trenchant adj. 1. Keen; incisive: a trenchant comment. 2. Forceful, effective, and vigorous: a trenchant argument. See note at incisive . 3. Caustic; cutting: trenchant criticism. 4. Distinct; clear-cut. [Middle English from Old French cutting, from present participle of trenchier to cut; See trench ] trench "an·cy n. trench "ant·ly adv.

picaresque - adj. 1. Of or involving clever rogues or adventurers. 2. Of or relating to a genre of prose fiction that originated in Spain and depicts in realistic detail the adventures of a roguish hero, often with satiric or humorous effects. n. 1. One that is picaresque. [French from Spanish picaresco from pícaro picaro; See picaro ]

pithy - Precisely meaningful; forceful and brief

avarice - Immoderate desire for wealth; cupidity.

ennui o \ahn-WEE\ o (noun) : a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom Example sentence: Faced with yet another company party, Ms. Edwards could only sigh with ennui, hoping some unexpected event might pop up to add spark to her otherwise tedious round of socializing.

gloaming o \GLOH-ming\ o (noun) : twilight, dusk Example sentence: In Robert Burns' poem "The Twa Dogs," two dogs named Caesar and Luath discuss humankind until "the sun was out o' sight, / An' darker gloamin brought the night," upon which they "Rejoic'd they were na men but dogs."

perfidious o \per-FIH-dee-us\ o (adjective) : of, relating to, or characterized by faithlessness or disloyalty : treacherous Example sentence: "Perfidious Traitor!--still afraid to bask / In the full blaze of power, the rustling serpent / Lurks in the thicket of the Tyrant's greatness, Ever prepared to sting who shelters him." (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Fall of Robespierre, 1794)

confabulation o \kun-fab-yuh-LAY-shun\ o (noun) 1 : familiar talk or conversation * 2 : a filling in of gaps in memory by fabrication Example sentence: Detective Wright recognized instantly that the old man's story was an elaborate confabulation intended to cover up the fact that he didn't really remember what happened.

antediluvian o \an-tih-duh-LOO-vee-uhn\ o (adjective) *1 : of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible 2 : made, evolved, or developed a long time ago Example sentence: French archaeologist Jacques Boucher de Perthe originally thought the stone tools he found in the Somme valley in 1837 dated from the time of the deluge described in Genesis, but later decided they were antediluvian relics.

epiphany o \ih-PIH-fuh-nee\ o (noun) 1 capitalized : January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi to Jesus at Bethlehem *2 : a sudden striking understanding of something Example sentence: As the sunlight struck the portrait, Detective Rudgate had an epiphany: Judith must be David's sister, and that was why there was such a resemblance between them.

importune \im-pur-TOON or im-POHR-toon\ (verb) 1 : to press or urge with troublesome persistence 2 : annoy, trouble 3 : to beg, urge, or solicit persistently or troublesomely Example sentence: "I was very curious to know what I had said or done to cause her so much perturbation a moment before and so I continued to importune her to enlighten me." (Edgar Rice Burroughs, _A Princess of Mars_)

fulminate \FULL-mih-nate\ (verb) 1 : to utter or send out with denunciation 2 : to send forth censures or invectives Example sentence: Never content and ever critical, Ben was an angry man known to stand up at just about every town meeting, fist raised, and fulminate against the town council.

efficacious \ef-uh-KAY-shus\ (adjective) : having the power to produce a desired effect Example sentence: Doctor Copeland prescribed a new medicine that proved most efficacious in relieving Jonathan's nagging cough.

maladroit \mal-uh-DROIT\ (adjective) : lacking skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations : inept Example sentence: Shelia's friends marvel that anyone as skillful as she is at managing an accounting office can be so maladroit when it comes to keeping track of her personal finances.

fulsome \FULL-sum\ (adjective) 1 : copious, abundant 2 : generous in amount or extent 3 : excessively flattering Example sentence: "At the risk of sounding fulsome, Camden," said Pinchbeck, "I must declare your new book to be the finest work I have ever read, and I do mean that most sincerely."

maudlin \MAWD-luhn\ (adjective) 1 : drunk enough to be emotionally silly 2 : weakly and effusively sentimental Example sentence: "Oh, please don't be maudlin," cried Monica when Mills dropped to his knees, held her hand to his tear-soaked cheek, and begged her for forgiveness.

intransigent also intransigeant adj. Refusing to moderate a position, especially an extreme position; uncompromising. [French intransigeant, from Spanish intransigente : in-, not (from Latin; see IN-1) + transigente, present participle of transigir, to compromise (from Latin tr³nsigere, to come to an agreement : tr³ns-, trans- + agere, to drive; see ag- below).] --intransigence or intransigency n. --intransigent n. --intransigently adv.

intractable adj. 1. Difficult to manage or govern; stubborn. See Synonyms at unruly. 2. Difficult to mold or manipulate: intractable materials. 3. Difficult to alleviate, remedy, or cure: intractable pain. --intractability or intractableness n. --intractably adv.

equivocate intr.v. equivocated, equivocating, equivocates. 1. To use equivocal language intentionally. 2. To avoid making an explicit statement. See Synonyms at lie2. [Middle English equivocaten, from Medieval Latin aequivoc³re, aequivoc³t-, from Late Latin aequivocus, equivocal. See EQUIVOCAL.] --equivocator n.

apocryphal adj. 1. Of questionable authorship or authenticity. 2. Erroneous; fictitious: Wildly apocryphal rumors about starvation in Petrograd . . . raced through Russia's trenches (W. Bruce Lincoln). 3. Apocryphal. Abbr. Apoc. Bible. Of or having to do with the Apocrypha. --apocryphally adv.

aphorism n. 1. A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage. See Synonyms at saying. 2. A brief statement of a principle. [French aphorisme, from Old French, from Late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos, from aphorizein, to delimit, define : apo-, apo- + horizein, to delimit, define; see HORIZON.] --aphorist n. --aphoristic (-r¹st¹k) adj. --aphoristically adv.

