Truculent and Scurrilous?

Our youngest son played lots of video games in his teen-aged years. As a mother, I was always concerned about the violence in some of the games and worried that the violence could adversely affect him.

Then my son learned the word truculent. So, when I would gently discipline him (he is a gentle soul and didn’t need much discipline), he would sweetly say that I was the violent one. I was being truculent. Not him.

Last week as we were traveling for our son’s wedding, I had many hours in the airport and on the plane. I read Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. That book used the word truculent a plethora of times! So, I thought I would share it here with you. (Captain Bolod is an easy, fun read about a man who turns pirate. I recommend that you read it.)

Truculent (truhk-yuh-luhnt) is an adjective that means disposed to or exhibiting violence or destructiveness. It also means fierce, belligerent, brutally harsh, cruel, and savagely brutal. So, my son was claiming that I exhibited violence by my gentle discipline. I was being brutal, harsh and cruel. (Does a scowl on the face rank as being brutal? I think not…)

A person could express truculent, fierce criticism of someone’s poor standard of work. Or have a truculent speech against the government. A person could be truculent when abuse happens. Quite the opposite of being irenic. (The definition for irenic was given in the second podcast for Wordsmithie.)

Sometimes, those with truculent speech are also scurrilous. Scurrilous (skur-uh-luhs) is an adjective that means given to the use of vulgar, coarse, or obscenely abusive language. It is someone who has a foul-mouth. Pirates definitely are scurrilous – with the exception of Captain Blood. He is a gentleman. (Oh, please DO read the book!)

Hopefully, as you continue reading this blog and listening to my podcast, you will improve your vocabulary so that you do not use scurrilous language!

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Playing Catch Up

I have been out of town this past week because of our son’s wedding.  I was going to post a notice last week that I would be gone — but didn’t get a chance before we left.  So sorry!

So, here’s my posting for my blog.  I won’t have a podcast until next Tuesday.

I belong to a book club where we read a book a month and then meet to discuss it.  For our meeting in January, we had a guest lecturer who (for some of his research) had interviewed the author of the book we had read.  He had a PowerPoint presentation and needed a computer and a projector.  Because I work daily with technology and had access to those items, I volunteered to bring them.

As I was setting them up (very calmly), one of the other women mentioned how she had to have a similar set up in her high school classroom.  She said she was a nervous wreck trying to get everything working because she didn’t understand much about technology.   Technology was abstruse to her.

Abstruse (ab-stroos) is an adjective that means incomprehensible, unfathomable, and difficult to understand.  To the older generation, technology is totally difficult to understand.  Not only is it difficult for them to understand, they are almost terrified of technology.  Mostly because they just don’t understand it!  On the other hand, there is plenty of knowledge that is totally within their realm of understanding but that is abstruse to someone in their teens – like business management, financial planning, or international politics.

Back to my friend.   While technology is abstruse to her, she is an erudite reading teacher when it comes to teaching strategies.   Erudite (air-yoo-dahyt) is a noun that means trained, well instructed, learned, scholarly, or characterized by great knowledge.  She is exceptionally knowledgeable about reading and how to teach others to read.  She is an erudite teacher.

You don’t have to have a formal education to be an erudite.  You could be an erudite horse trainer who knows everything there is to know about horses and training horses because of your personal experience.  Even if someone hasn’t gained their vast knowledge through formal schooling, we should still have veneration for the person and her knowledge.

Veneration (ven-uh-rey-shuhn) is a noun that means to regard with profound respect or reverence, to regard with feelings of respect and reverence.  The horse trainer who has deep knowledge should be regarded with deep respect just as much as a college professor.

Veneration could also be applied to the respect that we should hold for those who currently serve and who have served in the past in our armed forces.  We should have veneration for flags, for our senior citizens, for the unborn, and for life itself.  There are many people (or things) for whom we should have a feeling of deep respect and reverence.

And the courage to show it.

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WordSmithie 8th Podcast

The 8th podcast for WordSmithie is now available.

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Contumacious, rectitude, and encomium!

Do you happen to know any contumacious people?  Possibly some contumacious teenagers?  A contumacious employee?  Contumacious (kon-too-may-shuhs) is an adjective that means rebellious, disobedient, obstinately resistant to authority, stubbornly perverse, insubordinate, and rebellious. This can at times definitely describe teenagers!  But then, this could also describe a whole host of other people – not just teenagers.

You can use contumacious when referring either to the person or the person’s actions.  Someone who is breaking the law and gets caught could be contumacious.  Someone who is required to one thing and does the complete opposite is contumacious.  People who torture animals (being perverse) despite repeated warnings (and maybe someone’s effort to reform them) are contumacious.  An employee who doesn’t do what he is asked to do is contumacious.  Synonyms for contumacious include contrary, pigheaded, and headstrong.

