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New Vocabulary

What Are You Reading Now?

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Apr 2, 2008, 11:53am Top

What new words has reading brought into your vocabulary and where did they come from?

Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 11:57am Top

I learned the word, "sublated" in Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy. It refers to something which changes and stays the same all at once. Very existential!

Apr 2, 2008, 12:20pm Top

I saw someone do this on a book blog that I was reading over the weekend. She had a link to all the new words that she was learning, their definition and the book that they came from. I thought it was a cool idea and have thought about adding that to my book blog as well.

I'll also keep an eye out for the new to me words to add here as well. =)

Apr 2, 2008, 12:45pm Top

interlocutor - one who takes part in a conversation. Tolstoy uses it a LOT (at least his translators do). It's the one that springs to mind right now while I'm at work....

Apr 2, 2008, 12:58pm Top

amanuensis - One who is employed to take dictation or to copy manuscript. (American Heritage Dictionary)

This word was used in Cloud Atlas. I find it odd that I read this over a year ago and yet this is the "new word" that immediately came to mind when I read this topic!

Apr 2, 2008, 1:23pm Top

My vocab list.

It started out with anodyne in Atonement (anything that relieves distress or pain) - which I just realized is not on my vocab list. Hmm, time to update.

Apr 2, 2008, 1:47pm Top

There's a good article on this subject here.

Apr 2, 2008, 2:07pm Top

Cool article, wandering star. Thank you.

Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 2:20pm Top

I finished Blood Meridian only a week or so ago but didn't notice this word ("sublated") even though I didn't (until post #2) know what it means. I must (I hope) have grasped the general sense of the sentence in which it occurred.

Edited to add the word "sublated" to make more sense in a post that appears way down the list

Apr 2, 2008, 3:16pm Top

>6 fyrefly98: fyrefly, that is VERY impressive!

Edited: Apr 2, 2008, 3:44pm Top

>10 teelgee: Thanks! I read a lot of historical fiction, so a LOT of the words on there are fabrics and food and dress styles and carriages and such. Probably half the words on there came from Outlander alone. I didn't even try to keep up with The Name of the Rose. :)

Apr 4, 2008, 10:14pm Top

Fyrefly - I agree with Teelgee, GREAT list. I keep a list too, it's over 40 pdf pages, but we only share two words: lugubrious and exegesis. I'm going to have to take some time to merge your words into my list. (I'd provide a link to my list, but it's not on the web anywhere).

Have you read the Disheveled Dictionary, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon? Fabulous for quirky people who like words.

Edited: Apr 4, 2008, 11:04pm Top

fyrefly- Could you offer some guidance regarding setting up the vocab list on the blog site? I tried but couldn't figure out how to do it.

Also, new vocabulary fromThe War of the End of The World by Mario Vargas Llosa:

caparison: to dress richly

kepi: a French military hat

caracole: a half turn executed by horse and rider

Apr 5, 2008, 7:24am Top

#12 Nickelini: I checked my local library's website to see if they had the Disheveled Dictionary. They did not have that one by Gordon, but they have one called The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed that I will have to check out just because I love the title!

Edited: Apr 5, 2008, 7:33am Top

Thanks, everyone!

>13 hemlokgang: My Vocab page is just a combination of table and unordered list tags. The tutorial that I used for help with making HTML tables is here.

For the interested, the code for one row of the table looks like this:
<table border="1" cellpadding="0" width="80&" align="center">
<th align="center"><a title="A" name="A"></a>A</th>
<th align="center">B</th>
<th align="center">C</th>
<th align="center">D</th>
<td valign="top">
<li><a href="LINK">WORD</a></li>
<td valign="top">
<li><a href="LINK">WORD</a></li>
<td valign="top">
<li><a href="LINK">WORD</a></li>
<td valign="top">
<li><a href="LINK">WORD</a></li>
My links always go back to the page on my blog of the book where I encountered the word, which has the sentence it came from and the definition. Hope that's helpful!

Apr 5, 2008, 9:22am Top

I was just reading this thread last night, and coincidentally got an email from a friend this morning about vocabulary. At www.freerice.com, they have a really simple (and easily addictive!) vocabulary game. It's kind of an online version of Reader's Digest's vocab. page, but this automatically adjusts your level based on your right/wrong answers. I thought this might be an interested group of players :-)

Apr 5, 2008, 11:32am Top

I've wasted a lot of...er, donated a lot of rice on that site! On thing I like about it is that you can play at any level, so my 9 year old and I both enjoy it.

Apr 5, 2008, 5:49pm Top

I've donated on Free Rice as well! It's fun.

fyrefly-Thanks for the info, but it is way over my head. I think I will have to just keep a list in a word document or something basic like that.

Apr 5, 2008, 11:24pm Top

Okay, today's new words were:

simoniacal: making profit from sale of sacred objects
filicide: killing a son or daughter
quadrumanous: all four feet are adapted for use as hands
abattoir: a slaughterhouse

All from The War of the End of The World by Mario Vargas Llosa

Apr 5, 2008, 11:32pm Top

I finished Dragonfly in Amber this afternoon, and I counted... 54 new words. It's going to take me a while to get them all on my blog. Yikes.

Edited: Apr 6, 2008, 2:11am Top

List this week from various books.

pinguid- fat, oily. Can't wait to call someone pinguid.

propinquity- nearness, kinship

peroration- concluding a formal speech with recapitulation

parousia- second coming, rapture

pulchritude- this one I know but keep forgetting to use it in speech or online.

Oops, edited to add my only non-p word of the week.

encomia- warm glowing praise

My Firefox spell checker doesn't like a lot of these words. It's underlining them in red.

Apr 6, 2008, 1:08pm Top

These are words from pages 108 and 109 of Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin. I could have picked any two pages and found 3-5 words I needed to look up, but mostly figure them out from context.

pudency Modesty; shamefacedness

antisepsis The prevention of infection by stopping the growth of bacteria by the use of antiseptics

perfervid Extremely or extravagantly eager; impassioned or zealous

divagation A message that departs from the main subject

atrabilious Inclined to melancholy. Having a peevish disposition; surly

Edited: Apr 6, 2008, 1:52pm Top

>21 VisibleGhost: VisibleGhost - "encomium" was one of my 54 words from Dragonfly in Amber. :)

Edited: Apr 6, 2008, 3:46pm Top

Here's a few from Opera and the Morbidity of Music:

sacralized -- to make sacred
postlapsarian -- pertaining to anything which follows a lapse or a failure
unitary --- having the nature of a unit; a whole
clerisy -- an educated or intellectual elite
illocutionary -- relating to or being the communicative effect of an utterance -(what is meant)

Apr 6, 2008, 4:22pm Top

Where did you find that definition for "postlapsarian" from? While by extension I can see it meaning that, I've never heard it used that way. The only way I've seen it used is as defined my Merriam-Webster 11: : of, relating to, or characteristic of the time or state after the fall of humankind described in the Bible. And along those lines, prelapsarian is before the fall, or in Eden.

Edited: Apr 6, 2008, 5:21pm Top

I got it from an online dictionary -- I don't remember which one. The essay I read it in used it in the context of the purported death of classical music.

Apr 6, 2008, 6:25pm Top

I'm currently reading Martin Amis's memoir Experience, and he's used both "prelapsarian" and "postlapsarian" at different points in his book.

Apr 6, 2008, 10:51pm Top

Psh. I think you all are making these up.

Edited: Apr 7, 2008, 9:54am Top

Prelapsarian and postlapsarian, you mean? Actually, I run into them all the time in literature studies. Just this afternoon in fact. They are part of a big theme in English lit. You can't read about Milton without tripping over those two words.

By the way, on the topic of online dictionaries, I have to recommend
as the dictionary of choice. It's the online version of Mirriam- Webster, 11th ed., which is the standard in the publishing industry and the standard for professional copyeditors who work in American English. (There are also British, Canadian, Australian etc. standards for professionals, but I don't know their websites except for the OED, and it requires a subscription. But I digress). One thing I love about the Mirriam-Webster website is that they have an audio option, so you can check the correct pronunciation of all those words that you recognize on paper but have no idea of how to pronounce.

Note: Edited to fix broken link.

Edited: Apr 7, 2008, 2:01am Top

Put a space before and after: http://www.m-w.com , and put the http.


Edited: Apr 7, 2008, 6:49am Top

I really was kidding in post #28. My students tell me all the time that they think I am making up words. It is nice to know there are others who like using big words.

