Sanjay's list of useful English wordsThese are mainly words I did not know the meaning of at some point in time. I probably still don't know exactly what they mean. I have selected these words carefully, including in particular short, meaningful words with interesting etymologies. I prefer short words to long words - they are harder to remember, spell and pronounce.
Collected over the course of about 18 years, the words are listed in the order they occurred to me. There may be semantic, acoustic or literary connections between sequential words - or often no connection at all.
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insouciant nonchalant sedulously preclude obviate = Stultify (cf stolid) extradite hand over to another state expedite speed up expedient promoter/means/aid barbiturate demotic peoples' writing hieratic sacerdotal writing omentum roe truvium geomancy divination by geographic lines trivium grammar, logic, rhetoric quadrivium arithmetic, grometry, music, astronomy candid intumesce etruscan taciturn prosaic banal, mundane pabulum intellectual food scazon choliamb: "Miser Catulle, :desinas ineptire" spondee _ _ pyrrhic u u trochee _ u iamb u _ dactyl _ u u gerundive e.g. it's moving gestalt epode end-ode (Horace) facultative falx eduction draw forth, deduction chagrin disappointment, humiliation, vexation chafe sedition incite insurrection tendentious partisan, polemic factious of conflicting factions, belligerent factitious made up i.e. not genuine (fictional = not real) factitive transitive verb that makes or changes fractious irritable petulant irascible, peevish, querulous umbrage indignation, (take) offence altercation Nugatory trifling, futile carping captious cavil carp, trivially fault-finding Avail be of use to, n. benefit revoke rescind revile to speak abuse of contumelious insulting, humiliating contumacious intransigent, , pertinacious != pertinent recusant obstinate refuser (e.g. churchgoing) recusation disqualification of judge obdurate obturate obfuscate parpen stone dressed both inside and outside wall recourse allusion allegoric paregoric camphorated morphine anodyne analgesic theriac antivenom panacea elixir nostrum quack medicine Convalesce carminative catholicon = panacea electuary honeyed medication Salutary salubrious poultice cataplasm, foment, unction unctuous adulatory, Plausive Encomium approbation Obsequy ~ fawn Wan pallid, sallow, insalubrious cyrillic scorbutus cipolin Italian white and green marble tercet eg haiku, terza rima dulcet broma victuals, aliment bromide platitude, trite person vapid mundane theodicy defence of god allowing evil (Leibniz) theodolite telescopic clinometer tribology study of friction brackish brine-like, e.g. estuary, mangrove buxom bruxism attar rose / petal oil découpage cut-out decoration quotidian diurnal hodiernal today tense hesternal vespertine active at crepuscule matutinal thestreen ?yestere'en crastinal tomorrow tense dilatory procrastinating Procrustean force things to fit an arbitrary iron bed livery emblem with heraldry; stables; accoutrement fluviatile of rivers dimity thin cotton fabric with a stripe of heavy yarn guilloche pattern of interwoven lines e.g. border braid woven band plaid Hessian burlap (jute, flax), cf hemp fustian Frutex shrub febrile fastidious assiduous, meticulous plagioclase, amphibolite anabasis military expedition (Xenophon) antilogy contradiction in terms antinomy contradiction in laws antimony Sb antonymy != synonymy trope conceit parataxis no conjuction prosopography biography prosopopoeia anthropomorphism or imaginary person acts ecossaise Scotch dance commodious capacious conflagrate deflagrate, immolate ardour fervour isohyet rainfall isopleth any iso-contour clyster enema horrent bristling lapicide stonecutter itenerant nomad, vagrant priapic Pedicular of lice obtrude thrust upon obtuse blunt, unobservant abstruse esoteric, arcane recondite occult chaldean aramaic, soothsayer clandestine Cabbalistic Coterie clique caucus Antipathetic opposed to eclogue pastoral poem exhort advise urgently, warn expostulate remonstrate, to reason against inveigh disapprove vehemently inveigle cajole, beguile goad impel, coax chicane guile, double-bend Casuistry sophistry meretricious superficial/insincere (L, prostitute) specious Cozen deceive Brazen impudent, bold, bodacious chutzpah temerity audacity, insolence alacrity zeal, enthusiasm ebullient Quixotic impractical rash chivalry (Cervantes 1605) gaunt