English Vocabulary from Webster’s New World College Dictionary-Definitions and Part of Speech; Pronunciations from Various Internet Sources Including EmmaSaying; Origins from Online Etymology Dictionary

Achilles' heel
Achilles’ heel
n. one’s vulnerable or susceptible spot
stentorian
stentorian
adj. very loud
mnemonic
mnemonic
adj. 1 helping or meant to help the memory
2 of mnemonics or the memory

n. any of the formulas used in mnemonics to improve the memory

fathom
fathom
n. a unit of length used to measure the depth of water or the length of a nautical rope or cable, equal to 6 ft

transitive verb (vt.) 1 to measure the depth of; sound
2 to get to the bottom of; understand thoroughly

serendipity
serendipity
n. 1 a seeming gift for finding something…accidentally
2 luck, or…fortune, in finding something…accidentally
3 an instance of this
desultory
desultory
adj. 1 passing from one thing to another in an aimless way; disconnected; not methodical…
2 lacking direct relevance; random; incidental…
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pariah
pariah
n. 1 a member of one of the lowest social castes in India
2 any person despised or rejected by others; outcast
tawdry
tawdry
adj. cheap and showy; gaudy; sleazy
pecuniary
pecuniary
adj. 1 of or involving money
2 involving a money penalty, or fine
impecunios
impecunios
adj. having no money; poor; penniless
spartan
spartan
adj. 1 of ancient Sparta or its people or culture
2 like or characteristic of the Spartans, who were famous for being warlike, brave, stoical, severe, frugal, and highly disciplined
3 not luxurious or ornate; plain; austere

n. 1 a pereson born or living in Sparta
2 a person with Spartan traits

gadfly
gadfly
n. 1 any of several large flies, as the horsefly, that bite livestock
2 a person who annoys others, esp. by rousing them from complacency
homage
homage
n. 1 [Historical] a) a public avowal of allegiance by a vassal to his lord b) an act done or thing given to show the relationship between lord and vassal
2 anything given or done to show reverence, honor, or respect: usually with “do” or “pay”
spurn
spurn
vt. 1 [Archaic] to push or drive away contemptuously with or as with the foot
2 to refuse or reject with contempt or disdain;scorn

vi. to show contempt or disdain in refusing or rejecting

n. 1 [Archaic] a kick
2 scornful treatment or rejection

pedigree
pedigree
n. 1 a list or ancestors; record of ancestry; family tree
2 descent; lineage; ancestry
3 a recorded or known line of descent, esp. of a purebred animal
pittance
pittance
n. 1 a small or barely sufficient allowance of money
2 any small amount or share
preposterous
preposterous
adj. 1 [Now Rare] with the first last and the last first, inverted
2 so contrary to nature, reason, or common sense as to be laughable; absurd; ridiculous
macabre
macabre
adj. grim and horrible; gruesome; ghastly
farce
farce
n. 1 [Now Rare] stuffing, as for a fowl
2 an exaggerated comedy based on broadly humorous, highly unlikely situations
3 broad humor of the kind found in such plays
4 something absurd or ridiculous, as an obvious pretense

