Indite an Enumeration of Recondite Lexemes

I’ll endeavor to keep this tractate laconic, for reasons that will become manifest forthwith.

I’ve had myriad SAT and GRE abecedarians ask me the best modi for augmenting their vocabularies in order to meliorate their sentence completion scores. Other students, signally nonnative speakers, yen to bolster their lexicons in order to wax their reading comprehension aptitudes.

Enrooting a voluminous erudition of standardized test argot is just one step towards procuring an augmented sentence completion score, natch. We’ll confabulate about root words, prefixes and suffixes, indicator words, and suchlike in ulterior disquisitions.

Howbeit, jargon is germane, and there are copious flashcards, monographs, and websites proffering betterments in this sphere. The most facile unravelment, though, is to assimilate lexical conning ecumenically into your test preparation and even your everyday life by regularly perusing material of repute — including, of course, the apposite practice exams and the sentence completion sections they subsume — and by inditing an enumeration of recondite lexemes.

Whether kept in a paper journal or electronically on a device like a smart phone, this enumeration should be handy at all times, so that you can transcribe an abstruse locution whenever you descry it. Of course, it may be infeasible to look up and lucubrate contextually appurtenant denotations at all times, but these steps should customarily be taken by the terminus of each day.

Have someone quiz you periodically about the vocables in your journal — whether learned latterly or erst. You’ll be flabbergasted at the celerity with which this habitude will actuate the accretion of your vocabulary, especially since the very act of procuring a denotation can occasion assimilating ancillary novel lexemes — after all, a definition is nugatory unless you apprehend all of the verbiage therein. Try it for a fortnight or so and you’ll be a virtuoso posthaste.

So, if you really want to improve your vocabulary and ace sentence completion on a test like the GRE or the SAT, my advice, in short, is to maintain (and learn) a journal of words you don’t know.



As a lagniappe, I’d like to proffer my own lexicon of vocables upon which I’ve ruminated neoterically (subsuming vocables I perpended midst scrivening this tractate):

