Glossary: Words beginning with P, Q, R

Return to the full glossary index.


P (back to top)












percussive sublimation



































palaver (back to top)


“All day dey talk palaver.”

Oluale Kossola (Cudjo Lewis), interviewed in Zora Neale Hurston. Barracoon. Amistad, 2018.

“No Southerner, Claire did her best to comfort me with palaver and awkward pats on the arm, but as soon as I could stand, she put me in a car that took me back down to the city.”

Lily King. Euphoria. (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.) Amazon Kindle edition. p. 250.


“And when lovers are not being dispatched — these luckless gents are preserved as golden mummies by the court embalmer, a discarded swain who has been rendered mute by this tireless dame — the cast is engaged in endless palaver, none of which could be described as exhilarating.”

Alexander Wolcott, reviewing the film Siren of Atlantis (1949) quoted by Michael N. McGregor. Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax. Fordham University Press, 2015.

panchreston (back to top)


“The expression ‘mental illness’ was not understood in a metaphorical sense as it should have been, but attained a high degree of concretization and began to lead a life of its own. Now it is a panchreston (Hardin, 1956), a word that is supposed to explain everything, whereas it explains nothing and serves only to hinder our critical understanding.”

Thomas S. Szasz. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. New York: Delta, 1961. pp. 295-296. Citing G. Hardin. (1956) “The meaninglessness of the word protoplasm.” Scient. Month., 82:112.

panjandrums (back to top)


“They aren’t voiceless dogsbodies. Peter Hennessy’s post-war history Having It So Good is peopled with panjandrums.”

Polly Toynbee and David Walker. Dismembered: How the Attack on the State Harms Us All. London: Guardian, 2017. p. 163.

papyromania (back to top)

“Papyromania, the exact opposite of papyrophobia, causes the employee to clutter his desk with piles of never-used papers and books.”

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. (1969) HarperBusiness (Kindle edition), 2014.

papyrophobe (back to top)

“The papyrophobe cannot tolerate papers or books on his desk or, in extreme cases, anywhere in his office.”
Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. (1969) HarperBusiness (Kindle edition), 2014.

parachronism (back to top)

“Anachronisms come in two varieties. The first is prochronism where parts of the plot reference future technologies that didn’t exist at the time the story is meant to be taking place. * * * The second form of anachronism is parachronism, a situation where aspects of your story are dependent upon what the reader knows is now out-of-date technology.”

Charles Christian. Writing Genre Fiction: Creating Imaginary Worlds: The 12 Rules. Norfolk, UK: Urban Fantasist, 2014.

paraenesis (back to top)


”This has then led to an actual denial that there exists, in Divine Revelation, a specific and determined moral content, universally valid and permanent. The word of God would be limited to proposing an exhortation, a generic paraenesis, which the autonomous reason alone would then have the task of completing with normative directives which are truly “objective”, that is, adapted to the concrete historical situation.”

Veritatis Splendor (The Splendour of Truth). A papal encyclical by Ioannes Paulus PP. II (Pope John Paul II), 1993. Section 37.

paralinguistics (back to top)

Related to non-verbal parts of spoken communication.


“This we do in cases of direct contact though speech and a host of more anciently honed paralinguistic cues inherent in facial expressions and body language.”

“In Way Too Little We Trust.” Adam Garfinkle. The American Interest. Dec. 13, 2017.

parapraxes (back to top)

“All those parapraxes, those Freudian sips, are so many lapses into Yiddish or into a telltale accent.”
William Ian Miller. Faking It. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. p 134.

paravanes (back to top)


“Sailing with the paravanes of a disingenuous affability always in position, he imagined that, in spite of his lack of skill as a navigator, he was safe form the danger of mines.”

Dag Hammarskjöld. Markings [Vägmärken], (1963) Translated by Leif Sjöberg and W. H. Auden, 1964. Ballantine Books/Epiphany, 1987. p. 30.

pawl (back to top)

“Often the spool fits down onto a toothed wheel whose motion is controlled by two pawls, one to turn the gear in the correct direction and another to stop it from turning in the wrong direction. These pawls should be engaging the wheel on the uptake side of the typewriter [the side toward which the ribbon is going], and should be disengaged on the other side, where the wheel should spin freely in either direction. Sometimes the pawls fail to engage. Usually the solution is simple: A little spring needs to be put back in place, or the pawls have gotten gummed up and need some degreaser to get them moving freely again.”

