Cool Words

I love collecting cool words (and writing about them). This is the full list of what I’ve collected to date, published for you to browse through and bask in the etymological wonder.

Current count: 462

Abecedarian: arranged alphabetically; elementary

Absquatulate: abscond, make off with; send away, dismiss

Abstemious: not self-indulgent

Acidulous: sharp tasting or sour

Acronical: of the rising or setting of a celestial object; occurring at or just after sunset

Ad deliquium (adv): bloodletting to the point of feeling faint

Adamantine: unbreakable; unyielding in attitude or opinion

Adumbrate: report or represent in outline, faintly

Adventitious: coming from another source and not inherent or innate

Agglutinate: firmly stick or be stuck together to form a mass

Ahoo: crooked, lopsided; askew, awry

Aleatoric: characterized by chance or indeterminate elements

Alieniloquy: an instance of straying from the subject one is supposed to be talking about; rambling or evasive talk

Amanuensis: literary or artistic assistant

Amaranthine: unfading or everlasting

Ambit: the scope, extent, or bounds of something

Anacampserote: a plant believed to have the power to restore lost love

Anacoluthon: a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another

Anagnorisis: recognition; the denouement in a drama

Analgesic: painkiller

Animadvert: comment unfavorably or critically

Anodyne: unlikely to provoke dissent or offense

Anomie: lack of usual social or ethical standards in individual or group

Antelucan: of, belonging to, or occurring in the hours just before dawn

Aperçus: comment or reference that makes illuminating point (a-per-soo)

Aphelion: the point farthest from the sun in the path of an orbiting celestial body

Aphyllous: having no leaves

Apophatic: (of knowledge of God) obtained through negation

Apotheosis: highest point, culmination, climax

Apposite: apt in the circumstances or in relation to something

Appurtenance: an object that is used with or for something

Apricate: bask in the sun

Aquiline: like an eagle

Arch: deliberately playful or teasing; chief, principal

Arcuate: shaped like a bow, curved

Arenaceous: Consisting of sand or particles of a substance similar to sand

Argot: slang of particular group

Arrant: complete, utter

Arrears: money owed that should have been paid earlier (in arrears)

Asperity: harshness of tone or manner

Assiduous: showing great care or perseverance

Astringent: sharp or severe in manner or style; causing contraction of body tissues

Au courant: aware of what’s going on; well informed

Augury: omen; sign of future events

Autochthon: an original or indigenous inhabitant of a place

Autodidact: a self-taught person

Avarice: extreme greed for wealth

Avast: stop; cease

Avuncular: kind or friendly to younger or less experienced

Bacchanal: wild or drunken revelry

Badinage: humorous or witty conversation

Bantling: a young child

Bavardage: idle gossip, chitchat

Basal: Forming or belonging to a bottom layer or base

Belie: disguise or contradict

Benison: a blessing

Benthic: of the flora and fauna found on the bottom of a sea or lake

Bête noire: something one particularly dislikes

Bibulous: excessively fond of alcohol

Bier: movable frame on which corpse or coffin is carried

Biotic: of, relating to, or resulting from living things, especially ecologically

Bollix: bungle

Bombinate: make a sustained, murmuring sound similar to a buzz or drone

Bonify: make something good or better; amelioration, improvement

Bon mot: a witty remark

Bonny: attractive; beautiful

Bosky: wooded; covered by trees or bushes

Boulevardier: a sophisticated, socially active man who frequents fashionable places

Brackish: slightly salty

Brio: vigor or vivacity or style or performance

Broigus (adj): angry; irritated

Brumal: of or relating to winter

Bugbear: cause obsessive fear or irritation

Bully (adj): very good, first-rate

Cacoethes: an irresistible compulsion; a mania

Caliginous: misty, dark

Callipygian: having well-shaped buttocks

Calumny: making of false or defamatory statements

Canicular: of the period of hot weather between early July and early September

Canned: glowing from or as if from great heat

Canny: showing shrewdness and good judgment

Canter: between a trot and gallop

Cariad: sweetheart (Welsh)

Catena: a connected series of related things

Chartulary: collection of charters

Catalytic: relating to action of catalyst

Celerity: swiftness of movement

Chiaroscuro: treatment of light and shading in drawing

Chichi: showily elegant or trendy; pretentious

Chimera: something wished for but is illusory or impossible

Cicatrix: the scar of a healed wound

Clinquant: glittering with gold and silver; tinseled

Coeval: having the same age or date of origin; contemporary

Cogitation: thinking deeply about something; contemplation

Cognomen: an extra, personal name; nickname

Commodious: roomy and comfortable; convenient

Complaisant: willing to please others

Compunction: feeling of guilt after bad action (w/ neg.)