Edited: Apr 7, 2008, 6:55am Top

I checked out the Merriam website. Great recommendation. Thanks Nickelini.

Apr 7, 2008, 7:29am Top

I'm a fan of m-w.com too. Don't miss the Word for the Wise.

Apr 7, 2008, 9:52am Top

Ah, the http . . . that's what I was missing. I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work. Thanks, Rdurick.

Apr 7, 2008, 9:57am Top

I really was kidding in post #28. My students tell me all the time that they think I am making up words. It is nice to know there are others who like using big words.


Phew. I thought you might be joking, but it's hard to tell. Last year I participated in a thread (not at LT) where a woman went ballistic because someone used the word "ephemera" and she had never heard of it (and seemed to think no one else should have either). Ya just never know.

Edited: Apr 8, 2008, 2:10am Top

New word for me today:

hypocaust: an ancient Roman central heating system with underground furnace and tile flues to distribute the heat

from The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Apr 8, 2008, 5:21am Top

I don't usually look words up when I'm reading a book, because that would break my stride. Unless it's used often and I think of it in a reading pause. I do however look words up that are used on LT that I don't know. It's great, people on LT are well-read and not afraid to use 'difficult' words. Here's my list so far:


(Sorry, no definitions, I use the Dutch translation myself)

Apr 8, 2008, 8:01am Top

I read with a reading journal at my side , so I jot words down there and look them up later. I agree, Vonini, that it is fun to interact with folks who love words!

Apr 8, 2008, 9:31am Top

I tend to use receipts/envelopes/whatever scrap of paper is laying around as bookmarks, so I jot my words down on the back of those and look them up later. That way, I can leave the bookmark with the book, which is a nice reminder of what I was doing while I was reading it.

Edited: Apr 8, 2008, 10:55am Top

Okay, new words from As I Lay Dying:

cattymount - slang for catamount, which is a mountain lion

uninferent- not in my dictionary sources, any ideas?

Is it possible that Faulkner made up a word?

Apr 8, 2008, 11:23am Top

It is indeed possible that Faulkner made up the word. It's not in the Oxford English Dictionary (lucky me, I get an online subscription through the university), and they are supposed to list ever single word in English. Nor do they have "inferent". The words surrounding the spelling however are:

inferial - belonging to the lower world, nether, mundane, sublunary
and also different versions of "inference" (inferencer, inferentially, inferential).

Do any of these work in context?

Apr 8, 2008, 1:59pm Top

Well, I went back through the second half of the book, perusing.........No luck. I have not been noting the page for vocab words, a practice I will not institute. I do remember checking it as I noted the word for spelling because it struck me as odd. Oh well.

Apr 8, 2008, 3:37pm Top

16 - Jennifer24 - Thanks for posting the freerice.com link. It's very fun!

Great idea for a thread, hemlokgang!

Apr 8, 2008, 4:22pm Top

I found this online in The Faulkner Glossary (google is your friend!) I don't know if Faulkner made it up or not, though.

Uninferant: without inference, with no hint of
"…so dreamlike so as to be uninferant of progress…" (As I Lay Dying, p. 108).

Edited: Apr 8, 2008, 5:24pm Top

I learn something new everyday on LT. A Faulkner glossary, who would of thought? Obviously, not me. Thank you for the detective work aviddiva and Nickelini!

Apr 8, 2008, 5:47pm Top

Three latest stumbled upon.

contumely- rudeness or contempt arising from arrogance. I always thought it just meant rudeness, and sometimes it can, but there's more to it than that.

kerygma- proclamation of a religious truth usually of the gospels (Christianity)

hectography- copying typed or written material by a machine employing a glycerin layer of gelatin.

Apr 9, 2008, 9:05am Top

Hectography - now there's a word I haven't seen for a long time! The early science fiction fanzines were produced by hectography or "jelly press" (for which, if you're really interested, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectograph). Later, fans moved on to using Gestetner duplicators - you "cut" a wax stencil, by hand or using a typewriter, and then used it to run off multiple copies. I once owned a quarter-share of a Gestetner duplicator; it was never the same after falling off a trailer and rolling down the road while being transported to a science fiction convention. Those were the days!

But just to get back on the theme, the most recent new word I've learned through reading is:

parataxis - the placing side by side of clauses without the use of conjunctions. A famous example is Julius Caesar's "I came; I saw; I conquered".

Apr 9, 2008, 10:19am Top

This seems to be my week for mystery. I cannot find a definition for the term, "skutching", found repeatedly in Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi. From the context, my guess is something like whining or nagging.

Apr 9, 2008, 11:11am Top

One new word is Sassenach from Outlander.

–noun an English inhabitant of the British Isles: used, often disparagingly, by the Gaelic inhabitants.

Apr 9, 2008, 2:32pm Top

>48 hemlokgang: The definition I found for skutching (also spelled scutching) was extracting the long fibers from a plant (such as flax) by beating on it. That would seem to make sense of slang that meant nagging, or repeatedly bringing up a subject.

Apr 9, 2008, 5:07pm Top

aviddiva- I am embarrassed to say that I found the same definition but did not make the connection. You are my vocab guru. Thank you.

Apr 12, 2008, 4:03pm Top

for today, my new word is

trireme - a gallery with 3 rows or tiers of oars on each side, one above another, used chiefly as a warship

from The Scrambling for Africa by Thomas Pakenham

Apr 14, 2008, 1:15am Top

From With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge, an excellent account of WWII fighting in the Pacific islands, comes my new word:

defilade - to arrange (fortifications) so as to protect the lines from frontal or enfilading fire and the interior from fire above or behind

Edited: Apr 14, 2008, 11:05am Top

Gene Wolfe has a vocabulary that is genuinely frightening. While keeping a journal for my rereading of his Book of the New Sun, I've already filled 20 pages just with unknown words. As he says in the first appendix, despite the fantastical nature of the book, none of the them (except character names) are made up.

Here's a taster:
cacogen - an antisocial person
chiliad - a group of 1000
wildgrave - a head forest keeper
coffle - a group of animals, prisoners or slaves chained together in a line
Ascian - people who, at certain times of the year, have no shadow at noon (I kid you not)

Oh, and those are within the first three chapters of thirty-five chapter book...

Apr 14, 2008, 11:23am Top

Accretion-an increase in size as a result of accumulation or the growing together of separate things

This one was in professional reading (a class on information literacy program creation), but sometimes that's the best place to find new words-from academics showing off. :) (Which apparently, I did in my blog last week; I'd used the word inculcate-to fix something firmly in somebody's mind through frequent, forceful repetition- and later had to define it for my readers.)

Apr 14, 2008, 5:51pm Top

#54- Gene Wolfe has a Brit twin in M. John Harrison. I'm reading Viriconium and the 462 pages is taking a long to get through due to looking up words. I've avoiding posting them here for fear of dominating this thread and boring people to death. The bad part is there are so many words unknown to me there is no way I'm going to remember even a small percentage of them. It may be time to have a photographic memory implanted in the remember zones of my brain.

Apr 15, 2008, 12:56am Top

#56: If you get a photographic memory implanted in the remember zone of your brain, can I get one, too? It's desperately needed here!

Edited: Apr 16, 2008, 12:37am Top

Some words from the first chapter of Middlemarch

plutocracy - (ploo-tok-ruh-see) - noun
1. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.
2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence, by virtue of its wealth.

Origin: 1645–55; venerate - (ven-uh-reyt) - verb
to regard or treat with reverence; revere.

Origin: 1615–25;

Apr 16, 2008, 10:40am Top

#58 -

I love "plutocracy". Back in my corporate career days I used to get sent on great business trips and my mother would always tease me about being a plutocrat. Always made me laugh.

As for Eliot's use of planetary words, I'm sure it is indeed intentional, because I believe there is a strong science metaphor running through the book (although I'm only on chapter 2, so what do I know)

Apr 17, 2008, 8:51am Top

#54 - if you wish it, help with Gene Wolfe's vocabulary is available, in the form of Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi.

My discovery for the day is the literal meaning of a common phrase: slush fund.

It's a nautical term - "slush" was a greasy substance obtained by boiling or scraping the fat from empty salted meat storage barrels, or the floating fat residue after boiling the crew's meal. In the Royal Navy, the cook had the perk of selling the slush, or exchanging it (usually for alcohol) with other members of the crew. (The slush was used for greasing rigging.)

