To quote Andrew Zangrilli, from whose Blogbook post I took this list:
Do you have a good vocabulary? Prove it, smarty.
Test your knowledge against the vocab champ, Judge Selya of the First Circuit.
The following word list was gathered from his recent decisions. How many can you define?
6-11: whiz kid
12-18: 2 smart
I got only one totally wrong (the first — Brother Auger, my seventh-grade Latin teacher, would be very disappointed in me); one other was close enough for government work if not for legal scrutiny. But I had to check the OED several times to make sure my instincts were right. These are, by and large, words you’ll never have a use for (unless you’re Judge Selya), but it’s always fun to stretch one’s vocabulary. (Via Transblawg.)
Addendum. Since I’m linking to this bit of japery on the part of the Tensor, I’d better append the real definitions, so as not to contribute to the Veil of Ignorance:
Algid – cold
Decurtate – to cut short
Dehors – outside
Exigible – that may be demanded
Encincture – to girdle
Asseverational – like a solemn affirmation
Chiaroscuro – interplay of light and shade/dark
Solatium – compensation (law: ‘sum of money paid, over and above the actual damages, as a solace for injured feelings’)
Isthmian – situated on or forming an isthmus (in particular, belonging to the Isthmus of Corinth; esp. in “Isthmian games”)
Anent – regarding, concerning
Sockdolager – decisive blow or answer; something outstanding
Nonce – current occasion, time being
Purlieu – place where one has the right to range at large, or which one habitually frequents, a haunt; outskirts
Gallimaufry – heterogeneous mixture, confused jumble
Perscrutation – thorough investigation, careful scrutiny
Longiloquent – (given to) speaking at great length
Integument – (natural) covering (skin, shell, husk, rind, etc)
Asthenic – weak
(Note: these are mostly not full definitions—that’s what dictionaries are for—just quick approximations that will give you the basic idea and will hopefully be easier to remember, should you wish to do such a thing.)
A couple of the etymologies are particularly interesting. Here’s anent(OED):
The form-history of this wd. presents several points not fully explained; the primitive form is the OE. phrase on efen, on efn, on emn, with the dative = ‘on even (ground) with, on a level with,’ whence later side by side with, beside, face to face with, opposite, against, towards, in view of, etc.; cogn. w. OS. an eban, MHG. eneben, neben, and (with phonetic –t) nebent. In Eng. also a final –t had been developed by 1200, interchanging with –d, perhaps by form-assoc. with some other word. At the same time this extended form occurs with final –e and –es, after datival and genitival words like on-bute(n, on-eanes. Following the latter class also, the final –s became in 14th c. –st, giving anentist, anentst, anenst, as the midl. form, in literary use in 17th c., and still dialectal. The north preserved the earlier anent, still common in north. dial., and in literary and legal Scotch, whence not unfrequent in literary Eng. during the present [ie, 19th!] century. The early form anende may have been influenced by the prec. phr. AN-END; anont, anond(e, are not explained. The development of meaning is largely parallel to that of again, against.
And here’s purlieu:
Exemplified in 1482 in the form purlew(e, app. an erroneous alteration of purley, syncopated from puraley, the natural Eng. spelling (cf. alley, city, army) in the 15th c. of AF. puralé, -alée, taken in its transferred sense (PURALÉ 2).
For the history of puralé, -alee (purale) in English between c1330 and 1482 written evidence is wanting; in Anglo-Fr. legal documents it continued to be written puralé, poralee (examples of which, of 1370-78, in the sense ‘purlieu’ appear under PURALÉ 2); but, as an English word, it would naturally become puraley, puraly (‘pur@le, ‘pur@li), and easily be syncopated to purley, purly, as still seen in the 16th c. and later, esp. in the comb. purleyman, which shows that this was the pronunciation even after the spelling was changed. Purlew may have originated in a scribal error, or as a pseudo-etymological spelling, erroneously associating the word with lew, leu, LIEU, place; app. it did not appear in law Fr. till later, when it was prob. taken over from Eng., and Gallicized as purlieu: see quot. 1574 [1574 in J. Dyer Reports (1592) 327 En le manor dun Fortescue de S. adjoynont al dit chace, come en le purlieu del chase.. le libertie del purlieu remayna unextincted].