Richard Polt. The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century. New York: Countryman Press, 2015. pp. 166-167.

percussive sublimation (back to top)

“And I can’t find any behavioral science research on terms such as “Percussive Sublimation” (“being kicked upstairs: a pseudo promotion”) and “Peter’s Circumambulation” (“a detour around a super-incumbent,” who is “a person above you who, having reached his level of incompetence, blocks your path to promotion”).”

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. (1969) HarperBusiness (Kindle edition), 2014.

petrichor (back to top)

“Poetic metaphors in the chapter [in Decolonizing the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o], such as ‘teeth which seemed to be washed with milk,’ ‘breasts pointed like the tip of the sharpest thorn,’ and ‘a body slim and straight like the eucalyptus’ leave the reader with the petrichor of village life.”
Minna Salami. Sensuous Knowledge: A Black Feminist Approach For Everyone. Amistad, 2020. Chapter 3: “Of Decolonization.”

petrific (back to top)

Turning to stone, or able to turn other things to stone.

“…The aggregated soil
Death with his mace petrific, cold and dry,
As with a trident smote, and fixed as firm
As Delos, floating once; the rest his look
Bound with Gorgonian rigour not to move,
And with asphaltic slime…”
John Milton. “Paradise Lost,” Book X, Lines 293-298. Paradise Lost and Other Poems. New York: Penguin, 1981. p. 216.

pettifoggery (back to top)

Petty bickering or shady untrustworthiness.

“Waste no time on it, then; it’s pettifoggery or dilettantism.”
The character of ‘Isa ben Adam. Peter Kreeft. A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999. p 16.

“You pettifoggers, garblers of syllables and masters of chicanery, speak not to me I beseech you, in the name of, and for the reverence you bear to the four hips that engendered you, and to the quickening peg which at that time conjoined them.”
The author’s prologue to the third book of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Translated into English (1930 by Ives Washburn, Inc.) The Works of Rabelais. New York: Tudor Publishing Company, 1949. p. 252.


“The sums of the cosmologists remind me of nothing so much as the art of gematria, which in turn reminds us that the obsession with large numbers per se was a sign that true gematria had been debased to arid calculation, like that of the Schoolmen who famously pettifogged over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

Patrick Harpur. The Philosopher’s Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination (2002). Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003. p. 161.


“This pettifogger, this unshaven upstart, who had received wine and patronage in his house, and who now repaid it by attacking him!”

Knut Hamsun. The Women at the Pump. (Konerne Ved Vandposten, 1978) English language translation © 1978 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. ebook version: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, 2013.


“…the Persians are a truthful people, and the Great King would not be capable of lowering his royal dignity by such a pettifogging trick…”

Robert Graves. Count Belisarius. (1938)

pharmacophoria (back to top)


From pharmacon (drug) + phoros (bearing).

“He was arrested by the border police for pharmocophoria.”

“Improve your Vocabulary,” Lloyd Rawley. Reprinted from the April 1995 Capital M, Metropolitan Washington Mensa, Bob Hofkin, editor.

pharyngealised (back to top)

“Consonants are more complex. Some (p, t, k, m, and n are common) appear in most languages, but consonants can come in a blizzard of varieties known as egressive (air coming from the nose or mouth), ingressive (air coming back in the nose and mouth), ejective (air expelled from the mouth while the breath is blocked by the glottis), pharyngealised (the pharynx constricted), palatised (the tongue raised toward the palate) and more.”
“Tongue Twisters.” The Economist. Dec. 19, 2009. p. 136.

philosophaster (back to top)

“In any case, we hear denunciations of ‘philosophasters to whom philosophy is the handmaid of scoffing.’”

“Aristotle and Jewish Thought.” Dr. A. Wolf. Aspects of the Hebrew Genius. Edited by Leon Simon. London: George Routledge & Sons, Limited. New York: Block Publishing Co. 1910. p. 133. [It’s unclear who Wolf is quoting — perhaps Spinoza.]

phrontisterion (back to top)

“To parody the pretensions of theoretical knowledge, the ancient comedian Aristophanes coined a new word, phrontisterion. The literal translation is ‘think tank.'”

