Words

I have a regular weekly feature — Words from my reading — in which I post the words I’ve recently read, in books, that I was previously unfamiliar with. I include the word, the definition, and the sentence from the book that contains the word.

Instead of explaining all the different aspects of each entry, I’ll just give an example:

coir, n The prepared fiber of the husks of coconuts, used to make matting and rope
page 11, A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
“Then she climbed on a low bench and took her blue dress off the coir rope where she had hung it to air after the last time.”

The Why
I started doing this in early 2009 because I realized that my vocabulary had most likely shrunk from its laudable size in my school years. I’ve always liked learning new words, but since I’m not taking classes and certainly not turning in vocab lists every week for a grade, I found myself realizing I was not even retaining my vocabulary, let alone burgeoning it.

So I slowly acknowledged that to slow this ebb, I needed to act. I get a steady influx of words — I read a lot. What the situation required was a way of capturing those unfamiliar words.

We know that multiple encounters with information makes the likelihood of retention rise. So, I thought, what better way than to blog about these words? This means I’m not only reading the word, but I’m also:
2. writing the word down, along with the page number and part of speech,
3. typing the word,
4. typing the quote,
5. looking up the word, and
6. typing the definition.

This is a definite increase in the number of times I’m engaging with each new (to me) word, so hopefully I’ll learn what they all mean and even remember them the next time I read them.

I also figured that by posting these words on my blog I may boost the vocabulary of my readers. Nothing wrong with that, eh?

A (somewhat) unexpected and unintended side effect: Sometimes there’s a peer pressure element. I’ve made a commitment to post all the words I don’t know, even if I think a word is probably one many people know, or if it’s one I used to know but couldn’t remember when I read it. This has taken some courage, but I’ve stuck with it.

As I’ve continued to collect and post new words, I needed a way to put them all in one place, so I’ve created my Words page. It contains all the words from my words posts, along with their definitions. And instead of being in order of the book I read them in, they’re in alphabetical order. Fitting, yes?


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Word links are to the Words from my reading post that mentions that word; original posts include the sentence I found the word in and sometimes photos to help illustrate a definition, where appropriate, in addition to referencing the book containing the word.

A
aconites, pl n Any of a genus of poisonous plants of the buttercup family, with blue, purple, or yellow hoodlike flowers, monkshood, wolfsbane; a rapidly acting poisonous drug usually made from the dried roots of a European monkshood and formerly used as a cardiac and respiratory sedative
ague, n [archaic] Malaria or some other illness involving fever and shivering
alb, n A loose, sleeved, full-length, gown-light linen vestment secured at the waist by a cincture and worn with other vestments as by the celebrant of Mass
albesia, n Trees that usually grow very straight, the bottom tends to be heavier and more red than the top; produce low-density wood that is relatively easy to carve
alluvial, adj Of, found in, or made up of sand, clay, etc., gradually deposited by moving water, as along a river bed or the shore of a lake
ambulant, adj Moving about, walking
antimacassar, n A small cover on the back or arms of a chair, sofa, etc., to prevent soiling
araliya, n Another name for plumeria, aka frangipani
argent, adj Silvery
argot, n The specialized vocabulary and idioms of those in the same work, way of life, etc., as the language used by computer hackers, slang
arnica, n A plant of the daisy family that bears yellow daisy-like flowers, native to cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental; a preparation of this plant used medicinally, especially for the treatment of bruises (and muscle and joint pain)
ashlar, n A square-cut building stone; a thin, dressed, square stone used for facing masonry walls; masonry made of either kind of ashlar
aspidistra, n Any of a genus of plants of the lily family, with dark, inconspicuous flowers and stiff, glossy, evergreen leaves: cultivated as a house plant
Augean, adj, Requiring so much effort to complete or solve as to seem impossible; of or relating to Augeas, who, in Greek mythology, was a legendary king whose vast stables had never been cleaned
autodidact, n A person who is self-educated
avuncular, adj Of an uncle

B
baize, n Chestnut brown; a thick woolen cloth made to resemble felt and often dyed green, used to cover billiard tables, etc.
baldric, n A belt, usually of ornamented leather, worn across the chest to support a sword or bugle
banian, n In present day Indian English, the USian equivalent of an undershirt; a Hindu merchant; also, a widespread, tropical fig tree native to India (shoots grow from the branches, take root and form new trunks over a relatively wide area)
banyan, n In present day Indian English, the USian equivalent of an undershirt; a Hindu merchant; also, a widespread, tropical fig tree native to India (shoots grow from the branches, take root and form new trunks over a relatively wide area)
batholith, n A very large igneous intrusion extending deep in the earth’s crust
bijou, n A jewel or trinket; something small and exquisite
biloquist, n A person with power of speaking in two distinct voices
bines, n Climbing, twining stems, as of the hop
binnacle, n A built-in housing for a ship’s compass
bodkin, n A dagger or stiletto; a pointed instrument for making holes in cloth; a long, ornamental hairpin; a thick, blunt needle for drawing ribbon or tape through a hem, etc.
bois d’arc, n A small tree, Maclura pomifera, also known as the Osage Orange
boles, pl n Tree trunks
bombai mutai, n Candy floss
bonzes, pl n Buddhist monks
boxty cakes, n Traditional Irish potato pancakes, made of finely grated, raw potato and mashed potato with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and sometimes egg
brigantine, n A two-masted ship like a hermaphrodite brig but with a square-rigged topsail on the mainmast
breviary, n A book containing the Psalms, readings, prayers, etc., of the Divine Office
budgerigar, n Native name for an Australian parakeet having a greenish-yellow body, marked with bright blue on the cheeks and tail feathers, and wings striped with brown
burnouses, pl n [aka burnoose] Thick hooded cloaks worn throughout the Arab world and North Africa

