Adventures in Reading

Words I Like
April 11, 2008, 1:39 pm
Filed under: vocabulary | Tags: , , , ,

Abattoir, abecedarian, ab ovo, abstruse, acerbic, acrimony (acrimonious), and addle.

A Vocabulary List
August 12, 2007, 5:36 pm
Filed under: thoughtful, vocabulary | Tags: ,

In a previous post I commented how I sometimes maintained a list of words I looked up while reading. Some of these words are entirely unfamiliar, are familiar but not in the context they were used in, or words that I’ve always assumed I’ve known the meaning of but looked up anyway. It did not take me as long as I thought it would to find twenty (nineteen – I accidentally deleted one of them!) words I needed to look up.

caul n. the amniotic membrane enclosing a fetus. part of this membrane occasionally found on a child’s head at birth, thought to bring good luck.

balustrade n. a row of balusters topped by a rail.

baluster n. a short pillar or column in a series supporting a rail or coping.

obsequious adj. obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.

salutary adj. (esp. with reference to something unwelcome or unpleasant) producing a good effect; beneficial.

profundity n. deep insight; great depth of knowledge or thought. great depth or intensity of a state, quality, or emotion. a statement or idea that shows great knowledge or insight.

taciturn adj. (of a person) reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little.

cruet n. 1. a small container for salt, pepper, oil, or vinegar for use at a dining table. 2. (in church use) a small container for the wine or water to be used in the celebration of the Eucharist.

tutoyer v.t. to address (someone), esp. in French, using the familiar forms of the pronoun “you” rather than the more formal forms; address familiarly.

bagatelle n. 1. a thing of little importance; a very easy task. 2. a game in which small balls are hit and then allowed to roll down a sloping board on which there are holes, each numbered with the score achieved if a ball goes into it, with pins acting as obstructions. 3. a short, light piece of music, esp. one for the piano.

indefatigable adj. (of a person or their efforts) persisting tirelessly; untiring

chatelaine n. dated a woman in charge of a large house. historical a set of short chain attached to a woman’s belt, used for carrying keys or other items.

cigarillo n. 1. a very small cigar. 2. a cigarette wrapped in tobacco rather than paper (etymology: Spanish).

caprice n. 1. a sudden and unaccountable change of mood or behavior.

constituent adj. 1. being a part of a whole.

lucidly adj. 1. expressed clearly; easy to understand

derelict adj. in a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect. (of a person) shamefully negligent in not having done what one should have done. n. a person without a home, job, or property.

rostrum n. 1. a raised platform on which a person stands to make a public speech, receive an ward or medal, play music, or conduct an orchestra. a similar platform for supporting a movie or television camera. 2. chiefly Zoology a beaklike projection.

grandiloquent adj. pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner, esp. in a way that is intended to impress

Something to remember when looking up words is that the definition may vary from dictionary to dictionary. Some of the definitions may provide more information than others. So if the definition you have stumbled upon seems incorrect I do suggest you look for an alternate version. All of these definitions were looked up on a Merriam-Webster’s electronic Dictionary as well as the Oxford American College Dictionary. The definitions included either best defined the word in my reading or had the most elaborate definition.

Comments Off on A Vocabulary List

The Oxford American College Dictionary

Repeatedly through my life I have heard remarks like, “The more you read the better your writing will be.” In retrospect I feel this is somewhat misleading. Reading allows you to become familiar with grammar, spelling, and punctuation but it never actually teaches it (or at least not in my own experience of struggling with grammar). At least, that is, if you passively read a book. This is a somewhat new idea I had bouncing around in my head at work and I still have not developed any clear definition. However, I suppose what I mean by active reading is that you take your time to understand the text and look up words, phrases, and punctuation you are unfamiliar with (even if you assume you know what it is).

This is something I have done off and on during my adventures in reading (particularly after my English lit 2 professor started giving pop quizzes on unfamiliar words). Today I would like to share some of my most recent troublesome words and phrases:

inveigled v. persuade (someone) to do something by means of deception or flattery. to gain entrance to (a place) by using such methods

cock a snook A gesture of derision or defiance, as in the idiom, “cock a snook” meaning “thumb one’s nose”. (Source.)

madrigal n. a part-song for several voices, typically arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental accompaniment

cerise n. a bright or deep red color adj, of a bright or deep red color

I began reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn last evening and made it through part one this afternoon. I first fell in love with the 1945 movie by the same name and some time around my sophomore year in high school I got around to reading the book. Upon rereading the novel, I never realized how poignant it was in discussing the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. Additionally, my naive 15-year-old self must have been entirely oblivious to the multitude of sexual occurrences in this book!