M is for…


It’s been a while, dear readers, but I’d like to welcome you back to my Vocabulary Series! This week, we’re going to look at some magnificently marvellous words beginning with the letter M.

The first M word this week is brought to you by one of my favourite bloggers, Michael of Hypothetically Writing. This is one of his favourite words and it’s a great one.

Marina (noun)

Etymology:  First appears in 1805, meaning “a promenade by the sea.” Comes from the Spanish and Italian marina, meaning shore or coast, which comes from the Latin marinus meaning “of the sea.” Its modern meaning as a dock or place with moorings for yachts and small boats come from 1930s American English.

Definition:  A specially designed dock or harbour with moorings for pleasure boats, etc.

Example:  The miniature monsters moored their motorboat at Marvin the Mega-monster’s marina.


This next word is a fantastically fancy way of calling someone a liar. I love it and encourage you to use it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Mendacious (adjective)

Etymology:  First appears in the early 1600s. Comes from the Middle French mendacieux, which comes from the Latin mendacium, meaning a lie, falsehood, or untruth. Mendacium comes from the Latin word mendax, meaning lying or deceitful, which in turn comes from Proto-Indo-European root mend-, meaning physical defect or fault.

Definition:  Not telling the truth; lying; being false

Example:  That mendacious puppet is at it again—no, Pinocchio never staked a vampire with his nose.


Not only is this week’s bonus word a gorgeous word to say, but it also happens to be the name of a truly fantastic movie.

Memento (noun)

Etymology:  First appears around 1400 in Psalm cxxxi of the Canon of the Mass, which begins with the word Memento and commemorates the dead. Comes directly from the Latin memento, meaning remember, which is the imperative form of meminisse, meaning to remember, recollect, or think of. Related to the Latin word mens, meaning mind, understanding, or reason. Its modern usage to refer to a keepsake was first seen in 1768.

Definition:  An object kept as a reminder or souvenir of a person or event.

Example:  Millicent stroked her memento of Marcus, wondering if she should have kept an ear instead.


As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.


Image credit: Google Images

L is for…


It’s been a while, dear readers, but I’d like to welcome you back to my Vocabulary Series! This week, we’re going to look at some pretty awesome words that start with the letter L.

Before we get started, I want to remind you to check out the Speakeasy, a weekly writing challenge of which I am the managing editor. We have different prompts each week and we’d love to see some new faces. And what better month to try something new than NaBloPoMo?

Okay, so without further ado, here is the first L word. I love the way this word sounds. It definitely lives up to its meaning.

Lambaste (verb)

Etymology:  First appears in the 1630s. Comes from combining the Scandinavian word lam (which originally comes from the Old Norse lemja, meaning to beat or to lame), with the English word baste, meaning to beat or thrash, and which may have come from the Swedish word basa, meaning to beat or flog.

Definition:  To thrash; to beat; to criticize someone or something severely.

Example:  By the time Irma had finished lambasting Doug for leaving the gate open, he was looking forward to the arrival of the zombie horde.


This next word oozes off the tongue like thick custard, but its meaning is not quite so tasty…

Lugubrious (adjective)

Etymology:  First appears in the 1600s. Comes from the Latin word lugubris, meaning related to mourning, which came from lugere, meaning to mourn. Likely originated from the Proto-Indo-European root leug-, meaning to break or cause pain.

Definition:  Doleful; mournful; appearing sad or dismal.

Example:  As the zombies carried Doug off, Irma noticed her lugubrious mood had lifted.


The bonus word this week has been a favourite of mine for a long time. It conjures up an image of a beast of, well, Biblical proportions.

Leviathan (noun)

Etymology:  First appears in the late 1300s, where it was used to describe a large sea monster or serpent, which was also considered to be one of Satan’s forms. Comes from the Late Latin leviathan, which in turn comes from the Hebrew word livyathan, meaning a dragon, serpent, or huge sea animal. Leviathan was first used to describe powerful individuals in the 1600s (shortly before Hobbes’ book was published in 1651).

Definition:  In the Bible, refers to a sea monster, including one of the Devil’s forms; an enormous real or imaginary aquatic creature; anything monstrously large or powerful; an autocratic monarch or nation.

