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


  1. (verb ) to strike with the nail of a finger snapped from the end of the thumb.
  2. (verb) to tap or strike smartly.
  3. (verb) to stimulate or arouse
  4. (verb) to drive by or as a fillip
  5. (noun) an act or instance of filliping; a smart tap or stroke.
  6. (noun) anything that tends to rouse, excite, or revive; a stimulus.
  7. (noun) an embellishment that excites or stimulates
  8. (noun) one that is trivial or of little importance.

Word origin: (1425–75) late Middle English “philippe” to make a signal or sound with thumb and right forefinger; expressive word of uncertain origin.

Found in Forbes: Still, the common view that Hemingway wrote sentences that were short and simple has received a more general fillip by those who elevate Anglo-Saxon as a model for clarity.

Use it in a sentence: A fillip of cayenne pepper can change the tone of a meal.

gloaming (noun): twilight; dusk.

Word origin: (before 1000) Middle English gloming, Old English glōmung, derivation of glōm, “twilight”. Fell from currency except in Yorkshire dialect, but preserved in Scotland and reintroduced by Burns and other Scottish writers after 1785.

Found in Times Online: I will spare you tales of exploits in the gloaming world of fast gay encounters.

Use it in a sentence: As a child, all of my games felt more dangerous in the gloaming, just before I had to go to bed.

legerdemain (noun):

  1. sleight of hand.
  2. trickery; deception.
  3. any artful trick.

Word origin: from French “light of hand.”

Found in NY Times: That, I suspect, is one of Auster’s reasons for his well-known textual legerdemain…

Use it in a sentence: The woman’s legerdemain was so practiced that I didn’t realize her deception until I had already given her the money.

sui generis (adjective): of his, her, its, or their own kind; unique.

Word origin: Latin, of its own kind.

Found in NY Times: In the final volume of Marías’s sui generis novel, his narrator, an uneasy spy, peers into the territory of torture.

Use it in a sentence: Tennessee Williams was so concerned that his work be sui generis that he rarely went to the theater or read other plays.

vatic (adjective): of or characteristic of a prophet; oracular.

Word origin: From Latin vātēs, “seer”; of Celtic origin.

Found in Paper Cuts blog: William Major and Bryan Sinche, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, consider the vatic pronouncements of Ralph Waldo Emerson and conclude, “This is the prose of a crazy person.”

Use it in a sentence: Whenever a political pundit supports a candidate with vatic fervor, I immediately look upon that candidate with skepticism.


Check out these beautiful photographs from Scotland in the Gloaming.

Why aren’t we living in Scotland?