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rebarbative – repellently irritating
. . . .[OED's definition includes more. But I think it mistaken, as discussed below]
[From M.Fr for 'to face [an enemy]', literally 'beard-to-beard' [Latin barba beard]. So the concept is beard-to-beard, or what we'd now call 'in your face'. Compare our recent word cap-a-pie.]
    Rebarbative is not in my dictionary but it reminds me of something between regurgitate and vituperative. My novel must be rebarbative.
    – Flannery O'Connor, private letter, Feb. 28, 1959

    The sequence had been a matter of perfect orchestration of naturally uncooperative elements. Roosevelt surgically removed rebarbative factions without leaving his fingerprints on the scalpel.
    – Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom
How do you feel about "hard words"? As a word-a-day subscriber, you obviously enjoy them when presented as daily curiosities. But how do feel when in your daily reading, the author slips in a word that's unfamiliar to you or that hovers on the fringes of your understanding? Perhaps you have mixed emotions: intrigued by the new word, but annoyed that the author interrupted your understanding of what he's saying to you.

From time to time James Kilpatrick skewers authors for using words he deems overly hard. His columns provide most of this week's words. But Jesse Sheidlower, OED's editor for North America, takes a different view of hard words:
    Robert Burchfield, former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, tells of overhearing a guest at a cocktail party ask, "Why does Anita Brookner use hard words like 'rebarbative and 'nugatory'?" "One possible answer," opines Dr. Burchfield, "is that the famous novelist does not regard them as 'hard.'"
    . . . .Being a person for whom rebarbative is not a hard word seems to me to be a worthy goal indeed.

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I disagree with OED's definintion of rebarbative as "repellent, forbidding, unattractive, dull, unpleasant, objectionable". I disagree. A stern judge is forbidding; a boring companion is dull; a plain-faced woman is unattractive; and rotting food is unpleasant and objectionable, but I'd think we would not call any of them "rebarbative".

Some further examples:
    Venetia could be intolerant, over-critical, rebarbative. So can we all be at times.
    – P.D. James, A Certain Justice

    the angry, rebarbative spitting-out daughter …
    – Philip Roth, American Pastoral

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Today we have a lovely, vividly-descriptive word.
fulgurous(literal or figurative) flashing like lightning [conveys impressiveness]
[also fulgurant; fulgorous]
    That erect form, flashing brow, fulgurant eye. – Robert Browning (1868)

    But the Presidents whom most historians today regard as the nation's greatest – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt – came in for especially fulgurous obloquy and contumely.
    – Paul F. Boller, Not So!: Popular Myths About America's Past

    As Stephanie grew up she had repeated in her very differing body some of her father’s and mother’s characteristics —an interesting variability of soul. She was tall, dark, sallow, lithe, with a strange moodiness of heart and a recessive, fulgurous gleam in her chestnut-brown, almost brownish-black eyes. She had a full, sensuous, Cupid’s mouth, a dreamy and even languishing expression, a graceful neck, and a heavy, dark, and yet pleasingly modeled face.
    – Theodore Dreiser, The Titan, Chapter XXIV
Do you agree with Kilpatrick about the second quote (which he treats as being from a newspaper)? He says, "Fulgurous! What an enchanting word! The adjective surely is clear in context, but would a more familiar word have been better? Colorful denunciations? Angry denunciations? Wrathful, fuming, furious, feverish denunciations? Howling, raging, roaring, passionate denunciations?"

Bonus words:
– strong public condemnation; or, the disgrace brought about by that condemnation
[L. ob against + loqui to speak]

contumely – insolent or insulting words or acts
[perh. fr. L. tumere to swell. The same root gives us 'thigh'; lit. 'the thick part of the leg']
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vertiginous(lit. or fig.) dizzying, disorienting; the feeling of looking down from a frightening height
. . . .[Recall Hitchcock's movie Vertigo, starring James Steward and Kim Novak.]
[From L. vertigo, a turning or whirling round; giddiness, vertere, to turn; akin to the words reverse, subvert, and versus. A secondary definition of 'vertiginous' is 'rotating; turning'.]

Look at the wonderful variety of usages, especially the third quotation.
    [E]ven in a market that rises overall, you can still get many vertiginous, one-day falls.
    – Benoit Mandelbrot, The Misbehavior of Markets

    … a G-string with some feathers attached behind it, quite like a rabbit's tail, a pair of fishnet stockings, pink shoes with vertiginous high heels …
    – Melissa P., Lawrence Venuti, 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed

    When we are afraid, we shoot. But when we are nostalgic, we take pictures. Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. All photographs are memento mori. Cameras began duplicating the world at that moment when the human landscape started to undergo a vertiginous rate of change: while an untold number of forms of biological and social life are being destroyed in a brief span of time, a device is available to record what is disappearing.
    – Susan Sontag, On Photography

    This was the home of creatures who could fly, and who had no fear of gravity. It was nothing to come without warning upon a vertiginous drop of several hundred meters, or to find that the only entrance into a room was an opening high up on a wall.
    – Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End

    Sometimes you feel as though you have stood up too quickly even if you are lying in bed half asleep. You hear blood rushing in your head, feel vertiginous falling sensations. Your hands and feet are tingling and then they aren't there at all. You've mislocated yourself again.
    – Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler's Wife
Bonus words (see third quote above):
elegiac – wistfully mournful for something past and gone
mememto mori – a reminder of mortality
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I still remember one of my first posts about words here was about the word "elegiac."
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One of your quotes is from a newer book, _100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed_ - is it any good?

