Back to Dictionary


Daedalus: n. - in Greek mythology, a brilliant craftsman and inventor who built a labyrinth on the island of Crete to house the Minotaur. Later, when imprisoned with his son Icarus inside the labyrinth he had designed, he made wings so that they could escape. However, his son flew too close to the sun, melting the wax holding his wings together, causing him to fall to his death in the Mediterranean Sea. The name 'Daedalus' comes from the ancient Greek word 'daidalos', meaning "the cunning worker" or "the skillful creator" [see also: daedal (adj.)]
dago: n. - an offensive term for an Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese
damask: n. (see also adj.) - 1. a rich patterned fabric of cotton, linen, silk, or wool 2. linen so woven that a pattern is produced by the different directions of the thread, without contrast of color 3. pertaining to, or originating at, the city of Damascus in Syria; a product fashioned in a style peculiar to Damascus (with flowers and rich designs in silk, or with inlaid lines of gold, or with a peculiar marking or ''water'' design in metal)
dark energy: n. - (Astronomy) a theorized repulsive force that works against the attractive pull of gravity, and which would explain why the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. (Galaxies are moving away from each other at a faster and faster speed) [see also: dark matter]
dark matter: n. - (Astronomy) a kind of matter that has never been directly observed (it does not emit or reflect light or other electromagnetic radiation) but which is theorized to exist in space because its gravitational effects have been observed. (For example, galaxies rotate much faster than would be expected based on their observable mass -- so quickly, in fact, that they should be flying apart. One explanation is that they are being held together by the gravitational pull of unseen mass.) Also, the inflation (expansion) of the universe implies that it has far more matter than what can be observed. It is thought that a substantial percentage of the universe is made of dark matter -- perhaps over 90%. It is believed that dark matter had an important role in forming galaxies during the Big Bang. There are a variety of theories concerning what it is made of, including kinds of subatomic particles that have not yet been discovered, dwarf stars too dim or too distant to be seen, and black holes: missing mass [see also: dark energy]
Day of Atonement: n. - (Judaism) the holiest day of the Jewish year, this is the final day of the Jewish High Holy Days, ten days of penitence that begin with Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). The Day of Atonement is observed on tenth day of Jewish month of Tishri, which falls in September or October of the Roman calendar. On that day, Jewish people refrain from work, fast from sunrise to sunset, and pray for forgiveness of their sins. Its observance is one of the requirements of the Mosaic Law. Specific rites are described in chapter 16 of Leviticus: Yom Kippur
dearth: n. - an inadequate supply of something to meet its demand; a shortage of something that makes the item more valued -- especially a shortage of food: lack, scarcity
decadent: n. - (see also adj.) 1. someone who has fallen into moral or artistic decay 2. a member of the Decadence movement (an artistic and literary movement of western Europe the United States during the late 1800s), inspired largely by Gothic novels and the poetry and fiction of Edgar Allan Poe, and by a reaction against the Romantic period's perspective on nature
declivity: n. - 1. downward inclination 2. a descending slope
Deep Blue: n. - an IBM computer designed specifically to defeat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov. It had the advantage of being able to think through 200 million chess board positions in three minutes, whereas Mr. Kasparov could manage only 340, give or take. With that advantage, Deep Blue went on to defeat Mr. Kasparov in their second match in 1997
defenestration: n. (see also v.) - the act of throwing someone or something out of a window
deglutition: n. - the act or process of swallowing
degringolade: n. - a rapid decline or deterioration (as in strength, position, or condition): downfall
déjeuner: n. - a midday meal: lunch
demagogue: n. - 1. a political leader who gains popularity and power through false promises and by appealing to the emotions and prejudices of the people 2. in ancient times, a popular leader who represented the ordinary people
dementophobia: n. - fear of insanity
demulcent: n. (see also adj.) - a gelatinous or oily substance that is capable of soothing inflamed or chafed mucous membranes and protecting them from further irritation
dendrochronology: n. - the science of dating past events or climatic changes by a comparative study of growth rings in tree trunks
dendrophobia: n. - fear of trees
denegation: n. - a rejection or contradiction of something: denial, refusal
denizen: n. - 1. someone who lives in a given palce: citizen, dweller, inhabitant, resident 2. someone who frequently or habitually visits a particular place: habitué 3. (Brit.) an foreigner granted certain rights of citizenship 4. an animal or plant that is growing or living in a given area, or which has become naturalized to the area
dentiloquist: n. - one who speaks through clenched teeth
depilatory: n. (see also adj.) - a chemical (usually a sulfide) in liquid or cream form, used to remove unwanted hair, wool, or bristles from the body
depredation: n. - a brutal, unrestrained attack, especially on a conquered place or people: despoiling, laying waste, marauding, pillaging, plundering, raid, ransacking, ravaging, sacking
dernier cri: n. - the newest fashion
derrière: n. - the fleshy part of the human body between the back of the thighs and the small of the back, which you sit on: arse, ass, backside, behind, bottom, bum, buns, butt, buttocks, can, fanny, fundament, hindquarters, keister, posterior, prat, rear end, rump, seat, tail end, tooshie, tush
dervish: n. - (Islam) 1. a mystic belonging to any of various Muslim ascetic orders, some of which perform whirling dances, vigorous chanting, howling, or recite God's name (Allāh) as acts of ecstatic devotion 2. a Turkish or Persian monk, especially one who professes extreme poverty and leads an austere life 3. one that possesses abundant, often frenzied energy
descant: n. (see also v.) - 1. (Music) (a) a higher pitched second tune that serves as a decoration or counterpoint to the main melody (b) the highest part sung or played in a piece of music: soprano, treble 2. a discussion or discourse on a theme
Deseret: n. - 1. an area proposed by the Bringham Young (founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, AKA: the Mormons) in 1849 to become an independent state or a state of the U.S. This area would have included much of the southwest United States, with a capital at Salt Lake City. Congress refused to recognize the provisional state and instead created the Utah Territory (named for the local Ute tribes) in 1850. Various businesses and organizations in Utah still use "Deseret" (which, according to the Book of Mormon, is the Jaredite word for "beehive" and is meant to be a symbol of industriousness) as part of their name, particularly those that have connections to the Church of Latter Day Saints 2. the name of Brigham Young's proposed Phonetic Alphabet for English {image}
