Note of importance before I start: I'm not a native English speaker.

With that out of way, I wonder about word choices in the Spartacus series. I have watched the first series so far and I have gathered about 30 new words I have never heard. I have a habit of writting down every word I don't know yet and finding out its usage in my growing dictionary.

I have been learning english for more than a decade, watched over 500 movies in English both with and without English subtitles, read about 20 books and heard more than 100 hours of podcasts, yet I have failed to recognize the following words, to mention but a few examples.

hubris, tarry, hone, forego, impede, vex, ...

My question is, are these words somewhat obsolete or deprecated? Or are they just another synonyms, which are used sparsely in both written and spoken English (no matter if American or British or other versions)? I can't imagine why they have been used in this series?

  • 1
    Aside from the first two, I think the rest pretty common in contemporary English.
    – Noah
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 10:03
  • I agree with @Noah that the first two are not especially common. However, many people will be familiar with "tarry" from the poem The Owl and the Pussycat. ("Oh let us be married—too long we have tarried—but what shall we do for a ring?")
    – tobyink
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 10:25
  • I can't argue, maybe I just chosed bad words as examples. The point is, the whole series is full of strange phrases supplied by words I have never heard in another series, movies, books, newspapers. Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


I come across those words when reading novels all the time. However, they are almost never used in conversation.

The only one on the list that is somewhat archaic is "tarry", but its still a perfectly acceptable word that you might expect to come across in a new novel if the situation calls for it.

  • Could you maybe take each of that few words and explain why would you use it instead of some more common synonym? Like: hubris vs arrogance, hone vs improve/perfect, forego vs abandon/give up/surrender, impede vs stop/prevent, vex vs annoy/upset? I wish there would be a clear line between situations where every word is suitable to be used. In my native language, I can easily tell which word is usual in which situation. Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 14:23
  • Hubris is a technical term which is used only discussing Ancient Greek: I don't think written/spoken comes into it. Similarly with the others; I rarely discuss sharpening blades, but if I did, hone would be right in conversation or in writing. Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 14:26
  • 1
    @TimLymington - Not true. I see hubris used in (non-Ancient Greek set) novels quite often, and sometimes even in non-fiction if the situation calls for it. For instance, MSNBC recently produced a documentary on the Iraq war by that name.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 14:30
  • @OndrejJanacek - That's a bit much to ask for one answer. Just asking that about "Hubris" (as shown from the comments above) would be worthy of its own question. Suffice to say that they all have extra shades of meaning that are superfluous in a conversation, but can be helpful in writing when you have the time and motivation to craft the precise meaning you want.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 14:33
  • 1
    @OndrejJanacek - Any question that just asks for the meaning of a word, unless it is phrased carefully, will probably get closed for being general reference. That's what dictionaries are for. Chucking 5 more random words in with it is no protection from that though.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 15:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.