|ˈnōmik| adj. expressed in or of the nature of short, pithy maxims or aphorisms : that most gnomic form, the aphorism; enigmatic; ambiguous : I had to have the gnomic response interpreted for me.

DERIVATIVES gnomically |-ik(ə)lē| adv.

ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from Greek gnōmikos (perhaps via French gnomique), from gnōmē ‘thought, judgment,’ (plural) gnōmai ‘sayings, maxims,’ related to gignōskein ‘know.’ (New Oxford American)

"Annie Dillard, America’s treasured explorer of spiritual cartography, in her gnomic For The Time Being, explores eternal spiritual issues through a random string of sources: a book of infant deformities, the mystic stories of Hasidic masters, the fascinating life of theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and for our purposes, the revelation of seeing thousands of ‘human bodies coming out of the earth.’” Joe Winkler, “Made in China: The Sublime Terracotta Warriors Visit New York City,” Huffington Post7 June 2012.

pari passu

|ˌpärē ˈpäˌsoō| adv. side by side; at the same rate or on an equal footing : early opera developed pari passu with solo song.

ORIGIN Latin, literally ‘with equal step.’ (New Oxford American)

"Manhattan U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa’s Feb. 23 ruling, which Argentina is appealing, interprets “pari passu” clauses in sovereign debt contracts to mean that NML Capital’s judgments related to defaulted debt should be treated with equal ranking as restructured debt." Drew Benson and Bob Van Voris, "Elliott Argentine Bond Bid Wins Vote of Ex-Bush Official,” Bloomberg, 12 May 2012.


|ˈsalō| adj. ( -lower, -lowest) (of a person’s face or complexion) of an unhealthy yellow or pale brown color. 

DERIVATIVES sallowish adj. sallowness n.

ORIGIN Old English salo [dusky,] of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse sҩlr ‘yellow,’ from a base meaning ‘dirty.’ (New Oxford American)

Matt Dawson

"It is sometimes tow-headed and sometimes almond-eyed, sallow-faced and brown-skinned, tall and short, thin and barrel-chested, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist and Muslim." Ana Veciana-Suarez, ”Minority-majority — still American,” Chicago Tribune, 30 May 2012. (Image: Matt Dawson)


|riˈpōst| n. a quick clever reply to an insult or criticism; Fencing a quick return thrust following a parry; v. tr. [with direct speech ] make a quick clever reply to an insult or criticism : “You’ve got a strange sense of humor,” Grant riposted; v. intr. make a quick return thrust in fencing.

ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from French risposte (noun), risposter (verb), from Italian risposta ‘response.’ (New Oxford American)

"Publishers have accused the US government of siding with the ‘monopolist retailer Amazon’, stretching facts, and piling ‘innuendo on top of innuendo’. The claims form part of a feisty riposte to the department of justice (DOJ) lawsuit alleging the publishers conspired with Apple to fix the prices of ebooks." Alison Flood, "Publishers hit back vigorously against accusations of ebook price-fixing," Guardian, 1 June 2012.


|moō| n. a pouting expression used to convey annoyance or distaste.

ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: French, earlier having the sense ‘lip.’ (New Oxford American)

"Jaime is Jaime Meline, El-P, who lays down his brickbat boom-bap like wet cement. El-P is generally all menace and moue, seemingly pissed at nothing more than the state of hip-hop. But the Definitive Jux honcho can be playful, too." Brent DiCrescenzo, "Albums of the week: Beach House, Best House and Killer Mike,” Time Out Chicago, 16 May 2012.


|ˈkōˌbôld| n. Germanic Mythology a familiar spirit that haunts houses; a brownie; a gnome that haunts mines and other underground areas.

ORIGIN from German Kobold. (New Oxford American)

"Players can find new powers, equipment, feats, character themes, and  races, including the kobold and the goblin; Dungeon Masters get advice on building memorable dungeons with lots of color, including new lore, monsters and treasures." David M. Ewalt, "The Game Art of Noah Bradley,” Forbes, 24 May 2012.


|səbˈfəsk| adj. dull; gloomy : the light was subfusc and aqueous.

ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from Latin subfuscus, from sub- ‘somewhat’ + fuscus ‘dark brown.’ (New Oxford American)

"Nobody knows how many suits a male prime minister might have, and nobody cares. An appearance before the public in a brown suit might cause a frisson, and blue isn’t seen all that often, but as long as the general impression is subfusc, he will pass muster." Germaine Greer, "It’s high time for Gillard to roll up her sleeves,” The Age, 5 May 2012.


|ˈlik(ə)ri sh | adj. fond of and eager for choice food; greedy, longing; lustful; lecherous. (Merriam-Webster)

DERIVATIVES lickerishly adv.

ORIGIN late 15th cent.: alteration of obsolete lickerous, in the same sense, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French lecheros. (New Oxford American)

"Imagine, if you will, that I spent the evening sampling a range of imported beverages, while appreciating the assets of several fecund fillies fresh from the Balkans. The bill is presented in a manner befitting the lickerish milieu. Perhaps it is written in curlicue on a pair of lace panties, or rolled up and constrained by a scarlet garter." Ben Trovato, "You want to get all upper-case with me?" Sunday Times, 21 May 2012.


|ˈepiˌsēn| adj. having characteristics of both sexes or no characteristics of either sex; of indeterminate sex : the sort of epicene beauty peculiar to boys of a certain age; effeminate; effete : the actor infused the role with an epicene languor; n. an epicene person.

ORIGIN late Middle English : via late Latin from Greek epikoinos (based on koinos ‘common’ ). (New Oxford American)

"Mr. Depp bites off less than he can chew by sampling bits and bytes of former roles: the fey lilt of Jack Sparrow, the epicene affect of Willy Wonka, the elaborate courtliness of Don Juan DeMarco." Joe Morgenstern, "’Wish’ Granted: A Jewel, About Kids,” WSJ, 10 May 2012. 


|trəˈd(y)oōs| v.tr. speak badly of or tell lies about (someone) so as to damage their reputation.

DERIVATIVES traducement n.traducer n.

ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense [transport, transmit] ): from Latin traducere ‘lead in front of others, expose to ridicule,’from trans- ‘over, across’ + ducere ‘to lead.’ (New Oxford American)


"This is ugly stuff. These are the tactics of a minority party seeking to use money, power and dirty tricks to distort the vote. It has already started. We must reclaim our democracy from those who would traduce it." Jesse Jackson, "We can’t let the attacks on voting rights succeed,” Chicago Sun-Times, 21 May 2012.