57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary: June 2010 #2
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57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary: June 2010 #2

This is the third edition of "57 Words to Power Up Your Vocabulary." Herein is a short list of unusual words.

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 are 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 third chapter of a bi-monthly series. The first and second chapters are available in the preceding links or on my home page. 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.

Aquilo: n. north or northeast wind.

araneous: adj. like a spider's web.

araucaria: n. monkey-puzzle tree; genus of conifers including it.

arbalest: n. crossbow with mechanism for drawing string.

arbutus: n. strawberry tree.

archaeornis: n. fossil, beakless, reptilelike bird.

archididascalian: adj. pert. to headmaster of school.

arctoid: adj. like a bear.

areology: n. study of planet Mars.

armisonant: adj. resounding with the clash of arms.

arquebus: n. ancient hand gun supported on tripod.

arrack: n. strong liquor of the ast, manufactured from coconut palm, rice, sugarcane,etc.

arrosive: adj. gnawing.

arsinotherium: n. rhinoceroslike fossil mammal.

asdic: n. apparatus for locating submarines by measuring direction and time lag of echoes of sound waves reflected by their hulls.

asitia: n. distaste for food.

aspergil: n. brush-like implement used to sprinkle holy water.

assize: n. legislative assembly; decree, generally one fixing weights, measures, and prices, especially of bread and ale.

asymptote: n. line approaching a curve but meeting it only at infinity.

asystole: n. cessation of contraction of heart.

ateknia: n. childlessness.

athenaeum: n. club having learned members; library.

atlantes: n. male figures used as columns.

atrichia: n. baldness.

attar: n. oil distilled from rose petals; any perfume derived from flowers.

au fait: French, "to the fact"; having complete and up-to-date knowledge, conversant.

auriferous: adj. containing gold.

autarky: n. national economic self-sufficiency.

autophyte: n. plant able to organize its foodstuffs.

autothaumaturgist: n. person pretending to be mysterious or notable.

avenaceous: adj. pert. to or like oats.

axion: n. brain and spinal cord.

aye-aye: n. species of lemur in Madagascar.

baccaceous: adj. like a berry; eating berries.

badigeon: n. mixture of plaster and ground stone, or glue and sawdust, for repairing masonry and woodwork respectively.

balaustine: n. pomegranate tree.

balistarius: n. crossbow man.

balletomane: n. person fanatically devoted to ballet.

ballista: n. ancient military catapult for throwing rocks, fire, etc.

banderilla: Spanish. dart stuck into bull at bullfight.

bandicoot: n. large Indian rat; small, kangaroolike Australian mammal.

bantling: n. brat; illegitimate child.

baragnosis: n. loss of ability to perceive weight.

barbigerous: adj. having beard.

bardolatry: n. excessive worship of Shakespeare and his works.

barrico: n. keg.

bas-relief: n. carving in low relief, i.e., in which figures stand out less than half their proportion from background.

batata: n. sweet potato.

batrachophobia: n. fear of frogs or toads.

battology: n. an unnecessary reputation.

bdelloid: adj. pert. to leech; leechlike in appearance.

begohm: n. one thousand million ohms.

beneplacito: Latin. "during pleasure."

bezoar: n. stonelike mass found in stomach of ruminants.

bibacious: adj. fond of drinking.

Until next month, please enjoy this list of intriguing words!

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Comments (5)

A very interesting series of articles. I suggest a few things to increase the value of these posts further 1. It would be good if you reduce the number of words to 20 or 25 2. It would be good if you can add a one or two-sentence word-derivation info with these words thanks once again!

great list of words! some I didn't know even though I once tried to read a dictionary for fun!

Very helpful list.

Seth Aggor

Great and interesting! I've really learn new words that will keep the mind thinking and empower my vocabulary.


How can i use this typical words in daily life..