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New words encountered in your reading

The Green Dragon

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Edited: May 25, 2013, 12:23pm Top

schtum - adj. silent; non-communicative

Found: One Good Turn

It's Yiddish, so how did I not know this? (I'm Irish, but I spent the first 30 years of my life in NY.) I had to discover it in a British mystery, of all places. LOL

If you post a word please add a definition and where you found it. :o)

May 25, 2013, 10:31am Top

Cool. I've only ever heard/read it in British books myself. "Keep schtum!" kind of thing.

May 25, 2013, 10:41am Top

We have that word in Swedish, natively, as "stum".
The things you learn.
Now I need to find out how it got here.

Edited: May 25, 2013, 12:26pm Top

Up Helly Aa. Leave it to them Scots.

Found in Raven Black. It's a fire festival on the Shetland islands marking end of Christmas season.

Edited: May 25, 2013, 12:27pm Top

And guizers. Ditto.

Found in Raven Black

gangs of mummers really. in association with Up Helly Aa.

Edited: May 25, 2013, 10:59am Top

>4 majkia: I want to go to Up Helly Aa - I really should organise it one of these days.

May 25, 2013, 11:08am Top

I would have been familiar with "schtum" most of my life. I think it was used in the 1960s sit-com, "Never Mind the Quality. Feel the Width." It was about the partnership of two tailors in London, Manny Cohen and Patrick Kelly. The firm was, of course, "Cohen & Kelly".

Later shows, such as "Minder", would have used the term, "Keep schtum!", a lot.

By the way, Clam, great idea for a thread. I have it "starred" already.

May 25, 2013, 11:19am Top

Beyond the first few thousand words learned as a small child, I encountered most of my vocabulary from reading - and I imagine that is true for most everyone on this thread. I am guessing many of us read well ahead of our school classes, so found words in books far earlier than we heard them in speech. As a result, I mispronounced many words, as I would look them up in the dictionary for meaning, but I tended to ignore the pronunciation guide.

May 25, 2013, 12:20pm Top

#8 - Yup. I still mispronounce a bunch of words. :o/

#7 - Thanks! I have been mulling it over for a while. We may have even had one once over the past six years, but I can't be sure. LOL And I have never heard of either of those shows, but I know I picked up quite a few words and phrases from TV shows over the years. Like saying 'terlit' instead of toilet, from 'All in the Family.'

Wow, that one is completely new to me, majkia.

Also could I ask people to provide lazy folks like we with definitions? And possibly what book they word came from? I will go back and edit my first post.

May 25, 2013, 12:27pm Top

#6 by Tane> I'd love to see it also, Tane, but then I'm not very good in crowds. New Orleans at Mardi Gras or Halloween is bad enough...

May 25, 2013, 9:56pm Top

Atrabilious: I don't know where I read it, but I wrote it down in my book book because it's a perfect description of me. It means "given to or marked by melancholy".

Edited: May 26, 2013, 1:38pm Top

Atrabilious I don't know where I read it, and I've only seen it once, but I liked it so much that I wrote it down in my book book because not only does it sound great but it is the perfect description for me. It means given to or marked by melancholy.

ETA the correct spelling

and I don't know why there are 2 of these but I'd better stop doing whatever that was.

May 26, 2013, 12:59pm Top

ormolu was one that I had to go look up. I can't recall in what context I read it. It was most likely a mystery, but I can't think which one. It's a thin layer of gold, usually applied to a bronze sculpture or decorative object.

May 27, 2013, 12:55am Top

flummery: meaningless flattery; nonsense

I came across that one when I was younger in one of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books, I don't remember which one, but he used it from time to time and it's one of my favorite words.

May 27, 2013, 6:52am Top

Viscid: sticky

Stephen Donaldson is good for expanding the vocabulary! My copy of White Gold Wielder has lots of pencil marks where I looked up words. Now some of them look easy to me but I was only 16 and it was 30 years ago.

I don't like not knowing what a word means but I also don't like it to interrupt my reading flow so often I will just quickly write down the page and go back to look it up later.

You can test your vocab here - http://testyourvocab.com/

I got 32,300 a few years ago which seemed pretty good to me.

May 27, 2013, 10:54am Top

eidetic - trance like state of perfect recall.
Also from Donaldson, one of the Gap stories. Remained in my ind because it's on ef o the few words I've ever had to lok up. Usually I can guess close enough from context, or else it's irrelevant*, but this one was actually important.

*eg names for colours - she wore a taupe robe, for example. From the it's obviously a descriptor for an item of clothing, and it doesn't matter what the word means, I picture a character in a plain robe, and move on.

May 27, 2013, 12:41pm Top

This is one reason I want to read more books on my Kindle. I love the instant definitions there that mean I don't have to put the book down or write something down. I am extremely lazy with my education so if I can puzzle out a meaning, or if the story isn't really lost without knowing it, I will say, "Hmm, wonder what that means" and move on. If my husband is there, I will ask him and he will make me look it up. :{ I do love learning new words, but unless you make it a point to write it, say it and use it, you lose it.

May 27, 2013, 1:17pm Top

Yes, the Kindle rocks for unknown words. And if the Oxford Dictionary doesn't know it there is that lovely Wikipedia link!

I am getting lazier as I age as well, MrsLee. I always used to keep a dictionary handy in my youth. Not any more...

May 27, 2013, 6:23pm Top

13: Jill, if my reading of mysteries is any measure, there was probably an ormolu clock on the mantel somewhere. There always is.

May 27, 2013, 11:42pm Top

Oh, bugger.  I just encountered a new word in One Hundred Girls' Mother, but I didn't write it down.

Edited: May 28, 2013, 3:15am Top

I encountered a word in Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty which reminded me of the first time I heard it.

Ossuary - It is usually a crypt, sometimes the walls of the church itself in which bones of the dead are kept to make more room for current bodies to do their dissolving trick in the graveyard.

I first encountered this in The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. I thought it a delightfully creepy sounding word for the place.

The Stoker book also had me looking up "asymptote" which was used to describe Tessla's encounter with greatness and popularity. Due to the fact that although he was deserving of the title, he could never manage to go by the rules laid down for it. (Loose, very loose quoting)
asymptote-"In mathematics, a line or curve that acts as the limit of another line or curve. For example, a descending curve that approaches but does not reach the horizontal axis is said to be asymptotic to that axis, which is the asymptote of the curve." from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

May 28, 2013, 3:22pm Top

Re #s 15, 16 and Donaldson...

I've read all of his Thomas Covenant books at least twice, some even more, and chomping at the proverbial bit for news of when The Last Dark! will be released. I've done that vocabulary test before, and rated extremely high, but in reading his most recent book, I still had two full pages of words he used that I was unfamiliar with. It took almost a week with several dictionaries, thesauri, and two etymology references to get through them all. I love weeks like that!

May 28, 2013, 4:29pm Top

It's so nice having a built-in dictionary on my Kindle and being able to immediately check the meaning of words. Then when I return to a print book, it takes me a couple of chapters to stop wanting to touch a word to get its meaning.

May 28, 2013, 5:31pm Top

Orison : a prayer.
Yes it's strange isn't it - some people would hate having to do that, but I love learning new words and SD is guaranteed to throw a few doozies at you.
Am hoping The Last Dark will be a Christmas present request :)

May 28, 2013, 5:54pm Top

Not a new word, but one I realised I'd known for decades and had never said out loud, and wasn't sure if I pronounced it like everyone else. It turns out I do! It is actually pronounced come-lee. And if anyone's wondering, it means 'good-looking.'

May 29, 2013, 9:27am Top

Huh. I thought it was calm-ly.

May 30, 2013, 8:55pm Top

brio found in The Tower of Babble, an interesting book about the CBC in Canada. It is a noun meaning the spirited life force of an energetic person. Probably the opposite of atrabilious ;)

May 30, 2013, 9:05pm Top

aumbries - recessed cupboards

found in Peril's Gate. Janny Wurts always makes me look up words.

Jun 7, 2013, 11:21am Top

mattoid n. a person of unbalanced mind. borderline psychopath

I think it was in a P.D. James novel that I ran across it.

Jun 9, 2013, 12:34am Top

I can't think of any examples right now, but I remember that Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun was amazing in terms of language and big new words.

Jun 14, 2013, 2:51pm Top

prosection - the dissection of a cadaver (human or animal) or part of a cadaver performed by an experienced anatomist to demonstrate anatomic structure to students. As opposed to a dissection, in which students learn by doing it themselves.

A prosection may also refer to the dissected cadaver or cadaver part which is then reassembled and provided to students for review.

From Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Edited: Jun 26, 2013, 7:14pm Top

I've picked up so many words from so many different places over the years that it would be difficult to list them all. I wish I could remember them. Off the top of my head:

I would start with Shakespeare. I was told that someone with a computer calculated that Shakespeare had the biggest vocabulary of any writer, with Thomas Babington Macaulay a distant second. Shakespeare also made up words.

