For years I have wanted my students to improve their vocabularies. Students come to college these days with limited vocabularies. Therefore, this particular link will create the word of the month in three categories as you become a verbivore. Remember, these words may not be appropriate in ordinary business letters and memos where you are stating your ideas simply. You may find more use for the words when you deliver polite conversation and talk intelligently at meetings. Then, you show you are definitely college educated and know how to handle the English language.

James Murray Brings OED to Life

You may not have heard of James Murray or Dr. William Minor. I had not the privilege, but a book called The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester changed all that. For the first time in a highly popular form the influence of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) was described. James Murray, who left school at age 14, created the dictionary concept in his Scriptorium (attached shack) and convinced the dons of Oxford University the dictionary could be brought to fruition. Dr. William Minor, a former Civil War surgeon, sat in his dank two rooms in Broadmoor (what we now call an insane asylum) and found obscure and current words for the dictionary. Please understand that an asylum in those days was known as a refuge. To go back a little, James Murray had published a call for people from all walks of life to find words, find quotations with these words, and catalog these words. Dr. Minor found Murray's notice tucked in a book brought to him by his victim's wife from a London bookstore. Quite a tale so far?

We should be interested in James Murray because of our continuing love for words in the English language. Are you verbivores hearing the message? The Oxford English Dictionary, I discovered, is recognized as the source for anything having to do with the English language. You can rely on the OED in India or South Africa. You can rely on the OED in the United States, even though we often use Webster's, The American Heritage, and now Encarta. We may immediately ask: why do people create dictionaries? They want to find the limits of the language. They want to establish the national tongue as preeminent. They want to solidify words at a certain period. Murray estimated to the gentlemen at Oxford it would take 10 years to compile the dictionary. That estimate out to be quite conservative. The Oxford English Dictionary now comprises 20 volumes with its next revision at about 40 volumes.

The Oxford was completed in 1928 and "defines well over half a million words," according to The Professor and the Madman. The OED is set apart from other dictionaries, because it relies on quotations to illustrate the use of a word. For those of you interested in English history, Samuel Johnson created one of the first dictionaries. It was, however, more a thesaurus with Johnson selectively finding the words. Johnson, according to Winchester, tended to place a sexual connotation with words to increase readership. Johnson only selected words he liked. The first attempts, including Johnson's, were met with mild success, but it was a start. From that idea came the OED concept.

In Shakespeare's time dictionaries did not exist. He made up the words as he wrote the outstanding plays. Today, when we can't think of a word, we say or hear: "Look it up." Such a situation did not exist in Shakespeare's time. As Simon Winchester mentions in The Professor and the Madman, Will could not simply refer to a convenient word source:

"Whenever he came to use an unusual word, or to set a word in what seemed an unusual context--and his plays are extraordinarily rich with examples--he had almost no way of checking the propriety of what he was about to do." (p. 80)

Are you aware The Professor is going to be made into a Hollywood film? Stars vying for the honor of playing W. C. Minor include Dustin Hoffman, Mel Gibson, and Robin Williams. Who should play the wife of the man who was killed in England by W. C. Minor?

Oxford English Dictionary Continues Flourishing

You have to recognize the OED has become the source for words used in the English-speaking world. Because of its prominence the editors are now faced with a dilemma for the year 2008 or thereabouts: Should we come out with the dictionary as a CD-Rom product? Should we publish the 40 or so volumes as a hardback for perhaps a press run of 1,000 books? How will libraries react to buying 40 volumes as opposed to a CD disk neatly housed? Do you, as a reader, want to leaf through volumes and experience the tactile pleasure of feeling the paper, the thumb holes, and the rest of the dictionary (Joshua Harris Prager, "The Final Word on the New OED Is a Decade Away," The Wall Street Journal, October 1, 1999)? Simon Winchester, the famous author of that best-selling book, The Professor and the Madman, cleverly talked about the issue of feeling the dictionary pages when he said: "Few would disagree that serendipity, in dictionaries, is a most splendid thing indeed."

You see dictionaries all over the place being produced digitally: Encarta (Microsoft and St. Martin's Press), Grove's Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, and opera dictionaries. Electronic versions of dictionaries are growing. Keep an eye on what technology does to dictionaries.

