denigrate (verb) 

To denigrate (DEN-ih-grate) is to belittle, disparage; criticize in a derogatory way. As I used it today: “Looking back on conversations that went south, I can usually spot a freshman communications error: failing to acknowledge the other person’s perspective or, worse, denigrating it in some way.”

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laudable (adjective) 

Laudable (LAW-duh-bul), usually applied to an action, idea, or goal, means deserving of praise and commendation. As I used it today: “I remember thinking that Mugabe’s vision for Zimbabwe was laudable. Along with most of the international press, I supported him.”

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motley (adjective) 

Motley (MAHT-lee) describes something that is incongruously varied in appearance or character. As used by Robert E. Howard in The People of the Black Circle: “Along that gorge rode a motley throng – bearded men on half-wild horses, five hundred strong, bristling with weapons.”

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impetus (noun) 

Impetus (IM-puh-tus) is a driving force; the incentive or stimulus to make something happen or happen more quickly. As used by Max Carver: “Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change.”

 

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fecund (adjective) 

Fecund (FEK-und) means fertile, productive. As used by Sue Hubbell: “You have to take springtime on its own terms in the Ozarks: There is no other way. It can’t be predicted. It is unsteady, full of promise, a promise that is sometimes broken. It is also bawdy, irrepressible, excessive, fecund, willful.”

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solecism (noun) 

A solecism (SAHL-siz’m) is a minor grammatical error – a word or phrase that is used incorrectly or in a non-standard way. Examples: between you and me… whom shall I say is calling… the woman, she is here… he can’t hardly sleep. The word can also be used for something that deviates from the proper, normal, or accepted. As used by Will Self: “To purposely concoct older characters of a sunny disposition would be as much of a solecism as deliberately fabricating arrhythmic blacks, spendthrift Jews, slacker Japanese, and so on.”

 

 

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salvific (adjective) 

Something that’s salvific (sal-VIH-fik) has the intention or power to save or redeem. As used by Michelle Huneven: “For many years now, my source for salvific chicken soup has been the Sanamluang Café on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Kinglsey Drive: crystalline broth, flecks of fried garlic, and a moist, steamed bird nesting on thick rice noodles and bean sprouts has stanched many a misery.”

 

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burgeon (verb) 

To burgeon (BUR-jun) is to flourish, to grow or develop quickly. As used by Ellis Peters: “Truth, like the burgeoning of a bulb under the soil, however deeply sown, will make its way to the light.”

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synecdoche (noun) 

Synecdoche (sih-NEK-duh-kee) is a figure of speech in which the part is used for the whole. A few examples: the head for cattle, wheels for the car, hands for individuals, suits for businessmen.

 

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encroach (verb) 

To encroach (en-KROHCH) is to advance beyond the usual or proper limits. As used by Pasquier Quesnel: “Zeal is very blind, or badly regulated, when it encroaches upon the rights of others.”

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