Mutually destructive.

“The earliest battles were internecine and costly, piles of dead crowding battle-lines that barely moved.”

Note: Internecine comes from internecinus, the Latin word meaning ‘very deadly, murderous, destructive’, a definition that is still common. []

Modern usage, however, often connotes internal conflict, as in, “Internecine power struggles within the regime led to its eventual downfall.”

Taking these variations into account, it’s best for the internal conflict to be a little… murderous.

“The internecine sibling rivalry took an unexpected turn during a church outing to the axe-throwing venue.”



Preoccupied with pleasure and vice.

“The dissolute professor lost his tenure when he showed up shitfaced for an AM lecture on Wittgenstein.”

Note: Dissolute often refers to an over-indulgence in refined pleasures, as in, “His inheritance financed a dissolute decade that left him fat, penniless, and syphilitic.”

Have any good examples of dissolute characters? I’m thinking Hank Moody from Californication and Maurice Spandrell from Point Counterpoint.



A person, thing, or event that’s in the wrong time period or chronological order.

“The play ostensibly took place in 1923, though the men were wearing anachronistic top hats.”

“The smallest anachronism will ruin a historical drama.”

Also used as a synonym for vestige, as in, “Ben’s mid-life crisis fomented his belief in monogamy as an anachronism.”



Being almost anal about details, meticulous, keeping everything neat and by the book.

“I had to count out each coin as the fastidious ten-year-old logged them in his notebook, five long minutes for a plastic cup of lemonade.”

Fastidious is frequently used to describe pedantic behavior. For example, if you’ve a very particular way of doing things that, if not abided, will cause mild distress.

“My husband was a fastidious critic of my dress, displeased with the slightest rumple or a color that did not match his shirt. Actually, he might’ve been autistic.”



Concise to the point of sounding curt or stoic.

“He didn’t say much, and I couldn’t really tell what he wanted. He was laconic, dressed in a red tunic with a 9-foot swear-to-god spear and bronze shield. So I sidled out of the condiments aisle, abandoning the vinaigrette I’d been stocking.”

(Note: Laconic comes from the ancient Greek territory of Laconia, of which Sparta was the capital. Apparently the Spartans were known for being terse.)

Potato Chips

I’ve touched roses and smelled the sweet blossoms of spring. Naked in the summer moonshine. I’ve stood on the low-tide breakers at dawn, sun rise over the Caroline coast. Beauty, as you’d have it, golden leaves that drift to the lawn –I am no stranger: a come-home whiff of birch burning on a fire stove. The slow fall of snowflakes that christen the lawn. We’re children, in the comfort of the warmth indoors. Shake-out a cold sweater. Leave the dust for the motes. Wake for the burning sun.

The sun was soft for the graduation field. Black gowns and black caps. The rays down on the principal who spoke his peace: Love, economy, success. The wealth of nations, the burden of gods. Soak in the righteous face of a dollar. Stand up! This is your time to speak. The doctor is here to see you, he is the CEO. No more burning in a dark bed for you.

Hairstyles are timely. So are your jeans: the bum-warming leather of a luxury car seat.

Potato chips.



Not getting anywhere because you’re moving in arbitrary, haphazard directions.

“The idea had been Denver, but Neil was a desultory driver and we spent days in St. Louis before stopping in Memphis to call on Lisa.”

“Our desultory conversations hatched fantastic plans that had nothing to do with Denver and everything to do with not staying in one place for very long.”

(Note: Merriam-Webster lists “disappointing in progress, performance, or quality” as a third definition, but that’s shit usage for a great word. Consider this example:

“The first two games, desultory losses at Denver and Chicago, certainly validated the camp that feels the Seahawks’ era of dominance has ended.” (The Seattle Times)

Here, desultory means disappointing and gives the noun no new qualities. If you’re going to use a great word like desultory, use it in a way that connotes a new quality.)