Now, we have a convenient source for the word of the month and erudite as well as common words used in class. The Verbivore Adventure begins.

After all this discussion, three different kinds of vocabulary emerged. We need the common word of the month, the erudite (learned) word of the month, and the business word of the month. Therefore, your verbivore efforts will net you three possibilities in the near future as you build your vocabulary.

Look for Words

You should always be on the lookout for new words and new meanings. Many of these business words are found in such publications as Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and California Management Review. You want to stretch your vocabulary. You want to increase your understanding of the English language.

Select the Word

Let's begin with our first word for the month of October. I will give part of the context where I found the word. In addition, I will provide the source where you can specifically find the word, if you are so inclined. The erudite word for October, 1996, is:


. . . --that immense system of representations and simulacra, the thick atmosphere of
information and imagery and attitudes that forms the mental condition and habits
of almost any adult living in a media society . . .
Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other
Indestructible Writers of the Western World by Denby

Find the Word

First, after you circle the word in your reading, you check a reliable source like Webster's 10 Edition Collegiate Dictionary. You note immediately that "simulacra" is the plural of simulacrum. The word means traces or images and representations. Also, it is defined as "insubstantial forms or resemblances of somethings."

Make the Word Part of Living

Then, you should make a word a part of vocabulary for the next day or so. You should find ways to write or use the word in daily conversation. Then, the word becomes part of you. You are a true verbivore.

The erudite word for May, 2008, is perfervidly. Let's look at the context:

"His policy reflected perfervidly right-wing political convictions."
Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45, by Max Hastings, p. 20.

Definition: impassioned, excessively fervent

Pronunciation: Per-FUR-vid-lee

The erudite word for November, 1996, is obduracy. Let's look at the context:

. . . once again spoken out against parliamentary obduracy."
Thomas Jefferson: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall, p. 127

Definition: the art or state of being stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing; resistance to persuasion or softening influences; inflexibility

The erudite word for December, 1996, is prorogued. Let's look at the context:

. . . "royal governor prorogued the Assembly."
Thomas Jefferson: A Life by Willard Sterne Randall, p. 127

Definition: to discontinue a session of; discontinued a session

The accent is on the second syllable: pro-rog.

Use the Word Constantly

In everyday conversation and when you give presentations or whatever, practice using some of these vocabulary words. Build your vocabulary everyday. Make it a habit. You hear a good word on the TV or even a mispronounced word. Attune your hearing to what is good in vocabulary in this world. Soon you will find your vocabulary expanding, and you will be proud of your efforts.

The Word for January, 1997, is conundrum. Let's look at the context:

"This leads to a psychic conundrum that writers often note in themselves."
The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, p. 13

Definition: a riddle, a dilemma

Pronunciation: co-NUN-drum. Accent on second syllable.

Read Widely

To improve one's vocabulary you have to read and read widely. It is difficult when you are a college student to read anything but textbooks (if that much). Still, you need to build your vocabulary. Choose your books with care. Read non-fiction and fiction. Learn to expand your thinking. You will be richer for the effort.

The erudite word for February, 1997, is entrepot. Let's look at the context:

"with nothing more than an idea of establishing some sort of entrepot in these islands, a fortress protected by . . ."
The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, p. 111

Definition: an intermediary center of trade and transshipment

Pronunciation: Ontray-PO

The erudite word for March, 1997, is complaisant. Let's look at the context:

"He is a well-read man, also a familiar Verne character, who can identify and explain natural phenomena, especially when a complaisant fellow character asks him to."
Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography by Herbert R. Lottman, p. 99

Definition: amiable, compliant, willing to please

Pronunciation: Com-PLAY-sant

The erudite word for April, 1997, is contretemps. Let's look at the context:

"The little contretemps that followed in my being fired . . ."
A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite, p. 60

Definition: an inopportune or embarrassing routine or situation

Pronunciation: CON-tray-taun

The erudite word for May, 1997, is perforce. Let's look at the context:

"His family perforce devoted itself to the other occupation in his caste, education, to be pursued with the same intensity and discipline as the martial arts."
Let the Sea Make a Noise by Walter A. McDougall, p. 309

Definition: by force of circumstances

Pronunciation: PER-force

The erudite word for June, 1997, is profligate. Let's look at the context:

"The English, struggling with the rations of food and fuel, their personal finances strained by the rations' economic squeeze, looked with bare concealed distaste on the apparently profligate American military which shipped abundant food to their forces . . . "

A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite, p. 92

Definition: wildly extravagant

Pronunciation: Prof-la-GATE

The erudite word for July, 1997, is legerdemain. Let's look at the context:

"All this holds clues about Wurman's legerdemain."

