Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.
Richard Nordquist’s article “The William F. Buckley
Vocabulary Quiz” pointed out that the former Firing Line host and seasoned
journalist was equipped with the vocabulary of a mischievous lexicographer and
delighted and often perplexed his readers with an arsenal of what he, Buckley,
called out of town words. Nordquist challenged logophiles to could come up with
a definition for each of “the sesquipedalian verba (long words)” which he
lifted from Buckley’s book “The Right Word.”
The following are four
of Mr. Buckley’s out of town words.
1. auto da fe (aw-toh-duh-FAY)
A. a defective automobile
B. the ritual accompanying the execution of a
C. face value
D. an act of faith
Auto da fa is a noun that comes from the Portuguese
language, spoken in Spain. An auto da fa was a ceremony that accompanied the
judgment passed on those in the courts of the Spanish Inquisition, and involved
burning heretics at the stake. Buckley wrote, “Here was a modern auto da fe:
not for counterfeiting heresy, but for denouncing it.”
2. Cartesian (car-tea-zhuhn)
A. Machiavellian methods
B. doing a cartwheel technique
C. unconditional authority, full discretionary power
D. Of or pertaining to Rene Descartes, who specified
direct and logical forms of thought and analysis
Buckley wrote, “It required only a little Cartesian
gelandesprung to alight at the conclusion that is the responsibility of the
government to maintain monuments that are manmade, as well as those given us by
nature.” You’re right if you chose D. (By the way, C is a definition of carte blanche.
3. dithyrambic (dith-uh-RAM-bic)
A. a truly exaggerated exercise in praising somebody
D. keenly judgmental
The adjective dithyrambic came from dithyramb, a chant
of wild and irregular character to honor Dionysius or Bacchus. Any wildly or
enthusiastic speech or writing is a dithyramb. Anything dithyrambic is an
exaggerated exercise of praising someone or something. Example: Jan referred to
the pastor’s announcements as his “weekly dithyramb to certain ones in the
4. eremitical (AIR-uh-mi-ti-kul)
B. characteristic of the hermit, far removed from
ordinary life and consideration
An eremite is a hermit. B is the answer.
Last week’s mystery word is palpable.
This week’s mystery word to solve is a noun you can use for a bland wish for something with no effort to obtain it. The first three letters of this word are the same first three letters in the last name of an artist who painted a well-known portrait of himself.