Vaughan’s Vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Sometimes I hear a familiar classical music composition, but will not be able to identify the composer nor the composition’s title. For example, I recently heard Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Opus 23, Allegro Non Troppo. I was almost certain that it was by Tchaikovsky, but couldn’t say any parts of the title.

I think the same thing can happen with advanced words and their definitions. We as logophiles should be able to define a word whenever we see or hear it. See how quickly the meanings come to mind with the following ten words: annus mirabilis, balmy, cache, debauched, epicene, facile, genre, hat trick, innocuous, and jejune.

[1] coign of vantage (coy-nuh-VAN-tidge)

A. a beautiful spot

B. an advantageous position for observation or action

C. spacious

D. a valuable coin

[2] Which word describes a 59 degree sunny day?

A. annus mirabilis

B. balmy

C. genre

D. jejune

Let’s see how you are doing. Coign of vantage is an old English phrase for an advantageous position. No. 2 is balmy.

[3] posthumous (POS-chuh-mus)

A. arising, occurring or continuing after one’s death

B. published after the death of an author

C. born after the death of the father

D. All of the above

The choices for posthumous came from Dictionary.com. You are right if you chose D.

[4] deleterious (del-i-TEER-ee-uhs)

A. injurious to health

B. innocuous

C. permissive

D. None of the above

Deleterious, last week’s mystery word, means harmful injurious, as deleterious gases or deleterious influences. Deleterious is also pronounced “de-luh-TI-ree-us).

[5] tropism (TRO-pi-zum)

A. the act of not responding

B. an innate tendency to react in a definite manner to stimuli

C. fear of water

D. a cleverly witty and often biting or ironic remark

D is the definition for witticism, not tropism. B is the answer.

This week’s mystery word to solve doesn’t have anything to do with words, but its first four letters might lead some to think that it does. The mystery word and Vaughan begin and end with the same two letters.