"Richard Saul Wurman: The King of Access," Fortune, June 23, 1997, p. 112
"I thought he could accomplish this feat of legerdemain with his horn, his voice, and the jazz idiom, but in the end, it was Louis's animating spirit of joy, as much as his music, that was responsible for his transforming vision."

Laurence Bergreen, Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, p. 6

Definition: slight of hand; display of skill or adroitness

Pronunciation: Le-jer-DA-man

The erudite word for August is desultory. Let's look at the context:

"The Spaniards in the trenches and blockhouses on top of the hills in front were already firing at the brigade in desultory fashion."

The Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt, with additional text by Richard Bak, p. 134

Definition: marked by lack of a definite plan, regularity, or purpose; not connected with the main subject; sluggish

Pronunciation: Dee-Sul-TOR-ree

The erudite word for September is peripatetic. Let's look at the context:

"Establishing residence in a given congressional district while pursuing a peripatetic military career was so problematic that few officers even attempted to secure appointments for their sons."

Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur by Geoffrey Perret, p. 30

Definition: Walking from place to place; itinerant; pedestrian; moving or traveling from place to place

Pronunciation: Pear-a-pa-TET-ik

The erudite word for October is aphorism. Let's look at the context:

"But by the time of her death, Diana had made the aphorism come true; she had become the embodiment of how many Britons wanted their country to be."

"Diana's Britain," Newsweek, 15 September 1997, p. 37

"In statistics, Homer was clearly learning along with us, and that experience has always persuaded me that the blind can, in fact, lead the blind--or is the right aphorism that, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king?"

Two Lucky People, by Milton and Rose D. Friedman, p. 31

Definition: terse embodiment of a truth or sentiment; concise statement of a principle; adage

Pronunciation: A-for-ism(izm)

The erudite word for November, 1997, is denounement. Let's look at the context:

"There was, however, one exception to this generally peaceful denounement."

Life and Times of Pancho Villa, by Friedrich Katz, p. 21

Definition: outcome of a sequence of events, resolution of a dramatic or narrative plot

Pronunciation: Da-NOW-munt

The erudite word for December, 1997, is pertinacity. Let's look at the context:

"I hope the story of Devenish's pump is true. It certainly illustrates all the Rhodes qualities--pertinacity, resourcefulness and an astonishing ability to charm those who stood in his way until he was able to extract anything he wanted from them."

Rhodes: The Race for Africa by Antony Thomas, p. 93

Definition: holding to a course or belief, tenaciousness, persistent stubbornness

Pronunciation: Per-ten-NAS-ity

The erudite word for January, 1998, is arcana. Let's look at the context:

"He began looking at his pupil's little songs and piano pieces, initiating him into the arcana of musical theory and the forms of music as perfected by the masters of the past."

Johannes Brahms: A Biography by Jan Swafford, p. 25

Definition: specialized knowledge or detail that is mysterious to the average person

Pronunciation: r-CANE-a

The erudite word for February, 1998, is vertiginous. Let's look at the context:

"But as Hoffmann's ghostly and vertiginous details reveal, for artists of the 19th century that mastery had come to appear as much deterministic as defined, as much menace as salvation: the sublime emanating note power reticence as in the Karlskirche, but an ambiguous twilight assessing a night-threatened despair."

Johannes Brahms: A Biography by Jan Swafford, pp. 5-6

Definition: dizzying, produced by vertigo, turning about on an axis

Pronunciation: Ver-TIJ-a-nuss

The erudite word for March, 1998, is erstwhile. Let's look at the context:

"I was obliged, by the inner logic of financial competition, erstwhile colleagues, associates, and rivals for a stake on the potentially rich Rand (my note: referring to a diamond mine)."

