Usurp (verb)

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1a.   to seize and hold (office, place, functions, powers, etc.) in possession by force or without right

b.     to take or make use of without right

2.     to take the place of by or as if by force: supplant

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 13 October 2020)

Use it in a sentence

He flinched as she punched the dough with one quick strike. His wife then started folding and refolding it, working the dough with her whole body leaning into it.

‘The thing is,’ he said, scratching the top of his head, ‘I think she’s worried you’ll usurp her in the kitchen – that her apple turnovers won’t cut it anymore, when compared to your burnt caramel and vanilla spiced tarts with fresh raspberries.’

‘Tosh! Your mother is renowned for her baking – your nieces go crazy for those turnovers. I’m merely trying to keep up.’

She kneaded with more energy, puffing a wisp of hair from her eyes.

‘Well, maybe you could keep up, but with a little less… flare?’

She stopped for a moment and stared at him blankly. ‘Are you saying I shouldn’t bring my homemade porcini, rocket and truffle oil pizza to the BBQ today?’

‘No, love, absolutely not what I’m saying.’

‘Because your dad loves my pizza. He practically drools over it.’

He tilted his head to one side, screwed his mouth sideways and sighed. ‘Yeah. That might be part of the problem too.’

She folded her floury hands across her chest and frowned. ‘Honey, are you trying to tell me your mum is jealous of me? Of my cooking prowess? I mean, if that’s what you’re saying, it’s crazy. I’m not competing with your mother!’

‘Of course not, no. I know that. I think her pride is just a bit wounded, you know. She’s always been the best baker in the family. Her vanilla slices are legendary! And no one ever bothered making desserts or bringing homemade pizza or olive bread or whatever. I think she’s just a bit flustered. And yeah, I think she feels a bit threatened.’

‘I see.’ She pursed her lips thoughtfully. ‘Well, I’m sorry she feels that way. I’m not trying to show her up.’

‘I know, I know.’ He kissed his wife on the cheek and gave her a quick squeeze. ‘Thanks for understanding.’

‘Of course. Shall I still bring the pizza?’

He hesitated a moment. ‘Sure.’ Then, he gave her a playful pat on the bottom as he headed out to the back yard to trim the hedges. She raised her eyebrows at him and smiled.

When he was gone, she started rolling out the dough. She decided to add some chopped rosemary to the base. It was going to be the best damn pizza that family ever tasted.

Inordinate (adjective)

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  1. Exceeding reasonable limits: immoderate
  2. archaic: disorderly, unregulated.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 1 October 2020)

Use it in a sentence

‘Oh no,’ Carlo groaned, as Frank walked towards them. He nudged the new girl, Lauren, and said under his breath, ‘It’s our resident alien.’

She looked at him, puzzled. Quickly and quietly, Carlo said, ‘It’s an office theory that Frank is actually an alien and had to attend a “How to be Human 101” course. I think he failed. You’ll see.”

As Frank reached them, his thus-far expressionless face positively burst into a smile. His grin was so broad Lauren swore she could count almost all of his teeth. ‘Carlo! Hi!’ he boomed.

‘Hey Frank. How are you?’

Frank stood there for a moment, hands on his hips. For a good 15 seconds, they stood looking at each other and Lauren did indeed get the sense that Frank’s mental computer was figuring out what to do next.

Suddenly, he threw his head back. ‘Oh! Oh! Carlo! I’m just great. AMAZING!’ At the end of the sentence Lauren almost heard the little autocue inside Frank’s head: smile again. He smiled again. ‘How was your weekend Carlo?’

‘Yeah, not bad. Bit of gardening. Good weather and all that.’

‘Oh!’ Frank threw his hands up in the air, making Lauren flinch. ‘Glorious weekend! The sunshine! It was marvellous. Marvellous!’ Smile broadly.

He turned to her. ‘And who’s this?’ Cock head to one side, use curious tone.

‘Hi, I’m Lauren. I’ve just started this week. Pleased to meet you.’

‘Wow! New! Well, welcome! Welcome Lauren!’ Nod and smile. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but possibly it was Frank’s inordinate enthusiasm for all things mundane that made him sound off-key. You could hear the capital letters, the exclamation point at the end of each ordinary sentence. His beady eyes watched and computed and seemed to make minor adjustments as needed.

‘Anyway! Must go. I’m off to give a presentation to some very eager beavers in Sales this morning. Some new technology being rolled out. Fascinating. So FASCINATING.’ His face contorted into an expression of wonder and he shook his head. Cue friendly grin. ‘See you later Lauren. Bye Carlo.’

Lauren watched him go in silence.

‘Well, what do you reckon?’ asked Carlo.

‘I was waiting for his forked tongue to zip out and catch a fly.’

Carlo laughed long and loud. ‘You’re going to fit in just fine.’

Sinuous (adjective)

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1a. Of a serpentine or wavy form: winding

b. marked by strong lithe movements

2. intricate, complex.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 30 September 2020)

Use it in a sentence

He glimpsed her in flashes, in bright vibrant moments, as his eyes flicked between her real body and the one on the canvas in front of him. He had a habit of biting his lower lip when he painted, to the point that he had a permanent blister. He snagged it now, on an incisor, and winced.

She raised her eyebrows and one side of her mouth curled upwards in an amused smile.

He cleared his throat and looked back at the canvas.

She was sinuous, both in the sense that his eyes could wend their way down the curves of her hip, her breasts, her calves. And in the way she stretched now and then on the plush crimson sofa, taut but sensuous like a cat in the sun. She often lay on her side, her head propped up in one hand until she got pins and needles in her arm. Then she would lay her heard directly onto the pillow, tucking both hands under her cheek. Once, she fell asleep like that, and he stood for a full five minutes unable to do anything but look at her.

He hadn’t known where to start – how to capture her luminosity. She had been patient. Five sittings now, and only a small but unconcealed yawn now and then. They never spoke. That would be too much for him. And yet in that time, he felt as though they had come to know and understand one another. He was completely besotted.

She owned his heart, his soul, utterly and completely and she didn’t even know it.

He glanced at her for the thousandth time. They locked eyes this time and she raised her chin slightly and smiled slowly. Then she gave him a long and deliberate wink before throwing her head back and laughing long and loud.

Oh, she knew it.