Words You've Learned from Reading and Writing

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Jason

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Is it just me or are others often discovering new words, or gaining a new depth of understanding of the language from reading and writing?

Here's a few words I've gleaned from stuff I've read (yes, I'm keeping a list :) ):

  • copse - a small group of trees
  • limn - to depict or describe in painting or words
  • peal - loud ringing of a bell or bells
  • vertiginous - causing vertigo especially by being extremely high or steep
  • tesselate - to decorate a flor with mosaics
  • deign - to do something that one considers beneath one's dignity
  • manse - a clergy house or a large imposing residence
  • palanquin - an Asian means of conveyance
  • chattel - an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property
Got your own words you've learned from reading/writing? Share 'em here!

ETA: This thread has grown legs, so here are quick links to longer conglomerations of unique words and phrases:

List 01
List 02
List 03
List 04
List 05
List 06
List 07
List 08
List 09
List 10
List 11
List 12
 
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Maryn

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It's so easy to think you're a freak, and nobody else would keep a list of new words they'd picked up. But here at AW, we are among our own kind! Yeah, I've had a list like yours. Some of its more interesting entries:

armillary, noun. Open-work globe-sundial combination often used as garden art
besom, noun. A broom or brush made of straws or twigs tied to a stick, as a classic witch's broom. Also, an insult to a woman who does not 'know her place.'
contraposto, noun. Used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs.
graupel, noun. Pellets of snow or ice, also called soft hail, small hail, or snow pellets, which are not translucent ice but white and opaque. (Handy where I live now!)
louche, adj. Dubious, shady, disreputable.
tare, verb. To set a scale for weight to read zero when a container such as a bowl or plate rests on it, resulting in only the weight of the contents of the bowl or plate being measured.
 

Albedo

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Yeah. Do you ever do that thing where you go to use a word in a sentence, then realise half way through saying it you've got no idea how it's pronounced, cos you've only ever read​ it? I do that a lot.
 

Keithy

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Stephen R Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant contains enough obscure words to keep anyone going for a long time: "coruscate" is one of "his" that I've borrowed.

It's fun to know words that Word doesn't eg "houri" and "menhir"
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Recherché: Out of the ordinary

Despite training for opera (for a few years), I didn't learn the following words until I read about them:

Comprimario: A comprimario role is an operatic bit part.

Tessitura: Where the bulk of the notes in a role lie. Are most of the notes in the upper register or the lower register? That difference in tessitura determines who can sing different roles.

Fach: A German loan word, meaning vocal type. Is the soprano a coloratura? a spinto? That type of difference is the fach.

Oh, and Spinto: I'm pretty sure I learned this one a long time ago, but in case you're wondering, it's a term for vocal heft in between lyric (light) and dramatic (heavy).

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Jason

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Yeah. Do you ever do that thing where you go to use a word in a sentence, then realise half way through saying it you've got no idea how it's pronounced, cos you've only ever read​ it? I do that a lot.

So are you saying an enunciation of our word lists is needed? LOL

@ Maryn, Keithy, and Siri - great words! :)
 
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Chris P

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Vicissitude. I came across it reading old non-fic. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, if I recall correctly. That said, I need to look it up every time to remember what it means.
 

Chris P

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Yeah. Do you ever do that thing where you go to use a word in a sentence, then realise half way through saying it you've got no idea how it's pronounced, cos you've only ever read​ it? I do that a lot.

Lol! I got laughed at during a Bible study when I talked about Jesus going to CAPE-er-naum instead of Ca-PER-num.

Being a scientist, I read about species names, chemicals, and other stuff that never come up in regular conversation.
 

Roxxsmom

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Yeah. Do you ever do that thing where you go to use a word in a sentence, then realise half way through saying it you've got no idea how it's pronounced, cos you've only ever read​ it? I do that a lot.

*raises hand*

I'd have a hard time listing all the words I've learned specifically via reading, because I've read so voraciously (hmm, could that be one of the words) since I was a kid that I don't really have a distinct memory of learning most of them. A couple I do have clear memories of first encountering in books when I was a kid are "laconic" and "pedantic."

Stephen R Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant contains enough obscure words to keep anyone going for a long time: "coruscate" is one of "his" that I've borrowed.

Oh yes. I picked up "mordantly" from his books, as Thomas Covenant was always saying things in that manner. Donaldson loved that word so much he even named the kingdom in his second series "Mordant."

It's fun to know words that Word doesn't eg "houri" and "menhir"

"Rictus," "exsanguinate," "farrier," and "cobby" are others I was surprised to see redlined by spellcheckers. I've got a bunch of words I've had to add to my spell check dictionary, because it really is lacking,
 
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Jason

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Vicissitude. I came across it reading old non-fic. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, if I recall correctly. That said, I need to look it up every time to remember what it means.

