Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Wordsexiguous

Alongside such noble pursuits as attaining higher understanding and broadening one’s knowledge base for the eventual betterment of self and others, most will agree that a primary reason for obtaining a college education is to be able to get a job which pays relatively well. Indeed, many college students find themselves in precisely the opposite situation while taking classes; they eke out a meager living at a menial job which, ordinarily, is only a part-time occupation owing to the majority of their time being taken up by their studies. It is this exiguous (ex’IG’you’us) income which leads college students to drive clunkers for cars, and it is this exiguous lifestyle while they often seek to move beyond.

To be exiguous is to be skeletal, minimal, scant, or meager. An exiguous income is one which is hard to live comfortably on; an exiguous love life is one in which your significant other has moved to another continent for work and, but for a few phone calls a week and two or three intercontinental trips a year, there is no contact between the two of you. At Thanksgiving, you may enjoy quite a feast, with ample food to go around; the rest of the year, and especially the day before you get paid, you might find yourself eating exiguously, on whatever free food you could scrape together from your job at the restaurant and your roommate’s leftover pizza.

Like many great words, ‘exiguous’ can be applied to just about anything when the need exists to describe it as thoroughly minimal and barely (if at all) sufficient. If the lights flicker often or dim whenever someone switches on the air conditioner, you might wonder what sort of exiguous power supply is being provided to your building. In an argument where your opponent’s ability to reason is highly questionable, you might ask what kind of exiguous logic they’re employing.

— Mark Jacobs, Assistant Editor

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs. Mark is a volunteer assistant editor for Jet Fuel Review. He is double-majoring in Physics and Air Traffic Control Management at Lewis, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer. Mark is a junior and works as a ramp traffic controller at O’Hare and at Panera Bread, from which he does not steal dozens of bagels every day.

Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words

zeitgeist

If you’ve been to see the new (at the time of this writing) movie Lincoln, you may have wondered at the numerous scenes in which congressmen sit in the House of Representatives and hurl colorful insults at each other.  Surely, one imagines, this is not the behavior of gentlemen.  Why, a congressmen in recent years was censured by the House simply for shouting, “you lie!” at President Obama.

In fact, America’s political history is far less constrained and proper than one might imagine.  In times past, the passion for politics very much involved great magniloquence and the use of all manner of offensive speech.  It was understood that this was an expression of one’s freedom of speech.

We have lost that sort of fervor, for certain—and not, many suppose, for the better.  Politics, today, has become too staid and boring, which should not be the case given the important issues with which politicians deal.

When we speak of the past, of the episodes of famous forefathers standing up and speaking boldly, accusingly, and derogatorily of their fellow congressmen, the word which is used to describe that period-specific fever of excitement and passion is zeitgeist (TSITE’guy’st).

Zeitgeist does not refer specifically to the erstwhile colorful tones of American political speech, but to any spirit associated with a given time.  Any time period in which an entire community (or indeed, country) is consumed by the attention surrounding an experience can be described as having its fair share of zeitgeist.  Zeitgeist is merely the word that refers to the greater spirit of the time, the underlying excitement and energy that seem to penetrate all.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs.  Mark is a volunteer assistant editor for Jet Fuel Review.  He is double-majoring in Physics and Air Traffic Control Management at Lewis, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer.  Mark is a junior and works as a ramp traffic controller at O’Hare and at Panera Bread, from which he does not steal dozens of bagels every day.

Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words

sangfroid

As smoke and flames billow from the engines, pieces of metal peel away and flake off into the air stream, the plane shakes violently, alarms blare, teenagers scream, and flight attends bellow, “Assume the crash position!”, with the ground racing upwards and warning sirens screeching, wouldn’t it be nice to know that the pilot on the flight deck has sangfroid?

More importantly, as James Bond careens around the corners of narrow mountain roads with no guard rails in his exorbitant sports car, with hordes of villainous villains armed with semiautomatic weapons in hot pursuit, wouldn’t you say that it’s crucial for Agent 007 to demonstrate sangfroid when—in addition to everything else—a deer steps out in front of him?

