Something I oscillate being proud and super ashamed of is the fact that I still maintain a vocabulary list. In college, specifically late junior year, I became fascinated with the Profiles that The New Yorker would publish frequently and the strange collection of people whose lives a reporter would studiously detail.

I remember reading the one on Sean Penn (which I think became relevant amidst the El Chapo story), and being impressed by the specificity of the vocabulary used. I was also confronted with the revelation of how limited my understanding of English was. It was a daunting realization, but one that I’ve since found beauty within: language need not be mundane. I was enamored by the existence of extremely precise language and the clarity with which great writers could convey a scene or concept through words alone.

Despite being incredibly annoyed by the strange rules, exceptions and ambiguity in the English language and it’s grammar, I’ve found refuge in the beauty and potency of the words that compose it.

My regretful misconception of the medium language provides to relay truth and experience was born from years of boredom bred by uninspiring texts. It was compounded by the prevalent usage of imprecise and generalized words. From DMV manuals to SAT passages and even found within the mainstream dictionaries[1], the conspiracy to suppress my interest in English and writing with dull and uninspiring words, passages and even books was widespread.

Luckily, my interest in language was buoyed by my parents (whom both hold doctorates in literature) and some especially inspiring instructors (Ms. Kathy in elementary, Chris Stapleton in high school and Carey Voeller at Wofford). Hope this shoutout contained within an objectively dull blog post about why I keep an adult vocab list hosted on my rather low traffic blog, makes dealing with me as a student worth it.

To date (2019-07-18), here’s the list of the words (and occasionally phrases) that I’ve encountered when reading and been either completely unfamiliar with or perhaps just contextually unfamiliar with and had to turn to the dictionary for clarification.

Above I expressed my disdain for the commonplace dictionaries provided by Apple and Google, as such I prefer to use the 1913 edition of Webster’s Unabridged English Dictionary. You can find the online version here and if you are especially nerdy and inclined to stick it to the man, you can even hack your Mac or iPhone and replace the bland built-in dictionary with whatever dictionary you most prefer by compiling it to XML and replacing the dictionary source in the operating system code (more on that, here). This dictionary passion was inspired by James Somers’ incredible piece.