OK, new rule:

When bringing new words to the thread, at bare minimum a definition should be included. Apparently A phonetic spelling has also been requested LOL

*raises hand*

I'd have a hard time listing all the words I've learned specifically via reading, because I've read so voraciously (hmm, could that be one of the words) since I was a kid that I don't really have a distinct memory of learning most of them. A couple I do have clear memories of first encountering in books when I was a kid are "laconic" and "pedantic."

Yeah, definitely need to include a definition… I don't want to have to pull out my dictionary each and every time someone posts to this thread :)
 
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Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Fenestration: The pattern of windows on a building. I find it funny that more people know Defenestration, but they know it as throwing someone out a window, as opposed to the original meaning of taking the windows out.

Of all the words I've given, the only really hard one to pronounce based on the way it looks is FACH, pronounced FOX.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Fenestration: The pattern of windows on a building. I find it funny that more people know Defenestration, but they know it as throwing someone out a window, as opposed to the original meaning of taking the windows out.l

I don't think that's accurate; the word is not attested in Latin or middle Enlgish. Fenestration is, literally, "windowing," or as you say the arrangement of pattern of window openings.

But defenestration is first attested in 1619 (OED), in the context of the defenestration of Prague, which happened in 1618.

Defenestration is probably derived in part from the Middle French, French défenestrer to throw out of a window (1564).
 

Jason

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How in the h-e-double hockey sticks do y'all know all this stuff? I'd considered myself fairly smart and educated...

Until I joined here

LeSigh
 

Keithy

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I'm hoping to use "roborant" or "threnody" sometime soon... thanks Mr. Donaldson.

(Do I need to write a book about a ring?)
 

Chris P

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OK, new rule:

When bringing new words to the thread, at bare minimum a definition should be included. Apparently A phonetic spelling has also been requested LOL



Yeah, definitely need to include a definition… I don't want to have to pull out my dictionary each and every time someone posts to this thread :)

Thanks for giving me a reason to look it up. Vicissitude (vi-cis-i-tude) a change in fortune, typically for the worse.
 

Beanie5

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As i recollect the most eye opening tomb i have encountered in respect to wordliness was a book by jack vance where two wizards try to outdo each other
(on many levels) it was probably as an adjunct to a cudgel the clever , dying earth novel, on every page were words , magnificent, miraculous and mysterious.
here is an etract from a web page t-machine .org

One of the peculiar distinctions of Jack Vance’s writing is that he vomits obscure words onto the page as if he’d just eaten a dictionary that severely disagreed with him. Sometimes he seems to be parodying his characters – but other times he happily does it for himself.

To be clear: I’ve never seen him mis-use or abuse a word. When you know what all the words mean, it’s a joy to read (although he uses very few words – preferring to use the exact correct – single – word … than to use 10 more commonly-known words to describe the same thing)

Many of them I know – although I know that most people don’t. But at least as many I *don’t* know – although I do recognise them as genuine English words.

And then, occasionally, you meet an Archveult. And then it gets interesting.


p.s. the exact meaning of Archveult he then refers to have only been "repeatedly" used in one book he knows of it is used by jack vance to descibe a monster that lives at the end of the universe.
 
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Roxxsmom

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Yeah, definitely need to include a definition… I don't want to have to pull out my dictionary each and every time someone posts to this thread :)

Ha, I was thinking the same about a couple of words I wasn't sure of that people tossed out up thread.

I'll link to a dictionary entry. Will that work?

Laconic

Pedantic

Also:

cobby (I read a lot of horse books as a kid)

rictus

farrier

exsanguinate

Mordantly

Another word I consciously remember encountering in a book initially would be "chicaneries."

A word I encountered while critting another writer's work was "puissant" and "puissance."

The word means powerful, and in fact I'd been exposed to it because of my interest in horses. There's a type of show jumping referred to as "puissance," though I never really questioned where the word came from before. Puissant is a great word, but this writer loved it so much that he used it in every scene where power needed to be implied or described (he wrote epic fantasy, so it was often). It became a sort of in joke with this group of critters, where the rest of us would slip "Easter eggs" into our own chapters by including that word or a reference to it (for him to find).
 
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Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wouldn't you know, I checked fenestration before typing the post, but didn't check defenestration. Not sure if I heard it somewhere as taking out the windows, or if I just extrapolated it that way. Either way, my bad.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

Jason

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Yes links to the dictionary work tks :)
 

Albedo

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I've been fond of the word 'hierophant' (a person who brings congregants into the presence of the holy) ever since I read it in a book somewhere. I don't know why, some words are just aesthetically pleasing to me, and I try to use them in everything I write.
 

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wouldn't you know, I checked fenestration before typing the post, but didn't check defenestration. Not sure if I heard it somewhere as taking out the windows, or if I just extrapolated it that way. Either way, my bad.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

It's not a bad thing, you're just cursed with an Admin who's a philologist.
 

Jason

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Oh geez now I gotta go look up philologist :)
 

Beanie5

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here is a small sample of JV's vocab
casuistic
Hair-splitting.

"I cannot occupy myself with casuistic distinctions," replied the elder.

chaffer
To haggle or barter. Slur of "cheap fare."

brummagem
Cheap or showy.

