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Wayne State Word Warriors release second annual top 10 words worth reviving

March 31, 2011
As part of its initiative to draw attention to some of the English language's most expressive - yet regrettably neglected - words, Wayne State University has released its annual list of the year's top 10 words that deserve to be used more often.
Now in its third year, Wayne State's Word Warriors series promotes words worthy of retrieval from the linguistic closet.

The Word Warriors' extensive list is composed of submissions from both administrators of the website as well as the public; logophiles worldwide have seen their favorite words brought back from the brink of obsolescence at wordwarriors.wayne.edu. New entries are posted there, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, each week.

"The English language has more words in its lexicon than any other," says Jerry Herron, dean of WSU's Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the website's editorial board. "By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons."

And now, the Word Warriors' 2011 list of eminently useful words that should be brought back to enrich our language:

• Concupiscence
Sexual desire or longing; lust.
Too many political figures, drunk on power and the heady liquor of self-esteem, let concupiscence get the best of them.

• Draconian
Hard, severe, cruel. From Draco, a politician of ancient Athens whose codified laws were notorious for their severity, such as death for minor offenses.
I hear the government is considering draconian penalties for those who leak classified documents.

• Evanescent
Ephemeral; fleeting.
The younger you are, the more evanescent your dreams of true love tend to be.

• Hornswoggle
To deceive.
Bernie Madoff's brilliant Ponzi scheme secured his spot in the hornswogglers' hall of fame.

• Ossify
To harden like bone; to become set in one's ways. (From the Latin "os," for "bone.")
Bert felt as though if he waited for Alice any longer he was just going to ossify right there on her doorstep.

• Paroxysm
A sudden, uncontrollable outburst.
Leonard was surprised, to say the least, when his pledge of love sent Emily into paroxysms of laughter.

• Penurious
Extremely stingy; miserly; cheap to a fault. . . . Also may mean indigent.
Gloria had tons of money, but she was so penurious that her mom had to live her last years in a crummy cold-water flat.

• Schadenfreude
A German word meaning delight in the misfortune of others.
Those of us who had weathered the barbs of Spiro Agnew were treated to an exquisite taste of schadenfreude at his downfall.

• Sibilance
Producing a hissing sound, like that of "s" or "sh."
...the tinkle of the bells, the immediate sibilance of rubber heels and starched skirts, the querulous murmur of voices... (William Faulkner, The Wild Palms)

• Skullduggery
Underhanded or unscrupulous behavior. Trickery.
The administration's credit-card reform was designed to counter some of the skullduggery through which banks put the pinch on trusting consumers.

To see the full list of weekly entries, or to submit a word for consideration, visit wordwarriors.wayne.edu.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

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