Congeries: disorderly collection; a jumble (pl.)

Contrail: white streak from plane

Contretemps: unexpected or unfortunate occurrence; dispute

Contumely: insolent or insulting language or treatment

Copple (or cop): little summit or eminence

Copse: a small group of trees

Coquelicot: brilliant red/orange color, of the common Red Poppy (French)

Coquette: a woman who flirts

Cordate: heart-shaped

Coriaceous: resembling or having the texture of leather

Coruscate: flash or sparkle

Corybantic: wild; frenzied

Crapulent: relating to the drinking of alcohol or drunkenness

Crepitate: make a crackling sound; break wind; fart

Crepuscular: resembling or relating to twilight

Custumal: written account of the customs of a manor or other local community

Cynosure: person or thing at center of attention or admiration

Darkle: to grow dark and gloomy

Declivitous: descending gradually, moderately steep, sloping

Decussate: (of two or more things) cross or intersect each other to form an X

De Trop: not wanted; unwelcome

Deliquescent: tending to melt or dissolve; becoming liquid

Demersal: (typically of fish) living close to the ocean floor

Demesne: land attached to manor for owner’s use

Denizen: inhabitant of particular place

Depilate: remove the hair from

Derring-do: action displaying heroic courage

Descry: catch sight of, find out, discover

Desideratum: something needed or wanted

Desire line: informal path that pedestrians prefer to take to get from one location to another rather than using a sidewalk or other official route

Desultory: lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm; unfocused

Detritus: waste or debris

Diadem: jeweled crown worn as symbol of sovereignty

Didactic: intended to teach, esp. with moral intention

Dilatory: slow to act

Dithyramb: a passionate or inflated speech or poem

Donnybrook: scene of uproar and disorder

Dotard: old person, esp. a weak or senile one

Doyenne: most respected or prominent woman in a field

Dreadnought: battleship; one that is the largest or the most powerful of its kind; heavy overcoat

Duenna: woman chaperone of young girls

Ebullient: cheerful and full of energy

Echt (adj): authentic and typical

Educe: bring out or develop

Effulgent: shining brightly, radiant

Eldritch: weird, eerie

Elucidate: make clear, explain

Elysian: of or relating to heaven or paradise

Emetic: causing vomiting; a medicine that causes vomiting

Empyrean: belonging to or deriving from heaven

Enchiridion: book containing essential information on a subject (handbook)

Eolian: relating to or arising from the action of the wind

Epigrammatic: concise, clever, and amusing

Equipoise: balance of forces or interests

Erumpent: bursting forth or through a surface

Escutcheon: shield or emblem bearing a coat of arms

Estival: belonging to or appearing in summer

Etiolated: pale or drawn; having lost vigor or substance

Euphonic: pleasing to the ear

Exiguous: very small in size or amount

Extant: still in existence; surviving

Extirpate: root out and destroy completely

Falcate: hooked; curved like a sickle

Farouche (adj): sullen or shy in company

Farrago: a confused mixture

Fatuous: silly and pointless

Faute de mieux: for want of a better alternative

Fealty: tenant’s sworn loyalty to lord

Feckless: lacking in efficiency or vitality

Fecund: producing abundance and growth

Ferly: something unusual or strange; causing wonder or terror

Ferruginous: reddish brown; rust-colored

Festinate: to hasten

Fetor: strong, foul smell

Fettle: condition

Filigree: ornamental work of fine wire

Fillip: something acting as stimulus or boost of activity

Flexuous: having curves, turns, or windings; lithe or fluid in movement

Flummery: empty compliments; nonsense

Fluvial: of or found in a river

Folderol: trivial or nonsensical fuss

Footle: engage in fruitless activity; mess about

Frabjous: delightful; joyous

Frowzy: scruffy; neglected in appearance

Fugacious: tending to disappear; fleeting

Fuliginous: related to, containing, or producing soot

Fulsome: complimentary to excessive degree

Fustigate: to beat with or as if with a short heavy club

Gadabout: a habitual pleasure-seeker

Gaiety: state of being lighthearted or cheerful

Gambol: run or jump about playfully

Gasconade: extravagant boasting

Gauche: lacking ease or grace

Gelid: icy, extremely cold

Geodesic: of or denoting the shortest possible line between two points on a sphere or curve