desideratum: n. - something desired or considered necessary
desuetude: n. - the cessation in the use of something; the discontinuance of a practice or custom: disuse
detritus: n. - 1. loose bits of rocks which have been worn away from a stone 2. any fragments separated from the body to which they belonged; any product of disintegration: debris
deus ex machina: n. - (Latin) literally, "god from the machinery" 1. in ancient Greek and Roman drama, a god introduced by means of a crane to unravel and resolve the plot 2. any active agent who appears unexpectedly to solve an apparently unsolvable difficulty
devshirme: n. - (Islam) a system of recruitment which included the forced conversion of Christian youths in order to fill the ranks of the military, primarily during the 14th to 17th centuries
dextrophobia: n. - fear of things to the right side of the body
dhikr: n. - (Islam) 1. a meeting of Sufi dervishes at which a phrase containing a name of God is chanted rhythmically to glorify him or to induce a state of ecstasy, considered prayer without ceasing; literally, "remembrance" (of Allāh) 2. each set of passages from the Qur'an so chanted, with its accompanying ritual
dhow: n. - (Islam) a long, low-sided, flat sailing vessel with one or two masts and triangular curving sails (called lateens), used by Arab sailors in the Indian Ocean along the east coast of Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Pakistan, and India {image}
dialectic: n. - 1. the tension existing between two conflicting or interacting forces, elements, or ideas 2. the methods used in Socratic philosophy to the investigate truth through discussion 3. debate intended to resolve a conflict between two apparently contradictory ideas or elements logically, establishing truths on both sides rather than disproving one argument 4. the process, in Hegelian and Marxist thought, in which two apparently opposed ideas, the thesis and antithesis, become combined in a unified whole, the synthesis
diaspora: n. - 1. (Capitalized) the dispersion of the Jews from ancient Palestine (modern Israel) following the Babylonians' destruction of the Temple in 587-86 BCE (starting the Jewish exile known as the Babylonian Captivity), later following the Romans' destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and continuing through today; the Jews living outside of Israel 2. a dispersion or spreading of a people, language, or culture that was formerly concentrated in one place
dichotomy: n. - classification into two mutually exclusive subclasses
didaskaleinophobia: n. - fear of going to school: scolionophobia
didgeridoo: n. - a native Australian (Aboriginal) musical instrument, consisting of a long hollowed out log that is blown into to create a deep, low drone or humming sound. Though the instrument is Aboriginal, the name is not. That native names include 'yidali,' 'illpera' and 'bombo,' but nothing that sounds even vaguely like 'didgeridoo'. A recent theory by lexicographer Dymphna Lonergan is that word's origins in Australia came via Scots-Irish immigrants. She suggests that, based on conventions of Gaelic spelling, perhaps the word should be pronounced "doodjerreh" and "doo" (though some native speakers dispute this). The first means "trumpeter," "horn blower," or "crooner"; the second means "black" or "native". Put them together (adjective following noun in Gaelic) and you get a phrase that means "black trumpeter" or "native horn blower" and which sounds remarkably like the instrument's name {image}
diegesis: n. - the telling or recounting of a story, as opposed to showing or enacting it: narration, narrative, recital, recitation [antonym: mimesis]
dikephobia: n. - fear of justice
diktat: n. - 1. a harsh settlement unilaterally imposed on a defeated party 2. an authoritative decree or order
dingle: n. - a small, deep, wooded valley: dell
dipsomania: n. - an insatiable craving for alcoholic beverages: alcoholism, potomania
dipsomaniac: n. - someone with a frequent, irresistible craving for alcohol or who habitually drinks alcohol to excess; an alcoholic: boozer, drunkard, lush, sot, wino
dishabillophobia: n. - fear of undressing in front of someone
dissonance: n. - 1. a combination of sounds that is unpleasant to listen to, especially a combination of musical notes that sounds displeasing or is unresolved, and needs to be resolved to a consonant chord: cacophony, discord [antonym: consonance] 2. a lack of consistency or compatibility between actions or beliefs: incongruity, inconsistency
diuretic: n. (see also adj.) - any substance (caffeine, alcohol, a proscribed diuretic drug, etc.) that tends to increase the flow of urine. In medicine, diuretics are used to treat heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension (high blood pressure) and certain kidney diseases
djyche: n. (pronounced "jik," this obscure slang term was coined by musician Dayv Sweetland) - 1. a person who sees around the common view of life 2. a profanity when no other profane word will suffice 3. a band in the early 2000s that didn't quite do it
dog days: n. - 1. the hot sultry period of summer between early July and early September in the northern hemisphere 2. a period of stagnation or inactivity
doggerel: n. - poetry of irregular or awkwardly forced rhythm, trite or awkwardly forced rhyme, and overused subject matter -- characteristic of nursery rhymes and children's songs -- usually regarded as badly written poetry but sometimes written intentionally for comic effect: banal poetry, crude verse
dollop: n. - (see also v.) 1. a shapeless mass or lump of something, especially of soft or mushy food; a spoon-sized quantity of a thick liquid or a soft solid, such as cream or ice cream: blob, glob, portion 2. a small amount: bit, iota, modicum
dolt: n. - a stupid person
Dome of the Rock: n. - (Islam) the famous, beautiful domed shrine in Jerusalem which is one of the holiest sites in Islam due to its association with Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. The rock within the structure is believed to be the point from which Muhammad was miraculously ascended through the seven heavens to the throne of God in 619 CE. It is sometimes called the Mosque of Umar (though it is not a mosque) after the location where the 2nd Caliph Umar prayed following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem. The shrine was built around 691 C.E. by the Umayyad caliph Abd aI-Malik. It is located within the site of the Jewish Temple and is thus a source of friction between Muslims and Jews {images: 1 & 2}: Mosque of Umar
donnybrook: n. - a big, loud, or crazy argument or fight: brawl, free-for-all, riot, uproar [The word is a reference to the Donnybrook Fair, a festival known for its drunken brawls that was held annually in Donnybrook, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, until 1855.]