Abjure, Abrogation, Abscond, Accede, Accession, Accretion, Acerbic, Acolyte, Acuity, Adipose, Aegis, Agglomeration, Albumin, Alcove, Alderman, Alembic, Aloes, Alveolae, Amorpha, Amorphous, Amorphozoic, Analemma, Anathema, Anechoic, Angiogenic, Anodyne, Anomic, Anoxic, Antechamber, Antediluvian, Anteroom, Anthelmintic, Anthemia, Anthemic, Anthemion, Anthroponymy, Anticoagulant, Antigen, Antiphonal, Apathetic, Aphasia, Aphorism, Aping, Apocryphal, Apostasy, Apostate, Apostolic, Apotheosis, Apparition, Appoggiatura, Approbation, Aquiline, Arcana, Ardor, Argot, Aria, Arrears, Arriviste, Assignation, Assortative, Astringent, Atavistic, Auslaut, Auteur, Avocation, Avowedly, Ayatollah, Badinage, Banquette, Barbiturate, Barbiturates, Barbule, Basilicas, Bedlamite, Beguile, Beguiled, Besmirching, Bimodal, Bitumen, Bituminous, Blaxploitation, Blight, Bodega, Bollard, Botulism, Braggadocio, Bromides, Bumrushing, Bureau, Cabal, Cabalistic, Cadaveric, Cagily, Calamitous, Callow, Calumniate, Calumniator, Canard, Candolatory, Candor, Capitonym, Capitulate, Carapace, Carouse, Carousing, Catechism, Catecornered, Cathartic, Cathedra, Cation, Caulked, Centrist, Cerebration, Cernuous, Chalcedony, Chalcocite, Chalcogen, Chalcopyrite, Chapeau, Chastened, Chauvinism, Cherubic, Chicanery, Chilblains, Chinoiserie, Chippendale, Chrominance, Chromium, Chutzpah, Chyron, Claptrap, Clarion, Clemenceau, Clemency, Cloying, Coalition, Cochlea, Coda, Cognoscenti, Compendium, Concomitant, Concubines, Confection, Confit, Conflagration, Congenital, Conjugal, Conniption, Consigliere, Consign, Constabulary, Consternation, Corollary, Corporatese, Corpulent, Corpuscle, Corpuscular, Corybantic, Cossacks, Countermanded, Crake, Craven, Crony, Cupola, Curdle, Dalliance, Dally, Dapples, De Maupassant, Decamped, Decrepitude, Dehiscence, Dehiscent, Deleterious, Demagogue, Demimonde, Demur, Demurred, Denizen, Descanting, Desiccated, Despot, Despotic, Detritus, Dialectical, Dialectics, Diathermy, Didactic, Digerati, Dilapidated, Dilettante, Diminutive, Diocesan, Disavow, Discomfit, Disparate, Disputatious, Dolophine, Dostoyevsky, Dysarthria, Dystonia, Ecclesiastical, Ecumenical, Effete, Efficacious, Efflorescence, Efflorescent, Effluvium, Effrontery, Egalitarianism, Elision, Emeritus, Emissaries, Emphysema, Enamelists, Endemic, Enervation, Enfant Terrible, Enmity, Enrapture, Enraptured, Ensconce, Ensheathe, Ensorcelled, Enumerated, Environ, Environs, Epigraph, Episcopate, Epistemic, Epistemology, Epistolary, Equipoise, Equivocate, Ergonomic, Erisology, Ersatz, Erudite, Erudition, Erysipelas, Ethereal, Evinces, Eviscerate, Excoriate, Execrable, Exegesis, Exegetical, Exhortatory, Exigencies, Existence, Fatwa, Fealty, Fervid, Fester, Flash, Fledgling, Fogey, Fogyism, Formalism, Fuchsia, Fusillade, Fustian, Gabardine, Gait, Garbled, Garish, Gauze, Genteel, Genus, Geodesic, Geodesy, Geodetic, Gerontology, Gestation, Gibe, Gondola, Gondolier, Gondoliers, Gout, Graticule, Gravitas, Grouse, Gubernatorial, Gusto, Gyration, Hackles, Hackneyed, Hawala, Hegemony, Hemstitching, Heuristic, Horology, Hypodermic, Iconoclastic, Idée Fixe, Ignominious, Imago Dei, Imbue, Imbued, Immolate, Impetus, Impolitic, Imprimatur, Inaugural, Inclemency, Incommensurate, Incommunicado, Inculcated, Inculpable, Incursion, Indigent, Ineluctable, Infirmity, Iniquity, Insular, Internecine, Intimations, Intone, Intoned, Intransigent, Invective, Invention, Investiture, Jeremiad, Jingoistic, Jocund, Jural, Kitsch, Kleptocracy, Kowtow, Lambaste, Lambasted, Largesse, Lassitude, Latency, Legerdemain, Legume, Leguminous, Libation, Libidinous, Libration, Lichen, Linchpin, Litterateur, Littérateur, Liturgical, Liturgy, Livermorium, Locale, Lodestar, Luchadores, Lumpen, Lurid, Lyell, Lymphoma, Machiavellian, Madrasahs, Malaise, Malaphor, Marionette, Medias Res, Ménage, Mendacious, Meting (Mete), Milquetoast, Minutiae, Miscreant, Mise En Scène, Missives, Mordant, Mores, Moribund, Mycologists, Myrmidons, Nadir, Neophyte, Neuropathy, Norn, Nutation, Nyctinasty, Obdurate, Obeisance, Oblique, Obliquity, Obstinate, Obviate, Odalisque, Odylic, Oedema, Oligopolists, Omerta, Ontological, Onus, Ophthalmology, Opia, Opprobrium, Opulent, Oracular, Orotund, Orthography, Oryx, Ostracization, Otiose, Outmoded, Paean, Palama, Palmistry, Palpable, Panacea, Pandemonium, Panoply, Panopticon, Pantomime, Parable, Parlance, Parochial, Parried, Pastiche, Pathogenesis, Pathogenicity, Pathos, Paucity, Paunch, Pax Roeana, Peace Of Westphalia, Pedagogic, Pedagogy, Pendeloque, Penology, Peregrinate, Periodization, Peripatetic, Pernicious, Pestilence, Phantasmal, Pharmacopoeia, Philatelic, Philippic, Philtrum, Phrenology, Pibroch, Platitudes, Pliant, Plutocracy, Plying (Their Trade), Pogrom, Poignantly, Polemic, Post Mortem, Praziquantel, Precariat, Precocious, Preternatural, Privation, Proboscis, Profligacy, Progenitor, Promulgated, Propinquity, Propitious, Prosaic, Puerile, Pugilist, Pugnacious, Purloined, Pusillanimous, Putative, Putsch, Quadrennial, Quaver, Rampant, Rankle, Rarefy, Ratiocination, Recalcitrant, Reconnaissance, Recursive, Redolent, Redouble, Relish, Reportorial, Reproach, Reticence, Reticent, Revel, Rhubarb, Rothbard, Rutile, Saccadic, Sacerdotal, Sacrilege, Sacroiliac, Sacrosanct, Salacious, Salient, Salvific, Samizdat, Sanctum, Sanguine, Scattershot, Sciatica, Sclerotic, Scurrilous, Seance, Sebastopol, Seconal, Sedulous, Sedulously, Semaphore, Sevastopol, Shambolic, Shawl, Sheaf, Sheath, Shebeen, Shibboleth, Shroud, Siliqua, Simulacrum, Sleuthing, Sobriquet, Solipsism, Sonder, Soppy, Sordid, Sorosis, Specter, Sprightly, Spritely, Spurious, Squall, Stalwart, Stare Decisis, Stendhal, Stoic, Stradivarius, Styptic, Sublunar, Suborning, Subservient, Subterfuge, Sulfurous, Sump, Supercilious, Supplicant, Surfeit, Sycophant, Tacit, Taciturn, Teetotaler, Telegenic, Temporal, Tendril, Theocracy, Thurible, Timbre, Tinctured, Titillate, Titivate, Titivating, Titters, Titular, Tolstoy, Tortola, Tourniquet, Toxoplasmosis, Transliterate, Transmutes, Travail, Trenchant, Triage, Tripe, Trivalent, Turgenev, Tutelage, Tzitzit, Umbrage, Undergird, Uninflected, Untrammeled, Vainglory, Valor, Vamp, Vanguard, Vaunted, Verbosity, Verve, Vicissitudes, Visage, Visceral, Vitriolage, Vitriolic, Voluminous, Vox Populi, Vulgarian, Winnow, Yarmulke, Zany


[1] Referring to the default dictionary on iOS and via Google Search.


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