Monday, October 18, 2010

Wait, That's a Real Word?

Many of the people who walk our halls—and, presumably those of most large publishing houses across the city—have impressive vocabularies. At least once a week one of my colleagues will bust out a word I have to look up. Over the years this has proven a real boon (that means blessing—did you know that?) to my vocabulary. Foolishly fancying myself something of a wordsmith after five years in the trenches of book publishing, I thought the vocabulary section of my upcoming GRE exam would be a breeze with a capitol B. I took one look at the 50 vocab lists in a test prep book just to make myself feel better, and grew faint at the first look—I recognized about twenty of the eighty-something words in each list. Over the last four months, I’ve engrossed myself in said lists, and have had the delight of discovering phonetically pleasing gems that, though they haven’t made it into our colloquial vernacular, can be real fun to use in conversation. (It’s nice to be the one inspiring trips to the dictionary for a change!)

Below are six of the most surprising, foreign, or just fun–to-say words I learned this weekend alone (clearly I’ve taken up residence in the r-t sections—almost there!). Some of these words are more common than others, but in learning the exact definitions of the more familiar words I’ve discovered layers of specificity previously lost on me. (For example, “sinecure,” which I thought just meant “position or job,” actually means “a well-paid position with very little responsibility”—how handy is it to have a word for that!). I list the six words first, and then the six definitions, but not in the same order (half of the fun is guessing which is which, obvi!). Feel free to look them up, but if you never get around to trekking to the nearest dictionary, I’ll kill the suspense next week.

Peruse with glee—you might learn something new even if you, too, work in the world of professional wordage.

The Words

1. salubrious
2. sibylline
3. rusticate
4. scintilla
5. tipple
6. spoonerism

The Definitions

1. a shred; the least bit
2. to drink
3. prophetic; oracular
4. an accidental transposition of sounds in successive words (ie calling our former president Hoobert Herver)
5. healthful
6. to banish to the country

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog! I like your writing way. I'm doing practice GRE here: . I hope it's useful for GRE test takers.