doppelganger: n. - (German) the double or ghostly counterpart of a living person. To meet your doppelganger or see them in a vision or dream was considered a bad omen, often indicating that you would soon die. A variety of related beliefs about evil doubles are found in cultures around the world. A voodoo doll is an "image" of the person which, supposedly, can be used to control them. People's images in mirrors were thought in some cultures to reflect their souls, not merely the light reflecting off their bodies. Hence, breaking a mirror was seven years bad luck and photographs (being an exact, mirror image of the self) could steal your soul. One legend is that if you ever meet your doppelganger (in person) or see your double (in a mirror, photograph, or painting), your soul could become confused about where it belonged and jump into the identical image. Another related concept is that everyone has an evil twin somewhere in the world. A science fiction take on this theme is that a time traveler must absolutely never meet the past or future version of himself or herself; literally, the German word "Doppelgänger" means "double-goer": alter ego, double, evil twin, look-alike, wraith
dotage: n. - 1. feebleness of mind due to old age: senility 2. excessive fondness or foolish affection
double entendre: n. - a word or phrase having a double meaning, especially when the second meaning is risqué or indecent; a remark that is ambiguous and sexually suggestive
doula: n. - a woman who assists during childbirth labor and provides support to the mother, her child and the family after childbirth
doxology: n. - (Christianity) a traditional expression of worship or praise to God, especially a short hymn sung as part of church services; a rote response of the people acclaiming the sovereignty of God in a worship service
doxophobia: n. - fear of expressing opinions or of receiving praise
dreadnought: n. - 1. a battleship of the early 20th century armed with six or more guns having diameters of 12 inches or more 2. a thick, warm cloth, especially when warn as a garment 3. one that is among the largest or most powerful of its kind 4. a type of large acoustic guitar known for its formidable volume and booming bass
dromedary: n. - (Islam) a camel with one hump, native to northern Africa and southwestern Asia where it is now domesticated and bred as a beast of burden and for racing: Arabian camel
dross: n. - 1. any worthless matter separated from the better part: impure matter, waste 2. something that is worthless, commonplace, trivial, or of a low quality, and that should be removed: garbage, refuse, rubbish, trash 3. the scum that forms on the surface of molten metal, which forms as a result of oxidation during smelting: slag, scoria 4. the impurities of silver separated out in the process of melting
dualism: n. - 1. a theory that considers reality to consist of two irreducible elements 2. (Theology) the doctrine that the world is ruled by the opposing forces of good and evil 3. (Theology) the view that humans have two basic natures, the physical and the spiritual 4. (Psychology) the view that the mind and body function separately, without interchange 5. (Biology) the theory that blood cells have two origins, from the lymphatic system and from the bone marrow [antonym: monism, pluralism]
dubiety: n. - 1. the condition or quality of being doubtful or skeptical 2. a matter of doubt
dudgeon: n. - a state or fit of intense indignation: anger, displeasure, ill humor, resentment, sullenness
duenna: n. - an elderly woman serving as governess and companion to the younger ladies in a Spanish or Portuguese family: chaperon
duff: n. (see also v.) - 1. a stiff flour pudding boiled in a cloth bag or steamed, often containing dried fruit 2. decaying leaves and branches covering a forest floor 3. fine coal: slack 4. (slang) the buttocks
dunnage: n. - 1. loose packing material used to protect a ship's cargo from damage during transport; loose wood, matting, or similar material used to keep a cargo in position in a ship's hold 2. personal baggage: luggage 3. wooden frames used on concrete floors for stacking bags of rice, used to prevent direct contact between the grain and the floor
duodenum: n. - the first part of the small intestine extending from the stomach to the jejunum (the middle section of the small intestine)
duplex: n. - telecommunications describing how signals are sent and how characters appear on the screen when you communicate with a modem. Full duplex (no echo) means that you send characters to the other computer, and everything you see on the screen comes from the other computer. Half duplex (local echo) means that the characters you type appear on your screen directly
dura mater: n. - (Anatomy) the outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) which line the inside of the skull and cover the brain and spinal cord [see also: arachnoid, pia mater]
durbar: n. - (also spelled 'darbar') 1. an official public reception held by an Indian prince or a British governor or viceroy in India (during its era as a colony of Britain), or by a local chief or British official in colonial Africa 2. the court of a native ruler in India 3. the room in the palace of a native prince of India in which audiences and receptions occur: audience hall
dybbuk: adj. - (Jewish folklore) an evil spirit, either a demon or a sinner's ghost, that can possess the body of a living person and control their actions. It would leave the body it was possessing if it accomplished its goal or if an exorcism were performed
dyspnea: n. - difficulty in breathing caused, for example, by heart disease or overexertion
eccyesis: n. - a pregnancy resulting when a fertilized egg imbeds itself outside the uterus, usually within the Fallopian tube: ectopic pregnancy
