verisimilitude \ver-uh-si-MIL-i-tood, -tyood\, noun:

1. the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability: The play lacked verisimilitude.
2. something, as an assertion, having merely the appearance of truth.

The intention of the unities is to enhance the verisimilitude of dramatic works by making the time the spectator is watching the performance coincide with the time in which the entire action takes place (unity of time)…
— Federica Brunori Deigan, Alessandro Manzoni’s The Count of Carmagnola and Adelchis, 2004

Todorov argues most persuasively that verisimilitude is not to be confused with truth in narrative, and indeed truth is dispensable while verisimilitude is not.
— Terry J. Peavler, Individuations, 1987

Verisimilitude comes from the Latin roots vērum + similis literally meaning “likeness to truth.”

misoneism \mis-oh-NEE-iz-uhm, mahy-soh-\, noun:

hatred or dislike of what is new or represents change.

But it is necessary to note that hereditary anomaly, if it provokes an anomaly in the moral sense, also suppresses misoneism, the horror of novelty which is almost the general rule of humanity.
— Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent, 1907

Misoneism comes from the Greek miso- + neos meaning “hatred” and “new.”

oeillade \œ-YAD\, noun:

an amorous glance; ogle.

“Please?” Significant pause and oeillade. Eugene thought of his hopes with Rapunzel, of badly wanting to start a clean slate, baleful of all the miseries Laura had caused whenever they had resumed even a friendship…
— Alexander Theroux, Laura Warholic, or, The Sexual Intellectual, 2007

Oeillade entered English in the late 1500s from the French oeillide, and ultimately comes from the Latin ocuclus meaning “eye.”

dissilient \dih-SIL-ee-uhnt\, adjective:

bursting apart; bursting open.

I imagined the dissilient pod of rumours a creative bureau chief up for promotion might hatch. Stories, once sprung, would snowball out of control, growing more damaging with each repetition.
— Susan Daitch, L.C., 2002

Dissilent comes from the Latin word dissilīre meaning “to leap apart.”

percipient \per-SIP-ee-uhnt\, adjective:

1. having perception; discerning; discriminating: a percipient choice of wines.
2. perceiving or capable of perceiving.

1. a person or thing that perceives.

“You’re more percipient than you look,” she said with a grin. “And percipient enough not to use that word instead of perceptive, which is what it really means.”
— Carolyne Aarsen, Love Is Patient and A Heart’s Refuge, 2010

Percipient entered English in the mid-1600s from the Anglo-Norman perceivre meaning “to take notice of.”

demimonde \DEM-ee-mond; Fr. duh-mee-MAWND\, noun:

1. a group characterized by lack of success or status: the literary demimonde.
2. (especially during the last half of the 19th century) a class of women who have lost their standing in respectable society because of indiscreet behavior or sexual promiscuity.
3. a demimondaine.
4. prostitutes or courtesans in general.
5. a group whose activities are ethically or legally questionable: a demimonde of investigative journalists writing for the sensationalist tabloids.

Demimode comes to English from the French demi- + monde literally meaning “half world.” The phrase was coined and popularized by Alexander Dumas, fils.

wroth \rawth, roth or, especially Brit., rohth\, adjective:

1. stormy; violent; turbulent: the wroth sea.
2. angry; wrathful (usually used predicatively): He was wroth to see the damage to his home.

You are wroth with me because I have used you; because I have offended against your innate right to be a useless cyst on the hindquarters of life.
— Stephen Burst, Issola, 2002

Wroth is derived from the Old English wrāth which comes in turn from the Old Norse word reithr which meant “angry.” It is related to the word writhe.

sundry \SUHN-dree\, adjective:

various or diverse: sundry persons.

Sundry first appeared in English before the year 900. It is derived from the Old English syndrig meaning “separate,” “apart,” and “special.”\

qualm \kwahm, kwawm\, noun:

1. an uneasy feeling or pang of conscience as to conduct; compunction: He has no qualms about lying.
2. a sudden feeling of apprehensive uneasiness; misgiving: a sudden qualm about the success of the venture.

A soft qualm, regret, flowed down his backbone, increasing.
— James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922

The etymology of qualm is uncertain. It may come from the Old English cwealm, which means “torment,” “pain,” and “injury,” but scholars believe there is not enough evidence to assume a direct connection between these terms.

ingratiate \in-GREY-shee-eyt\, verb:

to establish (oneself) in the favor or good graces of others, especially by deliberate effort (usually followed by with): He ingratiated himself with all the guests.

