cachet (n.) — the state of being respected or admired; prestige

imbroglio (n.) — an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation

orthography (n.) — the conventional spelling system of a language

tendentious (adj.) — expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one

persiflage (n.) — light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter

clabber (v.) — curdle or cause to curdle

roustabout (n.) — an unskilled or casual laborer

presentiment (n.) — an intuitive feeling about the future, especially one of foreboding

bailiwick (n.) — one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest

syncope (n.) — temporary loss of consciousness caused by a fall in blood pressure

munificence (n.) — the quality or action of being lavishly generous

bosh (n.) — something regarded as absurd; nonsense

careworn (adj.) — tired and unhappy because of prolonged worry

bight (n.) — a curve or recess in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature

swashbuckle (v.) — engage in daring and romantic adventures with ostentatious bravado or flamboyance

calaboose (n.) — a prison

Lucullan (adj.) — (especially of food) extremely luxurious

siddity (adj.) — uppity, pretentious, stuck-up, conceited

aphorism (n.) — a pithy observation that contains a general truth


Do you know the difference between a clique and a claque?

The two nouns are separated by only one vowel, and the meanings are not entirely dissimilar, but there is one paramount distinction. A clique is simply a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. A claque is also a group of people, but they don’t exist for the sake of the group. A claque is a group of sycophantic followers. Whereas a clique is its own object, the object of a claque exists outside the group. You’ll often find cliques at schools, churches, and the workplace where people congregate and mingle. An example of a claque would be, say, the White House press corps during the Obama presidency. You’ll also find claques attached to famous or influential people, serving primarily as yes-men.

And now you know the difference between a clique and a claque.


viand (n.) — an item of food

bosky (adj.) — wooded; covered by trees or bushes

coney (n.) — a rabbit (British)

paternoster (n.) — the Lord’s Prayer, especially in Latin

bovine (adj.) — (of a person) slow-moving and dull-witted

lagniappe (n.) — something given as a bonus or extra gift

nexus (n.) — a connected group or series

tong (n.) — a Chinese association or secret society in the U.S., frequently associated with underworld criminal activity

warren (n.) — a network of interconnecting rabbit burrows

patronymic (adj.) — denoting or relating to a name derived from the name of a father or male ancestor

gourmand (n.) — a person who enjoys eating and often eats too much

fugacious (adj.) — tending to disappear; fleeting

portmanteau (n.) — a large trunk or suitcase, typically made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts

perspicacity (n.) — the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness

maelstrom (n.) — a powerful whirlpool in the sea or a river

pabulum (n.) — bland or insipid intellectual fare, entertainment, etc.; pap

halitosis (n.) — bad breath

bagatelle (n.) — a thing of little importance

losel (n.) — a worthless person

yclept (adj.) — by the name of


nabob (n.) — a person of conspicuous wealth or high status

sobriquet (n.) — a person’s nickname

skulduggery (n.) — underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; trickery

beetle (v.) — make one’s way hurriedly or with short, quick steps

nettle (v.) — irritate or annoy (someone)

umbrageous (adj.) — having shade

junket (n.) — attend or go on a trip or celebration at public expense

massy (adj.) — consisting of a large mass; massive

megrim (n.) — depression; low spirits

equipoise (n.) — balance of forces or interests

prolix (adj.) — (of speech or writing) using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy

sop (n.) — a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met

jongleur (n.) — an itinerant minstrel

fin de siecle (adj.) — relating to or characteristic of the end of the century, especially the 19th century

detritus (n.) — waste or debris of any kind

modus vivendi (n.) — an arrangement or agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully, either indefinitely or until a final settlement is reached

weir (n.) — a low dam built across a river to raise the level of water upstream or regulate its flow

facile (adj.) — (of a person) having a superficial or simplistic knowledge or approach

cofferdam (n.) — a watertight enclosure pumped dry to permit construction work below the waterline, as when building bridges or repairing a ship

bends (n.) — decompression sickness, especially in divers


corporeal (adj.) — of or relating to a person’s body, especially as opposed to their spirit

jerkin (n.) — a sleeveless jacket

frisson (n.) — a sudden, strong feeling of excitement or fear; a thrill

bumptious (adj.) — self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree

fleshpot (n.) — place providing luxurious or hedonistic living

otology (n.) — the study of the anatomy and diseases of the ear

vastation (n.) — the action or process of emptying or purifying someone or something, typically violently or drastically

whilom (adv.) — formerly; in the past

vixen (n.) — a female fox

vellum (n.) — fine parchment made originally from the skin of a calf

corbel (n.) — a projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it

hangdog (adj.) — having a dejected or guilty appearance

gelding (n.) — a castrated animal, especially a male horse

Quinquagesima (n.) — the Sunday before the beginning of Lent

lacuna (n.) — an unfilled space or interval; a gap

misprision (n.) — the deliberate concealment of one’s knowledge of a treasonable act or felony

truculent (adj.) — eager or quick to argue or fight; aggressively defiant

piquant (adj.) — having a pleasantly sharp taste or appetizing flavor

heterodox (adj.) — not conforming with accepted or orthodox standards or beliefs

unctuous (adj.) — (of a person) excessively or ingratiatingly flattering

ardor (n.) — enthusiasm or passion

phantasmagoria (n.) — a sequence of real or imaginary images like those seen in a dream