abecedarian – a beginner
abstruse – difficult to understand; esoteric
adhortation – advice
adumbrate – foreshadow; outline or sketch; partially conceal
allomorph – any one of multiple forms of the same chemical compound; one of multiple alternative forms of a morpheme (such as “-en” versus “-es” for pluralization in English)
apostate – one who forsakes his or her religion, cause, etc.
appellative – a descriptive designation; a common noun
appetence – intense desire or appetite; inclination, tendency, or affinity
argot – specialized idiomatic vocabulary peculiar to a specific class or group of people
asseverate – aver
badinage – light, playful banter
bezoar – a calculus or concretion found in the stomach or intestines of certain animals, especially ruminants, formerly reputed to be an effective remedy for poison
breviloquent – concise; brief; terse
callithump – a shivaree; a children’s mummer’s parade
catechize – to instruct orally by questions and answers, especially regarding Christianity; to question closely with reference to belief
catechumen – a person being taught the elementary facts of a subject, especially Christianity
causatum – effect
con – to learn or study carefully
credulous – willing to believe or trust too easily; gullible
demur – to object
descant – a song or melody; a comment on a subject
descry – to discern, make out, or detect, especially by looking carefully
diaphanous – sheer, light, and almost completely transparent or translucent
didactic – intended for instruction
diffident – lacking confidence; timid; restrained or reserved
discept – to debate or discuss
disputation – a verbal debate or controversy; the academic exercise of arguing a thesis
disquisition – a formal discourse or dissertation
doctrinaire – an impractical theorist; dogmatic or fanatical; merely theoretical and impractical
eclat – brilliance of success or reputation; showy display; acclaim
ecumenical – general or universal; pertaining to the whole of Christianity; interreligious
emend – edit a text; correct
ephemeral – short-lived
erst – in the past, especially long ago
euphonious – having a pleasant sound
felicitous – well suited for the occasion
flibbertigibbet – a flighty, chattering, light-headed person
fractious – unruly; readily angered or irritable
frontispiece – an illustrated leaf preceding the title page of a book
gawky – awkward; clumsy
gobo – a screen or mat covered with a dark material for shielding a camera lens from excess light or glare
grandiloquent – speaking or expressed in a lofty style, often to the point of being pompous or bombastic
heteroclite – anomalous or abnormal
heterodox – unorthodox; not in accordance with established opinions, especially theological
hierophant – an interpreter of sacred mysteries or esoteric principles; mystagogue
homily – a sermon
howbeit – however
– someone who attacks cherished beliefs or traditions; literally, a destroyer of images
indite – to compose or write
ineluctable – inescapable
integument – a covering, especially a natural covering (also tegument)
irascible – irritable; easily angered
laconic – expressing much in few words; concise
lagniappe – a bonus, gratuity, or tip; a small gift given with purchase; an unexpected benefit
lexeme – in short, a word; a vocabulary unit of a language
lucubrate – to write or study, especially at night
lugubrious – mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially in an exaggerated manner
marplot – a meddler who defeats a plot
meed – a reward
mendacious – lying, untruthful, or false
meretricious – tawdry; insincere or based on pretense
moiety – half or part, especially of a societal group or of a molecule
mondegreen – a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard
morpheme – a minimal grammatical unit of language
mummer – a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume while merrymaking
mystagogue – someone who instructs others before initiation into religious mysteries or before participation in the sacraments; a person whose teachings are said to be founded on mystical revelations
neoteric – new or recent
novitiate – the state of being a novice; novices’ living quarters in a religious house
numinous – spiritual or supernatural
ort – a scrap of food left at a meal
otaku – an avid collector or enthusiast
palimpsest – a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text
peculate – to steal or embezzle
pellucid – clear or limpid; translucent; clear in meaning
perfidy – treachery
perigrinate – to travel or journey, especially on foot
periphrasis – use of unnecessarily long or roundabout form of expression; circumlocution
perpend – to consider or ponder
perquisite – an incidental payment, benefit, or gratuity; a customary perk
pertinacious – resolute or stubborn
phylogeny – the development or evolutionary history of a group or organisms
pleonasm – redundancy; excess wordiness
polemic – a controversial argument; who makes such an argument; controversial
prelation – preference
prig – a person who displays or demands of others pointlessly precise conformity, fussiness about trivialities, or exaggerated propriety, especially in a self-righteous or irritating manner
privatdocent – a university lecturer who received fees from students rather than a university salary
probity – integrity; honesty
prodigal – wastefully or recklessly extravagant; lavish
profligate – shamelessly immoral; recklessly prodigal or extravagant
prolix – extended to great, unnecessary, or tedious length; wordy
pseudomorph – an irregular or unclassifiable form
pusillanimous – cowardly
quincunx – an arrangement of five objects, as trees, in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle
quondam – former
raillery – good-humored banter
recondite – obscure, little-known, esoteric, or dealing with difficult or profound subject matter
refractory – hard or impossible to manage; resisting ordinary methods of treatment
remonstrate – to say in protest, objection, or disapproval
restive – restless, uneasy, or uncomfortable being controlled; stubborn
rococo – a style of architecture and decoration, originating in France about 1720, evolved from Baroque types and distinguished by its elegant refinement in using different materials for a delicate overall effect and by its ornament of shellwork, foliage, etc.; a homophonic musical style of the middle 18th century, marked by a generally superficial elegance and charm and by the use of elaborate ornamentation and stereotyped devices
sabulous – sandy; gritty
sartorial – pertaining to tailors or to clothing or style
screed – a essay or diatribe; an informal letter, account, or other writing
shagreen – an untanned leather with a granular surface
shivaree – a discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, made with pans, kettles, etc.; an elaborate, noisy celebration; a din; to produce a shivaree (also charivari)
signally – conspicuously; notably
skein – a length of yarn or thread wound on a reel, or anything resembling such a coil
slumgullion – a stew
spoor – a track or trail
sybaritic – characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure
tendentious – having a definite tendency, bias, or purpose
tractate – a treatise or essay
trenail – a dowel used for pinning planks or timbers together (also treenail or trunnel)
tyro – a beginner
viol – a bowed musical instrument, differing from the violin in having deeper ribs, sloping shoulders, a greater number of strings, usually six, and frets: common in the 16th and 17th centuries in various sizes from the treble viol to the bass viol
vitiate – spoil; impair in quality or effectiveness; corrupt or pervert; invalidate
vocable – a word
votary – a person bound by solemn religious vows; a religious adherent; a devotee
wangle – to accomplish by underhanded methods
withal – besides; nevertheless
yaff – to bark or yelp


If you run into me in the real world sometime, feel free to quiz me on any of the above.

And how about you? What interesting words have you learned lately?


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