Glabrous: free from hair or down; smooth

Gongoozler: idle spectator; one who stares protractedly at anything

Gibbet: gallows

Gobbet: a piece or chunk, especially of raw meat

Gradgrindian: having a soulless devotion to facts and figures; inflexibly utilitarian

Gravid: pregnant; full of meaning

Gyre: whirl or gyrate; a spiral or vortex

Halcyon: denoting a period of time that was idyllic, happy, peaceful

Hammajang: in a disorderly or chaotic state; messed up (all hammajang)

Hapax legomenon: a term of which only one instance of use is recorded

Haptic: of or relating to the sense of touch

Harridan: strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman

Hauteur: haughtiness; disdainful pride

Hebdomadal: weekly

Hegira: exodus or migration

Helctic: that serves to draw, fit for drawing

Hell-kettle: deep black gulf or abyss

Heuristic: enabling someone to learn something for themselves

Hobbledehoy: clumsy or awkward

Holophrasis: expression of a whole phrase or combination of ideas by one word (ungetable)

Holus-bolus: all at once; together

Hyaline: clear and translucent like glass

Hypethral (adj): having no roof; open to the sky

Iatrogenic: relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment

Illimitable: without limits or an end

Imbriferous: rain-bringing, showery

Impecunious: having little or no money

Incarnadine (n & adj): a bright crimson or pinkish-red color

Inchoate: just begun and so not fully formed or developed

Incipient: in an initial stage; beginning to develop

Infra dig: demeaning; beneath one

Inimical: unfriendly; hostile

Iniquity: immoral or grossly unfair behavior

Insouciance: indifference, casual lack of concern

Intransigent: unwilling to change one’s views or agree

Iridescence: lustrous rainbowlike play of color by refraction of light (oil slick, soap bubble, fish scales)

Irrefragable: not to be disputed or contested

Itinerant: traveling from place to place

Jape: practical joke; say or do something in jest

Je ne sais quoi: quality that cannot be described or named easily

Jejune: naïve, simplistic, superficial

Jentacular: of or belonging to breakfast

Jocose: playful or humorous

Katabatic: flowing downhill, retreat (ant: anabatic)

Ken: one’s range of knowledge or sight

Lacrymal: connected with weeping or tears

Lacuna: unfilled space or interval; a gap

Lacustrine: of, relating to, or associated with lakes

Lagniappe: something given as a bonus or extra gift

Lambent: glowing, gleaming, or flickering with a soft radiance

Lapidary: engraved on or suitable for engraving on stone, ergo elegant and concise

Lees: the most worthless part or parts of something

Legerdemain: skillful use of one’s hands when performing tricks

Lemma: subsidiary theorem in proof; subject heading in composition/annotation

Lief (adv): as happily, as gladly (just as lief)

Ligneous (xyloid): made, consisting of, or resembling wood

Limn: describe or depict in painting or words

Lithic: of or relating to stone

Logorrhea: a tendency to extreme loquacity

Lucubration: study; meditation

Ludic: showing spontaneous and undirected playfulness

Lugubrious: looking or sounding sad or dismal

Lunate: crescent-shaped

Lunette: something crescent-shaped

Maladroit: ineffective or bungling; clumsy

Manitou: a supernatural being that controls nature; a spirit, deity, or object with supernatural power (Algonquin)

Manqué: having failed to become what one might have been; unfulfilled (after the word)

Mantic: of or relating to divination; prophetic

Marcescent: (of plants) withering without falling off

Martinet: a strict disciplinarian, esp. in the military

Meonic: of or relating to a kind of pregnant nothingness or void having the potential to transform into matter

Miasma: unpleasant or unhealthy smell

Morphallaxis: regeneration by the transformation of existing body tissues

Mottle: mark with spots or smears of color

Nacreous: of nacre (mother-of-pearl)

Ne plus ultra: perfect or ultimate example of its kind

Nemorivagant: wandering in a wood

Nepheligenous: producing clouds of smoke

Névé: granular snow that forms the surface of the upper end of a glacier (cf. Firn)

Nidify: to make a nest

Nid-nod: (v) nod repeatedly, as a sign of drowsiness; (adj) that nods

Nimbus: a luminous vapor, cloud, or atmosphere about a god or goddess when on earth

