haecceity (n)

Latin: “thisness”

From Wikipedia:

“Haecceity” (/hɛkˈsiːɪti, hiːk-/; from the Latin haecceitas, which translates as “thisness”) is a term from medieval scholastic philosophy, first coined by followers of Duns Scotus to denote a concept that he seems to have originated: the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing that make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person’s or object’s thisness, the individualising difference between the concept “a man” and the concept “Socrates” (i.e., a specific person).

Not to be confused with “quiddity,” which is a thing’s whatness.


autological (adj.)

From German autologisch, from Ancient Greek αὐτός (autós, “self”) + λόγος (lógos, “word”).

An autological word (also called homological word or autonym) is a word that expresses a property that it also possesses (e.g. the word “short” is short, “noun” is a noun, “English” is English, “pentasyllabic” has five syllables, “word” is a word). The opposite is a heterological word, one that does not apply to itself (e.g. “long” is not long, “monosyllabic” has five syllables, “German” is not a German word). The world “neologism” was once autological, but now that it is no longer a new word, it is no longer autological.

The opposite of an autological word is a heterological word.  Whether or not “heterological” is in fact a heterological word or an autological word is a paradox.

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.”

Schmendrick (n)

Schmendrick (שמענדריק) is Yiddish for a foolish or contemptible person (OED).

In addition, according to Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten, another definition is “an apprentice schlemiel.”

For more on schlemiels, see: schlemazel.

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.

chronopun (n)

A pun based on concepts of time, or using time diction. They are every bit as unbearable as regular puns. For example, this Cyanide & Happiness comic:


Shakespeare makes a number of chronopuns. Here’s the first I’ve found:

“And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot,
And thereby hangs a tale.”
As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7, Line 26-27.

In Early Modern English, “hour” and “whore” would have been pronounced identically.  So we can measure our lives in hours, or in whores (as Jaques does), or, as Prufrock does, in coffee spoons.