Loretta Barnard

About Loretta Barnard

Loretta Barnard is a freelance writer and editor who has authored four non-fiction books, been a contributing writer to a wide range of reference books and whose essays have been published across a number of platforms. A regular contributor to The Big Smoke, she also coordinates the TBS Next Gen program.

Vocab Extender: Valentine’s Day edition

Approx Reading Time-10If there’s a day for the use of large words to impress people, surely Valentine’s Day is it. Time to hook bae with the length of your perspicacity, yeah?




Who would have thought that one long-dead saint would have given his name to arguably the most romantic day of the year? Valentine’s Day: it is romantic, but it’s also a day where florists clean up, a day where champagne and chocolate sales go through the roof, and where fancy restaurants are packed to the rafters.

We here at Vocab-Extender are as romantic as the next person. But commercial gain? How vulgar! We’re here for the lexiconic betterment of humanity, and you can’t get much more sententious than that.

So here’s your Valentine’s Day gift from The Big Smoke: some words to linguistically demonstrate to your beloved the wordy depth of your passion.



Every date, whether on 14 February or not, should begin with both parties engaged in arrision. If a date doesn’t start this way, then the association must cease and desist at once because no arrision means no hope! Arrision is the act of smiling, certainly a prerequisite for a serendipitous beginning.

“An hour before Archie arrived, Cecily practised in front of the mirror. She batted her eyelashes and gave her best kittenish arrision – not too wide, not too narrow, just enough to appear charmingly coquettish.”

“‘Oh do buck up darling,’ urged Chester. ‘If only you’d engage in a little arrision, our double date with the Clutterwallers may just be bearable.”



Strictly speaking, this is a medical term meaning an uneven or irregular pulse and the condition probably has serious health implications. But there are no doctors here at Vocab-Extender, and we’re appropriating the word because it fits in with our Valentine’s Day theme. What better way to describe the nervous energy or that slight sense of alarm or trepidation that sometimes accompanies a date?

“His heart was leaping in his chest at the thought of the night ahead with Harmonia. He had to try to slow down this caprizant or he’d end up in the emergency room.”

“As the waiter placed the lobster bisque in front of her, Mary-Ellen’s pulse was caprizant. It was Rocco, the man she’d left at what served as an altar in the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas just six months earlier.”

Also on The Big Smoke



The human form is a beautiful thing. A complex combination of cells, it’s a masterpiece of engineering; and that’s just the inside. On the outside, we find ourselves attracted to various aspects of a person’s appearance. Some, for example, are irresistibly drawn to bottoms. Bums. Buttocks. Backsides. Derrières. Tooshies. Such people are vigilant in their quest for callipygian excellence. “Callipygian,” you enquire? It means having a beautiful shapely bottom, well-rounded and just the right size.

“The life model at the studio had a splendidly callipygian figure. The consensus among the class was that it was up there with Michelangelo’s David.”

“She’d always thought her bum was too big, but Seraphina was overjoyed when Costa called her a callipygian beauty. He’d definitely get an oscularity at the end of the evening.”



Ah, kissing…ain’t it grand? Except when it’s sloppy or comes from a mouth beset by halitosis – or worse, a case of herpes simplex. On Valentine’s Day, we’d like to think that lovers would make that extra effort to ensure that any kissing that may ensue is a pleasure, not a horror. But “kissing”? There are other words – snog, pash, smooch, lock lips, but we’re aiming higher than that. Why not adopt the more hi-falutin’ “osculate”? It reeks of erudition and urbanity, surely a turn-on for the intelligent date.

“Astrid applied colour-fast lipstick in preparation for her date, all the while wondering whether Broderick would be a satisfactory osculator.”

“Oh Gilbert, these roses are magnificent. I will reward you with a passionate oscularity.”



It’s no surprise that Valentine’s Day is a favourite day for proposing. All those overpriced roses, not to mention plenteous osculation and what have you can result in a strong marituriency – an eagerness to marry. Hopefully when the mariturient spirit strikes, you are fired up by more than mere avidity for the conjugal state. Depth of amatory warmth is really rather important in the scheme of things.

“Solomon was tenaciously mariturient. He longed to be a husband and wanting to keep his options open, he didn’t mind if his life partner was destined to be Arthur or Martha.”


Happy Valentine’s Day to all our word worshippers.


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