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):


When she opened her eyes, Ethel le Neve was quite disoriented – she wasn't in the flat, she was lying on a sofa with a blanket over her, she turned her head and in the darkness, only illuminated by a lovely fire in an impressive fireplace, she raised her hand and looked at her wristwatch: in the dancing light she saw that it was almost eight o'clock, but in the evening or morning? and then she remembered coming with the Professor, Sir Pontypine MacFarlane to his house, this was his house, and he had given her a drink, a lovely, velvety, honeyed drink – she must have fallen asleep! she started to rise, and then a voice came gently from just behind her: "good morning Ethel, is it alright if I call you Ethel? you never stirred, you must have been exhausted and needed your sleep," and she craned her neck and saw him, sitting in a winged armchair beside the fire, sipping what must be a morning coffee: "morning?" she asked, though she already knew the answer: "yes, Ethel, but it's Saturday, no need to rush, take your time, we can enjoy the quiet and discuss your work, your interests – I would so like to know you better, as a person, not just a student, as a woman – well, a girl, really, your hopes and ambitions, your life, your pleasures; you say you come from somewhere between Stepney and Deptford, that you are a Stepford Bird! some of these modern terms of your generation are new to me, but I always want to learn, everyone has something to offer," and Ethel tried work things out in her head: "did I say Deptford? that's South of the River! no, I was born between Stepney and Stratford East – and the local boys call us Stepford Birds, it's an East London thing, like being born within earshot of Bow Bells at St Mary le Bow to be called a Cockney Sparrer, did I really say Deptford?" and MacFarlane nodded, but said: "it's rather a delightful name, to be a Stepford Bird, do you mind if I think of you as that?" and Ethel blushed to her roots, but laughed: "no, sir, not at all, sir, you can call me whatever you like, sir," which rather delighted Sir Pontypine as it confirmed that he certainly hadn't lost his touch when it came to mesmerising, but then, the girl was a particularly malleable subject; and he leaned over to stroke the ruff which encircled her neck: "it's a very pretty collar, Ethel, and it suits you," which was when she looked down, just able to see the dainty, pleated collar which she had never seen before, and looked into the Professor's face, questioningly, and he answered the words which she hadn't spoken: "yes, my dear, a small gift, and it fits you perfectly, don't you remember any of the things we spoke of last evening?" but she shook her head, puzzled that she had no memory of anything after the delicious drink, so he continued: "we talked, well, perhaps if I'm honest, I did most of the talking, and it may have been that I bored you to sleep, but no, I think you were just exhausted, it's been a busy week for you, and I find that if I've been hard at it, and take a rest, I often just drift into sleep without realizing it, I think it's a kind of safety mechanism in the brain, which knows when it's had enough and just pulls down the shutters and doesn't answer the door or the telephone; so don't you remember my offer about the room? you were certainly awake then, and I went to make sure Mrs Evans had left it ready for viewing, but when I came back you were sound asleep, so I drew the blanket over you and put the lights out, well, I'd mentioned that I have a room available to let and you were interested in it, I think you find it hard to study, sharing with Megan and Polly and the others, so would you like to see it now? or after breakfast? would you like scrambled eggs and toast?" and when she nodded, he could see through her eyes the inferno which told him he was absolutely right about her and that it was not simply his fervid imagination leading him on; he couldn't imagine why he had wasted so much time on Gloriana Gillyfeather – no, that wasn't true, he did know, for she was one of the most voracious girls he had ever encountered in his long career, and he felt that he had rediscovered his youth with her, but sadly, her head was as empty as her vagina was lubricious, and while he had dedicated his life to sexual conquest, he also enjoyed the company and conversation of his partners, whether pre- or post-coitus, and poor Gloriana was seriously lacking in thoughts, imagination or interests beyond her nails, lips, eyebrows, lashes, hair and skin; and whenever Professor Sir Pontypine MacFarlane became bored with a girl – or woman, he did not restrict himself to any particular age, race, colour, creed or political affiliation, indeed, he considered himself a New or Renaissance Man, with a tendency towards Lechery – she was instant History!

(by MissTeriWoman)


From where did this inferno come?
Said Bob the Builder in his room.
My ruff fell off into the fire,
Said Mrs Bob, while looking dire;
My fervid dance was done, you see,
While watching "Strictly" on TV
And passions ran at such a pace
It loosened hooks and stays and lace!
But Bob looked on with face all dark
You Stepford wife!!, was his remark.
(by OldRawgabbit)
The Quandary for today, Sunday, November 19, 2017, consists of:
  • stepford
  • ruff
  • fervid
  • inferno
Challenge: use all four words together in one illustrative sentence.

Since September 2009, word lovers have offered 6643 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: Robotic, compliant, submissive; lacking in individuality.
  1. A circular frill or ruffle on a garment, especially a starched, fluted frill at the neck in Elizabethan and Jacobean England (1560s–1620s).
  2. Anything formed with plaits or flutings like a frill.
  3. Senses relating to animals.
    1. Philomachus pugnax (syn. Calidris pugnax), a gregarious, medium-sized wading bird of Eurasia; specifically, a male of the species which develops a distinctive ruff of feathers and ear tufts during mating season (the female is called a reeve).
    2. (ornithology) A set of lengthened or otherwise modified feathers on or around the neck of a bird.
    3. (zoology) A collar of lengthened or distinctively coloured fur on or around the neck of an animal.
  4. (engineering) A collar on a shaft or other piece to prevent endwise motion.
  5. (obsolete) An exhibition of haughtiness or pride.
  6. (obsolete) Tumultuous or wanton conduct or procedure.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 19, 2017 is:

fervid • \FER-vid\  • adjective

1 : very hot : burning

2 : marked by often extreme intensity of feeling


"Here at the Toronto International Film Festival, there are posters for an upcoming Guillermo del Toro-curated exhibit called ’Influences’ that will let you sample the movies and books and music that fed the director’s fervid imagination." — David Edelstein, Vulture, 14 Sept. 2017

"The travellers set forth on horseback, and purposed to perform much of their aimless journeyings under the moon, and in the cool of the morning or evening twilight; the midday sun … being still too fervid to allow of noontide exposure." — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1860

Did you know?

The Latin verb fervēre can mean "to boil" or "to glow," as well as, by extension, "to seethe" or "to be roused." In English, this root gives us three words that can mean "impassioned" by varying degrees: fervid, fervent, and perfervid. Fervid and fervent are practically synonymous, but while fervid usually suggests warm emotion that is expressed in a spontaneous or feverish manner (as in "fervid basketball fans"), fervent is reserved for a kind of emotional warmth that is steady and sincere (as in "a fervent belief in human kindness"). Perfervid combines fervid with the Latin prefix per- ("thoroughly") to create a word meaning "marked by overwrought or exaggerated emotion," as in "a perfervid display of patriotism."

a large fire in a building or other place

Quadrivial Quandary (QQ) is owned and operated by Rudi Seitz.
Sentences submitted to QQ are the property of their authors. See our page on Copyright Information for details.
Dictionary definitions are the property of their respective sources, presented here via public RSS feeds or otherwise with permission.
All other material is copyright 2015 by Rudi Seitz, all rights reserved.
Use of this site is governed by our terms of service.
Contact: rudi at quadrivialquandary dot com.