C
cabinet pudding, n Traditional English molded pudding made from bread or sponge cake, often with glacé cherries, served with custard
cacography, n Bad handwriting; incorrect spelling
calor, n Heat, in Latin
calyx, n The outer whorl of protective leaves (sepals) of a flower, usually green; in zoology, a cuplike part of cavity
camelback, n A back with a hump-shaped curve on a sofa or other piece of furniture
cannonade, n Period of continuous, heavy gunfire
canopic jars, pl n Urns used in ancient Egypt to hold and preserve the internal organs of the mummified dead
caparisoned, adj, derived from n caparison An ornamented covering for a horse, trappings
carabinieri, n The Italian police
carapace, n The horny, protective covering over all or part of the back of certain animals, as the upper shell of a turtle, armadillo, crab, etc.
cataleptic, adj Having a condition characterized by a lack of a response to external stimuli and by muscular rigidity, so that the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed, known to occur in a variety of physical and psychological disorders, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia, and can be induced by hypnosis
celluloid, n A transparent flammable plastic made in sheets from camphor and nitrocellulose, formerly used for cinematographic film
chadars, pl n Loose black robes, each made from a single cloth, worn as a combination head covering, veil and shawl by Muslim women
channa, n Snakehead fish
charabanc, n A sightseeing bus [from the French, literally: car with bench]
chasuble, n A sleeveless outer vestment worn over the alb by priests at Mass
chhalli, n Corn
Chinese finger cuffs, n Also known as Chinese finger traps, a simple puzzle that traps the victim’s fingers in both ends of a small, woven bamboo cylinder
chiton, n A loose garment of varying length, similar to a tunic, worn by both men and women in ancient Greece
chivvy, (or chivy) v To hunt, chase; to fret, harass, nag; to manipulate
chockablock, adj Crammed full of people or things
chryselephantine, adj Made of, or overlaid with, gold and ivory, as some ancient Greek statues
chthonian, adj Designating or of the underworld of the dead and its gods and spirits
chthonous, adj Referring to the earth, of the earth; characterized by soil or dirt; related to the underworld
ciborium, n A canopy of wood, stone, etc., that rests on four columns, especially one covering an altar; a covered cup for holding the consecrated wafers of the Eucharist
cincture, n The act of encircling or girding; anything that encircles, as a belt or girdle
clinquant, adj Glittering with or as with gold or silver, tinseled
cockerel, n A young rooster, less than a year old
coir, n The prepared fiber of the husks of coconuts, used to make matting and rope
colleen, n [Irish] A girl
collop, n A portion or piece, especially a small slice of meat; [archaic] a fold of fatty flesh on the body
concupiscence, n Strong sexual desire, lust
contumely, n Haughty and contemptuous rudeness; insulting and humiliating treatment or language
conurbations, pl n Extremely large, densely populated urban areas, usually involving a complex of suburbs and smaller towns together with the large city at their center
coracles, pl n Short, roundish boats made as of animal skins or canvas waterproofed and stretched over wicker or wooden frames
cordovan, n A kind of soft leather made originally from goatskin and now from horsehide
cortege, n The group of attendants accompanying a person, retinue; a ceremonial procession, as at a funeral
coruscation, n A flash or gleam of light, a burst or play of light, as the reflection of lightning by clouds or of moonlight on the sea
costermonger, n Green grocer
cow parsley, n (Also known as wild chervil, wild beaked parsley, and keck) A herbaceous biennial or short-lived perennial plant native to Europe, western Asia and northwestern Africa
crenellations, pl n Regular gaps around the top of a castle for firing arrows or guns; the indentations or loopholes in the top of a battlement or wall, embrasure
croupier, n From French, A person in charge of a gambling table, who rakes in and pays out the money Originally: one who rides on the croup (the top of the rump of a horse, dog, etc., just behind the loin), hence an inferior assistant
cumbrously, adv cumbersomely
curare, n A black, resinous substance prepared from the juices of certain South American plants and used by some Indians for poisoning arrows: it causes motor paralysis when introduced into the bloodstream and is used in medicine for spasms or to relax muscles, as during surgery; any of certain plants from which curare is prepared
cursive, adj Flowing, not disconnected

