Quadrivial Quandary:  Logophiles, Rejoice!  Each day we give you four unusual words.  Can you fit them all in one illustrative sentence?

Today's attempts to resolve the Quandary (login or register to compose yours):


"Thinking of Monty?" asked Daphne and Maude nodded: "it's the anniversary today, 70 years," and a tear trickled down her papery cheek, she rubbed it away with the back of her hand, "he was so insouciant that day, I know you all thought him too volatile for an academic career, but that was all a façade, he'd just received his acceptance letter from Edinburgh that morning and was so happy, and utterly calm; what kind of cruelty would make him an unperson, just disappear him like that? he was the first, to my knowledge, but who knows how many other could it have happened to? we've had more than enough here over the past few years, and those sudden appearances: the American soldiers!" and Daphne reached out for Maude's hand: "and like them, like Tavish and the others, Thomas Learmonth, Patience Scott, Elizabeth Bennett. he may come back yet," but Maude shook her head: "but Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley arrived here from the Wild West, Rasputin from Russia – this might be a hub but the Wormholes go anywhere through Time and Space; he might be anywhere, past, future, or even present, there's no way of knowing! oh I remember that Police Inspector who came here to interview me, such an ekphrasis I had to give him, over and over again, it was though he was trying to get me to make a slip somewhere, contradict myself, but when all that has happened is that the person who was lying on his back on the grass, right here, where we are now, simply vanished, it was like that thing we used to do with the cine-camera, remember, stop it, and the person who was in the frame, hops off, and the start again and it looks just like that, the only thing that has changed is that who was there now isn't, and I told him over and over, but I'm sure he didn't believe a word!"

(by MissTeriWoman)
The Quandary for today, Thursday, August 16, 2018, consists of:
  • unperson
  • insouciant
  • volatile
  • ekphrasis, n.
Challenge: use all four words together in one illustrative sentence.

Since September 2009, word lovers have offered 7054 sentences — each one a surprise — to QQ's unique and growing library. Explore earlier Quandaries through our word list or the calendar below. View yesterday's QQ resolutions or pick a day at random.

Definitions Of Today's Words:

noun: A person regarded as nonexistent.
  1. Casually unconcerned; carefree, indifferent, nonchalant.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 16, 2018 is:

volatile • \VAH-luh-tul\  • adjective

1 a : characterized by or subject to rapid or unexpected change

b : unable to hold the attention fixed because of an inherent lightness or fickleness of disposition

2 a : tending to erupt into violence : explosive

b : easily aroused

c : lighthearted, lively

3 : readily vaporizable at a relatively low temperature

4 : difficult to capture or hold permanently : evanescent, transitory

5 : flying or having the power to fly


Our financial advisor cautioned us to be conservative with our investments while the stock market was still volatile.

"A second round of testing has been ordered for a Massachusetts charter school where elevated levels of toxic chemicals were detected. … Initial testing … found high levels of petroleum and other volatile organic compounds." — The Associated Press, 8 July 2018

Did you know?

Volatile was originally for the birds—quite literally. Back in the 14th century, volatile was a noun that referred to birds (especially wild fowl) or other winged creatures, such as butterflies. That’s not as flighty as it sounds. Volatile traces back to the Latin verb volare, which means "to fly." By the end of the 16th century, people were using volatile as an adjective for things that were so light they seemed ready to fly. The adjective was soon extended to vapors and gases, and by the early 17th century, volatile was being applied to individuals or things as prone to sudden change as some gaseous substances. In recent years, volatile has landed in economic, political, and technical contexts far flown from its avian origins.

OED Word of the Day: ekphrasis, n. Originally: an explanation or description of something, esp. as a rhetorical device. Now: spec. a literary device in which a painting, sculpture, or other work of visual art is described in detail

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