Word of the Week: Denouement

Word: denouement

Pronunciation: day-noo-MAH

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s vocabulary post is a special one because it’s my last Word of the Week! This segment has been really fun to write and I’ll certainly miss it, but with all the major updates I’m planning for my blog, I won’t have room for it anymore. So with that in mind, I picked out one final word from the 100 most beautiful words in English that would be most fitting for my last vocabulary entry. Here’s to the “denouement” of my Word of the Week!

A “denouement” is the final part of a story in which the plot is tied together and the conflict is resolved. The word arose in the mid 18th century and is originally a French noun meaning “outcome”. This noun derives from the verb dénouer, meaning “to unravel”.

“Denouement” is a word that every fiction writer should know, as it’s an important part of any plot. After all the action has risen and fallen and the climax has reached its end, the “denouement” is the final part of the story when everything comes together: every remaining strand of the conflict is resolved and the story reaches its conclusion. Note that aside from its literary definition, “denouement” can also work in real-world contexts meaning “the climax of a chain of events, usually when something is decided or made clear”. Whether you use it to define the conclusions in your stories or simply keep it in mind when outlining your plots, “denouement” is a key word to have in your vocabulary!

Thanks for reading my Word of the Week segment! I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

Word of the Week: Effloresce

Word: effloresce

Pronunciation: e-flə-RES

Part of Speech: verb

Definition:

  1. lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air
  2. reach an optimum stage of development; blossom

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I learned from the 100 most beautiful words in English. Spring is finally here, so what better time to learn a word related to flowers and blossoming? If you’re inspired to write floral poetry this season, you may find it fun to describe the way the flowers “effloresce”!

To “effloresce” is to blossom or reach an optimum stage of development. To “effloresce” is also to lose moisture and turn to a fine powder upon exposure to air. The word arose in the late 18th century and comes from the Latin verb efflorescere, meaning “to bloom”. This verb comprises the preposition e- “out” and the verb florescere “begin to bloom”, the latter of which derives from the noun floris “flower”.

While the more obvious definition of “effloresce” is “to blossom” due to its relation to the word “flower”, it also functions as a chemistry term referring to salts that crystallize on a surface or to a surface that becomes covered with salt particles. The noun form “efflorescence” is also a chemistry term for the migration of salts through a porous surface (though I much prefer its other meaning: “blossoming”). Be careful not to confuse the verb “effloresce” with “effervesce” (“to give off bubbles” or “to be vivacious and enthusiastic”) or the adjective “efflorescent” with “evanescent” (“soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence”)! If you love writing about flowers or other things that bloom, “effloresce” may be a great word to include in your vocabulary!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Word of the Week: Calumniate

Word: calumniate

Pronunciation: kə-LƏM-nee-ayt

Part of Speech: verb

Definition: make false and defamatory statements about

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s yet another word I learned from the Association game in the Elevate – Brain Training app. Like many of the words in the game, this one was a formal synonym for one of the common words in the given set—in this case, the word “insult”. It certainly works as a literary term; in stories where slander is rampant, expect certain characters to “calumniate” their enemies!

To “calumniate” someone is to make defamatory and false statements about them. The word arose in the mid 16th century and comes from the Latin verb calumniari, meaning “to accuse falsely”. This verb stems from the noun calumnia, which means “false accusation”.

The verb “calumniate” is related to the noun “calumny”, meaning “the making of false and defamatory statements in order to damage someone’s reputation”. If you have trouble remembering what these words mean, try associating them with the word “callous”, which means “showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others”. If your characters make a habit of insulting others, “calumniate” may be a good word to include in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Word of the Week: Gasconade

Word: gasconade

Pronunciation: ɡas-kə-NAYD

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: extravagant boasting

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Here’s another word I learned from the Pronunciation game in the Elevate – Brain Training app. I had no idea what it meant when I first read it, but after looking it up, I knew I’d have no trouble remembering its definition. Simply associate this word with the pompous Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and you’ll never forget that “gasconade” refers to exaggerated boasting!

“Gasconade” is a literary term for extravagant boasting. The word arose in the mid 17th century and comes from the French noun gasconnade, meaning “boasting”. This noun stems from the verb gasconner, which means “to brag”.

The word “gasconade” originates from the name Gascon, as the citizens of Gascony in southwestern France were considered prone to bragging; the word “gascon” is even synonymous with “braggart”. Notably, aside from a noun, “gasconade” also used to be a verb meaning “to talk boastfully” and an adjective meaning “of or pertaining to extravagant boasting”, but both these definitions have become obsolete. If your characters are excessively boastful, “gasconade” may be a good word to include in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Word of the Week: Halcyon

Word: halcyon

Pronunciation: HAL-see-ən

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


I recently revisited the 100 most beautiful words in English for vocabulary inspiration, and after this one jumped out at me, I knew I had to write about it next. Although every story must have conflict to move forward, writers still find plenty of use for adjectives to describe times of peace and happiness. When writing about past times of idyllic tranquility, you can hardly get more poetic than “halcyon”!

“Halcyon” refers to a past time period that was idyllically peaceful and happy. The word arose in late Middle English and traces back through the Latin noun alcyon to the Greek noun alkuōn, meaning “kingfisher”. This noun is thought to be derived from two roots: the noun háls “sea” and the verb kuōn “to conceive”.

If you’re curious why the Greek word for “halcyon” means “kingfisher“, it’s because the word derives from the name of Alcyone in Greek mythology: after she threw herself into the sea to be reunited with her husband Ceyx in death, the gods took pity on the tragic couple and turned them both into “halcyon” birds, otherwise known as kingfishers. It’s from this story of Alcyone and Ceyx that the phrase “halcyon days” derives, denoting the calm period in winter when no storms occur. As you’d likely expect, “halcyon” also works as a noun, either as another word for a kingfisher of the genus Halcyon or the mythical bird that, according to ancient writers, had the power to calm the wind and waves. If you write stories that mention the peaceful days of the past or the creatures of Greek mythology, “halcyon” is an interesting word to include in your writing!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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