When my husband gave me The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer for Christmas, my first thought was something like: “Really? I already have three thesauruses on my bookshelf, which, of course, I hardly ever use because real writers aren’t suppose to.”
But I was charmed when I read Meltzer’s dedication to his wife Deidre: “Self-deprecation notwithstanding, I’m sure that you are way more captivating than Mrs. Webster or Mrs. Roget ever were.” Then, it was the author’s claim in the introduction that hooked me, mainly because he made me chuckle:
While in theory a thesaurus is a marvelous reference aid, the reality tends to be quite different. That “eureka” moment (“That’s just the word I need!”) we all hope for when consulting a thesaurus occurs far too rarely. Conventional thesauruses present “le mot juste” far less frequently that they should (and never present the term “le mot juste” itself).
So I decided to have fun with the new words I found and to share them with my fellow readers and writers. Here are your first 12. Do you know their meaning?
- ag-no-men: A) nickname; B) battle; C) sea urchin; D) infamy
- a-nent: A) against; B) none; C) regarding; D) indifferent
- a-thwart: A) skirmish; B) dissect; C) prevent; D) across
- bob-tail: A) quick; B) wild cat; C) abridge; D) runner
- bri-o: A) cheese; B) energy; C) neighborhood; D) camaraderie
- cods-wal-lop: A) bait; B) rowboat; C) choke; D) nonsense
- cu-prum: A) Jamaican drink; B) cave; C) dome-shaped roof; D) copper
- don-nish: A) bookish; B) well-dressed; C) conspiratorial; D) composer
- def-la-gra-tion: A) beating; B) explosion; C) poison; D) decrease
- foo-zle: A) trick; B) dance move; C) straw; D) botch
- in-cul-pate: A) remove; B) injure; C) blame; D) imprison
- swain: A) tailor; B) suitor; C) sailboat; D) faint
Have you circled all your answers? Are you sure? If so, you can scroll down to see how you did.
C) about, regarding
B) energy, zeal
A) bookish or pedantic
B) explosion, insult
D) botch, mess up
C) blame, accuse
B) suitor, admirer
Be honest. How many did you get right? You don’t have to tell me, but it wouldn’t take much to impress me.
- 10-12 Congratulations! You finally made good on those Latin classes.
- 07-09 You really have to get out and socialize more.
- 04-06 Had a crush on your English Comp professor, did you?
- 00-03 You’re welcome at my home any time.