DILETTANTE [DIL-i-tahnt]: a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler *


Dilettante is one of those words you need to read in its context in order to determine if its use is meant as a compliment or a criticism. There is a legitimate use of the word dilettante to mean someone who is interested in one or more aspects of art.  The Latin origin of the […]

CEREBRAL: characterized by the use of the intellect rather than intuition or instinct*


There are many uses for the word cerebral in the realm of medicine and other sciences.   They all have to do with the brain and the various ways in which the brain controls the human body.  Some also deal with disease, such as cerebral palsy, clearly one of the worst diseases to attack the human […]

DARK: no light, a subjective description of the amount of visibility, description of something that is troubling


Darkness gets a bad shake. Over the centuries a negative quality has been ascribed to dark or darkness.  It probably grows from the fact that many times bad things happen in the dark when the world sleeps for the most part, thereby removing a large quantity of spectators.  It is safer to commit a bad […]

PERFUNCTORY [per-FUNGK-tuh-ree] : a routine function, lacking real care


There is a gradation to tasks completed.  It goes something like this: GOOD     BETTER    BEST” It should be no surprise to anyone that functions or products get rated this way.   And it should be no surprise to discover that we are all guilty of accomplishing various tasks in each of the categories. Sometimes the task […]

SACCHARINE: very sweet to the taste; cloyingly agreeable or ingratiating


Artificial sweeteners have been around for quite a while now.  According to the Online Etymology Dictionary the substitute for sugar dates back to the 17th century. “saccharine (adj.) 1670s, “of or like sugar,” from Medieval Latin saccharum “sugar,” from Latin saccharon “sugar,” from Greek sakkharon, from Pali sakkhara, from Sanskrit sarkara “gravel, grit… Metaphoric sense […]

AVANT-GARDE FICTION: writing which does not follow traditional literary norms

I attended a reading the other day at Brown University, featuring author Evan Lavender-Smith, author of the avant-garde novel, Avatar.  No, it’s not the story from which the movie was taken.   Lavender-Smith has used the name for the title as it is known in the non-cinematography sense, meaning “an embodiment or personification, as of a […]