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Vocab Wednesday: “Qui” Words


Many have heard of Don Quixote but few know there is a word in the English language derived from this man’s exploits (or lack thereof). Don Quixote was an old man on an old horse, and fancied himself a chivalrous knight who would save the world. Today quixotic describes any vastly idealistic notions or ideals. For instance, there have been many quixotic construction projects in the history of humanity: the great pyramids of Giza come to mind (despite their grandeur, the notion of building a pyramid to the sky is simply pretty grand and deluded). Even the Brooklyn Bridge, at least at the time, was seen as quixotic. Many lost their lives and the utility of having a bridge connect Manhattan to Long Island didn’t strike many as very sensible.


Another eponym, though one that isn’t as droll, quisling describes a man named Vidkun Quisling who, when his native Norway was under Nazi control, collaborated with Hitler’s government. As we all know, Hitler ultimately ended up losing, and so did Vidkun Quisling. Though he was executed in 1945 for being a traitor, his name lives on in the word quisling, which describes a person who is a traitor who actively collaborates with the enemy.


For three out of every four years, many presidential hopefuls are quiescent, at least on the national stage. That doesn’t mean they are quiet per se, but that they are in a state of inactivity. With Trump taking to the stump (and others like him), the next year will be anything but a period of quiescence for presidential hopefuls.


Vocabulary Man: A quibble is an objection or criticism.

Mr. Punctilio: Actually, a quibble is a minor objection over a trivial point. And therefore, it is a slight criticism or objection.

Vocabulary Man: Thanks Mr. Punctilio for the quibble on quibble.


Perhaps you had a teacher who was notorious for giving pop quizzes. The word quizzical actually doesn’t relate to such a teacher. Though it might describe your reaction to that teacher’s quizzes. If you are mildly puzzled, you are quizzical. Typically, the word describes not the person but his or her reaction or behavior.

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2 Responses to Vocab Wednesday: “Qui” Words

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