"And this brummagem 'Sir Pellinore' beguiled your mother with false entitlements!"
Lamps hung in the trees and a variety of folk who preferred night to day came to stroll among the booths and to chaffer for articles which aroused their interest.

bibulous

Relating to the consumption of alcohol.

His enthusiasm for the visit had cooled, and he was especially reluctant to entertain his guests at a succession of long, bibulous banquets where King Milo, a noteworthy trencherman, and Queen Caudabil, only slightly less redoubtable, regaled themselves upon course after course of fine viands and great quantities of Castle Haidion's best wines.

coelenterate
Bearing tentacles with nematocysts, like a jellyfish. An echinoderm, by the way, is basically a starfish, and a nudibranch is a sea slug.

A new thought occurred to Cugel. The creature displayed qualities reminiscent of both coelenterate and echinoderm. A terrene nudibranch? A mollusc deprived of its shell? More importantly, was the creature edible?

adumbrate
To foreshadow vaguely. This passage, by the way, is a primo example of Vancean wizardspeak.

"You fail to understand the calamity you have visited upon me. I will explain, so that you may not be astounded by the rigors which await you. As I have adumbrated, the arrival of the creature was the culmination of my great effort. I determined its nature through a perusal of forty-two thousand librams, all written in cryptic language: a task requiring a hundred years. During a second hundred years I evolved a pattern to draw it in upon itself and prepared exact specification. Next I assembled stone-cutters, and across a period of three hundred years gave solid form to my pattern. Since like subsumes like, the variates and intercongeles create a suprapullulation of all areas, qualities and intervals into a crystorrhoid whorl, eventually exciting the ponentiation of a pro-ubietal chute. Today occurred the concatenation; the 'creature', as you call it, pervolved upon itself; in your idiotic malice you devoured it."
 
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Helix

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coelenterate
Bearing tentacles with nematocysts, like a jellyfish.

Coelenterate refers to the coelenteron -- the blind-ended 'gut' of cnidarians. The presence of cnidae, which are part of the cnidocysts/nematocysts on the tentacles (and elsewhere) of jellyfish, coral, sea anemones, zoanthids etc, is what gives the group the name Cnidaria.
 
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Jason

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About every 25 posts (or thereabouts) - I'll do a compilation of all the words and their respective definitions, sorted alphabetically:

adumbrateto foreshadow vaguely
armillaryOpen work globe sundial combination often used as garden art
besomA broom or brush made of straws or twigs tied to a stick, as a classic witch's broom. Also, an insult to a woman who does not 'know her place.'
bibulousrelating to the consumption of alcohol
brummagemcheap or showy
casuisticSpecious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead
chafferTo haggle or barter. Slur of "cheap fare."
chattelan item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property
chicaneryDeception by trickery or sophistry
cobbyHaving short legs and a compact body; stocky. Used of animals
coelenteratebearing tentacles with nematocysts, like a jellyfish. An echinoderm, by the way, is basically a starfish, and a nudibranch is a sea slug
ComprimarioA comprimario role is an operatic bit part.
contrapostoUsed in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off axis from the hips and legs.
copsea small group of trees
coruscateTo give forth flashes of light; sparkle and glitter: diamonds coruscating in the candlelight.
deignto do something that one considers beneath one's dignity
exsanguinateto drain of blood
Facha German loan word, meaning vocal type. Is the soprano a coloratura? a spinto? That type of difference is the fach.
farrierone who shoes horses
fenestrationthe arrangement of pattern of window openings, aka windowing
graupelPellets of snow or ice, also called soft hail, small hail, or snow pellets, which are not translucent ice but white and opaque. (Handy where I live now!)
hierophanta person who brings congregants into the presence of the holy
houriA seductive, alluring woman.
laconicUsing or marked by the use of few words; terse or concise.
limnto depict or describe in painting or words
loucheDubious, shady, disreputable.
mansea clergy house or a large imposing residence
menhirA prehistoric monument of a class found chiefly in the British Isles and northern France, consisting of a single tall, upright megalith
mordant(ly)bitingly sarcastic
palanquinan Asian means of conveyance
pealloud ringing of a bell or bells
pedanticExcessively concerned with minor details or rules; over-scrupulous
puissancepower; might
RecherchéOut of the ordinary
rictusA gaping grimace: "his mouth gaping in a kind of rictus of startled alarm" (Richard Adams)
roborantrestoring vigor or strength
Spintoa term for vocal heft in between lyric (light) and dramatic (heavy).
tareTo set a scale for weight to read zero when a container such as a bowl or plate rests on it, resulting in only the weight of the contents of the bowl or plate being measured
tesselateto decorate a floor with mosaics
TessituraWhere the bulk of the notes in a role lie. Are most of the notes in the upper register or the lower register? That difference in tessitura determines who can sing different roles.
threnodyA poem or song of mourning or lamentation.
vertiginouscausing vertigo especially by being extremely high or steep
vicissitudea change in fortune, typically for the worse
 
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