D
daruka, n Tree (in Sanskrit); also used as a proper name, for males
defenestrating, from the noun defenestration: A throwing out through a window
dekko, n A look, a glance (British colloquialism)
delirium tremens, n An acute episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol
demotic, adj Of the people, popular; designating or of a simplified system of ancient Egyptian writing
deshabille, n [aka dishabille] The state of being carelessly or partially dressed
détente, n A lessening of tension or hostility
detumescent, adj derived from the noun, detumescence: To stop swelling, subside
dholki, n A pre-wedding celebration with dancing, music, and food
diapir, n A dome formation in which the rigid top layers have been split open by pressure from an underlying plastic core
djellaba, n A long, loose outer garment worn in Arabic countries
dolorous, adj Feeling or expressing great sorrow or distress
dotage, n Feeble and childish state due to old age, senility; a doting, foolish or excessive affection
douanier, n An officer of French Customs
dovecote, n A small house or box with compartments for nesting pigeons, usually on a pole
dragoman, n In the Near East, an interpreter or professional guide for travelers
dupattas, pl n Long, multi-purpose scarves that are essential to many South Asian women’s suits

E
Eccles cakes, n A small, round cake filled with currants and made from puff pastry with butter and topped with demerara sugar
ear trumpet, n A trumpet-shaped tube formerly used as a hearing aid by the partially deaf
ekel, n Reed-thin twig left behind when you strip a coconut frond of its greenery
eldritch, adj Strange, unearthly, weird, eerie
eluvium, n An accumulation of dust and soil particles caused by the weathering and disintegration of rocks in place, or deposited by drifting winds, distinguished from alluvium
enjambed, adj Of a line, couplet or stanza of verse, ending partway through a sentence or clause that continues in the next
ergometer, n An apparatus that measures work or energy expended during a period of physical exercise
erubescent, adj Becoming red or reddish, blushing
eugenias, pl n Flowering plants in the myrtle family
eugenics, pl n The movement devoted to improving the human species through the control of hereditary factors in mating
excrescences, pl n Normal outgrowths, natural appendage, as fingernails [this definition is now rare]; abnormal or disfiguring outgrowths or additions, as bunions
exiguous, adj Scanty, little, small, meager
exordium, n The beginning or introductory part, especially of a discourse or treatise

F
factotum, n A person hired to do all sorts of work; handyman
faro, n A card game in which players bet on the order in which the cards will appear
farrago, n A confused mixture, jumble, hodgepodge
fecund, adj Fruitful or fertile, productive, prolific
fervid, adj Hot, glowing; impassioned, fervent
fichu, n A woman’s triangular scarf of lightweight fabric, worn over the shoulders and crossed or tied in a loose knot at the breast
fillip, n The snap made by a finger which is held down toward the palm by the thumb and then suddenly released; a light blow or tap given in this way; anything that stimulates or livens up
firths, pl n Narrow inlets or arms of the sea, estuaries
fleurs-de-lis, pl n Iris; the coat of arms of the former French royal family; an emblem resembling a lily or iris
florid, adj Having a red or flushed complexion; elaborately or excessively intricate or complicated
fontanelle, n Originally, an opening in the body for the discharge of secretions; any of the soft, boneless areas in the skull of a baby or young animal, which are later close up by the formation of bone
fossicking, v Prospecting or searching, as for gold; searching about, rummaging
frangipani tree, n The common name of plumeria
fuchsias, pl n Flowers of a genus of flowering plants, mostly shrubs, and can grow long shoots, which were identified by Charles Plumier in the late-17th century, and named by Plumier in 1703 after the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566)
funicular, adj Of, worked by, or hanging from a rope or cable, a mountain railway on which counterbalanced cars on parallel sets of rails are pulled up and lowered by cables

G
gamboge, n A gum resin obtained from a tropical Asian tree of the Saint Johnswort family, used as a yellow pigment and as a cathartic
gamlas, pl n Flower pots
gantry, n A framework that spans a distance, often moving on wheels at each end, used for carrying a traveling crane; a bridgelike framework over railroad tracks, for supporting signals or for loading
garrote, n A cord, thong, or length of wire for strangling a robbery victim, enemy sentry, etc., in a surprise attack
gasper, n British slang for a cheap cigarette
geniza, adj The store-room or depository in a synagogue (or cemetery), usually specifically for worn-out Hebrew-language books and papers on religious topics that were stored there before they could receive a proper cemetery burial, it being forbidden to throw away writings containing the name of God (even personal letters and legal contracts could open with an invocation of God)
gibbet, n A gallows; a structure like a gallows, from which bodies of criminals already executed were hung and exposed to public scorn
gigot, n A leg of mutton or lamb
gimlet, n A small boring tool with a handle at right angles to a shaft having at the other end a spiral, pointed cutting edge; a cocktail made of sweetened lime juice, gin or vodka, and sometimes soda
glaucous, adj Bluish-green or yellowish-green; in Botany, covered in a pale greenish bloom that can be rubbed off, as grapes, plums, cabbage leaves, etc.
godowns, pl n Warehouses
grampus, n A playful black and white dolphin; killer whale
gorse, n A yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines
Grand Guignol, n Any dramatic production designed to shock and horrify its audience with its gruesome or macabre content [so-named after a former theater in Paris noted for such drama]
grappa, n An Italian brandy distilled from the lees [dregs or sediment] left after pressing grapes to make wine
gymkhanas, pl n Multi-game equestrian events performed to display the training and talents of horses and their riders; in India, gymnasium
gyre, n A circular or spiral motion, whirl, revolution; a circular or spiral form, ring or vortex