orison (n.) — a prayer

inveigle (v.) — persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery

recreant (adj.) — cowardly


refectory (n.) — a room used for communal meals, especially in an educational or religious institution

curio (n.) — a rare, unusual, or intriguing object

farrago (n.) — a confused mixture

sidereal (adj.) — of or with respect to the distant stars (i.e., the constellations or fixed stars, not the sun or planets)

moribund (adj.) — (of a person) at the point of death

athanor (n.) — a type of furnace used by alchemists, able to maintain a steady heat for long periods

indecorum (n.) — failure to conform to good taste, propriety, or etiquette

cenotaph (n.) — a tomblike monument to someone buried elsewhere, especially one commemorating people who died in a war

irruption (n.) — a forced or sudden entrance

tetchily (adj.) — bad-tempered and irritable

dialectical (adj.) — relating to the logical discussion of ideas and opinions

tableau (n.) — a group of models or motionless figures representing a scene from a story or from history

circumspect (adj.) — wary or unwilling to take risks

opprobrium (n.) — harsh criticism or censure

riposte (n.) — a quick clever reply to an insult or criticism

sciolist (n.) — a person who pretends to be knowledgeable and well informed

dolour (n.) — a state of great sorrow or distress

fardel (n.) — a bundle

prosody (n.) — the patterns or rhythm and sound used in poetry

purblind (adj.) — slow or unable to understand; dimwitted

magdalen (n.) — a reformed prostitute

rhodomontade (n.) — a bragging speech

wassail (n.) — spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve

verisimilitude (n.) — the appearance of being true or real


muzzy (adj.) — unable to think clearly; confused

lanthorn (n.) — lantern

lozenge (n.) — a rhombus or diamond shape

undercroft (n.) — the crypt of a church

leonine (adj.) — of or resembling a lion or lions

navvy (n.) — a laborer employed in the excavation and construction of a road, railroad, or canal

grimalkin (n.) — a spiteful old woman

usurer (n.) — a person who lends money at unreasonably high rates of interest

souse (v.) — soak in or drench with liquid

burthen (n.) — archaic form of burden

flambeaux (n.) — a flaming torch, especially one made of several thick wicks dipped in wax

pallid (adj.) — (of a person’s face) pale, typically because of poor health

mawkish (adj.) — sentimental in a feeble or sickly way


milieu (n.) — a person’s social environment

dandy (n.) — a man unduly devoted to style, neatness, and fashion in dress and appearance

scaramouch (n.) — a boastful but cowardly person

cupidity (n.) — greed for money or possessions

stiletto (n.) — a short dagger with a tapering blade

myrmidon (n.) — a hired ruffian or unscrupulous subordinate

florid (adj.) — having a red or flushed complexion

claque (n.) — a group of sycophantic followers

oracular (adj.) — (of an utterance, advice, etc.) hard to interpret; enigmatic

scapegrace (n.) — a mischievous or wayward person, especially a young person or child; a rascal

votary (n.) — a person, such as a monk or nun, who has made vows of dedication to religious service

fillip (n.) — something that acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity

coterie (n.) — a small group of people with shared interests or tastes, especially one that is exclusive of other people

epicure (n.) — a person who takes particular pleasure in fine food and drink

charnel (adj.) — associated with death

baleful (adj.) — having a harmful or destructive effect


scofflaw (n.) — a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively

juggernaut (n.) — a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution

dragoon (n.) — a member of any of several cavalry regiments in the British army

physic (n.) — medicine, especially a cathartic

descant (v.) — talk tediously or at length

doughty (adj.) — brave and persistent

foolscap (n.) — a size of paper, now standardized at about 13 x 8

worsted (n.) — a fine smooth yarn spun from long-staple wood

timothy (n.) — a Eurasian grass that is widely grown for grazing and hay

pillion (n.) — a woman’s light saddle

polemicist (n.) — a person who engages in controversial debate

craven (adj.) — contemptibly lacking in courage; cowardly

iniquitous (adj.) — grossly unfair and morally wrong

varlet (n.) — a man or boy acting as an attendant or servant

swain (n.) — a country youth

peccadillo (n.) — a small, relatively unimportant offense or sin

peculate (v.) — embezzle or steal (money, especially public funds)

connubial (adj.) — of or relating to marriage or the relationship of a married couple; conjugal


acme (n.) — the point at which someone or something is best, perfect, or most successful

naif (adj.) — naive or ingenuous

hemiplegia (n.) — paralysis of one side of the body

perfervid (adj.) — intense or impassioned

colloquy (n.) — a formal conversation

polyglot (adj.) — knowing or using several languages

canaille (n.) — the common people; the masses

languor (n.) — the state or feeling, often pleasant, or tiredness or inertia

fecundity (n.) — the ability to produce many new ideas

motley (adj.) — incongruously varied in appearance or character; disparate

kalends (n.) — the first day of the month

cant (n.) — hypocritical and sanctimonious talk, typically of a moral, religious, or political nature

panegyric (n.) — a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something

recondite (adj.) — (of a subject or knowledge) little known; abstruse

specter (n.) — a ghost

mote (n.) — a tiny piece of a substance

scuppernong (n.) — a variety of the muscadine grape native to the basin of the Scuppernong River in North Carolina

chatelaine (n.) — a woman in charge of a large house

purlieu (n.) — the area near or surrounding a place

frippery (n.) — a tawdry or frivolous thing

subterfuge (n.) — deceit used in order to achieve one’s goal