R is for Rapport

A young boy and girl hugging. Black and white photograph.Webster defines rapport as a relationship “marked by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity.” It seems an appropriate word to begin the New Year, a wish for peace and unity. Such qualities, though, don’t arise out of nowhere. They require effort, devoted attention, time, and humility. Unity and peace — harmony — only come through bending toward other people rather than demanding one’s own way.

In that regard, rapport may serve as an excellent resolution for 2018. (Side note: Resolution, as commonly used at the turn of one year into another, stands as the third definition of the word. The other definitions hold some import; for example, the first definition says a resolution is “the act or process of reducing to simpler form.” A resolution certainly simplifies matters, perhaps in hopes of making its goal attainable. Resolution’s synonym, courage, complements the typical understanding of the word, too.)

Then again, perhaps the New Year’s resolution is to learn more words. This post will help, at least in acquiring some “r” words. The other letters of the alphabet can be found in earlier blog posts.


Noun. [Modification of Middle French rabat, literally, act of turning down.] (1591) A wide lace-edged collar of the early seventeenth century often stiffened to stand high at the back.

(Shakespeare might be unrecognizable if he were to be seen without his rabato.)

Rainy Day

Noun. (1580) A period of want or need.

(Knowing the definition of “rainy day” makes the saying sensible; one stores up wealth or other items against one.)


Adjective. (1706) Of, relating to, or characteristic of a rake: DISSOLUTE.

Adjective. [Probably from rake, from the raking masts of pirate ships.] (1824) Having a trim or streamlined appearance suggestive of speed <a ~ ship>. Dashingly or careless unconventional: JAUNTY <~ clothes>.

(Nancy and Meghan might have find the man’s rakish appearance attractive, but they knew better than to flirt with him.)


Adjective. [Probably irregular, from robust.] (1830) Marked by uncontrollable exuberance: UNRULY.

(The rambunctious boy was told to go outside before he broke (another) plate.)


Verb, verb intransitive. [From the Middle English raven.] (1300s) To talk irrationally in or as if in delirium. To declaim wildly. To talk with extreme enthusiasm <raved about her beauty>. To move or advance violently: STORM <the iced gusts still ~ and beat—John Keats>. Verb transitive: to utter in madness or frenzy.

Noun. (1598) An act or instance of raving. An extravagantly favorable criticism <the play received the critics’ ~s>.

(Critics raved about The Last Jedi; the general viewer was a little more circumspect in their praise.)


Adjective. [From the French rébarbatif. From the Middle French rebarber, to be repellant; from re- + barbe, beard. From the Latin barba—more at BEARD.] (1892) REPELLANT, IRRITATING.

(His attractive looks couldn’t make up for his rebarbative personality.)


Verb, verb intransitive. [From the Middle English rebounden. From the Middle French rebondir. From the Old French; from re- + bondir, to bound—more at BOUND.] (1300s) To spring back on or as if on collision or impact with another body. To recover from setback or frustration. REECHO. To gain possession of a rebound in basketball. Verb transitive: to cause to rebound.

Noun. (1530) The action of rebounding: RECOIL. An upward leap or movement: RECOVERY <a sharp ~ in prices>. A basketball or hockey puck that rebounds. The act or instance of gaining possession of a basketball rebound <leads the league in ~s>. A reaction to setback, frustration, or crisis <on the ~ from an unhappy love affair>.

(Some New Year resolutions occur because of a rebound from an unhappy relationship, poor health, or discouraging workplace.)


Noun, often capitalized. (1888) Any of a group of yellowish red to blue fluorescent dyes; especially: a brilliant bluish red dye made by fusing an amino derivative of phenol with phthalic anhydride and used especially in coloring paper and as a biological stain.

(The water technician said he would use a rhodamine dye to find the source of the leak in the woman’s home.)


Adjective. (1683) Affected with rickets. Feeble in the joints <a ~ old man>. SHAKY, UNSOUND <~ stairs>.

(The man’s rickety joints creaked like a set of old stairs when he stood up.)


Noun. [From the Middle English ryffe raffe. From rif and raf, every single one. From the Middle French rif et raf, completely; from rifler, to scratch or plunder + raffe, act of sweeping.] (1400s) Disreputable persons. RABBLE. One of the riffraff. REFUSE, RUBBISH.

(The king commanded his soldiers to “remove the riffraff” before he entered the city.)


Noun. [From the Middle English rigour. From the Middle French rigueur. From the Latin rigor, literally, stiffness; from rigēre, to be stiff. Akin to the Latin regere, to lead straight—more at RIGHT.] (1300s) Harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment: SEVERITY; the quality of being unyielding or inflexible: STRICTNESS; severity of life: AUSTERITY. An act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty. A tremor caused by a chill. A condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially: extremity of cold. Strict precision: EXACTNESS <logical ~>. Obsolete: RIGIDITY, STIFFNESS. Rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli.

(His focus on rigor made him a demanding — and querulous — professor.)


Noun. [From the Arabic rukhkh.] (1579) A legendary bird of great size and strength believed to inhabit the Indian Ocean area.

(Rocs and phoenixes are both mythological birds.)


Adjective. (1608) CIRCUITOUS, INDIRECT <had to take a ~ course>.

Noun. (1755) A circuitous route: DETOUR. British: MERRY-GO-ROUND. A short close-fitting jacket worn by men and boys, especially in the nineteenth century. British: ROTARY.

(Few Americans know how to use a roundabout.)


Noun. [From the Latin rudimentum, beginning; from rudis, raw or rude.] (1548) A basic principle or element or a fundamental skill—usually used in plural <students…teaching themselves the ~s of rational government—G.B. Galanti>. Something unformed or undeveloped: BEGINNING—usually used in plural <the ~s of a plan>. A body part so deficient in size or structure as to be entirely unable to perform its normal function; an organ just beginning to develop: ANLAGE.

(The students complained about the weeks spent on the rudiments of writing, but the discipline and practice ensured top grades on their first assignment, a critical essay.)


Noun. (1929) A cursory reading, summary, or rehearsal.

Verb transitive. (1400s) PIERCE. To spend or consume wastefully and rapidly. To read or rehearse without pausing. CARRY OUT, DO. To subject to a process.

(The man drew a large breath before beginning his run-through of Hamlet’s soliloquy.)


Noun. [From the Middle English ruthe; from ruen, to rue.] (1100s) Compassion for the misery of another. Sorrow for one’s own faults: REMORSE.

(Ruth, the Bible character, is aptly named. She displays “ruth” when she decides to accompany Naomi back to Israel.)

What are your favorite “r” words? Share them in a comment or, if feeling especially brave, share a 2018 resolution.

Image: Corey Balazowich (Creative Commons)