gavel (e.g. judge, auctioneer, mason) gable skein wound-up reel/coil, collective n. flying geese lampoon satire, lampons! (let us guzzle) opprobrium disgrace Impute attribute jilt egregious pariah untouchable pari passu ‘with equal pace’, equably abject outcast, wretched; contemptible person abjure renounce, forswear abrogate (leg) repeal Sublation deny/contradict (Hegel) repudiate reject, disapprove, deny Decry derogate, disparage, condemn deprecate disapprove of, belittle impugn challenge as false arrant errant arraign (leg) call to answer charge impeach reprehend, Delate chide admonish berate reprove reprieve delay punishment almanac ephemeris ephemeral evanescent senescent inimical equanimity mental calm unanimity enmity betimes early (in good time), occasionally hermetically bequest disposition in a will teal species of duck, dark turquoise deference submission despot filigree fine silverwork tracery creosote =pitch oil rosin =colophony attrition detritus qualm sudden misgiving of conscience mendicant beggar efface erase deflagratory misdemeanour less than felony crony chum mazarine deep blue, strainer mezzanine entresol thespian prerogative exclusive right/privilege ergative subject case of transitive verb (absolutive=subj of intransitive) emancipate liberate catenary chain, y=cosh(x) cataclysm violent upheaval Catechism FAQ to teach a doctrine (Luther 1529, Gk indoctrinate) Ineffable inexpressible Effigy crude monumental representation posthumous vantage (a place conferring) advantage quip witty remark whim whist early bridge without bidding wistful plaintive plaintiff (Law) person bringing suit caitiff despicable person reprobate suborn bribe someone to commit crime / falsely testify connivance collusion/conspiracy, tacit encouragement to wrongdoing intestate without a will appertain =pertain ablative from case strophe first ode; stanza without a regular pattern pragma melismatic acquiescence tacit assent/compliance antithesis balancing 2 phrases of opposite ideas fasciolar band of colour, liver fluke elasmobranch shark deject defunct oblate thing offered up (eg communion); oval != prolate basque creole mixed language (pidgin) that becomes native patois pidgin/creole cant argot; sanctimony construe construct meaning/deduce educe draw out plagiarism paroxysm hyperbole litotes chiasmus ABBA structure – syntax or meaning malapropism confuse words sounding similar maladroit inept adroit adept lithe deft celerity speediness exigency emergency; demand or requirement intrinsic to a situation indigent impecunious, destitute penury dearth privation =deprivation polity state, civilisation voracity calcareous chalky calcaneus heelbone pinnate feather-shaped phylogenic sonority sorority !=fraternity dichotomy pachytene (meiosis) basiliophore mandelic of almonds, benzoic aldehyde arcuate blithe jocund paladin myrtle shrub of Venus, similar to periwinkle; dark blue-green eponym name from a person metonym use of a related word in its place synecdoche use of whole instead of part, or vv epitaph tombstone inscription epigraph quotation at beginning of chapter epithet sobriquet, nom de guerre epigram terse/curt ingenious saying epistrophe =epiphora, repetition of last word in 2 verses/clauses symploce simultaneous anaphora+epistrophe laconic =pithy, taciturn aphorism =apophthegm, adage aphaeresis ('squire, knife, strewth from god’s truth) aphesis ('till, bishop from episcopos, gypsy from egyptian) unstressed vowel anaphora repetition of first word in 2 sentences; offertory; generalised pronoun phrase anapaest u u _ apologue moral fable apostasy deserting your religion/cause apoplectic apodosis apposite relevant, suited germane closely related, akin craven pusillanimous recreant apostate aorist perfective aspect, western languages: preterite preterition emphasis by ellipsis zounds god’s wounds holism whole>sum of parts pre-eminence peerless superior brier prickly shrub ostensible manifold chamber w many outlets, totality of experience, connected topological space appraisal reprisal retaliation, retribution, seeking redress fiscal of the public treasury municipal of town/local government (municeps=citizen) munificence great generosity (L munus =gift) adamant haecceity thisness (Duns Scotus) Quiddity whatness Pyx Box bearing communion bread Pall shroud over bier etc Sorrel spinach-dock; light-brown-orange colour Morel honeycombed mushroom Boreal north wind jowl lower jaw/cheek ere erst(while) former(ly) fain glad(ly) != feign