SULLY: to stain or tarnish


The word sully is usually used in connection with the words “one’s reputation.”   It refers to the intentional act of defaming someone, of saying or doing something that stains their reputation and destroys their integrity in the public’s eyes.  It is a word that comes to us in English from the French  word souiller  which means […]

SHORT SHRIFT: little attention or consideration in dealing with a person or matter


I suspect that everyone has one of those reocurring dreams that has something to do with (her) career.   As a student it usually had something to do with getting to the day before graduation and receiving a message that the registrar has discovered that you lack one math course in order to meet the graduation […]

FALLACIOUS: deceptive, misleading


It’s a little bit more serious than calling it just a “lie.”  Fallacious is a word that implies a serious intent to deceive, to mislead.    Lies can sometimes just bubble out without a lot of preconceived intent.   But a fallacy is an idea expressed which the “teller” knows to be untrue and which is intended […]

BESOT [bee-SAHT]: to infatuate; obsess (sometimes with drink)


She didn’t mean it in a positive way.   In fact, she was being very negative about people being “besotted” with a particular political attitude. I thought to myself, I don’t think there is such a word.   I was right.  There is a word besot, though.  So I had a little argument with my friend, Riekie […]

HYPERBOLIC [hahy-per-BOL-ik]: intentionally over-stated, exaggerated


I”m not a mathematician by any way you define it, so I’m going to intentionally avoid the definition of hyperbolic as it relates to math. Instead, I’m going to ask you to visit the meaning of hyperbolic expressions, or hyperbole, as it is employed in speech patterns.   It is a term we encounter occasionally, usually […]

JANISSARY: a devoted, loyal, subservient follower


There are sufficient numbers of examples of people who have devoted themselves to others to the point of becoming a janissary.   That word is meant to depict a person who is unflinching in one’s devotion to another, to the point of becoming subservient to them in most things.   While it is commendable to  be faithful […]