She Said–Vocabulary Words and Contest

“This is  your English teacher speaking.”

“Please take notes, as there will be a quiz following the lesson.”

“Word number one–Johnny stop poking Lisa with a pencil.”

“Word number one–Susie and Cindy, that conversation can wait until recess.”

“Word number one is. . .Yes, Scott?  No Scott we aren’t going to take a nature walk right now.”

I give up.  I can’t teach an English class.  Instead, let me just chat.

I love words so here are a few new ones I am trying out.  I usually come across them in my readings.  Sometimes they are words I know, but have forgotten about, and other times they are brand new to me.

They are not in any order.  Enjoy.

atavism – n.  1.  the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.  2. reversion to an earlier type; throwback.  I found this word in “Out of Africa”, and wondered what it meant.  Although it is often used in biology, you can use it to refer to a family trait that skipped a generation or two and then resurfaced.  Although I am learning this word, I still haven’t been able to really use it in a sentence.  Add one in the comments section, and I will applaud.

sagacity – n.  1.  acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment.  I had a general idea of the meaning of this word, but had never really incorporated it into my every day vocabulary.  A handy word to describe a smart manuever or person.  And it sounds “smarter” than just using the word “smart.”  Here is a sample sentence.  “His sagacity won him the game.”

pedantry-  n.  slavish attention to rules, details, etc.  I learned this word from “Out of Africa”, and it is one of the few that I have started to use.  Here is a sample sentence.  “The pedantry of the English teacher discouraged learning.”

sward – n.  the grassy surface of land.  Rather a boring description from the  Think of the prairies waving in the wind.  Think of amber waves of grain.  Think of the African highlands and their swards filled with zebras, antelope, and the lurking lion pride.  That’s more the picture.  That is a sward.  Or Scotland’s highlands with her fields of heather.  That’s also a sward.  Use the word prairie when referring to the Grand ‘Ole USA, but use sward when referring to Africa.  It sounds more how I imagine it looks.

melliforous – adj.  yielding or producing honey.  Okay.  This is yet another “Out of Africa” word.  It is easy to remember as “miel” is Spanish for honey. (Mel = Latin for honey.)  Now Isak Dinesen used this word to describe a slick Indian trader.  Can’t you just hear his voice oozing with sweet mellifourous words as he tries to skin you from your last dollar?

troglodyte – n.  a prehistoric cave dweller.  LOVE this word! I most currently read it in “Swallows and Amazons”.  A great insult for a pirate to yell!

festooned – n.  fabric, ribbon, flower garland, etc. . . suspended, draped, and bound at intervals to form graceful loops or scalloped folds.  This word is one I know, but want to add to my vocabulary.  “The kitchen was festooned with ribbon for the party.”

treacle – n.  1. contrived or unrestrained sentimentality: a movie plot of the most shameless treacle.  2. British.  molasses, especially that which is drained from the vats used in sugar refining.  3.  Pharmacology Obsolete . any of various medicinal compounds, formerly used as antidotes for poison.  I love the last use of the word.  Imagine the days of knights in shining armour rescuing their lady fair.  Of course someone gets poisoned somewhere, and it is the treacle that is administered that saves the Shining Knight.

capitulated – v.  to surrender unconditionally or on stipulated terms.  Here is a sample sentence.  The boy finally capitulated and took out the trash.  Maybe not the best sentence, but who is going to complain if it means the trash gets taken out?

assuaged – v. to make milder or less severe; relieve; ease; mitigate: to assuage one’s grief; to assuage one’s pain.  The pronunciation is “Frenchish” on this one.  Say it more like ah-swayzhd.  The word is pretty enough to be a perfume, but it a soothing verb instead-which is just as good.

alacrity – n. cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness.  Now don’t you wish this defined your kiddos?  I do. 

apoplectic – adj.  To define this word you have to know what apoplexy means.  Apoplexy is busting a blood vessel going to your brain.  Here is a sample sentence.  He had an apoplectic fit when the grandkids hid his pipe.  Imagine a red face with beads of sweat and some choice words.

circa -adv./prep.  about: (used especially in) approximate dates.  Next time you are adding a date to a picture add the word “circa” [sear-ka]  It means “approximately.”  Think of the Spanish word “cerca = close” and you will remember this word.

Now here is the challenge.  How many of these words can you use in a sentence?  The words again are atavism, sagacity, pedantry, sward, melliforous, troglodyte, festooned, treacle, capitulated, assuaged, alacrity, apoplectic, circa.  Maybe make that two sentences.  The best entry wins a prize (think desk organizer and labels.)  No troglodytes will win.  You will have to use sagacity.  Melliforous promises won’t persuade me.  Apoplectic fits won’t move me.  Alacrity will give you a chance at the prize. 

Your pedant English teacher,


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8 Responses to She Said–Vocabulary Words and Contest

  1. Bel McCoy says:

    Early grey hair is an atavism in our family. (throwback)
    Your sagacity in this blog boggles my mind!! Pedantry is worthless with many small children.
    The sward outside my house is under 12″ of snow. Are honey bees melliforous??
    I capitulated to the wisdom of not driving in this snow. Don’t give me any treacle!!
    The trees and shrubs are festooned with snow and ice. Knowing that there will be no crashing my little Taurus, assuaged my desire to DRIVE. The Lord would like my alacrity in obeying His Word.
    Horrors, he might be apoplectic!! This is circa 2011 or 2012.


  2. Mom and Dad Whit says:

    Good job Bel! You must be snowed in!


  3. Mom and Dad Whit says:

    Cute little student, Rebecca!


  4. Penny says:

    Despite our pedantry regarding sledding over jumps headfirst, one of our dear little troglodytes in his atavism disregarded all sagacity, circa the Second Day of Snow, and sailed over the frosty sward, missing the jump (this slightly assuaged his conscience) and thudded in an apoplectic heap against a metal fence, unknown to us; with his alacrity gone, forty-five melliforous minutes passed before he capitulated and portioned the story out slowly, each rendition slightly more festooned – though we soon saw beyond his treacle. No further punishment was necessary: the headache, nausea and week without sledding and activity were sufficient.


  5. Bel McCoy says:

    Penny’s is definitely a winner!!!! Well done!!! Even in story form!!!! Take a bow you word smith!!


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