Here are the meanings of the least-found words that were used in (mostly) recent Times articles.

1. tomtit — any of several small birds:

The Audubon Society would file a complaint in defense of tomtit virility. But, such is the state of Massenet’s reputation, I doubt that many sophisticated operagoers would rush to defend him. They have been made to feel shame for too long. — Music View: Massenet — Minor but Significant (Aug. 3, 1986)

2. moratoria — multiple temporary bans or limits on an activity:

“We believe the passage of moratoria harm customers who depend on us to help them stretch their budgets, particularly in inflationary times,” Dollar General said in a statement. — As Dollar Stores Proliferate, Some Communities Say No (March 1, 2023)

3. armorial — related to, or showing, coats of arms or other heraldic insignia:

The only adornment came in the form of orchids (painted onto, yes, black coats, and jackets; built out of armorial silver on a dress) and neckties. — What You Really Need Next Season is a Big Black Coat (March 8, 2023)

4. littoral — related to the shoreline:

The team was built to fight on islands and along coastal shorelines, the “littoral region” in military parlance. It had also been given special equipment and the freedom to innovate, developing new tactics to figure out one of the service’s highest priorities: how to fight a war against Chinese forces in their own backyard, and win. — To Prepare for a Pacific Island Fight, Marines Hide and Attack in California (March 5, 2023)

5. rototill — to plow the land with a rototiller, a machine that uses blades to break up soil:

The yearly publishing rhythm began to reflect his new faith. In spring, he told readers not to rototill their gardens. In summer, he implored them not to use pesticides and fertilizers. — He Wrote a Gardening Column. He Ended Up Documenting Climate Change. (July 28, 2021)

6. torii — a gateway at the entrance to a Shinto shrine:

“The Gates” calls back to its heraldic forebears — the Lion Gate in Mycenae, Greece; Hadrian’s Arch; the Brandenburg Gate; Shinto temple torii — as though you could access another realm by passing through its portal. — New York’s Poet of Light and Letters (April 20, 2023)

7. oratorio — a large musical work performed by an orchestra and choir:

Last week at David Geffen Hall, Julia Wolfe’s new multimedia oratorio, “unEarth,” took an explicitly activist stance, lashing out at ecological violence and offering a path to recovery. — Review: The Philharmonic Journeys From Ocean to Desert (June 9, 2023)

8. midrib — a leaf’s center vein:

Our marriage had become like a leaf eaten away by caterpillars, where the petiole and midrib remain with some ghostly connective tracery in between. — Modern Love: A Roomful of Yearning and Regret (Dec. 9, 2010)

9. tallit — a Jewish prayer shawl:

To mark the start of their life as a married couple, the rabbi wrapped them in a tallit, or wedding shawl, that had passed through generations of Ms. Liverman’s family; later they sipped wine from a cup that belonged to Mr. Crane’s great-grandfather. — For One Perpetual Bridesmaid, a Match ‘So Worth the Wait’ (May 5, 2023)

10. tamari — soy sauce with no or little wheat:

I literally put the Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp on everything. Avocado toast, eggs, anything Asian, and even Mexican. I’ve always loved Asian sauces and seasonings, and this one has to be the best. When I have busy days and am running around, I throw some on an avocado with tamari as a quick snack. — Cheap(ish) Thrills: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Favorite Everyday Things (June 8, 2022)

And the list of the week’s easiest words:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *