callow \KAL-oh\ (adjective) -
Immature; lacking adult perception, experience, or judgment.
"If anybody thinks that I am callow they ought to see het -- she's so callow it makes me laugh. It even makes het laugh, too, to think how callow she is." -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, 'What I Think and Feel at 25'
Callow is from Old English calu, "featherless, bald."
canorous \kuh-NOR-us; KAN-or-uhs\ (adjective) -
Richly melodious; pleasant sounding; musical.
"Even the most horrible of news was easier to take when delivered in the dulcet tones of Martin's canorous voice."
Canorous comes from the Latin canor, "melody," from canere, "to sing." It is related to chant, from French chanter, "to sing," ultimately from Latin canere.
capricious \kuh-PRISH-us; -PREE-shus\ (adjective) -
Apt to change suddenly; whimsical; changeable.
"To know that life can be truly capricious; that one is not omnipotent; that without magic as the ultimate defense., there is pain at times which hurts more..." -- Patrick O'Leary, 'The Gift'
Capricious comes, via French, from Italian capriccio, a shivering, a shudder, finally (influenced by Italian capra, goat) a whim, from capo, head (from Latin caput) + riccio, hedgehog (from Latin ericius). The basic idea is that of a head with hair standing on end, like the spines of a hedgehog.
captious \KAEP-shehs\ (adjective) -
1 : Not merely deceptive but designed to (mis)lead you to the wrong conclusion, e.g. a sign, argument, or advertisement; sophistical.
2 : Having an ill-natured inclination to find faults and raise objections; caviling, carping.
"Alison pointed out that 'Have you stopped beating your husband?' is a captious question with no effectively correct answer."
From Old French captieux, from Latin captisus, the adjective from captio "seizure, sophism," the noun of capere "to seize." Related words from Latin include "capture" and "captain." The English word "catch" comes from Old North French cachier "to chase" from the same Latin word. The original root, *kap, came down to English as "have" (from Old English "habban"; cf. German "haben") and "heavy" (from Old English "hefig"). In German it became Haft "arrest" but also the suffix haft "like, having," as in lebhaft "lively, spirited" from leb-en "live" + -haft.
Cassandra \kuh-SAND-ruh\ (noun) - One who prophesies disaster and whose warnings are unheeded.
"Far from sitting and gloating over the horrible mess she predicted, instead Molly was in agony, finding nothing pleasurable about being a Cassandra."
After Cassandra in Greek mythology who received the gift of prophecy but was later cursed never to be believed.
castigate \KAS-tuh-gayt\ (transitive verb) -
To punish severely; also, to chastise verbally; to rebuke; to criticize severely.
"Though castigated by the administration, Professor Thompson continued to teach his theories to an ever-increasing classroom population."
Castigate comes from Latin castigare, "to purify, to correct, to punish," from castus, "pure."
caveat \KAY-vee-at; KAV-ee-; KAH-vee-aht\ (noun) -
1 : (Law) A notice given by an interested party to some officer not to do a certain act until the opposition has a hearing.
2 : A warning or caution; also, a cautionary qualification or explanation to prevent misunderstanding.
"It was this repeated caveat, repeatedly met by Penguin's interruption, that had earned him the name Natty Dredge." -- Nathaniel Mackey, 'Bass Cathedral'
Caveat comes from the Latin caveat, "let him beware," from cavere, "to beware."
cecity \SEE-si-tee\ (noun) - Blindness.
'The new secretary's short skirts, plunging necklines, and stunning coffee making abilities seemed to induce a cecity on the part of the office's male members to her otherwise utter unsuitability.'
From Latin caecitas, from caecus (blind).
celerity \suh-LAIR-uh-tee\ (noun) -
Rapidity of motion or action; quickness; swiftness.
"Although Bud did not appear to be in the best of physical condition, he was capable of moving with celerity when necessary."
Celerity is from Latin celeritas, from celer, "swift." It is related to accelerate.
censure \SEN-shur\ (noun) -
1 : The act of blaming or finding fault with and condemning as wrong; reprehension; blame.
2 : An official reprimand or expression of disapproval.
(transitive verb) - 1 : To find fault with and condemn as wrong; to blame; to criticize severely. 2 : To express official disapproval of.