ecdysiast: n. - a performer who provides erotic entertainment by undressing to music: exotic dancer, peeler, stripper, striptease artist
eclat: n. - 1. brilliant or showy success or effect: glory, prestige, notoriety, renown 2. ceremonial elegance and splendor: grandeur, pomp 3. enthusiastic approval: acclaim 4. a demonstration of admiration and enthusiastic approval: applause
ecliptic: n. - a great circle representing the seeming motion of the sun in relation to the earth during a year, so called because lunar and solar eclipses can only occur when the moon crosses this path (of course, it's really the motion of the Earth which gives the Sun the appearance of movement)
ectogenesis: n. - the development of an organism in vitro, or in an artificial environment outside the body in which it would normally be found
ectopic pregnancy: n. - [see: eccyesis]
edema: n. - 1. (Biology) the swelling of any organ or tissue due to excess fluid 2. (Botany) a swelling in a plant due to a buildup of excess water
effrontery: n. - shameless boldness: audacity, chutzpah, cheek, confidence, gall, immodesty, impudence, insolence, nerve
effulgence: n. - radiant splendor: brilliance
effutiation: n. - foolish, trivial, or idle talk: balderdash, bullshit, chatter, prattle, twaddle
eglantine: n. - a wild rose that has a long stem with prickles, fragrant leaves, and flowers of various colours: sweetbriar
egress: n. (see also v.) - 1. the action or right of going or coming out 2. a place or means of going out: exit
eisoptrophobia: n. - fear of mirrors or seeing oneself in a mirror: catoptrophobia
ekphrasis: n. - a vivid literary description of a specific work of art
elan: n. - 1. a feeling of strong eagerness or liveliness (in general, or for a specific person or cause): ardor, energy, enthusiasm, spirit, vigor 2. distinctive, self-confident elegance: dash, flair, style
electroencephalogram (EEG): n. - a written recording of electrical activity in the brain. Electrodes are attached to the scalp. Wires attach these electrodes to a machine (called an electroencephalograph) which records the electrical impulses in zig zag lines. The results can be used to detect various problems within the brain (such as epilepsy), measure information regarding sleep : and wakefulness, and confirm brain death: the brain wave test {machine, electrode wires, a reading}
eleutherophobia: n. - fear of freedom
ellipsis: n. - 1. (Rhetoric) the omission of a word or phrase necessary for grammatical correctness, but not necessary for understanding. The omission of "go" at the end of "I went but my wife didn't" is an example of ellipsis, or as in "The average person thinks he isn't." �Father Larry Lorenzoni 2. a printed mark, usually three dots (...), or, less often, asterisks (***) or a dash (��), used to indicate that something has been omitted from a text
elocution: n. - 1. the art of clear and effective public speaking by using expert control of voice and gesture 2. a style of speaking, especially in public
Elysium: n. - 1. (Greek Myth) a dwelling place assigned to happy or blessed souls after death: Paradise 2. any place or condition of ideal bliss or complete happiness
emanation: n. - 1. the act of emitting, sending out, or giving out something; causing to flow forth 2. something that is emitted or radiated (as a gas, an odor, or a light, etc.) 3. (Philosophy) (a) according to Plotinus, the idea that individual things, including human beings, are derived from the flow of the more primary "One," that individuals are nothing more than the faint ripples left by a primordial big splash (b) the belief of certain religious or philosophical traditions that a Supreme Being did not directly create the physical universe, but instead emanated lower spiritual beings who created the world; the origination of the world by a series of hierarchically descending radiations from the godhead through intermediate stages to matter 4. (Christianity) the creation and spread of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost 5. in various mystical traditions, a being or force which is a manifestation of God
embrasure: n. - 1. an opening with sides angled so that the gap is larger on the inside of the wall than on the outside, usually for allowing the firing of cannon 2. an opening in a wall, such as a door or a window
emeritus: n. (see also adj.) - one who is retired but retains an honorary title corresponding to that held immediately before retirement
emesis: n. - the act of vomiting: disgorgement, regurgitation, puking, spewing
emetic: n. - (Medicine) a drug used to cause vomiting, often used to quickly remove a poisonous or toxic substance someone has swallowed before it is absorbed into the body [antonym: anti-emetic]
emir: n. - literally, "commander" 1. a chieftain, prince, commander, or head of state in some Islamic countries of the Middle East 2. (Islam) an honorific title for a descendant of the prophet Muhammad
emirate: n. - a country ruled by an emir (Arab prince or commander)
emollient: n. (see also adj.) - an agent that assuages, mollifies, softens, or soothes, especially the skin
emolument: n. - the wages or benefits arising from office, employment, or labor: compensation, gain, payment, profit, salary
emphysema: n. - 1. a pathological condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are damaged and enlarged, causing breathlessness, labored breathing, lack of flexibility in the lungs and an increased susceptibility to infection. This condition is associated with smoking, chronic bronchitis and old age 2. an abnormal enlargement of an organ or body tissue caused by retention of air or gas
