Vaughan’s vocabulary

Don Vaughan provides infrequently used words to strengthen your vocabulary.

What is a noun for a slender, graceful woman or girl (this word is in the title of a Nathaniel Hawthorn story)? James Joyce in Ulysses uses a two-syllable word that means a young man; what is it? What’s a verb that has a “double r” in the middle and can be used to answer this question: Testimony favorable to Alfred Dreyfus was what? I found a noun used by Hamlet when he reversed the premise of his opponent’s argument and used it against him (“to hoist him on his own _”). And give me the adverb for coming across as affectedly modest, reserved or serious (its second syllable, accented, and third syllable should rhyme with “your tea”).

Let me know how you did with the CoDondrums and this week’s word quiz.


1. unflappable (un-FLAP-uh-bul)

A. not versatile
B. not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis
C. when something is tied or taped down
D. loquacious

2. popinjay (POP-in-jay)

A. someone who can get the job done
B. a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter; coxcomb, fop
C. the butt of a joke
D. None of the above

Let’s see how you did with the first two. Unflappable is B. For popinjay, the definition came from Dictionary.com. It is B.

3. agley (uh-GLEE)

A. cultivated
B. awry, wrong
C. beautiful
D. demure

4. rakish (RAY-kish)

A. dissolute
B. dashingly or carelessly unconventional
C. jaunty
D. All of the above

5. heinous (HAY-nus)

A. amicable
B. hatefully, shockingly evil
C. open, candid
D. irascible

No. 3 is B. As for No. 4 and No. 5, you are correct if you chose the letter that is one of my initials.

Last week’s mystery word is calves.

This week’s mystery word to solve is often mispronounced in giving its third syllable a “chuh” sound rather than a “suh” sound. Its last syllable appears twice in the title of a song by the Beatles.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., of Eupora is a speech and theater professor at East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle. Contact him at dvaughan@eastms.edu.