The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Powerby Robert I. Rotberg, p. 197

Definition: former, previous

Pronunciation: ERST (URST)-while

The erudite word for April, 1998, is paroxysm. Let's look at the context:

"As it happened, word of Warsaw's conquest by the czarist armies had caught him in Stuttgart, where he had stopped for a few days en route from Vienna to Paris, and he reacted with a paroxysm of fury and despair that he recorded in his diary."

Chopin in Paris by Tad Szulc, p. 21

Definition: a fit, an attack, sudden, violent emotion or reaction

Pronunciation: PAR-ox-sism

The erudite word for May, 1998, is tendentious. Let's look at the context:

"Our inclination to interpret reported evidence is highly tendentious."

Leon Botstein (President of Bard College), Jefferson's Children, p. 18

Definition: biased, marked by a tendency to favor a particular point of view

Pronunciation: TEN-den-shuss

The erudite word for June, 1998, is emoluments. Let's look at the context:

"You have emoluments attached to your job," I said, laughing, "a tremendous responsibility, but many emoluments."

Letitia Baldrige, In the Kennedy Style: Magic Evenings in the Kennedy White House, p. 109

Definition: returns arising from office or employment, in the form of compensation or perks

Pronunciation: e-MAL-u-ments

The erudite word for July, 1998 is dubiety. Let's look at the context:

Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, p. 21

"She gave me a look of some dubiety. You have nothing in common."

Definition: hesitant uncertainty or doubt

Pronunciation: DEW-bye-ity

The erudite word for August, 1998, is leitmotif. Let's look at the context:

"The repeated theme has almost become a leitmotif."

Meryl Secrest, Stephen Sondheim, p. 89

Definition: an associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation; dominant, recurring theme

Pronunciation: LIGHT-mo-teef

The erudite word for September, 1998, is subaltern. Let's look at the context:

"As every subaltern knoiws, frequently the newspaper report of an action he has taken part in bears little or no resemblance to what happened."

J.F.C. Fuller, The Generalship of Alexander the Great, p. 6

Definition: a subordinate, an officer holding rank just below Captain; in the First World War, a lieutenant or someone just below that rank

Pronunciation: sub-ALL-turn

The erudite word for October, 1998, is hubris. Let's look at the context:

"Still they come forward, brimming with the usual hubris of solution and resolution."

Richard Ellis, Imagining Atlantis, p. viii

Definition: arrogance, overbearing pride

Pronunciation: HUE-briss

The erudite word for November, 1998, is imprimatur. Let's look at the context:

"His imprimatur in the dictionary would be valuable, his patronage of the project invaluable."

Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, p. 93

Definition: official approval, sanction (originally, let it be printed)

Pronunciation: M-pree-MA-ture

The erudite word for December, 1998, is impecunious. Let's look at the context:

"Instead, in December, 1940, an impecunious and heartbroken May Rindge was forced to put her entire empire on the auction block."

Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster, p. 105

Definition: penniless, having very little or no money

Pronunciation: M-Pee-KUNE-eus

The erudite word for January, 1999, is ineluctably. Let's look at the context:

The situation ineluctably leads to the midnight knock at the door.

David Kendall, Personal Lawyer to President Clinton, before the Impeachment Trial of the U.S. Senate

Definition: inevitably, cannot be avoided or escaped

Pronunciation: n-e-LUCK-tub-blee

The erudite word for February, 1999, is insipidity. Let's look at the context:

"The classical victim, Lucia, is raised above insipidity by her one act of violence, and by the force of inspired music that follows her . . ."

Opera News, January, 1999, p. 22

Definition: dullness, lack of taste or excitement

Pronunciation: n-SIP-a-dee

The erudite word for March, 1999, is mullioned . Let's look at the context:

"This was characterised (Did you notice British spelling?) by classical design, sculptured ornaments and friezes, tall chimneys, large mullioned centers, balustrades on the parapets, decorated columns and Italianate facades."

source: Alison Weir, The Life of Elizabeth I, p. 7

Definition: vertical strips dividing the panes of a window

Pronunciation: MUL-yaned

The erudite word for April, 1999, is peregrinations. Let's look at the context:

. . .; later she recorded the more pleasant details of their peregrinations in a book, Memoirs of War Pride."

source: John Taliaferro, Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan, p. 25

Definition: traversings, wanderings, walking or traveling on foot. Think of a peregrine falcon.

