Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vocab Builder: K

Vocab Builder: K
Vocab Builder:  K
Logo by me (my best, personally ... hence the size)
Welcome to the eleventh of the Vocab Builder series. Last time we covered the letter J. This week, for those not following the pattern, we will look at the letter K.

A strong vocabulary allows you to select the precise word for what your trying to say.Whether you're trying to implement a kanban system in your company or keelhaul a kibitzer, or even offering a king's ransom whilst  kvelling over your recent success in a bank heist, you need a strong vocabulary.

It has been commented that it is all very well knowing these words but one mustn't show off vocabulary for the sake of it. Remember if you want to use these words make sure you are using them correctly and because they are the right word for the job. Let's start:


Meaning:  just-in-time manufacturing/delivery strategy

Sentence:  The orcs weren't known for their organisation, so when the elves took over they implemented a kanban in all the major manufacturing chains

Origin:  Japanese. 看板 (pronounced kanban) means 'billboard' in Japanese. Toyota first developed the technique

Discussion:  The kanban system is an efficient method of supplying a manufacturing chain. In fact it is such an important process it is one of the first stocking methods I learnt in GCSE Business Studies (though it was more commonly called Just-in-time). Essentially it means that you receive materials just before you need it. This means you don't spend lots on storing materials before you need them. It is also used by supermarkets in that they get stock, then put it on the shelves. You don't have masses of everything in the back of every store.


Meaning:  to through under the keel of a ship as punishment torture
or            to severely disapprove

Sentence:  The marine gargoyles were fond of keelhauling to get information from their enemies.

Origin:  Dutch. Kielhalen means 'to haul under the keel of a ship'

Discussion:  Although banned in the mid-1800s for European vessels you could still let your fantasy races use the technique. Today it is mainly used to mean severely disappointed.


Meaning:  a person who watches and then offers unwanted advice/comments/opinions

Sentence:  The Cockatrices were in general a helpful bunch. I suppose it helps that they keelhauled kibitzers.

Origin:  Yiddish. Kibitser means 'to look on'

Discussion:  This is an unusual word. However, I think it sounds fantasy-ish and wouldn't look badly upon it appearing in a novel.

king's ransom

Meaning:  a large sum of money

Sentence:  The dragon's required a king's ransom to release their human hostage.

Origin:  In the middle ages when a king was captured, a large sum of money was requested for his release. Poets used it in the 1590s

Discussion:  There's not much to say on this one. It is self-explanatory and fits into fantasy stories quite nicely provided the culture had a king at least at some point in its history.


Meaning: to feel extremely proud

Sentence:  Elven parents often kvelled over their offspring, much like humans do.

Origin:  High German. Quellen means 'to well, gush, or swell'

Discussion:  This is even more unusual than kibitzer. Personally I don't like it. It's awkward to say and I think it sounds more like a noun than a verb. However, if used correctly and in the correct place I'd imagine it can work quite well.

So there you go. Five words beginning with K.

Please post in the comments below. Perhaps have a go at using all 5 words or discuss the 'K' words further. Can you think of any good 'K' words? 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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