In quite a different direction is someone who has rectitude.  Rectitude (rek-ti-tood ) means moral uprightness and honesty, the rightness of principle or conduct, or having good moral virtue.  Someone could have rectitude of judgment, rectitude of motives, or rectitude of actions.  (Do politicians of rectitude of motive, judgment and actions?  Maybe . . . . at the first of their political career . . . )

Someone who has rectitude could be described as someone who has moral straightness or uprightness, is full of goodness and integrity.  These folks have virtue and righteousness.  Quite the opposite of a contumacious person, huh?

If you know someone with rectitude, you might want to shower her with encomium.  Encomium (en-koh-mee-uhm) is a noun that means warm glowing praise. Many times it is a formal expression of praise or a tribute. When someone retires, someone usually gives a speech at his retirement party that praises the person and all of their contributions to the company.  The president of the United States might greet returning soldiers with an encomium for their bravery and efforts in a war.  An Eagle Scout is honored with an encomium at his Court of Honor.  Parents can give their children encomium – but it is usually not in a ‘formal’ setting.  And, it should be quite often and not just a one time event!

If you have a contumacious teenager, you might want to give him an encomium — especially a public one.  It just might change things!

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Longanimity and not banality.

Today’s words describe different types of people and the different types of personalities they might have.  Those words are banal, torpor, and longanimity.  While I occasionally feel torpor at the end of a long day, the real quality that I would like to develop is longanimity.

Have you ever talked with someone who seemed to talk about the same old things all of the time (and didn’t have Alzheimer’s)?   If their conversation is the same trite, petty, commonplace topics, you could say that their conversation is banal.  Banal (beyn nal) is an adjective that describes something that is trite, drearily commonplace, devoid of freshness or originality, trivial, or petty.  This could refer to conversation or phrases or actions – trite things that make a person BORING.  If you don’t want to be perceived as banal, make sure that you have fresh and original conversations, that you don’t make petty comments.

Sometimes after eating a huge meal (like Thanksgiving), you might feel sluggish, that you don’t want to do anything too strenuous or do something that makes you think too much.  That kind of situation is called torpor.  Torpor (tawr-per) is a noun that describes a state of mental or physical inactivity, listlessness, or lethargy.  It could also describe a state of sleepiness, slumber, or drowsiness.  Sometimes a person who does nothing but sit on the couch watching TV is in a state of torpor.  If you don’t get enough sleep for several days in a row, you might be in a torpor.

Longanimity (long-guh-nim-i-tee) is a noun that means calmness in the face of suffering and adversity. Someone with longanimity patiently endures hardship, injuries, without taking offense.  Forbearance is another synonym that comes to mind.  Mother Teresa is a perfect example of longanimity.  She definitely saw much suffering and adversity and yet was calm, held her composure, and had a quiet sense of dignity.  She patiently endured hardship without pointing a finger of blame.  The opposite would be a person that would get a paper cut and couldn’t go to work for a week.

By improving your vocabulary, you will not have banal conversations.  And, if you worked at not having torpor or worked at having longanimity, you would be a much better person!

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WordSmithie 7th Podcast

The 7th podcast for WordSmithie is now available. Enjoy!

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Corybantic? Chary?

Today’s words describe different types of behavior – types that most people would want to avoid.

Remember back in November when I posted the word ostentatious?  Here is another word with a similar definition.  Fastuous (fas-choo-uhs) is an adjective that means haughty, arrogant, or pretentious.  Sometimes people become fastuous when they think they have more money than their neighbors.  Sometimes people act fastuous because they have a college degree, a bigger house than their neighbors, or drive a fancy car, or have a boat.  Sometimes people are fastuous just because!  It’s a pride thing.  People tend to be fastuous when they are prideful.

The next word is corybantic. Corybantic (kor-ee-ban-tik) is an adjective that means wild, frenzied, uncontrolled.  Sometimes 2 year-old children are corybantic when they aren’t allowed to do something.  Sometimes teenagers get corybantic when they can’t do something that they really, really want to do. (“But, Mom, EVERYBODY else gets to do it!!!”)

Corybantic has an interesting history.  In mythology, priests who worshiped the goddess, Cybele, were called corybants.  Their worship involved very noisy, very wild, very extravagant dancing.  Sometimes the priests were considered wild half-demons.  Because of their wild dancing, corybantic is now associated with wild, frenzied, uncontrolled behavior.  If you have a pesky little brother who at times gets out of hand, you could call him corybantic – but then be prepared to get punched if he knows what you are saying!!

Maybe you know someone who is not the wild type, but who is more timid or cautious.  If you do, that person is chary.  Chary (chair-ee) an adjective, means very cautious or shy.  It describes someone who is timid, cautious, careful, or wary.  A person could be chary with his financial investments – careful and cautious so he won’t lose any money.  Someone could be chary when meeting new people – shy and timid.  A chary person is quite the opposite of someone who is corybantic.  A chary person would not dance on the tabletops until dawn while a corybantic person most likely would!

So there you have it.  Fastuous which means haughty or arrogant.  Corybantic which means wild and frenzied.  And, chary which means cautious, timid, careful.

Do any of these words describe you?   🙂

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