Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pleasingly Unusual Words

Being a writer and a word-collector, I would class myself as having an oft-used (!), rather large and wide vocabulary but even so, when I’m reading, I often come across words whose definition I don’t know. As you’d imagine, I’m a bit of a sad scholar when it comes to this (!), and jot them down; later, I’ll look up their definition and record this in a notebook.
When I was adding to the list the other day, I flipped back to the beginning and read through the collection of previously unknown words (and some were stubborn, being repeated as I’d clearly not learned/remembered what they meant after all!). There were quite a few that I smiled at – so I thought I’d share them with you, in the hope they make you smile too:
·         Petrichor = the pleasant smell of earth after rain [LOVE this smell!]
·         Palimpsest = a manuscript written over earlier ones [Which is what I do, as I use the rejected drafts of previous work to print on for Novel Number Two’s drafts...]
·         Dulcet = (esp. of sound) sweet; soothing
·         Ailurophile = a cat-lover [Definitely me!]
·         Esprit de l’escalier = to be unable to think of a witty retort in time (French; literally to have the
wit of the stair)
·         Maven = an expert; pundit
·         Amanuensis = a literary assistant, esp. one who writes dictation or copies from a manuscript
·         Rapprochement = drawing together; renewal of cordial relationships [I find the word to be almost onomatopoeic (= sounding like what it means), as I can almost hear the disgruntled sides agreeing to disagree and get on after all!]
·         Paucity = smallness of quantity; insufficiency
·         Froideur = coolness in personal relationships
·         Truculent = aggressive and discourteous; very fierce [Again, an onomatopoeic word for me, as I can hear the tone a truculent person would use in snapping out their conversation!]
·         Homily = a talk giving advice and encouragement [And encouragement is always welcome!]
·         Contretemps = something happening at the wrong time; embarrassing [Just by saying this word, I can picture the scene...]
·         Banjax = (Anglo-Irish) to ruin, destroy; thwart [I chuckled when I first read this word, as I’d never heard of it before, but now I rather like it – at work, I know I’ve been banjaxed by the odd customer or two, as you just can’t please everybody, no matter what you try!]
·         Comity = (mass noun) courtesy and considerate behaviour towards others [At work, a.k.a ‘customer service’ – expected even towards the belligerent, banjaxing customer!]
·         Rapacious = greedy for gain [I can just picture a rapacious person counting their coins and scheming for more money, can’t you?]
·         Farrago = a disordered mixture; a confusing mass of objects or people [Which was what this cupboard-under-the-stairs was, before I turned it into my Writing Room four years ago!]
·         Prolix = long and wordy [I do try not to be, but...!]
·         Vendeuse = a saleswoman [Oh, I am, at the shop I work in...and with words!]
·         Querulous = complaining in a petulant or whining manner
·         Pettifog = to quibble about petty points [I bet we have all encountered people who do this...and don’t we wish they would stop pettifogging!]
·         Alacrity = brisk and cheerful readiness
·         Overweening [and no, there isn’t a missing-letter typo...which is what I thought had happened when I first read it!] = showing excessive confidence or pride [And can’t you just picture these people preening like a peacock?!]
·         Encomium = a speech or piece of writing that praises something or someone highly
·         Loquacious = tending to talk a great deal; talkative [a.k.a. a photo of me under ‘chatterbox’ in the dictionary!]
and finally...
·         Ameliorate = (formal) to make something (bad or unsatisfactory) better
...which is just what lists of words do for me! Let me know if you enjoyed these, and if so, I’ll post some more another time.
~ ttfn ~