Nuance defined:

Challenge: Use "nuanced" in a sentence tomorrow. Share it here!
Challenge: Use “nuanced” in a sentence tomorrow. Share it here!

1. A subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning, feeling, or tone; a gradation.
2. Expression or appreciation of subtle shades of meaning, feeling, or tone: a rich artistic performance, full of nuance.–The Free

Nuanced is an adjective describing something having these characteristics.



“To subjugate is to bring something or someone under your control and to force submission or compliance. When a military force takes over a smaller country and makes that country bend to its will, this is an example of subjugate.” VERB

YourDictionary definition and usage example. Copyright © 2013 by LoveToKnow Corp.


The father of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe, coined a word. Like his works, it is large and sometimes unfathomable. Ratiocination means “reasoning abilitypoe (‘ratiocination’ traces to ‘ratio,’ Latin for ‘reason’ or ‘computation’,” and describes the process by which reason and exact thinking bring about solution.

A few Poe facts
Poe was not in fact a maudlin person. He had quite the sense of humor. He did not die of a drug overdose. Some think he succumbed to rabies, as he had a fondness for cats and kept several as pets. What exists as Poe lore was published after his death in a biography written by a rival.


Conflation defined: a combining, as of two variant readings of a text into a composite reading.

Origin: ME conflacioun < LL conflatio < L conflare, to blow together < com-, together + flare, to blow
NOUNYour’s New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

blend, fusion; especially :  a composite reading or text.
Examples of CONFLATION: the word “robustious” is probably a conflation of “robust” and “boisterous”–Merriam

See also on 3freewordsaday: amalgam.

Click on the link at the bottom of this post to revisit "amalgam."
Click on the link at the bottom of this
post to revisit “amalgam.”

Ex Post Facto

Ex post facto means “after the fact.” A good example is someone trying to change the rules of a game after it’s already begun.

Challenge: Use "ex post facto" in a sentence tomorrow. Share it here!
Challenge: Use “ex post facto” in a sentence tomorrow. Share it here!

Ex post facto defined: “something that affects things that happened in the past. When a law changes the zoning rules and applies even to zoning decisions that were made in the past, it is an

example of an ex post facto change to the zoning laws.” ADJECTIVE–Your Such a change is considered retroactive.

Origin of ex post facto
Late Latin, literally, from a thing done afterward.
First Known Use: 1621–Merriam

Intervene, Ascribe, Counterpart

Intervene defined:
1. To come, appear, or lie between two things: You can’t see the lake from there because the house intervenes.
2. To come or occur between two periods or points of time: A year intervened between the two dynasties.
3. To occur as an extraneous or unplanned circumstance: He would have his degree by now if his laziness hadn’t intervened.
4. a. To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter or hinder an action or development: “Every gardener faces choices about how and how much to intervene in nature’s processes” (Dora Galitzki).
b. To interfere, usually through force or threat of force, in the affairs of another nation.
5. Law To enter into a suit as a third party for one’s own interests. INTRANSITIVE VERB–The Free American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Ascribe defined:
1. to credit or assign, as to a particular origin or period to ascribe parts of a play to Shakespeare
2. to attribute as a quality; consider as belonging to to ascribe beauty to youth [from Latin ascrībere to enrol, from ad in addition + scrībere to write] TRANSITIVE VERB–The Free English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003


Counterpart defined:
1. a person or thing closely resembling another, esp. in function.
2. a copy or duplicate, as of a legal document.
one of two parts that fit, complete, or complement one another. NOUN–The Free House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Discriminate, Implore, Debacle

Discriminate is defined as to recognize or see the difference between two or more people or things. An example of discriminate is a dress maker seeing the height difference between two bridesmaids and making adjustments accordingly. The definition of discriminate is to show partiality or prejudice based on a general category not on individual merit. An example of discriminate is to refuse to rent an apartment to a black man because he is black.” VERB–Your


“The definition of implore is to beg or plead. An example of implore is when you beg and plead for a loaf of bread when you are hungry.” VERB–Your

to ask or beg earnestly for; beseech
to ask or beg (a person) to do something; entreat TRANSITIVE VERB–Your’s New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


“The definition of a debacle is a sudden downfall or a total failure. An example of a debacle is a poorly run political campaign that ends in overwhelming defeat.” NOUN–Your


Shoehorned fits into the 3freewordsaday Words Heard category. It is not a word that was first heard today; but it was heard today on CNN in an appropriately descriptive use. The news host referred to the “pork” slipped into the new resolution as having been shoehorned.

