Word of the Day

Friday, January 09, 2004


\as-PAIR-uh-tee\ , noun;
Roughness of surface; unevenness.
Roughness or harshness of sound; a quality that grates upon the ear.
Roughness of manner; severity; harshness.
The separation wave probes all the rocks in its path, moving forward until it hits another asperity or fault bend, whereupon it abruptly stops.
-- Sandra Blakeslee, "Quake Theory Attacks Prevailing Wisdom OnHow Faults Slip and Slide", New York Times, April 14, 1992
Many years later, when I was sketching in Rome, a grim-looking Englishwoman came up to me and said with some asperity, "I see you are painting MY view."
-- Lord Berners, A Distant Prospect
She spoke with great authority, with an asperity that didn't allow for sentimental accountings or ideological projections.
-- Daphne Merkin, "A Passion for Order", New York Times, November 17, 1996
Asperity comes from Latin asperitas, from asper, "rough." It is related to exasperate, "to irritate in a high degree," from ex- (here used intensively) + asperatus, past participle of asperare, "to roughen," from asper.
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