The End of Faith

A selection of words I encountered while reading Sam Harris's 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction winner.

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definitions & notes
only words

  1. abject

    of the most contemptible kind
  2. abjure

    formally reject or disavow a formerly held belief
  3. adduce

    advance evidence for
  4. anthropocentrism

    an inclination to evaluate reality exclusively in terms of human values
  5. aphasia

    inability to use language because of a brain lesion
  6. apostate

    not faithful to religion or party or cause
  7. ardor

    feelings of great warmth and intensity
  8. argus-eyed

    carefully observant or attentive
  9. ballast

    any heavy material used to stabilize a ship or airship
  10. benighted

    overtaken by darkness
  11. blandishment

    flattery intended to persuade
  12. blinker

    a light that flashes on and off
  13. bona fide

    not counterfeit or copied
  14. canard

    a deliberately misleading fabrication
  15. capitulation

    the act of surrendering, usually under agreed conditions
  16. capricious

    determined by chance or impulse rather than by necessity
  17. casuistry

    argumentation that is specious or excessively subtle
  18. cloying

    overly sweet
  19. complaisance

    a tendency to try to please or yield to the will of others
  20. confabulation

    a discussion or informal conversation
  21. confer

    present
  22. conflate

    mix together different elements
  23. construal

    an interpretation of the meaning of something
  24. deference

    courteous regard for people's feelings
  25. demagogy

    impassioned appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace
  26. echolocation

    determination of the position of objects by reflected sound
  27. ecumenicalism

    (Christianity) the doctrine of the ecumenical movement that promotes cooperation and better understanding among different religious denominations: aimed at universal Christian unity
  28. efficacy

    capacity or power to produce a desired result
  29. efflorescence

    the time and process of budding and unfolding of blossoms
  30. enjoin

    give instructions to or direct somebody to do something
  31. epistemology

    the philosophical theory of knowledge
  32. erstwhile

    belonging to some prior time
  33. eschatology

    the branch of theology that is concerned with final things
  34. ethos

    the distinctive spirit of a culture or an era
  35. exculpatory

    clearing of guilt or blame
  36. exhort

    spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
  37. exigency

    a pressing or urgent situation
  38. facile

    arrived at without due care or effort; lacking depth
  39. felicity

    pleasing and appropriate manner or style
  40. fillip

    something that acts as a stimulus
  41. genteel

    marked by refinement in taste and manners
  42. gravitas

    formality, dignity, or seriousness
  43. hermeneutics

    theology that deals with principles of interpretation
  44. heterodoxy

    the quality of being unorthodox
  45. impertinent

    improperly forward or bold
  46. impresario

    a sponsor who books and stages public entertainments
  47. impute

    attribute or credit to
  48. inauspicious

    boding ill
  49. inchoate

    only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
  50. ineluctable

    impossible to avoid or evade
  51. inimical

    not friendly
  52. injunction

    a judicial remedy to prohibit a party from doing something
  53. insuperable

    incapable of being surpassed or excelled
  54. interdiction

    authoritative prohibition
  55. internecine

    within a group or organization
  56. interoception

    sensitivity to stimuli originating inside of the body
  57. inure

    cause to accept or become hardened to
  58. invidious

    containing or implying a slight or showing prejudice
  59. jurist

    a legal scholar
  60. kinesthesia

    the perception of body position and movement and muscular tensions etc
  61. leaven

    a substance used to produce fermentation in dough
  62. licit

    authorized, sanctioned by, or in accordance with law
  63. locus

    the scene of any event or action
  64. malefic

    having or exerting a malignant influence
  65. marzipan

    confection made of sugar, almond paste, and egg whites
  66. mechanistic

    explained in terms of physical forces
  67. mendicant

    a pauper who lives by begging
  68. milling

    corrugated edge of a coin
  69. nefarious

    extremely wicked
  70. obverse

    the more conspicuous of two alternatives or cases or sides
  71. offal

    viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal
  72. parochial

    relating to or supported by or located in a parish
  73. paucity

    an insufficient quantity or number
  74. perverse

    deviating from what is considered moral or right or proper
  75. phylogenetic

    of or relating to the evolutionary development of organisms
  76. Platonist

    an advocate of Platonism
  77. plebiscite

    a vote determining public opinion on a question
  78. pluralist

    someone who believes that distinct ethnic or cultural or religious groups can exist together in society
  79. pogrom

    organized persecution of an ethnic group, especially Jews
  80. precept

    a rule of personal conduct
  81. primacy

    the state of being first in importance
  82. privation

    the act of stripping someone of food, money, or rights
  83. profligate

    unrestrained by convention or morality
  84. profundity

    the quality of being physically deep
  85. proprioception

    the ability to sense the position and location and orientation and movement of the body and its parts
  86. proscribe

    command against
  87. purview

    the range of interest or activity that can be anticipated
  88. ramify

    have or develop complicating consequences
  89. rapine

    the act of despoiling a country in warfare
  90. rarefied

    of high moral or intellectual value
  91. ratiocination

    the proposition arrived at by logical reasoning
  92. recourse

    act of turning to for assistance
  93. reductio ad absurdum

    (reduction to the absurd) a disproof by showing that the consequences of the proposition are absurd; or a proof of a proposition by showing that its negation leads to a contradiction
  94. reductionism

    a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components
  95. refractory

    stubbornly resistant to authority or control
  96. regnant

    exercising power or authority
  97. rigmarole

    a long and complicated and confusing procedure
  98. risible

    arousing or provoking laughter
  99. roil

    make turbid by stirring up the sediments of
  100. salacious

    suggestive of or tending to moral looseness
  101. scrofulous

    afflicted with scrofula
  102. sine qua non

    a prerequisite
  103. stridency

    having the timbre of a loud high-pitched sound
  104. suasion

    the act of persuading
  105. supervene

    take place as an additional or unexpected development
  106. swaddle

    wrap very tightly in cloth, as a baby
  107. syllogism

    reasoning in which a conclusion is derived from two premises
  108. tautology

    useless repetition
  109. tendentious

    having a strong bias, especially a controversial one
  110. theodicy

    the branch of religious studies that defends God's goodness
  111. thrall

    the state of being under the control of another person
  112. vacuity

    the absence of matter
  113. vagary

    an unexpected and inexplicable change in something
  114. veldt

    elevated open grassland in southern Africa
  115. vet

    a doctor who practices veterinary medicine
  116. vicissitude

    a variation in circumstances or fortune
  117. vivisection

    the act of operating on living animals
  118. winnow

    the act of separating grain from chaff
Created on February 23, 2009
(updated February 27, 2009)