Words of the Day: Abracadabra, Cabala, Aboveboard, Abscond

As a writer it’s important that I have a large vocabulary, so I have decided to read through the dictionary. To keep me accountable I will post my favorite words from each dictionary page. Definitions come from Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition. I like word etymologies so a lot of the words of the day will be root words.

Abracadabra 1. a word supposed to have magical powers, and hence used in incantations, on amulets, etc. 2. a magic spell or formula 3. foolish or meaningless talk; gibberish

This word is right up there with ‘bibbidi-bobbidi-boo’ and ‘open sesame.’ It is thought to be late Latin, probably of Balkan origin, but assumed to be  from late Greek Abraxas (cabalistic name of the almighty God).

Cabala: 1. an occult philosophy of certain Jewish rabbis, esp. in the Middle Ages, based on a mystical interpretation of the Scriptures 2 any esoteric or secret doctrine; occultism

Aboveboard: without dishonesty of concealment.

I was surprised to learn that this word originates from card players–meaning to keep the cards in plain view  (above the ‘board’ [table]).

Abscond:  [classical Latin abscondere < ab(s)-, from , away + condere, to hide] to go away away hastily and secretly;  run away and hide, esp. in order to escape the law. Synonyms: escape, bolt, flee, decamp.

I’m most familiar with this word in association with theft, and for a long time thought it meant ‘to steal’!  “We absconded with the merchant’s most precious jewel” (The Beast’s Enchantress).

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.