Variation on the Word Sleep

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Vocabulary Building

So I've been reading the book Justine by Lawrence Durrell it's a pretty incredible book which I highly recommend. One of the things that I really enjoy about it though are the words I don't know. I have a reasonably large vocabulary, and it's rare that I run across more than one word I don't know while reading a book. Justine is definitely an exception. So here's the list of words I haven't known and their definitions as best I could work out:

Phthisic - the adjective form of "a disease marked by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or a body part"

Aniline - the adjective form of "a colorless, oily, poisonous benzene derivative used in the manufacture of rubber, dyes, resins, pharmaceuticals and varnishes." This only makes sense with a lot of context from the book because the sentence he uses it is "I saw her daily for many months on end, but her sullen aniline beauty awoke no response in me."

Lambenic - must be some form of lambent which means "Having a gentle glow; luminous"

Self-abnegation - abnegation means "self denial" which leaves me wondering why exactly he went for self abnegation.

Protean - I'd heard this one before, but I still had to look it up "readily taking on varied shapes, forms, or meanings."

Surcease - "to bring or come to an end; stop." I like the ambiguity of to bring or come to an end.

Daimon - this immediately brought to mind Phillip Pullman's wonderful His Dark Materials trilogy, the actual meaning here is "an attendant spirit; a genius"

Affray - should have guessed this one from the roots, "A noisy quarrel or brawl."

Meretricious - took a couple of dictionaries, but it comes from the latin for prostitute. Too bad they didn't teach that when I took latin. Either "1. of or pertaining to prostitutes; lustful." or "2. alluring by false show; gaudily and deceitfully ornamental."

Exigent - I thought it might have something to do with exigesis, but its: "1. Requiring immediate action or remedy." or "2. Requiring much effort or expense."

Ambuscade - "An ambush" or "To attack suddenly and without warning from a concealed place." Next time I see an ambush lying in wait I'll say "Watch out! An ambuscade!" and watch people wonder what the hell I'm talking about.

Banausic - disagreeing dictionaries on this one "1. Merely mechanical; routine. 2. Of or relating to a mechanic." or "ordinary and not refined."

Well that's what I managed and I'm only 75 pages into the first book of a quartet. I'm excited. Here's a quote from the book:

"...for those of us who feel deeply and who are at all concious of the inextricable tangle of human thought there is only one response to be made -- ironic tenderness and silence."



  • I'm so happy to see that someone else is so excited about words that he writes them down. I secretly (well, secretly until now) make lists and lists of words and their definitions. I also like making flashcards (they are fun when stuck in traffic) and writing lots of sentences.
    Words, happy words!

    By Blogger a., at August 30, 2004 at 8:12 AM  

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