בס״ד

Kavanot: Glossary

Thoughts on Tanach and the Davening

<p>There's nothing I like more than obscure sesquipedalian words.</p>
<dl>
<dt>abjure</dt>
  <dd>To renounce or reject (from the Latin, "swear away from")</dd>
<dt>abrogate</dt>
  <dd>Repeal a law or evade a responsibility (from the Latin "propose going away from a law")</dd>
<dt>adduce</dt>
  <dd>Offer as evidence (from the Latin, "bring into")</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>ad hoc</i></dt>
  <dd>For a single purpose (Latin, "for this")</dd>
<dt>adjure</dt>
  <dd>To command as under oath (from the Latin, "swear to")</dd>
<dt>adumbrate</dt>
  <dd>foreshadow (from the Latin, "cast a shadow toward")</dd>
<dt>aggrandizement</dt>
  <dd>The act of making something appear greater than is actually warranted (from the French, "magnification")</dd>
<dt>anathema</dt>
  <dd>Something hated (from the Greek, "set up [for evil]")</dd>
<dt>antanaclasis</dt>
  <dd>repeating a word with a different meaning (as "Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana") (from the Greek, "echo")</dd>
<dt>antediluvian</dt>
  <dd>before the Flood (from the Latin)</dd>
<dt>antinomian</dt>
  <dd>Rejecting law or rules; in Christianity, the idea that the Law of Moses no longer applies (from the Greek, "against the law")</dd>
<dt>apodictic</dt>
  <dd>Beyond dispute (from the Greek, "demonstrate")</dd>
<dt>aposiopesis</dt>
  <dd>An unfinished thought or sentence suddenly broken off (from the Greek, "maintaining silence")</dd>
<dt>asteism</dt>
   <dd>A genteel and ingenious insult (from the Greek, "urban", similar to "urbane")</dd>
<dt>bespeak</dt>
  <dd>Indicate or signify (from the Old English, "speak about")</dd>
<dt>concupiscence</dt>
  <dd>Lust (from the Latin, "strong desire")</dd>
<dt>bowlderize</dt>
  <dd>Modify a work by removing vulgar or inappropriate parts (from Thomas Bowlder, who published a "Family Shakespeare" in 1807)</dd>
<dt>calque</dt>
  <dd>Compound word or phrase translated literally from another language (as "flea market" from <i lang=fr>marché aux puces</i> or תפוח אדמה from <i lang=fr>pomme de terre</i>) (French, "copy")</dd>
<dt>coda</dt>
  <dd>A final section of a musical piece that adds dramatic energy to the work as a whole (Italian, from the Latin, "tail")</dd>
<dt>cognate</dt>
  <dd>Related by descent (from the Latin, "born together")</dd>
<dt>consequentialist</dt>
  <dd>A theory of ethics that the rightness or wrongness of behavior is based on the result of that behavior (from the Latin, "that which follows")</dd>
<dt>cryptozoology</dt>
  <dd>The study of legendary creatures (from the Greek, "study of hidden animals")</dd>
<dt>denouement</dt>
  <dd>The fnal part of a narrative in which matters are explained or resolved (French, "unknotting")</dd>
<dt>deontological</dt>
  <dd>A theory of ethics that is based on rules (from the Greek "study of duty")</dd>
<dt>detente</dt>
  <dd>The easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation (French, "loosening")</dd>
<dt><i lang=fr>droit du seigneur</i></dt>
  <dd>The putative right of a feudal lord to have relations with his vassals&rsquo; brides (French, "right of the lord")</dd>
<dt>epistemological</dt>
  <dd>Relating to the theory of knowledge (from the Greek, "words about knowledge")</dd>
<dt>equanimity</dt>
  <dd>A state of psychological stability undisturbed by emotions or pain (from the Latin, "even-minded")</dd>
<dt>eschatological</dt>
  <dd>Having to do with the end of the world (from the Greek, "farthest")</dd>
<dt>ethnonym</dt>
  <dd>A name applied to a given ethnic group (from the Greek, "nation name")</dd>
<dt>exemplar</dt>
  <dd>One that serves as a model that deserves to be copied (from the Latin, "that which is taken out")</dd>
<dt>exoteric</dt>
  <dd>Intended to be understood by the general public, as opposed to esoteric (from the Greek, "external")</dd>
<dt>foofaraw</dt>
  <dd>Fuss or attention given to a minor matter (origin unknown)</dd>
<dt>frisson</dt>
   <dd>A sudden strong feeling or emotion (French, "shiver")</dd>
<dt><i lang=el>hapax legomenon</i></dt>
  <dd>A word or phrase that occurs only once (making it hard to translate) (Greek, "said once")</dd>
<dt>hendiadys</dt>
  <dd>The expression of an idea by the use of usually two independent words connected by and (as "nice and warm") instead of the usual combination of independent word and its modifier (as "nicely warm") (from the Greek, "from two to one")</dd>
<dt>hermeneutics</dt>