Pronunciation: Pear-ra-gruh-NAY-shuns

The erudite word for May, 1999, is etiolaed. Let's look at the context:

"So to the American West so full of people who think they are still brave frontiersmen; they are only their etiolated descendants, too unimaginative to reinvent themselves."

source: James J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word: From Papyrus to Cyberspace, p. 115

Definition: made pale or sickly, taken away the natural vigor or inhibited the potential for growth of (as undue sheltering or pampering)

Pronunciation: ETT-e-o-late-ted

The erudite word for June, 1999, is encomiastic. Let's look at the context:

"He was a sensation; the stuff of encomiastic journalism."

source: Roland Huntford, Nansen: The Explorer As Hero, p. 7

Definition: praiseworthy (one who praises--encomiast)

Pronunciation: in-KO-me-ast-tick

The erudite word for July, 1999, is provenance. Let's look at the context:

"I live in Milan, but keep pieds-a-terre in London and L.A., he noted, then turned to the waiter to discuss the provenance of the porcini mushrooms cited on the menu."

source: Nicholas Clapp, The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands, p. 67

Definition: source or origin

Pronunciation: Prov-a-nonce

The erudite word for August, 1999, is amanuenis. Let's look at the context:

"Soon after that, the family embarked by stagecoach for Washington, where the explorer and his beloved amanuenis set to work on his new report."

source: Dale L. Walker, Bear Flag Rising: The Conquest of California, 1846, p. 79

Definition: one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript

Pronunciation: A-MAN-u-in-sis

The erudite word for September, 1999, is conflated. Let's look at the context:

"However, the inclusion of Senator Douglas in the debate, who did not speak on the issue till the 22nd, suggests that this episode, too, is based on a newspaper report, perhaps one that conflated the two days' debate."

source: David A. Traill, Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit, p. 10

Definition: brought together, fused, blown together

Pronunciation: con-FLATE-ed

The erudite word for October, 1999, is eponymous. Let's look at the context:

"In one particularly blood-soaked tale, 'Mauki", the eponymous islander is tortured by a white sadist, Bunster, who burns him with a cigar, rips open his pierced nose and then half-skins him alive: 'Bunster had a mitten made of ray-fish skin.'"

source: Alex Kershaw, Jack London: A Life, p. 203

Definition: of, relating to, or being the person for whom something is or is believed to be named

Pronunciation: E-pa-nem-us (adjective)

The erudite word for November, 1999, is sentient. Let's look at the context:

"The fact that the Earth remained motionless was a truism, obvious to any sentient individual."

source: Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter, p. 51

Definition: aware, finely sensitive in perception or feeling

Pronunciation: SEN-chee-ent

The erudite word for December, 1999, is adumbrated. Let's look at the context:

"Only later would Keynes develop at length the argument he briefly adumbrated in his 1930 volume, A Treatise on Money. . .."

source: David Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, p. 80

Definition: intimated, suggested or disclosed partially

Pronunciation: Ad-um-BRATE-ed

The erudite word for January, 2000, is perorate. Let's look first at the context:

"Short, round as he was high, and convinced of his superiority over the other painters of his day, he would light a cigarette and perorate on his own greatness while commenting on the work done by his pupils."

source: Beth Arche Brombert, Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat, p. 43

Definition: to wind up an oration (a long talk) or declaim at length

Pronunciation: PEAR-or-ate

The erudite word for February, 2000, is surfeited. Let's look first at the context:

"Indeed, Whitney's return to private life was no more abrupt than he preferred; he was surfeited with bitter disappointment and had no more appetite for the public spotlight."

source: David Haward Bain, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railraod, p. 46

Definition: satiated, intemperately or immoderately overindulged

Pronunciation: SIR-fate-ed

The erudite word for March, 2000, is proscenium. Let's look first at the context:

"Topped by a wide valance and open in front, rather like a proscenium, it could be closed by drawing a dark curtain across it."

source: Kenneth Silverman, Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss, p. 12

Definition: foreground, forming the background for a dramatic performance

Pronunciation: PRO-sen-e-yum

The erudite word for April, 2000, is hectoring. Let's look first at the context:

"Alumni boosters and cohorts in the press boxes were fed up, however, and began hectoring for change."

source: David Maraniss, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, p. 94

Definition: intimidating or harassing by bluster or personal pressure, swaggering