Example:  The zombie horde surged with excitement at the sight of such leviathan brains, trampling over the Mensa sign in their rush.


As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.


Image credit: Google Images

J is for…


Dear readers, welcome to the tenth letter of my Vocabulary Series! I don’t know what it is about the letter J, but so many of its words roll off the tongue beautifully and they have fantastic meanings to boot!

Today, I have three awesome words to share with you, so let’s get started. The first word I’ve chosen is a great action word, though you probably wouldn’t want to be the one being acted upon!

Jettison (verb and noun)

Etymology:  First appears in 1848. The word was restored from the Middle English word, jetteson, meaning the act of throwing overboard, by Marine Insurance writers. Jetteson comes from the Anglo-French word getteson, which in turn comes from the Late Latin iactionem, meaning the act of throwing, which came from the past participle stem iectare, meaning to toss about.

Definition (verb):  To throw or drop something (usually heavy material) from a ship, aircraft, spacecraft, etc.; to abandon or discard something that is no longer wanted.

Definition (noun):  The act of jettisoning, often used as a modifier (the jettison button).

Example (verb):  Ripley sighed as she surveyed the carnage. She was so sure she’d jettisoned the alien in the last movie.


This next word is one of my favourite words of all time. It’s tons of fun to say and it has a wonderful, practical meaning, so I’m sure you can find lots of good places to use it.

Juxtapose (verb)

Etymology:  First appears in 1851. Comes from the French word juxtaposer, which is first seen in 1835 and was formed by combining the Latin word iuxta, meaning beside or near, with the French word poser, meaning to put or place.

Definition:  To place things side by side, usually to demonstrate or highlight a contrast.

Example:  The vile alien emerging from the water behind her nicely juxtaposed Newt’s innocence.


And now for this week’s bonus word. Given that tomorrow marks the beginning of October, and the countdown to my favourite holiday ever, I wanted to share this fun Halloween word with you:

Jack-o-lantern (noun)

Etymology:  First appears in the 1600s as a local name for a will-o-the-wisp (which comes from the Latin ignis fatuus, which literally means foolish fire) in East Anglia and southwestern England. The modern meaning was linked to carved pumpkins later on, in American English, which is verified in records from 1834.

Definition:  A lantern made from a hollowed-out pumpkin (or turnip) carved to represent a face; another name for a will-o-the-wisp.

Example:  The alien queen set the jack-o-lantern on her front steps; she couldn’t believe how easy it was going to be to feed her babies on this planet.


Once again, etymological information and definitions come from the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online and the Online Etymology Dictionary.


Image credit:  Google Images

Merry Xmas Heathens!

Xmas TreesIn keeping with the holiday spirit, I thought it would be fun to look at the origins of the word Xmas. If you are like me (and many other people) you probably think Xmas is a modern, secular, capitalist-inspired, politically correct term for Christmas.

Well, surprise! We’re wrong. It turns out that Xmas has actually been in use for a very long time. It certainly pre-dates modern capitalism and political correctness.

The use of the X derives from Greek. A symbol very similar to an X represents chi, the first letter of the word Christos. So X- or Xp- or Xr- were used as abbreviations. Sometime around 1100, the term Xres mæsse appeared in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Over time, that evolved into X’temmas and eventually Xmas by the fifteenth century. (See the Online Etymology Dictionary entry for Xmas.)

One of the reasons for this use was actually driven by the Catholic Church. Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436. As we all know, the printing press was a fabulous invention, but in the beginning it required manual typesetting and was not only tedious to use but also costly. To save on the cost of printing books and pamphlets the Church replaced the word Christ with a C or an X.

Thanks to the Church, this became common usage in other publications (as did Xian and Xianity, incidentally).

And there you have it folks. Xmas is not modern or secular or a capitalist creation. Nor is it a politically correct way to take the Christ out of Christmas.

Whichever way you lean, be it religious, agnostic, heathen or atheist, I hope you have a Merry Xmas, Happy Holiday, Wonderful Winter Solstice — or, at the very least, enjoy your time off!

Additional references:
Snopes.com: Xmas Abbreviation
Why get cross about Xmas?

P.S. I’m seriously contemplating bringing back Merry X’temmas.


Linking up with the Moonshine grid exactly one year later.


Image credit: © Cristina Popescu / Photoxpress.com