H
hauteur, n Disdainful pride, haughtiness, snobbery
hellebores, pl n Any of a genus of poisonous, winter-blooming plants of the buttercup family, with buttercuplike flowers of various colors: the rhizomes of a black European species were formerly used as a heart stimulant and cathartic
helots, pl n Members of the lowest class of serfs in ancient Sparta; any serf of slave [derived from the Laconian town of Helos, whose inhabitants were enslaved by the Spartans]
helter-skelter, n a funfair or amusement park ride with a slide built in a spiral around a high tower, users climb up inside the tower and slide down the outside, usually on a mat, typically the ride will be of wooden construction and, in the case of fairground versions, designed to be disassembled to facilitate transportation between sites
hesternal, adj Pertaining to yesterday (hestern is Latin for yesterday)
hoplites, pl n Heavily armed foot soldiers of ancient Greece
humus, n The organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms

I
ilex, n (aka Holm Oak) A large evergreen oak
imbroglio, n A confused heap; an involved and confusing situation, state of confusion and complication; a confused misunderstanding or disagreement
immiscibly, adv Unmixable
immured, v Shut up within or as within walls, imprison, confine, or seclude; to entomb in a wall
imprecations, pl n Acts of praying for or invoking evil, a curse, etc., on someone or something; curses
incubus, n An evil spirit or demon thought in medieval times to descend upon and have sexual intercourse with women; a nightmare; anything oppressive, burden
incunabula, pl n The very first stages of anything, infancy, beginnings; early printed books, especially books printed before 1500
interrailing, n Traveling throughout Europe using a flexible train ticket for all ages
invidiously, adv Such as to excite ill will, odium, or envy, giving offense; giving offense by discriminating unfairly
Ixora, n Any of a genus of tropical evergreen plants of the madder family, with showy flowers, often grown in greenhouses

J
jackboots, n Combat boots rising to at least mid-calf, with no laces, typically a leather sole with hobnails and heel irons

K
keffiyahs, pl n Traditional headdresses typically worn by Arab men made of a square of cloth, usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles around the head
kepi, n A cap with a flat, round top and stiff visor, worn by French soldiers
khat, or qat, n A plant of the staff-tree family, found in Africa and Arabia; the fresh leaf is chewed for its stimulating effects or used in tea.
khukri, or kukri or khukuri, n Curved Nepalese knife used as both tool and weapon, part of the regimental weaponry and heraldry of The Royal Gurkha Rifles, known to many people as simply the “Gurkha Blade” or “Gurkha Knife”
kivas, pl n Chambers, built wholly or partially underground, used by male Pueblo Indians for religious rights
Kubotans, pl n A close-quarter self-defense weapon developed by Takayuki Kubota, usually 5.5 inches long and 0.56 inch in diameter, slightly thicker or the same size as a marker pen
kurtas, pl n Loose shirts falling either just above or somewhere below the knees of the wearer, and is worn by both men and women; traditionally worn with loose-fitting salwars, tight-fitting churidars, or wrapped-around dhotis
kurumba, n Coconuts that grow in abundance

L
lacuna, n A space where something has been omitted or has come out, gap, hiatus, especially a missing portion in a manuscript, text, etc.; in anatomy and biology, a space, cavity, or depression, specifically, any of the very small cavities in bone that are filled with bone cells
lacunae, pl n A space where something has been omitted or has come out, gap, hiatus, especially a missing portion in a manuscript, text, etc.
lacustrine, adj Of or having to do with a lake or lakes; found or formed in lakes
lambency, n The quality of playing lightly over a surface, flickering (said of a flame, etc.); an appearance of reflected light
landau, n A horse-drawn four-wheeled enclosed carriage with a removable front cover and a back cover that can be raised and lowered
laniary, adj Adapted for tearing, canine: said of teeth
largo, adv & adj [especially as a direction, in music] In a slow tempo and dignified in style
laterite, adj The color that characterizes a red residual soil formed by the leaching of silica and by enrichment with aluminum and iron oxides, especially in humid climates
legations, pl n Diplomatic ministers
lepidopterist, n A specialist in the study of lepidopteran insects (butterflies and moths, characterized by two pairs of broad, membranous wings covered with very fine scales, often brightly colored
lighterman, n Barge driver
lilies of the Nile, pl n A genus of mostly summer-blooming flower plants with six to ten species of herbaceous perennial plants native to South Africa; Agapanthus
lint, n Scraped and softened linen formerly used as a dressing for wounds
liquidambar, n Any of a genus of trees of the witch hazel family, found in Asia and North America, especially the sweet gum
logomachy, n Strife or contention in words only, or an argument about words
loggia, n A gallery or room with one or more open sides, especially one that forms part of a house and has one side open to the garden
louche, adj [French] Questionable, shady, odd
lycanthropic, adj Of or pertaining to a mental illness in which one imagines oneself to be a wolf; of or pertaining to the magical power to transform oneself or another into a wolf

M
macadam, n (after John L. McAdam, and pronounced accordingly) Small broken stones used in making roads, esp., such stones combined with a binder such as tar or asphalt
macaque, n Any of a genus of monkeys of Asia, Africa and the East Indies, with a long or short tail that is not prehensile, including the rhesus monkey and Barbary ape
maghrib azaan, n Call to evening prayer
maguey, n Any of a number of fleshy-leaved, fiber-yielding agaves of the SW U.S., Mexico, and Central America, especially the century plant and species used in making rope, pulque, and tequila; any of several other plants of the same family; any of several kinds of tough fibers from these plants
[M]alacca cane, adj A lightweight walking stick of rattan, often mottled brown [Malacca: A state in Malaysia in West Peninsular Malaysia, on the strait of Malacca]
manipuri, adj Of or relating to the people of Manipur, a state in NE India, on the Myanmar border
maquis, n A zone of shrubby plants, chiefly evergreens, growing in areas having a Mediterranean climate; a member of the French underground fighting against the Nazis in World War II
martinet, n (after Gen. Jean Martinet, 17th century French drillmaster) A very strict military disciplinarian; any very strict disciplinarian or stickler for rigid regulations
mattock, n A tool for loosening the soil, digging up and cutting roots: it is like a pickax but has a flat, adz-shaped blade on one or both sides
melismatic, adj Of or relating to a succession of different notes sung upon a single syllable, as originally in plainsong or, now especially, in the ornamental phrases of Near Eastern and Asian music
mendacious, adj Not truthful, lying or false
meths, pl n British colloquialism, short for methylated spirits, which is ethyl alcohol made unfit to drink by the addition of methanol
mews, n Stables or carriage houses
middens, pl n British, a dunghill or refuse heap; short for kitchen middens
miscegenation, n The interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types
misericord, n A narrow ledge on the underside of a hinged seat, as in a choir stall, designed to support a person standing at rest against the turned-up seat; a dagger used in the Middle Ages for giving the death stroke to a wounded knight
missals, pl n A large book containing the prayers, readings and rubrics authorized by the Roman Catholic Church for the celebration of Mass; any small book with such a content for use by people attending Mass
monomaniac, n One with an excessive interest in or enthusiasm for some one thing, crazed; one who has a mental disorder characterized by irrational preoccupation with one subject
mooks, pl n Disagreeable or incompetent people
moppet, n A small endearingly sweet child
moraine, n A mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier, typically as ridges at its edges or extremity
mote, n A tiny piece of a substance
mouch, v Chiefly British variant of mooch
moue, n A pouting grimace, a wry face
murex, n Any of a genus of flesh-eating snails, found in warm salt waters and having a rough, spiny shell (some species yield a purple substance formerly valued as dye
muzzy, adj Confused, befuddled; blurred [probably a combination of mu(ddy) and (fu)zzy] (colloquial)

N
nabob, n A native provincial deputy or governor of the old Mogul Empire in India; a very rich or important man
naïf, adj Naive or ingenuous
napery, n Household linen, especially tablecloths and napkins
necropolis, n A cemetery, especially one belonging to an ancient city
netsuke, n An ornamental button or figure of ivory, wood, etc., once used to attach a purse or other article to a kimono sash
neurasthenic, adj Having a former category of mental disorder, including such symptoms as irritability, fatigue, weakness, anxiety, and localized pains without apparent physical causes, thought to result from weakness or exhaustion of the nervous system
nikah, n The contract between a bride and bridegroom and part of an Islamic marriage, a strong covenant
nilamé, n Official dignitary, usually of royal ancestry
noctilucent, adj Shining in the night, said especially of high-altitude clouds that reflect twilight to the earth long after sunset or long before sunrise
nostrum, n A medicine prepared by the person selling it; a patent medicine of a kind with exaggerated claims, quack medicine; a pet scheme for solving some social or political problem, panacea
noumenal, adj derived from the noun, noumenon: In Kantian philosophy, a thing as it is in itself, unable to be known through perception but postulated as the intelligible ground of a phenomenon
novenas, pl n The recitation of prayers and the practicing of devotions on nine days, usually to seek some special favor
novitiates, plural n The period or state of being a novice
nympholept, n One who longs passionately for the unattainable

