Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy aka Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.

This week I’ve been rereading Jane Eyre for my book club. I thought surely I would run across a couple of words for this meme. But wow, I have been quite shocked at the number of unfamiliar words I’m encountering. In fact, I think I’ll need to edit the list or it’ll be crazy. I’m not sure if it’s because some of these books have become obsolete in the last 200 years, people these days just aren’t as well-read or well-educated, Ms. Brontë is trying to seem smart (see irids, used twice), or (my favorite) I always run across this many words I don’t know, but when I’m not looking for them I mostly just gloss them over. Most I can discern from context (which is of course the primary way people expand vocabularies) but it’s nice to actually have a reason to keep track and look up the words. I don’t know that it will improve my understanding of the book, but it certainly can’t hurt! Given the length of this list, I only went with words I truly was unfamiliar with, not just words I can’t specifically define. Luckily, the second half of the book I read on treadmill and at the optometrist’s, so you are spared a much, much longer list.

Lambent (2nd page of preface)
His wit is bright, his humour attractive, but both bear the same relation to his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the edge of the summer-cloud does the electric death-spark hid in its womb.
1. running or moving lightly over a surface: lambent tongues of flame.
2. softly bright or radiant: a lambent light.
Cavillers (1)
“Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners.”
–verb (used without object) 1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually fol. by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
Moreen (1)
I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtains nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.
A heavy fabric of wool, or wool and cotton, with a ribbed face and a moiré finish, used for curtains, petticoats, etc.
Fagging (14)
Accustomed as I was to a life of ceaseless reprimand and thankless fagging.
British. to require (a younger public-school pupil) to do menial chores.
Parterre (23)
That functionary having orders from Mrs. Reed to buy of his young lady all the products of her parterre she wished to sell.
An ornamental arrangement of flower beds of different shapes and sizes.
Poltroon (24)
What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of me in those days!
A wretched coward; craven.
Inanition (38)
I was now nearly sick from inanition, having taken so little the day before.
Benignant (40)
Exhaustion from lack of nourishment; starvation.
Irids (40)
Brown eyes with a benignant light in their irids, and a fine penciling of long lashes round
Any plant belonging to the Iridaceae, the iris family.
Animadversions (46)
Together with the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the performance.
An unfavorable or censorious comment: to make animadversions on someone's conduct.
Meed (49, 113)
If I do anything worthy of praise, she gives me my meed liberally.
A reward or recompense.
Hebdomadal (53)
It was the hebdomadal treat to which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath
Taking place, coming together, or published once every seven days; weekly: hebdomadal meetings; hebdomadal groups; hebdomadal journals.
Surtout (54)
It was Mr. Brocklehurst, buttoned up in a surtout, and looking longer, narrower, and more rigid than ever.
A man's close-fitting overcoat, esp. a frock coat.
Excrescence (56)
And I see others who have far too much of the excrescence – that tall girl, tell her to turn round.
An abnormal outgrowth, usually harmless, on an animal or vegetable body.
Phylactery (66)
Next morning Miss Scatcherd wrote in conspicuous characters on a piece of pasteboard the word “Slattern,” and bound it like a phylactery round Helen’s large, mild, intelligent, and bening-looking forehead.
Judaism. either of two small, black, leather cubes containing a piece of parchment inscribed with verses 4–9 of Deut. 6, 13–21 of Deut. 11, and 1–16 of Ex. 13: one is attached with straps to the left arm and the other to the forehead during weekday morning prayers by Orthodox and Conservative Jewish men.
Barmecide (67)
I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper, of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings
A member of a noble Persian family of Baghdad who, according to a tale in The Arabian Nights' Entertainments, gave a beggar a pretended feast with empty dishes.
Holm (68)
When mists as chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds along those purple peaks, and rolled down “ing” and holm till they blended with the frozen fog of the beck!
A low, flat tract of land beside a river or stream.
Debarrassed (78)
I was debarrassed of interruption; my half-effaced though instantly revived.
[See Embarrass.] To disembarrass; to relieve.
Negus (88)
Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two.”
A beverage made of wine and hot water, with sugar, nutmeg, and lemon.
Cuirass (91)
(One, I remember, represented a grim man in a cuirass, and one a lady with powdered hair and a pearl necklace.)
1. Also called corselet. defensive armor for the torso comprising a breastplate and backplate, originally made of leather.
2. either of the plates forming such armor.
Canzonette (94)
Adèle sang the canzonette tunefully enough, and with the naïveté of her age.
n. A short lighthearted air or song.
Cachinnation (99)
But that it was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachinnation; but that neither scene nor season favored fear.
To laugh loudly or immoderately.
Pollard (107)
I saw only the hedge and a pollard willow before me.
A tree cut back nearly to the trunk, so as to produce a dense mass of branches.
Rill (109)
A rill from the outer world was flowing through it.
A small rivulet or brook.
Eulogiums (114)
“Eulogiums will not bias me.”
An eulogy.
Festal (121)
The luster which had been lit for dinner filled the room with a festal breath of light.
pertaining to or befitting a feast, festival, holiday, or gala occasion.
Adventitious (123)
So haughty a reliance, on the power of other qualities, intrinsic or adventitious, to atone for the lack of mere personal attractiveness.
Associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.
Arrogate (129)
“The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely entrusted.”
To claim unwarrantably or presumptuously; assume or appropriate to oneself without right: to arrogate the right to make decisions.
Dentelles (131)
I installed her in a hotel, gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage, cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c.
Spoony (131)
In short, I began the process of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony.
Foolishly or sentimentally amorous.
Welkin (132)
Lines of dark windows reflecting that metal welkin.
The sky; the vault of heaven.
Etiolated (135)
Next morning I had the pleasure of encountering him; left a bullet in one of his poor etiolated arms.
Weakened or sickly; drained of color or vigor.
Ignis-fatuus (150)
If discovered and responded to, must leave ignis-fatuus-like into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.
1. Also called friar's lantern, will-o'-the-wisp. a flitting phosphorescent light seen at night, chiefly over marshy ground, and believed to be due to spontaneous combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter.
2. something deluding or misleading.


Sherrie said...

Wow, that's a lot of words. I didn't know most of them. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

Just Books

Arielle said...

Wow what a list! I want to read Jane Eyre this year, looks like I will be learning a lot of new words when I do.

Margot said...

Wow, I didn't realize I'd need a dictionary close at hand in order to read Jane Eyre. That's a ton of new words for one book. Glad to see you joining in on Wondrous Words Wednesday.

Lisa notes... said...

Wow. That is a lot of words. I love older literature, though, because you do learn so many new words. Good for you in taking the time to look them up!

Carin Siegfried said...

It is a ton of words and it's only the first third of the book! Luckily, she reuses some of these and once the action really gets going, the frequency of these decreases substantially. But I'm happy for this task. I wonder how much I didn't understand or misunderstood the first time I read it!

Suko said...

Your words are quite erudite. Mine are not: http://suko95.blogspot.com/2010/01/motley-wednesday.html