To shoehorn something is to “force to be included or admitted <shoehorned irrelevant arguments into his essay>.” TRANSITIVE VERB–


If in school you were less than verbose in your paper writing, your teacher might have admonished you to grow your vocabulary. She would have explained to you that as you get older, you will need more words to name and describe things you wish to write about. She would have been kind and likely would have given you pointers on how to  go about such an endeavor. She never would have raised her voice or chastised you about your lack of words. To admonish someone is to encourage them to do something better.

Admonished defined: 1 a : to indicate duties or obligations to b : to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner 2 : to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement


Ancillary defined: (ADJECTIVE) subordinate or helping. An extra workbook and live recordings of chapter are examples of ancillary items to a textbook.The definition of ancillary means something that is helping or subordinate, but not as necessary. (NOUN) An example of ancillary is an overflow valve that is designed to take the pressure off of a main pumping system. —Your


(c)K.R. Sprague, 2013
Collecting words means carrying a notebook and pen/pencil. I prefer the pencil since erasures equal saved space; mark-outs take up space.

I’m a fan of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda. But I was a fan the first season! At any rate, it being a true crime/police investigational series it affords numerous opportunities to pick up good vocabulary words. Even if the words aren’t that complex. (I was going to say not that “highbrowed,” but that implies the Lt. and the show are unsophisticated and that’s not the case. Large vocabularies require special attention to usage. With great power comes great responsibility!)

In last night’s episode, Lt. Kenda described a suspect’s statement as “dovetailing” with the known facts of the case. It’s a very descriptive term, illustrating the degree and the quality of the congruity of the statement with the known facts. It brings to mind a precise fit.

Dovetail defined: TRANSITIVE VERB

to join or fasten together by means of dovetails; to piece together (facts, etc.) so as to make a logically connected whole


to fit together closely or logically–Your’s New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.  Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Exponential, Overspread, Veritable

I’m attempting to stick to good internet form here and combine the extra 3freewords into a single post; the better to not flood the inboxes of my loyal and tolerant followers. And there are two bonus words on the 3freewordsaday Facebook page instead of the usual one.

Exponential (ADJECTIVE)

Oft heard (and spoken) but rarely used literally, exponential is another word–like tangential–that has entered the mainstream voice from a mathematical field of study. Recall calculus from an earlier post.

Exponential defined: Relating to a mathematical expression containing one or more exponents.  Something is said to increase or decrease exponentially if its rate of change must be expressed using exponents. A graph of such a rate would appear not as a straight line, but as a curve that continually becomes steeper or shallower.–The Free American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Exponential refers to a large number in smaller terms, or something that is increasing at a faster and faster rate.

An example of exponential is 25 being shown as 5×5. An example of exponential is the erosion that is happening on the Holderness coast in eastern England.–Your

Overspread (NOUN)

  • <the butter should evenly overspread the baking pan>
  • <autumn leaves overspreading one another on the lawn to form a colorful mosaic>

Veritable (ADJECTIVE)

1. (intensifier; usually qualifying a word used metaphorically) he’s a veritable swine!

2. Rare genuine or true; proper I require veritable proof


To go off on a tangent isn’t quite the same as the illustrations of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder on e-cards: I was just sitting there and suddenly…oh, look bacon! But to do so can make it difficult to get the train of though back on the track, as it were. It is an ADJECTIVE.

Tangential explained: “Touching lightly; incidental.

As far as Katherine was concerned, everything else was tangential to her own plans.

Someone who starts talking about one thing and gets sidetracked has gone off on a tangent. (In geometry, a tangent is a straight line that touches a curve at a single point.) The new subject is tangential to the first subject–it ‘touches’ it lightly and moves off in a different direction. A few of the people we meet truly enter out lives, but most acquaintances remain only tangential.”

–Merriam-Webster’s Vocabulary Builder, 1998


One doesn’t always remember where or when a vocabulary word creeps into one’s lexicon, but that event is indeed an auspicious occasion.

Auspicious defined: ADJECTIVE

1. promising success; propitious; opportune; favorable: an auspicious occasion.
2. favored by fortune; prosperous; fortunate.
The Free House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


A big word that has a big yet simple meaning.

Ubiquitous defined: present, or seeming to be present, everywhere at the same time; omnipresent ADJECTIVE–Your’s New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



Abstruse means difficult to understand, especially in the experience of someone beginning the study of a new subject. Once you have this word, you have a great word to describe the writing, speech, behavior of something/someone that seems over your head. ADJECTIVE

Synonyms: profound, arcane, deep, esoteric, hermetic (also hermetical), recondite —



Permeate defined:  TRANSITIVE VERB

1. to pass into or through every part of: sunshine permeating the room.
2. to penetrate through the pores, interstices, etc., of.
3. to be diffused through; pervade: Bias permeated the report.

–The Free House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.