I’ve drawn these words, as well as the previous Vocabulary Rocks! entry, from the Novel Passage. That way you can go immediately and see how an unfamiliar word is used. Of course I realize that to many of you these words are not unfamiliar, but it is fun I think to see the etymology. Plus, it hopefully encourages us to expand our vocabulary and then dazzle someone by spouting off an intelligent sounding word!
Nonplus: -verb 1) To render utterly perplexed; puzzle completely. 2) To put at a loss as to what to think, say, or do; bewilder. –noun 1) A state of utter perplexity, confusion, or bewilderment. Origin: 1575, Latin non> not, and plus> more: no more, no further, i.e.- a state in which nothing more can be done.
Insipid: -adjective 1) Without distinctive, interesting, or stimulating qualities; vapid; dull. 2) Without sufficient taste to be pleasing; lacking flavor or zest; bland. Origin: 1610, French insipide, from Late Latin insipidus> in– not and sapidus– savory or tasty. Figurative meaning ‘uninteresting, dull’ first recorded in the diary of John Evelyn, dated August 18, 1649:
“In ye coach went Mrs. Barlow, the King’s mistress and mother to ye Duke of Monmouth, a browne, beautifull, bold, but insipid creature.”
Vapid: -adjective 1) Lacking or having lost life, sharpness, animation, or flavor; insipid; flat. 2) Without liveliness or spirit; dull or tedious. Origin: 1650, Latin vapidus> flat, literally: ‘that has exhaled its vapor,’ related to vappa> stale wine. Applied from 1758 to talk and writing deemed dull and lifeless.
Sardonic: -adjective 1) Characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering. Origin: 1638, French sardonique, from the earlier Greek sardonios> of bitter or scornful laughter. Altered from Homeric sardanios, influenced by the Greek belief that eating a certain plant called sardonion (literally ‘plant from Sardinia’) caused facial convulsions resembling sardonic laughter, usually ending in death.