*pablum \PAB-luhm\ (noun) –
Something (as writing or speech) that is trite, insipid, or simplistic.
"But even to her, the words sounded condescending, the kind of adult pablum he’d been forced to eat a hundred times." — John Lescroart, ‘The Second Chair’
Pablum comes from Pablum, a trademark used for a bland soft cereal for infants.
paladin \PAL-uh-din\ (noun) –
1 : A knight-errant; a distinguished champion of a medieval king or prince; as, the paladins of Charlemagne.
2 : A champion of a cause.
"I did not want to be a paladin. My mother and father wanted it for me. I did not work against my parents, but the priests saw my lack of inner motivation." — Roby Ward, ‘Heroes Of Watussin’
Paladin derives from Late Latin palatinus, "an officer of the palace," from Latin palatium, "royal residence, palace," from Palatium, one of the seven hills of Rome, on which Augustus had his residence.
panacea \pae-neh-SEE-eh\ (noun) – A remedy for everything, for all problems or difficulties; a cure-all, a catholicon.
"What’s wrong with producing a ‘panacea for all human woes’ or ‘the secret of human happiness?’" — Will Ferguson, ‘Happiness’
From Latin "panacea," a herb Romans believed could cure all diseases. The word was borrowed from Greek panakeia "universal cure," the feminine of the adjective panakeios "all-healing" from pan "all" + akos "cure." The Greek adjective pan "all" also appears in Pandaemonium, the all-demon city in the Hell of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost.’ It is productively used to create adjectives like "pan-Arab," "pan-African," "pan-American," whose abbreviation, "Panam" underlies the name of Panama. "Pan" can also be seen in panegyric "elaborate oration of praise" from Greek panegyris "public festival," originally based on pan- + agora "assembly" + -ikos "ic."
panoply \PAN-uh-plee\ (noun) –
1 : A splendid or impressive array.
2 : Ceremonial attire.
3 : A full suit of armor; a complete defense or covering.
"While he was here he made a very special panoply, weapons and armor meant to be used against the spreading of evil, forging the lot and crafting it only partly in the way of men." — Sharon Green, ‘Lady Blade, Lord Fighter’
Panoply is from Greek panoplia, "a full suit of armor," from pan, "all" + hoplia, "arms, armor," plural of hoplon, "implement, weapon."
parsimony \PAHR-suh-moe-nee\ (noun) – Closeness or sparingness in the expenditure of money; — generally in a bad sense; excessive frugality.
"While Jenny never spent more than was necessary on anything, her economy wasn’t so much a sign of parsimony but an almost instinctive sense of measure."
Parsimony comes from Latin from Latin parsimonia, from parsus, past participle of parcere, to spare + the suffix -monia. One who exhibits parsimony is parsimonious.
patrician \puh-TRISH-un\ (noun) –
1 : A member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome.
2 : A person of high birth; a nobleman.
3 : A person of refined upbringing, manners, and taste.
1 : Of or pertaining to the patrician families of ancient Rome.
2 : Of, pertaining to, or appropriate to, a person of high birth; noble; not plebeian.
3 : Befitting or characteristic of refined upbringing, manners, and taste.
"Many felt that it was Jacobson’s patrician manner, more than his sartorial tastes, which led to his success."
Patrician derives from Latin patricius, from patres, "senators," plural of pater, "father."
peccant \PEK-unt\ (adjective) –
1 : Sinning; guilty of transgression.
2 : Violating a rule or a principle.
"It is allowed, that Senates and great Councils are often troubled with redundant, ebullient, and other peccant Humours…" — Jonathan Swift, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’
Peccant comes from the present participle of Latin of peccare, "to sin."
pecuniary \pih-KYOO-nee-air-ee\ (adjective) –
1 : Relating to money; monetary.
2 : Consisting of money.
3 : Requiring payment of money.
"There really was no present pecuniary need for her to leave a comfortable home and ‘take a situation;’ and there was every probability that her uncle might in some way permanently provide for her." — Charlotte Bronte, ‘Shirley’
Pecuniary comes from Latin pecuniarius, "of money, pecuniary," from pecunia, "property in cattle, hence money," from pecu, "livestock, one’s flocks and herds."
pellucid \puh-LOO-sid\ (adjective) –
1 : Transparent; clear; not opaque.
