cat in dress

Friday word: Lollygag

Lollygag [LAH-lee-gag]
- To waste time idly; to loaf or dilly-dally.
- To indulge in kisses and caresses; make love; neck.

From American English, perhaps derived from “lolly” (tongue) + “gag” (deceive, trick). First used - 1862.

Used in a sentence:
“The lascivious lolly-gagging lumps of licentiousness who disgrace the common decencies of life by their love-sick fawnings at our public dances.”
-The Northern Vindicator (Iowa Newspaper) February 27th, 1868
Our Grandiloquent Word of the Day 2020 Wall Calendar features hundreds of holidays to celebrate all year long! Look for the link in our comments (or the Shop Now button at the top of our Facebook page) to order one for home AND office! And maybe treat your word-loving friends and family too!

Wednesday Word: Incunabula

Incunabula - noun.

Incunabula has a couple of meanings. It can mean the earliest beginning of anything (you may notice a theme for January words!). However, incunable, incunabula and incunabulum refer to books or pamphlets printed before 1501.

Public Domain, Link

Page from Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia, printed in red and black by Peter Schöffer (Mainz, 1471).
tortoise and hare

Tuesday word: Sycophant

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020

Sycophant (noun)
syc·o·phant [sik-uh-fuhnt, -fant, sahy-kuh-]

1. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.

syc·o·phan·tic, syc·o·phan·ti·cal, syc·o·phant·ish, adjective
syc·o·phan·ti·cal·ly, syc·o·phant·ish·ly, adverb
syc·o·phant·ism, noun

groupie, lackey, adulator, politician, puppet, minion, slave, parasite, fan, flatterer, flunky, hanger-on, doormat, backscratcher, bootlicker, groveler, handshaker

toady, yes man, flunky, fawner, flatterer.

Origin: 1530–40; < Latin sy¯cophanta < Greek sy¯kophántes informer, equivalent to syko ( n ) fig + phan- (stem of phaínein to show) + -tes agentive suffix

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Sunday Word: Attenuated

attenuated [uh-teh-nyoo-eyt-uhd]
1 Having been reduced in force, effect, or value.
1a (of a signal, electric current, or other oscillation) reduced in amplitude
1b (of a pathogenic organism) reduced in virulence, especially for use as a vaccine.
2 Thin or reduced in thickness.


But I am aware that my connection to Russia is an attenuated connection. I do not know Russian or Russia as well as my parents did. (Keith Gessen, Why Did I Teach My Son to Speak Russian?, The New Yorker, 2018)

"For example, rain intensity over the Norwegian coast is less than the previous rainfall map would indicate. And the models that show the relation between weather conditions and attenuated signals have weaknesses, particularly when the satellites have a low position in the sky", he says. (Åse Dragland, Wind and weather disrupt satellite signals at high latitudes, sciencenorway, 2019)

The theory is something like this: Space is pervaded by luminiferous ether, which is a material thing--as much a substance as air or water, though almost infinitely more attenuated. (Ambrose Bierce, Present At A Hanging And Other Ghost Stories )

We live in an era of shortened attention spans and attenuated half-lives for products, companies, and business models. (William Dean Howells, My Literary Passions)


'Made thin, made less,' 1520s, from Latin attenuatus, past participle of attenuare 'to make thin, lessen, diminish,' from assimilated form of ad 'to' + tenuare 'make thin,' from tenuis 'thin,' from PIE root ten- 'to stretch.' Earlier was Middle English attenuen 'to make thin (in consistency),' early 15c. (Online Etymological Dictionary)

skylark flock

Tuesday word: Competent

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020

Competent (adjective)
com·pe·tent [kom-pi-tuhnt]

1. having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose; properly qualified: He is perfectly competent to manage the bank branch.
2. adequate but not exceptional.
3. Law. (of a witness, a party to a contract, etc.) having legal competence, as by meeting certain minimum requirements of age, soundness of mind, or the like.
4. Geology. (of a bed or stratum) able to undergo folding without flowage or change in thickness.

com·pe·tent·ly, adverb
non·com·pe·tent, adjective
non·com·pe·tent·ly, adverb
ul·tra·com·pe·tent, adjective
un·com·pe·tent, adjective
un·com·pe·tent·ly, adverb

proficient, capable, efficient, decent, skilled, qualified, adequate, adapted, appropriate, clever, complete, crisp, endowed, enough, equal, fit, fool, good, pertinent, polished

1. fit, capable, proficient.

1. See able.

Origin: 1350–1400; Middle English (< Anglo-French ) < Latin competent- (stem of competens, present participle of competere to meet, agree). See compete, -ent

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Sunday Word: Presumptuous

presumptuous [pri-zuhmp-choo-uhs]
1a (of a person or their behaviour) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.
1b overstepping due bounds (as of propriety or courtesy) : taking liberties
1c too confident especially in a way that is rude : done or made without permission, right, or good reason


Professor Stegner mistook me, I fear, for an anti-intellectual, not understanding that I was in fact something far less presumptuous - a near-illiterate, especially compared to the rest of his blue-chip roster. (Ken Kesey, Remember This: Write What You Don't Know, New York Times, 1989)

But in the same way that western settlers came to the real American frontier seeing an empty landscape, Barlow’s metaphor making was presumptuous. (Jesse Jarnow, The Ghost of John Perry Barlow Lives in His Posthumous Memoir, Wired, 2019)

It would be presumptuous of me to declare anyone the next great player, for only time decides these questions. (Matthew Shipp, Pianist Matthew Shipp Says Goodbye To Tenor Colossus David S Ware, 2012)

"I am not so presumptuous as to believe that," said he, "though you tell it me; but if it were so, I am rather particular in my notions of a companion for life, and perhaps I might not find one to suit me among the ladies you mention." (Anne Bronte, Agnes Grey)


mid-14c, from Old French presumtuex (12c; Modern French présomptueux) and directly from Late Latin praesumptuosus, variant of praesumptiosus, from past participle stem of Latin praesumere 'anticipate,' in Late Latin, 'assume' (see presumption). (Online Etymological Dictionary)

cat in dress

Friday word: Harbinger

harbinger, n.

har·​bin·​ger | \ ˈhär-bən-jər

1a : something that foreshadows a future event : something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come "robins, crocuses, and other harbingers of spring"
b : one that initiates a major change : a person or thing that originates or helps open up a new activity, method, or technology :" pioneer the great legal harbinger of the New Deal revolution— Time a harbinger of nanotechnology the harbingers of peace to a hitherto distracted … people"— David Livingstone
2 archaic : a person sent ahead to provide lodgings

Did you know?

When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a harbinger. As long ago as the 12th century, "harbinger" was used to mean "one who provides lodging" or "a host," but that meaning is now obsolete. By the late 1300s, "harbinger" was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past, too. Both of those historical senses are true to the Anglo-French parent of "harbinger," the word herberge, meaning "lodgings." The most common sense of the word nowadays, the "forerunner" sense, has been with us since the mid-1500s.

First known use:

14th century


Middle English herbergere, from Anglo-French, host, from herberge camp, lodgings, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German heriberga