Niveous: snowy; white and lustrous like snow

Noctilucent: luminescent at night or in the dark

Noetic: relating to mental activity or the intellect

Nonage: period of immaturity or youth

Nonce: coined for or used on one occasion (for the nonce)

Noumenon: a thing as it is in itself, as distinct from a thing as it is knowable by the senses

Nubivagant: wandering in the clouds; moving through the air

Nugatory: of no value or importance

Numinous: suggesting the presence of the divine

Obacerate: to stop the mouth of (a person)

Obdurate: stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or action

Obiter dictum: judge’s incidental, non-essential opinion

Obloquy: strong public criticism or abuse

Obsequies: funeral rites

Obstinate: stubborn

Obstreperous: noisy and difficult to control

Oleaginous: oily or greasy

Ombrifuge: something providing shelter from the rain (esp. umbrella)

Ombrogenous: of peat, a bog, etc.: dependent on precipitation for its formation and maintenance

Omphalos: center, heart, or hub of a place, organization, sphere of activity (navel)

Opprobrious: disgraceful, shameful

Orchidaceous: showy, ostentatious; of or relating to orchids

Orogeny: the process of mountain building

Osculate: to kiss

Otiose: serving no practical purpose or result

Oxter: support by the arm, walk arm in arm with

Palaver: prolonged and idle discussion

Palustrine: of or relating to marshes or fen; marshy

Panacea: solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases

Panegyric: a praising public speech or text

Panoply: complete or impressive collection of things

Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific and often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

Paroxysm: sudden attack of particular emotion or activity

Parvanimity: smallness of mind, meanness; a small-minded person

Pavisand (v): display impressive or opulent array of clothing and ornament; flaunt one’s appearance (pavisander)

Peccadillo: small, unimportant offense or sin

Pedant: someone overly concerned with details and rules

Pelagic: of or relating to the open sea

Pell-mell: in a confused, rushed, or disorderly manner

Pellucid: translucently clear

Peradventure: perhaps

Perambulate: walk or travel through or around

Percipient: having a good understanding of things; perceptive

Perfidious: deceitful or untrustworthy

Perfunctory: carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection

Peripatetic: traveling from place to place

Peroration: inspiring end of a speech

Persiflage: light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter

Perspicacious: having keen mental perception and understanding

Pervicacious: thoroughly obstinate or stubborn; headstrong, wilful

Pestiferous: harboring infection and disease

Phalanx: group of people together for common purpose

Phatic: denoting or relating to language used for general purposes of social interaction, rather than to convey information or ask questions

Philippic: bitter attack or denunciation

Phlegmatic: having unemotional and stolidly calm disposition

Phlizz: something apparently existing but having no real substance; anything without meaning or value; a chimera

Phonocamptic: reflecting sound, producing echo; relating to the reflection of sound

Pince-nez: eyeglasses with nose clip instead of earpieces

Piquant: having sharp or appetizing flavor

Plangent: loud, reverberating, and often melancholy

Plenteous: plentiful

Pleonasm: the use of more words than necessary

Pluviosity: rainfall

Pneumatic: of or relating to the spirit; operated by air or gas under pressure

Poky: annoyingly slow or dull

Poltroon: an utter coward

Polynya: area of open water surrounded by sea ice

Polysemy: coexistence of many possible meanings of a word or phrase

Popinjay: vain or conceited person

Postprandial: period after meal

Pother: a commotion or fuss

Predella: step or platform on which an altar is placed

Prodigious: remarkably impressive

Profligacy: recklessly extravagant or wasteful with resources

Prolix: using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy

Propinquity: state of being close to someone or something; proximity

Propitious: indicating good chance of success

Proreption: the action of creeping forward; a slow advance

Provender: food

Pulchritude: beauty

Punctilious: showing great attention to detail or correct behavior

Purlieu: area near or surrounding a place (pl.)

