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                               "Famous" Semantics Words
                                    2015- 2016
            
abracadabra       (ab-ruh-kuh-DAB-ruh)    n.    [<Latin]
             
                              confused or unintelligible language; nonsense
           
                               Despite the abracadabra in the poem "Jabberwocky,"
                                its message is rather clear.
                         
                                (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1956.
                                 On the 2015 City Written Spelling Test.)
      
civitas        (KEE-wee-taws)   n.    [<Latin]
   
             a body of people constituting a politically organized community
    
                   The concept of civitas remains strong in many small towns.
      
                    (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1986 and in Paideia in
                     1995 - Government.  On the National Spelling Bee written test in 2009.)
  
vaccary        (VAK-uh-ree)   n.    [<Latin]
   
                    a place where cows or cattle are kept; a dairy farm
    
                         The teacher plans to take her students to a vaccary
                          during their study of the dairy food group.
      
                    (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1979.  On
                     the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 1984.)    
  
trenchant        (TRENCH-uhnt)   adj.    [<English<French]
   
                         sharp; forceful; perceptive; incisive
  
                            The senator was a trenchant supporter of civil rights.
      
                    (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953.  On the City Written
                     Spelling Test in 2008, on the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in
                     1965, and on the National Spelling Bee written vocabulary test in 2014.)
 
repertoire        (REP-uhr-twawr)   n.    [<French<Latin]
 
                       the stock of plays or songs a company or musician has
                       thoroughly rehearsed and is prepared to perform
    
                       The folk dance group has added several Balkan dances to its repertoire.
      
                        (First appeared in Words of the Champions in1953, in Paideia in
                         1999- Shake a Leg, and in Spell It! in 2007 - Words from French.
                          On the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 2007.)
    
apropos        (ap-ruh-POH)    adj.    [<French]
      
                      appropriate; relevant; suitable
   
                           Rachel wondered if Herman understood her question,
                           for his answer was not very apropos.
        
                 (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1959.  On the City Written
                  spelling test in 2017 and the Colorado State written test in 1873 and 1983.)
  
ewer        (YOO-uhr)    n.    [<English<Anglo-French<Latin]
    
                    a usually vase-shaped pitch with a handle
                    and often a spout for pouring
              
                           The lemonade in in a ewer in the refrigerator.
   
                (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1959.  On the City Written test
                 in 1997 and 2016 and the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 1972.)
  
mercury        (MUHR-kyuhr-ee)    n.    [<Mercury, the ancient Roman god
                                                      of commerce and the messenger of the gods]
  
                    1)  a heavy, silver-white poisonous chemical element,
                         the only metallic element liquid at ordinary temperatures
  
                    2)  a small planet, the first planet from the Sun
  
                    3)  a brand of automobiles of the Ford Motor Company
                          launched in 1938 and phased out in 2011
      
          Other words derived from Mercury:
    
                   mercurial    (muhr-KYUHR-ee-uhl)    adj.    a) quick; changeable; fickle   b) containing mercury
                   merchandise    (MUHR-chuhn-dys)    n.    things bought and sold; commodities
                   merchant    (MUHR-chuhnt)    n.    one whose business is buying and selling goods
                   mercantile    (MUHR-kuhn-teel)    adj.    characteristic of merchants or trade
                   mercenary    (MUHR-suhn-er-ee)    n.    a soldier hired to serve or fight for money
 
                           (Appeared in Paideia in 1995 - Elements)
   
zeugma        (ZOOG-muh)    n.    [<Latin<Greek]
   
           the use of a word in the same phrase or sentence with two adjacent
           words with only one of which is appropriate or makes sense
    
                        The statement "John upset the table and his mother" is,
                         one would hope, a zeugma.
   
                        Other examples of zeugma:
  
                            "He caught a fish and a cold."
                            "She opened her door and her heart to the orphan."
                            "He fished for compliments and trout."
                            "It was curtains for him and the window."
                            "She batted her eyelashes and third."
 