O
obduracy, n, derived from adj obdurate Not easily moved to pity or sympathy, hardhearted; hardened and unrepenting, impenitent; not giving in readily, stubborn, obstinate, inflexible
occidental, adj [old poetic] Western
odalisque, n [historical] A female slave or concubine in a harem, especially one in the seraglio — women’s apartments — of the sultan of Turkey
onanism, n Coitus interruptus; masturbation
oneiric, adj Of or having to do with dreams
ophidian, adj Of or like a snake or serpent
opuntia, n Any of a large genus of cactus plants with red, purple or yellow flowers, pulpy or dry berries, and fleshy, jointed stems, including the prickly pears and chollas
oriel, adj A large window built out from a wall and resting on a bracket or a corbel; bay window
ormolu, n An imitation gold made of an alloy of copper and tin, used in making ornaments, moldings, cheap jewelry, etc.; imitation gold leaf
orotund, adj Clear, strong, and deep; resonant: said of the voice. Bombastic or pompous: said of a style of speaking or writing
ossuary, n A container, as an urn, vault, etc., for the bones of the dead
ouzo, adj A colorless Greek liqueur flavored with aniseed

P
pabulum, n Food or sustenence; nourishment for the mind
pachysandra, n Any of a genus of low, dense-growing, hardy evergreen plants of the box family, often used for ground cover in the shade
palams, pl n Iced popsicles
palfreys, pl n [Archaic] A saddle horse, especially a gentle one for a woman
palimpsest, n A parchment, tablet, etc., that has been written upon or inscribed two or three times, the previous text or texts having been imperfectly erased and remaining, therefore, still partly visible; literally, rubbed again
panegyrics, pl n Formal speeches or pieces of writing praising a person or event; high or hyperbolic praise, laudation; tribute
panoply, n A complete suit of armor; any protective covering; any complete or magnificent covering or array
pantechnicon, n Originally, a bazaar where all kinds of things were sold; a warehouse; a furniture van
parturient, adj Giving birth or about to give birth to young; of childbirth; on the point of coming forth with a discovery, idea, etc.
parvenu, n A person who has suddenly acquired wealth or power, especially one who is not fully accepted socially by the class associated with the higher position, upstart
pastiche, n A literary, artistic or musical composition made up of bits from various sources, potpourri; a literary, artistic or musical composition intended to imitate or caricature another artist’s style; a jumbled mix, hodgepodge
paten, n A metal disk or plate, especially one of precious metal for holding the bread in a Eucharistic service
patois, n A regional form of a language, esp. of French, differing from the standard, literary form of the language
pellucid, adj Transparent or translucent, clear; easy to understand, clear and simple in style
perfidious, adj Treacherous, faithless
perscrutation, n A thorough searching, a minute inquiry or scrutiny
phalanx, n An ancient military formation of infantry in close, deep ranks with shields overlapping and spears extended; a massed group of individuals, compact body; a group of individuals united for a common purpose; the people forming a phalanstery; in anatomy, any of the bones forming the fingers or toes
pheal, n The cry of the jackal when hunting behind a tiger
philatelic, adj Of or related to the study of postage stamps, postmarks, stamped envelopes, etc.
philately, n The collection and study of postage stamps, postmarks, stamped envelopes, etc.
pillory, n A device consisting of a wooden board with holes for the head and hands, in which petty offenders were formerly locked and exposed to public scorn; any exposure to public scorn, etc.
piñon, n [aka pinyon] A small pine tree with edible seeds — pine nuts — native to Mexico and the southwest U.S.
plagioclase, n A form of feldspar [abundant rock-forming mineral] consisting of aliuminosilicates of sodium and/or calcium, common in igneous rocks and typically white
plastron, n A metal breastplate worn under a coat of mail; a padded protector worn over the chest by fencers; a trimming like a dickey, worn on the front of a woman’s dress; a starched shirt front; the lower, ventral part of the shell of a turtle or tortoise
plus-fours (or plus fours), n Loose knickerbockers worn, especially formerly, for active sports
poetasters, pl n A writer of mediocre verse, rhymester, would-be poet
poon, n [Reputable dictionaries are telling me this is a type of tree with light, hard wood used for masts and spars. Context, however, seems to fit the Urban Dictionary definition much better: Vagina.]
porphyry, n Originally, an Egyptian rock with large feldspar crystals contained in a purplish groundmass; any igneous rock with large, distinct crystals, especially of alkali feldspar, embedded in a fine-grained matrix
porte cochere, n A large entrance gateway into a courtyard; a kind of porch roof projecting over a driveway at an entrance, as of a house
poruwa, n A beautifully decorated wooden platform on which the traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony takes place
postilion, n A person who rides the leading left-hand horse of a team or pair drawing a coach or carriage, especially when there is no coachman
prognathic, adj Having the jaws projecting beyond the upper face
pruno, or prison wine, n Alcoholic liquid variously made from apples, oranges, fruit cocktail, ketchup, sugar, and possibly other ingredients, including bread
prurient, adj Having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters
pullulation, n derived from the v pullulate to sprout out, germinate, bud; to breed quickly; to spring up in abundance; teem or swarm
punks, pl n Any substances, such as decayed wood, that smolders when ignited, used as tinder, especially a chemically treated fungous substance shaped into slender, fragile, light-brown sticks

Q
qat, or khat, n A plant of the staff-tree family, found in Africa and Arabia; the fresh leaf is chewed for its stimulating effects or used in tea.
quotidian, adj Daily, recurring every day; everyday, usual or ordinary

R
rataplan, n The beating of a drum, or a sound like this
ravished, n [Archaic] Seized and carried off by force
reboso, n A wide rectangular woven shawl
recamier, n A type of couch, usually backless, with gracefully scrolled ends
refectory, n A room used for communal meals, especially in educational or religious institutions
refulgent, adj Shining, radiant, glowing, resplendent
rejets, pl n [French] A brief item (a few syllables followed by a sharp cut) syntactically related to the preceding verse, but deferred (“rejected”) at the beginning of the next verse for emphasis and surprise after the strong attenuation
reliquary, n A case or other container in which relics are kept and displayed for veneration
retort, n A container, generally of glass and with a long tube, in which substances are distilled, as in a laboratory; a vessel in which ore is heated to extract a metal, coal is heated to produce gas, etc.
retsina, n A Greek wine flavored with pine resin
revenants, pl n People who return, as after a long absence; ghosts
rictus, n A sustained gaping, as of a bird’s beak or an animal’s mouth; the opening so produced; a fixed, gaping grin
riprap, adj A foundation or wall made of broken stones thrown together irregularly or loosely, as in water or on a soft bottom
rochet, n A knee-length, narrow-sleeved, light outer garment of linen and lace, worn by prelates in some ceremonies
rooks, pl n Gregarious European crows, each with a bare spot by its bill; swindlers, cheats
rue, n A flowering plant of some sort
runnel, n A small stream, little brook or rivulet; a small channel or watercourse
rusks, n Sweet, raised bread or cake toasted in an oven, or baked a second time, after slicing, until browned and crisp

S
sacerdotal, adj Of or relating to priests or the priesthood; priestly
saltire, n A bearing like a Saint Andrew’s cross, formed by a bend and a bend sinister crossing [example: The X shape found on flags]
salubrious, adj Health-giving, healthy; sanitary
samaras, pl n A dry, one-seeded, winged fruit, as of the maple
sampans, pl n Relatively flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boats 12 to 15 feet long
sangfroid, n Composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances
sarky, adj British colloquialism, sarcastic
scapegrace, n [archaic] A mischievous or wayward person, especially a young person or child, rascal
scapulars, pl n Short monastic cloaks covering the shoulders; a symbol of affiliation to an ecclesiastical order, consisting of two strips of cloth hanging down the breast and back and joined over the shoulders
schist, n Any of a group of metamorphic rocks containing parallel layers of flaky materials, as mica or talc, and splitting easily into thin, parallel leaves
secateurs, pl n Shears used for pruning [chiefly British]
semaphores, pl n Apparatus for signaling, as the arrangement of lights, flags, and mechanical arms on railroads; a system of signaling by the use of two flags, one held in each hand: the letters of the alphabet are represented by the various positions of the arms
sententiously, adv In a manner characterized by moralizing in a pompous or affected way; with striking brevity
seraglio, n The part of a Muslim household where wives or concubines live, harem; the palace of a Turkish sultan
shagreen, n Rawhide with a rough, granular surface, made from the skin of the horse, seal, etc.; the hard, rough skin of a shark or dogfish, used as a polisher
shalwar kameezes, pl n Traditional dress worn by both women and men in South Asia, the national dress of Pakistan; Salvars or shalvars are loose pajama-like trousers. The legs are wide at the top, and narrow at the bottom. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic. The side seams (known as the chaak) are left open below the waistline, which gives the wearer greater freedom of movement
shambolic, adj [chiefly British slang] Disorderly or chaotic
sharded, adj Broken into small pieces with sharp edges
sibilant, adj Having or making a hissing sound
sibylline, adj Of or like any of certain women consulted as prophetesses by the ancient Greeks and Romans; of or like a fortuneteller; prophetic
simooms, n A hot, violent, sand-laden wind of the African and Asiatic deserts
sinecure, n Originally, an endowed church office providing a living for a vicar, rector, etc., not involving the care of souls; any office or position providing an income or other advantage but requiring little or no work
slattern, n A woman who is careless and sloppy in her habits, appearance, work, etc.; a sexually promiscuous woman, slut
sobriquet, n A nickname; an assumed name
soca, n A form of dance music that originated in the Islands of Trinidad and Tobago from calypso music, originally combined the melodic lilting sound of calypso with insistent percussion (which is often electronic in recent music) and local chutney music
solipsistic, adj Of or pertaining to the theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified, the only reality
sou, n Any of several former French coins, especially one equal to five centimes
soupçon, n A very small quantity of something
Spode, n A fine porcelain or chinaware, after Josiah Spode (1754-1827), English potter
spraddle-legged, adv With the legs sprawled, spread apart
squiffy, adj (colloquial) Drunk, intoxicated
squills, pl n Sea onions (the dried bulb of white varieties of a plant of the lily family, formerly used in medicine); scilla (any of a genus of low, bulbous, perennial plants of the lily family, grown for their blue, pink, or white, bell-shaped flowers)
squireens, pl n A small landowner, petty squire
steganographic, adj From the Greek, Using concealed writing
stomachers, pl of stomacher n Richly ornamented, triangular piece of cloth formerly worn, especially by women, as a covering for the chest and abdomen
strimming, n The act or motion of a weed whacker or string trimmer
sulkies, pl n Light two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicles for one person each, used chiefly in harness racing
susurrus, n A whispering, murmuring, or rustling sound
sybaritic, adj from the noun Sybarite: Any of the people of ancient Sybaris; anyone very fond of self-indulgence and luxury; voluptuary
sylph, n In Paracelsus’s alchemical system, any of a class of mortal, soulless beings supposed to inhabit the air; a slender, graceful woman or girl

