Challenging Word of the Week: verjuice

(VUR joos) noun

Verjuice, literally, is the sour juice of unripe fruits, especially crabapples and grapes. Figuratively, verjuice is sourness of temperament, disposition, or expression. It is the hallmark of a curmudgeon, itself an interesting word, generally described in dictionaries as of unknown origin though Samuel Johnson (the English lexicographer, 1709-1784) says in his Dictionary: “It is a vitious [the old spelling, based on Latin vitiosus] manner of pronouncing coeur méchant [ French for wicked heart ]. . .”

My example: Grapes of wrath make for vintage verjuice, don’t they, Mr. Reid?

From the book, “1000 Most Challenging Words” by Norman W. Schur, ©1987 by the Ballantine Reference Library, Random House. I post a weekly “Challenging Words” definition to call more attention to this delightful book and to promote interesting word usage in the blogosphere. I challenge other bloggers to work the current word into a post sometime in the coming week. If you manage to do so, please leave a comment or a link to where I can find it. Previous words in this series can be found under the appropriate Category heading in the right-hand sidebar.

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