Words from my reading

A few fun words that were new to me this week:

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
page 108, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“The streets below the streets below his feet, buried like old writing on a palimpsest.”

vertiginous, adj Of, affected by, or causing vertigo, dizzy or dizzying; whirling about, spinning; marked by quick or frequent change, unstable
page 122, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“Wherever he could see through the trees were vertiginous cobbled streets, fortresses and palaces, lichened domes and buttresses.”

rooks, pl n Gregarious European crows, each with a bare spot by its bill; swindlers, cheats
page 123, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“At one turning Ben glimpsed something in black, a huddled, hurrying figure, but when he looked back it was gone, and rooks were rising over the rooftops, cawing and threshing at the wind.”
I know the chess-context definition of this word, but I didn’t know it was also a kind of bird.

meths, pl n British colloquialism, short for methylated spirits, which is ethyl alcohol made unfit to drink by the addition of methanol
page 123, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“A Volvic bottle one-third full of homemade pink wine, the smell of it as rough as meths.”
Obviously I know what meth is (I worked at a newspaper, on the crime beat), but this was clearly talking about something different.

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
page 124, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“The rooks were back, Ben saw, watching from ridges and fissures, their voices echoing between outcrops of juniper and opuntia.”

A helter skelter ride, via Wikipedia, taken by Jeremy Keith.

calor, n Heat, in Latin
page 124, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“Calor for cooking.”

uniquity, n [Rare] The quality or state of being unique, uniqueness
page 133, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“Its uniquity arose from love.”

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
page 140, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“The skin there, each cavity as taut and hot as a fontanelle.”

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
page 140, The Hidden by Tobias Hill

Monkshood, taken by hickoryrose. Prettier than that description, no?

“All were for local events — an outdoor evensong, a farmer’s market — but it was the summer fair they fell for, the picture showing old carousels, a helter-skelter, traction engines.”
I know some uses for this word, and a definition, but this usage doesn’t fit that.

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
page 142, The Hidden by Tobias Hill
“The winter aconites —”

More and more words from The Hidden. (And we’re not done yet, folks!) More great words on my Words from my reading page.

Review of book cited here:
The Hidden by Tobias Hill

What new words have you found lately?

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11 responses to “Words from my reading

  1. HA! I love it when I know at least a few of your “words from my reading”! I knew palimpsest and fontanelle, and I probably could have worked out vertiginous, too. The rest were all new to me.

  2. Unfortunately I’m all too familiar with vertiginous since I struggle with vertigo. You found some great words!

  3. Vertiginous is the only one I knew. I’ve used helter-skelter in other ways, but never heard that definition. INteresting finds.

  4. That’s a lot of words for one book and you say there are more? I think it would be distracting to have that many. On the other hand, look how much you learned.

    • Yes, indeed, it is a lot of words from one book — this is the third week, and I’m nowhere close to done with my list, I should have words for at least two more weeks from this book. And yes, it’s somewhat distracting, but I did learn a lot of words because of it! 🙂

  5. I love “palimpsest”! I remember when I first learned that word, and I was so excited they had a whole word for that. That little kid “HOW COOL” feeling has stuck with me on this word!

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