Rarely Used Words

I know that the subject of September 11th is hot in the news and blogs today.  It is certainly a day to be remembered and I have left my own comments about it elsewhere.  Yet I also considered that readers may like to see a different topic, as some have said it the memories of this day depress them.  Today’s post here will be on something else.

Since this is a reading/writing type of blog, I thought it a good opportunity to focus on vocabulary.  The idea came to me a couple of days ago while I was going through some GRE flash cards.  Not to actually study, but to find any terms that might be good for my current WIP.  It occurred to me how helpful it might be to contribute rare words on the blog and use them in sentences.  Many readers like to see unusual terms in books so they can broaden their vocabulary.  So today I’m going to give the first word, the definition, and an example sentence where it is used.  Anyone else who would like to, may do the same.  It can be a term you already know, so long as it isn’t common.  One rule, it must be something you can find in a dictionary.  No making up new ones!  Not that anyone (cough… Sharon) would do that 🙂  So here goes:

Peripatetic– Wandering from place to place, especially on foot.

*Nomads are known to be peripatetic, never settling in one place for long.


I will look forward to seeing what others come up with.  Maybe it will give us ideas for vocab to use in our writing!

~ by Suzie on September 11, 2011.

40 Responses to “Rarely Used Words”

  1. Susan, My all time favorite is Syzygy. Its a coming together or a conjunction.

    “Four planets aligned in perfect syzygy.”

    It also happens to be the title of a great SciFi book by British author Michael Coney. I highly recommend it!


  2. We did this in my interpreting class every week to build formal English vocabulary. It was my favorite part. 😀 I would even take all eight of our words and make one big sentence using all of them. Lol. I’m such a nerd.

    Pugilistic–skilled fighting with fists.

    “Kara was known for her pugilistic abilities, not her swordsmanship.”

    • Nice! Vocab can be fun. You are welcome to come back when more terms have been offered and turn them into a sentence if you have the spare time!

      Oh, and you are not a nerd. Everyone has weird things that amuse them 🙂

  3. I seldom use unfamiliar words (at least not too many) in my writing – probably the result of years of writing for newspapers.
    But I do occasionally push fairly well-known words into unusual roles … turning adjectives into nouns, adverbs into verbs, that sort of thing.
    I frequently make “somber” into a verb … as in “Tevis sombered. …”

  4. alights:
    verb (used without object),
    1. to dismount from a horse, descend from a vehicle, etc.
    2. to settle or stay after descending: The bird alighted on the tree.
    3. to encounter or notice something accidentally.


    I love dictionary.com as may reference website.

    I first saw the word alights when I was a Medical coder, it is a term used when describing how a particular injury occurred. I wanted to use it in the book, but my co-author didn’t like the sound of it and thought nobody else would understand it.

    • I have seen that word before. Not sure why your co-author thought no one would get it. Dictionary.com is great. I have their app on my ipad and love checking the “Word of the Day”. Today it is appropriately:


      Definition:   relating to the mourning or remembering of the dead.

      Used in, suitable for, or resembling an elegy.

      • Thanks for the support. I think in part because as he calls himself, he is “a knuckle-dragger” who thinks other males are too. I don’t recall the details of that particular disagreement but when you have a co-author there is a lot of give and take. Some battles are more worth fighting than others.

        I agree that is a very appropriate word for today.

        • I don’t know how you do it Lynn. I don’t mind suggestions for my writing, but it would be difficult to share a story and cooperate. As a kid, I liked playing with friends who had no imagination so I could dictate how we played, lol. Much of the time I played by myself just to avoid problems altogether. The military forced me to learn about team work, so I’m not quite so bad now.

          • I have the plays well with others sign on me. 🙂

            Actually, he and I have been friends a very long time. Of course, being friends and being partners are two different things. I mean he is not only my co-author but also we co-own Call Sign Wrecking Crew, LLC together.

          • Good for you being able to work well with others. As for me, there is a reason I got nicknamed Mistress and it wasn’t for my cooperation skills, lol.

  5. Obfuscate: to render indistinct or dim. Most common usage is ‘obfuscatory,’ describing language in contracts, especially insurance policies.

    • I’ve heard of that word…not sure I’d know how to spell it.

      That’s part of my problem, I’ve heard lots of word. Not really sure how to spell them alot of the time. I’m sure nobody else in this group has that problem. :)?

      • I can’t spell all that well, totally guilty!

        • Oh good, I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I can spell pretty well…just can’t type that well some days. Then of course, if you don’t know how to spell the word and it won’t get close enough for the program to help you correct it then you have to go with another word all together. 😦

          • Happens to me all the time. Except on the ipad. I had to turn autocorrect off because it was changing even legitimately spelled words into embarrassing alternatives. I would rather just mispell on this thing and people could figure it out, lol.


            See the above website to see how bad it can get!

    • Sharon, that is a good one. You know I was just messing with you about making terms up. You are welcome to share those as well as I’m sure you have some great ones. I was just hoping to get a rise out of you 🙂

      • If Sharon can used coined words then can the rest of us?

        I’m thinking about our word ‘Theasability’

      • I didn’t see where you were messin’, Mistress. Yes, I invent a lot of words. It’s interesting to note some work well enough other SF authors adopted them. The most commonly used of those are “Fem” and “Gen,” though Gen is used less often. Miss, Mrs. and Ms. all have cultural baggage that doesn’t belong in a story set a couple thousand years in the future. Another term I coined which I’m sure you’ve heard is “the bad book bounce.” I used to put quotes from my books in my signature line, about fifteen years ago. I’d have been delighted to see them on bumper stickers, buttons and posters, if they’d had my name attached. Of course, my inventions don’t have my name attached, either, but I got paid to let someone else put theirs on them.

  6. I have another one for you Susan – “Malapropism”. It derives from a character in an 18th century play and refers to the use of the use of a wrong word that sounds similar to the intended word, usually with humorous results.

    Examples would be, “He has achieved the very pineapple of success.” or “This cake tastes so bad, it’s quite illegible.”

  7. Here’s one you don’t see too often …
    Defenestration. An act of political dissent … but it means to throw someone out the window. It originates with two incidents in Prague … in 1419 when seven officials were thrown from the Town Hall, precipitating the Hussite War, and in 1618 when two Imperial Governors and their secretaries were thrown from Prague Castle, starting the Thirty Years War.
    Prague would seem to be a bad place for government officials and windows.

  8. LOL, Susan. So would I!

  9. Susan,

    At one point, I really did think Theasability was in the dictionary but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So we coined it. Besides the book is set in the future…maybe it will be in the dictionary by then. 🙂

  10. The word I can never seem to remember is the word for when you can’t remember the word. The sudden blank spot when it just disappears. “On the tip of my tongue” and zip!

  11. persnickety: snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob.

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