Words and short definitions

Amok-murderously frenzied state
Qualm- sudden fear, illness, doubt on ethics
Sisyphean- of sisyphus, ineffective effort
Monroe's motivated sequence-ANSVA
sea change-transformation
zeroth-of or relating to 0


\a MUCK\ adverb

1: in a murderously frenzied state
2a : in a violently raging manner; 2b : in an undisciplined, uncontrolled, or faulty manner
EXAMPLE: "We simply can’t have children running amok all over the school,” said the principal when asked to explain the school’s hallway pass policy.


\KWAHM\ noun

1 : a sudden attack of illness, faintness, or nausea
2 : a sudden fear
3 : a feeling of doubt or indecision in matters of right and wrong
Much to the dismay of those in the music industry, many people have no qualms about illegally downloading music files from the Internet.
"Genetic engineering is already widely used for crops, but the government until now has not considered allowing the consumption of modified animals. Although the potential benefits and profits are huge, many people have qualms about manipulating the genetic code of other living creatures." — From an Associated Press article by Mary Clare Jalonick, September 21, 2010
Etymologists aren't sure where "qualm" originated, but they do know it entered English around 1530. Originally, it referred to a sudden sick feeling. Robert Louis Stevenson made use of this older sense in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: "A qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most deadly shuddering." Soon after "qualm" entered the language, it came to designate not only sudden attacks of illness, but also sudden attacks of emotion or principle. In The Sketch Book, for example, Washington Irving wrote, "Immediately after one of these fits of extravagance, he will be taken with violent qualms of economy…." Eventually, "qualm" took on the specific (and now most common) meaning of doubt or uneasiness, particularly in not following one's conscience or better judgment.



DEFINITION: expressive of suffering or woe : melancholy
TWO EXAMPLEs: 1. We could hear the plaintive cry of a wounded animal in the woods. 2. "The new album's got a timelessness to it, as Bondy pulls you in with tersely plaintive yarns of hard luck in the big, bad world, the predictability of loneliness and the faint promise of redemption." -- From a music review by John Payne in the Houston Press, August 12, 2010


\sis-uh-FEE-un\ adjective

Defined: of, relating to, or suggestive of the labors of Sisyphus; specifically : requiring continual and often ineffective effort

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a king who annoyed the gods with his trickery. As a consequence, he was condemned for eternity to roll a huge rock up a long, steep hill in the underworld, only to watch it roll back down. The story of Sisyphus is often told in conjunction with that of Tantalus, who was condemned to stand beneath fruit-laden boughs, up to his chin in water. Whenever he bent his head to drink, the water receded, and whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches moved beyond his grasp. Thus to "tantalize" is to tease or torment by offering something desirable but keeping it out of reach — and something "Sisyphean" (or "Sisyphian," pronounced \sih-SIFF-ee-un\) demands unending, thankless, and ultimately unsuccessful efforts.


\KIZZ-met\ Noun
  • DEFINITION = fate
  • EXAMPLES: Penelope and Richard believed it was kismet that brought them together on that day when they met and fell in love. "He was sitting at the bar of the Fairmont Hotel…. It was pure kismet that I sat down next to him." -- From an article in Simple Justice, August 29, 2010

Gimcrack (JIM-krak) Noun

DEFINITION: a showy object of little use or value : gewgaw
 EXAMPLEs:The silver yo-yo that Jerry kept on his office desk was a gimcrack he had won as a carnival prize many years ago.
"Know how many times you're willing to stop and how much money you're willing to spend on treats and souvenirs on the drive. If one hat, T-shirt or gimcrack is the limit, make sure they know to choose wisely." -- From an article on traveling with children, by Christy Strawser, Detroit Free Press, August 28, 2010


fuh-RAJ-uh-nus\ adjective
1. consisting of a confused mixture : formed of various materials in no fixed order or arrangement


The large box at the hotel’s lost and found desk contained a farraginous assortment of hats, umbrellas, cell phones, and other personal items.

"Like the Habsburg empire, the kingdom of Sweden encompassed a farraginous set of languages, including Swedish, Finnish, Latvian, Estonian, and German, the language of administration." — From the book A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present (Third Edition), by John Merriman, 2009

"Farraginous" is the adjective connected with "farrago," a word we featured in September. In Latin, the stem "farragin-" and the noun "farrago" both mean "mixture" or (specifically) "a mixture of grains for cattle feed." They derive from "far," the Latin name for spelt, a type of grain. In the 1600s, English speakers began using "farrago" as a noun meaning "hodgepodge" and "farraginous" as an adjective meaning "consisting of a mixture." The creation of the adjective was simply a matter of adding the adjectival suffix "-ous" to "farragin-" (although at least one writer had previously experimented with "farraginary," employing a different adjectival suffix).

lethargic \luh-THAHR-jik\ adjective
1 : of, relating to, or characterized by lethargy : sluggish
2 : indifferent, apathetic


After eating a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs I often feel lethargic and sleepy.

