Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Vocab Builder: E

Vocab Builder: E
Welcome to the fifth in the Vocab Builder series. Last week we covered the letter D. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter E.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're trying to edulcorate those in difficult situations, or trying to expiate your wrongdoings by apologising, you should have a strong vocabulary.

As Neil Gaiman once said, 'Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.' Finding the right word is key here and is what I hope these Vocab Builders will help you with. So, with that I think we should get on with 7 words starting with the letter E:


Meaning:  to soften or remove/free from harshness OR purify of acid (chemistry)

Sentence:  He gave the mean children sweets so as to edulcorate them

Origin:  Latin. 'Dulcis' means 'sweet' and is the root of 'edulcorate' as well as 'dulcet'.

Discussion:  This word tends to be used in its chemistry sense, that is removing acids, salts and other impurities through washing something. However the word is fine to be used a more figurative sense as in making a person's attitude softer or kinder as in my example sentence.


Meaning:  eeire

Sentence:  The eldritch witch cast a spell turning the cat into her feline familiar.

Origin:  Middle English. 'elf' and 'riche' make up 'elfriche' meaning 'elf kingdom.

Discussion:  I love this word. It sounds harsh, dangerous, and not pleasant. Especially at this time of year when I'm writing my annual dark short story this kind of word is great. I recommend using this in darkly weird scenes where suitable.


Meaning:   pertaining to controversy, disputation and/or merit-less reasoning

Sentence:  The governments eristic decision caused uproar with the general public. Why does the GCSE education system need reforming? It is a stupid, demeaning move that will lessen the value of a GCSE; split students into academic and non-academic divides, thus resulting is loss of aspiration from less-able students; prevents any form of creative learning; and means those with better memories are the ones who get good grades, not those who understand.

Origin:  Greek. 'Eristikos', from 'erizein', means 'fond of wrangling' and fundamentally goes back to 'eris' meaning 'strife'

Discussion:  The word can also mean argumentative though would often be used in that sense as an 'eristic argument' meaning one that is invalid logically or controversial. The word, whilst unusual, is a good one to throw into a scene where one character is arguing a point that is completely devoid of any form of merit.

Sometimes spelt 'aestival' in Britain but I wanted to put in this week so used the American spelling

Meaning:  relating to the summer

Sentence:  The aestival festival was fantastic fun.

Origin:  Latin. 'Aestas' means 'summer'. As an aside the origin of 'festival is also Latin but comes from the root 'festivus' meaning 'merry' and is completely unrelated to 'aestival'

Discussion:  Word of warning, don't use aestival and festival next to each other, especially if using the form 'estival'. They look too similar but mean different things. I would use aestival when describing a natural scene as in 'the leaves were a vibrant green showing off their aestival wonder.'


Meaning:  to show clearly or reveal possession of a trait/quality

Sentence:  The knight evinced his interest in dragon hides to his own misfortune as the RSPCD (royal society for prevention of cruelty to dragons) sent an orange torrent of flames at him in the park.

Origin:  Latin. 'Evincere' means 'to vanquish' from 'vincere' meaning 'to conquer'.

Discussion:  It's a lovely verb, but sadly one that's not used enough. Interestingly evince is one of the few words covered this week that is recognised by Google Chrome's dictionary, most are recognised my Microsoft Word, though. It is, in my opinion a little weird to use in a sentence read out loud. I suppose this is due to it not being used enough.


Meaning:  to make amends for or remove guilt caused by [insert subject]

Sentence:  The murderer tried to expiate his sins in the confession booth, but in reality just confessed everything to a detective posing as a vicar.

Origin:  Latin. 'Expiare' means 'to atone for' and is also the root for the word 'pious'.

Discussion:  Although expiate sounds like a quick word, don't confuse it with 'expedite' which does mean 'to hasten'. Expiate is a great word in fiction as a lot of fantasy involves gods and religion and sin forms a big part of most cultures. So it follows that 'expiate' is fitting for fantasy works.


Meaning:  to destroy/obliterate/delete OR to remove from one's consciousness (usually a memory)

Sentence:  Brian could read minds, but the one ability he wished he did have was to be able to expunge memories from those he had crossed.

Origin:  Latin. You should know first that 'puncta delentia' was a medieval term referring to dots that marked parts of a text for deletion. 'Puncta' comes from 'pungere' meaning to 'to prick or sting' and is also the root of words like 'punctuate' and 'puncture'.

Discussion:  This is perhaps my favourite word on this list. Many people understand the meaning of the word even if they don't use it themselves. It fits that it is related to 'punctuation' as once one expunges something it is like putting a full stop at the end of its life. My novel contains a lot on memories so 'expunge' could make an appearance though in what form I can't tell you.

So there you go. Seven words beginning with E.

Please post in the comments below. Perhaps have a go at using all 7 words or discuss the 'E' words further. If you found this post interesting or useful please share it using the social media tools below or send links to people you think may be interested.

Matt B


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