anacreontic: after the style of Anacreon, a Greek poet fond of women and drinking
tholus: a circular building with a conical or vaulted roof (Greek)
architrave: the lowermost molding at the top of a colonnade
gonfalon: a standard or banner hung from a crossbar
caique: a rowboat or small sailing ship
fiacre: a small, four-wheeled carriage
pardine: a leopard or panther
nigrescent: not quite black
hypallage: a reversal of an expected phrasing (i.e. doing well -> well doing)
renversé: a French term, meaning something performed with a bent waist
toise: an old French unit of length equivalent to 6.4ft (almost exactly 2m)
quinsy: an outdated term for some forms of tonsil-related disease
obliquity: divergent – mathematically, astronomically, or mentally
iracundulous: a redundant addition to iracund (prone to anger)
tunicle: a garment worn by certain religious functionaries
meseraick: an anatomical term relating to the humors
eleemosynary: pertaining to or supported by charity
prolegomena: an introductory essay or preface
whilom: formerly or at one time
From Ten Thousand A-Year
pomatum: a perfumed unguent for the scalp (it’s pomade)
bedizen: to ornament or dress in a showy or pompous manner
opprobrious: expressing (or bringing) reproach or scorn
champerty: sharing the proceeds of a lawsuit by an outside party who has encouraged the
litigation. Used to be illegal, is now the standard
animadversion: a critical or reproachful remark
jackanapes: an impudent person, especially a young man or child
fustian: a stout fabric of cotton and flax, or unnecessarily turgid language
virago: a strong and forward woman, or critical and scolding woman
palaver: to talk profusely or idly
From Glaucus; or, The Wonders of the Shore
congener: an organism belonging to the same class or group as another organism
coracle: a small boat made of wicker and a treated or waterproof material
sciolism: superficial knowledge, or a pretentious attitude of scholarship
tyro: a beginner or novice
metempsychosis: belief in reincarnation (as animals and plants included)
teraphim: household gods, worshiped by early Hebrews via idols
eidolon: a phantom, apparition, or idol
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?