Vaughan’s vocabulary

Don Vaughan Provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

Recently I was studying the part in the last act of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where the brother of the deceased Ophelia asks a priest if there won’t be more “ceremony” at her funeral. The priest’s reply is, “Her obsequies have been as far enlarged as we have warranty; her death was doubtful.”

The word obsequies, the plural form of obsequy, could easily be confused with obsequious.  In this week’s Vaughan’s Vocabulary let’s take the words obsequy and obsequious, plus three others and see how we do.

1. obsequy (OB-si-kwee)

A. an eventful life

B. virtue

C. a funeral rite or ceremony

D. memory

2. obsequious (ob-SEE-kwi-us)

A. disobedient, recalcitrant

B. characterized by or showing servile complaisance or deference

C. momentous, stupendous

D. None of the above

3. obsecratory (ob-SEE-cruh-to-ri)

A. soothing, assuaging

B. expressing entreaty

C. being noncompliant

D. stealthy

No. 1 is C. No. 2 is B and No. 3 is B.

4. diminutive (dih-MIN-yuh-tiv)

A. costly, pricey

B. a small thing or person

C. disobedient

D. obedient

Aside from B, a diminutive in the grammatical context is a word or suffix that indicates the smallness of something. For example, the word hamlet, which means a small village or group of houses, is a diminutive of hamel (hamlet connotes smallness more than hamel). Droplet is a diminutive of drop (droplet connotes smallness more than drop).

5. portraiture (POHR-truh-chur)

A. a leering look

B. a eulogy

C. a vassal

D. a verbal picture

Hamlet comments to Horatio about Laertes, “But I am very sorry, good Horatio, that to Laertes I forgot myself. For by the image of my cause I see the portraiture of his.” Thinking about his ire toward Laertes’s father, Hamlet could understand how Laertes could have anger toward him (Hamlet). In other words, Laertes gave a portraiture of the kind of anger toward him that Hamlet had for Laertes’s father. D is the answer.

Page 6’s mystery word is ubiquitous.

This week’s mystery word to solve is a plural noun found in Act V of Hamlet. This has become a famous phrase coined by Shakespeare as one of Queen Gertrude’s lines.