Word in the Wild: Their discussion came to a standstill after Monique’s shocking confession, and the party goers looked desperately about for someone to save them from the conversational vacuum that followed. Lucky for them, Punam was in attendance and saved them all by tossing out a fascinating quodlibet.
The word quodlibet comes from Latin and means “whatever you please.” (Quod = what and libet = it pleases.)
And while The Vest-Pocket Dictionary gives us this colloquial use of the term quodlibet, the OED defines it as a specifically academic excercise wherein a student must answer any question an audience member wishes to ask about a particular field of study (which sounds a lot like a modern-day comprehensive exam).
Interestingly, the meaning of this word changes altogether should you add an s: according to The Vest-Pocket Dictionary a quodlibets is a confused or disconnected collection. And according to the OED a quodlibet (without the s) can also be a quibbling point of argument or a musical composition containing more than one melody.
You can find a complete listing of the Word Blog’s Vest-Pocket Vocabulary entries and learn more about where they come from here.