T
tattersall, adj (after Tattersall’s, a London horse market and gamblers’ rendezvous, founded in 1766 by Richard Tattersall) Having a checkered pattern of dark lines on a light background
tipple, n An apparatus for emptying coal, etc., from a mine car by tipping
thurible, n Censer, an ornamented container in which incense is burned
thutter, n A dull, vibrating sound
thwart, n A structural crosspiece sometimes forming a seat for a rower in a boat
tonsured, adj Having a clipping or shaving off of part or all of the hair of the head, done especially (formerly) as a signal of entrance into the clerical or monastic state
torc, n A rigid piece of personal adornment made from twisted metal, worn as an arm ring, a circular neck ring, or a necklace that is open-ended at the front
torrefied, adj Dried by fire
trammels, pl n A fishing net consisting of two outer layers of coarse mesh and a loosely hung middle layer of fine mesh; something that confines, retrains, or shackles
treacle, n British term for molasses
trilbies, n, plural of trilby: A man’s soft felt hat with a narrow brim and the crown deeply dented from front to back; the name derives from a 1895 play based on Du Maurier’s novel Trilby, during which one was originally worn. A trilby is similar to the chiefly American fedora, except the brim of a trilby is narrower than that on a fedora.
trireme, n An ancient Greek or Roman galley, usually a warship, with three banks of oars on each side
troglodytes, pl n Any of the prehistoric people who lived in caves, cave man; people who choose to live alone in seclusion, recluse; people who live in a primitive or degenerate fashion; anthropoid apes
tuica (pronounced: tsweeka), n A traditional Romanian alcoholic beverage, usually made from plums
tuits, pl n Circular objects giving owners the ability to get done everything that would have otherwise been put off to a later date
tumulus, n An artificial mound, especially an ancient burial mound, barrow
tun, n A large cask, especially for wine, beer, or ale
turbot, n Any of various flounders highly regarded as food
turtleheads, pl n Of a genus of perennial North American plants of the figwort family, with showy, tubular, white or pink flowers
tweeny, n A housemaid, especially a scullery maid: now historical

U
ulster, n A long, loose, heavy overcoat, especially one with a belt, originally made of Irish frieze [named after Ulster, a former province of Ireland, divided in 1920, with six of its counties forming Northern Ireland and the other three forming a province of the Republic of Ireland]
unagi rolls, adj A traditional roll that can be found in most sushi restaurants that contains cooked and usually teriyaki flavored eel
uniquity, n [Rare] The quality or state of being unique, uniqueness
unmixed wine, n Undiluted, neat [Ancient Greeks and Romans considered it barbaric to drink wine neat.]

V
vathu-suddha, n A small leaved white flower, literally: “flower that brightens a garden.”
venal, adj Capable of being obtained for a price; that can readily be bribed or corrupted; characterized by bribery or corruption
verdure, n Lush green vegetation
vertiginous, adj Of, affected by, or causing vertigo, dizzy or dizzying; whirling about, spinning; marked by quick or frequent change, unstable
volutes, pl n “Large tight curls that resembled the scrolls of an Ionic capital, a hairstyle popular among ancient Roman noblewomen”

W
wastrels, pl n Wasteful or good-for-nothing people
whinge, v [British colloquialism] To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner n A whine or complaint
whipsawed, v Cut with a long-bladed saw, especially a crosscut saw with a tapering blade from 5 to 7.5 feet long and with a handle at each end, usually used by two persons; to defeat or get the best of a person two ways at once
whitleather, n White leather; leather dressed or tawed with alum, salt, etc., remarkable for its pliability and toughness
wiseacre, n A person with an affectation of wisdom or knowledge, regarded with scorn or irritation by others, a know-it-all

X

Y

Z
zamindar, n A landlord who owns more than 500 acres of arable land in the countryside
zuhr azaan, n Call to noon prayer

8 responses to “Words

  1. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  2. Pingback: Answering your questions « Word Lily

  3. I found you through Bermuda Onion’s Wondrous Words Wednesday meme. When I came across your alphabetical list, I looked for the word I posted about today, perfidious. And, lo and behold, there it was. I’m impressed!

  4. I just found out about this project of yours, and… kudos to you! Keep it on, it’s great (and you are doing fine!)

  5. Love this idea! I should take the time to jot down the words that I’m not familiar with when I’m reading. I’m so lazy that I usually just skip over them, though! lol I love your little glossary here… so cool!!!

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