empiricism: n. - 1. the practice of relying on observation and experiment rather than theory, especially in the natural sciences 2. (Philosophy) a theory that all knowledge is derived from the experience of the senses 3. the practice of medicine that disregards scientific theory and relies solely on practical experience: quackery
emporium: n. - 1. a place where various goods are bought, sold or traded: bazaar, marketplace, mart 2. a large shop or retail store, especially one selling a wide variety of goods
encephalitis: n. - inflammation of the brain
enclave: n. - 1. a separate region or group completely surrounded by a larger one, especially when the two regions have significant cultural or political differences. Examples include a place where a minority gathers to live together (eg. Chinatown in New York City), regions of limited tribal sovereignty (eg. Native American reservations within the U.S.), and legally distinct sovereignties (eg. the Republic of San Marino within Italy) 2. (Medicine) a piece of tissue detached from its original organ and enclosed within a different organ
encomium: n. - a speech or piece of writing expressing high or intense praise, especially in a formal manner (originally, a song sung by the Greek chorus to honor the hero of the Olympic Games during the post-Games victory celebration): eulogy, laudatory ode, panegyric, tribute
enema: n. - an apparatus used to cause evacuation of the bowels (to make you poop) by pumping a liquid into the anus, often used for cleaning the lower bowel prior to a medical or surgical procedure
enfant terrible: n. - 1. a child whose inopportune remarks cause embarrassment 2. a person known for shocking remarks or outrageous behavior 3. a usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde
enissophobia: n. - fear of criticism
ennui: n. - weariness or dissatisfaction arising from lack of interest: apathy, boredom, jadedness, tedium
ens: n. - (Philosophy) 1. 'being' in the most general sense of the term, without particular qualities or characteristics; the state of existence 2. an actually existing being: entity 3. something supposed to condense within itself all the virtues and qualities of a substance from which it is extracted: essence
enteritis: n. - inflammation of the intestine, especially the small intestine, usually characterized by diarrhea and caused by bacterial or viral infection
entresol: n. - a low-ceilinged story between the ground floor and the first floor of a building, especially one in the form of a balcony: mezzanine
epanalepsis: n. - (Rhetoric) a phrase or set of words repeated later on in a speech or text as a rhetorical device, such as "The king is dead, long live the king," or "Believe not all you can hear, tell not all you believe." �Native American proverb, or "In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these. " �Paul Harvey
ephebiphobia: n. - fear of teenagers
Ephialtes: n. - 1. a nightmare; the demon who causes nightmares; in Greek literally, "he who jumps upon": incubus 2. one of the Giants who made war against the gods. He was defeated by Apollo
epidemic: n. (see also adj.) - a sudden, widespread development of something undesirable within a community, especially the rapid spread of a contagious disease
epidural: n. - regional anesthesia resulting from injection of an anesthetic into the epidural space of the spinal cord (sensation is lost in the abdominal and genital and pelvic areas, used in childbirth and gynecological surgery)
epigone: n. - a second-rate imitator or mediocre follower, especially of an important artist, writer, musician, or philosopher
epigram: n. - a short sentence, rhyme or poem that expresses an idea in a clever or amusing way
epistaxiophobia: n. - fear of nosebleeds
epistemology: n. - the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, especially with regard to its limitations, methods, foundations, and validity
epistemophobia: n. - fear of knowledge: gnosiophobia
epistrophe: n. - (Rhetoric) the ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words. For example: "We are born to sorrow, pass our time in sorrow, end our days in sorrow" and "of the people, by the people, for the people." �Abraham Lincoln [see also: anaphora]
epitaph: n. - 1. words written on a tombstone or at a grave in memory of the person who has died 2. a short speech, poem, or piece of writing celebrating the life of a recently deceased person
epithalamium: n. - a song or poem written to celebrate a bride and groom on the day of their wedding. Usually, it describes the events of the wedding day, praises the bride and groom, and wishes them a long and happy married life. Originating in ancient Greece (including such notable poets as Sappho and Catullus), later generations have continued to develop the epithalamium as a literary form: marriage song, nuptial ode
epithet: n. - 1. an abusive or insulting word or phrase: curse, expletive, insult, invective, slur 2. a descriptive word or phrase which highlights a certain quality in a person or thing. For example, �Richard the Lion-Hearted� is an epithet of Richard I 3. a characterizing word or phrase firmly associated with a person or thing and often used in place of an actual name or title, such as �man's best friend� for �dog� 4. (Biology) part of a scientific name designating a species or lower division of a genus (this applies only to formal names of plants, fungi and bacteria. In formal names of animals an epithet does not occur)
epitome: n. - 1. a summary or brief presentation of something, such as a written work: abbreviature, abstract, abridgement, compendium, summary, synopsis 2. a typical or ideal example: embodiment, paradigm, prototype, standard
eponym: n. - the name of a people, country, city, drug, disease, etc. which was derived from the name of an individual
eremite: n. - someone who lives in solitude, especially if for religious reasons: anchorite, hermit, recluse [antonym: cenobite]
