Archive for August, 2008


ros·trum /ˈrɒstrəm/
noun, plural tra /-trə/, –trums.
1. any platform, stage, or the like, for public speaking.
2. a pulpit.
3. a beaklike projection from the prow of a ship, esp. one on an ancient warship for ramming an enemy ship; beak; ram.
4. Roman Antiquity. (in the forum) the raised platform, adorned with the beaks of captured warships, from which orations, pleadings, etc., were delivered.
5. Biology. a beaklike process or extension of some part; rostellum.
6. British Theater. a raised platform or dais, esp. one with hinged sides that can be folded and stored within a relatively small space.

[Origin: 1570-80; < L rōstrum snout, bill, beak of a bird, ship’s prow (in pl., speaker’s platform), equiv. to rōd(ere) to gnaw, bite (cf. rodent) + –trum instrumental suffix, with dt > st]

Synonyms 1. stand, dais, podium, lectern.


The passengers of the red and white tour boat crowded against its glass wall to point and mouth at the spectacle of the dolphin streaking past with a vest of some sort draped over its rostrum.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


car·a·cole /ˈkærəˌkoʊl/ noun, verb, –coled, –col·ing.
1. a half turn executed by a horse and rider.
2. Rare. a winding staircase.
verb (used without object)
3. to execute caracoles; wheel.

[Origin: 1650-60; < F < Sp caracol snail, spiral shell or stair, turning movement (of a horse)]

Related forms
car·a·col·er, noun


Mark put his head down to avoid eye contact and practicing his broken-field running, trying to dodge West Africa blacks doing the Leidspelein caracole on those funky bikes with the handlebars turned upside-down, like steer horns.

Source: Turn of the Cards, Victor Milán.


ha·chure /n. hæˈʃʊər, ˈhæʃʊər; v. hæˈʃʊər/ noun, verb, -chured, -chur·ing.
1. one of a series of short parallel lines drawn on a map to indicate topographic relief.
2. shading composed of such lines; hatching.
verb (used with object) 3. Also, hatch. to indicate or shade by hachures.Also, hatchure.

[Origin: 1855-60; < F; see hatch, -ure]


It was an extreme close-up of an extremely old man, the contours of his face clearly defined by line and shade, hachures on a topographic map.

Source: White Teeth, Zadie Smith.


SYLLABICATION: re·trous·sé

PRONUNCIATION: rə-trōō-sā, rět’rōō-

ADJECTIVE: Turned up at the end. Used of the nose.

ETYMOLOGY: French, past participle of retrousser, to turn back, from Old French : re-, re- + torser, trousser, to tie in a bundle (probably from Vulgar Latin *torsāre, from *torsus, twisted, variant of Latin tortus, past participle of torquēre, to twist; see torque).


lining the fireplace were photos of the Chalfen clan, including comely portraits of Joyce in her pert-breasted hippy youth, a retroussé nose sneaking out between two great sheaths of hair.

Source: White Teeth, Zadie Smith.


pul·chri·tude /ˈpʌlkrɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/
physical beauty; comeliness.[Origin: 1350-1400; ME < L pulchritūdō beauty, equiv. to pulchri– (comb. form of pulcher beautiful) + –tūdō -tude]

-Synonyms loveliness, beauteousness, fairness.


Pulchritude. From the Latin pulcher beautiful. That was the word that first struck Joyce when Millat Iqbal stepped forward on to the steps of her conservatory, sneering at Marcus’s bad jokes, shading his violet eyes from a fading winter sun. Pulchritude: not just the concept but the whole physical word appeared before her as if someone had typed it on to her retina – Pulchritude – beauty where you would least suspect it, hidden in a word that looked like it should signify a belch or a skin infection. Beauty in a tall brown young man who should have been indistinguishable to Joyce from those she regularly bought milk and bread from, gave her accounts to for inspection, or passed her chequebook to from behind the thick glass of a bank till.

Source: White Teeth, Zadie Smith.