Callipygian causes Kerfuffle: Top 10 Favorite Words

#1: Defenestration

Definition:

a throwing of a person or a thing out of a window; or a usually swift expulsion or dismissal

Example:

“If you were expecting Michael Steele to stay angry at Republicans over his defenestration from the [Republican National Committee], you were wrong. In the weeks after he lost the job, Steele has appeared on MSNBC and Fox News…” – David Weigel, Slate.com, Jan 31, 2011

#2: Flibbertigibbet

Definition:

a silly flighty person

Example:

“I was very good at being a girl and I’m not quite so good at being a woman. I was good at being quite flighty and dippy and a flibbertigibbet. But I don’t feel so convincing as a responsible human being.” – Actress Emily Mortimer interviewed in The Telegraph, September 19, 2005

#3: Kerfuffle

Definition:

disturbance; fuss

Example:

“‘Glee’ Cast Members React to GQ Kerfuffle” – Headline on WashingtonPost.com, October 21, 2010

About the word:

Kerfuffle is the most recent coinage on this list, dating to 1946. It may be an alteration of the Scottish carfuffle, from the Scottish Gaelic cearr (“wrong; awkward”) plus fuffle (“to become disheveled”).

#4: Persnickety

Definition:

fussy about small details; fastidious

Example:

“I have seen the most reluctant and persnickety buyers change before my eyes when they at last encounter the Perfect House. It’s downright touching.” – Felicia Stidham, TheGeorgetownDish.com, February 13, 2011

#5: Callipygian

Definition:

having shapely buttocks

Example:

“His most prominent work, however, was on the cover of book jackets, where his signature images were of strikingly fierce, hard-bodied heroes and bosomy, callipygian damsels in distress.” – From an Obituary of Frank Frazetta by Bruce Weber and Dave Itzkoff, New York Times, May 10, 2010

#6: Serendipity

Definition:

luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for

Example:

“Old-time print journalists bemoan the absence of serendipity – the accidental discovery of stories that readers didn’t know they were interested in reading.” – L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2010

#7: Mellifluous

Definition:

having a smooth rich flow

Example:

“Ted Williams, a scruffy former drug addict and alcoholic, became a viral sensation this week after he was filmed by a newspaper reporter delivering lines in a mellifluous radio voice.” – NineMSN.com, January 6, 2011

#8: Discombobulated

Definition:

upset; confused

Example:

“On their final possession [of Super Bowl XLV], Pittsburgh looked discombobulated. They were slow to get plays off. Wallace was openly looking at Roethlisberger and motioning with his hands that he didn’t know which route to run.” – Ken Trahan, NewOrleans.com, February 7, 2011

#9: Palimpsest

Definition:

writing material used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased; or, something with diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

Example:

“Rome, the old hands always say, is a palimpsest. For folks like you and me, that means layer upon layer of history, buried right there in the Eternal City clay.” – Paddy Agnew, The Irish Times, June 23, 2010

#10: Sesquipedalian

Definition:

long; characterized by the use of long words

Example:

“Plus he has a weakness for what we can mischievously call sesquipedalian excess: Look out for such terms as ‘epiphenomenal,’ ‘diegetic’ and ‘proprioceptive.'” – Jabari Asim, Washington Post, November 19, 2000

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