Words I Don’t Know


I’ve never been the scholarly type who looks up words that I don’t know, an especially bad habit for an English and History major.  I get a lot from context clues, but there are still a lot of words I read and just don’t know what they mean.  This doesn’t stop me from using the words.

To alleviate this flaw, I’ve been jotting down some words and am going to take some time to look them up in the OED and define them here in my own words.  No pun intended.

ostensibly, adv. – something that appears to be so but isn’t necessarily so.  I think there’s a Paul Robeson song about this.

sublime, adj. – something that is just peachy-keen, wonderful, and all-around groovy.  Can you dig?

scruples, n. – doubts or thoughts that cause one to have uncertainties and hesitate.  I apparently have a lot of scruples.

chagrin, n. – I often hear the phrase “much to my chagrin.”  Now I know it refers to a state of worry or vexation.  I tend to have as much chagrin as scruples.

sophistry, n. – this is the practice of making arguments that are intended to deceive.  I remember reading this word in a description of the health care reform debate.  It makes so much sense now.

desultory, adj. – hah!  This word means flitting about and doing things in an unmethodical manner.  That’s right, I can be rather desultory as well as chagrined and scrupulous.

crest, v. – this is a word used recently in regard to Massachusetts’ recent floods as in “the river is supposed to crest on Wednesday.”  Like many of the words above I got the gist but didn’t know exactly what “crest” meant in this sense.  OED didn’t help so I got my definition from the National Weather Service: “The highest stage or flow occurring in a flood.”  That’s pretty much what I thought, but it’s good to know for sure.

There are more words to define.  I’ll make a series of it.

Previously: