Author Archives: MickHugh

Excrescence

Noun

An abnormal growth.

“He tried to hide his bulbous excrescence with a fake mustache. It looked just okay.”

An excrescence is also an unwanted, superfluous addition, development, add-on, etc. As in: “Tyler is an excrescence. I’m not sure why they brought him along.”

Or: “The developers built several excrescent office buildings in Boston’s historic Beacon Hill.”

Expostulate

Verb, intransitive

To fervently reason in opposition to an idea, action, etc.

“He didn’t stop expostulating the whole way there. Like, how many reasons could a ten-year-old have for not going to a birthday party?”

(Note: Expostulate is mostly used as an intransitive verb, but the transitive use is still valid, eg, “The defense attorney expostulated the idea that her client would ever set the Robinson’s car on fire.”)

Noun, expostulation

Gourmand

Noun

Connoisseur who eats and drinks excessively, similar to a glutton but with more self-control. They just really like getting their taste buds rubbed.

(Note: Gormand is an acceptable variation, preferred by anyone trying to avoid an aristocratic tone.)

“I stopped inviting Pumblechook to dinner because, well, he’s a gormand and watching him chase his tenderloin with heaped spoons of creamed corn is just, disgusting.”

(Note: Collins and Merriam-Webster note that “glutton” is an obsolete definition of gormand, which is supposed to have less of a negative connotation. Oxford and American Heritage only mention that a gormand “eats too much”. So while probably not gluttonous, a gormand is going to eat until they’re stuffed, and then maybe smoke a clove cigarette before ordering the tiramisu.)

Gormandize

“You wouldn’t want to share a table or a bed with him. He makes love the same way he gormandizes.”

Gormandize can also be used as an intransitive verb, so, yes, you can gormandize the shit out of your cheesy meatloaf.

Propitiate

Transitive Verb

Win someone’s goodwill or favor.

“A great political stump-speech propitiates the voter base —more wall, anyone?”

“He tried to propitiate the judge but it backfired.

I found it easy to misuse Propitiate, so it’s worth mentioning the other forms of the word that are more fun:

Noun: “The way he hangs around her is an obvious propitiation: She’s way out of his league.”

“My professor is easily propitiated by short skirts in the front row.”
— Those short skirts are propitiations, while the professor is propitiable, and the girls wearing the skirts are propitiators.

Sagacious

Adjective

Having shrewd judgement, keen discernment, etc. Applying some wisdom or foresight.

“A sagacious kid who decides not to accept the partially melted candy bar because the guy reeks of booze.”

(Note: The word’s obsolete definition focuses on perception of senses, as in, “his sagacious nose determines when he does and does not enter the men’s room.”)

The Drums They Beat

Arm in arm go the couple in white, down the aisle, through the crowd. Vows told in lace, speaking secrets in the midday sun: a bouquet soars across its yellow face. Consummation is a popular word for their grandparents. There’s a quiet announcement in the newspaper: congratulations. Congratulations from friends and family, a high school teacher, a neighbor down the road. Flutes of spirits that sing like bee stings and second helpings of steak. A Bloody Mary drops on the floor. Loosening ties, shimmying off shoes, slipping from dresses getting ready to dance. Loud voices in the barroom, singing on the dance floor: the bride and groom sneak out the back with a bag full of checks and cards. Empty cans of tomato paste clatter down the asphalt, memories of the bride and groom told long after they’re gone. Absolved of old schemes, and disease, and dishonesty, the couple in white take the highway red with sunset. A new house, a new family, a new history to be told: bedsheets aren’t bloodied once. The nursery will not birth itself. The modern Magi come with pins, tack the bedsheets to the roof, and voices come like thunderclaps through the rooms. In a dream the new bride can cry alone, and unravel her dress, threadbare through the red of long years.

A Simple Confusion

Midnight had fallen on me fast with sprawling soul. Loosed from denotations, in a reverie wandering towards home; hidden pockets between buildings where the dark was densest, where mysteries held fast to their own little worlds. I had no ground. I had no self but the faint sounds of crickets and cars in the distance, millions of years buried in the rock beneath my feet, the thousands of stories and romances and arguments imprinted in the histories of the brick and stone buildings of this campus. This sidewalk I’d walked a hundred times: no longer would it end, but continue on through town, down side streets and avenues and winding through alleys till nothing I saw had a name I could recall. Time might not have passed; and I found myself crossing a parking lot not far from home, and in the middle I stopped. The lot was empty; and when I saw it, I knew the reason for my bliss: the storied light of the night sky. The milk that wet the asphalt, the tree tops and the lawns, falling down from nighttime’s wondering face. It was wrapped in twisting wisps of cloud, obscured, a gauzy fluorescent haze above. It stood alone, untouched and imperturbable, the only saint who could paint shadows in the death of night. From atop its composite metal pole it stood as though from another world.