Words have meaning and words have power. The words you choose are important, regardless of whether you’re writing an article for public consumption or telling a story of mythical land of your own creation. Using a weak word in literature can ruin the story’s pace or atmosphere and, on the flip-side of the coin, using an uncommon or difficult locution can leave a reader scratching his head.
This is the beauty of language.
As part of a new, weekly, series, I wanted to share some interesting words you can add to your vocabulary to provide a needed bump to your writing, to just sound smart amongst your friends, or leave that troll in your comments section scratching his head.
- Wisdom which comes after an event
- The lack of forethought
- A good comeback, retort one thinks of only after the end of a discussion or leaving a social gathering
Example: It was only once the robber was in handcuffs that he had the afterwit to think of cutting the camera feed.
I love this word because it’s something we’ve all fallen victim. This could also be defined as afterthought or hindsight, but those words are so pedestrian, right?
- Exceptionally pleasing to smell or taste; especially delicious or fragrant
- Worthy of the gods; devine
Example: Her cooking was ambrosial; it melted on the tongue, leaving his taste buds anxious for another bite.
According to mythology, ambrosia was the food of the gods (particularly in Greek and Roman culture). I really like this word because it’s such a more powerful way to describe food than good, delicious, or tasty. Some might say this word is … divine! (I make no apologies for this pun).
- a close harmony of tone as well as logic among the elements of a discourse.
- an instance of this
- any harmonious adaptation of parts
Example: His writing brought together the character’s development, world building, and plot into beautiful concinnity.
Concinnity is an archaic (and I think more fancy) term for bringing things into harmony, particularly in literature. Plus, it’s just really fun to say.
- to wander; stray
- to digress in speech
Example: Bill would divagate so much that an hour would pass and the original topic of discussion would be lost.
How many times have you heard someone say “I digress” when tying up a random and unrelated thought during a conversation? If you’re the person who does this, now you can say “I divagate” and go down a whole new rabbit hole of conversation about this fun new word you’ve learned.
- the yellowish-brown color of an acorn
Example: She wandered down the street until she found the house she was looking for: a glandaceous eyesore, abandoned to time.
Colors are one of those things I think writers often overlook or have difficulty finding an effective adjective. I mean, how many times do I have to read about an azure sky? Well, if you’re looking for something that’s yellowish-brown … like an acorn … you now have the perfect word!
- A bright appearance in the horizon, under the sun or moon, arising from the reflected light of these bodies from the small rippling waves on the surface of the water
Example: She peered out over the western horizon, the sky erupted into a fiery blanket of pastels as the kumatage feathered along the rippled sea.
I’m not exactly sure what the origin of this word is, but I always found the reflection of the sun or moon off the water to be something majestic and I’m happy to have found the proper word for it.
- a distinctive, earthy, usually pleasant odor that is associated with rainfall especially when following a warm, dry period and that arises from a combination of volatile plant oils and geosmin released from the soil into the air and by ozone carried by downdrafts
Example: A strong scent of petrichor enveloped the air around her, carried by the swift downwash from the skyscrapers to the north.
Shameless plug here, the example I used for this word comes from my novel, The Probability of Time. Anyone who has ever stepped outside after a springtime rain knows this smell, but I don’t think a lot of people knew there was a word for it.
- The dark grey color seen by the eyes in perfect darkness as a result of signals from the optic nerves.
Example: As her eyes adjusted to the veil of darkness, the world exposed itself to her, painted in a drab eigengrau.
Have you ever sat awake at night with all the lights off and wonder, “what is this fantastic shade of gray I see when my eyes adjust to the darkness?” No? Well, this is the word for that color. It derives from German and can also be referred to as eigenlicht, intrinsic gray, or brain gray. It even has a hex code (#16161d) in case you ever want to use it in your digital art or graphic design.
- readily influenced by flattery
Example: She approached him, knowing how elozable he would be.
This one goes out to all the romance and erotica writers or, you know, all you people hanging out at the bars on Friday and Saturday night for something more than a drink, half-priced wings, or a few games of pool. Okay, so it doesn’t have to be used in that context, but where’s the fun in that? Use this word, derived from the French word meaning “praise” to describe someone who likes to have their ego stroked.
- the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas)
Example: after hearing his patient’s belief that avocados were proof that aliens existed, he diagnosed him with apophenia.
This word was first coined by psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in 1958 to describe a condition for his patients but has since come to describe the general notion of seeing a connection between unrelated things and patterns, such as gambling.
What do you think of these words? Were any of them new to you? Let us know in the comments!
Want more obscure words? Check these out: Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4