eristic: n. (see also adj.) - 1. one given to or expert in dispute or argument; a person who is good at or enjoys controversy: debater 2. the skill or practice of debating, especially in a manner involving subtle logic or purposefully deceptive arguments
erotophobia: n. - fear of sexual love
errata: n. - 1. a list of mistakes and their corrections, especially a separate page in a book or periodical listing errors that were noticed after it was published but before it was distributed: corrigenda 2. the plural of erratum
erratum: n. - a mistake in printing or writing, especially one noted on a list that is included with a printed book
erythrophobia: n. - fear of the color red or blushing
escapologist: n. - someone who is expert in the art of escaping: escape artist
eschatology: n. - 1. the branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind 2. any system of doctrines concerning the ultimate end of things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, or the Last Judgment
esker: n. - a long narrow winding ridge of sand or gravel, deposited by a stream flowing under a glacier
espalier: n. - 1. a vine, shrub, or fruit tree that is trained to grow flat against a support (such as a wall or a trellis) 2. a railing or trellis on which fruit trees, shrubs or vines are trained to grow flat
Esperanto: n. - one of the early attempts at constructing an artificial international language, and the most widely spoken. It was invented by the Polish man Ludwik Zamenhof in 1887 (his Esperanto pseudonym was Doctor Esperanto: "somebody who hopes"). It was designed with a vocabulary based on word roots common to many European languages and a regularized system of inflection (see also: Volap�k)
esplanade: n. - 1. a flat open stretch of pavement or grass, especially one used for walking or driving along a shore 2. a wide level area outside a fortification, where attackers will be exposed to fire from defenders
estaminet: n. - a small (usually run-down or unkempt) bar, café, or room in a café where smoking is allowed
etiology: n. - (also spelled 'aetiology') 1. (Philosophy) the study of something's cause or origin 2. (Medicine) the scientific study of a disease or disorder's cause or origin
etiological myth: n. - a myth intended to explain the cause or origin of natural phenomena, of cult practices, of a place name, or of a family name
eudaimonia: n. - the state of being happy, healthy, prosperous and content; the emotional or psychological state of feeling in harmony with the world and happy with your own life; the spirit of joy and peace of mind
euphobia: n. - fear of good news or hearing good news
euphrasia: n. - an ancient remedy prepared from eyebright to treat conditions such as the common cold and various eye problems; in Greek literally, "cheerfulness" or "gladness" (sometimes used in its literal meaning)
eurotophobia: n. - fear of female genitalia: kolpophobia
eustachian tube: n. - a slender tube of bone and cartilage that connects the middle ear with the nasopharynx (behind the nasal cavity) and serves to equalize air pressure on either side of the eardrum
exegesis: n. - an explanation or critical interpretation, especially of a text: exposition
exegete: n. - a person who explains or interprets difficult parts of written works
exhortation: n. 1. an act or instance of arguing or persuasion 2. language intended to incite and encourage
existentialism: n. - (Philosophy) a 20th-century philosophical movement which emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as lacking meaning and as ultimately purposeless, stresses freedom of choice, requires individuals to take responsibility for their own actions and shape their own destinies (Prominent existentialists include Arthur Schopenhauer, S�ren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.)
expatriate: n. (see also v.) - 1. someone who has moved out of his or her own country, especially for a long time or permanently 2. someone who has given up their citizenship or whose citizenship has been taken away from them
eyeball frazzle: n. - the unofficial term for the condition of those who read too much information on the Internet
facetiae: n. - witty or humorous writings and sayings; merry conceits: witticisms
facsimile: n. - 1. an exact copy 2. a system of transmitting and reproducing graphic matter (as printing or still pictures) by means of signals sent over telephone lines: fax
factotum: n. - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities; an employee or assistant who serves in a very wide range of capacities; a general servant
fait accompli: n. - an accomplished and presumably irreversible deed or fact, used often as a term in political diplomacy
famulus: n. - a personal secretary, attendant or servant, especially to a scholar or magician
fana: n. - (Islam) in Sufism, the ecstatic union or annihilation of self/ego with the Divine
fanfaronade: n. - 1. empty or vain boasting; arrogant talk; a bragging or blustering manner or behavior: bluster, bragging, bravado, gasconade, ostentation, rodomontade, swaggering 2. a blast on trumpets: fanfare
farrago: n. - a confused mixture or collection, especially of stuff that clearly doesn't fit together: clutter, gallimaufry, hodgepodge, jumble, medley, mishmash, omnium-gatherum
fartlek: n. - a method of athletic training (especially for runners) in which strenuous effort and normal effort alternate in a continuous exercise consisting of bursts of intense effort loosely alternating with less strenuous activity. It was developed in the 1930s by Swedish coach Gosta Holmer (1891-1983). The word, which is Swedish, translates as "speed play"
fascia: n. - 1. a flat strip: band, fillet 2. an instrument panel or dashboard, as of an automobile 3. a board over a shop front, bearing the proprietor's name, etc.