2 : Easily understandable.
"It was the first time he had seen her out of mourning, and above the pellucid eyes and the pencilled brows, on the dark hair, there was a small coronal of diamonds; swaying and scintillating as if a breath played about them." — Frank Danby, ‘Joseph in Jeopardy’
Pellucid comes from Latin pellucidus, "shining, transparent," from pellucere, "to shine through," from per-, "through" + lucere, "to shine."
peregrination \pehr-uh-gruh-NAY-shun\ (noun) – A traveling from place to place; a wandering.
"They continued their peregrination, stopping to spend a few minutes in this circle or that before moving on again, she a foot before him, he prowling, relaxed but watchful, in her wake." — Stephanie Laurens, ‘On a Wild Night’
Peregrination comes from Latin peregrinatio, from peregrinari, "to stay or travel in foreign countries," from peregre, "in a foreign country, abroad," from per, "through" + ager, "land."
perorate \PUR-uh-rayt\ (intransitive verb) –
1 : To conclude or sum up a long discourse.
2 : To speak or expound at length; to declaim.
"After years of interminable meetings, Freda had come to the conclusion that management didn’t merely talk, they perorated, pontificated, and bombasted endlessly."
Perorate comes from Latin perorare "to speak at length or to the end," from per-, "through, throughout," + orare, "to speak."
perspicacity \pur-spuh-KAS-uh-tee\ (noun) – Clearness of understanding or insight; penetration, discernment.
"I understand he was a great help to Chex Centaur. There is also no problem about feeding him. I commend you for your perspicacity in selecting him." — Piers Anthony, ‘Heaven Cent’
Perspicacity comes from Latin perspicax, perspicac-, "sharp-sighted," from perspicere, "to look through," from per, "through" + specere, "to look."
pettifogger \PET-ee-fog-ur\ (noun) –
1 : A petty, unscrupulous lawyer; a shyster.
2 : A person who quibbles over trivia.
"A more respectable-looking individual was never seen; he really looked what he was, a gentleman of the law — there was nothing of the pettifogger about him." — George Borrow, ‘Lavengro’
Pettifogger is probably from petty + obsolete fogger, "pettifogger."
phillumenist \fuh-LOO-muh-nist\ (noun) – One who collects matchbooks or matchboxes.
‘An avid phillumenist, Todd felt his collection posed no actual danger of fire as he had removed the matches from each and every one of his acquired collectibles.’
Phil (o)- + Latin lumen, light.
plaintive \PLAYN-tiv\ (adjective) – Expressive of sorrow or melancholy; mournful; sad.
"The treed cat’s plaintive cries kept Francis awake all night."
Plaintive derives from Old French plainte, "complaint," from Latin planctus, past participle of plangere, "to strike (one’s breast), to lament."
plenary \PLEE-nuh-ree; PLEN-uh-ree\ (adjective) –
1 : Full in all respects; complete; absolute; as, plenary authority.
2 : Fully attended by all qualified members.
"The first plenary session held at the conference was organized to define its theme. Two important papers presented at this plenary helped set its tone." — Lalithambika Antherjanam, ‘Cast Me Out If You Will’
ploce \PLO-see\ (noun) – The repetition of a word or phrase to gain special emphasis or to indicate an extension of meaning, as in Ex. 3:14: ‘I am that I am.’
‘Popeye’s ploce of ‘I am what I am’ seemed to Terry to be the perfect mantra for an imperfect man living in an imperfect society.’
Earlier ploche, from Late Latin ploce, from Greek ploke, plaiting, akin to plekein, to plait.
polymath \POL-ee-math\ (noun) – A person of great or varied learning; one acquainted with various subjects of study.
"Well known around the office as a wizard and wonder boy, Charles was a polymath accomplished in math, biology, music, developmental psychology, philosophy, and several other disciplines."
Polymath is from Greek polymathes, "having learned much," from poly-, "much" + manthanein, "to learn."
postprandial \post-PRAN-dee-uhl\ (adjective) – Happening or done after a meal.