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
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CW asks, "100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed - is it any good?" I don't know, but you can see for yourself. The book is current and is well-displayed in the bookstores.
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satrap – a subordinate official; implies one given to tryanny or of ostentatious display [also: a provincial governor in ancient Persia]
[Ult. from Old Persian for 'protector of the dominion', after passing through Gk. and L ]
[Note: I'd say that "tyranny/ostentation is part of the meaning, though most dictionaries omit it. OED notes it and adds that "the sense 'domineering person' appears in med. Latin, and in all the Rom. langs."

In the press, a remarkably high percentage the usages are from the press of India.
    It was followed on March 23 by an equally monstrous order by Martin Bormann, the Fuehrer's secretary, a molelike man who had now gained a position at court second to none among the Nazi satraps.
    – William L. Shirer, Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich

    However, there is no doubt that a reinvigorated team of ultra hawks, like Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney, will be out to test the will of the world with their witches brew of more military adventures abroad. … For relatively easier manoeuvres in Iran and/or Syria, the neo cons will no doubt also be counting on a lot of help from their regional proxy and satrap, Israel.
    – Karamatullah K. Ghori, Milli Gazette, India ("Indian Muslims' Leading English Newspaper"), Dec. 1-15, 2004
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nugatory – 1. trifling; insignificant 2. of no force; inoperative or ineffectual

Here are one quote on the first meaning, and two on the second. We'll see 'nugatory' again in the future, within quotations used to illustrate future words.
    Many Britons, like yourself, have quite forgotten that virtually all pianos are lockable. No doubt the key to your secondhand piano went missing long ago, but, since there are only about three variations on piano lock styles, you can order a replacement for the nugatory fee of 11.75.
    – Dear Mary (by Mary Killen), The Spectator, Jan. 13, 2001

    The peace agreements were thus effectively dead from the first moment. The media responded to these unacceptable facts by surprising them. An honest accounting … would have noted-indeed, emphasized- that the United States acted at once to render the accords nugatory.
    – Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies

    The writing was on the wall for Arafat last 11 September. But while his friends in Europe signalled business as usual and continued pouring cash down his throat -- still impervious to hard evidence of misuse and corruption - Arafat failed to understand that European posturings are nugatory. Washington is the only game in town, and Washington is at war with terror.
    – Douglas Davis, The Spectator, July 20, 2002
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"numinous : filled with the sense of the presence of divinity. [Lat. numen (spiritual force of a place/object/being)] In Christianity, God is everywhere, but there are certain places at certain times where the sense of God's presence, and its special-ness, is stronger than at other times and places. (There is also the sense of God's deliberate absence, which the Lord sometimes does to remind people of God's usual presence.)" (from here).

Another quote:

"The numinous grips or stirs the mind powerfully and produces the following responses:

* Numinous dread.Otto calls the feeling of numinous dread, aka awe or awe-fullness, the mysterium tremendum. C.S. Lewis's illustration makes clear the nature of numinous dread and its difference from ordinary fear:


(For the remainder of that article, see here)

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You've heard today's term if you've seen the excellent movie Inherit the Wind. Spencer Tracy plays a defense lawyer, and as he examines a witness, the young prosecutor objects – and presents a fine example of the danger of using overly fancy words.

Tracy (jocularly): Haven't murdered anyone since breakfast, have you?
Prosecutor: Objection! This is an absurd piece of jactitation.
[Senior prosecutor turns; eyes junior queerly. Tracy lowers head, rests forehead on palm. Judge lowers head, removes glasses, rubs the bridge of his nose, looks up, speaks.]
Judge: Counsel, uh, uses a word with which, er, the court is not familiar.
Preening Prosecutor: Jactitation: a specious or false premise. In this case, as to the murder of known or unknown persons.
Judge (sighing): Objection sustained.

The further joke is that this whippersnapper misuses his fancy word and, by showing off, is himself guilty of jactitation.

jactitation – boasting, bragging, ostentatious display (also jactation)
[The dictionaries are all over the place on these words; I've put it together as best I can.]
[Further meaning: extreme tossing and turning in bed, as in disease.]

In old law, jactitation of marriage was a suit against one falsely claiming to be married to the person suing. "In order to prevent the common reputation of their marriage that might ensue, the petitioner prays a decree putting the respondent to perpetual silence thereafter." (1911 Britannica)

An irresistibly vivid quotation impels me to add a related, useless word.
jactant – boasting, boastful. "The jactant self-importance assumed by the cock-pigeon of the dove-cote." (Tait's Magazine, 1839)

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Oddly enough, today's word 'antinomian' is not the adjective form of 'antinomy'. An antimony,' as we've seen, is a paradox in which two contradictory principles are both correct. (See wordcraft archives and dictionary). The adjectival form of this is antinomic or antinomical.
    Such an antinomic pair are those two great sayings 'He that loveth not knoweth not God,' and, 'If a man hate not father, mother, wife, he cannot be my disciple.'
    – Charles Kingsley (acknowledgement to OED)
'Antinomian' means something very differrent.

antinomian – of the rejection the moral law (after a religious sect, so named, which held that those who live in a "state of grace" are not subject to moral law)
    … Bill Clinton's antinomian morality ...
    – Linda Chavez, Jewish World Review, May 20, 1998

    "Antinomic" means contradictory, or rather self-contradictory in our context. This is not to be confused with "antinomian," which denotes refusal to recognize the authority of moral law. While the Rav loved a good antinomy," he hated antinomianism, which espoused rejection of Halakha.)
    Ronnie Ziegler, Introduction to the Philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik (university lecture)
Bonus word:
– the body of Jewish law supplementing scriptures; esp. the legal part of the Talmud
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