RICTUS: a gaping, frozen smile or grin


The journalist for the New York Times reported that the look on the faces of political candidates is a “rictus grin” which belies the real feelings within the candidate’s person.  Having never heard the word before, I went to my resources and found that it wasn’t at all a complicated etymology.   Rictus (an 18th century […]

AXIOMATIC [ak-see-uh-MAT-ik] : obvious, self-evident


It is amusing sometimes to be in the middle of a conversation when someone says something that is so obvious, so clearly self-evident, that it stuns those listening.  Or it may come in the midst of an article, or even something as profound as a dissertation or a scholarly paper of some kind.  Everything is […]


While there is no telling what could happen between now and November 6, one could say that tonight’s third debate between Mr. Romney and President Obama is a penultimate planned experience.   This is the last time the two are planning to be on the same stage at the same time exchanging comments.   The November 6 […]

CONTENTIOUS: quarrelsome

There are some people who seem to be  contentious by nature.  That is to say, they are people who jump to argument, skipping right over the idea of discussion,   It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic is.   The only response is to jump in with both barrels blazing and move the discussion or disagreement […]

OBDURATE: hard-hearted, unmoved, obstinate

People do change their minds.   Adults learn that there are times when it is appropriate to take a different tack because you have received additional information that makes your original thought inappropriate or inaccurate.  Children have to learn that, and it is the responsibility of adults to model that behavior. For children it is hard […]

DEBATE: a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.

It always bothers me when a word gets brutalized and loses its accurate and helpful meaning and is replaced by a more popular meaning.  That’s especially disturbing when the new meaning denigrates the original purpose of the word. A current example of my point is the word debate.  It is a word with a long […]