The English Romantic poets had a great love for the senuousness of words. I learned many from them. I've probably found more interesting words in poetry than in prose.

I learned "boondoggle" and "crapulous" from Russell Kirk—the second doesn't mean what you might think. "Catarrh" from Robert Penn Warren. Ezra Pound—can you read Greek? Latin? French? Italian? Chinese ideograms? Henry James stretched my mind, no surprise there. Of course, there were some from William F. Buckley, a man who loved words and had such a big "working vocabulary," as he called it, that many people thought he was showing off. Annie Dillard was another good source. She taught me words like "surcease" and "susurrus." She really loved words the way the Romantics did, for their sound, rhythm, and appearance. F. Scott Fitzgerald taught me "meretricious." He ought to know.

Walker Percy, M.D., taught me about "fugue states." Medicine taught me all kinds of great words, especially from anatomy, which has a difficult yet beautifully ordered and intricate vocabulary, much of it rooted in the elegant logic of Latin. Medulla oblongata. Or the inner ear: "hammer, anvil, and stirrup." On the other hand, I loathe the vocabulary of computers, the internet, and the acronyms that teenagers use for their various gadgets. I learned "cruft" from LibraryThing a couple days ago and I don't like it.

One of my college teachers, who was a published poet, sometimes used unusual words. I remember him giving a speech that included "fardels of the heart," "a bolus of squills," and "gambolling to the tabor's sound."

ETA: organization.

Edited: Jun 25, 2013, 3:09pm Top

Roger Kimball's latest book includes the words lucubration, quietism, pullulating, proleptic, apophasis, vatic, cynosure, metanoia, pleonasm, mythopoesis, refectory, allotrope, imbrication, apostrophize, apodosis.

Edited: Jun 24, 2013, 12:40am Top

In one of those weird coinky-dink things, I ran across the word "Shivah" in a book I read last week. The Jewish mourning period of seven days after someone dies. I don't remember coming across that before, then, in the next book I picked up to read, which was set in a different decade and part of the country, suddenly it was there again!

Jun 25, 2013, 3:10pm Top

Mark Helprin's latest novel includes: catenaries, luff, davit, corvette, architraved, smunk, dory, windrow, postilion, jacquard, uncleat, balaclava, travertine, Sarmatians, afterimage

Jun 26, 2013, 3:47pm Top

I can't remember which of her novels had this phrase, but Elizabeth George used "rebarbative pavane". She used it to describe someone's thighs. I had to look it up at the time; I've never forgotten the phrase!

Jun 26, 2013, 3:59pm Top

A few months ago I had to read a friend's thesis, in which she described the range of some plants as mesogeal. My warped mind immediately took off on a path that said "meso" = middle + "geal" > gaia = earth. No, Marie, I do not believe that your plants came from Middle Earth where the Hobbits live! I think she meant something like "Mediterranean Basin".

Jun 26, 2013, 4:14pm Top

I remember an Australian nurse asking me what catarrh was telling me a doctor would laugh if she was to use such an unprofessional term, here in the UK though it is a very every term with pharmacy stores full of products promising to end the misery of this dire affliction, I am sure No GP would last a day without it in his vocabulary,

I i was just as surprised to find tines on a list of unusual words, now of to google most of the others in this thread,

Jun 26, 2013, 7:20pm Top

I don't meet too many new words in fiction, although there are usually some lovely archaisms in the Brother Cadfael novels. I never knew "garth" was a common noun.

But the nonfiction I read typically takes me into new territory; that's why I'm reading it. One of my current reads got me with "neoteric" right in the first line. Here are other unfamiliar terms encountered in the first 25 pages:


The book is Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997), by Espen J. Aarseth. Someone on LT tossed me the term "ergodic" after I reviewed House of Leaves, and it led me here.

*This word isn't unfamiliar; it's just one of those words that don't stick. I've been looking it up just about every time I've met it for the past 40 or so years. I'd love to have a mnemonic for it.

Edited: Jun 30, 2013, 5:59pm Top

Oh My God! I am suffering from rebarbative pavaning. Everywhere! |-{

Thank you hobbitprincess!!! I can't wait to tell my sisters!

Jul 1, 2013, 7:43pm Top

#39 - Words that won't stick are particularly irritating. I've just about fixed hermeneutic in my head now, but ontology has replaced it as my elusive term. I've been meaning to give Aarseth a try for sometime, but thought I'd struggle with it - looking at your words I think I was right!

Jul 1, 2013, 10:45pm Top

41: Another one that won't stick (and is in the same book) is eschatological. Every time I run into it, it drives out the meaning of chthonic, which I remember ok otherwise, and then I have to look them both up. That's the sort of thing that makes me wonder what in the world a brain's vocabulary storage system is really like after all. It isn't anything like a computer file.

Thanks to some philosophy class or other, I manage to hang onto ontology and teleology all right. They're in there too.

I've just written a review of the Aarseth book, if you're interested. I consider it worth the time and effort it took me, but it's definitely aimed at a particular audience.

Jul 2, 2013, 1:55am Top

One I found while reading GGK (can't remember which one, possibly A Song for Arbonne) was 'sybaritic', which means to wallow in luxury or revel in sensuous pleasure. I love that word!

JPB - one of the standing jokes in my group of friends is that I pronounced the very simple 'misled' as MYZ-ild. I'm not sure what happened in my little brain, but I think I must have first encountered it as a small child and 'sounded it out'.

Thus, if I was speaking I'd say mis-led and knew in my head how it was spelled. But if I was reading I would sound it out as 'myzild'. It was only when I was reading something out loud in front of my friends that it came to light. I've never lived it down. Even now, if I come across it in a book I have to remind myself how to say it properly.

Jul 2, 2013, 2:01am Top

>43 Severn:

My father was an English teacher and he told me when I was a child about a student of his who pronounced misled just as you did and the student also thought that it was the past tense of a verb, 'to misle'. This has become a part of my family's personal lexicon and we often accuse someone of trying to misle us, or claim dramatically that's it's not our fault - we were misled.

Edited: Jul 4, 2013, 12:51pm Top

43> I think we all have such a word in our vocabulary somewhere. For many Brits it is gaol, This older spelling hangs round in old books purposely to ensnare children who know perfectly well what jail means. I have encountered more than one who says goal. I remember encountering it written in Times Roman where its distinctive g would make the word look so alien that it might as well be in Greek. My mind would just halt like a horse refusing a fence. till I dismounted and led it round to the other side.

Jul 2, 2013, 6:13am Top

>45 SimonW11: - That last phrase makes a great image of exactly what happened to me with gaol sometimes.

Jul 2, 2013, 6:15am Top

#43 & #44
You reminded me of the old word trick. This works verbally but probably won't be as effective in written form.

Ask someone what T-I-T spells.

Then ask them what T-I-T-
L-E spells.

Jul 3, 2013, 11:29pm Top

Helcura - Hah! That's fantastic! I must tell my friends I am not alone in the world. :)

Jul 7, 2013, 7:10pm Top

Bannock is a new word for me, found in Lost in the Barrens.

I had to look it up.

Anyone know what it is, without looking up the meaning?

Jul 7, 2013, 8:28pm Top

Bread? Biscuits?

Jul 7, 2013, 8:29pm Top

Looked it up. Yay! The Old Lady scores again!!

Jul 7, 2013, 8:35pm Top

You did better than I. I was unsure, even with the context.

Jul 7, 2013, 8:57pm Top

I've been reading for longer than most of you have been alive...

Jul 7, 2013, 9:09pm Top

When a word is lost and no one is alive to remember it, where does it go?

Jul 7, 2013, 11:21pm Top

I sometimes make bannock for dinner to accompany stew or soup, rather than make biscuits. I sometimes add cheese. Yum.

Jul 7, 2013, 11:45pm Top

Being a good Canadian kid, I learned to make bannock both at home and at school.

Jul 8, 2013, 12:18am Top

I not only know what bannock is, but have eaten it and made it.

Jul 8, 2013, 4:33am Top

#49 Och aye, ye'll need tae be a braw Scots lassie tae ken aboot a bannock! Somewhere, I have a recipe if you want.

Jul 9, 2013, 2:30am Top

58: Or to have read enough stories set in Scotland. Maybe even some by Sir Walter.

Jul 9, 2013, 12:49pm Top

There's where my reading is lacking...I've not read stories about Scotland, or not many, or maybe they didn't mention 'bannock'.

I did read Ivanhoe, but it was a long time ago...

Jul 21, 2013, 6:07pm Top

Here's a lovely one: confloption.

