Wordsmith Words

More words I like from the Wordsmith Word-a-Day Mailing List

Star Chamber

A court or group marked by arbitrary, oppressive, and secretive procedures.


A person filling in for another, especially for a doctor or clergyman.


1. Latest in an indefinitely long sequence.
2. One sixteenth.

[Alteration of the word sixteenth.]

Also, the Wordsmith included this:

Notes: The formation of the word “steenth” from “sixteenth” took place through a process called aphesis (from Greek, literally “a letting go”). Aphesis is when an unstressed sound from the beginning of a word get lost over time.

Some other examples are:
“cute” from “acute”
“’tis” from “it is”
“gypsy” from “Egyptian”, from the belief that Gypsies came from Egypt (they actually came from India).


A compulsion to pull out one’s hair.

[From Greek tricho- (hair) + tillein (to pluck, pull out) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or craze).]

paper tiger

One who is outwardly strong and powerful but is in fact powerless and ineffectual.

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