Pronunciation: HECK-tore-ing

The erudite word for May, 2000, is aerie. Let's look at the context:

"Set high on the Cumberland Plateau, about 1,800 feet above sea level and often referred to simply as 'The Mountain,' it was an academic aerie that had little to do with the troubles of the world below."

source: Gerald Clarke, Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, p. 11

Definition: an elevated structure, position, or building

Pronunciation: AIR-ree

The erudite word for June, 2000, is pertinacious. Let's look at the context:

"The cabman replied: 'If you will excuse me, the coat lapels are badly twisted downward, where they will be grasped by the pertinacious New York reporters.'"

source: Daniel Stashower, Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle, p. 187

Definition: obstinate, perversely persistent

Pronunciation: per-ta-NAY-shus

The erudite word for July, 2000, is insalubrious. Let's look at the context:

"The bedroom was at the end of the corridor and was a touch insalubrious, with rust stains in the sink and and a shower that looked actively infectious."

source: Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country, p. 237

Definition: unwholesome, not conducive to good health

Pronunciation: in-sa-lube-BREE-us

The erudite word for August, 2000, is apostasy. Let's look at the context:

"Rome represented a new, differently alluring apostasy bound to collide with and destroy the Druidic ethos."

source: Colleen McCullough, Caesar: Let the Dice Fly, p. 56

Definition: defection, renunciation of a religious faith

Pronunciation: a-PAS-ta-SEE

The erudite word for February, 2001, is fecundity. Let's look at the context:

"Even Charles Dickens, the Shakespeare of the novel, has faced a constant critical attack as a result of his often sensational subject matter, his cheerful fecundity (when he wasn't creating novels, he and his wife were creating children), and, of course . . ."

source: Stephen King, Stephen King on Writing, p. 143

Definition: the quality of producing abundantly, fertility; productiveness

Pronunciation: Fa-cun-da-tee

The erudite word for June, 2001, is sachem. Let's look at the context:

"Born in Ireland, Richard Croker had risen through the ranks from volunteer fireman to chief sachem of Tammany Hall."

source: David Nasaw, The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, p. 122

Definition: any of the high officials of the Tammany Society

Pronunciation: SAY-shem

The erudite word for July, 2001, is peregrination. Let's look at the context:

"During his political peregrination, Varina kept busy as a plantation mistress."

source: William J. Cooper, Jr., Jefferson Davis: American, p. 113

Definition: traveling through or over

Pronunciation: Pear-ra-gra-NATION

The erudite word for August, 2001, is postilion. Let's look at the context:

"His mother bribed the postilion to take him as a cheap passenger on the mailcoach to Copenhagen for three rixdollars."

source: Jackie Wullschlager, Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller, p. 33

Definition: one who rides the near horse of the leaders to guide the horses drawing a coach

Pronunciation: Po-STEE-yon

The erudite word for September, 2001, is nascent. Let's look at the context:

"From the late 15C on, moved by a nascent INDIVIDUALISM and the decline of the guild spirit, all these brain workers relied more on talent than on secrets to protect the value of their services."

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present

Definition: coming into existence

Pronunciation: NAY-sent

The erudite word for February, 2002, is egregious. Let's look at the context:

The student received a bad grade on his essay for the egregious mistakes he made on it. (courtesy: Nhumy Le)

Definition: outstandingly bad, blatant, outrageous

Pronunciation: e-GREE-jus

The erudite word for March, 2002, is gibbeting. Let's look at the context:

"A front-page story, headlining "A Rogue Dispatched to His Maker," describing the hanging and gibbeting of a highwayman as pickpockets worked in the jeering crowd."