The slush fund was the money thus accumulated by the cook.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_nautical_terms)

Apr 17, 2008, 9:50am Top

afflatus - noun 1.inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within. 2.divine communication of knowledge. 3. supernatural impulse

I came across it in Biblioholism when the author was discussing James Joyce

Apr 18, 2008, 7:37am Top

Ok, so I didn't know what a eunuch was.
Now I do...and I wish I didn't. :/

Apr 18, 2008, 10:49am Top

I'm a tad ashamed to admit that, when encountering new words, if I'm able to deduce the meaning through context, I usually don't bother with looking them up...or even marking them for later. However, when I read Steve Almond's Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, I encountered so many new words that I kept a dictionary by my side while reading. Initially I began by also recording them in my reading journal, but by page 57 I abandoned that task. However, in the first 57 pages, here are some I noted (with definitions from MW Collegiate 11th ed.):

exculpatory (exculpate): to free from alleged fault or guilt

ectomorph (ectomorphic): characterized by a light body build with slight muscular development

abstemious: marked by restraint especially in the consumption of food or alcohol

Edited: Apr 24, 2008, 9:22am Top

From Middlemarch, by George Eliot:

hustings: platform from which political speeches are made
sciolism: superficial knowledgeability
antipodes: living opposite one another on the globe
leveret: a young hare

And, although I knew it's meaning, I thoroughly enjoyed the word..........bigwiggism!

Apr 24, 2008, 10:23am Top

>62 MDLady:: MDLady, that's just toooo funny!

Apr 24, 2008, 10:31am Top

Which is why we Aussies are often referred to as "Antipodeans". Which only makes sense if you're British...though I think the actual antipode for my location is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere near the Azores. But why let facts get in the way of a good story...

Apr 25, 2008, 2:29am Top

I learned a new one today in A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher.

quincunx: an arrangement of five things in a square or rectangle with one at each corner and one in the middle

Apr 25, 2008, 8:34am Top

aviddiva- Your posting made me realize I had read the book entitled, The Quincunx but never looked up the meaning of the title.........ah, those foolish days of youth!

Apr 25, 2008, 11:44am Top

Yeah, the word wasn't unfamiliar, but I'd never put a definition with it before.

Apr 27, 2008, 9:14am Top


I read an interesting discussion about a word and now I cannot find it so I guess I'll put my two cents here and maybe someone will recognize it and point me in the right direction. If not, at least I'll get it off my chest.

I know this will sound silly, but there are words, pretty ordinary in my book, that have had their meaning changed over time with use ( or should I say misuse) and that interests me. I listen to a radio program where callers can ask about a words proper use or cultural beginnings. I also like when literary magaines have a word court for people to put a word on trial for its life. Sort of like what happens when words are removed from established dictionaries. It is very entertaining.

Anyway, the word was aspiration ( or something close) and I remembered a clever debate over the word nonaspirational. It was used over a year ago in an article in Time magazine. It was a positive article about a TV personality and it called her ( from my notes) 'antisnob and utterly nonaspirational.'

Aspiration, medically speaking,has one meaning but in common parlance it means something else. The word comes from the Latin for breathe, its meaning is more often nearly 'desire.' Aspirational, from long ago, was tended to have to do with lofty spiritual desires. In recent years it refers mainly to material or status-related ones. People use it because it looks more kindly on these desires then such near synonyms as ambitious, covetous, or social-climbing. But in the passage quoted, nonaspirational is meant as a compliment-which goes to show that the near synonyms' negative connotations have started creeping into aspirational.

Thanks for letting me vent and please excuse any typos, it is Sunday morning.

Edited: Apr 27, 2008, 1:05pm Top

I am impressed by your articulate argument for a Sunday morning!

My two new vocab words are:

catafalque - an enclosed structure used to display the dead at a funeral or during a funeral procession

reeve - an administrative agent for an Anglo-Saxon king

Apr 27, 2008, 1:42pm Top

These three words aren't as exotic as many of those in this list so far, but here are my recent installments from Persuasion:

discomfited - thwarted (from one's plans, etc.) (I've seen this word quite a bit but never looked for the definition.)

profligacy - wild extravagance

retrench - reduce, cut away (as in 'spend less money')

Apr 27, 2008, 8:11pm Top

I love light fiction sometimes bordering on puerile and read about one book diurnally, nonetheless, my sine qua non to push the envelope and search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has increased rather than waned. LT is hopefully will provide facile and efficacious access of those ancient fustian and current tomes one never digests to the last morpheme

Therefore, I read cinctured by books (volumes with a starting date yet never one of completion), pen and paper, post-it tabs, and my trusty laptop. On the go my PDA serves as a lifeline. On my desktop lies an icon worn thin from habitual use. Trusty http://dictionary.reference.com/ loyal, hardworking, meeting and exceeding one’s expectations and free.

Apr 28, 2008, 9:47am Top

I always thought jujubes were a fruit flavored, gumdrop-like candy. Then I was reading along in The Mistress of the Art of Death which is set in 12th century England, and one of the characters offers the other a jujube. Time warp! Off to the dictionary.

A jujube is a drupaceous fruit from trees in the buckthorn family.

Apr 28, 2008, 10:04am Top

hemlokgang, very interesting!

Edited: Apr 28, 2008, 8:31pm Top

Okay, more 12th century vocab from The Mistress of the Art of Death..........

tabard: short, sleeveless tunic worn by a knight over his armor, with his coat of arms emblazoned on it

From my audiobook, Divisadero........the title word, divisadero has two meanings:

1) Division
2) Position from which one can gaze afar

Interesting, because one of the three protagonists in this novel lives on Divisadero street, is estranged (divided) from her sister, and is an historian who gazes on the past from afar.

Edited: Apr 29, 2008, 10:45am Top

My new word of the days is from The Importance of Being Lazy: In praise of Play, Leisure, and Vacations-which is using more nickle words per page than one would expect from a book on laziness.

1. daily: a quotidian report.
2. usual or customary; everyday: quotidian needs.
3. ordinary; commonplace: paintings of no more than quotidian artistry.
4. (of a fever, ague, etc.) characterized by paroxysms that recur daily
(from dictionary.com)

Edited to fix the touchstone

Apr 29, 2008, 11:01am Top

My last word from The Mistress of the Art of Death.

paynim: Middle English referring to a pagan, particularly a Muslim

May 4, 2008, 5:31am Top

From King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett -

garron: a small sturdy workhorse

I have to admit, I had never heard the word before.

May 4, 2008, 7:31am Top

I first came across "garron" in one of Nigel Tranter's many historical novels about Scotland. Perhaps it adds a bit of flavour or colour but I got fed up of his style after reading about three of his books.

May 4, 2008, 1:14pm Top

I love Dorothy Dunnett, but I always have to read her with the dictionary close at hand.

May 6, 2008, 6:00am Top

#81 aviddiva: This is the first book by Dunnett I have ever read, but I can certainly understand your keeping the dictionary close by.

May 9, 2008, 10:52am Top

From My Antonia by Willa Cather:

quinsy: an abscess around the tonsil

hartshorn: a concoction used as smelling salts

Edited: May 9, 2008, 11:30am Top

There was a word in Candide by Voltaire that I very recently read that my co-worker helped me look up (it wasn't inlcuded in my Websters Dictionary). I'll have to go home and grab my copy of the book to remember what it was though.

That was a great book for introducing me to new words and quotes.

May 10, 2008, 12:24am Top

A couple of new words for me from Shackleton by Roland Huntford:

corybantic: wild, frenzied

obloquy: a strong condemnatory utterance

May 11, 2008, 12:11pm Top

From Elizabeth Costello by J.M. Coetzee

dogsbody: a drudge, British naval slang for a junior officer

May 15, 2008, 3:13pm Top

From Dead Certainties by Simon Schama:

sempiternally: eternally

May 16, 2008, 7:24am Top

From Medicus: a novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie:

amphora: an ancient Greek vase of bottle with a wide body, narrow, cylindrical neck and two

trireme: A Greek galley with three banks of oars

May 17, 2008, 10:24pm Top

My last word from Medicus: a novel of the Roman Empire:

strigil: instrument used by Greeks and Romans to scrape moisture off the skin after bathing

May 21, 2008, 11:07pm Top

FromLadies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts:

encomium: an expression of warm praise

to frank: to mark with official indication that sender of mail does not have to purchase postage

May 22, 2008, 12:20pm Top

#89...A strigil! Not too long ago I was trying to think of that word. (I think I first learned of it in a high school Latin class.)

