SEN-shee-uhnt; -tee-; -shuhnt\, adjective:
1. Capable of perceiving by the senses; conscious.
2. Experiencing sensation or feeling.
I can remember very vividly the first time I became aware of my existence; how for the first time I realised that I was a sentient human being in a perceptible world.
— Lord Berners, First Childhood
Answers to such profound questions as whether we are the only sentient beings in the universe, whether life is the product of random accident or deeply rooted law, and whether there may be some sort of ultimate meaning to our existence, hinge on what science can reveal about the formation of life.
— Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle
Sentient comes from Latin sentiens, “feeling,” from sentire, “to discern or perceive by the senses.”
Updated on 8 May, 2008
moiety \MOY-uh-tee\, noun:
1. One of two equal parts; a half.
2. An indefinite part; a small portion or share.
3. One of two basic tribal subdivisions.
Tom divided the cake and Becky ate with good appetite, while Tom nibbled at his moiety.
— Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Cut off from news at home, fearful of a blood bath, anxious to salvage a moiety of the reform program, the Prague leadership accepted Moscow’s diktat.
— Karl E. Meyer, “Pangloss in Prague”, New York Times, June 27, 1993
Barunga society is sharply divided into two complementary, descent-based branches (a structure anthropologists call “moiety“), which permeate relationships, spirituality, and many other aspects of life.
— Claire Smith, “Art of The Dreaming”, Discovering Archaeology, March/April 2000
Moiety comes from Old French meitiet, from Late Latin medietas, from Latin medius, “middle.”
Updated on May 7, 2008
imbroglio \im-BROHL-yoh\, noun:
1. A complicated and embarrassing state of things.
2. A confused or complicated disagreement or misunderstanding.
3. An intricate, complicated plot, as of a drama or work of fiction.
4. A confused mass; a tangle.
The political imbroglio also appears to endanger the latest International Monetary Fund loan package for Russia, which is considered critical to avoid a default this year on the country’s $17 billion in foreign debt.
– David Hoffman, “Citing Economy, Yeltsin Fires Premier”, Washington Post, May 13, 1999
Worse still, hearings and investigations into scandals — from the imbroglio over Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination in 1991 to the charges of perjury against President Clinton in 1998 — have overshadowed any consideration of the country’s future.
– John B. Judis, The Paradox of American Democracy
To the extent that Washington had a policy toward the subcontinent, its aim was to be evenhanded and not get drawn into the diplomatic imbroglio over Kashmir.
– George Perkovich, India’s Nuclear Bomb
The imbroglio over the seemingly arcane currency issue threatens to plunge Indonesia — and possibly its neighbors as well — into a renewed bout of financial turmoil.
– Paul Blustein, “Currency Dispute Threatens Indonesia’s Bailout”, Washington Post, February 14, 1998
Imbroglio derives from Italian, from Old Italian imbrogliare, “to tangle, to confuse,” from in-, “in” + brogliare, “to mix, to stir.” It is related to embroil, “to entangle in conflict or argument.”
Updated on May 6, 2008
faineant \fay-nay-AWN\, adjective:
1. Doing nothing or given to doing nothing; idle; lazy.
1. A do-nothing; an idle fellow; a sluggard.
Yet if nonhunters ever knew how many properly dressed, entirely palatable big-game carcasses wind up in dumpsters because someone was simply too faineant to butcher and cook and eat an animal he could find the time and energy to shoot and kill, hunting would be in even greater jeopardy than it is today.
– Thomas McIntyre, “The meaning of meat”, Sports Afield, August 1, 1997
According to Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Charles II was no faineant half-wit but a conscientious and reflective king.
– David Gilmour, “The falsity of ‘true Spain’”, The Spectator, July 22, 2000
A faineant government is not the worst government that England can have. It has been the great fault of our politicians that they have all wanted to do something.
– Anthony Trollope, Phineas Finn
Faineant is from French, from Middle French fait, “does” + néant, “nothing.”
Updated on May 5, 2008
fustian \FUHS-chuhn\, noun:
1. A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc.
2. An inflated style of writing or speech; pompous or pretentious language.
1. Made of fustian.
2. Pompous; ridiculously inflated; bombastic.
Updated on May 4, 2008
sub rosa \suhb-ROH-zuh\, adverb:
1. Secretly; privately; confidentially.
1. Designed to be secret or confidential; secretive; private.
Unlike progressive educators of the past, who openly proclaimed their goals, today’s multiculturalists are generally unwilling to engage the wider public in open debate about their methods, preferring to promote their agenda sub rosa.
Second, Abramson argues that since a certain amount of jury nullification goes on anyway, sub rosa, it should be brought out into the open.
The investigators said that a major purpose of the sub-rosa activities was to create so much confusion, suspicion and dissension that the Democrats would be incapable of uniting after choosing a presidential nominee.
The atmosphere of gloom and dislocation only thickened, though, and Marty found himself in over his head in a world of shadowy fixers, sub-rosa deputies of the C.I.A. and the mob.
Sub rosa comes from the Latin, literally “under the rose,” from the ancient association of the rose with confidentiality, the origin of which traces to a famous story in which Cupid gave Harpocrates, the god of silence, a rose to bribe him not to betray the confidence of Venus. Hence the ceilings of Roman banquet-rooms were decorated with roses to remind guests that what was spoken sub vino (under the influence of wine) was also sub rosa.