In which I don my word maven hat (or anyway my witch hat, since I’m already wearing it and I don’t really know what a word maven hat would look like)

Darlene had a fun post in which she shared her word acquisitions from studying vocabulary for the GRE. You can find her post here. And here’s my as-usual-far-too-long-especially-since-I-should-have-been-sleeping comment:

Kinda hard to quiz myself with the answers right there next to each word, but I tried. 🙂

How fun! Dean’s occasionally been able to correct my misuse or mispronunciation of a word thanks to when he studied vocabulary for the GRE (he still remembers a lot of what he learned.)

I thought juggernaut meant something huge and unstoppable, and Dictionary.com’s first definition agrees with me, while the second definition is the same as yours.

I always thought opprobrium was disapproval, (or the opposite of approbation,) which I guess still more or less works with this definition.

I can never remember exactly what phlegmatic and sanguine mean, other than knowing that they’re two of the four humors. I had to look up the other two:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism

So the other two are choleric and melancholic. Choleric and melancholic refer to two different types of bile, but I think bilious means something else–off the top of my head, it means garish. Yup, Dictionary.com agrees with that for the fourth definition, “extremely unpleasant or distasteful.” But the other definitions sound more like they pertain to the humors. To tell the truth, probably the reason I never remember the real meanings of these words is that I think they’re pretty much obsolete since no one really uses the humors to understand behavior anymore. (We’ve switched over to the Color Code, so now you can describe what someone’s like by saying they’re “Blue with touches of yellow.”) I think sanguine is an elegant word, though, so maybe I should try to remember what it really means so I can use it some time.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to remember “distaff;” there’s just nothing about it that suggests its meaning to me.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the thing on my blog where I collect people’s misspellings and misusages. You can find my malaprop posts by clicking this link.
Anyway, in collecting malaprops I find that “ingenious” and “ingenuous” get mistaken for each other all. the. time. And I’ve seen dissemble used to mean disassemble. (By the way it’s often writers who make the most memorable malaprops, probably because they’re more daring in their use of language than others.)

I did know: nonplussed, facetious, quiescent (I think of quiescently frozen desserts,) dessicated, iconoclast (icons are idols or traditional religious symbols, and the “clast” part means breaking,) simper (okay, so I didn’t have this one exactly right, but I did picture it as sucking up and being silly/stupid, which is close,) baleful, quixotic, enervate, clement, hermetic, blandishment, calumny, and obstreperous. Well, actually I guess I thought obstreperous meant something more like “difficult” or “intractable.”

Several of those in your list of “weird” words were familiar, but I couldn’t really have defined any of them.

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2 Responses to In which I don my word maven hat (or anyway my witch hat, since I’m already wearing it and I don’t really know what a word maven hat would look like)

  1. Kristina P. says:

    It does make me feel better to know that you also don’t know what words mean sometimes. I think I have a larger vocabulary than the average person, but you blow me out of the water!

    In fact, there was a time, right after I graduated from college, where I kept a pen and paper to the side of my bed, and whenever I would come across a word I didn’t know, I would write it down and look it up, and write the definition of it. Sanguine was one of those words.

  2. Hannah says:

    Ah! Your post gave me flashbacks from when I took the GRE and DIDN’T study. Yes, I know. Someone so stupid shouldn’t go to graduate school anyway. I blame my choleric disposition for my foolhardiness. My verbal score was abysmal. Engineering school expanded my vocabulary in all the wrong ways. However, my quantitative score rocked. So there!

    Oh well, I eventually opted for a good paying job over more school anyway. I am a sell out, which is why you can always find plenty of fandangled words on my blog.

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