Another 50 Words You Don't Know and a Devilishly Difficult Quiz

Updated on February 7, 2018
Words have such power as to transform mood, attitude, and outcome with an utterance.
Words have such power as to transform mood, attitude, and outcome with an utterance. | Source

Where Do These Words Come From?

We can't get enough of these word listicles, which we write from word lists compiled during reading.

For readers who want systematic, sustained vocabulary development, we suggest the following tools. A word list made from words you see but don't recognize will help you identify areas from improvement. A simple daily reminder of your commitment to learn, such as a word-a-day calendar helps you maintain a consistent word habit. And not list of vocabulary tools would be complete without the book, Word Power.

For readers who just want to read some new words, here are some absolute pissers.

Found Posted on an English Teacher's Door

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50 Words You Don't Know

  1. Alkali: noun ăl′kə-lī′ refers to any of various water-soluble compounds capable of turning litmus blue and reacting with an acid to form a salt and water.
  2. Anachronism: noun uh-NAK-ruh-niz-um is an error in chronology, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other.
  3. Antebellum: adjective ăn′tē-bĕl′əm means belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War.
  4. Antithetical: adjective an-tuh-THET-ih-kul means being in direct and unequivocal opposition, directly opposite or opposed to something.
  5. Ataractic: adjective ăt′ə-răk′tĭk means of or relating to a drug or other agent having a tranquilizing effect.
  6. Belaud: verb bih-LAWD is to praise, usually to excess.
  7. Bludge: verb BLUJ means to avoid work or responsibility.
  8. Cachinnate: verb KAK-uh-nayt to cachinnate is to laugh loudly or immoderately.
  9. Cipher: noun sī′fər is a person of no influence.
  10. Cohort: noun KOH-hort means a companion or colleague, but lately we hear this second definition more: a group of individuals having a statistical factor in common in a demographic study (Baby boomers).
  11. Conciliate: verb kun-SILL-ee-ayt is to appease.
  12. Diaphanous: adjective dye-AF-uh-nus means characterized by such fineness of texture as to permit seeing through.
  13. Didactics: noun dī-dăk′tĭks refers to the activities of educating or instructing, or activities that impart knowledge or skill.
  14. Doyen: noun doi-ĕn′ refers to the senior member of a group, profession, or society.
  15. Extempore: adjective ĭk-stĕm′pə-rē means spoken, carried out, or composed with little or no preparation or forethought.
  16. Fructify: verb FRUK-tuh-fye means to bear fruit.
  17. Geminids: proper noun dj em uh nids refers to the meteors from the 3200 Palladin asteroid, making the Geminids one of the only meteors from a non-comet origin. (JFYI: These meteors peak in mid-December and are thought to be growing brighter.)
  18. Graphology: noun gră-fŏl′ə-jē is the study of handwriting, especially when employed as a means of analyzing character.
  19. Gravamen: noun gruh-VAY-mun is the material or significant part of a grievance or complaint.
  20. Harbinger: noun HAHR-bun-jer is one that initiates a major change or a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology.
  21. Hortative: adjective HOR-tuh-tiv means giving exhortation or serving to advise or warn.
  22. Imprimatur: noun ĭm′prə-mä′to͝or is formal and explicit approval.
  23. Lothario: noun loh-THAIR-ee-oh is a man whose chief interest is seducing women.
  24. Mantic: adjective măn′tĭk means of, relating to, or having the power of divination; prophetic.
  25. Monition: noun mō-nĭsh′ən is a warning or an intimation of something imminent, especially of impending danger.
  26. Mutatis mutandis: adverb myoo-TAH-tis-myoo-TAHN-dis means something with the necessary changes having been made.
  27. Nocebo: noun nō-sē′bō is a substance that causes undesirable side effects as a result of a patient's perception that it is harmful rather than as a result of a causative ingredient. So, placebo’s ugly twin is nocebo.
  28. Officinal: adjective uh-FISS-uh-nul means tending or used to cure disease or relieve pain, medicinal.
  29. Opine: verb ō-pīn′ means to express one's opinion openly and without fear or hesitation.
  30. Palafitte: noun pæləˌfɪt is a prehistoric dwelling.
  31. Pathos: noun PAY-thahss is an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion.
  32. Portentous: adjective pôr-tĕn′təs primarily means of the nature of or constituting a portent, but interestingly, it also means marked by pompousness and pretentiously weighty.
  33. Postbellum: adjective pōst-bĕl′əm means belonging to the period after a war, especially the US Civil War, that is postbellum houses, postbellum governments.
  34. Postprandial: adjective pōst-prăn′dē-əl means following a meal, especially dinner.
  35. Prehensile: adjective prē-hĕn′səl means being immoderately desirous of acquiring wealth and other material stuff. It does also mean being able to grasp and hold.
  36. Recondite: adjective rĕk′ən-dīt′ means not easily understood, abstruse or obscure.
  37. Riposte: noun rĭ-pōst′ is a quick reply to a question or remark (especially a witty or critical one).
  38. Sacerdotal: adjective sass-er-DOH-tul means of or relating to priests or a priesthood, priestly.
  39. Sacrilege: noun săk′rə-lĭj means the desecration, profanation, misuse, or theft of something sacred.
  40. Scurrilous: adjective SKUR-uh-lus refers to someone who is using or given to coarse language
  41. Sepulchral: adjective sə-pŭl′krəl means gruesomely indicative of death or the dead.
  42. Spiel: noun SPEEL is a voluble line of often extravagant talk, a speech delivered specifically to sell or promote something.
  43. Stultify: verb STUL-tuh-fye means to cause to appear or be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical.
  44. Suppositious: adjective sə-pŏz′ĭ-tĭsh′əs refers to a spurious argument that is based primarily on surmise rather than adequate evidence.
  45. Tangential: adjective tăn-jĕn′shəl refers to something only superficially relevant and divergent from the topic.
  46. Terpsichorean: adjective terp-sih-kuh-REE-un means of or relating to dancing.
  47. Vapid: adjective VAP-id means lacking flavor, zest, animation, or spirit.
  48. Vespertine: adjective VESS-per-tyne means of, relating to, or occurring in the evening.
  49. Viand: noun VYE-und is an item of food, especially a choice or tasty dish.
  50. Wend: verb WEND means to direct one's course.