   <dd>The study of interpretation (from the Greek, "of Hermes, the messenger of the gods")</dd> 
<dt>heuristic</dt>
  <dd>Discovered experimentally or by trial and error, rather than reasoned out (from the Greek, "find")</dd>
<dt><i lang=el>hoi polloi</i></dt>
  <dd>The common people (Greek, "the many")</dd>
<dt>hylic</dt>
  <dd>Relating to the physical world, as opposed to the spiritual (from the Greek, "matter")</dd>
<dt>ignominious</dt>
  <dd>Shameful (from the Latin, "of no name")</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>in extremis</i></dt>
  <dd>At the point of death (Latin, "in the farthest reaches")</dd>
<dt><i lang=it>inclusio</i></dt>
  <dd>A literary device which consists of creating a frame by placing similar material at the beginning and end of a section (Italian, "inclusion")</dd>
<dt>incongruous</dt>
  <dd>Inconsistent or not in harmony (from the Latin, "not agreeing")</dd>
<dt>inexorable</dt>
  <dd>unstoppable (from the Latin, "not able to be prevailed upon")</dd>
<dt>kerygmatic</dt>
  <dd>As used by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, relating to man's role as the bearer of the Divine message (from the Greek, "proclamation", via Protestant theology, the proclamation of the Divine will)</dd>
<dt>kismet</dt>
  <dd>Fate (from the Arabic, "portion, lot")</dd>
<dt>lacuna</dt>
  <dd>An unfilled space or gap (from the Latin, "lake")</dd>
<dt><i lang=fr>lèse-majesté</i></dt>
  <dd>An offense violating the dignity of a ruler (French, "injured majesty")</dd>
<dt><i lang=de>leitwort</i></dt>
  <dd>A repeated word or phrase in a text that draws attention to the meaning of the text, in Hebrew מִילָה מַנְחָה (German, "leading word"; in modern German it means "slogan", which is very different from its meaning in Tanach study)</dd>
<dt>liminal</dt>
  <dd>Of a transitional stage or threshold (from the Latin, "threshold")</dd>
<dt>memetic</dt>
  <dd>As used by Hyim Soloveitchik, learned by imitation or direct observation (from the Greek, "imitation")</dd>
<dt>menhir</dt>
  <dd>A large upright standing stone (from the Celtic, "long stone")</dd>
<dt>merism</dt>
  <dd>Referring to a thing by enumerating its parts, as "day and night" for "always" or "ladies and gentlemen" for "everyone" (from the Greek, "division")</dd>
<dt>metonym</dt>
  <dd>An expression used as a poetic substitute for something else with which it is closely associated, as in "White House" for "president' (from the Greek, "change of name")</dd>
<dt>milieu</dt>
  <dd>Social environment (French, "central place")</dd>
<dt>monistic</dt>
  <dd>The view in metaphysics that reality is a unified whole (from the Greek, "alone")</dd>
<dt>monolatry</dt>
  <dd>The worship of only one god although other gods are recognized as existing (from the Greek, "single worship")</dd>
<dt>muster</dt>
  <dd>To assemble or call up soldiers (from the Old French, "showing", from the same Latin as "monster")</dd>
<dt>necromancy</dt>
  <dd>The practice of communicating with the dead, especially in order to predict the future (from the Greek, "prophecy of the dead")</dd>
<dt>noetic</dt>
  <dd>Related to the intellect (from the Greek, "of the mind")</dd>
<dt><i lang=el>nomos</i></dt>
  <dd>The philosophical concept of law and jurisdiction (Greek, "law or custom")</dd>
<dt>nonce</dt>
  <dd>Used on one occasion (from Middle English as a mis-division of "then anes", meaning "the one")</dd>
<dt>numinous</dt>
  <dd>Having a mysterious, holy quality (from the Latin, "divine will")</dd>
<dt>ontic</dt>
  <dd>Dealing with reality (from the Greek, "of that which is")</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>pace</i></dt>
  <dd>With due respect, used to express polite disagreement or contradiction (Latin, "peace," pronounced pa-kay)</dd>
<dt>paean</dt>
  <dd>A song of praise or thanksgiving (from the Greek, "physician, healing chant")</dd>
<dt>panacea</dt>
  <dd>A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases (from the Greek goddess of remedies)</dd>
<dt>paragon</dt>
  <dd>A perfect example (from the Greek "side of a whetstone", used to test metal)</dd>
<dt>paralipsis</dt>
  <dd>The rhetorical strategy of emphasizing a point by seeming to pass over it (from the Greek, "neglect")</dd>
<dt>parturition</dt>
  <dd>Childbirth (from the Latin, "desiring to bring forth")</dd>
<dt>patronymic</dt>
  <dd>A name derived from the name of a father or ancestor (from the Greek, "father name")</dd>
<dt>peregrination</dt>
