7 Words You Won’t Hear On Television

by Tim Ballingall

Sesquipedalian
[ses-kwi-pi-dey-lee-uhn]

adjective
1. tending to use very long words.
2. (of words or expressions) long and ponderous; polysyllabic.

In a sentence:
Like, oh my gosh, “sesquipedalian” is sesquipedalian. So meta, bro.

Etymology:
From the Latin sēsquipedālis, meaning “of a foot and a half.”

Eschew
[es-choo]

transitive verb (that means it must be used with an object, rather, you must eschew something, you can’t just eschew.)
1. to abstain or keep away from; shun; avoid.

In a sentence:
Librarians and professors eschew Google research.

Etymology:
From the Old French eschiver, meaning “shun, eschew, avoid, dispense with.”

Prosopography
[pros-uh-pog-ruh-fee]

noun
1. a study of a collection of persons or characters, esp. their appearances, careers, personalities, etc., within a historical, literary, or social context.
2. a description of a person’s appearance, career, personality, etc.

In a sentence:
Palahniuk’s prose paused for a pithy prosopography of the protagonist.

Etymology:
From the Greek prosōpon, meaning “face,” and graphia, meaning “description of.”

Schadenfreude
[shahd-n-froi-duh]

noun
1. satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.

In a sentence:
The Road Runner often felt schadenfreude at foiling the plans of Wile E. Coyote.

Etymology:
From the German schaden, “harm,” and freude, “joy.”

Malapropism
[mal-uh-prop-iz-uhm]

noun
1. an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, esp. by the confusion of words that are similar in sound. (I am not under the affluence of alcohol.)

In a sentence:
Malapropism often betrays the inexperience of pretentious young writers.

Laconic
[luh-kon-ik]

adjective
1. using few words; expressing much in few words; concise.

In a Sentence:
The Zen Buddhist was serene and laconic.

Etymology:
From the Greek Lakonikos, meaning “concise, abrupt.”

Defenestration
[dee-fen-uh-strey-shuhn]

noun
1. the act of throwing a thing or esp. a person out of a window.

In a sentence:
“Wait!” cried Kate, irate as the hateful troublemakers demonstrated what it means to defenestrate with her favorite pair of skates.

Etymology:
From the Latin de-, “down or away from,” and fenestra, meaning “window.”

Definitions and etymologies are from dictionary.com and etymonline.com.

1 Response to “7 Words You Won’t Hear On Television”


  1. 1 Dave Haas January 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Aha! Indeed, one of these words was on television last year on ESPN2 of all places. Mike & Mike (morning drive time radio broadcast that is simulcast on television) used eschew – actually Mike Greenberg used the word first, and then he and Mike Golic discussed the proper pronunciation. Golic corrected Greenberg with the proper pronunciation. Their use of the word was correct.

    I heard the discussion on the way to campus one morning.

    Dave


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