clarion (adjective) 

Clarion (KLARE-ee-un) means loud and clear. As used by Martin Dempsey: “Sometimes we wait for thunderclaps, drumrolls, and clarion calls to alert us to what’s important when, actually, it’s most often the subtle and persistent signals around us that make the most difference.”

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portentous (adjective)

Portentous (por-TEN-tus) means serious; ominous. As used by Francine Prose: What makes [Hillary Mantel’s] novels seem at once breezy and substantial is Mantel’s knack for leavening her weighty themes with seductive narrative strategies (suspense, portentous foreshadowing, hints of sinister and violent mysteries) that make the reader keep turning the pages.”

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fugacious (adjective) 

Something that’s fugacious (fyoo-GAY-shus) is fleeting; transitory. As used by Hannah More: “Honours and dignities are transient, beauty and riches frail and fugacious.”

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hospitality (noun) 

Hospitality (hos-pih-TAL-ih-tee) is the cordial and generous welcoming and treatment of guests. Interesting that it comes from the same Latin root as hospital (“hospitalis,” which means “of a guest”). As used by Max Beerbohm: “When hospitality becomes an art it loses its very soul.”

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lethological (adjective) 

Lethological (leh-thuh-LAH-juh-kuhl) refers to the inability to remember the exact word you want. Example: “It’s on the tip of my tongue… um… um… Oh, no! I’m having another lethological moment!”

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prescind (verb) 

To prescind (prih-SIND) is to withdraw attention. As used by Nicanor G. Tiongson: “Those who subscribe to the theory of art for art’s sake believe that they can prescind from the realities of their society and create art without any ideology, as pure aesthetes.”

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strident (adjective) 

Strident (STRY-duhnt) means harsh, insistent; excessively and unpleasantly forceful. As I used it today: “It does seem that an imbalance in the testosterone/estrogen ratio in favor of testosterone stirs up contrarian, unconventional, even strident, trains of thought and a preference for non-fiction writing that emphasizes such thinking.”

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deference (noun) 

Deference (DEF-er-uhns) is humble submission and respect. As I used it today: “The social privileges white Americans enjoyed, [W.E.B. Du Bois] contended, included courtesy and deference, unimpeded admittance to all public functions, lenient treatment in court, and access to the best schools.”

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proxemics (noun) 

Yes, there’s a word for all the social distancing we’ve been doing: proxemics (prahk-SEE-miks). Basically, it’s the study of how people use space when they’re communicating. The term was coined in 1963 by the cultural anthropologist Edward T. Hall.

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feign (verb) 

To feign (FAYN) is to represent fictitiously or deceptively; to put on the appearance of .  As I used it today: “I opened and shut my desk drawer loudly to feign some sort of activity in my office. ”

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