fata morgana: n. - 1. a kind of mirage by which distant objects appear inverted, distorted, displaced, or multiplied 2. a mirage in the Strait of Messina (attributed to the Arthurian sorcerer Morgan le Fay)
fatiloquist: n. - someone thought to foresee or foretell the future: fortune teller, oracle, prophet, soothsayer
fatwa: n. - (Islam) a legal opinion issued by a qualified Muslim scholar (known as a Mufti) on matters of religious belief and practice, often given in response to questions posed by local Muslims. However, this decree is not legally binding and, consequently, people often obtain second opinions and receive different answers from different Muftis. In order for the fatwa to be valid or legitimate, the Mufti must have attained certain rigorous levels of religious and legal prowess
fealty: n. - 1. the feudal obligation by which the tenant or vassal was bound to be faithful to his lord 2. the oath taken by a feudal vassal expressing loyalty to his lord 3. the loyalty that someone owes someone else, such as citizens owe to their country, subjects to their sovereign, children to their parents, etc.: allegiance, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty
femtosecond: n. - one quadrillionth of a second
ferrule: n. - 1. a metal ring or band that holds parts of an item together {images: paintbrush ferrule, pencil ferrule} 2. a metal, rubber, or plastic cap on a stick, post, or string to protect it from damage {images: cane ferrule, umbrella ferrule, shoelace ferrule (also called an aglet)}
fettle: n. (see also v.) - 1. a state of health, fitness, wholeness, spirit, or form -- often used in the phrase 'in fine fettle' 2. loose sand or ore used to line the hearth of a reverberatory furnace in preparation for pouring molten metal
fiacre: n. - small horse-drawn carriage with four wheels, used in the past for hire like a taxi
fiat: n. - (Latin) literally, �let it be done�; 1. an authoritative and often arbitrary command that is achieved with little or no additional effort, especially by a person (such as a president, ruler, or judge) having absolute authority to enforce that command: decree, dictate, edict, mandate, order, pronouncement 2. a formal or official authorization of something: endorsement, sanction
fiat money: n. - money, especially paper currency, that is issued by government decree, has no inherent value (paper is simply paper, after all), and is not backed by reserves of gold or silver. The value of fiat money depends on the strength of the issuing country's economy. A government issuing too much fiat money is one cause of inflation
fichu: n. - a woman's triangular scarf or cape of lightweight fabric (usually lace), worn over the shoulders and crossed or tied in a loose knot at the breast
FIDE: n. - "Federation Internationale des Echecs," the governing body of world chess
fifth estate: n. - any class or group in society other than the nobility, the clergy, the middle (or "common") class, and the press
fillip: n. (see also v.) - 1. a snap of the finger forced suddenly from the thumb; a smart blow 2. something serving to rouse or excite: stimulus 3. a trivial addition: embellishment
film noir: n. - a film genre (especially of the 1940s and 1950s) that is fatalistic, pessimistic, or cynical in mood and often dealing melodramatically with urban crime and corruption
first estate: n. - the first of three traditional social and political estates in societies that date from feudal times, consisting of the clergy in France and the Lords Spiritual in England
fistula: n. - 1. an abnormal opening or passage between two organs or between an organ and the skin, caused by disease, injury, congenital malformation, trauma, or complications in certain medical treatments 2. a chronic inflammation in the ridge between the shoulder bones of a horse
Five Pillars of Islam, the: n. - the 5 core beliefs and duties of Muslims, which demonstrate a total commitment to God in word and in deed: (1) the declaration of faith that Allah is the only god and Muhammad is his last prophet [Shahada], (2) daily prayers facing Mecca [salat], (3) mandatory alms giving to the needy [zakat], (4) self-purification through fasting during the month of Ramadan [sawm], and (5) a pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able [the hajj]
flagon: n. - 1. a large vessel, usually of metal or pottery, with a handle and short spout and often a lid, used for holding wine or other alcoholic beverages: carafe, decanter, pitcher {image} 2. quantity of liquid that such a vessel can hold
flak: n. - 1. military guns designed to shoot upward at airplanes; any method of engaging military aircraft in combat from the ground 2. the bursting shells fired from antiaircraft guns: shrapnel 3. excessive or abusive criticism 4. the expression of disagreement: dissension, opposition
flak jacket: n. - a jacket containing metal plates for protection against flak: bulletproof vest
flame bait: n. - in an un-moderated newsgroup, a posting that contains opinions that prompt flames (abusive remarks and personal attacks) and that may ultimately launch a flame war. Flame-bait topics include abortion, homosexuality, and the desirability of using Microsoft products. True flame bait unintentionally elicits such responses; when such postings are made intentionally, the post is more properly called a troll
flap-dragon: n. - see 'snap-dragon' def. 1
flatfoot: n. - 1. a condition in which the arch of the instep is flattened so that the entire sole rests upon the ground 2. (slang) police officer, especially a patrolman walking a regular beat: pavement pounder, sidewalk snail 3. (slang) sailor
flat-square monitor: n. - a monitor that is more gently curved than most, but really neither flat nor square. Flat-square monitors have less distortion than most displays, but they are not free of spherical distortion, as flat-tension-mask monitors are
flat tension-mask monitor: n. - a monitor design that includes an absolutely flat (and therefore, distortion-free) display
flibbertigibbet: n. - a silly, flighty, or scatterbrained person, especially a pert young woman with such qualities; a female fool
flivver: n. - an automobile, especially one that is small cheap and old
florilegium: n. - a volume of writings: anthology
flotsam: n. - 1. floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo: floating debris [see also: jetsam, jettison, lagan, ligan] 2. a floating population (as of emigrants or castaways) 3. a collection of unimportant stuff: junk
fluidics: n. - the technology of using the flows and pressures of fluids in sensing, control, and information-processing systems with no moving parts
foible: n. - 1. a small weakness, slight frailty of character 2. the weakest part of a sword blade, from the middle to the point [antonym: forte]
