Friday, October 15, 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 last weekend. Among the featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate:

1. incubus – to describe something that oppresses or burdens like a nightmare; a cause of anguished uncertainty or fear of failure.
comment: In these days of high unemployment, mounting credit card debt is a big incubus for millions of American families. And for our law enforcement agencies, an all new incubus is the threat posed by homegrown terrorists such as the “Time Square bomber.”

2. panache – a vivid word for spirited self-confidence and a dashing style.
comment: A great synonym for flamboyance and verve. Among the many singers and actors who exude (or exuded) panache: Katy Perry and Sean Connery (especially when he played James Bond).

3. fulminate – a strong word to describe the action of somebody who is shouting or hurling a loud verbal attack or condemnation.
comment: One of the ways that today’s media is different from that of, say, 25 years ago, is the advent of the Internet. Another is the prevalence of fulminating talk show hosts on radio and TV. Of course, there are plenty of fulminations when leading Democrats and Republicans attack each other on the floor of the House or the U.S. Senate.

4. incredulity – to describe the state of mind of someone who is unwilling or reluctant to believe--somebody who is skeptical.
comment: With Christmas just about two months away, this author recommends the 1947 classic film “Miracle on 34th Street” to all those who are incredulous of Santa Claus.

5. ephemeral – a term for something that lasts a noticeably short time.
comment: The nature of today’s economic news is strikingly ephemeral. Thus, one day the latest “housing starts” number is positive and the stock market soars. Two days later, retail sales look unpromising and the market plunges. Later that week, the “new jobs” numbers look robust and the Dow Jones perks up again.

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