Words, showing off, and quiet sobs

Several years ago I read the Gormenghast books, which are a prolix (keep reading; all will be revealed) trilogy that probably everybody ought to read. They’re far, far better than the TV version, and Mervyn Peake had to have either a huge, unwieldy thesaurus that beat him regularly with a blunt instrument, or quite a large vocabulary. Eventually, while reading, I started a list of words that I didn’t know, or that I knew but that are rarely used, or that I knew but that he used in a decidedly odd manner, or that I knew only by context (as opposed to by dictionary) and his context was wildly different. I intended to look them up someday.

Today is Someday. Enjoy and expand. 🙂

abactinal: of or relating to the surface or end opposite to the mouth in a radiate animal

adumbrate: represent in outline; indicate faintly; foreshadow

amaranthine:  relating to an amaranth (a plant with teeny-tiny seeds used as a grain); undying

anile: of or like an old woman; an imbecile (oh, boy; I suspect I’ll be hearing this frequently from Disrespectful Sons)

apparison: The OED has no opinion on the matter. Yes, really.

attenuate: reduce the force, effect, or value of; as an adjective, thinned out / reduced in thickness

chiasmic: like a crossing; in biology, e.g. to describe the crossing of the optic nerves at the base of the brain; or maybe to reverse the order of clauses in a sentence. Take your pick.

conduce: help to bring about (a particular situation or outcome)

contumely: insolent or insulting language or treatment

crepuscular: (animals) that are active primarily during twilight

cruddle: to curdle; also, that “cruddy” means “curdy”

dacelike:  a dace is a kind of shoal-forming fish common in fast-flowing rivers in England and Wales

daidal: good question, unless he misspelled “daidle,” which means to move or act slowly (ref “to dawdle”). Again, the OED careth not.

effulgence: radiant splendor; brilliance

flexuous: OED spells it “flexuouse” and says it refers mostly to botany, meaning undulating, sinuous, full of curves.

fuscous: dark, dusky, swarthy

glacid: Once again, Our Friend the OED turns up its nose. I think the guy was making it up as he went along. Jazz writing. Since I didn’t keep track of context, maybe related to Latin “glaciare,” “to freeze,” whence cometh our “glacier”? Or related to glazing (the glass kind)?

ilex: a tree or shrub of a genus that includes holly and its relatives

lapsury: This has to be made up. For “lap of luxury.” Has to be. The OED’s eyes are getting sweaty.

marcid: pining; lean; withered; emaciated

marmoreal: made of or likened to marble

peregrine (applied to a character’s features): coming from another country, abroad on a journey; foreign or outlandish. Outside of the falcon, I always think of this in terms of pilgrims or wanderers. Yeah, yeah, inside of the falcon, it’s dark, I know.

profluence: flowing forth or onward out of the main body

prog: prowl about for as if for food or plunder; food obtained by begging

prolix: using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy. See? I wasn’t kidding. All is revealed.

purdah: the practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in a separate room or behind a curtain, or of dressing in all-enveloping clothes, in order to remain unseen by men or strangers; a curtain used for screening off women

querial: Those sweaty eyes are looking distinctly tearful. Maybe he meant related to a query? Without context, who knows? Perhaps I took poor notes.

rotier: a member of a band of mercenaries in France in the late medieval period; but this was not found in the OED, which remains silent on the matter (unless that be soft whimpering I hear).

scorbutic: relating to or affected by scurvy

spilth: apparently an archaic spelling of “spilt,” or a word for rubbish

strangulate: prevent blood circulation through (a part of the body, especially a hernia) by constriction

triturate / untriturate: to grind to a fine powder; chew or grind food thoroughly

tyro: a beginner or novice

valetudinarian: a person who is unduly anxious about his or her health

volitant: able to fly

welkin: the sky, the firmament, where clouds float, or even heaven

Our old friend has crept off into a corner and is, indeed, quietly sobbing. Me, I’m thinking this Peake guy did a lot of pointless word inventing. It’s one thing to invent a word because a good one doesn’t exist (like “petrichor,” the word for the scent after a long-awaited rain, which if I recall correctly was invented back in the 60s), but just to fool your readers or make them feel left out and stupid? Bad form.

Excuse me. I have a large, quivering dictionary to comfort and console.

Posted by wordsmith

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