Matthew B. Crawford. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. p. 162.

phugoid (back to top)

“But just as the flight crew was starting to gain a little confidence, the plane started to pitch violently up and down in a relentless cycle. This is known as a phugoid pattern.”
Jonah Lehrer. How We Decide. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.p. 124.

pillion (back to top)

“Through the window I could see Flurry, with his wife riding pillion, weaving off on a motorbike.”

Nicholas Blake. The Private Wound. New York: Dell, 1968. p. 24.

pilniewinks (back to top)

“The nails were torn from his fingers with smith’s pincers; pins were driven into the places which the nails usually defended; his knees were crushed in the boots, his finger bones were splintered in the pilniewinks.”
Sir Walter Scott, Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830)

pleonexia (back to top)

“This is the spiritually corrupting vice of insatiable desire to have more and more material things.”
John R. Schneider. The Good of Affluence: Seeking God in a Culture of Wealth. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2002. p. 36.

poco-curantism (back to top)

“It is queer the fantastic things that quite good people will do in order to keep up their appearance of calm poco-curantism.”
Ford Madox Ford. The Good Soldier. Originally 1915. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1995. p 157. Defined in the footnote as “nonchalance, indifference.”

pogonotrophy (back to top)


“The growing of a beard. [From Greek pogon (beard) + -trophy (nourishment,
growth). Pogonology is the study of beards and pogonotomy is a fancy word for shaving.” — Pogonotrophe is the person who grows a beard. Anu Garg,

poltoonery (back to top)

“It was then recorded that ‘The coward Sheikh Alaimi fled before them, but was assassinated in punishment for his poltoonery by order of his cousin Kiari who then, as self-appointed Sheikh, marched against Rabeh and inflicted a defeat upon him.'”
Pearce Gervis. Of Emirs and Pagans: A View of Northern Nigeria. London: Cassell, 1963. p. 73.

polymath (back to top)

A person learned in several fields. “Polymathy” is the fact or practice of this learning.

Coined 1615-1625 according to the Random House Dictionary, and used by Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) according to Clive James. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. (2007) New York: Norton, 2008. p. 58.

pongee (back to top)

“Until I refused to wear it, she sent me to school in a pongee shirt with a ruffled collar.”
Anatole Broyard. Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir. New York: Carol Southern Books, 1993. p. 77.

prayopaveshan (back to top)

“…who, after the death of his wife, had left his body by fasting unto death, a method called prayopaveshan.”
Manohar Shyam Joshi. The Perplexity of Hariya Hercules. Translated from the Hindi by Robert E. Hueckstedt. New Delhi, India: Penguin, 2009. p. 17.

precipitevolissimevolmente (back to top)

“In a letter to Solt, Lax traced his movement toward the spare, vertical approach he was becoming known for through several publishing milestones: his New Yorker poem ‘Solomon’s High Dive,’ in which one word (the longest word in Italian, according to his circus friends), precipitevolissimevolmente, drops down the page letter by letter; his 1962 book, New Poems; his poems in Locus Solus and the Lugano Review; Sea Poem, a chapbook issued by Finlay’s Wild Hawthorn Press in 1966, and two chapbooks published by Antonucci’s Journeyman Press; Thought (1964) and 3 or 4 Poems about the Sea (1966).”
Michael N. McGregor. Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax. Fordham University Press, 2015.

predella (back to top)

“…at its heart a frame whose compartmentalization identified it as the predella — repeated four times — of a retable…”

Roger Lewinter. The Attraction of Things. (L’attrait des choses: Fragments de vie oblique, 1985) Translated from the French by Rachel Careau (2016). New York: New Directions, 2016. p. 78.

prescind (back to top)


“‘Magic’ has been a loose term, covering any capacity to work good, especially prodigious, effects. (We prescind from ‘black magic.’)”

Denise Lardner Carmody and John Tully Carmody. Mysticism: Holiness East and West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. p. 124.

prestidigitatory (back to top)

adj., meaning accomplished by sleight of hand

“…whether witches may work some prestidigitatory illusion so that the male organ appears to be entirely removed and separate from the body…”

Susan Squire. I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage. New York: Bloomsbury, 2008. p. 196.