Definition: exposing to infamy or public ridicule; upright posting with a crosspiece, forming a T-shaped structure from which executed criminals were hung for public viewing

Pronunciation: JIB-it-ing

The erudite word for April, 2002, is sangfroid. Let's look at the context:

"The king's sangfroid was all the more remarkable because that evening the royal family had been secretly preparing to flee the country."

source: Ken Alder, The Measure of Things, p. 20

Definition: composure; imperturbability

Pronunciation: san-FRAUD

The erudite word for May, 2002, is exegetical. Let's look at the context:

"However, his chief fame rests on his critical and exegetical edition of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey."

source: Theodore Vrettos, Alexandria: City of the Western Mind, p. 49

Definition: analytical

Pronunciation: x-a-JET-ical

The erudite word for June, 2002, is inanition. Let's look at the context:

"But it was also a response to the forced inanition of the Middle- and Upper-Class women--a kind of feminism."

source: Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, p. 309

Definition: exhaustion, lack of nourishment

Pronunciation: in-a-NISH-un

The erudite word for July, 2002, is dissimulation. Let's look at the context:

"So my loyalty attached itself to Johnson as well. I wanted to see him reelected, as a big a mandate as possible, and I didn't recall that the dissimulation to that ... bothered me very much."

source: Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, p. 61

Definition: disguising one's intentions; concealing one's true feelings

Pronunciation: dis-sim-u-LAY-shun The erudite word for August, 2002, is efflorescence. Let's look at the context:

"As Gilder described it, the optical.. . .will usher in a new age of wonders:

'. . . the Web appears as a global efflorescence, a resonant sphere of light.'"

Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class and How It Is Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, p. 24

Definition: flowering or blooming forth, blossoming out

Pronunciation: F-low-res-ents The erudite word for September, 2002, is lucre. Let's look at the context:

"Although he rose to become one of the most powerful figures in banking in the 1920s, and scooped his peers by pulling out of the market before the Crash of 1929 and rode out the Depression setting on mountain of cash, he was satisfied with the lucre and royalties of Wall Street."

source: Jennet Conant, Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II, p. xv

Definition: gain or profit; money

Pronunciation: LOO-cur

The erudite word for October, 2002, is chimera. Let's look at the context:

"The lack of landfall, a vertical landscape of tremendous diversity, and the chimera of instant regions lying just beneath the surface of the earth were the most startling differences."

source: Philip L. Fradkin, Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West, p. 1

Definition: creation of the imagination; impossible and foolish fancy

Pronunciation: key-MARE-a

The erudite word for November, 2002, is excoriated. Let's look at the context:

"In an interview with Olin Downes of The New York Times, he excoriated the other board members for accepting the money and business expertise he brought into it by the Met, while never letting him forget he was an outsider."

source: Johanna Fiedler, Molto Agitato: The Mayhem Behind the Music at the Metropolitan Opera, p. 26

Definition: chafed, upbraided, denounced severely

Pronunciation: x-SCORE-ree-ated

The erudite word for December, 2002, is ennui. Let's look at the context:

"The potential breadth of his interests is suggested by the pastimes which Robert Burton offered as an antidote to ennui in the Anatomy of Melancholy (1621): paintings, statues, jewels, coins and antiquities; . . ."

source: Adrian Tinniswood, His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren, p. 18

Definition: boredom; listlessness and dissatisfaction

Pronunciation: AN-way

The erudite word for January, 2003, is myrmidons. Let's look at the context:

"All we know is that Alexei Orlov and his myrmidons play their roles and that is the ex-Emperor was throttled."

Sebag Montefiore, Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin, p. 51

Definition: faithful followers who carry out orders without question

Pronunciation: MUIR-my-duns The erudite word for February, 2003, is apparatchik. Let's look at the context:

"Zimmermann did not think Eagleburger had been wrong, just that Milosevic was a . . .flexible apparatchik than most, with a chameleon-like ability to adjust to different circumstances. . ."

source: David Halberstam, War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals, p. 28

Definition: an unquestioning loyal subordinate, especially of a political leader or organization

Pronunciation: AP-a-RA(short A)-check

Business Words Catch Our Eye

Our first business word for October, 1997 (that every business student should know) is: option.

In class we first encountered the word when we talked about the Nobel Prize winners for Economics, Myron Scholes and Robert Merton. Their formula on figuring options with the variables or all the factors changed the way the Chicago Board of Trade and all commodity exchanges work.

An option means something to do with stock or a commodity, such as sugar or wheat. It is a promise to pay at a certain time with a fixed price in mind. You can take out a futures contract on corn, for example, with the promise to pay by taking out an option. If you prepare to buy an option, it is called a put. If you prepare to sell an option, it is called a call.

Our business word or phrase for April, 1998 is capital gain.

