A New Year's Shindig with Words

"Ooh, New Year's Eve?! Better grab my dictionary!" Okay, for those of us who aren't lexicographers, that might not be the first reaction to a holiday known for its kick-butt shindigs (although, let us tell you, a night of perusing Latin etymologies over a glass of warm milk can be a wild ride). But while the New Year is a great opportunity to indulge in some good-old saturnalia, there are a variety of rewarding ways to describe this annual changing-of-the-datebook. Luckily, we here at WinEveryGame have enough words to cover all of them!

Not feeling up to a crazy bacchanal this New Year? Perhaps you might enjoy a more relaxed, reflective approach to the holiday. Instead of trying to perfect your twerk (Oxford's runner-up word-of-the-year for 2013), set aside some time to decompress and look back on your experiences over the past 365 days. Did everything you augured last year come to pass? You might be surprised at how many of your predictions came true, not to mention all the crazy things you didn’t plan for - who would've thought the Oxford Dictionary 2015 word-of-the-year would be an emoji, or that Uncle Al would try to raise an alpaca in his apartment? It's funny how many things that would've seemed daft a year ago have actually come to fruition!

As satisfying as it can be to look back, though, looking forward to the year ahead can be gratifying in its own right. Although we might not have the prescience needed to know the future with absolute certainty, we can certainly establish goals that we'd like to accomplish during the next year. Maybe this is the year you finally gentrify your crummy garage or get involved in community service (or build your vocabulary - by reading this, you already have a head start). For some, setting New Year's Resolutions can provide an ardent sense of determination, a fervid motivation to better oneself and make this the BEST YEAR EVER! Of course, the trick is not to be down on yourself if you don't accomplish everything on your list - after all, renovating a garage is hard.

But don't think you have to choose either bubbly champagne or sedate meditation to have a good New Year! Just because you want to look back on your year doesn't mean you can't do so while dancing your butt off. And you can always make your resolutions before you carouse (though you might want to specifically resolve to have aspirin and a coffee-maker handy for the next morning). So whether you want to spend the last day of the year partying hard, cogitating deeply, or even just going to bed early to be ironic, allow us to color your holiday with some apropos vocabulary. With these words, you'll be able to talk about the New Year as more than just a harbinger for getting a new calendar or gym membership! Now, if you need us, we'll be curled up under a Snuggie with a copy of Funk and Wagnall's.

  • Ardent: If you've ever found yourself completely devoted to or focused on a particular subject or activity, you probably have a pretty good sense of what it means to be ardent. This adjective describes things as being in the grip of an all-consuming passion, the type of zeal that makes one determined to see a challenge through and eager to voice one's opinion whenever possible. You may have noticed that, being lexicographers, we're more than a little ardent about words. Hopefully, you're able to muster up a similar passion for your New Year's resolutions!

  • Augur: You don't necessarily need a crystal ball to augur something, but it certainly helps! To augur is to make some kind of prediction about the future. These predictions can either be inklings of whether something will turn out well or badly or specific prophecies about particular events. This means that you can augur both that you'll have a good year to come and that your year will involve a Scrabble game in which you'll finally beat Uncle Al by playing seven-letter words on every turn! Of course, the more specific you get, the less accurate your auguring is likely to be...

  • Bacchanal: A good New Year's bash can be a great way to have fun and let off steam, but at a bacchanal, the partying can get a little…intense. A bacchanal is a celebration usually characterized by a large amount of people engaged in copious drinking, crazy dancing, loose behavior that mom would likely not approve, and any other types of wild, indulgent comportment. Bacchanal derives from the hedonistic worshipping of the Roman wine god Bacchus, a deity who doubtless would have been impressed with the means of partying we have at our disposal today.

  • Carouse: There's a plethora of terms that can describe partying (many of which we're covering in this story), but if you're looking to talk specifically about using alcohol to have a good time, carouse is the word for you! To carouse is to engage in loud, boisterous, and, yes, libation-fueled revelry. Carousing is the type of merry-making you might expect of frat-house brothers, a Viking crew, or an eager group of New Year celebrators who will likely experience splitting headaches the following morning.

  • Daft: Maybe it's the promise of a new beginning, or maybe it's the uniquely rowdy atmosphere of the holiday, but it's not uncommon to make daft decisions on New Year's Eve. Daft is an adjective that can describe something as nonsensical, strange, and even somewhat crazy. If your buddy decides to do something ridiculous to celebrate the New Year, like hosting a barbeque on her patio despite the freezing weather, you could say she's deft at being daft.

  • Gentrify: As the years pass, neighborhoods and landscapes often undergo striking visual and social changes. A place that seems to become posher or more desirable to live in is said to gentrify. This word describes the gradual shift of an area (usually a neighborhood or piece of real estate) to become more attractive to more distinguished or affluent residents. The phenomenon can be especially noticeable around the New Year, as many use this time to reflect on and consider differences from years past. If you've been noticing a general increase in the number of Hipsters living on your street, your town might be in the process of gentrifying. Better pick up a pair of square-rimmed glasses!

  • Harbinger: Like augur, harbinger is a word that's related to the future. Specifically, a harbinger refers to something that serves as a tangible symbol or early indicator of what's to come. Rather than making a prediction, such a sign is an omen by virtue of its own nature. If you've ever watched the New Year celebration at Times Square on TV, you'll know that a loud countdown is a harbinger of the famous ball-drop!

  • Prescience: Wondering how to make New Year's resolutions that you'll actually be able to accomplish? The key might be prescience, a word that means "the ability to envision or predict the course of events before they transpire." If you have an idea of what kinds of things will demand your time and energy, you'll be better equipped to set reasonable goals for yourself. For maximizing your future potential, prescience is a good skill to cultivate!

  • Saturnalia: If your New Year's party gets a little out of hand, the neighbors might complain about your saturnalia. A saturnalia is a particularly boisterous celebration that usually involves plenty of alcohol and sexual inhibition. The modern word stems from a term used to describe an annual carousel held to honor the Roman god Saturn. Although you might sometimes hear it associated with the origins of Christmas, saturnalia is an appropriate word to describe any party that's decidedly inappropriate.

  • Shindig: On the lighter side of things, shindig is a word that describes a party that's full of energetic, noisy fun. While a saturnalia would definitely not be suitable for children (or lexicographers with weak stomachs), a shindig isn't nearly so restrictive - the word just implies plenty of dancing, loud music, and a lot of people getting together to have a good time. If your guests comment the next morning on how tired they are after the New Year's Eve shindig you threw, you'll know your party was a success!