”Almost with the nimbleness of prestidigitation, Carson put away her ID and produced the pistol from her holster.”

Dean Koontz. Frankenstein: Prodigal Son (#1 of 5 in the Frankenstein series) (2005) Bantam, 2007.

promnesia (back to top)


[Frederic] Myers compared subliminal perception to a camera; it not only has a greater sensitivity than the conscious self but also operates more quickly. As a result, something can reach our mind that we do not consciously perceive until a moment later. This throws our sense of time out of gear: the conscious self looks through the eyes, the subliminal self through the camera, provoking the illusion that we are seeing something from the past as well as something from the present. Myers called this experience ‘promnesia’ — pre-memory.
Douwe Draaisma. Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older: How Memory Shapes Our Past. (2001) Translated by Arnold and Erica Pomerans in 2004. Cambridge University Press, 2005. p 154.

pronoia (back to top)

“[Rob] Bresny, creator of the widely syndicated all-weekly column Free Will Astrology, defines pronoia as the understanding that the universe is inherently friendly.”
Utne. Sept.-Oct. 2005. p 29.

propaedeutics (back to top)

“Fear, in short, once had a bad reputation. It was the sign of a weak character, an incompleteness… Today, however, a sociological and moral flip-flop has reversed these values to turn fear into something more than just a legitimate feeling: it has taken on an additional temperamental solidity that it would be foolish to ignore; it has become a sign of wisdom, a tool of thought, a propaedeutics.”

Bertrand Richard, in the preface to: Paul Virilio, with Bertrand Richard. The Administration of Fear. Translated by Ames Hodges. Les editions Textuel, 2012. Translation: Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012. p. 8.

propheteia (back to top)


The greatest need in our time is not simply for kerygma, the preaching of the gospel; nor for diakonia, service on behalf of justice; nor for charisma, the experience of the Spirit’s gifts; nor even for propheteia, the challenging of the king. The greatest need of our time is for koinonia, the call simply to be the church, to love one another, and to offer our lives for the sake of the world.
Jim Wallis. The Call to Conversion: Why Faith is Always Personal but Never Private. Revised and Updated. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2005. (Originally 1981.) p 112.

protoplasmic (back to top)

Resembling an extremely primitive life-form; like the substance from which life evolved; slimy.

“According to American prosecutors, who appear to be on the verge of winning a seven-year legal battle to secure his extradition, Mr [Gary] McKinnon carried out ‘the biggest hack of military computers ever’ between 2001 and 2002 when, from his bedroom in London, he accessed 97 American military and NASA computers, allegedly causing $700,000 of damage. The 43-year-old, who was diagnosed last year with Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism, says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. … Post-Iraq, any hint of American bullying hits a nerve: Boris Johnson, the excitable mayor of London, spluttered that giving up Mr McKinnon would be ‘one of the most protoplasmic acts of self-abasement since Suez.'”
“Trial of an alien.” The Economist. August 8, 2009. p. 51.

psalmody (back to top)


“For me, a measure of healing has come less from psychology than from religion, specifically the ancient practices of prayer and psalmody.”

Kathleen Norris. Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. p. 77.

pseudocyesis (back to top)

“The patient, who according to him had appeared to be an asexual being and had never made any allusion to such a forbidden topic throughout the treatment, was now in the throes of an hysterical childbirth (pseudocyesis), the logical termination of a phantom pregnancy that had been invisible developing in response to Breuer’s ministrations.”

Ernest Jones, in his biography of Freud. Quoted by Janet Malcolm. Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession. (1981) New York: Vintage Books, 1982. p. 13.

psychomachia (back to top)


Spiritual effort. From Greek, “soul work”.


“Today I sat down to see if I could list all the invisible events happening at the soul level, and the results inspire a deep awe at the ‘soul work’ (which the medieval church called psychomachia) going on with every breath…”
Deepak Chopra. How To Know God: The Soul’s Journey into the Mystery of Mysteries. New York: Harmony Books, 2000. p 279.

puerility (back to top)

A childish occupation.

“I can never submit to all these trivial occupations that fill the life of a recluse, it is a tissue of puerilities that I despise.”
Denis Diderot. The Nun. (1760) Trans. Leonard Tancock. Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1972. Reprinted 1982. p 109.

punctilio (back to top)

“They recognized that you had to stick your neck out and push your luck, at times, under the army’s regime of insult and frazzling punctilio.”
Karl Miller, in his essay under the heading “‘When there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue.’ – Samuel Johnson.” Robin Robertson, ed. Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame. (2003) New York: Perennial, 2005. p. 175.

purfled (back to top)

“…entirely covered with sheets of silver purfled with gold.”

Ottaviano Bon, quoted in N. M. Penzer, The Harem (1936). New York: Dorset Press, 1993. p. 233.

pyrolatry (back to top)




“Every infant is born with the characters of Islamism impressed upon its mind; and it is solely owing to its parents that it embraces either Judaism, or Christianity, or Pyrolatry.”
Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson. Oriental antiquities, and general view of the Othoman customs, laws, and ceremonies: exhibiting many curious pieces of the Eastern Hemisphere, relative to the Christian and Jewish dispensations; with various rites and mysteries of the Oriental Freemasons. Translated from the French. Philadelphia: Printed for the Select Committee and Grand Lodge of Enquiry, 1788. p 109-110.

pyrophoric (back to top)

“Silane, a chemical compound of silicon and hydrogen, is a pyrophoric gas at room temperature, meaning that it spontaneously combusts in air at room temperature.”

Lois H. Gresh and Robert Weinberg. The Science of Stephen King: From Carrie to Cell, the Terrifying Truth Behind the Horror Master’s Fiction. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley and Sons, 2007. p. 39.

Q (back to top)



quiddity (back to top)

“Other childhood legends speak to a different quiddity: his constant flair for violence, starting with schoolyard scraps.”

Ronan Farrow. War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. W. W. Norton, 2018.

quisling (back to top)

“Who’s Thatcher?”

“We call her The Goddess Miggea. Most of them worship her today, though she was the one who formulated the language used to place the middle class in its present unhappy position. She was a sort of quisling for the Whiteshirts. She’s the main symbol of middle class downfall, yet they still think she saved them, the way the Yanks think Reagan got them out of trouble.”

Michael Moorcock, Modem Times 2.0, 2011. p. 31.


“In World War Z, Brooks notes the existence of ‘quislings,’ humans who act like they are zombies. As one
character describes them, ‘These people were zombies, maybe not physically, but mentally you could not tell the

Daniel W. Drezner. Theories of International Politics and Zombies: Revived Edition. Princeton University Press, 2014.


R (back to top)





red kisses



resident genius

res odiosae




rigor cartis





rachmones (back to top)

Compassion (Yiddish).

“Had they known they were going to die, it might have been different. Since they didn’t, I. J. Manger wasn’t about to let Mani Zaretsky see him cry for rachmones.”
“The Twenty-Seventh Man.” Nathan Englander. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. p. 9.

raddled (back to top)

Twisted or dyed red.

“For [W. C.] Fields, especially in his later years, being suggestive about sex was at the heart of speech, because the discrepancy between his raddled body and his intact lusts was the secret of his screen personality.”

Clive James. Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts. (2007) New York: Norton, 2008. p. 208.

rarebit (back to top)

“We ordered things we hadn’t seen in years: veal, Welsh rarebit, spaghetti.”

Lily King. Euphoria. (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014.) Amazon Kindle edition. p. 231.

rebetika (back to top)

A kind of Greek song with instrumental accompaniment.

“Now we can again watch our tragedies in the amphitheatre and sing rebetika.”
– a letter from the character Kostas. Anne Michaels. Fugitive Pieces: A Novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. p. 153.

red kisses (back to top)


Meaning unknown.

“Young people in the 1920s went to see films like Flaming Youth, advertised as an expose of ‘neckers, petters, white kisses, red kisses, pleasure-mad daughters, sensation-craving mothers, by an author who didn’t dare sign his name.'”
Stephanie Coontz. Marriage, a History: from Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage. New York: Viking, 2005. p 198.

religiofication (back to top)

Defined by Eric Hoffer as “the art of turning practical causes into holy causes.”