oeuvre works denouement abattoir phylaxis eclectic furanose funicular rope-driven alimony (former) spouse allowance nepotism family favouritism narcissism pyrolusite MnO2 cavalier gallant horseman; disdainful and haughty chivalry system of knighthood; gallant deed; courtesy+ generosity+ valour+ dexterity != churlish chauvinism biased zeal to any group esp military (f Napoleon) apprehensible comprehendable offal prim emissary representative on mission; spy parry evade a blow agogic accent by duration pedagogical didactic rhetoric suppliant =supplicant; entreater/beseecher vexillology L flag curare pith soft inner part; essence monolithic unbroken (column, hull, chip), massive/uniform rutile TiO2 putrefacient of anaerobic decay putative L putare=to think elegiac =distich, e.g. dactylic 6+dactylic 5. also funeral song erudite learned paean hymn of thanks/praise eschatological doctrine or theology of the end/death scatological apodictic =apodeictic, proven, necessarily true, logically certain deixis reference to speaker’s place and time epideictic rhetoric designed to demonstrate daemon demigod, lurking program dour sullen, morose caul netting inside hat; greater omentum; amnion clew sail corner, ball of thread (Theseus) extricate Noesis Dianoia = episteme + techne parochial extirpate stirps=root (L) annexe adumbrate to sketch; darken allochiria sensation referred to opposite side to skin stimulation allochthonous autochthonous aboriginal; ideas arising independent of train of thought; rocks allopatric sympatric (speciation) In same region, without interbreeding eidetic behove(n) behoof, [it] is needed/fitting for [me to] incumbent n. holder of office incubus != succubus succuss triturate epulis gum hypertrophy sui generis nonesuch nonpareil funfetti; paragon grist grain to be ground for profit [for your mill] emolument honorarium (L emolere) nub gist bund political alliance/league veranda porch with portico mortice =mortise != tenon Amortise liquidate/pay off/write off cost of asset valence city S of Lyon valance drapery of window, bed, table canopy pelmet balustrade trellis insurrection revolt dilettante ilk =the like cleat paraclete holy spirit (Gk advocate) heteroclite irregular word opine purview domain, scope purvey promulgate proclaim, publish noema shibboleth group idiosyncracy olivine = chrysolite peridot perigord truffle epidote picrite augite scoria cinderlike lava playa craton culm anthracite, coal dust mote speck barbacan fortified outwork kine cows crone hag cuckquean =female cuckold heresiarch ramequin terrine =tureen; or contents of one terrene earthly trireme 3 banks of oars rill rivulet or its channel rillette pate crown catharsis marantic causing marasmus Phatic social/atmospheric speaking vatic previse precognize (clairvoyance) Precognosce examine beforehand (Law) auspicious propitious for future halcyon mythical kingfisher, golden; cf alcyone augury sortilege divination by drawing lots baleful portends harm baneful pernicious odious heinous macabre of death Charnel sepulchre listless langui(sh,d) hebetude torpor oscitant yawning bulwark =rampart, earth wall epaulement shoulder deportment ballon crennelation indict charge, accuse tetractys mystic tetrad: triangle in kabbalism, tarot ecumenical cosmogonal empyrean celestial, zenith (Gk fiery) choleric phlegmatic sanguine venial absolvable exculpate = exonerate acrimony =gall agrimony bush with tiny yellow flowers agrinomy farm-science hegemony domination with implicit consent megalithic, heliolithic, monolithic tutelary guardian ukase edict of czar/dictator fiat mandate, ‘let it be done’ Precept moral injunction, writ Behest decree, directive immanent cameo dichromatic relief in gem redolent fragrant, reminiscent inane behemoth (in Job) hippopotamus pergola = arbour belie jin(n) spirits that appear to man (Islam) penchant inclination declivity downslope Proclivity =propensity tare vetch (weed) flagitious scandalous ekphrasis art about art fractious restive oppugnant recalcitrant remit (n.) anasarca dropsical ague rigor deontic normative conative (gram) trying aspect evince manifest, demonstrate samizdat ignore state censorship (eg Pasternak) Refulgent canard nominal cartel ard(our,uous) (mis)appropriation propaedeutic Patrician Villein serf, Helot thrall peon Vection Propension Forbear desist Sagacity Veracity Desideratum Anthropogene Lagniappe bonus inveterate irredeemable pietism (Lutheran) dithyrambic bacchus' song heteronomy under