"That the Church, therefore, had once a power of publick censure is evident, because that power was frequently exercised." -- James Boswell, "The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.: Comprehending an Account of His Studies"
Censure comes from Latin censura, "censorship, judgment," from censere, "to form or express an opinion, to appraise."
chimerical \ky-MER-ih-kuhl; -MIR-; kih-\ (adjective) -
1 : Merely imaginary; produced by or as if by a wildly fanciful imagination; fantastic; improbable or unrealistic.
2 : Given to or indulging in unrealistic fantasies or fantastic schemes.
"They never overtook the chimerical friend, yet Andrea frequently inquired of walking passers and at the inns which were not yet closed, for a green walking passers and at the inns which were not yet closed, for a green cabriolet and bay horse; and as there are a great many cabriolets to be seen on the road to the Pays-Bas, and nine-tenths of them are green, the inquiries increased at every step." -- Alexandre Dumas, 'The Count of Monte-Cristo'
Chimerical is ultimately derived from Greek khimaira, "she-goat" or "chimera," which in Greek mythology was a monster having the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon.
circumambient \sur-kuhm-AM-bee-uhnt\ (adjective) -
Surrounding; being on all sides; encompassing.
"Facing reality, then, implies accepting one's essential powerlessness, yielding or adjusting to circumambient forces, taking solace in some local pattern or order that one has created and to which one has become habituated." -- Yi-Fu Tuan, Escapism
Circumambient is from Latin circum, "around, round about, on all sides" + ambire, "to go around, to surround," from amb-, "on both sides, around" + ire, "to go."
circumlocution \sir-kuhm-loh-KYOO-shuhn\ (noun) -
The use of many words to express an idea that might be expressed by few; indirect or roundabout language.
"It seemed that all of the new management team were fans of circumlocution, as they rarely said anything succinctly and clearly intended their memos to obfuscate and intimdate."
Circumlocution comes from Latin circumlocutio, circumlocution-, from circum, "around" + loquor, loqui, "to speak."
clemency \KLEM-uhn-see\ (noun) -
1 : Disposition to forgive and spare, as offenders; mercy.
2 : An act or instance of mercy or leniency.
3 : Mildness, especially of weather.
"He put in a strong plea for clemency, begging the king to spare the alchemist's life." -- Janet Gleeson, 'The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story'
Clemency comes from Latin clementia, from clemens, "mild, merciful."
collegial \kuh-LEE-jee-uhl; -juhl\ (adjective) -
1 : Characterized by or having authority or responsibility shared equally by each of a group of colleagues.
2 : Characterized by equal sharing of authority especially by Roman Catholic bishops.
3 : Of or relating to a college or university; collegiate.
4 : Characterized by camaraderie among colleagues.
"First he comes by here looking for you at lunchtime yesterday -- for a collegial chat, he told me -- and later he swings by to drop off Fawn." -- Stephen F. Wilcox, 'The Nimby Factor'
Collegial comes from Medieval Latin collegialis, "of or relating to colleagues," from Latin collegium, "an association," from collega, "a colleague, one chosen with [col- for con-, 'with'] another, a partner in office," from con- + legare, "to send or choose as deputy," from lex, legis, "law."
collude \kuh-LOOD\ (intransitive verb) - To act in concert; to conspire; to plot.
"Sadly, well-heeled contributors and interest groups that seek political power routinely collude with needy office-seekers to find new paths around the hollow contribution limits."
Collude derives from Latin colludere, from con-, "together" + ludere, "to play."
commiserate \kuh-MIZ-uh-rayt\ (verb tr.) -
To feel or express sympathy or compassion for. (verb intr.) - To sympathize with.
"After both missed their weight goals for the sixth consecutive week, Mandy and Lois decided to commiserate over double fudge brownie sundaes at their favorite hamburger joint."
From Latin commiseratus, past participle of commiserari, from com- + miserari (to pity), from miser (pitiable, wretched).
concomitant \kuhn-KOM-uh-tuhnt\ (adjective) - Accompanying; attendant; occurring or existing concurrently.
(noun) - Something that accompanies or is collaterally connected with something else; an accompaniment.
"I think it's worthy of note that passions do not tend to be inflamed without the presence of concomitant phantasms." -- Don DeLillo, 'Ratner's Star'
Concomitant comes from the present participle of Latin concomitari, to accompany, from com- (used intensively) + comitari, to accompany, from comes, comit-, a companion.
confrere \KON-frair\ (noun) -
A fellow member of a fraternity or profession; a colleague; a comrade; an intimate associate.
