Alessandra Stanley Vocabulary Decoder, Vol. III


New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley knows lots of big words, which sometimes makes it hard to decipher her insights on TV shows. Which is sort of a shame, because her insights are usually really good.

Hopefully this enhances one's enjoyment of today’s review of 24.

PALLIATIVE, as in, “…as if the screenwriters couldn’t agree on whether it was truly shameful, and threw in ‘most historians’ as a palliative.”

Webster’s: Something that palliates; to reduce the violence of, to cover by excuses and apologies.

LEITMOTIF, as in, “Then again, the meddlesome naïveté of civil rights purists is also a leitmotif on 24."

Webster’s: An associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation esp. in a Wagnerian music drama.

CAVILING, as in “President Charles Logan (Greg Itzin) was irresistible as a caviling, craven commander in chief who manipulates his pill-addled first lady…”

Webster’s: Raising trivial and frivolous objection.

As has become our little leitmotif here, please try to use those words in conversation today whenever appropriate.

By Michael Malone