"A postprandial drink, perhaps?’ ‘Well,’ said Dixie Dorly, ‘we have coffee and brandy, but I don’t know if we have any postprandial." — H. W. Crocker, III, ‘The Old Limey’
Postprandial is from post- + prandial, from Latin prandium, "a late breakfast or lunch."
potatory \POH-tuh-tor-ee\ (adjective) – Pertaining to or given to drinking.
‘While Poul’s wife was quick to defend her husband’s absence as mere illness, most knew that it was a result of his excessive potatory activities.’
From Latin potatorius, from Latin potatus, past participle of potare, to drink.
prehensile \pri-HEN-sil, -syl\ (adjective) –
1 : Capable of seizing or grasping, especially by wrapping around.
2 : Skilled at keen perception or mental grasp of an idea or concept.
3 : Greedy.
‘Larry was shocked to discover how his drugstore’s toothbrush rack had gone from a simple corner to a bazaar of ergonomic grips, flexing heads, and prehensile gum-probes.’
From French prehensile, coined by French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc De Buffon, from Latin prehensus.
preponderate \prih-PON-duh-rayt\ (intransitive verb) –
1 : To exceed in weight.
2 : To incline or descend, as the scale of a balance; to be weighed down.
3 : To exceed in influence, power, importance, number, amount, etc.
"As John was quick to point out, random acts of kindness still tended preponderate over acts of incivility or nastiness."
Preponderate comes from the past participle of Latin praeponderare, "to weigh more, to exceed in weight," from prae, "before" + ponderare, "to weigh," from pondus, ponderis, "a weight."
preternatural \pree-tuhr-NACH-uhr-uhl; -NACH-ruhl\ (adjective) –
1 : Existing outside of nature; differing from the natural; nonnatural.
2 : Surpassing the usual or normal; extraordinary; abnormal.
3 : Beyond or outside ordinary experience; inexplicable by ordinary means.
"New Rome was busy with other matters, such as the petition for a formal definition on the question of the Preternatural Gifts of the Holy Virgin…" — Walter M. Miller, ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz"
Preternatural derives from the Latin phrase praeter naturam, "beyond nature."
prevaricate \prih-VAIR-uh-kayt\ (intransitive verb) – To depart from or evade the truth; to speak with equivocation.
"As regards your question, however, I will not prevaricate nor deceive you, but what the old man of the sea told me, so much will I tell you in full." — Homer, ‘The Odyssey’
Prevaricate derives from the past participle of Latin praevaricari, "to pass in front of, or over, by straddling; to walk crookedly; to collude," from prae, "before, in front of" + varicare, "to straddle," from varicus, "straddling," from varus, "bent."
profligate \PROF-luh-guht; -gayt\ (adjective) –
1 : Openly and shamelessly immoral; dissipated; dissolute.
2 : Recklessly wasteful.
(noun) – 1. A profligate person.
"And if the father was warm in support of his profligate son, the young medical aspirant was warmer in support of his profligate brother." — Anthony Trollope, ‘Dr. Thorne’
Profligate derives from the past participle of Latin profligatus, from profligare, to strike or fling forward, hence to the ground, from pro-, forward + fligere, to strike down.
propinquity \pruh-PING-kwih-tee\ (noun) –
1 : Nearness in place; proximity.
2 : Nearness in time.
3 : Nearness of relation; kinship.
"Janice was stunned by the propinquity of her best friend winning the lottery, having never previously even had an acquaintance who’d won so much as a sweepstakes."
Propinquity derives from Latin propinquitas, from propinquus, near, neighboring, from prope, near.
propitious \pruh-PISH-uhs\ (adjective) –
1 : Presenting favorable circumstances or conditions.
2 : Favorably inclined; gracious; benevolent.
"’And what do the omens say this hour is propitious for… ‘It is propitious for the making of a priestess in the ancient way.’" — Marion Zimmer Bradley, ‘The Forest House’
Propitious derives from Latin propitius, "favorable."
puerile \PYOO-uhr-uhl; PYOOR-uhl\ (adjective) – Displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity; juvenile; childish.
