Category Archives: vocabulary

Nonplussed?

Has the meaning of nonplussed morphed?  Back in grade school, it was a vocabulary word that meant confused or surprised to the point of being uncertain how to react.  I’ve read A LOT of fan fiction that misused it in place of nonchalant.  Has that caused the meaning to morph, at least colloquially in North America, to calm/casual/nonchalant?  I just read an ESPN article that used it in a context that is definitely the latter.

Or maybe that’s just more poor editing from ESPN.

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Expanding my English

Sometimes I despair of being truly fluent in any language, including my native tongue. There are always words, phrases, colloquialisms that are new or old or just different.

Recently discovered words:

kapok, meaning the silky down that invests the seeds of a silk-cotton tree (kapok tree), Ceiba pentandra, of the East Indies, Africa, and tropical America: used for stuffing pillows, life jackets, etc., and for acoustical insulation.

Discovered via the crossword puzzle — it was spelled by default when I filled in the surrounding words, and I had to look it up to see if it was real.

hustings: (before 1872) the temporary platform on which candidates for the British Parliament stood when nominated and from which they addressed the electors

A character in a novel was standing near the hustings, and I couldn’t set the scene in my mind until I learned what that mean.

sador: a stringed Indian instrument.

Another crossword discovery. I wanted to wedge “sitar” in that spot, but the surrounding words didn’t make sense if I did so.

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Filed under english, language generally, vocabulary