7 words from ‘500 Words You Should Know’ that you SHOULD know

Author: Caroline Taggart

So I was nosing through Waterstones (as I tend to find myself doing if I ever get the energy to go into town) and I stumbled across a few books that, I knew, I just wanted to own.
I’m not sure whether it was the way this cover looked, or because I genuinely know I want to improve my vocabulary so I sound more educated in my writing, but I knew I had to own it. So with my full bag of newly purchased books in one hand and my phone in my other, I snapped a photo of it and ordered it from Amazon as soon as I got home.

There are 7 chapters to this book:

  1. Terms of Endearment, Respect and Admiration
  2. Terms of Abuse, Criticism and Mild Contempt
  3. It Depends on My Mood
  4. Let’s Give It Some Thought
  5. The Rough with the Smooth
  6. Heaven, Hell and the Bits in Between
  7. Science and the Arts

I picked a favourite word from each section that I feel everyone should know (or at least should learn if you don’t). Caroline Taggart just had a way of making me want to start throwing half of her words into my everyday language.

  1. Mellifluous: Literally ‘flowing with honey’, this is often used to describe the rich tones of an actor known for the beauty of his voice (p.18).
  2. Effrontery: Cheek, insolence, as in “He had the effrontery to say I never give him anything after I paid for his whole family to go on holiday last year.” Not to be confused with affronted, meaning offended, which is how the person uttering that last complaint might feel (p.35).
  3. Lambent: From the Latin to lick, this literally described a flame flickering gently over a surface, or figuratively something else that glows gently. You can turn a lambent gaze on someone, but only if you have particularly beautiful and expressive eyes (p.75).
  4. Infinitesimal: Tiny, tiny, tiny, immeasurably small. ‘I have an infinitesimal amount of sugar in my coffee because I can’t bear to give it up altogether.’ (p.100).
  5. Rejoinder: A reply, a riposte, especially a sharp, witty one: ‘The dazzling rejoinder I should have made came to me half an hour later, long after I had put the phone down.” (p.137.)
  6. Akimbo: An odd word with a specific meaning: strictly speaking, only the arms can be akimbo; it’s the position they are in when you stand with hands on hips and elbows sticking out, away from the body. Why we need a word for this, I have no idea. But it’s now used more loosely: of the legs, spread widely or all over the place (p.142).
  7. Tenable: Literally, able to be held, usually used of an opinion that can be defended against attack: ‘Not everyone is going to agree with you, but I think it is a tenable point of view.’ (p.178).


Genuinely a book that is fun to just, flick through, or read in your spare time. I’d highly recommend giving it a go!

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