Political argument is becoming a puerile cartoon about the moral . . . doing battle with the immoral." — George F. Will, ‘The Costs of Moral Exhibitionism’
Puerile comes from Latin puerilis, from puer, "child, boy."
pugnacious \puhg-NAY-shuhs\ (adjective) –
Inclined to fight; combative; quarrelsome.
"After tolerating Patrick’s pugnacious daughter, Kane would be ready to swear off women for the rest of his life." — Carol Finch, ‘Moonlight Enchantress’
Pugnacious comes from Latin pugnare, "to fight," from pugnus, "fist."
puissant \PWISS-uhnt; PYOO-uh-suhnt; pyoo-ISS-uhnt\ (adjective) – Powerful; strong; mighty; as, a puissant prince or empire.
"’The Duke is a most high and most puissant prince, the Marquis and Earl most noble and puissant lord, the Viscount noble and puissant lord…’" — Victor Hugo, ‘The Man Who Laughs’
Puissant is from Old French puissant, "powerful," ultimately from (assumed) Vulgar Latin potere, alteration of Latin posse, "to be able." The noun form is puissance.
pukka \PUHK-uh\ (adjective) –
1 : Authentic; genuine.
2 : Good of its kind; first-class.
"Thinks he can cauk the dam in a fortnight. Look at his marginal sketches — aren’t they clear and good? I knew he was pukka, but I didn’t know he was as pukka as this." — Rudyard Kipling, ‘The Day’s Work’
Pukka comes from Hindi pakka, "cooked, ripe," from Sanskrit pakva-, from pacati, "he cooks."
pule \PYOOL\ (intransitive verb) – To whimper; to whine.
"Darla’s fretting and puling over her missing feline were such that she was banished to the furthest, most sound-proofed room in the domicile."
Pule is perhaps from French piauler, "to whine, to pule," ultimately of imitative origin.
punctilio \punk-TIL-ee-oh\ (noun) –
1 : A fine point of exactness in conduct, ceremony, or procedure.
2 : Strictness or exactness in the observance of formalities; as, "the punctilios of a public ceremony."
"He said, that people of birth stood a little too much upon punctilio; as people of value also did." — Samuel Richardson. ‘Clarissa: History of A Young Lady’
Punctilio comes from Obsolete Italian punctiglio, from Spanish puntillo, diminutive of punto, "point," from Latin punctum, from pungere, "to prick."
purblind \PUR-blynd\ (adjective) –
1 : Having greatly reduced vision.
2 : Lacking in insight or discernment.
"Even the older children became groping and purblind, and the young saw but dimly, and the children that were born to them never saw at all." – H.G. Wells, ‘The Country of the Blind’
Purblind derives from Middle English pur blind, wholly blind, from pur, pure + blind. In time it came to mean something less than wholly blind.
purdah \PUR-duh\ (noun) –
1 : A curtain, screen, or veil shielding women from the sight of men or strangers in Hindu and Muslim communities.
2 : A striped cotton cloth from which a curtain is made, often blue and white.
3 : The system of secluding Hindu or Muslim women.
4 : A state of seclusion or concealment; social seclusion.
‘Weaned on royal jelly, on honey, still the queen’s life a self- determined purdah, lived within the sheath of the hive, invisible to all but her sisters." — Kate Moses, ‘Wintering’
Purdah is from Urdu, from Persian pardah, curtain, veil.
putative \PYOO-tuh-tiv\ (adjective) – Commonly thought or deemed; supposed; reputed.
"Someday… our species will again send out interstellar explorers, just as we did in the twenty-second century. Maybe those future spacecraft will finally confirm that we are not the only putative intelligence in the universe." — Gentry Lee, ‘The Tranquility Wars’
Putative comes from Late Latin putativus, from Latin putare, "to cleanse, to prune, to clear up, to consider, to reckon, to think." It is related to compute, "to calculate" (from com-, intensive prefix + putare); dispute, "to contend in argument" (from dis-, "apart" + putare); and reputation, "the estimation in which one is held" (from reputatio, from the past participle of reputare, "to think over," from re-, "again" + putare).