paradigm (n)

Very commonly “paradigm shift” or “paradigmatically.”

The OED provides us many definitions, for example:

“A conceptual or methodological model underlying the theories and practices of a science or discipline at a particular time; (hence) a generally accepted world view.”


“paradigm shift n. a conceptual or methodological change in the theory or practice of a particular science or discipline; (in extended sense) a major change in technology, outlook, etc.”

which are more or less reflective of the many pretentious and obfuscating ways this word has been employed in academic writing, but for almost all purpose, one should best understand this word as a fancy synonym for


farniente (n)

French for idleness, or literally, do-nothing. Originally from Rousseau, who rejoices in idleness, or his “precious far niente.”

Heinrich Meier in On the Happiness of the Philosophic Life, claims the phrase “refers to an activity of a unique sort… a ‘delightful and necessary pursuit of a man who has devoted himself to idleness.”

Meier notes that Rousseau’s first use of the term is within the context of “not having to read and write.” This is a sentiment we here at Grad School Vocab understand profoundly.

intrinsic (adj)

Or most commonly, intrinsically (adv) meaning “belonging to the very nature of a thing.”

1480-90; < Medieval Latin intrinsecus inward (adj.), Latin (adv.), equivalent to intrin- (int(e)r-, as in interior + -im adv. suffix) + secus beside, derivative of sequī to follow

A word that is tremendously overused, often redundantly, i.e., “intrinsic nature.” Suffers from the problem of employing the word “nature” in its definition, whatever that word means.  Etymologically, we see an interesting logic: intrinsic means “inside” and “beside,” the extrapolation here being that something that is both inside a thing and beside a thing is fundamentally a part of its “nature.”

Very closely related to “fundamentally.”

amphiboly (n)

amphibolic (adj)

amphibolically (adv)

1635-45; < Latin amphibolus < Greek amphíbolos thrown on both sides, ambiguous, equivalent to amphi- amphi- + -bol- (verb of bállein to throw) + -os -ous

– Linguistically, an amphiboly is an ambiguity which results from ambiguous grammar, as opposed to one that results from the ambiguity of words or phrases—that is, Equivocation. The fallacy of Amphiboly occurs when a bad argument trades upon grammatical ambiguity to create an illusion of cogency.

From Through the Looking Glass:

“You couldn’t have it if you didn’t want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.”

“It must come to jam today,” Alice objected. “No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: today isn’t any other day, you know.”



The smallest measurement of time available to science so far.  Atto + second, atto meaning “18,” referring to the exponent describing fraction:

1×1018 of a second

Or one quintillionth of a second.

Look-Back Time


“Due to the amount of time required for light traveling through the cosmos to reach the Earth, astronomic observers are always viewing the past—an effect known as ‘look-back time. The Sun has a look-back time of eight minutes, while the Andromeda galaxy’s is two million years.”

From Lapham’s Quarterly.

Of course, look-back time also occurs in our day to day experience; i.e., the amount of time it takes light from a building to hit my eye, and then perception-time, the amount of time it takes the cells to process that photon into some sort of image.  Human beings don’t see the present, ever, we perceive only what has already occured perhaps 1/60th of a second ago.