"What's not to like about a $30 billion boost to small biz, which has been taking it on the chin on this lethargic recovery? Perhaps only that it will be insufficient to counter the strong headwinds that small companies are facing." — From John Curran’s "The Curious Capitalist" blog on Time.com, September 17, 2010

In Greek mythology, Lethe was the name of a river in the underworld that was also called "the River of Unmindfulness" or "the River of Forgetfulness." Legend held that when someone died, he or she was given a drink of water from the river Lethe to forget all about his or her past life. Eventually this act of forgetting came to be associated with feelings of sluggishness, inactivity, or indifference. The name of the river and the word "lethargic," as well as the related noun "lethargy," all derive from "lethe," Greek for "forgetfulness."
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (MMS) is an organizational pattern used to develop a sense of want or need in the audience, satisfy that want or need, and to help the audience get enthused about the advantages of that solution.
to get audience to listen
"I want to hear what you have to say"
to get audience to feel a need or want
"I agree. I have that need/want
to tell audience how to fill need or want
"I see your solution will work"
to get audience to see benefits of solution
"This is a great idea"
to get audience to take action
"I want it"

For your presentation, you need to use MMS something like this:
Step 1: Get Attention-- Through the use of attention getting devices, you will aim to do two basic things: get the audience’s attention, and ease the audience into the topic.
Step 2: Build the Need/Want-- In this step, you will work to get your audience to feel a need or want, whichever you determine to be appropriate. This is accomplished via four steps:
  • A. Statement: give a definite, concise statement of what the need or want is.
B. Illustration: give one or more examples illustrating the need or want. This is where you try to “paint pictures” verbally to really get audience to feel that need or want.
C. Ramification: here you can offer additional evidence, such as statistics/testimony/examples which give even more weight to the need or want.
D. Pointing: this is where you really point out how this need or want is directly related and important to the audience.
Step 3: Satisfy the Need/Want-- In this step, you will now fill the need/want you built in step 2. It is vital that you be consistent; i.e., be sure the solution you offer really does fit the need/want. There are five steps here:
  • A. Statement: tell your audience in a very specific, direct sentence what it is you want them to do (THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE WILL HAVE HEARD--PRECISELY--WHAT IT IS YOU ARE ADVOCATING)
B. Explanation: Explain what exactly it is you are advocating.
C. Theoretical Demonstraton: This is where you make it clear how what you are advocating fulfills the need you built in step 2.
D. Reference to Practical Experience: This is where you bring in external evidence supporting the value of your proposal.
E. Meeting Objections: here you anticipate counter-arguments and you pre-empt them, i.e., address them before the audience has time to actually bring them up.
Step 4: Visualizing the Results-- In this step you are working to intensify your audience’s desire for your product/service. This is often called the projection step because it looks forward to the future. There are three options here:
  • Option A: The Positive Method: Using this method, you offer vivid descriptions of how much better the person’s life will be as a result of buying your product or service.
Option B: The Negative Method: Using this method, you offer vivid descriptions of how bad the person’s life will be as a result of not buying your product or service.
Option C: The Contrast Method: Using this method, you combine the previous two methods, addressing negatives first, and positives second.
Step 5: Call for Action-- This step is the final call for the buyer to actually make the purchase, the “go out and get it already” step. It should be brief, powerful, and well worded. End on a strong note, then sit down.
DIFFICULTIES OF USING MMS: (things to watch out for)
1. Careful of repetition. It is very easy to find yourself repeating points from one step in another step. For instance, the attention step should not get into need building. Or in step four, visualization, don’t repeat things from step 3.
2. Be sure to do all steps. Frequently I hear students start these speeches with “I’m here to get you to. . .” Clearly, that is the statement from step 3. Be sure to use some sort of attention getting device and build the need/want first.
3. Be sure to take time to build the need. What I think happens is that dealing with the specific action is so straightforward that students want to jump to that. Granted, need/want building is less “definite,” but it is so vitally important.
4. Be sure to use clear “statements” at the beginning of the steps. This allows for clear transitions.
5. Be sure you need/want and action advocated are consistent. In other words, make sure your action has solvency. Solvency is when your proposal really does fill the need/want developed in step 2.
6. Make sure all proposals have workability. An advocated action is workable for an audience if they can reasonably do it--that the advantages outweigh the difficulties of doing it. Can they afford it? Do they have time? Are they able to do it?

sea change


DEFINITION: A marked change; a transformation


The mayor said that she doubts the project will proceed, unless there's a sea change in public opinion.

"Homeowners are flocking to refinance their mortgage loans at record low interest rates, but unlike past refinancing waves, few are using their homes like ATMs and cashing out to buy cars, take vacations, or remodel.... This newfound frugality represents a sea change in how Americans have viewed their homes in recent years, when rising values provided a ready source of borrowed money to support spending." -- From an article by Robert Gavin in The Boston Globe, September 12, 2010


In Shakespeare's "The Tempest," a "sea-change" is a change brought about by sea: "Full fathom five thy father lies ... / Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change." This meaning is the original one, but it's now archaic. Long after "sea change" had gained its figurative meaning, however, writers continued to allude to Shakespeare's literal one; Charles Dickens, Henry David Thoreau, and P.G. Wodehouse all used the term as an object of the verb "suffer." Today you're most likely to see the word as it's used in the two examples given above.


\ZEE-rohth\ Adjective

DEFINITION: being numbered zero in a series; also : of, relating to, or being a zero