How To Become A Better Writer- Build Your Vocabulary

English: Of course. — What is so "monster...

English: Of course. — What is so “monster” of a word? — It’s an adjective. — But when I say: You’re a monster! What is it then for a word? — So it’s a words of abuse! Dansk: Selvfølgelig. — Hvad er saa “uhyre” for et Ord? — Det er et Tillægsord. — Men, naar jeg nu siger: Du er et Uhyre! Hvad er det saa for et ord? — Saa er det et Skjældsord! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my favorite ways to work on becoming a better writer is by building my vocabulary. The point is not to pepper posts with words that make me sound like I am competing with Shakespeare or trying to write a legal document because that tends to bore readers.

Rather I see it is being similar to cooking a great meal where the secret lies in the spices and sauce(s) you use. Here is a snapshot of some words I have collected over the years.
  • adjunct– Noun: A thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part. Adjective: Connected or added to something, typically in an auxiliary way: “alternative or adjunct therapies”
  • augur- : an official diviner of ancient Rome 2: one held to foretell events by omens
  • bete noire– a person or thing strongly detested or avoided
  • ecumenical– 1: worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application 2 a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches
  • fait accompli– a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible
  • inveigle– to win over by wiles : entice 2: to acquire by ingenuity or flattery : wangle<inveigled her way into a promotion>
  • lagniappe– a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase;broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure
  • poltroon– a spiritless coward
  • truckle– to act in a subservient manner
  • vacuous- : emptied of or lacking content 2: marked by lack of ideas or intelligence :stupid, inane <a vacuous mind> <a vacuous movie> 3: devoid of serious occupation
  • vagary– an erratic, unpredictable, or extravagant manifestation, action, or notion.
  • Opsimath– N. a person who becomes a student or learner late in life.
  • Climacteric– n.1 : a major turning point or critical stage
  • 2 a : menopause b : a period in the life of a male corresponding to female menopause and usually occurring with less well-defined physiological and psychological changes
  • 3 : the marked and sudden rise in the respiratory rate of fruit just prior to full ripening.
  • Prolix-adj. 1 : unduly prolonged or drawn out : too long
  • 2 : marked by or using an excess of words
  • Confluence: n. 1 : a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point 
    2 a : the flowing together of two or more streams b : the place of meeting of two streams c : the combined stream formed by conjunction
  • English: Cobbe portrait, claimed to be a portr...