external control Elysium Ontic Madelynian = locrian nadir != zenith Roe/buck Avatar Mentate Fatuous Winnow Gravitas Sententious Cant(h)aride aphrodisiac beetle Obtunded Doyen(ne) Caulker (oakum) Farrier Burgeon patrimony endowment rood swain levity probity indigence carapace = cuticle approbation repine Morass Facund eloquent Aureate = orotund, bombastic, grandiloquent Prolix, pleionasm, loquacious, voluble expatiate to elaborate in discourse glib insincerely genteel urbane debonair, congenial Fomite Chard beet Clomb climbed Sedge rushes Kirk church (Scott.) Shallop sloop, 1-2 masted boat eschew spurn athanor alchemical furnace Vitiate corrupt, impair, or (Law) invalidate Diffident bashful Demure coy Demur to object (Law) baulk Demiurge =Yaldabaoth, subcreator (Gnostic) Scarab dung-beetle or Egyptian amulet Hypostasis fundamental essence Borborygmus belly rumble Gnoseology Docetism Bible was figurative (Gnostic, 70AD) Nosology taxonomy of diseae Numinous epiphanic Fichtian Specular mirror-like Pistil gynoecium, made of carpel(s), becomes pericarp Whimsical Capricious Diophanous Titular plenary general, tutti Pleroma plethora, plenitude Nimiety surfeit, Glut Cloy decadent débauché, profligate epicurean luxurious food/drink habits dionysiac reckless hoit indulge in riotous mirth homily Exegesis interpret bible, opposite eisegesis Theosophy mystical insight into the divine Yean bring forth young (=lamb) Pantagruelian gargantuan, != rabelaisian salacious ribald, rabelaisian Beton Embogue = disembogue Opusculum small opus Aretaic (Gk. virtue) Inculcate (L calx) Analecta anthology Syncretism Simulacrum proairesis (Arist) moral character chronotopic (Bakhtin) diege(sis/tic) disquisition treatise votary abnegation calque loan word, parallel translation caulk paronymous cognate subreption white lie abeyance fiducial apophatic "god isn’t ..." Duress Feral Romage Hie hasten Primy Cautel Chary wary dalliance frivolity, coquetry Rede counsel clepe Blazon adorn; promulgate Hebenon hemlock? Hamlet guaiac from ebony henbane contains scopolamine Posset syllabub Tetter dermatitis Lazar Antic videlicet viz., namely Doublet Gyve shackle, fetter, manacle Sere (ecol.) Aerie eagle's nest Eyas hawk chick Garb attire Chopine 17thC platform shoes Gules red sable kolinsky weasel, black (heraldry) ermine (stoat) vair (squirrel) cadency brisures at fess-point Mobled hooded Drab(bing) khaki bodkin awl, marlinspike scrimshaw carved ivory Fardel bundle Quietus settlement; death Bourn Orison Calumny Traduce, denigrate Capon Pajock =peacock Noyance =annoyance Hent seize Pander Tinct =tint Petard bomb Gib Cataplasm Mazzard Sexton Quillet Kibe Crant Meed = fitting recompense Impone Margent Chough lapwing Plover aught Lour rancour stripling wis perjury ~ forswear malapert rankle (a)broach pierce to open; tool; veer and pitch forward gimlet hand drill malmsey custard sop (mollifier) pent = penned dugs nonage incunabulum (cunare L to cradle) wot 1st pers sgl of ‘to wit’ flout deride / disparage / show disdain != flaunt pursuivant expiate = atone whit whight attain(t,der) attinctura, corrupt blood scrivener scribe, notary Lethe oblivion prelate dignitary peise weigh caparison horse garment distain defile Welkin firmament hagiographic martyrology Sally Eglantine briar Hamadryad tree nymph Linnet (passerine) Recidivism relapse (crime) Decalage wing pitch difference Pelagic above demersal benthic bathyal+abyssal+hadal zones neritic sublittoral ocean limnetic lake surface nictate wink isopycnal density contour piezophile barophile Nard (valerian) Arcology Copula esse Incipient Dado Encyclical Paronymous Magnanimity Pusillanimity Phronesis Marionette Brassic enthymeme Sorite Vicarious Wrest Renege Propitiating palimpsest Exigency Aleatory alea=dice Therapsid Metaconid, entoconid, hypoconulid, hypoconid, protoconid, protoconule, protocone, metacone, metaconule, paraconid, paracone Acheron, cocytus, phlegethon, lethe, styx, eridanos, mnemosyne Libation wine-offering / ceremonial drinking libration != nutation != precession patera phiale Rillette Syllabub Medlar like crab apple tree Stenography shorthand Phis Ocellate with eye-like markings Hradchen Busk celice hairshirt Peignoir = negligee Motley Tachism post-cubism Tyros Cabalistic Tup ram Usufruct Quorate Plangent loud plaintive sound / toll Calico = muslin toile Vicissitude contretemps, infelicity vacillate Linsay coarse, incongruous Crape black silk Ell Soie Suffra(-nce, ge) Tmesis insertion into