I've never run into it before, but apparently it's been around for a while. I found it last night in Michael Innes's Lament for a Maker, first published in 1938. The Urban Dictionary defines it as a state of disequilibrium or disharmony.

The character who uses it is a Scot, and his language, though light on dialect, does include many usages that depart from standard English. I don't know where this expression stands on the familiarity scale in the U.K.

Jul 22, 2013, 9:49pm Top

#61 by Meredy> what a great word!

Jul 23, 2013, 7:27am Top

>61 Meredy:: I'm English and that's a new word to me. I'll have to see if any of my Scottish friends know it; I've certainly never heard them use it.

Jul 23, 2013, 7:32am Top

2 from the new Michael Gruber book The Return (touchstones a nightmare, forget it)

epigone n. inferior, follower, imitator

exigous adj. scanty, little, small, meager

Jul 26, 2013, 8:45pm Top

I had to look up frottage which was used by member kswolff in Literary snobs. I think he used both meanings of the word at the same time.

Aug 4, 2013, 10:46am Top

There are so many new words in the Gormanghast books! The one that sticks with me is "calid" (hot), because it seems such a useful word. I wonder why I never hear it in conversation?

Aug 5, 2013, 9:58pm Top

Had to look up Risible when used by Theoria in "Pro and Con" section of LT

Aug 5, 2013, 11:44pm Top

I encountered Quadroon the other day in a Hermann Melville work.

Aug 6, 2013, 7:24am Top

I found "encomium" in Wu Ming Foundation's Altai. The context gave a good indication of the meaning but I had to look it up.

a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly (ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.

Aug 12, 2013, 5:13pm Top

They're using big words again in "Literary Snobs" on LT. This one by kswolff is a good one , coprophagous. It is kind of what a dung beetle does.

Aug 12, 2013, 6:38pm Top

Samhain (pronounced Sowain) the end of the Pagan Year!

Aug 12, 2013, 8:03pm Top

The wprd "apotheosis" is suddenly showing up in different things I'm reading. It means elevating the subject to divine stature. That wasn't even close to what I was guessing.

Edited: Aug 22, 2013, 2:18pm Top

I had to look up Tensegrity but I forgot where I ran across it after I kept looking up information on the {fairly old but interesting} concept. Since Buckminster Fuller used the concept extensivsely it was probably in my old Whole Earth Catalog {weird not a link for the catalog that I can find on LT....aha found it!}

Aug 21, 2013, 9:30pm Top

"Slough"--I encountered it in reading one of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. As a child I, I wasn't sure what it was, but knew that it was dangerous because the family feared that one of the children was lost in it. In my mind, I saw it as an expanse of very tall plants (it was on the prairie, right?). Later I found that it is an inlet of a river. Also as a child-reader, I never knew the pronunciation: slew, sluff, slou? Don't know why I didn't look it up. Probably too caught up in the story to worry about it.

"The german"...encountered in Little Women at about the same time. I finally figured out it was some kind of dance because the word took place at a dance party.

Aug 24, 2013, 10:47am Top

"on dit" -- rumours, gossips, word on the street

Found it in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and had never heard it before. I figured out the meaning by its usage, but looked it up to verify. Had never heard the phrase before.

Aug 24, 2013, 10:52am Top

#70 That's also what guinea pigs and hamsters do. It ensures they get all possible nutrition from their food. (We keep these animals as pets, as the kid is allergic to dogs and cats.)

#72 I'm also seeing that a lot lately. Is it a result of a current theme in literature, or that I'm delving back into books by or relating to Lewis and Tolkien?

Aug 24, 2013, 12:12pm Top

75: that would mean something like 'they say' in French, so I imagine it is French (my French is rather rusty...). Would you pronounce it like that as well? Or do you pronounce the 't'?

Aug 24, 2013, 4:08pm Top

>75 RitaFaye: On dit is a commonly used expression in regency romances, like Georgette Heyer’s.

>72 SylviaC:&75 I expect "apotheosis" would be likely to come up in the course of studying Lewis and Tolkien.

Aug 25, 2013, 5:32am Top

76> silfay in rabbit

Aug 25, 2013, 9:57am Top

#78 Not a clue--never took French. It was used primarily by a French character in the book, though also used by the English. The Oxford dictionary implied it was somewhat common in England, but as an American I had never encountered it. (And I wouldn't call my reading of Lewis and Tolkien a course of study, just my favorite authors I always return to. It's far too hodge-podge to be a deliberate study. )

Aug 26, 2013, 7:19am Top

#77 You're quite right, it's a French expression meaning 'they say'. Here in England we would pronounce it the French way on (with a typically French soft 'n') dee but I can't speak for any American pronunciation.

Aug 26, 2013, 1:48pm Top

81: Thanks, Booksloth!

Aug 26, 2013, 8:30pm Top

#81 Thank you!!

Aug 27, 2013, 12:54pm Top

Today in The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln -

lagniappe n. a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of purchase. A bonus gift like at the Clinique counter.

It wasn't in my dictionary and I had no internet connectivity at the time, so I had to infer the meaing from context and I did pretty well.

Aug 27, 2013, 3:47pm Top

#84 That is something that would be referred to as a "luck-penny" where I grew up (Northern Ireland). Basically, if you bought something from someone they would hand back some of the cash or possibly throw in some extra goods for luck. It's the same idea as the baker's dozen being 13, i.e. you bought a dozen buns and he would throw in an extra one for luck.

Unfortunately computerised point of sale systems do not allow for such gestures these days.

Aug 27, 2013, 10:44pm Top

Last week I ran across the word "kip" in The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley, the character was looking for a place to sleep. A day later I heard Col. Potter say it on a MASH rerun. Never heard that context before. For some reason, I always thought the word meant to "steal something". A quick look at the online dictionary does not give that definition at all, although it gives many others (a bundle of animal skins; a unit of measure; a monetary unit in Laos, a martial arts maneuver). I wonder why I thought that all these years.

Aug 28, 2013, 12:49am Top

Oh I live to have an afternoon kip!

Aug 28, 2013, 4:03am Top

#86 To "have a kip" would be very common here, both in language usage and in practice.

I have never heard of any of the other meanings for the word you listed, nor have I heard "kip" used to mean nicking something.

My paternal grandmother lived to 102 and ascribed her longevity to having a kip in the afternoon.

Aug 28, 2013, 8:09am Top

#86 Luck-penny--I like it!

Kip I'd heard of, but only when it means a nap. I've never heard of the other meanings for it. But it's not common usage around here, I suspect I picked it up in my reading.

Aug 28, 2013, 8:12am Top

If slippers are so named because you slip them on... do kippers take frequent naps?

Aug 28, 2013, 8:54am Top

#90 They retire in their smoking jackets.

Edited: Aug 28, 2013, 8:56am Top

I am assuming people will be familiar with the term, "forty winks", meaning a kip. Am I right in making this assumption?

It would not be uncommon to hear someone say, "I'll kip down here for forty winks."

Aug 28, 2013, 12:00pm Top

Never mind new words. I'm learning all sorts of things. LIke the Order of the Dragons a real life organization a member of which was Vlad Tepes. Also, m- state in metallics physics, meaning metals which can transition from metallic state to monatomic or diatomic states if passed through certain chemical processes.

Have SOOOOO much fun reading Sigma Force, current book being Map of Bones.

Aug 28, 2013, 12:54pm Top

Remember, Colonel Potter was a veteran of World War I. This could be an expression from that time, or an expression he could have picked up overseas.

And, yes, to me these characters were real and I talk about them as if they were. *grin*

Edited: Aug 28, 2013, 3:09pm Top

polemicist from a discussion in the Sf section of LT.

Normally I would not admit to looking this word up as I know the gist of it from context but the internet makes it so easy for a more comprehensive understanding and I like the audio pronunciations also.

#76 Ritafay Thanks, now that you mention it I remember from a biology course where rats & some rodents digest/break down some foods to an absorbable form at the very end of their digestive system & then, poop, out it goes so they eat some again to , as you say, gain all the nutrients possible. I had forgotten any term applied to the process.

Aug 28, 2013, 3:00pm Top

A word I came across in the 1970s and have loved ever since is, "Thixotropic". It is a liquid that changes viscosity when it is agitated and describes the behaviour of such things as ketchup and quick-sand. I came across it when studying geology at college. It explained the sinking of buildings in the San Francisco bay area during an earthquake. These buildings were built on sand that was quite solid under normal conditions but the vibrations due to the earthquake caused the sand particles to separate ever so slightly allowing water to enter between them thus lowering the viscosity of the material.

