Unapologetically Verbose – February

Once upon a time there was a story…but not that kind of story. A story which promises to teach you at least 365 of the most intriguing words in the English language, and will perhaps provide an enjoyable repose for you at the same time. A story which will unfold month by month, with each excerpt containing all of the word-of-the-day entries for that month, as depicted in my very well-favoured Word of The Day Calendar. The particular words are referenced with footnotes (and if you click the footnote you’ll be able to jump straight to the definition at the the bottom of the article; then click the definition to jump straight back up the relevant part in the main text.) Read these words, learn them, use them; they’re all wonderful. 

Then come to love the story, and follow it each month. I don’t know exactly where it’s going, but I do know that it’s going to be special.  

Here’s February…

Their story should have been simple. There didn’t need to be any subordinate characters offering complication, or any plot twists to prolong the happy ending – there didn’t even need to be any marginalia[1] to clarify the content – it should have all just been very, very simple.

Erica knew Charlie was supposed to be her Valentine, and Charlie knew Erica was supposed to be his. They both knew it from the very second they met, which is exactly why it should have been easy.

He loved that in a world full of zephyrs[2], she was a whirlwind who was never afraid to challenge any argument she felt was ad hominem[3]. She loved that he had never been surrounded by the same urbane[4], ostentatious[5] society that she had been. It made him genuine; completely without any of that synthetic politesse[6] she had grown to hate so vehemently.

When she was with him she didn’t need to speak with any unnecessary euphuism[7], nor did she have to parse[8] his language, they were just Erica and Charlie; two people who fitted together so perfectly their union could only be described as an axiomatic[9] concept.

Or at least that’s how it felt for the two of them.

For Erica’s parents it was an unacceptable nuisance that they weren’t willing to allow. They despised that his situation was so opposed to their own, and as such they hoped it was nothing but a temporary mash[10] that Erica had engaged in just because of her proclivity[11] to do things that irritated them. It was only when they realised it was far beyond a fleeting infatuation that they became increasingly vociferous[12] in their disapproval, taking every possible measure to balkanize[13] them.

They knew it was never going to be easy to keep the two of them apart, in fact it would be quite the rigmarole[14], but that didn’t scare them. Over the years they had developed an astounding acumen[15] for cajoling[16] people into their way of thinking. It was the very skill that had enabled them to create their very own leviathan[17]; with them expanding their own business empire by manipulating shareholders of competitors, gradually working to ensure the rival company saw a steady state of decrement[18], thus preserving the success of their own ventures. They had been doing it so long they were experts; with nobody ever knowing it was them who had choreographed everything from the first blow to the coup de grace[19].

But Erica knew them all too well.

From the very moment Charlie was gone she knew her parents were the stiction[20] behind his disappearance. It happened with such stringent[21] precision it couldn’t be anybody besides them. They had forced Erica to attend that business symposium[22], even though she tried to tell them she was far too knackered[23] to pretend she was even the slightest bit interested in being gregarious[24]. Ordinarily they would not argue; they preferred it when she didn’t attend, but on that particular day they insisted that her attendance was mandatory. At the time she felt it was peculiar, but when they returned – and she realised that all traces of Charlie Whittaker had been removed without even the slightest scuttlebutt[25] of his whereabouts – she understood that they had orchestrated something of the most devastating nature. In her very best fears he’d been exported to some far off exclave[26], where he was eating pho[27] and wondering how to get back to her, in her worst fears he was just gone – with her never having the opportunity to hear his swan song[28].

Sadly, when it came to her parents, either one could be possible.



Marginalia – Marginal notes or embellishments (as in a book) ; non-essential items.

Zephyr – A breeze from the west; a gentle breeze.

Ad hominem – Appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect; marked by or being an attack on one’s character rather than one’s actions.

Urbane – Notably polite or polished in manner.

Ostentatious – Marked by or fond of conspicuous or vainglorious and sometimes pretentious display.

Politesse – Formal politeness: decorousness.

Euphuism – Artificial elegance of language.

Parse – To analyse a sentence by naming its parts and their functions; to examine in a minute way: analyse critically.

Axiomatic – Taken for granted: self-evident; based on or involving an axiom or systems of axioms.

Mash – An intense and usually passing infatuation; also: the object of infatuation.

Proclivity – An inclination or predisposition; especially: an inherent inclination toward something objectionable.

Vociferous – Marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry.

Balkanize – To break up (as a region or group) into smaller and often hostile units.

Rigmarole – Confused or meaningless talk; a complex and sometimes ritualistic procedure.

Acumen – Keenness and depth of perception, discernment, or discrimination especially in practical matters.

Cajole – To persuade with flattery: coax; to obtain from someone by gentle persuasion; to deceive with soothing words.

Leviathan – The political state; especially: a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy; something large or formidable.

Decrement – A gradual decrease in quality or quantity; the quantity lost by diminution or waste.

Coup de grace – A blow or shot administered to end the suffering of one mortally wounded; a decisive finishing act.

Stiction – The force required to cause one body in contact with another to begin to move.

Stringent – Tight, constricted; marked by rigor, strictness, or severity; marked by money scarcity and credit strictness.

Symposium – a formal meeting at which expert deliver addresses on a topic; a collection of opinions on a subject.

Knackered – Tired, exhausted.

Gregarious – Social; marked by or indicating a liking for companionship: sociable; of or relating to a social group.

Scuttlebutt – Rumour, gossip.

Exclave – A portion of a country separated from the main part and constituting an enclave.

Pho – A soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles.

Swan song – A song of great sweetness said to be sung by a dying swan; a farewell appearance or final act of pronouncement.