Pedagogical Background

According to the parameters of spaced learning, to learn these words for more than a few minutes during the quiz, readers need to come back to this list and self-test again in a few weeks.

Some readers will be able to recall all the words and some will not. If you don't perform as well as you would like on the second try, then wait a few weeks and come try it again.

Spaced learning, varied learning, and self-testing are all proven methods for committing new knowledge to your long term memory. Additionally, other mnemonics such as writing sentences with a plot, sentences with rhymes, and sentences with memorable topics help the brain make more furrows, which lead to trails, which lead to embedded learning.

A Few Defining Sentences

  1. I wended some farts your way.
  2. I took a postbellum walk in the postprandial twilight yesterday, and soon I had walked off my meal and become hungry again.
  3. A most scurrilous lady cussed me out when I took her parking space at Walmart. She had a large vocabulary of bad words, so I asked her if she had been reading these articles.
  4. I cachinnate so much that if I wasn’t a cipher people would notice.
  5. I thought graphology was the same as pornography until I had my handwriting analyzed.
  6. I didn’t wend any farts toward the Baby boomers because their cohort is too numerous to offend without retribution.
  7. My lawyer charges me an additional fee each time the judge tells him he can only approve our deed with mutatis mutandis, and then my lawyer makes more mistakes that we have to pay him to correct.
  8. My lawyer does not make me feel terpsichorean in the vespertine twilight, or any other time.
  9. My lawyer speaks in sepulchral ripostes, and the good parts of his conversation are vapid and stultifying.
  10. My lawyer’s understanding of the law is recondite at best. He claims to be more of an intuitive lawyer rather than an I've-read-the-law-books lawyer.
  11. I would like to wend more farts his way.
  12. I've been thinking about eating black beans before our next conciliation, just to fructify my flatulence until it rains down like the Geminids in December.
  13. The didactics of fart-wending require me to teach about black beans.
  14. Regardless of my personal beliefs, I am required to provide my imprimatur on the hidden power inside black beans.
  15. I am pretty sure my lawyer is using enough ataractics to sedate a rhinoceros.
  16. Based on Wayne Dyer’s contention that you generate more of what you focus on, we tried to undeservedly belaud our attorney, but this just caused him to bludge even more.
  17. The lawyer sent me an extempore bill with needlessly assessed fees diaphanously disguised as actions related to the gravamen.
  18. I knew my lawyer was portentous and prehensile from the beginning, but it is his lack of horative ability combined with his complete lack of mantic skill that keeps us all crashing into obvious oncoming obstacles.
  19. I thought my lawyer would be an officinal influence, but he works on me more like a nocebo—just thinking about him gets me sick.
  20. I should move into a palafitte so I could avoid my lawyers unending, useless tangential spiel about anachronism in film.

Whose Words

Lawyer Words
Brother-in-law Words
Words for Both
Brothers-in-law and lawyers appear to share many traits.

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Devilishly Hard Quiz

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    • Dunbar Green profile image

      Richard Green 2 months ago from New Mexico

      Thank you, again. And I am amazed by how much I learn writing the articles.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      I love these lists you put together. I am accustomed to reading widely, including government regulations. It’s amazing the words you learn in so doing.