Wednesday, September 12, 2012

WOTD: ersatz, zaftig, tchotchke, risible, rigmarole, bromide

New words of the day!

Ersatz [er-zahts]
adj. inferior substitute

It's originally a German word meaning substitute, although in German it has with no connotations of inferior quality. In WWII, Nazi-captured POWs were given ersatzbrot, which was bread (brot) filled with sawdust, and English speaking POWs adopted the word after returning from the war.

This next one is from Christina.

Zaftig [zahf-tik]
adj. pleasingly, plumply pulchritudinous; alluringly curvaceous

For a more explicit definition, look up zaftig in Google Images.

Tchotchke [chahch-kuh]
n. a small toy, gewgaw, knickknack, swag, bauble, thingamajig, doodad, lagniappe, trinket, or kitsch

That one was from Conrad. Apparently, it also means bimbo or slut. I'm not sure what Conrad was trying to say to me...

Risible [riz-uh-buhl]
adj. causing or capable of causing laughter; laughable; ludicrous.

Rigmarole [rig-muh-rohl]
n. an elaborate or complicated procedure 

Rigmarole / rigamarole is one of those words that's heard in speech more often than seen on paper. I've always wondered how it's spelled.

Bromide [broh-mahyd]
1. a person who is platitudinous and boring. 
2. a platitude or trite saying. 

Bromide also has a third definition, which is "a salt of hydrobromic acid consisting of two elements, one of which is bromine". From The Economist:

AS I mentioned in last night's live-blog, if sequestration comes to pass, Barack Obama will have to make do with a defence budget roughly equivalent (in real terms) to George Bush's outlay for 2007. That budget surpasses average annual military spending during the cold war. In other words, even with sequestration, America will still be in pretty good shape militarily. It will still spend as much as all of the other big militaries combined. It will still hold an immense advantage over China and the rest of Asia, where the Obama administration is focusing its resources, and Russia, which Mitt Romney thinks is America's greatest foe. [...] This is also a potent critique of Mitt Romney's call for increased defence spending. He offers little explanation of why America must spend more, besides bromides about American leadership.

Romney is a bromide who speaks in nothing but bromides. He leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Probably similar to the taste of bromide.

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