  <dd>A wandering journey (from the Latin, "travel abroad")</dd>
<dt>perfidy</dt>
  <dd>Treachery (from the Latin, "faithless")</dd>
<dt>perseverate</dt>
  <dd>To repeat insistently (from the Latin, "be very strict")</dd>
<dt>poetaster</dt>
  <dd>A person who writes inferior poetry (from the Latin, "like a poet"; the "-aster" suffix denotes incomplete resemblance)</dd>
<dt>picayune</dt>
  <dd>Petty, worthless (from the French <i lang=fr>picaillon</i>, a small coin)</dd>
<dt>polyptoton</dt>
  <dd>Using the same word in different forms, as Al Franken's <cite>Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them</cite> (from the Greek, "having many cases")</dd>
<dt>polysemous</dt>
  <dd>Having multiple meanings derived from one basic origin (as "total", meaning "add a list of numbers" and "completely destroy"), as opposed to homonymous, which implies multiple meanings of different origins (as "tire", meaning "fatigue" and "car wheel cover") (from the Greek, "many signs")</dd>
<dt>preterite</dt>
  <dd>The simple past tense, which indicates that the action described happened in the past, as opposed to the <em>past perfect</em> which indicates action before the context (which itself happened in the past). "He ran" is preterite; "he had run" is perfect past (from the Latin, "past")</dd>
<dt>prolepsis</dt>
  <dd>Anticipation, such as the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished (from the Greek, "take beforehand")</dd>
<dt>quotidian</dt>
  <dd>Of or occurring every day (from the Latin, "daily")</dd>
<dt>rectitude</dt>
  <dd>Morally correct behavior or thinking (from the Latin, "straight")</dd>
<dt>redux</dt>
  <dd>Brought back, repeated (from the Latin, "returning")</dd>
<dt>reification</dt>
   <dd>The process of regarding something abstract as a material or concrete thing (from the Latin <i lang=la>res</i>, "thing")</dd>
<dt>running dog</dt>
  <dd>One who blindly follows orders, lackey (calque from the Chinese)</dd>
<dt>samizdat</dt>
  <dd>The clandestine distribution of  banned literature (from the Russian, "self-published")</dd>
<dt>semiotic</dt>
  <dd>Having to do with signs and symbols as elements of communication (from the Greek, "significance")</dd>
<dt>semiotics</dt>
  <dd>The study of signs and symbols, as above</dd>
<dt>sesquipedalian</dt>
  <dd>Characterized by long words; long-winded (from the Latin, "one-and-a-half feet long")</dd>
<dt>soporiferous</dt>
  <dd>Inducing sleep (from the Latin, "bearing sleep")</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>status quo ante</i></dt>
  <dd>The state of affairs that existed previously (Latin)</dd>
<dt>stich</dt>
  <dd>A verse of poetry (from the Greek, "a row")</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>sui generis</i></dt>
  <dd>unique (Latin, "of its own kind")</dd>
<dt>suzerainty</dt>
  <dd>A situation in which a powerful state controls the foreign affairs of a tributary state while allowing it internal autonomy (from the Latin, "overlord")</dd>
<dt>synecdoche</dt>
  <dd>Referring to something by a part, "hungry mouths to feed" (from the Greek, "received together")</dd>
<dt>telos</dt>
  <dd>The ultimate purpose (from the Greek)</dd>
<dt><i lang=la>terminus ante quem</i></dt>
  <dd>The latest possible date for something (Latin, "the end before which")<dd>
<dt>theurgy</dt>
  <dd>The act of compelling a supernatural power to do something (from the Greek, "god-working")</dd>
<dt>transgressive</dt>
  <dd>Involving a violation of socially accepted boundaries (from the Latin, "step across")</dd>
<dt>triptych</dt>
  <dd>A picture in three panels, or figuratively, a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together (from the Greek, "three-fold").</dd>
<dt>vagaries</dt>
  <dd>Unexpected and inexplicable changes in a situation (from the Latin, "wandering")</dd>
<dt>vestment</dt>
  <dd>A garment, especially a ceremonial or official robe (from the Latin, "clothing")</dd>
<dt>vicissitude</dt>
  <dd>A difficulty or hardship beyond one's control (from the Latin, "turning")</dd>
<dt>vignette</dt>
  <dd>A short scene (from the French, "little vine", as the decorative border around an illustration)</dd>
<dt>vociferous</dt>
  <dd>Loud and insistent (from the Latin, "shout")</dd>
<dt>volta</dt>
  <dd>A rhetorical shift or dramatic change in thought or emotion (Italian, "turn")</dd>
<dt><i lang=de>weltanschauung</i></dt>
  <dd>A comprehensive understanding of the world from a specific viewpoint (German, "world view")</dd>
</dl>