May 22, 2008, 12:44pm Top

Glad I could help, extrajoker. It's cool to think these vocab finds can be useful as well as interesting!

May 22, 2008, 12:47pm Top

I already knew it, but No Country For Old Men reminded me just how kickass the word 'yonder' is.

May 26, 2008, 9:59am Top

From Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts:

cynosure: center of attention

From The Secret History by Donna Tartt:

augury: omen

May 26, 2008, 10:02am Top

May 28, 2008, 12:10am Top

Hey vocab fans...............I cannot find a definition for the word "telestic". It is in The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Any ideas?

May 28, 2008, 12:20am Top


Probably, I'm thinking, related to teleological.


May 28, 2008, 9:47am Top

#96, 97> That's funny. My old Chambers (1976) has a different meaning: "relating to the mysteries," from the Gr. telestikos, to fulfil, consummate, initiate, perform (a rite).

May 28, 2008, 12:01pm Top

According to the OED:

telestic: Of or pertaining to the mysteries, or to a hierophant; mystical.

From Greek, first recorded English usage 1678. See telesm, which means: = TALISMAN 1; esp. in Byzantine Greece, and in Asia, a statue set up, or an object buried under a pillar or the like to preserve the community, house, etc. from danger.

Does that make sense in context? Great word, by the way.

May 28, 2008, 12:43pm Top

Perfect! Thanks to all who did my work for me! The word fits in context perfectly!

Jun 3, 2008, 10:33am Top

From the opening paragraph of The Heat of the Day, by Elizabeth Bowen:

crepitating, crepitate: : to make a crackling sound : crackle

Jun 3, 2008, 10:58am Top

I read Lawrence Durrell's Justine ages ago, but still have the book, with its many underlined words. A few examples:

vulpine - resembling a fox, crafty
succubus -demon assuming female form to have sex with men in their sleep.
meretricious - tawdrily attractive
protean - readily resembling different forms
sophistry - plausible, but false reasoning
saturnine - gloomy or surly disposition

Jun 4, 2008, 7:18pm Top

From Shame by Salman Rushdie:

triune: consisting of three parts or referring to the Trinity (I suspected as much:)

Jun 5, 2008, 9:36pm Top

From The Dangerous Joy of Dr Sex by Pagan Kennedy:

saccade: A rapid intermittent eye movement, as that which occurs when the eyes fix on one point after another in the visual field.

Edited: Jun 5, 2008, 10:33pm Top

I learned the word "nape" from The book of five rings. I know you already knew it or wanted to look it up for yourselves.

Jun 7, 2008, 9:35am Top

From Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz:

sybaritic: voluptuary, sensualist (from the notorious luxury of the Sybarites)

Jun 7, 2008, 11:26am Top

In Candide by Voltaire the word was "atrabilious", not found in the Webster's Dictionary. However, now I can't remember what it meant and will have to look it back up on Monday in the more comprehensive dictionary I have at work. I knew I should have written it down in my book comments when I looked it up before!!

Jun 7, 2008, 12:13pm Top

"Atrabilious" was word of the day once at dictionary.com

Jun 8, 2008, 9:35pm Top

From The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories:

tendentious: having or marked by a strong tendency especially a controversial one

"Boston Marriage": Boston marriage was a term used in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries for households where two women lived together, independent of any male support. Today, the term is sometimes used when referring to two women living together who are not in a sexual relationship. Such a relationship may have intimacy and commitment, without sexuality.

Jun 9, 2008, 7:24am Top

LisaLynne, that is really interesting.

Jun 9, 2008, 9:35am Top

Jun 9, 2008, 11:14am Top

It is, hemlokgang, isn't it? I never knew there was a term for that. A friend in GLBT studies said it's a fairly well-known term in that sphere, and there's a lot of debate about whether those relationships were sexual or not.

Jun 9, 2008, 5:51pm Top

I first saw the term in a life of Sarah Orne Jewett whose Boston marriage actually was in Boston. Polite people of the time did not talk much about the sexual practices of other people. Everybody was in the closet.


Jun 9, 2008, 8:53pm Top

From The Hobbit (you'd think I would have found all the new vocabulary in that one already, but no!)

glede: a live coal or ember

Jun 10, 2008, 7:05pm Top

From Shame by Salman Rushdie:

parthenogenesis: reproduction by development of an unfertilized female gamete, usually in lower forms of plants and animals

gaotakia - couldn't find it in the dictionary, may not even be English.

Jun 11, 2008, 3:13pm Top

I didn't find a definition, but I did find this:

>while on the grass there were white chandnis and gaotakia (cushions) for the crowd

Jun 20, 2008, 2:34pm Top

From The Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin:

nargileh: a water pipe
shambolic: disorganized or confused
coracle: a small boat made of a frame covered with canvas
colophon: an identifying mark or emblem used by a publisher

Jun 22, 2008, 10:12am Top

From The Road by Cormac McCarthy:

discalced: barefoot, unshod

Jun 22, 2008, 2:01pm Top

Have any of you tried Free Rice? It's a site built around donating rice for every vocabulary word you get right - they have vocabulary levels. I believe it goes up to level 60 (they say very few people get there), but I recognize quite a few words from this list in the vocab words they show.

It's a charitable thing, I'm not trying to spam, but I know when I need a 10-minute break from work, this site helps! As I tell my boss, it's not a game-game, it's me donating to charity!

Plus, they had one of my all-time favorite words from a book - Shoal. It was from Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show. If you've read the book, the word is brilliant (and a new one for a gal that's mostly visited the ocean):

The dictionary.com definition doesn't do it justice, but a shoal is normally a sandbar that is only visible when you either hit it with your boat or at certain tide times. In the book, the shoal was everything that was hidden just beneath the surface...things that you would normally never notice.

Edited: Jun 22, 2008, 9:45pm Top

I think Free Rice is great! So is "shoal"!

Jun 22, 2008, 9:54pm Top

#119, stephmo - I grew up near a community named Shoals after the number of shoals that made the river passage there treacherous. Until we moved there, I'd never heard that word.

Jun 23, 2008, 9:09am Top

Hmm, you haven't been hanging around in the New England talk group, or you'd know about the Isles of Shoals off the NH coast. The most famous, of course, is Smuttynose Island. See The Weight of Water by Shreve.

Jun 23, 2008, 11:01am Top

>#117 SHAMBOLIC! Wow. That's used to describe the zombies in Shaun of the Dead, and until now I'd just assumed it was the movie's own neologism, built from "shambling."

>#119 I recently discovered "Free Rice" via Lynn Flewelling's livejournal...and it's frightening how much time I've spent there since!

Jun 24, 2008, 10:52am Top

From The Road:

mendicant: a member of a religious order owning no property

chary: discreetly cautious

Jun 25, 2008, 10:39am Top

From Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey:

apostasy (have seen many times, but decided to look it up): renunciation of a religious faith

Edited: Jun 28, 2008, 2:27am Top

From Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey:

accouchement - the time or act of giving birth

pinion - to disable or restrain by binding the arms

otiose - futile

Jun 28, 2008, 8:59pm Top

oooo...otiose.....cool word

Edited: Jul 2, 2008, 12:14pm Top

From The Waves by Virginia Woolf: "I will continue to make my survey of the purlieus of the house in the late afternoon, in the sunset, when the sun makes oleaginous spots on the linoleum . . . "

purlieus: environs, bounds, haunts, neighbourhood
oleaginous: oily

I like Woolf a lot, but I think oleaginous is a pretentious word. The perfectly clear "oily" would have had more oomph. But I'm sure that Woolf has her reasons.

Jul 3, 2008, 5:24pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jul 4, 2008, 2:29am Top

These aren't words but grammatically correct sentences in English I read in Kluge. BTW, Kluge- A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem. The first one twisted my brain for a bit.

People people left left.

Farmers monkeys fear slept.

Jul 7, 2008, 9:55am Top

From Careless in Red by Elizabeth George:

cenobite - a member of a religious group living together in a monastic community

Jul 7, 2008, 9:44pm Top

From Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

iniquitous: vicious

calabash: a gourd often used as a dipping utensil

Jul 12, 2008, 9:19am Top

From The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie:

unguiculation: use of nails or claws

Jul 15, 2008, 12:42pm Top

Louche (pronounced like "loose" but with "SH" at the end) - Of questionable taste or morality; decadent.

