Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Last Minute Housekeeping: 2014 Vocabulary

Before January totally rolls into February, I wanted to take up Vanessa-Jane Chapman’s nudging to “trot out” my 2014 vocabulary list. And I only thought about doing so because she did such a cool thing by coming up with a word of personal significance for each of the 365 days in 2014. Some of the words a person can only wonder about: Pirate?

My list seems rather mundane in comparison. I set out to record all the new-to-me or review, please words as I read last year. I usually read with my iPhone nearby and type them in my notes (which I can then email to my Google Docs account–handy). I started doing this with my AP reread novel Jane Eyre, which I began in February last year. Periodically I reread books I teach, just to refresh my memory of whatever it is I’m trying to impart to my students. I soon realized my vocabulary wasn’t up to snuff. Here’s a sampling of my Jane Eyre word collection:

appanage: benefit or rank belonging to someone
meretricious:attractive with no real value
diablerie: reckless in a charismatic way
seraglio: women’s apts in Muslim palace
puerile: childishly silly
avidity:keen interest or enthusiasm
inanition:exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment
elysium: Greek mythology-the place where Greek heroes went to be honored after their death
aspirant: ambitions to follow something, as in a political career
coadjutor: bishop which assists a bishop
ineradicable:unable to be destroyed or removed
pertinaciously:holding firmly to an opinion

Some of these I doubt I will be using anytime soon: “appange”? And others I hope to pop out with aplomb at some advantageous point in a conversation: “My inanition requires we go to lunch sooner than later.”  I seriously don’t think I will ever have an ocassion for “coadjutor”; however, I am prepared now should the need arise.

Other words I added from here and there encounters, including one from watching David Suchet in a Hercule Poirot episode and I ever so want to slide it into a conversation (look for *):

poltroon: utter coward
propound: put forward
adamantine: unable to be unbroken
apocryphal: doubtful statement
quash: reject as invalid especially in a legal procedure
blazon:form of poem which describes person through body part description. (Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 is a parody of the form).
*avuncular: acting as an uncle figure
venal: susceptible to corruption or bribery
louche: disreputable or sordid
gallimaufry: jumble
kloofs: African valley
intercalary: calendar alignment-Feb 29
imbroglio: confused situation
vitiated: impair vitality
vertiginously: high or steep
antinomy: a paradox
soteriology : the doctrine of salvation
verdure: lush, green vegetation
encomiums: speech of praise
abstruse: difficult to understand
perfidious: deceitful and untrustworthy

Has collecting these words improved my overall diction? No, not really. Truthfully, I forgot most of these until I attempted to entrap them in the block quote (I give up, Mike, I can’t figure out the boxy thing–sigh). So why do I bother with finding them, typing them in, defining them–yada, yada. Why? I am a confessed word nerd. I just gotta know what that word is. I have a compunction about taking the time to look up the meaning so I continue reading (or watching) my story without being bothered by not knowing. I don’t think that’s because I’m a librarian gigging as an English teacher–I just like words.

Any other word nerds out there? Any words off the list that totally pop out at you for being extra cool? How about “kloofs”? Tish Farrell–you run into any “kloofs” in your African adventures?

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12 thoughts on “Last Minute Housekeeping: 2014 Vocabulary

  1. May I ask what is your source for the meanings of these words. To take a couple of examples, if I were reading a book and came across a blazon I would know that it was referring to a coast of arms, or the emblem that was used. And vertiginously would tell me that I should be feeling dizzy or the situation should be causing vertigo – just because a thing is steep doesn’t necessarily make it vertiginous. I think you’ll find that any good English dictionary would agree with this. Just curious.

  2. Just scrolling down my reader and spotted my name in your first few lines! Thanks for the shoutout, and glad I gave you a nudge to do this post. From your Jane Eyre list, the one that stood out to me as a word I could definitely use is meretricious – it’s quite nice to say out loud, and I can see it having uses. I shall try to remember it, meretricious, meretricious, meretricious…

  3. Hello, Cricketmuse. Kloof is a wonderful word, used mostly in Southern Africa. Donga is a word, I think for a dried up river bed which I heard in East Africa. Actually I have a passion for words of a geographical nature like bluff, escarpment, crevasse, scree. I anyway think it’s an excellent idea to pep up one’s vocab. We’re becoming rather limited in our means of expression, I feel.

  4. I came across the word “inanition” in a Stephen King book recently (at least I think it was his book I found it in). I scratched my head and said, “Huh?” Had to look it up. Good word. 🙂

  5. Oh, yes! And raise your hand if you love reading the OED with a magnifying glass.

    I think elysium was quite popular with the romantic poets, wasn’t it?

  6. I can think of a couple of people I can accuse of being a poltroon.

    I already use louche, but only when I need to sound like a British aristocrat.

  7. I used to always write out words I didn’t know in books and record them in a notebook then look for definitions – love that you put together this post so I can learn more words 🙂

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