Derived from the Latin in gratiam literally meaning “into favor,” ingratiate entered English in the first half of the seventeenth century.

machinate \MAK-uh-neyt\, verb:

to contrive or plot, especially artfully or with evil purpose: to machinate the overthrow of the government.

Machinate entered English from the Latin machina in the first half of the fifteenth century.

jocose \joh-KOHS, juh-\, adjective:

given to or characterized by joking; jesting; humorous; playful: a jocose and amusing manner.

Jocose comes from the Latin jocōsus meaning “joking.” It entered English in the 1600s.

anfractuous \an-FRAK-choo-uhs\, adjective:

characterized by windings and turnings; sinuous; circuitous: an anfractuous path.

Anfractuous is a back formation of the word anfractuosity meaning “a winding bend.”

novitiate \noh-VISH-ee-it, -eyt\, noun:

1. the state or period of being a beginner in anything.
2. the state or period of being a novice of a religious order or congregation.
3. the quarters occupied by religious novices during probation.
4. a novice.

Moreover, in carrier training the tests confronted the candidate, the eternal novitiate, in more rapid succession than in any other form of flying.
— Tom Wolfe, The Purple Decades, 1982

Novitiate comes from the Medieval Latin word meaning “novice.”

phantasmagoric \fan-tax-muh-GAWR-ik, -GOR-\, adjective:

1. having a fantastic or deceptive appearance, as something in a dream or created by the imagination.
2. having the appearance of an optical illusion, especially one produced by a magic lantern.
3. changing or shifting, as a scene made up of many elements.

The phantasmagoric effect was vastly heightened by the artificial introduction of a strong continual current of wind behind the draperies—giving a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole.
— Edgar Allan Poe, “Ligeia,” 1838

saccharine \SAK-er-in, -uh-reen, -uh-rahyn\, adjective:

1. exaggeratedly sweet or sentimental: a saccharine smile; a saccharine song of undying love.
2. of the nature of or resembling that of sugar: a powdery substance with a saccharine taste.
3. containing or yielding sugar.
4. a very sweet to the taste; sugary: a saccharine dessert.
5. cloyingly agreeable or ingratiating: a saccharine personality.

Saccharine comes from the Sanskrit word śarkarā meaning “sugar.”

espousal \ih-SPOU-zuhl, -suhl\, noun:

1. adoption or advocacy, as of a cause or principle.
2. Sometimes, espousals. a. a marriage ceremony. b. an engagement or betrothal celebration.

Espousal came to English in the 14th century from the Latin sponsa meaning “spouse.” It is common for Latin words to gain an initial e- when borrowed by Old French.

esse \ES-se; Eng. ES-ee\, noun:

being; existence.

The esse of the life of every man, which he has from his father, is called the soul, and the existence of life thence derived is called the body.
— Emanuel Swedenborg, The Earths in Our Solar System, 1758

According to Berkeley, the esse of things is percipi. They exist as they are perceived.
— Thomas Love Peacock, Nightmare Abbey, 1818

Esse comes from the Latin word of the same spelling meaning “to be.” It has been in English since the 1600s.


droll \drohl\, adjective:

1. amusing in an odd way; whimsically humorous; waggish.

1. a droll person; jester; wag.

1. Archaic. to jest; joke.

Adah would, of course, say something more droll, such as “Why, Rachel, your interest in personal hygiene has truly become a higher calling.”
— Barbara Kingslover, The Poisonwood Bible, 1998

It’s a droll juxtaposition, and it denotes Ms. Drury as a product of our multitasking, wide-sampling age.
— Rob Weinert-Kendt, “Writes Well With Others,” The New York Times, April 16, 2013

Droll originally comes from the Middle Dutch word drol referring to “a fat little man.” The word came to English through the French droll which meant “pleasant rascal.”

finagle \fi-NEY-guhl\, verb:

1. to trick, swindle, or cheat (a person) (often followed by out of): He finagled the backers out of a fortune.
2. to get or achieve (something) by guile, trickery, or manipulation: to finagle an assignment to the Membership Committee.
3. to practice deception or fraud; scheme.