folderol: n. - 1. nonsensical or foolish talk or writing 2. a showy but useless item: gewgaw, ornament, trifle 3. a nonsensical refrain in old songs (such as "fa-la-la-la-LA, la-LA, la, LA" in the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls")
foolscap: n. - 1. (British) a sheet of writing or printing paper measuring approximately 13.5 by 17 inches 2. a cap or hood usually with bells worn by jesters {image} 3. a cone-shaped cap for slow or lazy students: dunce cap {image}
fop: n. - a man who is devoted to or vain about his appearance or dress: coxcomb, dandy, gallant, lounge lizard, man of the world
forage: n. (see also v.) - 1. food for animals especially when taken by browsing or grazing 2. the act of searching for provisions
Forer effect: n. - the tendency to find personal meaning in statements which are designed to apply to many people (such as, "you have a desire to be respected by your friends and family" or "you recently had issues to deal with at work"). Statements of this type are often found in horoscopes, psychic readings, and some personality tests. This term originated in 1948 with the studies of psychologist Bertram R. Forer, who found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone: Barnum effect
forte: n. - 1. a strength, a thing one does particularly well 2. the strongest part of a sword blade, from the middle to the hilt [antonym: foible]
fortnight: n. - a period of 14 days: two weeks
fourth estate: n. - journalists, the public press, or the media in general (this is a modern extension of the original three estates of traditional social and political status during the fuedal era)
fractional reserve banking: n. - a banking system in which only a fraction of the total deposits managed by a bank must be kept in reserve. For example, using an initial deposit of $100 and a reserve requirement of 10% (the U.S. reserve requirement through 2008 and 2009), a bank could do one of two things. It could either keep $10 and loan out the remaining $90, or it could keep all $100 and loan out $1000 of money ($900 of which is commercial bank money created out of thin air) and still keep within its 10% requirement. Modern banking makes most of its money through the second option, effectively "loaning" a great deal more money than it could possibly have. As long as the bank makes up the difference through interest on its own investments, and as long as there is no run on the bank, this system generates huge profits. The creation of money by banks in this manner is a significant factor of inflation
francophobia: n. - fear of France or French culture: galiphobia, gallophobia
freemartin: n. - a sterile or otherwise sexually imperfect female calf born as the twin of a bull calf; a hermaphrodite cow
free radical: n. - an atom or molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons, no positive or negative charge, and is extremely reactive. Free radicals attempt to stabilize themselves by releasing the unpaired electron or stealing one from a nearby molecule. This can start a rapid chain reaction that creates many more free radicals. The robbing of electrons by free radicals can damage cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structures. When found in the body (produced by natural biological processes or brought into the body through tobacco smoke, toxins, or pollutants), free radicals contribute to the natural aging process and can cause or speed up a variety of health problems, such as cancer and Alzheimer's. Antioxidants, uric acid, and certain enzymes deactivate free radicals, preventing them from harming cells in the body
fretsaw: n. - a long, narrow-bladed saw with fine teeth, usually mounted across a U-shaped frame and used for cutting curved shapes in thin wood or metal: jigsaw, scroll saw
fricative: n. - (Linguistics) a consonant sound, such as f or s in English, produced by forcing one's breath through a narrowly open mouth
frisson: n. - an intensely thrilling, sudden, almost pleasurable experience of fear, especially one that inspires the sort of shiver, shudder, tingling, or goosebumps one might experience when riding an exciting roller coaster or watching a scary movie
frotteurism: n. - the act, fantasy or urge to achieve sexual gratification through rubbing the genital area against the body of a stranger (usually an unsuspecting, involuntary victim) in a densely packed crowd, such as in crowded trains, buses, and elevators
fundamentalism: n. - 1. the belief that every word in a particular sacred text is literal truth; the belief that religious or political doctrine should be implemented literally, not interpreted or adapted 2. (Capitalized) an conservative, evangelical (sometimes militant) movement in American Protestantism that arose in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to secularism and Protestant Liberalism. This movement stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming
funicular: n. - a cable railway ascending a mountain; especially one in which an ascending car counterbalances a descending car
furbelow: n. - 1. a pleated or gathered flounce on a woman's garment; a ruffle 2. something showy or superfluous; a bit of showy ornamentation
furigana: n. - (Japanese) small hiragana characters written above kanji (and these days sometimes above Roman letters) as a phonetic comment and reading aid. In horizontal text, yokogaki, they are placed above the line of text, while in vertical text, tategaki, they are placed to the right of the line of text
fustilugs: n. - a gross, fat, clumsy person, especially a fat and slovenly woman
fuzzy logic: n. - 1. (Logic) a branch of logic, originally developed by Lofti Zadeh, that recognizes a possible range of intermediate values between the logical extremes of true and false, as well as the possibility of partially belonging inside a set (for example, someone standing in the doorway to the kitchen only partially belongs to the set of people standing in the kitchen). It is designed to more closely resemble the way the human mind evaluates complex situations, and (because it allows degrees of uncertainty and imprecision to be expressed in the representation of knowledge) it is the basis of computer programming designed to mimic human intelligence. In application software, it has been incorporated into some spell checkers to suggest to the user the most likely substitutions for a misspelled word 2. (Mathematics) a form of algebra employing a range of values from �true� to �false� (expressed mathematically, between 1 and 0) that is used in decision-making with imprecise data, such as in artificial intelligence systems 3. (Computers) an approach to computing based on "degrees of truth" rather than the usual "true or false" (1 or 0) Boolean logic on which the modern computer is based. Fuzzy logic includes 0 and 1 as extreme cases of truth, but also includes various states of truth in between 4. (Video Recording) autofocus technology that increases focusing accuracy by rotating the lens by tiny amounts, not noticeable to the eye