Wordlist

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Oh! What is more wonderful than a word unveiled? These are a few I've stumbled across, and enjoyed. I'm looking to maximize esoteric appeal here, generally; you are not advised to use this list to study for the GREs or whatnot.

  • Fremdschämen - vicarious embarassment, to feel pain due to the shame of others
  • tregetour - a juggler who produces illusions by the use of elaborate machinery
  • Zeiosis (Zειω meaning "to boil over") - the formation of a bleb, blebbing
  • gömböc - a convex 3D homogeneous body which, when resting on a flat surface, has just one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium.
  • odobenine - of or pertaining to walruses
  • lorgnette - a pair of spectacles with a handle
  • zellige - Moroccan terra cotta tilework covered with enamel in the form of chips set into plaster.
  • grawlix - a string of typographical symbols used to represent cursing, often in comic books
  • puissant - having great power or influence
  • cavil - to raise captious and frivolous objections; to find fault without good reason.
  • bombilate - to make a humming or buzzing noise
  • nudiustertian - of or pertaining to the day before yesterday
  • mithridatism - developing of immunity to a poison by taking gradually increasing doses
  • Eigengrau - 'intrinsic grey', the color seen by the eye during total darkness
  • hypnagogia - the deeply relaxed state of consciousness during the transition from wakefulness to sleep
  • Rumspringa - a period of world-sampling for Amish youth upon turning 16, prior to returning to the church for baptism
  • parquetry - a geometric mosaic of wood pieces used for decorative effect
  • aposematism - coloring adapted to warn predators that something's unsafe to eat
  • trencherman - one who eats and drinks to excess; a glutton
  • catafalque - decorated bier on which a coffin rests in state during a funeral
  • prosopopoeia - rhetorical term for speaking in the guise of another person or thing, from Greek προσωποποιία
  • yakinaoshi - Japanese, a meaningless rehash.
  • mokusatsu - Japanese, to "treat with silent contempt" or literally "kill by silence".
    • Used in reference to the Saikō sensō shidō kaigi (Supreme Council for the Direction of the War)'s response to the Potsdam Declaration.
  • hieratical - of or associated with sacred persons or offices; sacerdotal.
  • nous verrons - French, "we shall see"
  • stormannsgalskap - Norwegian, "the madness of great men"
  • allotrion - an idle pursuit that distracts from serious responsibilities
  • costermonger - one who sells vegatables and fruits in the street
  • pellulate - to swarm, or teem
  • lucubrate - to laboriously perfect, especially by night
  • octothorpe - term for the "hash sign" (#), sourced from telephone operators' jargon
  • asperand - the '@' symbol ("at symbol")
  • involution - something which turns in upon itself
  • endorheic - a drainage basin not connected to the open sea
  • oneiric - relating to or suggestive of dreams
  • alluvium - clay or silt or gravel carried by rushing streams and deposited where it slows
  • emersal - floating up toward the surface of (a body of) water
  • fescue - a stick used to point when teaching reading OR a grass of importance for agriculture / sports
  • moti mentali - 'motions of the mind' according to Renaissance Italian painters
  • lambent - Playing on the surface; touching lightly; gliding over
  • purfling - Ornamentation on the border of a thing; specifically, the inlaid border of a musical instrument,
  • brobdingnagian - having colossal, comical size (from the island Brobdingnag of Gulliver's Travels)
  • callipygian - pertaining to the finest ass in the land
  • distaff - characteristic of or peculiar to a woman
  • tellurian - of or relating to or inhabiting the land as opposed to the sea or air
  • Rennomierschmiss - (facial) dueling scars, from 19th century Germanic dueling clubs
  • palimpsest - a manuscript page from a scroll or book that has been scraped off and used again
  • boustrophedonically - written in alternating directions
  • ekphrasis - verbal description of a visual artwork
  • en passant - in passing, almost always with intentional reference to chess
  • furor scribendi - rage for writing, a bout or attribute of compulsive and manic authorship
  • lacunarity - measure of the denseness of a fractal (less is more dense/space-filling)
  • trabeculation - formation of a small bar, rod, bundle of fibers, or septal membrane in the framework of an organelle
  • sapient - acutely sagelike or wise
  • acescency - the quality of actively turning sour, tart, and/or acidic
  • sprezzatura - a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and effort (from Castiglione's Book of the Courtier)
  • murine - having to do with rats
  • anodyne - a reliever of pain, adj: relieving of pain. anything taken to soothe disturbed feelings
  • anosognosia - condition in which a sufferer of disability seems unaware of or denies its existence
  • dirigiste - directed by a central authority (eg a dirigiste economy)
  • contretemps - an unexpected, untoward accident/conflict; something inopportune or embarrassing
  • Festschrift - a book honoring a respected academic, presented in their lifetime (vs. posthumous Gedenkschrift)
  • nacreous - having the appearance of slick pearl; iridescent stratospheric clouds seen near the poles
  • pareidolia - a psychological phenomenon perceiving significance in vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound)
  • Tumah - a state of ritual impurity in Halakha (Jewish law)
  • condottiere - leader of plundering mercenaries
  • sehr einfallsreich - "very imaginative", used sarcastically -- an unimaginative but practical solution
  • gravid - advanced with child, especially in the sense of an insect
  • benthic - bottom-feeding, pertaining to the bottom of a body of water
  • parusia - figure of speech by which the present tense is used instead of the past or the future
    • as in the animated narration of past, or in the prediction of future, events.