word Polyptoton repeat same root antanaclasis pun on repeated word foreclose conative desinence nunation arabic noun modifier catabibazon symplectic gruppenpest cohomology escrow broker disbursement account Suzerainty Sturt diaspora adicity=arity asterism cathexis emotional investment arugula mammon octavo cataphract syntagm hylomorphic substance=matter+form beset manciple storekeeper gadfly magnate succedaneum diaeresis cowl+scapular=habit panoply chthonic aboriginal hebephrenic dervish miasma mephitis spontoon half pike glaive halberd pauldron burgonet garniture armet sallet gadroon quaich burin mazer mediaeval cup pnictide P/N/As/Sb/Bi alizarin madder lake shellac borax rotogravure intaglio negative relief printing mirative ! Injunctive intending subjunctive alethic modal (logic) velleity weak desire solidus = virgule / repoussé hammered design niello inlaid alloy Damascening inlaid damask silk; reversible pattern larceny (leg) exclave geog sece(de/ssion) withdraw from alliance polypeton 6-polytope polyptoton e.g. “the withering of withered flowers” brusque blunt/rough trenchant cutting acerbic =astringent, vitriolic, acrid, mordant asperity austerity ascetic (trappism), frugal != prodigal Spartan tarta(r,n) parsimony husbandry thrift shrift dirigible enjambment anathema bête noire mores brythonic garret gabion arris Arras drape arête chamfer Crinoline Aplomb ballet: poise, equanimity squib high brisance otiose anethole noogony pure empiricist epistemology borstal detention centre desultory jumping about, unavailing, supercilious Inchoate incipient, nascent Anomie normlessness (durkheim) Recant Curmudgeon gerrymander caliginous misty etiolation emaciation; chlorosis limpid (lymph) (pel-)lucid diaphanous gossamer, chiffon cynosure magnate, scintillating imbricate overlapping propinquity blood-relatedness lambent radiant sinecure low responsibility, high pay (sine cura) syzygy conjunction mondegreen amusing mishearing piñata (mexican gifts) votive avowed defixio curse tablet aestivation !=hibernation prate entelechy actualisation truculent apotheosis epitome, quintessence, paradigm, archetype ersatz !=echt congeries elenctic foist midden of shells, sherds, debitage tumulus =barrow, inhumation cairn testudine Squab Spatchcock v introduce inappropriately Hominy dried maize Pillory stocks Remex, rectrix fr. L. rower, helmsman Rufous Crissum Tine (fork) Gurnard Pollock Girolle Aureola =mandorla Amortized Lytr(on, ic) rational monetary policy Authalic =equal area Authylic hyle Ponderal != numeral Chartal independent of physical value Specie =coin Agio premium on money Loculicidal !=septicidal dehiscence Surcease end Accoutrement extra apparel appurtenance accessory Beignet fritter Neroli !=bergamot, contains linalool Cassia Subpoena burgeon bud rankle hurt proleptic retroactive phreatic (aquifer) !=vadose denizen inhabitant zeugma syllepsis coracle for sculling semelparity e.g. monocarpy aspertus cf incus, mammatus (cloud) geminate -mm- petrichor smell of rain tholin nitrogenous heteropolymer gyn cathexis (Freud) Besetzung, retention mortido accueil welcome filbert hazelnut aril seed outgrowth vervain verbena tansy golden buttons scrip temporary currency speleology karst alazon braggart shill stooge grift con obverse (tails) elan verve comminate imprecate execrate deprecate interdict proscribe verdigris copper patina pulluate proliferate escutcheon != lozenge !=cartouche lien in loan: security right epicene androgynous quodlibet mashup emic != etic internecine mutually detrimental agnate patriarchally related retinue cortege portly corpulent solecism faux pas analemma (astron.) redan ~=redoubt fink spy, traitor, blackleg bilk defraud descry espy mulatto deign refuse dragee comfit salsify (forb) borage starflower hormesis biphasic response slub twist yarn roke mist riparian by the river inure habituate immure moiety geis Ir. hex, pl. geasa,= W. tynged elenctic Socratic, != deictic apor(-ia, -esis) perplexity, impasse curlicue = arabesque voluted acanthus spall shrapnel gantry prepossessing alluring lurid fungible homogeneous, !=liquid redound contribute greatly (re+undare = overflow) treen (of tree) dado e.g. wainscot doggerel blank/nonmetric paronym sinecure L. sine cura berm groyne panicle (inflorescence) compound raceme thyrse cymose panicles thyrsus Bacchus's sceptre umbel stellate raceme ament =catkin rowan =service tree cachet (philately) feint =feigned ullage dead space / buffer maudlin mawkish, bathetic