"The negotiations kept breaking down, largely because the president was treating that adversary as a confrere whose hideous character flaws could not be discussed."
Confrere comes from Old French, from Medieval Latin confrater, from Latin com-, "with, together" + frater, "brother."
congeries \KON-juh-reez\ (noun) - A collection; an aggregation.
"If the 'en masse' feels its effects it does so not as a unit but as a congeries of individuals; a wave there may be, but it is a wave of integers dominated by a common thought or purpose." -- Bram Stoker, 'Dracula'
Congeries is from Latin congeries, "a heap, a mass," from congerere, "to carry together, to bring together, to collect," from com-, "with, together" + gerere, "to carry." It is related to congest, "to overfill or overcrowd," which derives from the past participle of congerere.
conspectus \kuhn-SPEK-tuhs\ (noun) -
1 : A general sketch or survey of a subject.
2 : A synopsis; an outline.
"Shortly after returning from London eighteen years earlier, she had stolen a conspectus of the medical sciences from her parents' physician in Dover." -- Robin Schone, 'The Lover'
Conspectus comes from the Latin, from the past participle of conspicere, "to catch sight of, to perceive," from com-, intensive prefix + specere, "to look at."
contemporaneous \kuhn-tem-puh-RAY-nee-uhs\ (adjective) - Originating, existing, or occurring at the same time.
"I must confess my contemporaneous existence was becoming tiresome, though I did not recognize this until this day." -- Piers Anthony, 'Centaur Isle'
Contemporaneous is from Latin contemporaneus, from con-, com-, "with, together" + tempus, tempor-, "time."
contrite \KON-tryt; kuhn-TRYT\ (adjective) -
1 : Deeply affected with grief and regret for having done wrong; penitent; as, "a contrite sinner."
2 : Expressing or arising from contrition; as, "contrite words."
"Often he'd look contrite and even apologize, later sending her roses and violets, even a bad poem."
Contrite derives from Latin conterere, "to rub away, to grind," hence "to obliterate, to abase," from con- + terere, "to rub, to rub away."
coquette \koh-KET\ (noun)
- A woman who habitually trifles with the affections of men; a flirt.
"Lola was an energetic woman, always singing and dancing, a coquette whose flirtatiousness infuriated my brother."
Coquette is the feminine form of French coquet, "flirtatious man," diminutive of coq, "rooster, cock." The adjective form is coquettish. The verb coquet (also coquette) means "to flirt or trifle with."
cormorant \KOR-mur-unt; -muh-rant\ (noun) -
1 : Any species of Phalacrocorax, a genus of sea birds having a sac under the beak; the shag. Cormorants devour fish voraciously, and have become the emblem of gluttony. They are generally black, and hence are called sea ravens, and coalgeese.
2 : A gluttonous, greedy, or rapacious person.
"Characterizing himself as 'a library cormorant,' Bud's appetite for books and other forms of reading material knew no bounds"
Cormorant comes from Old French cormareng, "raven of the sea," from corb, "raven" (from Latin corvus) + marenc, "of the sea" (from Latin marinus, from mare, "sea").
corpulent \KOR-pyuh-luhnt\ (adjective) - Very fat; obese.
"Subsisting on a diet of hot dogs, Cheetos, and Twinkies, Jenna's son grew ever more corpulent even as his proficiency at video games increased exponentially."
Corpulent comes from Latin corpulentus, "fat, stout, corpulent," from corpus, "body."
crabwise \KRAB-wyz\ (adjective) -
1 : Sideways.
2 : In a cautious or roundabout manner.
"Always cautious and slow to move in new directions, Esther's company was moving crabwise towards modernity."
From the sideways movement of crabs.
cynosure \SY-nuh-shoor; SIN-uh-shoor\ (noun) -
1 : Anything to which attention is strongly turned; a center of attraction.
2 : That which serves to guide or direct.
3 : [Capitalized]. The northern constellation Ursa Minor, which contains the North Star; also, the North Star itself.
"They would be the cynosure of all eyes. What was a cynosure and why was it never mentioned except in reference to eyes?" -- Ngaio Marsh, 'False Scent'
Cynosure derives from Latin cynosura, from Greek kunosoura, "dog's tail, the constellation Ursa Minor," from kuon, kun-, "dog" + oura, "tail."