WORD LISTS

Words Slate Editors Aren't Sure They Know

April 30, 2014
In a piece for Slate, travel writer Seth Stevenson created an 18-word quiz of "bubble" vocabulary, words Slate editors confess they will avoid because they are not sure what they mean. Here, we present Slate editors' trouble words in learnable form, to accompany our blog post, " Words You Ought to Know But Don't: Call it Bubble Vocab?"

Test your erudition as you master the words they don't know!
atavistic
In team sports, coaches inculcate the atavistic spirit and focus of a hunting clan.
New York Times (Apr 9, 2014)
ontology
The shift in perspective from theism to atheism is arguably the single most important bit of progress in fundamental ontology over the last 500 years.
Slate (May 9, 2013)
shibboleth
Jindal mocked the “liberal shibboleth of ‘universal coverage,’” saying his plan is more focused on “containing the rising tide of health costs.”
Time (Apr 2, 2014)
didactic
Didactic courses are very adaptable to the Web,” she says.
BusinessWeek (Feb 6, 2014)
pedantic
Mr Gandhi was composed and reasonably articulate - if slightly pedantic - while setting out his vision for much-needed reforms in his party and for India's development.
BBC (Jan 27, 2014)
demur
Told by a reporter that he and his wife looked glamorous, the mayor was quick to demur.
New York Times (Apr 24, 2014)
solipsism
QBists are often charged with solipsism: a belief that the world exists only in the mind of a single agent.
Nature (Mar 26, 2014)
solecism
“Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation,” she writes.
Slate (May 23, 2013)
heuristic
In that, I presented the following heuristic visual.
New York Times (Mar 28, 2014)
cache
Video game archaeologists have found a huge cache of old Atari games that were buried in the desert 30 years ago.
BBC (Apr 28, 2014)
cachet
The Times knows their cachet and brand trust with consumers.
Forbes (Apr 29, 2014)
avuncular
Ghosh, 51, has the kind of soft, avuncular demeanor and tired eyes that evoke sympathy.
Slate (Apr 11, 2014)
suppurate
Many have trudged for days to get here, through swamps and murky rivers, and their wounds are suppurating and gangrenous.
New York Times (Jan 12, 2012)
erstwhile
And its erstwhile frontline nations—East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Poland—have been absorbed into the West, indeed into NATO.
Slate (Mar 28, 2014)
sinecure
Another key lure: These jobs are usually lifetime sinecures, with employees dismissed only for gross negligence.
BusinessWeek (Oct 26, 2012)
casuistry
This is the sort of right-wing casuistry that has marked not only the 2012 campaign but nearly every day that Obama has served in office.
Time (Oct 18, 2012)
recondite
He has the reputation of being a cerebral, even recondite, composer, but this is a tuneful and accessible score.
New York Times (Nov 15, 2012)
tendentious
Why should we be reassured by Obama’s reliance on a fuzzy and tendentious metadata/data distinction?
Slate (Jan 17, 2014)
sententious
A short, pithy, and instructive saying; a terse remark, conveying some important truth; a sententious precept or maxim.
Webster, Noah
inveigle
Even just the way computers would inveigle their way into our everyday lives.
The Guardian (Mar 18, 2013)
ravish
Soprano Sophie Bevan brought ravishing vocal colours and a strong interpretive sensibility to the cycle, with both nonchalance and perceptiveness in equal measure.
The Guardian (Jun 9, 2013)

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Thursday May 1st, 1:21 PM
Comment by: Lyn A. (OR)
Great examples!!

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