Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Animating Adjectives
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Animating Adjectives Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted
This week we look at some adjectives to spice up conversation (not so rare as to be obscure to the hearer, but not so common as to be ordinary).

We start with one that has a spicy meaning. But the figurative sense is much more attractive.

piquant – (accent on first syllable)
1. of pleasantly sharp (esp. spicy) taste (“crisp, piquant flavor and fragrance” – Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)
2. pleasantly stimulating or exciting; engagingly provocative; also : having a lively arch charm
[French, 'stinging, pricking'.]
    [She has just received a new hairstyle] It was the style, he told her, affected by all the great ladies and it quite transformed her features, giving her a piquant air at once provocative and alluring.
    – Kathleen Winsor, Forever Amber

    A shiver chased along his spine. The danger had a certain piquant quality, something like the thrill experienced by a soldier, he felt sure.
    – John Jakes, Love and War
For words interestingly akin to this (pique and turnpike), see below.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
From the same 'pricking' root:

pique – a feeling of wounded pride (verb: 1. to cause resentment 2. to provoke; arouse: to pique one's curiosity

pike – a kind of spear
pike – a certain large freshwater fish [ probably referring to its long, pointed jaw]

turnpike – originally, a spike barrier obstucting a road, as a defense [Note: a pricking spike might seem related to pike, but I can find no connection.] Later, turnpike came to mean 'a tollbooth obstructing a road', the road coming to be called a 'turnpike road', and then simply a 'turnpike'.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
frenetic – frenzied; fast and energetic in a wild and uncontrolled way
[traces back to Greek phrenitis 'delirium']
    I had thought the constant crowing of our roosters would drive [our dog] Marley insane. In his younger years, the sweet chirp of a single tiny songbird in the yard would set him off on a frenetic barking jag as he raced from one window to the next, hopping up and down on his hind legs.
    – John Grogan, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog

    … the holiday season is chaotic: chock-full of frenetic shopping trips, party planning and a packed calendar of events …
    – Peter Walsh, How to Organize (Just About) Everything [etc.]
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
I like today’s quotes for obstreperous. (In them we'll also see turgid, but we’ll save that word for another theme where we’ll try to distinguish turgid, torbid and tumid. Not to mention torpid. Smile )

obstreperous1. noisily and stubbornly defiant 2. aggressively boisterous
    … the more generally uncooperative, obstreperous behavior which is the hallmark of adolescence.
    – Anthony E. Wolf. Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager

    . . ."Honey, you can't go around calling people--"
    . . . "You ain't fair." I said, "you ain't fair."
    . . . Uncle Jack's eyebrows went up. "Not fair? How not?"
    . . . "You're real nice, Uncle Jack, an' I reckon I love you even after what you did, but you don't understand children much."
    . . . Uncle Jack put his hands on his hips and looked down at me. And why do I not understand children, Miss Jean Louise? Such conduct as yours required little understanding. It was obstreperous, disorderly, and abusive--"
    . . . "You gonna give me a chance to tell you? I don't mean to sass, I'm just tryin' to tell you. ... you never stopped to gimme a chance to tell my side of it--you just lit right into me. ... you told me never to use words like that except in extreme provocation, and Francis provocated me enough to knock his block off--"
    – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    . . ."He's very clumsy, that boy," the girl said.
    . . ."He can be. He gets into everything."
    . . ."Boys can be very obstreperous."
    . . .Tessie smiled. "You have quite a vocabulary."
    . . .At this compliment the girl broke into a big smile. "'Obstreperous' is my favorite word. My brother is very obstreperous. Last month my favorite word was 'turgid.' But you can't use 'turgid' that much. Not many things are turgid, when you think about it."
    . . ."You're right about that," said Tessie, laughing. "But obstreperous is all over the place."
    – Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex: A Novel
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
mordant (or mordacious) – (especially of humor) caustic; biting; sharply sarcastic (also has noun senses)
[from Latin mordere 'to bite']
    To crack and especially tough opponent, [Robert] Moses might invite him to a lunch at which he would be the only person present besides [Moses] and his aides: then, if the guest tried to argue, he would be in the position of trying to argue alone against a whole platoon of "informed opinion." … disagreement would touch off an argument with the host … there would not be the uncontrolled, wall-pounding, inkwell-throwing rage that could fill a room, but a mordant scorn that could slash across a dinner table like a carving knife.
    – Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (Pulitzer Prize winner)

    (Jack, in Guy Wetmore Carryl's poem How Jack Made the Giants Uncommonly Sore, is young man who had been raised by a domineering father.)
    In the editor's seat / Of a critical sheet
    He found the revenge that he sought;
    And, with sterling appliance of / Mind, wrote defiance of
    All of the giants of / Thought.

    He'd thunder and grumble / At high and at humble
    Until he became, in a while,
    Mordacious, pugnacious, / Rapacious. Good gracious!
    They called him the Yankee Carlyle!
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
I've fallen behind, so today you get two words as partial catch-up.

salubrious – health-giving; healthy
    [Martin] Luther was the product of a terrifying Teutonic childhood .. Since children were born wicked, as [his father] Hans believed, it was virtuous to beat them senseless with righteous cudgels. … his mother … shared Hans's convictions, including his belief in the salubrious effect of a vigorously applied lash. On one occasion, according to Luther, she caught him stealing a nut and whipped him to a bloody pulp.
    – William Manchester A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind [etc.]


timorous – timid; or (as in final quote) expressing timidity
    Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie …
    – Robert Burns, To a Mouse

    Several witnesses … spoke well of her; but fear and hatred of the crime of which they supposed her guilty rendered them timorous, and unwilling to come forward.
    – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

    Still, in Pete's presence, Schlichtmann's demeanor underwent a drastic change. He always spoke softly, in a meek and timorous voice, and he would quickly defer to Pete's judgment in all matters.
    – Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
strident - 1. loud, harsh and grating 2. presenting a point of view in an excessively forceful way
[form Latin for 'to creak']

The former is the original meaning, and to my surprise seems to be more common than the latter, figurative sense. We illustrate each, and end with a third quote which interestingly combines both senses.
    Suddenly his voice was so strident that I looked up startled.
    – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

    … the roll of the strident, often vicious press was changing the whole political atmosphere.
    – David McCullough, John Adams

    The telescreen had changed over to strident military music.
    – George Orwell, 1984
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Animating Adjectives

Copyright © 2002-12