Last year, I created a Writing Homework assignment charging you to look up the words you don’t know as you’re reading.
I’ve been keeping a vocabulary journal for the whole year, and while it goes through fallow periods when I’m reading books that don’t drop the ten-dollar words, it has been growing.
Time to share some of the entries and their sources!
He used to present copies of this otiose chronicle to his business associates, who must have been surprised, though perhaps not.
Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
otiose: 1) being at leisure, idle, indolent; 2) ineffective or futile; 3) superfluous or useless
Every family had a few skeletons in their cupboards, but the Vanger family had an entire gallimaufry of them.
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
gallimaufry: a confused jumble or medley of things
The desert was the apotheosis of all deserts, huge, standing to the sky for what might have been parsecs in all directions.
Stephen King, The Gunslinger
apotheosis: the highest point in the development of something; a culmination or climax
A clear stream ran out of the woods and across the center of the clearing, first bubbling through a deep channel in the spongy earth and friable stone, then pouring across the splintery rock floor which sloped down to the place where the land dropped away.
Stephen King, The Waste Lands
friable: easily crumbled
“Let me see your Jewish manuscripts and incunabula.”
Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book
incunabulum: an early printed book, especially one printed before 1501
When Ivy had asked for clarification, she had been told that her abbreviations were “schoolgirlish and recondite.”
Neal Stephenson, Seveneves
recondite: (of a subject or knowledge) little known; abstruse
“If nothing else, I might accidentally step on his fleam and break it; that’s probably the only way I’ll stop him from bleeding people.”
Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross
fleam: a handheld instrument used in bloodletting
I plan on doing more of these posts with the more useful and/or interesting words I turn up, but the scheduling, of course, will depend on what I’m reading and how quickly I acquire new words to share. Until then, keep reading, and keep looking up those definitions!