Antebellum adj. Belonging to the period before a war, especially the American Civil War. [Latin ante bellum : ante, before + bellum, war.]

animosity n., pl. animosities. Bitter hostility or open enmity; active hatred. See Synonyms at enmity. [Middle English animosite, from Old French, from Late Latin anim½sit³s, courage, from Latin anim½sus, bold, from animus, soul, spirit. See an…- below.]

bombast n. Grandiloquent, pompous speech or writing. [Alteration of obsolete bombace, cotton padding, from Old French, from Late Latin bombax, cotton. See BOMBAZINE.] --bombaster n. --bombastic adj. --bombastically adv.

bellicose adj. Warlike in manner or temperament; pugnacious. See Synonyms at belligerent. [Middle English, from Latin bellic½sus, from bellicus, of war, from bellum, war.] --bellicosely adv. --bellicosity (-k¼s¹-t) or bellicoseness n.

lugubrious adj. Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree. [From Latin l¿gubris, from l¿gre, to mourn.] --lugubriously adv. --lugubriousness n.

lycanthropy (lº-k²nthr…-p) n. In folklore, the magical ability to assume the form and characteristics of a wolf.

ethereal adj. 1. Characterized by lightness and insubstantiality; intangible. 2. Highly refined; delicate. See Synonyms at airy. 3.a. Of the celestial spheres; heavenly. b. Not of this world; spiritual. 4. Chemistry. Of or relating to ether. [From Latin aetherius, from Greek aitherios, from aithr, upper air.] --ethereality (-²l¹-t) or etherealness n. --ethereally adv.

nascent adj. Coming into existence; emerging: the moral shock of our nascent imperialism (Richard Hofstadter). [Latin n³scns, n³scent-, present participle of n³scº, to be born. See gen…- below.] --nascency n.

excoriate tr.v. excoriated, excoriating, excoriates. 1. To tear or wear off the skin of; abrade. See Synonyms at chafe. 2. To censure strongly; denounce: an editorial that excoriated the administration for its inaction. [Middle English excoriaten, from Latin excori³re, excori³t- : ex-, ex- + corium, skin; see sker-1 below.] --excoriation n. --excoriator n.

exculpate tr.v. exculpated, exculpating, exculpates. To clear of guilt or blame. [Medieval Latin exculp³re, exculp³t- : Latin ex-, ex- + culpa, guilt.] --exculpable (¹k-sk¾lp…-b…l) adj. --exculpation n.

euphemism n. The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive: Euphemisms such as 'slumber room' . . . abound in the funeral business (Jessica Mitford). --euphemist n. --euphemistic (-m¹st¹k) adj. --euphemistically adv.

erudite adj. Characterized by erudition; learned. See Synonyms at learned. --eruditely adv. --eruditeness n.

erstwhile adv. 1. In the past; at a former time; formerly. --erstwhile adj. Former: our erstwhile companions.

ersatz adj. Being an imitation or a substitute, usually an inferior one; artificial: ersatz coffee made mostly of chicory. See Synonyms at artificial. --ersatz n.

salient adj. 1. Projecting or jutting beyond a line or surface; protruding. 2. Strikingly conspicuous; prominent. See Synonyms at noticeable. 3. Springing; jumping: salient tree toads. --salient n. 1. The area of a military defense, such as a battle line, that projects closest to the enemy. 2. A projecting angle or part. --saliently adv. --salientness n.

perfunctory (p…r-f¾ngk"t…-r) adj. 1. Done routinely and with little interest or care: The operator answered the phone with a perfunctory greeting. 2. Acting with indifference; showing little interest or care. --perfunc"torily adv. --perfunc"toriness n.

pejorative (p¹-jôr"…-t¹v, -j¼r"-, pµj"…-r³"t¹v, p"j…-) adj. 1. Tending to make or become worse. 2. Disparaging; belittling. --pejorative n. A disparaging or belittling word or expression. --pejor"atively adv.

ubiquitous (y›-b¹k"w¹-t…s) adj. Being or seeming to be everywhere at the same time; omnipresent: "plodded through the shadows fruitlessly like an ubiquitous spook" (Joseph Heller). --ubiq"uitously adv. --ubiq"uitousness n.

deleterious (dµl"¹-tîr"-…s) adj. Having a harmful effect; injurious. --del"ete"riously adv. --del"ete"riousness n.

syllogism (s¹l"…-j¹z"…m) n. 1. Logic. A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion; for example, All human beings are mortal, the major premise, I am a human being, the minor premise, therefore, I am mortal, the conclusion. 2. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction. 3. A subtle or specious piece of reasoning.
sacrosanct (s²k"r½-s²ngkt") adj. Regarded as sacred and inviolable. --sac"rosanc"tity n.

alacrity 1. Cheerful willingness; eagerness. 2. Speed or quickness; celerity. --alac"ritous (-t…s) adj.

declivitous adj. 1. Rather steep.


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