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May 28, 2012
This week's theme
Insults

This week's words
flagitious
thewless
flaneur
prima donna
cunctator

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

An insult, real or perceived, once resulted in a duel. To defend one's honor meant to kill someone or to get killed. Thankfully, those times are behind us. Duels are now part of history, but bar-fights and other altercations show that we haven't outgrown our revenge mentality.

Here's another option. Imagine a world where a slight called for a verbal duel. The two parties get together and hurl the choicest adjectives at each other. Spectators cheer them on. And in the end the two shake hands and, having vented, go home.

Imagine that to prepare for this fight the parties involved don't drive to a gun shop. Instead they head to the biggest, baddest dictionary they could lay their hands on and pick out words. The more obscure, the more colorful, the better. If your opponent can't even understand the word you hurl at him what hope has he?

Consider this week's words as ammunition -- don't let them fall into the hands of little children.

flagitious

PRONUNCIATION:
(fluh-JISH-uhs)

MEANING:
adjective: Extremely wicked or criminal.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin flagitiosus, from flagitium (shameful act), from flagitare (to plead or demand persistently). Earliest documented use: before 1384.

USAGE:
"Ten thousand curses on the head of that infamous villain and flagitious scoundrel."
Wilbur Smith; Assegai; Macmillan; 2010.

See more usage examples of flagitious in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. -Daniel J. Boorstin, historian, professor, attorney, and writer (1914-2004)

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