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In a Word: John McIntyre's musings on obscure words

Each week, The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary.

Find his thoughts on language and editing on his blog, You Don't Say.

  • In a word: defenestrate

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: DEFENESTRATE We are two days away from the anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague. On May 23,...

  • In a word: embonpoint

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: EMBONPOINT Some of us, well, many of us, are growing portly or corpulent. All right, fat. But if we...

  • In a word: autochthonous

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: AUTOCHTHONOUS That Greek root autos, "self," has gotten around. An automobile is a vehicle you drive...

  • In a word: crotchet

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: CROTCHET Writers on language and usage are notorious for their crotchets, grooming their pet peeves...

  • In a word: minatory

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: MINATORY No doubt you had such a teacher as Mrs. Jessie Perkins. She taught me in the fifth and sixth...

  • In a word: subvention

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: SUBVENTION When more than 350 editors gathered in New Orleans last week for the 16th national conference...

  • In a word: desiccated

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: DESICCATED A recipe may call for the use of desiccated coconut, that is, dehydrated, dried coconut....

  • In a word: heuristic

    In academic writing, it is essential to dress up ordinary concepts with arcane vocabulary, and words from Greek and Latin are best of all. Otherwise, one risks revealing that one's deeper thoughts are commonplace, even obvious. We have such a word this week: HEURISTIC Its pedigree is impeccable: from...

  • In a word: bruit

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: BRUIT An old word in English, dating from the fifteenth century, bruit (pronounced BROOT) was originally...

  • In a word: mumpsimus

    Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word: MUMPSIMUS Misinformation has a long lifespan, as discussion of grammar and usage on the Internet...

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