It’s time once again to talk about some big words, and maybe, to learn them and use them.

I was inspired, believe it or not, by the sheriff from Las Vegas, whose news conference concerning that terrible shooting was very impressive.

Impressive because the good sheriff had a fine command of words. For instance, he spoke of a “plethora” of bullets. Not every news conference subject has such a command of the language.

And so we look, as usual, to the words of Merriam-Webster, whose periodic listings are found on your friendly computer.

The newest list is called Wonderful Words That You’re Not Using (Yet).

The first word, they admit, is fairly useless because it replaces simpler words, “book thief.” The word is biblioklept.

Lots of people have been biblioklepts. I kind of like it, because it seems to refer to kleptomaniac, which is a dandy.

I already knew the word “grommet” and you probably do, too. That’s the little strengthened ring around an opening, like the little metal thing that reinforces the hole for a shoelace.

Here’s a useful one you probably won’t use. “Meldrop.” It’s a pendant drop of mucus at the nose. It can also be a drop of dew, as on a flower. Certainly sounds better than “snot.”

Here’s a word I can live with — “nauseant.”

I think this is easy for most of us to define without looking anything up. A nauseant is anything that makes us nauseous. Something that turns your stomach. Even somebody, I guess.

This is frequently used as a medical term as an expectorant, meaning something that makes you get rid of unwanted phlegm.

You know that symbol of a line with a dot above and a dot below that designated division sign. You can’t make it with your computer. I tried. Anyway, it is called an obelus. It is also used in front of words that have different from normal pronunciations.

Here’s one anybody who enjoys live music ought to know. It’s wrest pin. Can you guess? It’s the pin on a stringed musical instrument, like a harp or a piano, around which the ends of the strings are coiled. It’s how the instrument is tuned.

Incidentally, M-W reports two words that have had the most look-ups during the past few days. They are “moron” and “terrorism.”

Terrorism, of course, because of the most recent shooting. Defined as “the use of violent acts to frighten.”

Moron comes along following a news conference by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, who dismissed an article by NBC news reporting he had called President Trump a “moron.”

A clinical definition of moron, used by psychologists, is a technical term for those with a certain degree of mental impairment. It is considered offensive now. The informal use denoted “a very stupid person.”

If you use these new words, they won’t think you are a moron.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at

(1) comment

Jose' Boix

An interesting column; one that shows why we should include word roots - etymology, suffixes and prefixes in our English courses. I am afraid that such course or approach is weaning with the advent of twitter, snapchat, texting and such other quick communication tools. However, the universal business world still relies on verbal presentations and oral communications, and our students are being shortchanged - using probably a word in decay.

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