Word Wednesday – Them’s Fighting Words!

Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.

On Wednesdays we will identify an unusual word, provide its definition, and discuss its application or its impact.

Today’s Word Wednesday choice is “truculent,” which comes from a Latin root meaning “savage.”  For some unknown reason, I always thought this word meant the exact opposite, which has probably caused me to grossly misinterpret several works and assume (and you know what they say about “assume”…) the author was very confused.

I am quite familiar, however, with several synonyms for “truculent,” which are almost all derived from Latin, too.  There’s “mordacious” and “mordant,” both from “mordere,” meaning to bite, then “pugilistic” and “pugnacious,” from “pugnare,” which is to fight.  We can’t forget “bellicose” or “belligerent,” since “bellum” means war.  Rounding out the list are “gladiatorial” (duh) and one solitary word derived from Greek: “agonistic.”

This list may imply that the ancient Romans were a very adversarial (also Latin-derived!) people, and considering the scope of their empire, I suppose the assumption is based in some fact.

When you’re telling the story of a revolution, as I do in my novel, finding words to describe the attitude of opposing forces might mean repetition, or, since the ancient Romans so thoughtfully provided so many lovely multisyllabic alternatives, I might just have to let the various options duke it out so I can pick a winner.

Can you think of any fighting words I left out?

1 thought on “Word Wednesday – Them’s Fighting Words!”

  1. You didn’t get my most frequently used, also from the Greek: Barbarous!
    And given the size and duration of the Greek Empire, I am not sure they were any less combative than the Romans.

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