I've never run across this word before. Suddenly, it's in three different books that I read this summer:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Dust by Martha Grimes
(I can't remember the other one!)

Jul 15, 2008, 6:39pm Top

From The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie:

lambently: softly bright or radiant
homunculus: a little man
Janissary: elite corps of Turkish troops
kerfuffle: to become disheveled
lachrymose: given to tears
affray: public brawl
concupiscent: strongly desiring
pulchritude: physical comeliness

Several of these are words I have read many times but had never sought the precise definitions.

Jul 17, 2008, 8:52am Top

From The Plague of Doves:

susurration: a whispering sound

Jul 18, 2008, 3:25am Top

Where did you get your definition for kerfuffle from, hemlokgang? I was always under the impression that it meant a commotion. In fact, you made me so worried that I'd been wrong all these years that I had to go look it up to be sure.

Jul 18, 2008, 8:10am Top

Maybe disheveled as the result of a commotion?

Jul 18, 2008, 8:37am Top

Exactly, varielle. Sorry that my imprecision caused such dismay. I love that you care deeply enough about words to question.

Jul 21, 2008, 8:13am Top

From Bleak House by Charles Dickens:

chancery: a high court of equity in England and Wales, also means in a hopeless predicament

sepulchral: a place of burial or tomb, also a receptacle for religious relics, particularly in the altar

Jul 22, 2008, 8:45am Top

From Bleak House by Charles Dickens:

purblind: lacking in vision, insight or understanding

prolixity: unduly prolonged or drawn out

Jul 22, 2008, 5:02pm Top

I just visited this thread for the first time. What a lot of fun. (Especially when I could say "Oh, I knew THAT one!"). Laughed out loud at the seemingly innocent question "is it possible Faulkner made up this word?" If there wasn't one available that suited his purpose, he would certainly have made one up.

My favorite new word comes from the thread itself. Message No. 74 contains this information: "A jujube is a drupaceous fruit from trees in the buckthorn family." Tell me I'm not the only person who read that and had to go look up "drupaceous"... Well, I was pretty sure it meant "having drupes", but what in the world are drupes??
Out comes Webster's, where I read that a drupe is a "one-seeded indehiscent fruit having a hard bony endocarp, a fleshy mesocarp, and a thin exocarp that is flexible, (as in the cherry) or dry and almost leathery (as in the almond)." By this time, I'm snorting orange-spice tea up my nose, onto the dictionary, everywhere. "Indehiscent"????? Means "remaining closed at maturity", according to Webster's. I am less than enlightened. I google "indehiscent fruits"--find that it means they do not burst open to disperse their seeds. Finally, an explanation that means something to me. This is why several people here have noted that they don't look words up as they read--it interrupts the flow. I'll say.

Jul 23, 2008, 12:04am Top

Welcome, laytonwoman3rd!

Jul 24, 2008, 12:44pm Top

I've already learned 2 new words in the first 50 pages of The Inheritance of Loss

borborygmus : a rumbling or gurgling sound caused by the movement of gas in the intestines

pusillanimity : the state or condition of being pusillanimous; timidity; cowardliness

Wonder how many more I'll learn before I finish it?

Jul 25, 2008, 2:53pm Top

From Bleak House:

consanguinity: close relation
coxcomb:a conceited foolish person, or a jester's cap with a decorative red stripe on it
myrmidon: a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously
sagacious: keen in sense of perception
adjuration: earnest urging or persuading

Jul 25, 2008, 3:00pm Top

A word I've read 100 times, but never looked up:

virago: a loud-voiced, ill-tempered, scolding woman; shrew

Jul 25, 2008, 3:01pm Top

This is the kind of thing that makes me think a Kindle might be good idea so that a dictionary is always at hand. If I'm reading in my comfy chair, I have a dictionary next to me and usually look things up. However, I'm rarely reading in my comfy chair...

Jul 25, 2008, 3:03pm Top

Me either, so I jot the words down in my reading journal, which is wherever my current book is. I started keeping the journal a while ago and now consider it a crisis if it isn't with my book!

Jul 25, 2008, 5:34pm Top

I jot down the page # and the word on the back of whatever slip of paper I'm using as a bookmark, so that I don't have to totally interrupt the flow of my reading and can look it up later.

Jul 26, 2008, 1:17am Top

Yes, but what do you do if you've misplaced your pencil? As I seem to do all the time....

militant: a person engaged in warfare or combat; engaged in warfare; fighting
parsimonious: characterized by or showing parsimony; frugal or stingy

Two words I keep skipping.

Jul 26, 2008, 10:56pm Top

I always read w/ a pen or pencil close at hand, and I use the blank pages at the back of the book to make notes about important passages, new vocab, etc....when I read something that doesn't have these extra pages, I go through the day's reading before bed and make notes on a legal pad, then I keep the paper in the book when I'm finished reading it. It's a weird system, but it works for me.

Jul 27, 2008, 3:14am Top

From A Little Learning by Evelyn Waugh:

advowson - the right in English law of presenting a nominee to a benefice

concatenation - to link together in a series or chain

subfusc - drab or dusky

Jul 27, 2008, 6:47am Top

Okay, big confession! If for some bizarre and inexplicable reason I find myself without journal and/or pen......I lightly turn down the teeniest corner possible to be discerned with the human eye, and return to it once the problem has been remedied.

Jul 27, 2008, 9:15am Top

>153 hemlokgang: hemlokgang - s'okay, I do that too, although I usually use the bottom corner... seems less conspicuous that way.

Jul 27, 2008, 9:21pm Top

I feel absolved. Thank you fyrefly!

Aug 9, 2008, 9:55am Top

From Bleak House:

effluvia: a vague emanation, often related to waste

Aug 10, 2008, 3:46am Top

From a YA book I'm reading right now called Marked: words so far I didn't know...

consuetudinary: customary or traditional

sycophant: a self seeking, servile flatterer

Aug 11, 2008, 9:18am Top

From Bleak House:

encomium: glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise

escutcheon: a defined area on which armorial symbols are displayed, often in the form of a shield

Aug 12, 2008, 9:31pm Top

Something that drives me crazy!
You say either and I say either - which is it and how does one decide?
Even tho' the word is being read without being spoken aloud, I still have to pause before deciding. It probably doesn't matter, but I wonder if anyone else has my (obviously curious) problem.
Same as I hate knowing the number of pages in a book that I'm reading, or how many minutes in a movie I'm watching.
Strange, huh?....


Aug 12, 2008, 11:27pm Top

try "e-i-ther".....a blend, a compromise, a curative! :)

Aug 12, 2008, 11:38pm Top

From Bleak House:

pertinacious: stubbornly tenacious (why not just say so?)

propitiatory: relating or similar to an atoning sacrifice

ignominious: marked with or characterized by disgrace or shame

Aug 17, 2008, 9:16pm Top

From Reading Lolita in Tehran:

manqué - having fallen short of

Aug 18, 2008, 7:30am Top

From The Good Thief:

resurrectionist- used as a more pleasant term than "body-snatcher".......it is all semantics

Aug 23, 2008, 12:33pm Top

From Adventures with Purpose by Richard Bangs...an author far too in love with his vocabulary.

fetial: concerned with declarations of war or peace

heteroclite: abnormal or anomalous

feculence: foul, turbid or muddy

quondam: former

fuscous: brownish-gray

aperçu: a glimpse

schadenfreude: satisfaction at someone else's misfortune

horripilation: gooseflesh

fissiparous: reproducing by fission

proceleusmatic: animating or inspiring

furbelow: a bit of showy trim

entrepôts: warehouse

synecdoche: a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part

irredentism: a member of an Italian association that became prominent in 1878, advocating the redemption, or the incorporation into Italy, of certain neighboring regions

agrestic: rural

apologue: A moral fable, especially one having animals or inanimate objects as characters

tardigrade: slow in pace or movement

Aug 23, 2008, 4:34pm Top


Aug 25, 2008, 4:36am Top

From Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga:

Keening: “Keening. I remember keening that seemed to go on all through the night: shrill, sharp, shiny, needles of sound piercing cleanly and deeply to let the anguish in, not out.” (Meaning: funeral lament, or wail over the dead).

