Wayne State University

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Word Warriors' 2014 top 10

Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, recently chose “selfie” as 2013’s word of the year. 

We think we can do better than that.

As part of its initiative to draw attention to some of the English language's most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words, Wayne State University has released its annual list of the year’s top 10 words that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose.

Now beginning its sixth year, Wayne State’s Word Warriors series promotes words especially worthy of retrieval from the linguistic closet.

The Word Warriors’ extensive list is composed of submissions from both administrators of the website as well as the public; logophiles worldwide have seen their favorite words brought back from the brink of obsolescence at wordwarriors.wayne.edu. New entries are posted there, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, each week.

“The English language has more words in its lexicon than any other,” says Jerry Herron, dean of WSU's Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the website’s editorial board. “By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons.”

And now, the Word Warriors' 2014 list of eminently useful words that should be brought back to enrich our language:

 

  • Arcadian
    • Pastoral, rural, in a peaceful natural setting.      
    • When Leeman retired, he left the city and built a tiny house in a quiet, arcadian corner of the Berkshires.
       
  • Eldritch
    • Eerie, spooky, uncomfortably weird.      
    • The feeble light of the waning moon, the crumbling stones, the dark shadows of skeletal trees and the mournful cries of owls gave the old cemetery such an eldritch aspect that we got out of there as fast as we could.
       
  • Fug
    • A heavy, stale, suffocating atmosphere; warm, unpleasantly thick, humid air.
    • Saying goodbye to the cats, Roger stepped out of his cool house into the fug of August in southern Louisiana.
       
  • Humdinger
    • A remarkable or extraordinary person, place, action or thing.
    • I've been in big storms before, but that Sandy was a real humdinger.
       
  • Lubricious
    • Arousing sexual desire; lecherous; lascivious.
    • Brad swears that Katie gave him a radiantly lubricious wink, but I think she just had something in her eye.
       
  • Martinet
    • A strict disciplinarian; someone who insists on absolute adherence to rules. From the 17th-century French army officer Jean Martinet.
    • As a manager Geoffrey was such a martinet that staff meetings were mostly just his ranting about our imaginary foibles.
       
  • Mephitic
    • Pestilential, poisonous, foul-smelling, putrid, offensive.
    • After grading his class' term papers, Edmund felt that he had confronted and overcome something so vile and mephitic that only bourbon could reward the achievement and erase the memory.
       
  • Perfidy
    • Treachery; a deliberate breach of trust or faith.
    • Being dumped by Alice was bad enough, but what really galled Roger was the perfidy of his so-called friends, who knew of her dalliances and never said a word to him.
       
  • Pestiferous
    • Troublesome, bothersome, irritating, annoying.
    • I've made my living primarily as a science journalist, learning what evolutionary biology and ecology I know by self-education and pestiferous questioning of experts. (David Quammen)
       
  • Weltschmerz
    • The melancholy feeling when you realize that life and the world will never be what you'd like it to be. Once described as the inherent sadness of mortality.
    • Brian's long bouts of weltschmerz made him think he was a romantic poet, but most people just thought he was depressed.