This is a collection of interesting and/or unusual words that I’ve come across, mostly in books, occasionally from other sources. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while on a previous blog. Here on Elements of Fantasy, the lexicon’s new home, I intend to post a new word every Wednesday.

Having a strong vocabulary is essential for any writer, but I think it can be especially useful for fantasy writing. Fantasy is the literature of magic, and an author has no tool to conjure that magic in the reader’s mind other than words. Unusual words can create an unusual atmosphere; difficult vocabulary can effect a feeling of tension, of mystery.

Plus, there’s also the fact that fantasy stories are, by and large, set in secondary worlds that resemble past eras of our own world – and in the past, people used different words and idioms. Having an understanding of historical terms, of the lexical fields of bygone eras, can help the writer bring authenticity to a story.

There’s also an element of self-improvement to having a good command of vocabulary. In the words of Stephen R Donaldson, no stranger to the recondite lexeme:

Words are the tools of thought. The more words you know, the more things you can think about.

A

acidulous
adytum
aestivation
alectorian stone
amphisbaena

an

anadem
analystic
antistrophe
apotropaic
arête
argute
asseverate
assoil
aubade

B

balneary
BANANA

banderole

barranca
bayamo
bayard
bedight
belvedere
bertha
bezainted
bibulous
binnacle
blivet

bloofer
broadloom
brume
brummagem
bullseye

C

caducity
caïque
caisson
caitiff
calash
calenture
caliginous
cantrap
captious

caracole
carnyx
cataplasm
catenary
catenulate
cateran
CAVE people
cenacle
centripetal
chaconne
chaplet
charism
charlock
chlamys
cicatrise
cicatrix
circumfuse
clinquant
clochard
cognomen

colophon
colubrine
consistory
crasis

crepitate
cruse
culverin
cumshaw
curvet
cymar

cynosure

D

declivity
deflagrate

delinition
delitescent
demonym
desire line
detent
devoir
diaper
dipsa
disiecta membra

E

effloresce
eidolon
embrasure
enthymeme
epithalamium/epithalamion
equipage
ergodic literature
escarbuncle

eyot

F

fane
febrifuge
ferrule
fianchetto

finial
flambeau

floccinaucinihilipilification
flocculate
föhn wind

foreshore
formication
foulard
fugacious
fuliginous

fulvous
fusty

G

gasconade
gavotte
gelt
glabrous
gonfalon/gonfalonier
gold lunula

grue
guerdon
gyve

H

hachure
hebdomadary
hebetude
hernshaw
hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia
hight
hippocentaur
hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia
hoopoe
hydrophora
hypnale
hypotyposis

I

impost
incuse
insequent
instinct
irrefragable

J

jacquerie
jaculus

K

kemp
kemperie-man

kickshaw

knaggy

L

labile
lacustrine
latakia
lavabo
lazaret/lazaretto
leal
lemures
lenitive
leucrota
licit
loden
loge
loggia
lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparao-
melitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephallio-
kigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon

luthier

M

maira
mansuetude
marl
meretricious
metope
moiré

mordant
morion

mort

N

nuncupatory
nychthemeron

O

obbligato
objurgate
oblation
ossarium

P

panache
parander
pard
paresis
paynim
perduration
peregrine
perfervid

pervisible
picaro
picaroon
picayune
placitum
pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
polycaudate
prank
precentor
prester
propinquity/propinquital
pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism

ptomaine
pudding snammer
puissance
pulchritude
pulverulent
punctilio
purlieu

Q

qua
quadragon
quotidian

R

recrudesce
rede
responsory
retroussé
rhyton
roborant
rondure
rostrum
rubricate
ruffle

S

saft
salvific
sapid
saprophyte
sastruga
scapular
scend
schiltron/sheltron
scitalis

screever
sendaline
sequacious
shift
shillelagh
sockdolager
soigné
spectaficus

spelaean
speleology
spelt
sperm
stillatory
supererogatory
supernal

surquedry
swale

T

tailing
tantalum
telic

tetration
theomachy
theriac
thetic
threnody
tiffany
titin
tocsin
tole
travertine
trisulk/trisulc
triturate
trituration
turpitude
twitten

twyndyllyng
tympanum
Tyrian/Tyrian purple
tyro

U

urolagnia

V

veronica
versicle

vexillology

vexillum
vizard
vlei
voivode

W

wainscotting
windrow
writhen

X

Y

yantra

Z

zaftig
zygomatic arch