Aphasic: “The more time Nhamo spent at Babmukuru’s, the more aphasic he became and the more my father was convinced that he was being educated.” (Aphasia: dumbness, or loss of speech control, due to disease of the brain).

Aug 25, 2008, 7:27am Top

I like the idea of including a quote. It provides context.......

Aug 25, 2008, 12:48pm Top

Oh I learned a good one today!

"Infinitesmal" meaning "Immeasurably or incalculably minute" by the Free Dictionary.

Kinda has a nice melody to it. I keep singing the word over and over again hehe.

Aug 25, 2008, 1:14pm Top

TadAd: the Broadway musical Avenue Q has a fantastic song about schadenfreude...you'll never forget how to spell after that. I strongly recommend an immediate iTunes download.

Aug 25, 2008, 1:40pm Top

I'll look for that song.

I'm glad this thread has prompted me to start looking up all words I'm not sure of.

I've probably read 'schadenfreude' a dozen times over the years and never looked it up because I sort of assumed what it meant from my smattering of German—I knew what the words 'Schade' and 'Freude' meant. I'm glad now that I know specifically.

I find myself doing that a lot. The trouble is, it works for things like 'tardigrade' (I had guessed that one correctly when reading it) because I can pick up 'tarde' from Spanish and 'grade' from words I know like 'retrograde'...but it's worthless when Bangs comes up with something like 'proceleusmatic' because I don't know enough Latin/Greek/French/German/Middle English to get all the root words of our language.

I hope this is a habit I keep. :-)

Aug 27, 2008, 12:28am Top

I love new words. This is a great place to even learn more. I recently finished Murder in Amsterdam and was bombarded by new words.

I have always looked in the dictionary and marked my new words off. At the same time I check out what other words I had already marked off.

Starting in Aug, that is this month, I have been writing down my new word and just today started putting them on my computer.

So someone else smart got this idea before I did. WTG.

You will be hearing from me I am sure.

Jacqueline B

Aug 28, 2008, 1:39am Top

From Infinite Jest:

Elegiac - of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy; especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past an elegiac lament for departed youth

It's actually misspelled "elegaic" in my copy. Not that I really blame anyone for missing that.

Actually, there are a lot of potential vocabulary in this book, but this is the first I didn't really just kind of glaze over.

Aug 28, 2008, 9:58am Top

Word: De gustibus
Siting: Slate.com..."De gustibus and all that."
Meaning: It's a shortening of the phrase "De gustibus non est disputandum." Translated: "There is no disputing about taste," or "There's no accounting for taste."

I guess this is a situation of omnia dicta fortiori, si dicta Latina (everything sounds more impressive in Latin).

Aug 28, 2008, 12:04pm Top

I liked the way kaelirenee wrote down her word, gave the meaning of it and then an example of it using the sentence in the book.

This gave a better idea of how it would be used.

Aug 28, 2008, 4:19pm Top

Seems like folks are toying with a little more structure to this thread.....as founder i say go for it..........I like:

Citation from book:

Aug 28, 2008, 4:53pm Top

Also, it's helpful to bold the word. See my example in post 128, above.

Aug 28, 2008, 5:06pm Top

The song idea looks interesting. I used to stick post its on every page with new words but then my book ends up looking like an alien-ship so I decided to use THE MEMORY book idea of mnemonics. The song idea though sounds less exhausting.

Edited: Aug 28, 2008, 5:33pm Top

being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless
Hal sits on the floor, quiescent, chin on his chest, just thinking it's nice to finally breathe and get enough air. Infinite Jest p.97

"Quiescent" is a nice word, but wouldn't "quiet" have sufficed?

Aug 28, 2008, 6:19pm Top

twomoredays..."quiet" would have been too simple.

Aug 28, 2008, 6:19pm Top

How do you bold a word in here?

Aug 29, 2008, 12:26am Top

>180 callmejacx:

To bold a word type <b> before the word and </b> after the word

So it'll look like:


Aug 29, 2008, 12:44am Top

You know I am going to have to write that one down. Thanks for the help

Aug 29, 2008, 8:03am Top

>178 twomoredays:

I'm not sure sure quiet would have had the same impact as quiescent for me. When I read the former, I think of the primary definition of "making no noise or sound." When I read the latter, I think of the "being at rest; still" aspect of it. Of course, that could just be me.

And...of course...I'm now opening myself up to people telling me that words I think are unnecessarily esoteric actually convey different shades of meaning, also. Fair enough! I'm as guilty as anyone. :-)

Aug 29, 2008, 8:08am Top

From H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian.

1) light bluish-green or greenish-blue
2) Botany: covered with whitish bloom, as a plum

She filled the spoon, guided it with fixed attention towards Stephen's mouth, poured the glaucous liquid in...

Aug 29, 2008, 8:42am Top

>184 TadAD: Y'know, I knew that word, but only from the glaucous gull. Never thought to wonder what it meant... I guess the bird is kind of whitish/light-blue?

Aug 29, 2008, 10:52am Top

"His was not a rugged body, yet he had wandered for hours in the oven-like streets and returned to eat heartily of the execrable food."
Meaning: abominable, hatefully bad.
from The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.

Edited: Aug 30, 2008, 3:32pm Top

Some more big words from Mr. Wallace's Infinite Jest:

1. a surname.
2. any name, esp. a nickname.
He makes the companies that give him clothes and gear give him all black clothes and gear, and his E.T.A. cognomen is "The Darkness." p.100

of or pertaining to a meal, esp. dinner.
...Hal had invited Mario for a post-prandial stroll... p.121

1. swelling; slightly tumid.
2. exhibiting or affected with many ideas or emotions; teeming.
3. pompous and pretentious, esp. in the use of language; bombastic
...but why, within like 16 months or 5 sales quarters , the tumescent demand curve for "videophony" suddenly collapsed... p.145

Edited: Aug 30, 2008, 6:05pm Top

All from The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo:

Definition: a military demolitions specialist
Example: If the bomb does not detonate, send in the sapper.

Definition: inherent baseness
Example: Incest is an act of moral turpitude.

Definition:a base, unprincipled person
Example: The thief was a varlet

Definition: a song or poem sung in honor of a bride or bridegroom
Example: The epithalamium at my daughter's wedding was memorable

Sep 2, 2008, 2:59am Top

I just discovered a new vocabulary word in a sentence defining a word. Somehow I think this speaks perfectly to the nature of Infinite Jest.

a specialized idiomatic vocabulary peculiar to a particular class or group of people, esp. that of an underworld group, devised for private communication and identification

That the term "vig" is street argot for the bookmaker's commission on an illegal bet, usually 10%, that's either subtracted from your winnings or added to your debt. p.204

Sep 2, 2008, 10:49am Top

>189 twomoredays: argot was one of my words from The Book of Flying.

"He practiced picking a selection of locks, prying with a bent wire till the tumblers clicked and the tongue snapped back. And he acquired some of the robbers’ argot."

Sep 2, 2008, 11:10am Top

Hemlokgang, I encountered a sapper (my first) in The English Patient, and your definition is spot on!

Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 12:34pm Top

A new one for me, ORIFLAMME meaning an ensign, banner or standard, from Umberto Eco's Baudolino. Edited to add another from the same book. VAVASOUR meaning a vassal ranking just below a baron.

Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 11:22am Top

I have some new words for me.

