focusing on words and literature



Pastiche (pas-tiche) A noun which originated during the early 1700s in French from the Italian “pasticcio” which means a “medley,” “potpourri,” or “hodgepodge.” The meaning is an artistic, literary, or musical work based upon borrowed techniques, materials, or motifs from singular or multiple sources. Ex. The memoir combined the brilliance of pastiche and the author’s [...]



Contumacy (con-tu-ma-cy) A noun originating from the 13th century during 1150-1200 deriving from the Middle English and Anglo-French “contumacie,” as well as Latin’s “contumacia” which translates to “rebellion,” “stubbornness,” or “firmness.” The meaning is specifically resisting or having a stubborn resistance to authority as well as a willful contempt of a court order, summons, or [...]



Malevolent (ma-lev-o-lent) An adjective which originates from approximately 1509 deriving from the Latin “malevolent” or “malevolens” which translates to “male badly,” “wishing,” or “willing.” The meaning is showing, having, intending or producing an intensive ill will, hatred, evil, harm or spite toward another. Ex. The evil queen in many fairy tales often possesses a malevolent [...]



Patronize (pat-ron-ize) A verb originating from the British word, “patron” meaning supporter, guardian, or protector. During the late 1500s, the word “patron” derived to include the addition of “ize” meaning exchange one’s regular support, encouragement, help, financial aid, or privilege to a store, hotel, restaurant, institution etc. and/or otherwise act as a patron, supporter, guardian, [...]



Sardonic (sar-don-ic) An adjective originating from an alteration of “sardonian” with influence from French’s “sardonique”, Latin’s “sardoni”, and Greek “sardonios” of Sarinia from approximately 1630 to 1640. Initially a reference to a Sardinian plant which induced death by convulsive laughter after being consumed or eaten Meanings: derisive mocking, sneering, or bitter scorn. Also, grim mocking, [...]



Felicitous (fel-li-cit-ous) An adjective which originated 1350-1400 which derives from the Middle English word “felicite” and Latin “felicitas,” the equivalent to “felici” which means “happy.” Meanings: good fortune, happiness, and pleasant time or also well suited, apt, or agreeable. Ex. The felicitous timing of the gala attracted generous donations for the charity.



Ennui (en-nui): A noun which originated during 1732 from the Old French word “enui” meaning “annoyance” and Late Latin’s “inodaire” meaning “to make loathsome.” Meanings: weariness, displeasure, dissatisfaction, discontent, or boredom resulting from lack of interest or satiety. Also a feeling of listlessness resulting from lack of the excitement or active engagement. Ex. The long [...]



Toska is a Russian word used to express the broad spectrum of absolute spiritual distress. Russian-American author Vladmir Nabokov best defined the word as being from the lowest level, Toska represents a restlessness of the soul due to weariness, dissatisfaction, or boredom. In the mid-range level, it represents a dull soul ache or longing for [...]



Litany (lit-an-y): A noun which originated during the 13th century from the Middle English word “letanie,” Anglo-French and Late Latin’s “litania,” and the Late Greek’s “litaneia” or “litanos” meaning “entreaty” or “supplicant.” Meanings: a repetitive or resonant prayer, chant, recitation, supplication or invocation often used by church leaders which allows alternate responses from the congregation. [...]



Callow (cal-low): an adjective which originated before 1000 A.D. which derives from the Middle English or Old English word “calu,” the Dutch word “kaal”, or German “kahl” meaning “bald.” Meanings: immature, inexperienced, in lack of adult sophistication, unfledged, or featherless Ex. Chalk up your mistakes as a teen to your callow youth.