Edited: Aug 28, 2013, 3:15pm Top

#96 pgmcc I read When the Mississippi Ran Backwards which had some spectacular descriptions of that and other geologic phenomenon. The author has a geology degree if I am not mistaken, oops I was mistaken he doesn't have a geology degree {was thinking of another author} but the book is interesting

Aug 28, 2013, 3:28pm Top

#96 Way back in the Middle Ages when I was an undergraduate, i recall a classmate suggesting to a third party that they should 'become thixotropic' (wake up and move along there) ... :-)

Aug 28, 2013, 3:28pm Top

#97 Dug, that looks interesting. I will try to find a copy to inspect.

On an amusing point, the word thixotropic came in very handy when a friend of mine came to dinner and brought a cheese cake he had made. He came in from the car with the cheese cake and it looked very appetising. He put it on the table and said he was at a loss to know what had happened but that the cheese cake had slices of kiwi fruit and segments of orange on top of it when it left his house.

You've guessed it, he had placed the cheese cake on the floor of the car and the vibrations of the vehicle caused the cheese cake mix to reduce its viscosity and the fruit sank to the bottom. He was most embarrassed, but the cheese cake was delicious and it was a novelty to find fruit at the bottom. I name his dessert, "Thixotropic cheese cake".

Aug 28, 2013, 3:29pm Top

#98 Go with the flow.

Aug 28, 2013, 5:05pm Top

99: pgmcc, I love that story!

Aug 28, 2013, 5:11pm Top

#101 I am glad, Meredy. The friend in question was very close and he was always doing things that ended up back-firing on him.

Aug 28, 2013, 9:02pm Top

Some honeys are thixotropic, in Aust. ti-tree honey has this property.

Aug 28, 2013, 9:57pm Top

>99 pgmcc: pgmcc, that is a great story. Now I want to drive around with a cheececake to see what will happen!

Aug 28, 2013, 11:16pm Top

104: I had a similar thought: I want to try this!

Have you seen the greeting card with the black-and-white photo of the giant parade balloon on the front?

Aug 29, 2013, 4:32am Top

#104 & #105 Word of warning: His cheese cake remained quite runny after the experience. He had brought it in the cheese cake frame so it didn't flow everywhere. I'm sure it would have set again if we had left it for a few hours.

It was the first cheese cake I ever ate that one could not eat using a pastry fork: a spoon was required. :-)

Aug 29, 2013, 9:15am Top

From Strange Rebels: inchoate - undeveloped, unformed -- usually not in a good way

p. 237: "The Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line were political amateurs. The acted according to an inchoate mixture of anti-imperialist sentiment and woolly conspiracy theories."

Also, the "ch" is pronounced "k", which I didn't know until I looked it up.

Sep 2, 2013, 5:31pm Top

Lapsury? As in, Titus Groan being"born in the lapsury."

It's not in my unabridged dictionary. I even Googled it, and up came an article about the language in Peake's Gormanghast. The author thinks it is a "portmanteau" word, something I also needed to look up.

However, I wonder about that. Also from my Googling I discovered "Lapsuri" is a latin word, a tense of the Latin word lapsurus, which means labor. So, perhaps a lapsury is a labor room?

Sep 3, 2013, 4:50am Top

I must admit the first thing I thought of was "the lap of luxury". Perhaps Peake was playing a game with the word and wanted it to have both meanings.

Sep 3, 2013, 6:41am Top

#104-106 - I suspoect the Kiwi fruit actually had an important part to play in this - it contains an enzyme which degrades gelatin - this would make the cheese cake much less firm. You could try an experiment with and without kiwi fruit. You'd need to control for the active temperatire of the enzyme as well.

Sep 3, 2013, 6:55am Top

#110 That sounds like an experiment I would enjoy, probably more because I would enjoy disposing of (eating) the experimental material aftwards than because I would be adding to the world knowledge bank.

As it happens, I mentioned this story to another friend yesterday. He started laughing when I mentioned the cheese cake being transported by car with toppings on it. He told me that it was a well known fact (obviously in his circle of culinary friends) that if one is transporting a cheese cake somewhere that one should not put the toppings on until one has arrived at one's destination to prevent the toppings sinking into the cheese cake.

I still think I will try the experiment because I love eating cheese cake with kiwis on or in it.


Of course, to be very scientific about this we will have to do it with grapse and orange segments too. Possibly slices of banana, and strawberries, and blackcurrants, and blackberries, and...

For proper control we will also have to have a control cheese cake with no toppings at all.

Now let me see, that makes, one, two, three, four, ... I think we're going to need an awful lot of cheese cakes. Yum!

Sep 3, 2013, 8:53am Top

111 You're not looking for a lab assistant are you?

Sep 3, 2013, 9:03am Top

#112 Join the queue, Wolfy.

Sep 3, 2013, 4:49pm Top


No, I'm not castigating present company. I'm sharing a spectacular find from Edith Sitwell's estimable volume English Eccentrics. My role models. Alas, I'll never measure up.

Context: a selection of excerpts describing one Doctor Kettle (1553-1643), of Trinity College, Oxford, as recorded by a contemporary and quoted by Sitwell (page 303):

He would scold 'idle young boies', calling them 'Turds, Tarrarags (these were the worst sort), rude Rakills, Rascall-Jacks, Blindcinques, Slobberlotchers (these did no hurt, were sober, but went idleing about the Grove)'.

Let's fetch ourselves some cheesecake, shall we, and go idling about the Grove?

Sep 3, 2013, 5:01pm Top

Be careful not to put the toppings on until you arrive at the Grove.

Sep 3, 2013, 5:02pm Top

Slobberlotchers! I have to use that sometime.

Sep 3, 2013, 5:11pm Top

Addendum: I'm saddened to have to report that the word is most likely "scobberlotcher." It appears that there's a typo in the text that probably goes back to the 1971 Penguin edition, at least.

When I tried to research "slobberlotcher" online, I got no hits, but up came "scobberlotcher" with the definition "idle person" or "an idle youth" (etymology unknown). I confirmed this with a check of my OED (hard-copy edition), which cites Aubrey, the same source used by Sitwell.

Sep 3, 2013, 9:49pm Top

Meredy, what chapter is that in? I looked in my 1933 edition, but couldn't find that entry.

Isn't it a wonderfully quotable book?

Sep 3, 2013, 11:17pm Top

It's in Chapter 16, entitled "Serious Circles," in a section headed "Appendix II."

The 1933 edition was the original. There was a "revised and enlarged" edition in 1958 and there's a 1958 copyright statement, so that's probably when the appendixes were added. Penguin brought out its first release in 1971, with numerous subsequent reprints; it was probably newly typeset for the paperback edition. That's why I'm guessing that the typo crept in then.

Sitwell is something. She doesn't just turn a phrase. She sculpts it.

Sep 4, 2013, 12:02am Top

Yes, there's only one appendix in my book.

I think that book tells us more about Sitwell herself than about any of her "Eccentrics".

Sep 4, 2013, 8:55am Top

I just checked Abe Books to see if there is a Folio Society editon of English Eccentrics and . . . oh my!

. . . I'll be right back.


Sep 12, 2013, 3:17pm Top

grig n. Dialect
1. a lively person
2. a short-legged hen
3. a young eel
(dwarf, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish krik a little creature)

Another definition said "cricket."

From Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott

"...two such merry little grigs as these are seldom seen."

Sep 12, 2013, 9:55pm Top

"Desuetude." Came across this today in M.I. Finley's The World of Odysseus. The sentence was " At Alexandria and elsewhere scholars and librarians then resisted the process of desuetude, preserving many works in which general interest had declined or died out altogether."

As you'd guess, it means something to the effect of falling into disuse. But it's a word I don't recall having seen before!

Sep 13, 2013, 3:11am Top

There was a wonderful line in the radio show "My Word" yonks ago -- forget whether it was by Frank Muir or Denis Norden -- about the demise of the British boiled pudding, and how the suet was falling into de-suet-ude.

Sep 13, 2013, 9:59am Top

Ha! I like that. Now I'm all set to get all the "desuetude" jokes I encounter!

Sep 13, 2013, 1:51pm Top


Educated people considered as a group (The Free Dictionary)

used by Boris Johnson in his collection of columns Have I got Views for You

Sep 13, 2013, 1:53pm Top


Start by looking in the books of My Word stories. There are several, and I've long forgotten the rest of the story, so can't begin to suggest which book.

Sep 13, 2013, 9:52pm Top

Thank you! I'll keep an eye out for those!

Sep 20, 2013, 3:34am Top

a member of a religious order founded for preaching, esp a Dominican (The Free Dictionary)

in Spice by Jack Turner

The Afrikaans word predikant has been familiar since primary school, but I've not seen this English version before.

Sep 24, 2013, 10:06pm Top

a native or inhabitant of Liverpool, England

Tom Kipper's Schooldays Memories of an Irish Childhood in Liverpool by Peter Sale

I am a Scouser
My name is Tom Kipper
And this is my story
Or at least the beginning...