INDOLENT: adjective
Etymology: Late Latin indolent-, indolens insensitive to pain, from Latin in- + dolent-, dolens, present participle of dolēre to feel pain

1 a: causing little or no pain b: slow to develop or heal
2 a: averse to activity, effort, or movement : habitually lazy b: conducive to or encouraging laziness c: exhibiting indolence

Etymology: Latin, from neuter of decorus

1: literary and dramatic propriety : fitness
2: propriety and good taste in conduct or appearance
3: orderliness
4 plural : the conventions of polite behavior

PALTRY: adjective
Inflected Form(s): pal·tri·er; pal·tri·est
Etymology: obsolete paltry trash, from dialect palt, pelt piece of coarse cloth, trash; akin to Middle Low German palte rag

1 : inferior, trashy
2 : mean, despicable
3 : trivial

4 : meager, measly

PIQUET: noun
Etymology: French

: a two-handed card game played with 32 cards

ODIOUS: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin odiosus, from odium
Date: 14th century
: arousing or deserving hatred or repugnance : hateful

Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 11:24am Top

Etymology: Latin panegyricus, from Greek panēgyrikos, from panēgyrikos of or for a festival assembly, from panēgyris festival assembly, from pan- + agyris assembly; akin to Greek ageirein to gather

: a eulogistic oration or writing; also : formal or elaborate praise

Sep 3, 2008, 11:25am Top


: undue hastiness or suddenness

Sep 3, 2008, 11:26am Top

Etymology: Middle English celerite, from Anglo-French, from Latin celeritat-, celeritas, from celer swift — more at hold

: rapidity of motion or action

Sep 3, 2008, 11:26am Top

Etymology: Latin alacritas, from alacr-, alacer lively, eager

: promptness in response : cheerful readiness

Sep 19, 2008, 11:58pm Top

Pronunciation: \ˈdes-pə-ˌti-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1727
1 a: rule by a despot b: despotic exercise of power
2 a: a system of government in which the ruler has unlimited power : absolutism b: a despotic state

Probably part of the reason they accepted me and my despotism with such good grace was that they simply had no energy left.

Sep 19, 2008, 11:58pm Top

Pronunciation: \ˈdes-pə-ˌti-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: circa 1727
1 a: rule by a despot b: despotic exercise of power
2 a: a system of government in which the ruler has unlimited power : absolutism b: a despotic state

Probably part of the reason they accepted me and my despotism with such good grace was that they simply had no energy left.

Sep 20, 2008, 11:02pm Top

Definition: an allowance of provisions given as a charity
Example: When she went into the convent, she accepted a corrody from her children.

Sep 21, 2008, 4:17pm Top

Do you ever have a word that your mind simply refuses to read properly no matter how many times you've repeated the definition to yourself?

I encountered crepuscular years ago and, when I stop to think, I know that it means "pertaining to twilight, dim, coming out at twilight, etc." Yet, to this day, every time I see it in writing I think "red".

Perhaps my mind cannot separate it from corpuscular and thinks about blood.

Sep 21, 2008, 4:22pm Top

Wow...It sure is good to know that I am not the only one. Everytime I come across a word I don't know I check my dictionary and mark the word in pencil with a line. Above the line is the times that I have checked on the word. I sometimes shake my head because I should have known the word by now.

You are not alone. I have always had a problem with pronouncing certain words, even if I am familier with the word, I still say it the same old way that I have always said it. Hey, I know what it means, so what is the big deal, unless you are reading outloud to others and they all laugh at you.

Sep 21, 2008, 7:57pm Top

At coffee this week with a bunch of literary minded people, Poe`s poetry came up in the discussion. My daughter threw out the term onomatopoeia, which blew my mind, but turned out to be very on target for several of Poe`s poems. It did take us a while to get the right spelling! (the use of a word whose sound suggests the sense) Isn`t this a great word! This all started as a result of a crossword puzzle needing the killer in the Murder in the Rue Morge. Reading this years ago, I couldn`t remember the orangutan. Ha!

Sep 21, 2008, 10:00pm Top

I don't believe I saw that word Onomatopoeia. My son at the age of three was fasinated with words. He would try and use new words all the time. He never liked baby talk and would ask questions that I didn't have the answers to. One day he asked what was the biggest word I knew. I wanted to make this fun for him. I used onomatoppeia. He was fasinated with it right away. Always pointing out an onomatopoeia and would impress adults with this word, which many didn't even knew existed. I still have to smile when I hear or think of that word.

Sep 26, 2008, 11:33am Top

From The Dark Horse by Rumer Godden

gharry: a horse-drawn cab used in Egypt or India

Sep 26, 2008, 3:57pm Top

After using it several times, the book finally provided a definition of the term...but I thought I'd go ahead and add it anyway.

From The Dark Horse by Rumer Godden

syce: (in India) a horse groom

Sep 28, 2008, 12:34pm Top

From Remembrance of Things Past:

Definition: The Christian eucharist given to a person in danger of dying
Example: The viaticum was administered to Lavrans prior to his last breath.

Definition: an act of fraud
Example: I was guilty of cozenage when I told my husband how much I had spent.

Definition: A tall perennial grass often used in mats
Example: She gathered vetiver for use in her home arts

From Fear and Trembling:

Definition: Contained in or carried on in a series of letters
Example: I received an epistolary from my father, while I was in college.

Definition:refuse from melting metals
Example: All that remained from the mill was the scoria of the past efforts.

Definition: Disgrace following from an act considered vicious
Example: He accepted the opprobrium due him after beating his neighbor.

Sep 28, 2008, 4:56pm Top

>207 hemlokgang: hemlokgang
I think the first word comes from Kristin Lavransdatter ;-)

Sep 28, 2008, 9:17pm Top


Sep 29, 2008, 3:48pm Top

thanks to you I saw the word used again at Erlends death, Latin stays Latin even in translation ;-)

Edited: Oct 5, 2008, 2:47pm Top

From Shakespeare's History Plays by E.M.W. Tillyard

very fervent; extremely ardent; impassioned: perfervid patriotism.

"for such tolerance is remote form the perfervid patriotism of the later age."


Unable to find definition. Any thoughts?

"In speaking of the creation he becomes theological and gives a fine account of the pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian states."


Oct 5, 2008, 7:18pm Top

>211 TheTortoise: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lapsarian

"Of or pertaining to the fall of man from innocence, especially to the role of women in that fall."

Oct 5, 2008, 8:11pm Top

Re: lapsarian, prelapsarian and postlapsarian . . . see posts 24-31, above. This word has come around once already.

Oct 5, 2008, 10:37pm Top

I don't mind words showing up more than once. It's a new word to them and it helps others like me to help remember the word and its meaning

Oct 6, 2008, 12:13am Top

I don't mind words showing up more than once, either. I just wanted to point out the earlier conversation so that theTortoise gets that side of it too. But mostly, I thought that emaestra's comments were pretty funny.

Oct 6, 2008, 7:03am Top

Haven't read the whole thread but wondered who's read The Meaning of Tingo.

Oct 6, 2008, 7:57am Top

>213 Nickelini: Nickelini. I can't remember what I ate a week ago! How do you think I would remember from a post from April! Actually, looking back at it, I do remember reading it now! That pesky Alzheimers!


Oct 7, 2008, 2:35am Top

arachibutyrophobia- being petrified of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth- from How the Mind Works, Steven Pinker.

Oct 7, 2008, 2:19pm Top

#218: I haven't bothered to look up Pinker's book although I have it. I can't help feeling that lots of these "—phobia/philia" words are purely artificial constructs which are never ever used in 'normal' English. They are really just "joke" words. Of course there are lots of technical words not used in normal English which are perfectly valid but here someone has seized on the ending 'phobia' and set out to derive a word for "fear of X". I haven't expressed this very well but I'm sure that there are people out there who can. I'm really just trying to say that some of these "—phobia" words have no place outside lists of phobias.

Oct 7, 2008, 2:19pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Oct 7, 2008, 6:17pm Top

I must admit that I, too, checked to see if it was really a word. Oh well.

Nov 3, 2008, 10:37am Top

From The Crow Road by Iain Banks:

multifarious: diverse

....which led me to look up nefarious : wicked or impious......

The root of both words means "to do"......which cleared up my confusion!

Nov 3, 2008, 10:26pm Top

From more than it hurts you by Darin Strauss:

1. Of little value or importance; paltry.
2. Petty; mean.

"What soothing visual music it became to see real live trees, however picayune and few, out the window." p. 67

Nov 4, 2008, 9:59am Top

A few nights ago, I was so close to getting out my dictionary when I read the word "eyetalian".

I would never have found this pronounciation in the dictionary for the word 'Italian. Silly me.

Nov 5, 2008, 3:47pm Top

Definition: A type of chamois living in the Pyrenees
Example: There were signs of izards everywhere they looked.

Nov 5, 2008, 4:24pm Top

>225 hemlokgang:: hemlokgang
and then I had to look up chamois ;-)

Nov 5, 2008, 7:53pm Top

1. a change or variation occurring in the course of something.
2. interchange or alternation, as of states or things.
3. vicissitudes, successive, alternating, or changing phases or conditions, as of life or fortune; ups and downs: They remained friends through the vicissitudes of 40 years.
4. regular change or succession of one state or thing to another.
5. change; mutation; mutability.

Has anyone come across that word lately?

