1. cowardly or craven.
  2. unfaithful, disloyal or traitorous.


  1. a coward.
  2. an apostate, traitor or renegade.

word’s encounter: in quite an interesting article on Soeharto’s legacy by Paul Keating, who lexically enriched Australia on a previous occasion with his describing Mahathir as recalcitrant many years ago.

word’s use: do you think fewer people would be aware of the undesirability of Peter Craven’s surname if it were Recreant instead?



excrement; dung.

word’s encounter: a Matt Price article from The Australian (interesting aside: typing ordure and price into Google brings up the aforementioned article as the first result, which is something I think the dearly-departed Matt Price would have found great humour in).

word’s use: ordure would perform a euphemistic role as a stand in for shit so well, that before reading Matt Price’s article, its utterance would have left me none the wiser.



a domineering, violent or bad-tempered woman.

archaically, a woman of masculine strength or spirit; a female warrior.

word’s encounter: introduction to French-English parallel text version of six Guy de Maupassant short stories.

word’s use: a virago met Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Venus in Furs was born.



the women’s apartments (harem) in a Muslim palace.

historically, a Turkish palace, esp. the Sultan’s court and government offices at Constantinople.

word’s encounter: Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

word’s use: seraglio or whorehouse: which establishment would one prefer to frequent?



a person who deceives others, esp. in order to trick them out of their money; a charlatan.

historically, a person who sold patent medicines in public places.

word’s encounter: Bryan Magee’s The Philosophy of Schopenhauer.

word’s use: any mountebank proclaiming complete mastery of the English language would most probably proffer a false meaning for the word mountebank if they were paid to provide its definition.