Sep 25, 2013, 11:23am Top

130 - I've heard that before, but I wonder how they came by that appellation? I think "scouse" is a term for a potato/cabbage/corned beef concoction sailors used to eat.

Ah, just used Google and Wikipedia to come up with the answer to my question.

Sep 25, 2013, 11:53am Top

130 & 131

"Scouser" would be a well known term for Liverpudlians on this side of the Atlantic. It would be commonly used in UK television in cop shows and comedies.

Sep 25, 2013, 9:11pm Top

131...Thank you for the link. Quite interesting.

132...I watch some British television, cop shows and comedies and I can't say that I remember hearing that word. You can be sure that I will keep my ears open for it from now on.

Sep 26, 2013, 2:53am Top

It is probably more often encountered in it adjective form.

for example "Randy Scouse Git" a phrase Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees heard on British TV and used as a song title not realising that it was mildly offensive.

Sep 26, 2013, 4:15am Top

"Randy Scouse Git" ...used as a song title not realising that it was mildly offensive.

Some comedians from London and the South-East of England in general would make Scousers the butt end of their jokes. There have been quite a few comedy scketches with Liverpudlians represented as curly haired, football jersey wearing visitors to London with broad Liverpool accents.

Sep 26, 2013, 7:44am Top

#135 Al right, Pete - calm down, calm down!

Sep 26, 2013, 9:02am Top


I hope you noticed, Booksloth, that I left the South-West of England out it.


Sep 26, 2013, 10:11am Top

Liverpudlians, sounds like they are tiny. Or people who live in your liver. It is a wonderful word.

Sep 26, 2013, 2:11pm Top

138 MrsLee...Liverpudlians does sound cute.

Sep 27, 2013, 7:02am Top

#137 Only because you know we're too busy chewing straws to join in. :(

Sep 27, 2013, 9:16am Top


I've only ever seen this word in the Brother Cadfael books.

According to wiki.answers, it means "a quilt, a comforter, a special lap blanket or a lightweight rug used for special purposes".

Sep 27, 2013, 9:37am Top

#140 Only because you know we're too busy chewing straws to join in.

"Oh aargh! In Devon...where the cream comes from."

I will always remember the Ambrosia Creamed Rice adverts on television. I am not sure it would be permissable to broadcast those nowadays.

Sep 29, 2013, 1:14pm Top

ESPY: To catch sight of (something distant, partially hidden, or obscure); glimps
(if I hadn't pronounced it espee, I probably would have guessed what it meant)

Tom Kipper's Schooldays Memories of an Irish Childhood in Liverpool by Peter Sale

CHARY: 1. wary; careful
2. choosy; finicky
3. shy
4. sparing; mean
(Again, I was pronouncing it wrong. Instead of pronouncing it like the fruit, cherry, I was pronouncing it charry.)

JINGO: One who vociferously supports one's country, especially one who supports a belligerent foreign policy; a chauvinistic patriot.
adj. 1. Of or relating to a chauvinistic patriot.
2. Characterized by chauvinistic patriotism.
(This time I had pronounced it correctly)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton

BRAZIER: 1. A metal pan for holding burning coals or charcoal.
2. A cooking device consisting of a charcoal or electric heating source over which food is grilled.
(Silly me was pronouncing it brazier, I should have known it was pronounced, brazer)

Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

Sep 29, 2013, 2:21pm Top

#143. Under its Zulu name iMbaula, a brazier is one of the greatest causes of accidental death in Highveld townships. It's cold in winter, and people bring the iMbaula inside and close all the windows. A few hours later the carbon monoxide gets them.

You always wanted to know that, didn't you ;-)

Sep 29, 2013, 2:23pm Top

#144...I sure did. I find new words and their meaning fascinating. Thank you for taking the time out to tell me this tidbit of information.

Sep 29, 2013, 3:28pm Top

*bows* my pleasure!

Sep 29, 2013, 3:32pm Top


Sep 29, 2013, 3:49pm Top

In that case you may enjoy a bit of botany that occupied me for a few seconds (while working on someone else's database): I thought of you while looking at the genus Quisqualis, the Rangoon vine. (You would only find it in a greenhouse - a hot one - in Canada, but here it grows happily outdoors and has beautiful long red flowers.) The name in Bahasa is Udani, which sounded to the Dutch colonists in the East Indies like their own word 'Hoedanig' (= huh, what?, whatever). And so a Dutch butanist translated that into Latin for a genus name. Going the other way, read it as quis? qualis? --> who? like what?

I think that's a fun derivation.

Sep 29, 2013, 3:52pm Top

And I did enjoy it. Sad that I don't have a hot greenhouse is Canada. It isn't hot in the Netherlands either so how were they to be the ones who named it. Hmmm I wonder.

Sep 29, 2013, 3:57pm Top

The Boers of South African history were Dutch.

Sep 29, 2013, 4:14pm Top

Hmmm I did not know that. I should have known that.

Sep 29, 2013, 4:24pm Top

I used to be a history major....

Sep 29, 2013, 4:27pm Top

I never like history until I got older. Now I am fascinated with it. But still not that knowledgeable.

Sep 30, 2013, 3:42am Top

#150 Remember the VOC was based in Amsterdam and Batavia (now Djakarta)!

Edited: Sep 30, 2013, 7:17am Top

". . .Batavia (now Djakarta)" (154)

Batavia was also a (medieval/modern) Latin name for the whole of the Netherlands
(or perhaps the Netherlands+ batavophone Belgium).
The spelling of Jakarta with a D indicates phonetically, I think, that the J is like an English J,
not a Dutch or Indonesian J
(which are like an English Y).
I think the D is still used in some French spellings of
non-French names, as well
as in older Dutch spellings.
I scrolled up, b t w, immediately from 154 to 150 to find out what "the VOC" (154) was. But still donʻt
know (!?)

Sep 30, 2013, 6:43am Top

Contributers to this thread would almost certainly enjoy I Never Knew There Was a Word For It by Adam Jacot de Boinod. One of the most entertaining books I know on the subject.

Sep 30, 2013, 8:28am Top

#155 Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie = Dutch East India Company. Museums in Cape Town (and presumably the Netherlands) treasure procelain, glass etc. with the VOC monogram.

Sep 30, 2013, 2:36pm Top

155...one would think that I would know a little about this peace of knowledge seeing that my parents were from the Netherlands. I am disappointed in myself.

156...It sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Goes on my wishlist.

Sep 30, 2013, 4:55pm Top

"Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie" (= VOC) (155-157)

--Thanks, hfglen

Oct 1, 2013, 4:13am Top

Distrait: Distracted or absent-minded

I found this in The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin.

Oct 2, 2013, 9:30am Top

Jejune: Naive, simplistic & superficial

Farago: Strange mixture

...again, courtesy of Mr. Edmund Crispin.

Edited: Oct 2, 2013, 6:21pm Top

Some translatorsʻ* rendition of the "Moby Dick" mentioned
by Jules Verne

I see now that LT lists a title How Old Stormalong Captured Mocha Dick" by Irwin Shapiro, and both the human and the cetacean character sound folkloric.

*I donʻt have access to the orignal French of this. The translation Iʻm reading now says the expected
"MOBY" (rather than "Mocha"). I think Verne was talking about the folkloric Moby/Mocha Dick, not
the Melville novel, though he may have known of the novel
(which was hardly a 19th century best-seller, and yet was more successful than capsule bios of Melville have indicated.)

Oct 2, 2013, 9:23pm Top

"Mocha Dick" was the name given to an actual albino sperm whale who supposedly roamed the Pacific in the early 1800s. A book was written about him, which Melville used as inspiration for Moby Dick (along with some other stuff). Philip Hoare talks about both of them in his book Leviathan or, the Whale (US title: The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea), which I recently finished.

Oct 2, 2013, 10:48pm Top

Unbelievable what one can learn here on LT.

Edited: Oct 3, 2013, 2:21am Top

"Mocha Dick" . . .as
inspiration for Moby DIck (163)

Thanks, inge87

Oct 3, 2013, 5:00am Top

I hope it was Fair Trade Mocha.

Oct 6, 2013, 12:00pm Top

kentledge: ballast composed of separate items. Simon Winchester notes in The river at the center of the world that English tea clippers packed the relatively lightweight tea and silks on top of Chinese porcelain they used as kentledge.

Oct 6, 2013, 1:46pm Top

tocsin: the sound of a big spoon banging on a big pot from John Saturnall's Feast

Oct 6, 2013, 1:53pm Top

#168 or surely any other kind of alarm signal conveyed by bell

Oct 6, 2013, 1:55pm Top

#169 Yes, of course. I was too lazy to explain fully, just sort of took it out of the book.

Oct 6, 2013, 6:14pm Top

>167 hfglen:, You're quite welcome. I never would have known if I hadn't just read Hoare's book.

