Here’s part two of the Vocabulary from last month’s Article of the Month! If you haven’t read these articles yet, I recommend it! 🙂
Louche (pronounced loo – sh)
Raymond, an incorrigible wag, remarked that the Oscar red carpet was full of stars walking around in louche-fitting dresses.
“Disreputable, but an appealing way”—oh what a subjective definition! One person’s raunchy is another person’s fancy. That said, imagine the Oscar red carpet. Out of the procession of outfits one will be so arrestingly vulgar that you can’t look away. Indeed, you might find yourself squinting to get a closer look. Originally, that is what “louche” meant in French, “to squint”. I can just imagine fin-de-siecle Frenchmen squinting through the windows along Moulin Rouge.
Three years of Toastmasters turned Daryl from a wallflower to an impassioned public speaker, his stuttering and mumbling morphing into polished orotundity.
Not be confused with rotund, which means portly, orotund is more about sonorous and inflated language. I think of Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg address (“Four score and seven years ago…”). Sometimes orotundity can verge on the downright pompous. Think of some U.S. presidential candidates answering the question, “Why do you think you’d be the best person for the job?”
Felix doesn’t say much in social gatherings; unless, that is, he can make his pedantry the center of attention, transfixing (or repulsing) others with the niceties of string theory or Shakespearean arcana.
You might know the word pedantic, which means overly concerned with trivial academic details. Pedantry is simply the noun form of pedant. Of course, I can regal you with my pedantry by peeling back the etymology of the word itself: did you know that pedante in Italian is a “schoolmaster” and an apparent alteration of the Latin paedagogantem? But you don’t need to know all that.
Interestingly, I found a quote that just happened to use both the words “pedantry” and “orotund” in the same sentence. And it’s a gem:
“The odd thing about the word orotund is that its only currency, at least in its non-technical sense, is among those who should most abhor it, the people of sufficient education to realize its bad formation; it is at once a monstrosity in its form & a pedantry in its use.” [Fowler]
That Betty and Stephen broke up didn’t surprise many of their friends who would often see Betty carping about the way Stephen dressed, the way he walked, and, it seemed, even the way he breathed.
To carp is to find fault and criticize trivial details. Mr. Fowler, from the quote above, was quite the carper. He liked to point out whenever any pretention crept into a person’s writing, calling the use of French words/phrases in English prose an example of “a display of superior knowledge as great a vulgarity as display of superior wealth”.
One can carp about issues well beyond the pale of grammar. People carp about what others wear, about what others eat, about how others talk. And the list goes on and on.
After her trip to Barcelona, Sally affected a Spanish accent whenever pronouncing anything that had a remotely Iberian tinge, going so far as to correct her friends whenever they said the word “Barcelona” (It’s “Bar-thay-LO-na”).
The common use of this word might appear on the GRE. But the GRE is more concerned with the definition that means assuming a phony appearance because you want to show off, “putting on airs” as it is also known. When using GRE words in polite conversation, it’s important to slip them in there as naturally as possible, lest somebody accuse you of being affected.