Nov 7, 2008, 2:05am Top

From Dictation: A Quartet by Cynthia Ozick:

One who is employed to take dictation or to copy manuscript.

"At the close of the morning's dictation, Mary Weld, his young amanuensis, had gone out to the back garden with scissors in hand, to cut the thorny vines that clung to the heat of a surrounding brick wall." p. 3

Edited: Nov 11, 2008, 11:09am Top

From The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe:

Definition: Radiant splendour, brilliance
Example: In the effulgence of the dawning sun I walked through the forest.

New thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/49427&newpost=1#lastmsg

Nov 11, 2008, 12:28pm Top

>227 callmejacx: I had to look up "vicissitudes" last year when I read The Lost Painting - the quote "Every paining has its vicissitudes." was used repeatedly.

Nov 21, 2008, 1:11pm Top

From Machiavelli's The Prince: rapine, the noun for pillage & plunder, in other words, the stuff you take when you rob someone.

"It is always possible to find pretexts for confiscating someone's property; and a prince who starts to live by rapine always finds pretexts for seizing what belongs to others."

I like this word, though being a law-abiding princess, I have no real need to use it. :-)

Nov 21, 2008, 1:52pm Top

Another good word from The Prince, obviously from the same root as "rapine", above.

rapacious: inordinately greedy

"He will be hated above all if, as I said, he is rapacious and aggressive with regard to the property and the women of his subjects."

Nov 22, 2008, 10:22am Top

This is a new one on me---Machicolated---from Henry James the turn of the screw a machicolation if an opening between the corbels of a parapet for discharging missiles upon assailants below. Watch out if you are near any castles. LOL

Edited: Nov 28, 2008, 3:25pm Top

From Umberto Eco's Baudolino -
moraines - geologic debris deposited by a glacier.
orpiment - a yellow mineral, an ore of arsenic.
anthropophage - man eating, used in reference to anthropophage dogs. Yuck
hypostases - a literal foundation or in metaphysics an underlying reality
blemmyae - a race of legendary headless monsters who lived in Africa and had their eyes and mouths on their bellies.
stylite - A religious ascetic who lives on a pillar.

Mr. E continues to throw new words at me, some of which he appeared to invent like Panotian referring to residents of an ancient and perhaps mythological continent.

Dec 22, 2008, 3:40am Top

Ecco is my favorite for vocab. I read Foucault's Pendulum and it sent me to the dictionary every chapter at least.

Dec 26, 2008, 8:40am Top

#72 - jesslyncummings:

My mother and I recently read Persuasion together, and we loved the usage of "retrench". I think there will be a lot of us doing that with the economy going the way it is!

Dec 26, 2008, 11:47am Top

animadvert — to consider (disparagingly), criticize, reprove
tendentious — having a tendency, partisan

Found in A History of Economic Thought by Lionel Robbins.

Dec 28, 2008, 4:20pm Top

Found two today in ruth Rendell`s The Rottweiler
onomatopoeic--use of words whose sounds suggest the sense

Dec 28, 2008, 8:07pm Top

From Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth
cist - prehistoric sepulchral tomb or casket, usually with a stone lid.

Edited: Feb 10, 2009, 3:50am Top

From Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking

lacuna, lacunae
1. a gap or missing part, as in a manuscript, series, or logical argument; hiatus.
2. Anatomy. one of the numerous minute cavities in the substance of bone, supposed to contain nucleate cells.
3. Botany. an air space in the cellular tissue of plants.
This was so far from the case that the general insistence on it came to suggest certain lacunae in the popular understanding of marriage.

I don't know if anyone has seen the movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but knowing the definition of this word makes the name of the mind-erasing company more significant.

Apr 2, 2009, 12:17pm Top

As much as I disliked Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End, it isn't all bad, as he introduced me to the word "purplishest."

"One of the window-panes was so old it was bulging and purplish. There was another. There were several. But the first one was the purplishest." (pg 656).

I love this word! It's not the same as "purplest" . . . who would have thought the English language needed a word to describe this? Of all those things that are kind of purple, this one is the most almost purple. How can something be more almost purple than another? When does it cross the line and become simply purple? This is simply delightful.

I'm looking for ways to slip this into conversation, and I realized I have the perfect opportunity, as my cat Violet is the purplishest cat I've ever seen.

This week I can also say something like "Of everyone in the angry mob at the G20, he had the purplishest face."

Definitely my current favourite word!

Apr 2, 2009, 12:28pm Top

From Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential I picked up commis, meaning a chef's assistant.

Apr 21, 2009, 10:00am Top

#241...I love the colour purple. Ever since I found out that was Donny Osmonds colour. It would be delightful, as you say, to use that word in your everyday vocabulary. I don't think one can frown and say that word "purplishest" at the same time. It sounds like an uplifting fun word. Everyone ought to be saying it.

Apr 21, 2009, 3:04pm Top

From Nickel Mountain

sillion - the soil which has been freshly turned by a plow

Edited: Apr 26, 2009, 4:27pm Top

From Ye Will Say I am No Christian The Thomas Jefferson/John Adams Correspondence on Religion, Morals and Values

oestrum - a period of fertility
aristoi - the best, noblemen in ancient Greece who possessed the trait of Arete meaning a right nature.
canaille - riff raff, rabble, proletariat, the most low and vulgar people.

From an ER book Jeff Johnson's Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My life in Ink:
contrapposto - a representation of the human body in which the forms are organized on a varying or curving axis t provide an asymmetrical balance to the figure.

Jul 24, 2009, 6:08am Top

Having an eclectic reading habit, ostensibly, I am bound to come across words that are new because language is constantly evolving so new words are being given birth to. And old words like perchance fall out of favour and by the way side.
Being a Hypnotist I find it easy to memorise new words and always endavour to introduce them into conversations hehe Anamnesis anyone a delightful word from Plato. The concepet I aquiesce with much to th chagring and vextation of those who have a bent for the philosophy of physicalism.
Of course every scientific discipline from Anthropology to Zoology has its own particular vocabulary.
For example in hypnosis the word somnambulist does not mean the same as the traditional meaning given to it by medics i.e A Sleepwalker.
Oh no in hypnosis we hypnotists take it to mean a person who is easily hypnotised.
What I enjoy doing is constructing my own dictionary of those words that are new to me and then look to use them in my next game of scrabble!


Throw in some Latin terminology and reading becomes more enjoyable.

Quam quisque norit atem in ea se exerceat
Credendum est
Nils desperandum

Reading Maketh The Man
Francis Bacon

Aug 21, 2009, 2:00pm Top

I'm reading a book review of the book I'm reading. The revieiwer uses the word:

fissiparous -reproducing by fission, or tending to break up into parts
example "...the fissiparous nature of a nation founded on the doctrine of states' rights."

Hmm... interesting word, not sure I like the usage though.

Apparently, if you want to go wild, it has related forms:
fissiparously (adverb)
fissiparousness (noun) -- now that one might be hard to say numerous times in a row!

Nov 3, 2009, 11:39am Top

I just finished The Eagle and the Wolves in which Scarrow used the term sett for his description of a badger's den. I couldn't find a dictionary description of that use in reference to an animal's home, but since one of the meanings relates to weaving, specifically tartan weave, I assume that the sticks and leaves the animal used to make its nest must have inspired this use. Anyone with a better dictionary who can check this theory?

Nov 3, 2009, 10:58pm Top

# 248...Thought I would look online to see if I could find that word you are looking for. Hope this helps


1. Also called pitcher. a small, rectangular paving stone.
2. Also called stake. a hand-held tool that is struck by a hammer to shape or deform a metal object.
3. Also, set. the distinctively colored pattern of crisscrossed lines and stripes against a background in which a Scottish tartan is woven.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 9:25am Top

From The Night Club Era by Stanley Walker two words with the same basic meaning-- fantod and swivet, both meaning a state of nervous excitement.

And from An Anthropologist on Mars echolalia, a psychiatric term which means uncontrollably repeating words spoken by another person.

Mar 12, 2010, 5:53pm Top

Hi 250

It is Glossoalalia

May 9, 2012, 3:14pm Top

From Sharpe's Fortress by Bernard Cornwell.

glacis - a sloping bank of earth built as a defense against assault.
fire step - a ledge on which soldier's stand to fire.
enfilade - sweeping fire directed at works or troops coming from a line of troops, a trench or battery.

Group: What Are You Reading Now?

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