From the last hundred pages or so of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman:
obtruncate: to deprive of a limb (makes sense).
indissoluble: perpetual or incapable of being dissolved or destroyed. I love double negatives within words.
oedematous: of or pertaining to the edema (obviously). Edema: interstitial cellular fluid.
sententious: given to pithy or moralizing sayings.
ratiocination: the process of logical reasoning.
aposiopetic: (aposiopesis) breaking off a sentence in the middle, as if unable to proceed
parallelogramical: parallelogram-shaped (clearly; I just liked the word).
radix: the base of a numerical system, or the root of a plant (interesting).
jactitation: a boast that causes harm to another, also extreme restlessness in bed?
delectation: enjoyment (knew it).
saturnine: sluggish, melancholy, or bitter in temperament.
farthingal: hoops used to expand women’s skirts at the time of the book.
palfry: (palfrey) a woman’s saddle, smaller and softer.
placket-hole: the hole that goes into a pocket (!).
concupiscence: sexual lust, or more generally, passion.
windlass: a sort of crank-based lifting machine (no idea).
costive: constipated, slow to act, or stingy (very versatile word!).
impuissance: (impuissant) weak, feeble.
captious: of a disposition to point out faults, or ensnaring and perplexing when referring to argument.
farrago: a mixture or medley.
pannier: a basket or bag (i.e. breadbasket), or again hoops to expand skirts.
basilicon: an ointment made of wax, pitch, resin, and oil or lard.
ecliptic, trine, and sextil: all terms to do with astrological positions.
argute: shrewd or subtle (I assume it has roots in the hundred-eyed god Argus).
It never occurred to me that the above oath, so benign and absurd in sound, is actually a corruption of “God’s hooks,” a euphemism for the nails in the cross. Gadzooks indeed!
From Burton’s translation of the 1001 Nights.
grammarye: corruption of “grammary” or vice versa. General knowledge or erudition.
nenuphar: the “great white water lily of Europe.” Okay…
carnelian: a type of red chalcedony made into jewelry. Was a descriptor for some lady’s lips.
wot: know. Variation of “wit.”
lout: bend or stoop low out of courtesy. (I know what the other lout is)
wassail: to drink someone’s health or revel in general with drink.
sworder: swordsman or fighter.
eyne: archaic plural of “eye.” Really now, you could just say eyes.
hent: to seize or grab.
garth: a courtyard or garden.
syce: a groom or stable boy.
viaticum: supplies for a journey – also when the Eucharist is given to one near death.
gugglet: see guglet > see goglet > a long-necked earthenware container for water or liquid.
dight: to dress or adorn.
limn: to portray or illuminate – originally to literally illuminate.
meseemeth: it seems to me. Obviously… but come on.
Did you ever notice that “broadcast,” when broken down, essentially means to “throw in a wide pattern?” Neither did I. And yet it makes so much sense. Start looking closely at everything about you and you find this sort of thing everywhere.
From the first half of Bleak House:
ait – a small island, esp. in a river. In green aits and fields…
nosegay – a bouquet of flowers. I knew this one.
patten – a sort of clog worn to give height or keep one out of the mud. I would have guessed some sort of special mitten.
pattening – can’t find anything for this one. Possibly a misprint of “patterning?” It has to do with clothes.
purblind – partially or totally blind. I’m thinking it’s related to “par-boiled.”
weazen – like wizened, but with 100% more ea. Suffix optional.
tapis – a carpet or tapestry.
prolixity – of unnecessary or tedious length. Wordy.
prosing – to speak or write in prose, usually in a dull way. I thought so, just making sure.
paviour – a paving material or person who paves. Might as well just say “paver.”
emolument – profit or fees resulting from labor. Pay, essentially.
nankeen – some sort of yellowish clothing made from Chinese cotton. Makes sense.
desultory – haphazard, inconsistent, tangential (unrelated to sultry)
- casuist – apparently one whose reasoning is suspect or false
- catafalque – no idea
- sbirri – some sort of authority in France, possibly Huguenot-related
- exordium – an introductory or explanatory passage?
- caparison – part of a horse’s decoration
- caracole – something horses do
- fauteuil – has to do with fainting, but may be furniture as well
- carbuncle – a jewel, if I remember correctly… also an esper
- soubrette – a lady’s personal servant
- quodlibet – your guess is as good as mine
- laveer – ditto
I guess I could google these, but I’m busy. Little help?