vt. to fill out with or as with stuffing or seasoning

bombast
bombast
n. talking or writing that sounds grand or important but has little meaning; pompous language
Pronunciation of Achilles’ Heel
uh-KEEL-ees HEEL
Pronounce Stentorian
sten-TOR-ee-uhn
Pronounce Mnemonic
neh-MAHN-ik
Pronounce Fathom
FA-them
Pronounce Serendipity
seh-ren-DIP-it-ee
Pronounce Desultory
DEHZ-ull-tree
Pronounce Pariah
puh-RYE-uh
Pronounce Tawdry
TAW-dree
Pronounce Pecuniary
peh-CYOO-nee-airy
Pronounce Impecunious
im-pec-CYOO-nyuhs
Pronounce Spartan
SPAR-tn
Pronounce Gadfly
GAD-fly
Pronounce Homage
(H)O-mij
Pronounce Spurn
SPURN
Pronounce Pedigree
PE-dih-gree
Pronounce Pittance
PIH-tuhnse
Pronounce Preposterous
prih-POS-tur-uhs
Pronounce Macabre
mah-CAHB
Pronounce Farce
FAHRCE
Pronounce Bombast
BAHM-bast
Origin of Achilles Heel
Origin of Achilles Heel
from a pre-Greek language or Greek AKHOS (pain, grief)+ Greek LAOS (people)
Old English HELA
Origin of Stentorian
Origin of Stentorian
means “of powerful voice” in Greek; coined in 1600 as a legendary herald in the Trojan War, described in the Iliad
from Greek STENEIN (groan, moan)
Origin of Mnemonic
Origin of Mnemonic
from Greek MNEMONIKOS (or of pertaining to memory)
Origin of Fathom
Origin of Fathom
from Old English FAEDMIAN (to embrace, surround, envelop)
Origin of Serendipity
Origin of Serendipity
invented (?) by Horace Walpole (in 1754) in a letter, said to be formed from a Persian fairytale “‘The Three Princes of Serendip,’… The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Sanskrit Simhaladvipa ‘Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island.'”
Origin of Desultory
Origin of Desultory
from Latin DESULTORIUS (hasty, casual, superficial)
Origin of Pariah
Origin of Pariah
from Portuguese PARIA or from Tamil PARAIYAR, plural of PARAIYAN (drummer)
Origin of Tawdry
Origin of Tawdry
“adjective use of the noun…” TAWDRY (a silk necktie for women) “shortened from tawdry lace (1540s), an alteration (with adhesion of the -t- from Saint) of St. Audrey’s lace, a necktie or ribbon sold at the annual fair at Ely on Oct. 17 commemorating St. Audrey (queen of Northumbria, died 679). Her association with lace necklaces is that she supposedly died of a throat tumor, which, according to Bede, she considered God’s punishment for her youthful stylishness.”
Origin of Pecuniary
Origin of Pecuniary
from Latin PECUNIARIUS (pertaining to money) from PECU (cattle, flock) from Proto-Indo-European root PEKU- (wealth…)
Origin of Impecunious
Origin of Impecunious
from IN- (not…) and Latin PECUNIOSUS (rich), from PECUNIA (money, property)
Origin of Spartan
Origin of Spartan
from Latin SPARTANUS (characterized by frugality or courage), an adjective
Origin of Gadfly
Origin of Gadfly
probably from GAD (goad, metal rod OR rove about), or from early meaning “‘someone who likes to go about, often stopping here and there'”

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Origin of Homage
Origin of Homage
from Old French OMAGE, HOMAGE (allegiance or respect for one’s feudal lord)
Origin of Spurn
Origin of Spurn
from Old English SPURNAN (to kick away, strike against; reject, scorn, despise), from Proto-Germanic SPURNON.
Origin of Pedigree
Origin of Pedigree
from Anglo-French PE DE GRU, variant of Old French PIED DE GRU (foot of a crane), from Latin PEDEM, accusative of PES (foot), from Proto-Indo-European root PED (a foot) and GRUEM (crane)
Origin of Pittance
Origin of Pittance
from Old French PITANCE (pity, mercy, compassion…), literally pity, from PITIE (small amount, portion)
Origin of Preposterous
Origin of Preposterous
from Latin PRAEPOSTERUS (absurd, contrary to nature, inverted, perverted, in reverse order), form PRAE (before) and POSTERUS (subsequent)
Origin of Macabre
Origin of Macabre
from Old French (DANSE) MACABRE (dance of death, probably from Medieval Latin MACAHABAEORUM, literally “dance of the Maccabees” (The Maccabees were leaders of a Jewish revolt against the Syro-Hellenes and martyrs, note the picture with Hebrew writing, translated “Happy Hanukkah”)
Origin of Farce
Origin of Farce
from Middle French FARCE (comic interlude in a mystery play), from Old French FARCIR (to stuff), from Latin FARCIRE (to stuff, cram), perhaps from Proto-Indo-European BHREKW (to cram together)
Origin of Bombast
Origin of Bombast
from Old French BOMBACE (cotton…), a transferred use of Latin BOMBYX (silk), form Greek BOMBYX (silk, silkworm), from an oriental word