                 (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1977 and in Paideia in 1997 -
                  Literary Terms.  On the Colorado State Spelling Bee written test in 1982.)
  
rhizome        (RHY-zohm)    n.    [<Latin<Greek]
   
                      a horizontal stem on or under the soil, bearing leaves
                      near its tips and roots on its undersurface
   
                             The rhizome of a plant is sometimes called its rootstalk.
   
                             (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1979
                              and in Paideia in 2005 - English, Latin, & Greek II.)
  
kanone        (kuh-NOH-nuh)    n.    [<German<Italian]
   
                        an expert skier
    
                          Jerry’s hero is a local kanone who won a silver medal
                          at the Olympics in giant slalom.
   
                         (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1989.
                          On the City Written spelling test in 1989.)
  
monoceros        (muh-NAWS-uhr-uhs)    n.    [<English<French<Latin<Greek]
         
                       a fish with one horn-like process, as a swordfish or sawfish
  
                                When Uncle George told his nephew Sam they were going to fish
                                for a monoceros, Sam had no idea what he was talking about.
         
                                      (On the City Written spelling test in 2016.)
  
affidavit        (af-uh-DAY-vuht)    n.    [<Latin]
       
                     a sworn statement in writing made under oath
                      before an authorized officer
        
                         The police asked Heather to prepare an affidavit regarding
                          what she was when she surprised a burglar in her house.
        
                            (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953
                             and in Paideia in 2001 - Crime and Punishment.)
  
Svengali        (sfen-GAWL-ee)    n.    [British literary name]
          
                       one who attempts, usually with evil intentions,
                       to persuade or force another to do his bidding
          
                         Many fans thought that the rock star’s wife was a Svengali
                         who engineered the group’s breakup.
 
                           (Svengali was a maleficent hypnotist in the 1894 novel
                            Trilby by George du Maurier, British artist and novelist.)
  
eclectic        (e-KLEK-tik)    adj.    [<Greek]
          
                      composed of elements drawn from various sources
 
                    Rachel’s eclectic taste in music makes selecting CDs for her a cinch.
   
                      (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1976 and in Spell It! in
                       2007 - Words from Greek.  On the Colorado state written test in 2011.)
 
recluse        (REK-loos)    n.    [<English<French<Latin]
   
                       one who leads a retired or solitary life
  
                         Allison was shocked when the old recluse living
                         next door called to invite her for tea.
 
                  (Submitted by Ben Abram of Slavens School who humorously misspelled
                    it as ‘wreckloose’ at a Summer Semantics spelling bee.  First appeared
                    Words of the Champions in 1971 and in Paideia - 1995 - The Secret Garden.)
  
orrery        (OHR-uh-ree)    n.    [<British name, Charles Boyle, d. 1731,
                                                                                      4th Earl of Orrery]
  
                      a mechanical device showing the relative positions
                      and movements of bodies in the solar system
   
                        Sheila crafted a crude orrery out of coat hangers and Styrofoam.
     
                           (First appeared in Paideia in 1998 - Astronomical Terms.)
  
longanimity        (lawng-guh-NIM-uh-tee)    n.    [<Latin]
   
                         patience; forbearance; bearing injuries patiently
        
                        A third injury has cost Hank another soccer season, but his longanimity
                        gives his team confidence that he’ll be back in the lineup next year.
   
                              (On the 2015 NSF Regional Senior Spelling Bee written test.)
  
oscillate        (AWS-uh-layt)    v.    [<Latin]
   
                        to swing to and fro; to vibrate; to fluctuate or vary
       
                           The mayor’s position on taxes seems to oscillate depending
                            upon who he is talking to.
         
                      (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1953 and then again in 1968.
                       Appeared in Paideia in 1996 - On the Move, and in 2002 - Poe Words.  On the
                       City Written spelling test in 1972 and 2016 and the Colorado State Spelling
                       Bee written test in 2006.)
  
torsion        (TOHR-shuhn)    n.    [<Latin]
       
                       a twisting; being twisted; the stress produced in a rod
                       or wire by twisting
    
                         Tennis rackets have been strengthened by adding fine particles
                          that reduce torsion and flex resistance.
  
                           (First appeared in Words of the Champions in 1967.)
 
 

   


 

  



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