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):


Even at that late hour, the sound of the city was like a dubstep background to their conversation, as China Blue and Flora-Dora huddled together under a tarpaulin left by some former resident, the two calenders forming the gravamen of their combined anger, disgust and determination to do whatever it took to drive an ensiform blade under the ribs of The Ring of Gold Inc and Doubleday Trucking Corps and strike at the very heart of a business empire built upon the sexual enslavement of vulnerable children bought out of poverty or even abducted from stable family lives to be hauled from South and Central America and distributed on a phenomenally massive scale to evil and perverted buyers all across the Northern Continent; that much was said – in very different words – and illustrated – in graphic and sometimes gynaecological photographs, in the gifts, fresh from the printers, which Flora had rushed back to China, as yet ignorant of their contents; after shrieking delightedly: "he done gimme dem, babes, even before dey is shipped out wit de fleet all over de countries of de ol' US of A in de mawnin! ah thinx he's gonna be a reg'lar, he says he likes de way ah rolls ma ass an sux his lollipop!" to which China, laughing at her friend's mimicry, told her to "can the picaninny act, y'ole cotton-head, I happen to know you went to Vassar and Yale because you still wear your Sorority rings, let's find somewhere comfortable to sit and take a peek at these publications and see what they tell us about your beau's employers and prospects," tapping Flora's retroussé nose and leading her into the darkest, narrowest corner of the site, which was where and when they discovered a truth even beyond either girl's possible imaginings: "and the brazenness of their ability to punt this stuff to every city and township from the Mexican Trench to the North-West Passage with not the slightest attempt to disguise or couch it in words and pictures which might hint at the truth but not so blatantly and could have given the finger to law enforcement and every Continental Treaty designed to protect the weak and punish their abusers, it's breathtaking," said China, "but what should we do now?"

(by MissTeriWoman)


She had a large ensiform nose
That she poked into everyone's business;
It was also retroussé - she chose
To raise it to show off her stiffness
But the gravamen of it was that
She hated all modern-day music
Especially dubstep and trap
Whether digital, rock or acoustic.
(by OldRawgabbit)
The Quandary for today, Thursday, December 14, 2017, consists of:
  • ensiform
  • retrouss√©
  • gravamen
  • dubstep
Challenge: use all four words together in one illustrative sentence.

Since September 2009, word lovers have offered 6690 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:

adjective: Shaped like a sword or a sword blade.
  1. Turned up, as in describing the nose.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for December 14, 2017 is:

gravamen • \gruh-VAY-mun\  • noun

: the material or significant part of a grievance or complaint


The gravamen of Walter’s letter to the editor was that the newspaper frequently reported on the school system’s failures but rarely covered its successes and improvements.

"In the ultimate legal absurdity, even the prosecutors trying the case occasionally are barred from seeing the evidence that provides the gravamen of their arguments." — Petra Bartosiewicz, The Contra Costa (California) Times, 6 Dec. 2009

Did you know?

Gravamen is not a word you hear every day, but it does show up occasionally in modern-day publications. It comes from the Latin verb gravare, meaning "to burden," and ultimately from the Latin adjective gravis, meaning "heavy." Fittingly, gravamen refers to the part of a grievance or complaint that gives it weight or substance. In legal contexts, gravamen is used, synonymously with gist, to refer to the grounds on which a legal action is sustainable. Gravis has given English several other weighty words, including gravity, grieve, and the adjective grave, meaning "important" or "serious."

a kind of electronic dance music with a strong beat and a lot of bass

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