You would if you knew that sangfroid—pronounced (because it’s a French word, really) “sahn-FRWA” (with the R close to, but not quite, silent)—means keeping one’s cool in stressful or dangerous situations.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

Awesome Words

pedantic

Suppose that you’re telling a story.  It is a grand story, too.  Full of lust and adventure, with ominous threats and feats of astounding courage and cunning, this is an episode none should miss, which you’ll be happy to share anew with many different groups and passersby.

And then suppose that, right as you approach the climactic moment of your story—when you should happen to say, “we couldn’t believe how much data we got”—a member of your audience interrupts by pointing out, “data is quantifiable, actually, so you would say ‘how many data’, not ‘how much data’.”

That, of course, quite thoroughly takes the wind of your story’s sails.  And you might wonder what sort of accusatory word you could apply to this person to indicate that—while they might be right about the point of fact—their decision to interject it in the middle of your story was decidedly inappropriate.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

ebullient

If you won the lottery, you’d more than likely be ecstatic. “Ecstatic”, however, is a fairly bland word—it doesn’t really describe the way you’d behave, how you’d act if you were suddenly ridiculously, absurdly rich. You’d probably tell people about it. Certainly, you’d do something active with the money—that is, you wouldn’t just shrug and go home and put it aside. You’d probably splurge a bit, or invest, or do both. Whatever the case, between running around celebrating your newfound wealth and obliging your consumerist upbringing by spending it as fast as you could, it would be safe to say that you would be ebullient (ih’bool’yunt).

Ebullience (being ebullient) is a sort of excessive excitement and activity. It’s not just activity, nor is it just being happy about something. An airport is a very busy place, but the activity there is coordinated and planned out. Two people who fall madly in love are likely happy when they see one another, but not in an overflowing or dramatic manner. Ebullience is an amalgam of emotional hyperactivity and great activity. The word’s Latin origins actually refer to something bubbling up or boiling over. Thus, you could say that a pan left unattended on the stove, if it boils over, is being ebullient.

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Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

bellicose

Another feature of many awesome words (as opposed to many an un-awesome word) is the simplicity of their concepts. Not only do some words have a concept that’s really easy to wrap one’s mind around, but it’s a concept you already know. Much like last week’s word, we’ll look, now, at a word for something you undoubtedly experience all the time.

You have, in all likelihood, met folks who are just determined to get into a quarrel about everything and anything. While there are surely instances where the odd bit of sparring is warranted, that’s not what motivates these bellicose (BELL’ih’kohs) individuals. It would be hard to find fault with someone who felt like fighting if suddenly set upon by some uncouth street mugger, but self-defensiveness does not make one bellicose. Rather, the desire to turn any disagreement into a fight—or to turn ordinary conversation into disagreement—indicates that a person is bellicose.

To be bellicose is to be combative, inclined to fight. Some definitions go so far as to use the word “eager”.

Should you be confronted with someone who seems to find a way to turn anything into a battle, feel free to tell them to quit being so bellicose. It’s likely that they won’t know what you mean, but that’s alright; they probably wouldn’t change their ways even if they did.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Mark Jacobs. Mark is Jet Fuel Review’s prose editor. He is an Aviation major, but the left side of his brain is an avid writer. Mark is a junior and works a few hours a week as a tutor in the Writing Center.

Mark’s Awesome Word of the Week

prevaricate

Without a doubt, one of the things that makes an awesome word awesome is that it applies to something people do all the time.  For example, we all know what it’s like to forget something—or, more accurately, to go through the process of forgetting.  Knowledge which you gained that you’ll need on a forthcoming exam tends to start slipping away as soon as you cram it in there.  This process is one we can all relate to, but how many know that it’s called “oblivescence”?  It happens to every single one of us, but so few of us know that there’s a word for it!

Similarly, we all know what it means to be purposefully misleading, bordering on lying.  Just about everyone has had the argument in which they’re accused of lying and—because they told the truth but in a misleading way, not actually lying qua lying—they insist that they have not lied.  Well, the word for what you did that wasn’t exactly lying but still fudged the truth in your favor is prevaricate (pre’VAR’ick’ate).

To prevaricate is to be misleading, to sort of, kinda, not really entirely tell the whole truth… In other words, to lie.  Unlike outright lying, prevaricating is a bit more manipulative, and may involve answering a question that wasn’t asked or providing an answer that you know isn’t really what the asker was looking for.

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