I never know where I’m going to find a compelling word, in this case, a V-word—in, say, the OED, from one of our 30+ word books, or in some random, unexpected place.
Since I had a hangover bad mood, triggered by yesterday’s two-hour wait for a mudslide-delayed Amtrak train and then, today, a 90-minute wait in a doctor’s office, I thought this self-description might apply. Virago: “a fierce, bad-tempered woman.” (Source: The Superior Person’s Book of Words).
Such an admittance of distemper (rare, I assure you, the distemper, that is) could qualify me as a veracious individual: “Habitually speaking or disposed to speak the truth; observant of the truth; truthful.” (Source: OED.) In The Superior Person’s…Words, Peter Bowler points out that veracious is pronounced exactly like voracious: “Of greedy disposition.”
Just because I like the mellifluous oddity of English sentences from older times, I present a few illustrative quotations from the OED:
Virago: “And as to the Neutralities, I really think the Russian virago an impertinent Puss for meddling with us.”—William Cowper, 1781
Veracious: “I am a most veracious person, and Totally unacquainted with untruth.”— Percy B. Shelley, 1822
Voracious: “I had seen him about a year before…and had noted well the unlovely voracious look of him.”—Thomas Carlyle, 1850
V, I vouchsafe, is the beginning letter of negative descriptors on the glass-half-full spectrum of attitude and behavior: Vapulation; flogging; Vecordy: mad, obsessive; vellicate: to twitch or cause to twitch: Varlet: Low, menial scoundrel; Venefical: associated with malignant sorcery or witchcraft.
I was glad to find a v-word of a positive nature, Vigilant, in one of those random, unexpected places, a museum bathroom. The Vigilant was a five-masted schooner that won a Hawaii-to-Bellingham race in 1930. Hence, its picture hangs in one of the less prominent, but much-used rooms, of the Old City Hall Museum on Prospect Street in Bellingham, Washington.
I will be vigilant—that is,”wakeful and watchful; keeping steadily on the alert; attentively or closely observant” (OED)”— with respect to language. I hope never to describe myself as a vigilant virago.