Edited: Oct 8, 2013, 9:15am Top

(I hope that the "new words" don't have to be fully English.) The Simon Winchester I mentioned in #167 has a Chinese one I've not seen before:

wupan: (five planks) next size bigger boat than a sampan (three planks) -- works for me!

Edited to fix punctuation.

Oct 31, 2013, 5:02pm Top


The Nine Tailors. A marvelous example of how context clues can make the meaning of a word perfectly plain, especially when the sound of the word itself encourages accurate guesses. In this case the context involves bell ropes and what can happen if a ringer doesn't pay enough attention to keeping his under control.

If any help is needed, it appears to be a variant of embrangle, to confuse or entangle.

At its second occurrence, the character who speaks it adds "fine old English word, that."

Nov 1, 2013, 12:11pm Top

Good word!

Nov 6, 2013, 8:44pm Top

On page 120 of the edition of Ivanhoe that I'm reading:


verb (used with object), ob·jur·gat·ed, ob·jur·gat·ing.
to reproach or denounce vehemently; upbraid harshly; berate sharply.

Edited: Nov 7, 2013, 9:34am Top

Elysium: Greek mythology the place at the ends of the earth to which certain favoured heroes were conveyed by the gods after death.

I had not come across this word until the recent SF film was advertised (I know, my education was not very classical) and I have now come across it twice while reading Jane Eyre.

Edited: Nov 7, 2013, 9:34am Top

#175 Meredy, "objurgation" would appear to be the perfect word for what happens on some LT discussion threads.

Nov 7, 2013, 3:46pm Top

Parturition-=the act of giving birth, as I found out in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.

Nov 23, 2013, 6:09pm Top

On page 51 of Christmas at Candleshoe:


verb (used with object), fus·ti·gat·ed, fus·ti·gat·ing.
1. to cudgel; beat; punish severely.
2. to criticize harshly; castigate: a new satire that fustigates bureaucratic shilly-shallying.

I guessed it from the context, but I still had to look it up. A mental search of Latin roots didn't help me on this one; I couldn't even think of a related derivative.

Edited: Dec 20, 2013, 12:22am Top

p h o s g e n e

mentioned in The Toff and the Great illusion
by John Creasey

I recognized the "phos" element: from the
Greek for "light"; it usually comes into
modern languages from the oblique cases: "phot-" This was from the nominative case: "phos".
And I would expect
the -"-gene" suffix to
come into English as "-g e N".
Apparently, in this context, a (suspected)
poisonous substance.

Dec 19, 2013, 9:34pm Top

Peter Mansbridge, One On One - Favourite Conversations and the Stories Behind Them by - Peter Mansbridge

MISFEASANCE - But as I said, the core of the case of the other matters - the misfeasance - is the Canadian Government gave us advice, we acted on the advice and they reneged a week later.

Definition: trespass; specifically : the performance of a lawful action in an illegal or improper manner

Dec 20, 2013, 2:33am Top

#180 Curiously, not a phosphorus compound, but rather what well brought up chemists would call carbonyl dichloride. And by no means "apparently" or "suspected" -- it was one of the main poison gases used in World War 1. See the Wikipedia entry for more chilling details.

Edited: Dec 20, 2013, 2:40pm Top

SCLEROTIC - hard and insular; from sclera, the hard white part of the eye

"Yet the settlers and miners came—individuals, families, entire clans—drawn by the vast swaths of free land, by the mountains veined with minerals, by the same spirit of freedom that had drawn their ancestors from the sclerotic kingdoms of Europe to the shores of the New World."

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend, p. 275

Edited: Dec 20, 2013, 5:20pm Top

180, 182
"phosgene...not a phosphorus compound. . .one of the main poison gases. . ."

Right. And thanks. I don't know much chemistry, but then neither did the mystery novel characters who I
read discussing it. I inserted the adverbs "apparently" and
"suspected" because they seemed to be "talking AROUND it", rather than describing it.
"PhosPHORus" got its name as
a "bearer of Light", (I don't know why!) and I was musing
that phosgene seemed to have been called "a SOURCE (gen-) of light (phot-/phos-), as hydrogen was called a "source of water".

Dec 21, 2013, 2:44am Top

#184 Elemental phosphorus glows in the dark when exposed to moist air. It is normally stored under oil, and a great party trick of high school chemistry lessons is to remove a piece from the oil and expose it to air on the front bench -- it ignites spontaneously, quite quickly. Small boys of all ages and both sexes love and remember this.

Dec 27, 2013, 4:09am Top

extispicy: divination by the examination of organs.

Dec 27, 2013, 6:04am Top

eww. Wish i hadn't ordered that extra-spicy pizza earlier.

Dec 27, 2013, 3:50pm Top

#186 & #187

Are we discovering that a pizza could be a portal into the future? A novel based on this concept could be interesting. Any suggestions for a title?

Dec 27, 2013, 4:12pm Top

A slice of life?

Dec 27, 2013, 7:24pm Top

the cheese of time?

Dec 27, 2013, 7:33pm Top

the sauce's apprentice?

Dec 27, 2013, 7:33pm Top

The cheese wheel of time.

Dec 27, 2013, 8:02pm Top

"We deliver before you order - or it's free!"

Jan 6, 2014, 4:47pm Top


Seeing as English in any form is not my native tongue I think I get to know new words more often than most of the rest of you ;)

Reading The Exiled Blade had me googling rood screen. But then medieval church architecture isn't really my thing - I didn't know the Swedish name for it either... (korskrank)

Wikipedia defines it as follows -

The rood screen (also choir screen, chancel screen, or jube) is a common feature in late medieval church architecture. It is typically an ornate partition between the chancel and nave, of more or less open tracery constructed of wood, stone, or wrought iron.

I also learnt what a Rood is, and that we in Sweden have many well-preserved examples of the latter.

So I have acquired some new knowledge.

Jan 6, 2014, 4:53pm Top

On page 445 of The Wheel of Darkness:

His facial muscles spasmed and vellicated.

to vellicate: to move with spasmodic convulsions; twitch.

Edited: Jan 25, 2014, 6:23pm Top

On page 4 of Fatal Secrets by Allison Brennan
"This makes you chattel".

: an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (as buildings) connected with real property
: slave, bondman

: at one time, the children of black slaves were also considered chattel
: packed up all her chattels and moved to a new state

: Middle English chatel property, from Anglo-French
: first known use: 14th century

Feb 22, 2014, 3:10am Top

panegyric |ˌpanəˈjirik|
a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French panégyrique, via Latin from Greek panēgurikos ‘of public assembly’, from pan ‘all’ + aguris ‘agora, assembly’.

Why don't we all speak French if the English language is always borrowing from it?  More importantly, why is it so difficult for me to pick up if there are so many similarities??  Please, nobody answer that.

Anywho, I came across this word in Pride and Prejudice; Mr Darcy to Mr Bingley:

"...When you told Mrs. Bennet this morning that if you ever resolved upon quitting Netherfield you should be gone in five minutes, you meant it to be a sort of panegyric, of compliment to yourself—and yet what is there so very laudable in a precipitance which must leave very necessary business undone, and can be of no real advantage to yourself or anyone else?"

Feb 22, 2014, 11:11pm Top


Edited: Mar 16, 2014, 3:06pm Top

decorticate: What richardderus says instead of saying strip the hide off of

May 4, 2014, 12:29pm Top

parados: "a bank of earth built behind a trench or military emplacement to protect soldiers from a surprise attack from the rear".

In In search of England by H.V. Morton. Happen ten years after the Great War one would use a word like that with that meaning. Today in Morton's context I think most writers would have said "spoil-heap".

May 4, 2014, 2:57pm Top


UK slang, apparently. I ran into it in The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam. Google led me here: link.

May 4, 2014, 3:11pm Top

I'm sure I once read somewhere that there's an annual gurning competition in some or another village in England.

May 4, 2014, 3:29pm Top

That's exactly what some of those photos appear to be: winners' trophies say "Egremont Crab Fair."

May 4, 2014, 3:38pm Top

Aah! So I wasn't hallucinating. Can any of our resident Brits add detail?

May 4, 2014, 4:42pm Top

>204 hfglen: You are quite correct about the annual competition in England. I believe the competitors have to gurn with their heads showing through a horse collar.

>201 Meredy: There is another meaning for gurning that I would have grown up with. I think it may be used in Scotland as well, but growing up in Northern Ireland I would be familiar with the word being used to refer to complaining, but more specifically about a baby that isn't settling. If a baby is whinging and crying rather than settling it is described as gurning. If an adult is complaining about something the could be told to, "Stop your gurning."

May 4, 2014, 7:45pm Top

contumelious - (Of behaviour) scornful and insulting; insolent.

May 5, 2014, 2:37am Top

>201 Meredy: What a lovely laugh that link leads to!

