Saturday, May 22, 2010

Building a Strong Vocabulary: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

The latest edition of “Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enhancement feature, has been online since the first week of this month. Among the featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate:

1. desiccated – to describe a person or thing that is lacking interest, enthusiasm, animation, or feeling; something that is devoid of intellectual vigor.
comment: I am sure you’ve had to sit through many a presentation or speech that was desiccated.

2. farcical – a term for something that is ludicrous, nonsensical, absurd, or laughably inappropriate.
comment: In my blog post of May 15, about BP’s bad PR, I described some of the analogies used by BP’s CEO to minimize the oil well accident as being farcical.

3. petulant – to describe someone who is ill-tempered without reason, someone who is impatient and irritable over a petty annoyance or something trivial.
comment: My favorite example for petulance is that involving homemaking dive Martha Stewart: During her 2004 trial, we learned that she got angry with her stockbroker over the type of background music being played on the phone while she was on hold.

4. doctrinaire – to describe somebody who inflexibly adheres to an abstract doctrine or theory without regard for practical considerations; somebody who is dogmatic about one’s beliefs, ideas, or theories.
comment: Why do you think we can sometimes predict which justice will rule which way on some of the cases that come up before the U.S. Supreme Court? It’s because most of the 9 justices are either doctrinaire conservatives or doctrinaire liberals.

5. genuflect – a term of disapproval for somebody’s display of servile respectfulness or submissiveness—for somebody’s show of abject obedience.
comment: I am sure you’ve come across superiors or colleagues who are “yes-men.” Put another way, these are employees who show no spine during meetings with senior management. All they do is genuflect.

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