On Tuesdays I stretch my vocabulary skills by introducing you to five new words. Here are this week’s words to know:

desultory (adjective):

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random.
  3. having no set plan; haphazard or random.
  4. disappointing in quality or performance.

Word origin: from Latin dēsultōrius, “leaping,” from dēsultor, “a leaper,” from dēsultus, past participle of dēsilīre, “to leap down”: dē-, de- + salīre, “to jump”

Found in Paul Auster’s Invisible: Then, after a few desultory questions about my studies and the books I had been reading lately, he leaned back in his chair and said, apropos of nothing: I want to thank you, Walker.

Use it in a sentence: His anecdotes seemed desultory until he brought all of his incongruous stories together into one argument on the importance of science.

excoriate (verb, used with object):

  1. to denounce or berate severely; flay verbally.
  2. to strip off or remove the skin from.

Word origin: from Middle English excoriaten, from Latin excoriāre, excoriāt- : ex-, ex- + corium, “skin”

Found in NY Times: She is eloquent when praising it — fresh candy corn is (apparently) a revelation compared with the stale bits on grocery-store shelves — and even more eloquent when excoriating it.

Use it in a sentence: I was shocked when she publically excoriated her brother for missing the party.

fealty (noun):

  1. History/Historical.
    1. fidelity to a lord.
    2. the obligation or the engagement to be faithful to a lord, usually sworn to by a vassal.
  2. fidelity; faithfulness.

Word origin: from Middle English fealtye, from Old French fealte, from Latin fidēlitās, “faithfulness,” from fidēlis, “faithful,” from fidēs, “faith”

Found in NY Times: She takes to both the family and the business with zealous fealty.

Use it in a sentence: Janice’s fealty to the company prevents her from looking for a better job.

natty (adjective): neatly or trimly smart in dress or appearance.

Word origin: Perhaps variant of obsolete “netty,” from “net,” elegant, from Middle English, from Old French (see neat)

Found in Paul Auster’s Invisible: Freshly shaven, his hair combed, looking nattier and more pulled together than I had ever seen him.

Use it in a sentence: James was looking quite natty in his new suit and tie.

zaftig (adjective, Slang):

  1. (of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure.
  2. full-bodied; well-proportioned.

Word origin: from Yiddish zaftik, “juicy”; from Middle High German saftec, from saft, juice, from Old High German saf.

Found in Self Magazine (Jan 2010): Suddenly, jettisoning all these memories, thinking about the zaftig girl who scored unexpected fashion gems from Brooklyn stoops—it feels wrong somehow.

Use it in a sentence: She wanted to lose weight before she started to accept herself as a zaftig young woman.


Do you read Nylon? Well, even if you don’t, they’re giving away their holiday playlist for free!

Get it before February 28. Lots of good stuff…

I don’t know why Hillary Duff looks so uncomfortable here, but for some reason this pose has really grown on me. Thoughts?