Sep 13, 2014, 12:59am Top




noun: gallimaufry; plural noun: gallimaufries

a confused jumble or medley of things.
"a glorious gallimaufry of childhood perceptions"

Sep 18, 2014, 12:20pm Top

Thanks, bernsad. Now I know what our apartment is - a gallimaufry ;)

Sep 18, 2014, 6:09pm Top

Happy to help. :)

Sep 19, 2014, 2:48am Top

That's my new favorite word.

Jan 10, 2015, 2:31am Top




noun: persiflage

light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter

Edited: May 29, 2016, 3:58am Top




noun: acme; plural noun: acmes

the point at which something is at its best or most highly developed.

And here I only knew the word from Road Runner cartoons.

Jun 3, 2016, 8:12pm Top

Edited: Jul 28, 2016, 5:30am Top

>176 pgmcc: Elysium: compare: Champs-Élysées . +_ 'Fields of the Angels'. The famous avenue in Paris.

>194 Busifer: Rood in Dutch = Red . In a TV-game (Who's the mole) the candidate that saw a red screen (rood scherm), had to leave the program episode.

Jul 28, 2016, 5:44am Top

>215 EMS_24: Thank you for that.

Aug 8, 2016, 9:44am Top

Not a new word, per se, but a new verb form: "crew" as the past tense of "to crow" in Mary Stewart's Airs Above the Ground:

"Nearer at hand, suddenly, a cock crew, and I realized that the brightness of the moonlight was fading and blurring towards the dawn."

I'm assuming it's some kind of UK variant.

Aug 8, 2016, 10:18am Top

>217 inge87: Without looking it up, I'd guess an obsolete / dialect form that died out somewhere around the 18th century. I seem to recall that form appears in the King James (1605) Bible.

Edited: Aug 8, 2016, 10:31am Top

from Collins: Definitions
COBUILD Advanced British, - indeed - English Dictionary
1. countable noun: A crow is a large black bird which makes a loud, harsh noise.2. verb: When a cock crows, it makes a loud sound, often early in the morning. -V- ⇒ The cock crows and the dawn chorus begins.3. verb: If you say that someone is crowing about something they have achieved or are pleased about, you disapprove of them because they keep telling people proudly about it. - informal, disapproval-V + about/over- ⇒ Edwards is already crowing about his assured victory. -V that- ⇒ We've seen them all crowing that the movement is dead.4. verb: If someone crows, they make happy sounds or say something happily. -V with n- ⇒ She was crowing with delight. -V with quote-⇒ 'I'm not sure I've ever driven a better lap,' crowed a delighted Irvine.

Aug 8, 2016, 10:39am Top

>219 EMS_24: With respect, I would suggest that you have misunderstood the question. The poster was bemused by the past form crew rather than crowed. It is this elderly form to which I referred; and you will need something like the full-length Oxford English Dictionary to find it. Once again I shall draw your attention to that form of the past tense in the King James translation of one or another account of the Crucifixion in the New Testament, published in 1605.

Aug 8, 2016, 8:06pm Top

>218 hfglen: My Webster's 1867 dictionary has it.

v. i. (imp. crowed or crew)

Aug 8, 2016, 9:31pm Top

The really amusing thing to me is that I didn't find it in a Restoration comedy or a Victorian novel, but in a 1965 romantic thriller whose plot centers around a woman accidentally discovering that her salesman husband is an international man of mystery. Not at all where I'd expect to bump into that kind of thing.

Aug 15, 2016, 12:55pm Top


a symbolic hand gesture used in Hindu or Buddhist ceremonies and statuary; in Indian dance, a movement or pose in yoga.

I encountered the word while reading Vanishing Point and a character makes "a mudra of disavowal".

Apr 21, 2019, 11:40am Top

But soon they run back again, with a saw and a gimlet, and a round, hard, hairy cocoanut. We bore a few holes with the gimlet, to let the cocoanut milk run out.

Arthur Ransome, The imp and the elf and the ogre (1910), p. 169.

Gimlet: a hand-tool for drilling small holes, like a small auger. Also the metaphorical term gimlet-eyed = sharp-eyed or squint-eyed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimlet_(tool)

Apr 21, 2019, 3:04pm Top

Oh, this is a nice thread to revive. Now I'm hoping for new unknown words to attack me with their existence! :)

Apr 21, 2019, 4:32pm Top

>225 Busifer: You are making it sound so exciting. It is like walking along a dark twisty path through a forest with the possibility of unknown words assailing you from any direction at any moment.

Apr 21, 2019, 4:54pm Top

>226 pgmcc: But it is! As a non-native speaker I find it exciting to learn new words, and new meanings of words that I thought I knew... and local dialects, and... I grew up thinking that I was unfit to learn languages, learning grammar was extremely boring to my teen self. Had I known how history and culture colours a language - it's words, or lack of words, and so on - I would had been much more interested. I'm making up for that now :-)

Apr 21, 2019, 5:47pm Top

>225 Busifer: Yes, I knew I'd seen this thread before. It just took a bit of digging. Best to 'star' it to stop it sinking under the waves again.

Apr 28, 2019, 8:11am Top

Tom Gauld's cartoon in the Guardian is always good value. Yesterday's:

I should probably suffer from Stapelschuldgefühl, but I refuse to feel guilty.

Apr 28, 2019, 10:28am Top

>229 Cynfelyn: I think I share that ailment too.

Apr 28, 2019, 6:05pm Top

>229 Cynfelyn: & >230 pgmcc:

We're just helping booster the economy.

Apr 29, 2019, 4:03am Top

>231 suitable1: Hear! Hear!

Edited: May 20, 2019, 7:19am Top

anaphora = the rhetorical device of repeating the same set of words at the beginning of neighbouring phrases, in order to give them emphasis.

I have actually encountered this many times, as part of the liturgical rubric, without ever looking up what it meant. When I came across it, in a discussion of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in Andrew Louth's Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology, I thought I should finally find out.

And as a sometime student of Classical Greek, I am embarrassed at my ignorance.

Aug 28, 2019, 6:21pm Top

>229 Cynfelyn:, >230 pgmcc:. >231 suitable1:, >232 pgmcc: I'm with you all and wondering if I should declare my suffering of Stapelschuldgefühl to any medical professionals (on the off-chance they can prescribe money-off vouchers to be used in bookshops).

My new word found in To Live Forever by Jack Vance is minatory - meaning threatening or menacing

Sep 3, 2019, 7:12pm Top

Caliginous - meaning misty found in Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson although in the situation it was used it made it slightly less impressive...

"that didn't change the fact that the deep, caliginous mist was just plain creepy" - so the mist was deep and misty then....

Sep 4, 2019, 4:38am Top

>235 Peace2:
That is like the question & answer below.

Q: What is sticky?

A: A stick.

Nov 17, 2019, 2:04pm Top

I've just finished Through Brittany in "Charmina" : from Torbay to the Bay of Biscay in a 6-tonner, by E. Keble Chatterton (1933). Interesting style, and a really interesting idea for a summer holiday, up the river Rance and down the Vilaine. Plus a few words new to me:

popple - (verb, of water) to flow in a tumbling or rippling way; (noun) a rolling or rippling of water:
The result is that even in a hard popple she is extraordinarily dry; for that stern was a clever bit of work, and in a following sea proves its value. (p. 13). In the fresh water she had been as stolid as a lump of lead: off Bougidon she leapt to life in the popple, resumed her characteristic of vitality, played with the waves, laughed at them, and yielded to their motion.(pp. 171-2).

jobble - an agitated movement of water. Also an English dialect word (the internet does not say whose dialect) for a small quantity or load, so perhaps a little job, a joblet or, dare I say it, a "jobbie".
As we proceeded ever eastwards over the tidal jobble, the avant-port of St. Nazaire, with its entrance open to the south, required little enough glance: but immediately beyond, sitting high in the air and nearly ready for her launching a month hence, rose France's newest mammoth liner, Normandie, the world's biggest ship. (p. 221).

An avant-port is an outer harbour.

celerity - swiftness of movement:
I never saw a man take an engine to pieces with such celerity. (p. 232). Up she rose out of the water, and into the shed, with such celerity and absence of all fuss, that I have never known the task accomplished in like manner. (p. 233).

crème-de-menthes - Great War French army slang for tanks:
"What were you doing in the War?" "Oh! I was in the crème-de-menthes." "The what?" "That's how we called the 'tanks.'" (p. 232).

Jun 21, 5:17pm Top

Adam Rutherford, A brief history of everyone who ever lived : the stories in our genes (2016):

"Nowadays, only the wilfully ignorant dismiss the truth that we evolved from earlier ancestors. The images of gigglemug skulls of our long-dead forebears are commonplace, and they become front-page news when a new species is claimed."

gigglemug, an habitually smiling face.

