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“Antediluvian” And “Erstwhile” Among Words WSU Wants Used More Often

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Less than a week after Lake Superior State University released its “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness,” Wayne State University (WSU) is out with its fourth annual list of “10 words that deserve to be used more often.”

The list is taken from WSU’s Word Warriors’ Words of the Week, picked by administrators of the Word Warriors’ website with assistance from the public. The Word Warriors list of words they want to see used more often — along with their definitions and a sentence using the word — include:

Antediluvian – Antiquated; old-fashioned; out of date. Literally “before the flood,” referring to the Biblical deluge. This company’s vacation policy is positively antediluvian, so I’m giving you three weeks off this year.

Erstwhile – Former; bygone. Rampantly misused. Roger had disturbing reasons to suspect that Rachel, his erstwhile lover, had hacked into his email accounts.

Execrable – Atrocious; wretched; abominable. Alice may have a Ph.D., but her spelling is execrable.

Frisson – Thanks to French for this word meaning that sudden, involuntary shiver we may feel at times of great emotion. Albert knew he’d be glad to see Victoria, but he wasn’t expecting a powerful frisson of pleasure when he took her hand.

Parlous – Dangerous or risky. Variant of Middle English “perilous.” Prospects for Yazoo City grew increasingly perilous as the Mississippi’s record flood rolled southward.

Penultimate – Next to last. Everyone’s heard of the Last Supper, but the Penultimate Supper has been largely forgotten.

Sisyphean – Actually or apparently endless and futile. After Sisyphus, doomed by the gods to roll a stone uphill, only to have it always roll back down. Washington endured a Sisyphean nightmare of whipping raw recruits into shape, only to see them melt away when their one-year enlistments expired (Ron Chernow, in Washington).

Supercilious – Contemptuous; disdainful; condescending. I knew I was about to go into the tank socially when I noticed the supercilious way she was looking at my red shoes.

Transmogrify- To change completely, usually grotesquely, in appearance or form. So Gregor drifted off to sleep, never dreaming he was in a Kafka story and would transmogrify into a hideous insect overnight.

Truckle – Submit obsequiously; be subservient; kowtow. When I’m in the presence of a powerful person, my own concept of equality gets blurry and I have a regrettable tendency to truckle, if only to be polite (Ian Frazier, in Travels in Siberia).

The full list of entries can be seen at wordwarriors.wayne.edu or by visiting “Word Warriors” on Facebook. Words can also be submitted for consideration.

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