Skip to main content

Vaughan's Vocabulary

June 30, 2012


I listen to “The Puzzle” on National Public Radio almost every Sunday morning at 7:40 a.m. On June 17 Will Shortz announced, “In honor of Rachel [Martin, Weekend Edition’s anchor], who is about to go on maternity leave, every answer is a word, phrase or name starting with B, ending in Y and having an AB inside, although not necessarily consecutively.” An anesthesiologist from Missouri, the one selected to play the puzzle, could not think of the answer to “Herman Melville story, _____, the Scrivener.”

Martin was flabbergasted that she was able to fill in the blank. “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street,” is a short story that was published in 1853. Thanks Martin and Shortz for bringing it to my attention. I’m giving it a good read, enjoying it, and pulling some words from it for this week’s quiz in Vaughan’s Vocabulary.

1. scrivener (SCRIV-nur)
A. one who writes out deeds, letters, etcetera
B. forger
C. writer of short stories
D. publisher     

2. indecorous (in-DECK-er-uhs)
A. violating generally accepted standards of good taste or propriety
B. unseemly
C. improper
D. indelicate

Shortz added a syllable to scrivener. “SCRIV-nur” is how to say it. A is the answer. The pronunciation “in-di-CORE-us” is acceptable, but saying it that way can be mistaken for “in the chorus.” All four apply to No. 2. 

3. imprimis (em-PRY-mis)
A. in the first place
B. not practical
C. to write
D. to allocate

4. orbicular (or-BIC-yuh-ler)
A. spiritual
B. circular or spherical
C. spirally
D. sinewy

5. pursy (PUR-see)
A. corpulent or fat
B. slim and trim
C. witty
D. somber

No. 3, imprimis, is A. In my Sunday sermon I plan to use the word “imprimis” right before I give the first of four main points. No. 4, orbicular is B. No. 5, pursy, is A.

Last week’s mystery word is primrose.

This week’s mystery word to solve means profitable. Its second syllable has the sound of the twelfth letter of the Greek alphabet.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D. in Mass Communication, is a professor at East Miss. Community College. Contact him at

View more articles in:

Latest Videos

Tanner Fant of Starkville , Miss. will travel to Mobile, Ala. on Sunday, June 14 to participate in the 58th...
Drinking a beverage that tastes delicious and has good nutritional value is like having your cake and eating it, too.
Pasta, bread, pizza crusts, peanut butter, fried foods, beef, even certain types of chips — these are all foods that...
The memories of April 21, 2008 when we went to the Boston Marathon still lingered in our hearts and souls on April 15...
Emily Jones Deluded Diva My neighbor, (I'll call her Brenda for the sake of anonymity), is one of the best things that...


Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes