Today’s Five New Words

A few months ago, I took Seth Godin’s advice and committed to learning five new words a day. I’ve been pretty consistent with this goal.  Monday through Friday, I take the next five words from Seth’s, “Million Dollar Words,” PDF, write them on note cards, and then practice memorizing them a few times a day.  Going forward, I’m going to starting publishing a weekly post with my five favorite new words of the week.

Here are the five new words I’m learning today:

deus ex machina: Originally in Classical Greek drama, the god that came down to earth to solve a problem that couldn’t be solved by any logical turn of events. It now refers to any chance event that intervenes and prevents a disaster from occurring. Sort of like a miracle, but not as good. Pronounced DAY-ous EX MA-keen-ah

devil’s tattoo: A bit obscure, but poetic, way of describing a nervous hand or foot tapping. Drumming your fingers while waiting for an important phone call is a way of making the devil’s tattoo.  Sometimes shortened to just “tattoo.”

diacritical: A somewhat scientific way of saying, “distinctive.” One of the diacritical differences between a bird and an octopus is that a bird has two legs and an octopus has eight arms. It’s pronounced dye-a-KRIT-i-kle.

diaphanous: Usually used to describe fabric, the word means sheer, delicate and flowing.  Some sexy nightgowns are diaphanous, as are angel’s wings and nylon curtains. Pronounced d/e-AFF-ah-nuss.

diatribe: A bitter criticism or denunciation; an abusive dispute. Say DIE-uh-trybe.