  • persiflage - frivolous banter; treating serious subjects frivolously; light raillery
  • afflatus - a strong creative impulse; divine inspiration; supernatural impulse
  • epithalamia - a nuptial song in honor of bridge and groom
  • sybaritic - luxurious; wanton; effeminate (from the ancient Italian city Sybaris) / sybarite - one inclined to pleasure
  • casuistry - argumentation that is specious or excessively subtle and intended to be misleading OR
    • moral philosophy based on the application of general ethical principles to resolve moral dilemmas
  • lacunae - missing parts, gaps
  • lummox - an awkward, bumbling, fat, stupid person
  • myodesopsia - the perception of protein-based visual discrepancies ("floaters")
  • Vernichtungsgedanke - the doctrine of swift annihilation of enemy forces
  • zetetic - one who seeks to resolve unknown quantities by direct investigation
  • intercalate - to insert between others, particularly periods of time, layers of rock, or stanzas
  • untrammeled - unhampered, unencumbered
  • demitint - shading in a composition, that part of a painting not in full light
  • cicatrix - the pellicle which turns white and becomes a scar
  • anabasis - first period of a disease, journey up the coast
  • volte-face - an about-face especially viz policy
  • meretricious - pertaining to harlots, seeming plausible but based in deception
  • orotund - ostentatiously lofty in style, characterized by roundness
  • enclitic - affixed at the end so as to lose its independent accent
  • etude - a composition designed for study en route to technical mastery
  • morceau - a bit, a morsel, a short literary or musical composition
  • desuetude - the cessation of use, a state of inactivity
  • kismet - destiny, fate, the will of Allah
  • dies funestis - a proscribed day of death
  • moira - the deity who assigns men their fates
  • perorate - to conclude a speech with formal recapitulation, to harangue
  • toxophilite - a lover of archery
  • epiphytotic - epidemic among a single type of plant over a large area
  • larrup - to beat, thrash or flog soundly, especially with a whip
  • peccant - sinning, guilty of transgression, morbid, corrupt
  • sphacelate - to die, to decay, to become gangrenous
  • sportula - a luxurious feeding; largess in gift-giving
  • lagniappe - a trifling present, a serendipitous tip, gratuity
  • suborn - to procure privately, to incite secretly, to cause false oath/purjury
  • pourboire - a relatively small amount of money for services rendered
  • emolument - profit arising from holding office
  • guerdon - a compensation or reward
  • wergild - the price paid for murder or another peccant crime
  • exequatur - official recognition or permission
  • nyctipelagic - regarding organisms that migrate into surface waters at night
  • onychophagy - biting nails, chronically bitten-down deformed nails
  • poliorcetics - the art of siege warfare and fortification
  • altricial - born naked and blind and dependent on parents for food; hatchlings
  • insessorial - Pertaining to, or having the character of, perching birds
  • trichotillomania - tearing out one's own hair
  • farrago - a mishmash of things adj: farraginous
  • obstreperous - Attended by, or making, a loud and tumultuous noise; vociferous
  • opprobrium - a state of disgrace, odium, public dishonor
  • Laodicean - lukewarm in religion
  • exiguous - lean, meagre, lacking, dessicated
  • bedizenment - the state of being dressed tawdrily; that which bedizens
  • velleity - lowest wish, with no accompanying effort
  • esprit d' escalier - thinking of a witty rejoinder after the fact
  • trenchant - cutting, sharp, fit to dig a trench
  • griffonage - illegible handwriting
  • barbouillage - cramped, dirty writing
  • vaticinate - foretell as through prophecy
  • graveolent - having a rank smell
  • bien pensant - acceptance of a fashionable or newly mainstream idea without critical thought
  • rechauffe - something made up from old material; a rehash, rewarmed food
  • glochidate - having barbs and bristles
  • funicular - dependent on the tension of a cord
  • flocculent - covered with small flakes; flakey
  • barbellate - being covered with stiff hairs or quils
  • pilose - covered with soft, downy hairs
  • moiety - that which is left behind after settlement, half
  • phatry - people descended from a common ancestor
  • pyx - box in which coins waiting assay or consecrated Eucharist is stored
  • postprandial - coming after a meal
  • barbican - defensive hole in a castle through which forward attacks were made
  • hyperborean - frigidly cold (from the ancient Greek people of the far north)
  • comme il faut - behaving according to custom
  • consuetudinary - manual describing customs and practices of a sect
  • sacerdotal - pertaining to priests and their divinely-inspired task
  • hieratic - consecrated for holy purposes, especially performed by priests
  • insufflate - to bring a powder into the nose
  • rodomontade - vain, empty boasting
  • quincunx - a pentuple arranged at points and middle of a rectangle
  • peripatetic - pertaining to walking about in the manner of Aristotle @ Lyceum
  • armamentarium - the collection of equipment and methods used in medicine
  • entrepot - a depository for goods on which import is not paid
  • nosism - the use of 'we' in referring to oneself
  • sprachgefühl - feeling for language; an instinctive appreciation for words and idioms that are linguistically appropriate
  • innominate - having no proper name when one would be expected
  • corsucate - to glitter in flashes
  • eutectic - of greatest fusibility: an alloy whose melting point is lower than that of any other alloy of the same ingredients.
  • lettre-fertis - 'man marked by letters' - pretender to learning
  • contumely - a debasement ; a rudeness and haughtiness
  • odalisque - a female slave or concubine in the harem of the Turkish sultan
  • brocade - silk stuff woven with gold ornamentation
  • hypocoristic - a lesser name of the given name
  • saccadic - jumpy like the movements of an eye
  • ecphrasis - a sudden intense, self-contained verbal summary of an issue or art
  • amanuensis - one who is employed to take diction or copy another's words
  • tergiversate - to use ambiguities and evasions, to equivocate, or to change sides/apostatize
  • autonomasy - use of a common word to refer to a particular: "gone to town" for "gone to Atlanta"