Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The New Words H.P. Lovecraft Taught Me

One of the nice things about the Kindle is that you can look up definitions for words you don't know. I have a pretty wide vocabulary, so I don't do this very often, but I did that all the time when I was reading through my collection of The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft. Man, did that guy use a lot of words nobody uses anymore.

My Kindle keeps a list of the words I've looked up, so I thought it might be fun to share the new words I learned while reading Lovecraft, along with my condensed definition of it. Education for all!

abeyance - Temporary disuse. Lovecraft used "kept in abeyance" to mean basically "put on hold for now."

adumbrate - To report in outline form. It can also be used to mean other similar things like "to foreshadow," "to symbolize," or "to indicate faintly."

aedile - A Roman magistrate that was responsible for 1) public buildings, 2) public games, and 3) grain supply. Combine them all together for a race to get as much grain into the public buildings as you can, and you've done your job for the year in one day.

anent - Concerning/about. Lovecraft's usage: "He had had black suspicions of his own anent Joseph Curwen." So you can basically use this all the time to sound fancy and nobody will know what you're talking about.

appurtenance - An item associated with a specific living style or activity. I was going to use the original book's usage as an example of how to use it, but the original book said, "Others claimed they had seen it as a monstrous insect with astonishing supernumerary appurtenances," and even knowing what "appurtenances" means, that is not an easy sentence to understand.

charnel - An adjective, meaning "associated with death," which is weird because it sounds like a very pretty word. I mean, if I said, "Your dress is charnel," it sounds like it would mean something complimentary, not, "Your dress reminds me of death."

colloquy - A conversation. I knew "colloquial," but not "colloquy." More formally, a colloquy can also be a gathering for discussion of theological questions.

coruscating - Sparkly.

cyclopean - While it can mean "like a cyclops," it also refers to a specific masonry style where they used enormous irregular blocks, which to me just sounds like the walls would fall down, but whatever.

desiderate - An archaic verb meaning to keenly desire something that is missing. Lovecraft uses it as an adjective though, referring to "the desiderate ship," which I assume means the keenly desired missing ship.

diabolist - A devil worshiper. I maybe could have figured this one out on my own.

extirpate - To root out and completely destroy.

foetor - The British spelling of "fetor," which is a strong yucky smell.

homologous - Exact dictionary definition: "Having the same relation, relative position, or structure." Lovecraft referred to a monster moving an arm or some homologous limb. I like this one and think I am going to try to use it in every conversation I have now.

inchoate - Not fully formed. In the legal sense, it's used to refer to an offense that anticipates a further criminal act, like incitement or conspiracy.

irrupt - To enter forcibly or suddenly. I like this word because it sounds like "erupt" and it makes me mentally imagine a volcano bursting down a door and pouring lava into the room.

matutinal - Of or occurring in the morning. I like this one too. I want to start referring to everything I do in the morning as matutinal.

natheless - Nevertheless. It's like people just got lazy saying the word.

palimpsest - I shared this one on Facebook because I liked it so much. It means a manuscript where the original writing has been erased to make room for new writing but you can still kinda see the old writing beneath it. It can also be used metaphorically to describe something where you can see traces of what it used to be. Adjective form is "palimpsestic."

periwig - An old-timey wig worn as a fancy headdress.

phthisical - Related to phthisis, which is ome tuberculosis-esque disease. I just like the "phth" sound, though apparently the "ph" is silent, which takes all the fun out of the word.

presage - As a noun, it means "omen." As a verb, it means "to be an omen."

quiescent - Inactive or dormant.

redoubtable - I hoped this meant "able to be doubted again," but turns out it means formidable, but used in a mostly humorous way. So if I ever say someone is redoubtable, I expect you all to laugh.

refulgent - Shining brightly. I'm trying to figure out how to fit it into "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but I'm not quite sure how yet.

skyey - This one gave me the definition of "sky." I just really enjoy the use of the word "skyey" to describe something that's like a sky. It must be real because a real writer did it.

susurrus - Used poetically to mean whispering/murmuring/rustling... basically all the nature sounds poets gush about.

swain - A country youth, but poetically it means a lover.

untrammeled - Unrestricted.

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