Cozen (verb) – To cozen (KUH-zuhn) is to cheat, deceive, trick. As used by William Bolitho: “The shortest way out of Manchester is notoriously a bottle of Gordon’s gin; out of any businessman’s life there is the mirage of Paris; out of Paris, or mediocrity of talent and imagination, there are all the drugs, from subtle, all-conquering opium to cheating, cozening cocaine.”

Vitiate (verb) – To vitiate (VISH-ee-ate) is to impair, debase, make ineffective. As used by George Orwell: “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”

Inculpate (verb) – To inculpate (in-KUHL-pate) is to blame or accuse. As used by Germaine Greer: “Guilt is one side of a nasty triangle; the other two are shame and stigma. This grim coalition combines to inculpate women themselves of the crimes committed against them.”

Cupidity (noun) – Cupidity (kyoo-PID-ih-tee) is greed or avarice; eager or excessive desire. As used by Théodore Guérin: “[The Americans’] cupidity renders them daring and indifferent to everything else.”

Demarcate (verb) – To demarcate (dih-MAR-kate) is to define the boundaries or limits of something. As used by Christopher Morley in Pipefuls: “Out at Hillside the stones that demarcate the territory of an old-fashioned house are new and snowily whitewashed.”

Agglomeration (noun) – An agglomeration (uh-glom-uh-RAY-shun) is a group of many (usually disparate) things that have been collected or brought together. As used by Voltaire: “This agglomeration which was called… the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.”

Celtic (adjective) – Did you ever wonder why Celtic is sometimes pronounced KEL-tik and sometimes SEL-tik? The answer is very interesting… at least it was to me.


Bootstrap (noun, verb, adjective) – To bootstrap (BOOT-strap) is to rely entirely on your own efforts and resources, to help yourself succeed without the aid of others. As used by journalist David Sax: “Unlike in Europe, where serving is often a career rather than a backup plan, American table-waiting remains a bootstrap business, and some of the biggest skeptics of waiter training courses and schools are seasoned servers themselves.”

Aspersion (noun) – An aspersion (uh-SPUR-zhun) is a damaging or derogatory remark. As used by George Santayana: “The philosophy of the common man is an old wife that gives him no pleasure, yet he cannot live without her, and resents any aspersions that strangers may cast on her character.”

Nebulous (adjective) – Nebulous (NEB-yuh-lus) can mean hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused. As I used it in today’s essay: “When you think of investing as something as nebulous as putting money into stocks and bonds  (or commodities or futures or real estate or gold mines), you lose the opportunity to examine the difference between different modalities of ‘investing’ – such as trading, speculating, betting, and gambling.”