Pusillanimous: showing lack of courage or determination; timid

Putative: reputed or considered to be

Pyroclastic: relating to, consisting of fragments of rock erupted by a volcano

Querulous: complaining or whining petulantly

Quondam (adj): that once was; former

Ramify: form branches or offshoots

Ramose: consisting of or having branches

Rebarbative: unattractive and objectionable

Recalcitrant: uncooperative toward authority or discipline

Recherché: rare, exotic, or obscure

Recondite: little known; obscure (facts)

Recusant: one who refuses to accept or obey established authority

Redolent: strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something)

Remontant: (of a plant) blooming or producing a crop more than once a season

Renascent: becoming active or popular again

Requiescat: wish or prayer for the repose of dead person (RIP)

Rhonchisonant: that sounds like snoring

Rimose: cracked, fissured

Riposte: quick clever reply to an insult or criticism

Roborant: a medicine, treatment, etc. that has a strengthening or restorative effect

Rococo: extravagantly or excessively ornate

Rubicund: having ruddy complexion

Rugose: wrinkled; corrugated

Rutilant: glowing or glittering with red or golden light

Sacerdotal: relating to priests or the priesthood

Saltation: dancing, leaping, abrupt movement; movement of hard particles such as sand over an uneven surface in a turbulent flow of air or water

Salvific: leading to salvation

Saprogenic: causing or produced by putrefaction or decay

Saturnalia: an occasion of wild revelry

Saturnine: (of a person or their manner) slow and gloomy

Saurian: of or like a lizard

Schadenfreude: pleasure derived from another’s misfortune

Schismatic: characterized by schism

Scholiast: commentator on ancient or classical literature (writing scholia)

Scion: descendant of notable family

Sclerotic: becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing ability to adapt

Scribacious: enthusiastic about or fond of writing

Scry: foretell the future using a crystal ball or other reflective object or surface

Sedulous: showing dedication and diligence

Senescence: the condition or process of deterioration with age

Sepulchral: relating to tomb; gloomy or dismal

Seriatim: taking one subject after another in regular order; point by point

Shibboleth: custom or belief unique to certain class or group of people

Sigil: inscribed or painted symbol considered to have magical power; sign or seal

Simony: the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment

Sinecure: position with little work but great benefit

Skullduggery: underhanded or unscrupulous behavior; trickery

Skylark: to frolic or sport

Sobriquet: a person’s nickname

Solivagant (adj & n): wandering about alone; characterized by going alone

Somnambulant: sleepwalking

Sopor: deep, lethargic, or unnatural sleep or state of sleep

Sororal: of or like a sister or sisters

Spizzerinctum: the will to succeed; vim, energy, ambition

Splenetic: bad-tempered; spiteful

Squireen: a petty squire; a gentleman in a small way

Stereoma: firmament

Stochastic: randomly determined; having a random probability distribution

Stygian: of the river Styx; dark, glooming, foreboding

Sundry: of various kinds; several

Surcease: cessation; relief or consolation

Surfeit: an excessive amount of something

Susurrus: whispering, murmuring, or rustling

Suzerain: state with control over internally autonomous state

Swivet: a fluster or panic

Sybaritic: fond of sensuous pleasure or luxury

Sylvan: living or located in the woods or forest

Tatterdemalion: tattered or dilapidated

Tesselate: decorate with mosaics

Teleiotic: complete, perfect; consummative

Teleology: study of design or purpose in natural phenomena

Telluric: of or relating to the earth; terrestrial

Telos: an ultimate object or aim

Temerarious: reckless; rash

Temporize: avoid making a decision or committing oneself to gain time

Tergiversate: make conflicting or evasive statements; change one’s loyalties

Termagant: harsh or overbearing woman; imaginary deity of violent and turbulent character

Threnody: a lament

Titubation: unsteadiness of movement; staggering, reeling, lurching

Tosh: rubbish; nonsense

Tribune: popular leader, champion of the people

Tumescent: swollen, esp. sexually; pompous or pretentious

Turbid: cloudy, opaque

Usury: loaning money at high interest rates

Variegated: exhibiting different colors; marked by variety

Venatic: of or relating to hunting

Ventifact: stone shaped by the erosive action of windblown sand

Veristic: extremely or strictly naturalistic

Vernal: of, in, or appropriate to spring

Vertiginous: causing, related to or affected by vertigo

Vilipend: regard as worthless or of little value; vilify

Vitreous: like glass in appearance or physical properties

Vituperative: bitter and abusive

Vociferous: vehement or clamorous

Volitant: able to fly; flying; moving about

Votary: person (monk or nun) who’s made vow to religious life

Weal: that which is best for something or someone

Welter: confused mass; state of general disorder

Weltschmerz: feeling of melancholy and world-weariness

Whilom: formerly, in the past

Willowwacks: a wooded, uninhabited area

Winsome: attractive or appealing in appearance or character

Withal (adv): in addition; all the same, nevertheless

Woolgathering: indulgence in idle fancies and daydreaming

Xeric: having very little moisture; dry