Thursday, June 04, 2015

Thursday Thirteen 375: Spelling Bee

I meant to post this one last week, but — alas! — time and schedule did not allow for finishing it in time. Last Wednesday and Thursday was the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. There were 285 participants in this year’s bee, with 103 of them making their first trip. Though the majority of spellers come from the U.S. and its territories, this year’s contestants also came from the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

For a second year in a row, this year’s championship was awarded to co-winners, Vanya Shivashankar and Gokul Venkatachalam, both eighth graders. Vanya's older sister, Kavya, was the 2009 National Spelling Bee champion.

Here are some words recently encountered in my reading, with sources cited.

01. mordant: [mawr-dnt] adjective
biting and caustic in thought, manner or style: incisive
* Worthy treated him to a brief, mordant glance. (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

02. iniquity: [ih-nik-wi-tee] noun
1: gross injustice: wickedness 2: a wicked act or thing: sin
* It was to remain locked and off limits, a kind of shrine to iniquity. (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

03. fecund: [fee-kuhnd, -kuh nd, fek-uhnd, -uh nd] adjective
fruitful in offspring or vegetation: prolific (syn: fertile)
* After a millennium of perfect preservation, five years of exposure to the fecund air of Yucatan had turned what had once seemed like glittering cascades of ice into nasty excrescences. (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

04. propitiate: [pruh-pish-ee-eyt] trans, verb
to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of: appease: conciliate (syn: pacify)
* "Terrific,” Gideon said. “Maybe he’ll tell her what we have to do to propitiate the gods." (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

05. cogent: [koh-juh nt] adjective
1: having power to compel or constrain. 2a: Appealing forcibly to the mind or reason 2b: pertinent, relevant (syn: valid)
* Abe’s theory about the curse was simple and cogent. (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

06. ineradicable: [in-i-rad-i-kuh-buh l] adjective
incapable of being eradicated.
* Of all the surfaces on all the two hundred and six bones in the human body it is there, in that hidden and private place, that the signs of age and degeneration are most clearly and ineradicably engraved, decade by slow decade. (Curses! by Aaron Elkins)

07. equinoctial: [ee-kwuh-nok-shuh l, ek-wuh-] adjective
1: relating to an equinox or to a state or the time of equal day and night 2: relating to the region or climate on or near the equator 3: relating to the time when the sun passes an equinoctial point.
* It was in the latter days of September, and the equinoctial gales had set in with exceptional violence. (Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle)

08. brougham: [broo-uh m, broom, broh-uh m] noun
a light closed horse-drawn carriage with the driver outside in front.
* "Yes,” he continued, glancing out the window. "A nice little brougham and a pair of beauties."
(A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle)

09. propound: [pruh-pound] trans. verb
to offer for discussion or consideration
* "Well, really, I came to seek a theory, not to propound one." (The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle)

10. hamartia: [hah-mahr-tee-uh] noun
Def: (literature) the flaw in character which leads to the downfall of the protagonist in a tragedy
* But of course there is always a hamartia and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire YET MORE CANCER.
(The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene)

11. aqueous: [ey-kwee-uh s, ak-wee-] adjective
of, related to, or resembling water
* I nodded and sank into an aqueous sleep.
(The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene)

12. spicule: [spik-yool] noun
1: a slender pointed usually hard body 2: a spike-like short-lived prominence appearing close to the chromosphere of the solar atmosphere.
* The pitted facial scars from a barrage of two-hundred-mile-an-hour ice spicules and the limp caused by the loss of three toes to frostbite had added to his allure . . . (Icy Clutches by Aaron Elkins)

13. mélange: [mey-lahnzh, -lahnj] noun
: a mixture often of incongruous elements.
* This dubious and high-flown mélange had come from a “Voyages” program on “communication science,” which his producer had talked him into doing a year or so ago. (Icy Clutches by Aaron Elkins)

Did you recognize any of these words? How many were new to you?

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen


colleen said...

It's fun to test my knowledge, or lack of it. I once knew a blogger whose blog was named Melange. Makes sense.

Heather said...

Colleen: That would be a cool title for a blog!

Alice Audrey said...

I grew up hearing most of these words, but can't spell them for the life of me.

Ron. said...

Only #10 had me COMPLETELY stumped. All the rest I'd head / read before and either knew or remembered once I read the definition. But I have no idea how "hamartia" has escapred me all these years. Thanks!

Forgetfulone said...

Great words! I especially like propitiate. Fine word.

Heather said...

Alice: comment.

Ron: Glad you learned something new!

Forgetfulone: It is a good word, isn't it?