But the law’s the law now, and not a contest between a lot of men paid to grin and lie and yell and finagle for whatever somebody wanted them to grin and lie and yell and finagle about.
— Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano, 1952

Finagle likely comes from the English dialect term fainaigue meaning “to cheat.” It entered English in the 1920s.

quibble \KWIB-uhl\, verb:

1. to equivocate.
2. to carp; cavil.

1. an instance of the use of ambiguous, prevaricating, or irrelevant language or arguments to evade a point at issue.
2. the general use of such arguments.
3. petty or carping criticism; a minor objection.

Don’t quibble. You’re in deep enough now, young man.
— Kurt Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House, 1968

I didn’t quibble about the price. No man can say that. I just wanted peace; I paid them their price without quibbling.
— William Faulkner, Light in August, 1932

Quibble is related to the more common word quip. They both come from the Latin word quibus meaning “indeed.”

habiliment \huh-BIL-uh-muhnt\, noun:

1. Usually, habiliments. a. clothes or clothing. b. clothes as worn in a particular profession, way of life, etc.
2. habiliments, accouterments or trappings.

At this very moment, perhaps, Toad is busy arraying himself in those singularly hideous habiliments so dear to him, which transform him from a (comparatively) good-looking Toad into an Object which throws any decent-minded animal that comes across it into a violent fit.
— Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, 1908

Habiliment comes from the French word of the same spelling. It’s from the root habiller meaning “to dress.”

somnambulism \som-NAM-byuh-liz-uhm, suhm-\, noun:


Somnambulism came to English in the late 1700s from the Latin somnus + ambulare literally meaning “sleep” + “to walk.”

abdicate \AB-di-keyt\, verb:

1. to give up or renounce (authority, duties, an office, etc.), especially in a voluntary, public, or formal manner: King Edward VIII of England abdicated the throne in 1936.
2. to renounce or relinquish a throne, right, power, claim, responsibility, or the like, especially in a formal manner: The aging founder of the firm decided to abdicate.

Abdicate comes from the Latin abdicare meaning “to disown,” “to disavow,” or “to reject.” The transitive sense entered English in the 1500s, though the intransitive sense didn’t appear until 100 years later.

dither \DIHTH-er\, verb:

1. to act irresolutely; vacillate.
2. North England. to tremble with excitement or fear.

1. a trembling; vibration.
2. a state of flustered excitement or fear.

You make mistakes, don’t you–dither, get things wrong…?
— Penelope Lively, Pack of Cards, 1978-86

Dither entered English in the 1600s. It’s a phonetic variation of the Old English didder, though its ultimate origins are unknown.

ambulate \AM-byuh-leyt\, verb:

to walk about or move from place to place.

The woman walked slowly, with a halting gait, as if she’d been forced to ambulate with a pair of swim fins for shoes.
— Sue Grafton, “E” is for Evidence, 1988

Ambulate comes from the Latin ambulāre meaning “to walk.” It entered English in the 1600s.

gibbous \GIB-uhs\, adjective:

1. Astronomy. (of a heavenly body) convex at both edges, as the moon when more than half full.
2. humpbacked

Saturday is full moon, so we will celebrate—if we are lucky with the weather—by the light of a waxing gibbous moon.
— A. S. Byatt, The Children’s Book, 2009

The stars and the gibbous moon demanded to be looked at, and when one meteorite had streaked across the sky, you could not help waiting, open-eyed and alert…
— Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow, 1921

Gibbous entered English late 14th or early 15th century from the Latin gibbus meaning hump.


waif \weyf\, noun:

1. a person, especially a child, who has no home or friends.
2. something found, especially a stray animal, whose owner is not known.
3. a stray item or article: to gather waifs of gossip.

Waif likely finds its roots in the Old Norse veif meaning “waving thing” or “flag.”

largesse \lahr-JES, LAHR-jis\, noun:

1. generous bestowal of gifts.
2. the gift or gifts, as of money, so bestowed.

Largesse comes from the Latin largus meaning “abundant.” It shares a root with the word large.


misoneism \mis-oh-NEE-iz-uhm, mahy-soh-\, noun:

hatred or dislike of what is new or represents change.

But it is necessary to note that hereditary anomaly, if it provokes an anomaly in the moral sense, also suppresses misoneism, the horror of novelty which is almost the general rule of humanity.
— Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent, 1907