    English: Cobbe portrait, claimed to be a portrait of William Shakespeare done while he was alive Lëtzebuergesch: Uelegporträt vum William Shakespeare am Alter vu 46 Joer, gemoolt 1610 zu Liefzäite vum Dichter, haut am Besëtz vum Konschtrestaurator Alec Cobbe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Tendentious-adj. marked by a tendency in favor of a particular point of view.
  • esurient- hungry, greedy
  • Nugatory1 : of little or no consequence  2 : having no force.
  • acatalepsy-Incomprehensibility of things; the doctrine held by the ancient Skeptic philosophers, that human knowledge never amounts to certainty, but only to probability.
  • acephalist– One who acknowledges no head or superior.
  • Raconteur-One who tells stories and anecdotes with skill and wit.
  • Callipygian-adj.Having beautifully proportioned buttocks.
  • Lachrymose-adj.
  • Weeping or inclined to weep; tearful.
  • Causing or tending to cause tears.
  • Perspicacious-adj. Having or showing penetrating mental discernment; clear-sighted.
  • Flibbertigibbet-n. A silly, scatterbrained, or garrulous person.
  • Jejune-adj. Not interesting; dull: “and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases” (Anthony Trollope).
  • Lacking maturity; childish: surprised by their jejune responses to our problems.
  • Lacking in nutrition: a jejune diet
  • Ollendorffian– in the stilted language of foreign phrase-books.
  • gerascophobia -a morbid, irrational fear of, or aversion to, growing old.
  • bathysiderodrophobia -the fear of subways, undergrounds or metros.
  • hormephobia-Fear of shock.
  • cacoethes loquendi-the irresistible urge to speak.
  • cacoethes scribendi-the irresistible urge to write
  • saudade-[Port.] yearning or longing, but more than that…
  • Scaturient-L. scaturiens, p. pr. of scaturire gush out, from scatere to bubble, gush.]
  • Gushing forth; full to overflowing; effusive. [R.]
  • Walpurgisnacht1) the eve of May Day on which witches are held to ride to an appointed rendezvous
  • 2) something (as an event or situation) having a nightmarish quality
  • barlafumble[fr. parley, call for truce + ?] Scot. obs.
  • a call for a truce by one who has fallen in fighting or play; a request for a time out
  • defalcate-intr.v., -cat·ed, -cat·ing, -cates. To misuse funds; embezzle.
  • Dactylonomy-n.[Gr. da`ktylos finger + no`mos law, distribution.]
  • The art of numbering or counting by the fingers.
  • recrudesce-intr.v., -desced, -desc·ing, -desc·es.To break out anew or come into renewed activity, as after a period of quiescence.
  • videlicet-vÄ­-dÄ•l’ĭ-sÄ•t’, vÄ«-, wÄ­-dā’lÄ­-kÄ•t’) pronunciation
  • adv. (Abbr. viz.)
  • That is; namely. Used to introduce examples, lists, or items.
  • temerarious-adj. Presumptuously or recklessly daring
  • Tentiginous-[L. tentigo, -inis, a tension, lecherousness, fr. tendere, tentum, to stretch.]
  • 1. Stiff; stretched; strained. [Obs.] Johnson. 2. Lustful, or pertaining to lust. [Obs.] B. Jonson
    Urinator-n.[L., from urinari to plunge under water, to dive.]
  • One who dives under water in search of something, as for pearls; a diver.
  • usufruct-n.The right to use and enjoy the profits and advantages of something belonging to another as long as the property is not damaged or altered in any way.
  • Jackpudding-n.A merry-andrew; a buffoon.
  • Jobbernowl-n.[OE. jobbernoule, fr. jobarde a stupid fellow; cf. E. noll.]
  • A blockhead.
  • nikhedonia-fr. Nike, the Greek goddess of victory + hedoné, pleasure] the pleasure derived from anticipating success
  • quidnunckery-[fr. L. quid nunc, what now] nonce-word curiosity, love of news or gossip (also quid-nunc-ism)
  • mancinism-the condition of being left-handed
  • macroverbumsciolist– 1) a person who is ignorant of large words
  • 2) a person who pretends to know a word, then secretly refers to a dictionary.
  • mastigophorer-obs. a fellow worthy to be whipped.
  • matutolypea-getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
  • xenodochiophobia -the fear of foreign hospitality (worry about foreign hotels).
  • Xenodochium-n.(a) (Class. Antiq.) A house for the reception of strangers. (b) In the Middle Ages, a room in a monastery for the reception and entertainment of strangers and pilgrims, and for the relief of paupers. [Called also Xenodocheion.]
  • Knobstick-n. 1. One who refuses to join, or withdraws from, a trade union. [Cant, Eng.]
  • 2. A stick, cane, or club terminating in a knob; esp., such a stick or club used as a weapon or missile; a knobkerrie.
  • effulgence-i-FUL-juhn(t)s, noun:
  • The state of being bright and radiant; splendor; brilliance.
  • [Webster 1913 Suppl.]
  • divaricate-To diverge at a wide angle; spread apart.
  • Otiant– idle; resting.
  • machicolation- n. apertures in parapet or floor of gallery for firing upon persons below. machicolate, v.t. furnish with these
  • Secern– To discern as separate; discriminate.
  • prothalamion -A song in celebration of a wedding; an epithalamium.
  • a capite ad calcem-From head to heel.
  • ad internecionem- To extermination.
  • Abusus non tollit usum-Wrong use does not preclude proper use.
  • ad captandum vulgus-To attract or to please the rabble.
  • Abligurition- n.[L. abligurito, fr. abligurire to spend in luxurious indulgence; ab +ligurire to be lickerish, dainty, fr. lingere to lick.]
  • Prodigal expense for food. [Obs.] Bailey.
  • Anililagnia– an attraction to older women.
  • Armsaye: the armhole in clothing.
  • Euneirophrenia: peace of mind after a pleasant dream.
  • Suppedaneum: foot support for crucifix victims.
  • Adfenestration: V. The act of entering through a window, usually surreptitiously.
  • Vatic-adj.Of or characteristic of a prophet; oracular.
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  1. Daniel Klayton June 10, 2013 at 5:57 am

    A fun list 🙂

    I learned “callipygian” through a middle school Latin class, and throughout middle school and well into high school, it was one of my favorite kinda-dirty-but-academic-too-so-OK joke compliments. Ah, good dorky times haha..

    One benefit of having a diverse vocabulary at one’s disposal – and the practice of seeking out new, interesting words – is they can give, in themselves, ideas for plot movements or character traits. “Inveigle” is a great example of this. Feeling stuck with a plot or character? Work in “inveigle” somehow, and see where it leads…

  2. Stacie March 24, 2013 at 5:00 am

    That’s quite the impressive list!

  3. Vidya Sury March 23, 2013 at 3:17 am

    There’s a handful here I don’t know. I am tickled over “Callipygian”. We used to have such fun expanding our vocabulary as we grew up – using them on every occasion we could. I find that these days we “speak” less and write more….so the sounds are less. That makes a huge difference.

    Interesting list. Hmmm.

    • Jack March 23, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      I hear that- we definitely speak less than we used to which is part of the reason I like expanding the old vocabulary because some people deserve to be defenestrated for their defalcation.

  4. Betsy Cross March 23, 2013 at 2:45 am

    I assume that people who use “big words” when talking to me don’t really like me all that much. 🙂

  5. Bill Dorman March 22, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Ah yes, the ol’ knobstick; obviously we will have to defenestrate him…

    I’m pretty well read and it is what helps me appear to be smarter than I really am; however, you have some words in here that take it to a whole different level…:).

    • Jack March 23, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Hi Bill,

      I am always fixin to improve my edumucation by seeking out new words. I probably won’t use half of them, but then again maybe I will.

      I just enjoy learning so this is fun.

  6. Stan Faryna March 22, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Your SAT score must have been impressive! 😛

    Mine were mediocre – despite the midway nap.

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