Jun 28, 5:20pm Top

Recently encountered the word vademecum with regard to a particular reference book that those working crossword puzzles rely upon. (vademecum = dictionary)

Jun 28, 6:17pm Top

I would definitely need a vademecum for that one!

Jun 29, 4:15am Top

>239 jillmwo: Many hobbies and occupations have their vade mecum. Googe Translate suggests "vade mecum = go with me", and some of the tags used on LT include how-to and aphorisms.

I have The fisherman's vade mecum (1933) by G. W. Maunsell, which is full of anecdotes, lists, do's, don'ts, recommended streams, hotels, flies etc.

If other vade mecums are anything like the fisherman's, they would make an interesting collection. Other ones on LT include:

The yachtsman's vade mecum by Peter Heaton (b. 1919)

The priest's vade mecum : a manual for the visiting of the sick by T. W. Crafer

The surgeon's vade mecum by Robert Druitt

The apprentice's vade mecum (1734), by Samuel Richardson (1689–1761)

The country gentleman's vade mecum by Giles Jacob (1686–1744)

And my favourite going by the title alone:

The cynics vade mecum (2000) by Brian Boughton

Jun 29, 2:20pm Top

To me Vademecum is a brand of mouthwash, and so it is interesting that it translates as "go with me", or possibly "come with me".
I have grown up regarding it as a name, not a word or phrase, so never questioned it. Now, however, I will never be able to unsee the slightly dubious meaning of the name...

Jun 29, 3:35pm Top

>242 Busifer: This evening I did something similar to Better Half. Supper involved a particularly unfortunately-chosen tub of pesto from the supermarket; the best that could be said for it is that it wasn't quite as awful as the batch whipped up by an Italian botanist who stayed with us some years ago. I was constrained to comment that in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Wallace and Gromit's vermin-control compant was called Anti-Pesto.

Jun 30, 3:55am Top

>243 hfglen: Thanks for the laugh!

Jun 30, 8:45am Top

>241 Cynfelyn: I have to ask. Is the appropriate spelling one word or two? In the book, I was reading Close Quarters, it was presented as being one word. You're spelling it as two. Any idea as to which is the accepted treatment?

Jun 30, 3:34pm Top

>245 jillmwo: Dictionary searches seem to confirm my childhood impression that the accepted form is two words.

However the source of your text may be relevant: in French and Spanish it is hyphenated. So if your source derived the word from the Romance languages, rather than directly from the Latin, it might explain the joined form.

Edited: Jul 1, 3:25am Top

Having spaces between words is a relatively new occurrence, it didn't happen until paper was easier to produce. In the old vellum times space was expensive, and hence the uncial andnospacesbetweenwordsatallnorbetweensentences. This is just one of several things that makes reading medieval and earlier texts a challenge.

ETA I made the spaceless sentence even longer, but LT decided to truncate it in a way that made it even more unintelligible. So I just shortened it.

Jul 4, 10:14am Top

>245 jillmwo: Going on a quick look over some of the books on LT, vademecum seems to include Swedish, Polish and German titles, and vade mecum and vade-mecum does seem to include English, Latin and the romance language titles.

Jul 4, 10:45am Top

On the day punters in England are rushing to their barbers and hairdressers to catch coronavirus, this seems apposite:

"Although one's interests change over the years, a change that is to some extent reflected in one's library, there are some which remain constant. Pogonotomy is such an area of interest although the collection has spilled over into pogonotrophy and allied subjects. Neither of these words is readily found in a dictionary despite have been used in the past, but they are useful as collective words for their subjects: pogonotomy means the art of cutting one's beard, and pogonotrophy the art of growing and grooming the beard. Most book dealers I come into contact with regard the subjects as a bit odd; many claim never to have seen a book on either of these subjects. Such dealers do, however, tend to remember me when a book does turn up."

Thorsten Sjölin, 'Collecting pogonotomy', The private library (Summer 1991).

Jul 5, 5:27am Top

From Part-time Gods came a need to know the following:

an ornamental centrepiece for a table: a stand with holders for sweetmeats, fruit, flowers, etc

C18: probably from French épargne a saving, from épargner to economize, of Germanic origin

(Collins English Dictionary)

Jul 5, 6:17am Top

>250 -pilgrim-: The objects themselves are surely to be seen in almost any Victorian-era stately-home museum. For you, I'd start looking at the National Trust properties; for me I'll recall two places that have spectacular (if tasteless in the first one) examples:
Sammy Marks House Museum east of Pretoria: Marks arrived from Lithuania penniless, and went on to establish the first industries apart from gold in the Transvaal, at a site called (surprise!) Eerste Fabrieken; he made his first fortune distilling and selling gutrot "whiskey" from maize (or anything else cheap).
Baynesfield House southwest of Pietermaritzburg: Joseph Baynes was a prosperous farmer, born in Yorkshire, who came to Natal with his parents in 1850 (at the age of 2) and, after travelling the whole of the Colony, settled here and built the farm up from scratch.

Jul 5, 6:40am Top

>251 hfglen: Yes, I remember seeing a particularly egocentric example at Blenheim Palace (the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough).

But I am embarrassed to admit that I never knew the correct terminology for the item, until now.

Jul 5, 6:48am Top

>252 -pilgrim-: Would an epergne there be anything other than "particularly egocentric"?

Edited: Jul 5, 7:23am Top

>253 hfglen: I think having a representation of oneself, at one's most famous moment, in wrought silver at the centre of one's dinner table is going that extra mile.

Edited: Jul 5, 11:11am Top

Here's a picture of the ego-centric Blenheim Palace epergne: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/374784000218906109/

Ever encountered the word, honeyfuggler? Not encountered in my reading of books, but from reading the Oxford University Press blog: https://blog.oup.com/2020/07/dont-vote-for-the-honeyfuggler/

And thank you, >246 -pilgrim-:, >247 Busifer:, and >248 Cynfelyn:.

Jul 5, 11:13am Top

>255 jillmwo: That is seriously over-the-top, isn't it. Many thanks, Jill.

Edited: Jul 5, 12:34pm Top

>255 jillmwo: Thanks, Jill.

I am intrigued by your honeyfuggler's putative derivation from coneyfogler, given that a coney is a rabbit.

Jul 5, 12:39pm Top

>258 -pilgrim-: Aha - got it.

According to Collins English Dictionary a fogle is archaic slang for a handkerchief, "especially one made of silk".

So a coneyfogler is pulling a sleight-of-hand,, like the stage magician who produces a live rabbit out of a top hat covered with his silk handkerchief.

Jul 6, 12:16pm Top

>255 jillmwo: I think many of those have little drawers to hold seasonings, especially salt, in as well. Can't remember where I read about them probably in Salt: a World History.

Yesterday, 5:23am Top

From my read of The Trial of Duncan Terig and Alexander Bane Macdonald, via the Scots Online Dictionary:

To depone: intr. To testify; to give evidence upon oath, to depose.

. n. †1. A formal document, a written statement. Obs. in Eng.Sc. 1706 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 440:
When wee wer drawing the lybell for dividing the comontie of paintland hills.

†2. Any piece of writing, formal or informal (Slk. 1825 Jam., libelt), in 1777 quot. phs. confused with label, as occas. in 17th c. Eng. and still in parts of Scot. (Kcd., m.Lth.1, Lnk. 1960

3. Transf. to speech: a conversation, discourse, talk; a rigmarole, harangue (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

4. Sc. Law: the formal statement of the complaint or ground of the charge in a civil or criminal prosecution, an indictment (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 219, 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 51)

5. Similarly, in Sc. Church Law, of a charge against a clergyman or other church member in an ecclesiastical court.

PANEL, n., v. Also pannel(l), pannat(l). Sc. Law usages:

I. n. †1. The place of arraignment in a court of law, the dock, the bar of the court (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also panel-box, id.
2. A prisoner at the bar of the court, an accused person in a criminal action from the time of his appearance in court (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 220, 1825 Jam., 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 62).

†II. v. To bring (an accused person) to trial, to indict, arraign.

To purge
†(2) to exonerate (a witness, etc.) from the suspicion of bias or self-interest by calling on him to clear himself by oath before giving evidence. Gen. in pass. in phr. purged of partial counsel, of a witness or the like: having taken an oath as to the disinterestedness and impartiality of the evidence he is about to give

To assoilzie:

1. Absolve from sin, grant absolution to, forgive; as in St.Eng. assoil. Arch.

2. Used in Sc. law = to decide in favour of the defender in an action, or to find an accused not guilty.

To compear:

1. (1) To appear in court as a party to a cause either in person or by counsel. Still sometimes found in official documents.

(2) To appear before a congregation for rebuke or for examination by a jury.

2. To present oneself, appear.

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