Capital gain means a profit obtained from sale or exchange of stocks or bonds. The capital gain can also concern real estate, including income from mortgages. You should also be aware of Schedule D on Form 1040 that concerns capital gains. At present (1998), Schedule D includes 54 lines of copy. It took approximately 4.8 hours to complete that particular schedule for capital gains.

Common Words Also Need Our Attention

Our common word for October, 1997, is sheaf. You startled me in class by explaining that you were not sure about the meanings of certain simple words. These words may be short and common, but they still require specific meanings. The class was recently introduced to the word, sheaf. It is not spelled sheep or shefe. It means a bundle or a group of papers. We speak of a sheaf of papers. It can also mean a quantity of stalks or ears. I suppose that reveals my West and Midwest heritages.

Our common word for November, 1997, is erudite.

You speak of a person as erudite. That means learned, one who is knowledgeable.

Definition: scholarly

Pronunciation: Er-u-DITE

Our common word for February, 1998, is articulate.

You speak of a person as being articulate. As one of my students explained, that means the individual is well spoken.

Definition: expressing oneself readily, quickly, or effectively

Pronunciation: Ar-TIC-u-lat

Our common word for March, 1998, is pomposity.

The person writes with a great deal of pomposity. As you can see, the word, pompous, is a derivation of pomposity. The person writes with inflated language. The words are all puffed up.

Definition: self-importance; pretentiousness

Pronunciation: Pom-POSS-ity

Our common word for March, 1999, is naive.

In the videotape we heard the following expression: Dare to be naive. (attributed to Buckminster Fuller). A naive person is one who does not know everything. A naive person lacks worldliness; the person is a simple human being.

Definition: artless, marked by unaffected simplicity

Pronunciation: nie-EVE

Our common word for April, 1999, is posh.

We talked in class about posh surroundings or a posh restaurant.

Definition: elegant, fashionable

Pronunciation: PaSH

Our common word for May, 1999, is subversive.

What does subversive mean? You mean a subversive teaching activity?

Definition: overthrowing or destroying, such as undermining or overthrowing a government

Pronunciation: SUB-verse-iv

Our common word for September, 1999, is embellish.

That particular class day we were discussing the embellishing of ideas.

Definition: to make beautiful with ornamentation, enhance, heighten the attractiveness

Pronunciation: M-bell-ish

Our common word for October, 1999, is garbled.

As I recall, we were discussing the garbled e-mail that contributes to killing one's career with a resume. The resume is not properly prepared with an Attachment and creates a garbled message.

Definition: distorted, introduced a textual error into a message by innacurate encipherment

Pronunciation: GAR-bull-ed

Our common words for March, 2000, are pervasive and Draconian.

As I recall, we were discussing how reports are pervasive throughout our society.

Definition: diffused through every part of, all inclusive

Pronunciation: per-VASE-ive

In class we talked about Draconian measures related to the IMF (International Monetary Fund). At that time we discussed the Meltzer Commission formulated by the Congress and consisting of two Democrats and 11 Republicans. In a description of the report by Joseph Kahn ("Report Seeks Big Changes in I.M.F. and World Bank," The New York Times, p. C4, March 8, 2000), he commented on the effects to the World Bank:

"For the World Bank, the prescription is Draconian.
Definition: harsh, cruel

Pronunciation: dra-CONE-e-yan

Our common words for April, 2000 are glean and intrusive.

In class we were discussing how you should mark one of your survey questions as the one to glean the most information from. We also briefly mentioned Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875), who painted The Gleaners. That painting shows peasants picking up any grains of hay or wheat after the reaper has first cut them.

Definition: find, ascertain, learn, to gather information or other material bit by bit

In class we talked about Census 2000 and how some of the questions represented intrusive gathering of information. What did we mean? Some of the Census questions on the long form ask for physical and emotional health, bathroom facilities, and other privacy questions. The Census Director has defended the questions as the same ones asked 10 years ago.

Definition: intruding where one is not welcomed or invited, invading one's privacy

Pronunciation: in-TRUE-sive

Our common word for March, 2002, is passe (with the accent on the last e).

In class we were discussing about how technology becomes passe in using Schumpeter's concept of "creative destruction." Hewlett Packard by merging with Compaq (if that happens) may be taking on PC technology that is passe in today's global economy.

Definition: out-of-date, no longer current in fashion

Pronunciation: paa-SAY (French)
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