57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary: June 2010 #1
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57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary: June 2010 #1

This is the second edition of "57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary."

When I stopped college and began working, I realized that my mind could easily fall into a rut of routine (and naturally debilitating) thought. I set out to find the nearest bookstore and grab some books to keep my mind active and thinking new things. One of the books I found was an unorthodox dictionary of sorts by Robert H. Hill. As I picked up the book during lunch breaks, I began to realize that it had useful application for everyone; it could help each of us to expand our vocabularies and keep our minds sharp. My purpose in publishing this series, then, is twofold: to publish useful excerpts of Hill's book for others to read, and also to better encode the meaning of the words in my own mind. If you’re interested in updating your vocabulary and making some old, tired synapses fire up again, then read on!

The book from which I am sourcing my material is 10,000 Extraordinary and Puzzling Words originally compiled by Robert H. Hill in 1959. The rest of the words will proceed in alphabetical order; more chapters are to follow. This is the second chapter of a bi-monthly series. Robert Hill's edition was revised in 2007 (this is the copy that I recently obtained). The work was originally published under the title A Dictionary of Difficult Words.

The words will follow the author’s format: language of origin if it appears, and then part of speech followed by definition. Pronunciations are omitted. If there is an explanation preceding the definition, the definition is bolded to highlight it. Parts of speech and other abbreviations are as follows: Adj. is an adjective. N. is a noun. Pert. is pertaining to. V.t. is a transitive verb.

androlepsy: n. seizure of foreign subjects to enforce claim for justice or other right against their nation.

androphagous: adj. cannibal.

androsphinx: n. figure with man's head and lion's body.

anemochord: n. kind of pianoforte having strings vibrated by air currents.

anencephaly: n. state of lacking a brain.

aneuria: n. lack of nervous energy.

aneurin: n. vitamin B.

angiosperm: n. flowering plant with seeds in closed seed-vessel.

anguilliform: adj. having shape of eel.

anguria: n. gourd; watermelon.

anhedonia: n. inability to be happy.

anhidrosis: n. lack or absence of perspiration.

anicular: adj. like an old woman.

anion: n. negatively charged ion.

ankyroid: adj. having shape of hook.

anneal: v.t. strengthen; temper, especially by subjecting to great heat and slow cooling.

anno hegirae: Latin, "in the year of the hegira"; Mohammedan date (the flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. or C.E.).

anno mundi: Latin, "in the year of the world"; dating from creation; fixed by Archbishop Ussher at 4004 B.C. or B.C.E.).

annotine: n. one-year-old, especially bird after first molt.

anocathartic: n. & adj. drug causing vomiting or expectoration.

anoestrum: n. period between "heats" in animals.

anopisthographic: adj. bearing writing, etc. on one side only.

anorchous: adj. lacking testicles.

anoxaemia: n. condition resulting from insufficient aeration of blood; mountain sickness.

anserine: adj. like or pertaining to a goose; foolish.

antelucan: adj. before dawn.

antephialtic: adj. preventative of nightmare.

antevocalic: n. immediately preceding a vowel.

anthomania: n. great love of flowers.

anthropoglot: n. animal with humanlike tongue; parrot.

anthropopsychism: n. ascribing humanlike soul to nature.

antibasilican: adj. opposed to principle of monarchy.

antichresis: n. possession and enjoyment of mortgaged property by mortgagee in lieu of interest payments.

antitropic: adj. symmetrically reversed, as right and left hands.

anutraminosa: n. vitamin deficiency.

aosmic: adj. free from odor.

apellous: adj. skinless; circumcised.

aphaeresis: n. cutting off beginning of word.

aphelion: n. point in orbit most distant from sun.

aphnology: n. science of wealth.

aphotic: adj. without light.

aphylly: n. absence of leaves.

Apician: adj. pertaining to or like Apicius, a famous epicure; gluttonous; luxurious.

apocrisiary: n. papal secretary or nuncio.

apopemptic: n. & adj. valedictory address.

apopthgem: n. brief wise saying.

aposiopepsis: n. oratorical device of suddenly stopping in a speech.

apothesis: n. setting of a broken limb; sideroom or cupboard.

appersonation: n. delusion of insane person that he is another (generally famous) person.

apport: n. tangible object caused to appear by a spiritualist medium; production of such object.

appui: n. & v.t. support, especially in military use; fixed object in line with which troops form up.

apsychia: n. unconsciousness.

apteryx: n. tailess, flightless bird of New Zealand; kiwi.

aptyalism: n. lack or absence of saliva.

apyrous: adj. noninflammable.

aquapuncture: n. injection of water under skin.

aqua vitae: Latin, "water of life"; strong spirits.

I hope you enjoyed this month's first edition of 57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary!


10,000 Extraordinary and Puzzling Words. Robert H. Hill. New York: Tess Press (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers), 2007.

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Comments (10)

anencephaly: n. state of lacking a brain. Literally or figuratively?! Regardless - great word!

I love the word anencephaly! Great list, I enjoyed a large vocabulary when I was younger but now that I'm older I need to learn some new words.

The funny thing is that most of these words are Greek! We use them almost everyday in the Greek language :)

I have been able to see other words through the component parts of some of these listed words which made their learning enjoyable...intend to follow up on writing about vocabulary improvement for second language learners.

Interesting list. I will try to throw a couple of those in to conversations.

great list

I need to practice using bigger words, my husband is running off and leaving me. I love it when he uses words I don't know so he can explain them to me. I love learning new words.

Gee, that's a mouthful and so insightful!

Great vocabs.

Impressive! I only recognize a few of these..