The True Believer, New York: New American Library, 1951. p 15.


repristinate (back to top)

To restore to original condition.

“The hospital had been specially repristinated at a cost of $100,000, much of it spent on the water-based paint which had been carefully applied to the gutters, down which it was now flowing.”
Clive James. “The Queen in California.” (1983), reprinted in Snakecharmers in Texas (Essays 1980-87). London: Picador, 1989. p. 230.

resident genius (back to top)


“We cannot return to the past, but we can change our lives to preserve the ‘resident genius’ of the land, as novelist Mary Austin described Indian poetry in the 1920s. The resident genius is where the dream of the continent is most alive.”
Tom Hayden. The Lost Gospel of the Earth: A Call for Renewing Nature, Spirit, and Politics. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996. p. 148.

“Each monastery has a genius loci, a unique spirit or genie which inhabits the place.”
Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. A Monk’s Alphabet: Moments of Stillness in a Turning World. Boston: New Seeds, 2006. p. 190.

res odiosae (back to top)

A distasteful, hated or annoying thing.

“Taxes fall within the category of res odiosae, in the sense that no one pays them willingly. Let us say that it is surely a sin not to pay those which are just, while in the case of unjust taxes, the matter should be examined case by case.”
Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti. Imprimatur. (2002) Translated from Italian to English by Peter Burnett (2008). Edinburgh: Polygon, 2008. p. 51.

revanchist (back to top)


Political desire to regain lost territory. From the root revenge. Origin: 1870s France.

“In this radically revanchist effort to remake American society, how far back would the Republican Party and the Koch brothers like to take us?”
Historian Nancy MacLean on the right’s ultimate goal: Rolling back the 20th century.” Chauncey DeVega. Salon. Dec. 13, 2017.


“Brexit in the UK, waves of immigrants arriving on Europe’s angry shores, the disenfranchisement of the workingman, the specter of more financial meltdown, Bernie Sanders and his liberal revanchism — everywhere was backlash.”
Michael Wolff. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Henry Holt and Co., Jan. 5, 2018. Kindle Location 139.

rhodomontade (back to top)

“‘Go and be blind!’ exclaimed the old Turcoman chief, as soon as he had heard this rhodomontade.”
James Morier, Zohrab, the Hostage. London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1832. Vol. I, p. 243.

rhothios (back to top)

Ancient Greek onomatopoeia.

“At dawn, when the Aegean Sea lay smooth as a burnished shield, you could hear a trireme from Athens while it was still a long way off. First came soft measured strokes like the pounding of a distant drum. Then two distinct sounds gradually emerged within each stroke: a deep percussive blow of wood striking water, followed by a dashing surge. Whumpff! Whroosh! These sounds were so much part of their world that Greeks had names for them. They called the splash pitylos, the rush rhothios….In the final moments, as the red-rimmed eyes set on the prow stared straight at you, the oar strokes sounded like thunder. Then the ship either ran you down or swerved aside in search of other prey.”

John R. Hale. Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy. 2009. Quoted in The American Scholar. Spring 2010. p. 118.

rigor cartis (back to top)

Rigor Cartis — abnormal interest in charts, with dwindling concern for realities that the charts represent.”

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong. (1969) HarperBusiness (Kindle edition), 2014.

rimbaugh (back to top)

“A rimbaugh is an ancient, Celtic puzzle with two odd-shaped halves that appear as if they don’t belong together. But when interlocked in just the right fashion, they reveal their inherent connection.”

Brian Luke Seaward. Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water: Reflections on Stress and Human Spirituality. (1997) Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, Inc. 2007. p. 93.

riverine (back to top)


Having to do with rivers.


“The Navy will support a U.S. SOCOM increase in SEAL Team manning and will develop a riverine warfare capability.”
Introduction to the Quadrennial Defense Review Report. U.S. Pentagon. February 6, 2006.

roisterer (back to top)

One who makes noise merrily.

“And his friends, who were daredevil roisterers, chased after him.”
Mark Haddon (in the character of Christopher). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2004. p 70.

roozmaregi (back to top)

“Iranians have a word, roozmaregi, which means in essence “to live one day at a time.””
“The last Ayatollah.” Maziar Bahari. Newsweek. June 14, 2010. p. 37.