Welcome back to vocabu-cise! On Tuesdays I stretch my vocabulary skills by introducing you to five new words. Here are this week’s words to know:

equanimity (noun): mental or emotional stability or composure, esp. under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.

Word origin: 1607, from French equanimite, from Latin æquanimitatem, from æquus “even” + animus “mind, spirit.”

Found in The Happiness Project: Those last-minute dashes for homework sheets or empty paper-towel rolls are hard to bear with equanimity.

Use it in a sentence: Identifying sexism in casual conversation requires a certain equanimity—too much fervor and the sexist invariably draws the “emotional” card.


  1. (adjective) serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial and often inferior
  2. (noun) an artificial substance or article used to replace something natural or genuine; a substitute.

Word origin: from German, “replacement,” from ersetzen, “to replace,” from Old High German irsezzan

Found in Amazon review: There’s something ersatz in Bernard Butler’s throwback production, but his Stax-inflected work with Duffy on Rockferry and now his Roy Orbison styled work with Findlay Brown certainly can press emotional buttons.

Use it in a sentence: Much of the literature for young adults from the 1960s is written in an ersatz voice mimicking J.D. Salinger’s.


  1. (noun) a retailer of small articles, esp. a peddler of fruits and vegetables; hawker.
  2. (noun) a person who employs showy methods to effect a sale, win votes, etc.: the crass methods of political hucksters.
  3. (noun) a cheaply mercenary person.
  4. (noun, informal) a persuasive and aggressive salesperson.
  5. (noun, informal) a person who works in the advertising industry, esp. one who prepares aggressive advertising for radio and television.
  6. (verb) to deal, as in small articles, or to make petty bargains: to huckster fresh corn; to huckster for a living.
  7. (verb) to sell or promote in an aggressive and flashy manner.

Word origin: Middle English, probably of Low German origin; akin to Middle Dutch hokester.

Found in Star Trek (yeah, that’s right): You are a fine debater, sir. It is a pity that you have used your verbal skills for mere hucksterism and the advancement of your own greed

Use it in a sentence: I have always been turned off by the culture of hucksterism found in organizations like PETA and Greenpeace that encourages young people to accost me at every street corner.

imprimatur (noun):

  1. Official approval or license to print or publish, especially under conditions of censorship.
  2. Official approval; sanction.
  3. A mark of official approval

Word origin: From New Latin imprimātur, let it be printed, third person singular present subjunctive passive of Latin imprimere, to imprint

Found in The Atlantic: Only four school gardens across the country bear the coveted Chez Panisse Foundation imprimatur (just two of them in California), but their influence has been profound.

Use it in a sentence: Artists who could not acquire their country’s imprimatur used whatever means necessary to disseminate art through uncensored channels, such as the mail and graffiti.

palliate (verb):

  1. To relieve or lessen without curing; mitigate; alleviate.
  2. To try to mitigate or conceal the gravity of (an offense) by excuses, apologies, etc.; extenuate.

Word origin: Middle English palliaten, from Late Latin palliāre, palliāt-, to cloak, palliate, from Latin pallium, cloak

Found in The Atlantic, quoting George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier: Unemployment is an endless misery that has got to be palliated.

Use it in a sentence: I am always amused by the way that my students try to palliate me by giving me a myriad of excuses for late papers or missed classes.

And here’s a bonus word since you didn’t learn any new words last week:

Pyrrhic (adjective): of, pertaining to, or resembling Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, or his costly victory.

Word origin: 1885, from Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who defeated Roman armies at Asculum, 280 B.C.E., but at such cost to his own troops that he was unable to follow up and attack Rome itself, and is said to have remarked, “one more such victory and we are lost.”

Found in: conversation with J and friends.

Use it in a sentence: The first night of the bachelorette party was in some ways a Pyrrhic victory: we had such a great time the first night, that we were too wiped out to go out on the second.

Other meanings of pyrrhic:

(adjective) A metrical foot having two short or unaccented syllables.
(noun) an ancient Greek warlike dance in which the motions of actual warfare were imitated.