Posts tagged ‘dictionaries’

Wednesday Word of the Week: tatterdemalion

Another example of lexical erudition and a humongous list from The Name of the Rose.

tat·ter·de·mal·ion
/ˌtætərdɪˈmeɪlyən, -ˈmæl-/

–noun
1. a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person.

–adjective
2. ragged; unkempt or dilapidated.

Origin:
1600–10; first written tatter-de-mallian and rhymed with Italian; see tatter 1 ; -de-mallian < ?

Source: Dictionary.com.

From the story he told me, I pictured him among those bands of vagrants that in the years that followed I saw more and more often roaming about Europe: false monks, charlatans, swindlers, cheats, tramps and tatterdemalions, lepers and cripples, jugglers, invalid mercenaries, wandering Jews escaped from the infidels with their spirit broken, lunatics, fugitives under banishment, malefactors with an ear cut off, sodomites, and along with them ambulant artisans, weavers, tinkers, chair-menders, knife-grinders, basket-weavers, masons, and also rogues of every stripe, forgers, scoundrels, cardsharps, rascals, bullies, reprobates, recreants, frauds, hooligans, simoniacal and embezzling canons and priests, people who lived on the credulity of others, counterfeiters of bulls and papal seals, peddlers of indulgences, false paralytics who lay at church doors, vagrants fleeing from convents, relic-sellers, pardoners, soothsayers and fortunetellers, necromancers, healers, bogus alms-seekers, fornicators of every sort, corrupters of nuns and maidens by deception and violence, simulators of dropsy, epilepsy, hemorrhoids, gout, and sores, as well as melancholy madness.

Source: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

Wednesday Word of the Week: culverin

Monday was a public holiday in Korea – where I live – so there was no Monday Masterclass this week. It will return next week. In the meantime, here’s a new word for the Lexicon.

cal·en·ture
/ˈkæləntʃər, -ˌtʃʊər/

–noun
Pathology . a violent fever with delirium, affecting persons in the tropics.

Origin:
1585–95; earlier calentura < Spanish: fever, equivalent to calent ( ar ) to heat (< Latin calent-, stem of calēns, present participle of calēre to be hot) + –ura -ure

—Related forms
cal·en·tu·ral, cal·en·tu·rish, adjective

Source: Dictionary.com.

I had several men died in my ship of calentures, so that I was forced to get recruits out of Barbadoes, and the Leeward Islands

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Wednesday Word of the Week: instinct

This week’s word seems like an ordinary enough item, but it’s actually different to the noun ‘instinct’, and has a different (although similar) etymology and pronunciation (the emphasis is on the second syllable). What sentences can you compose that are instinct with wit and erudition? Post them below.

in·stinct 2
/ɪnˈstɪŋkt/

–adjective
1. filled or infused with some animating principle (usually followed by with ): instinct with life.
2. Obsolete . animated by some inner force.

Origin:
1530–40; < Latin instinctus excited, roused, inspired, past participle of *insting ( u ) ere; see instinct 1

Source: Dictionary.com.

I could clearly distinguish, however,  that the swathed mummy-like form before me was that of a tall and lovely woman, instinct with beauty in every part, and also with a certain snake-like grace which I had never seen anything to equal before.

Source: She by H Rider Haggard.

Wednesday Word of the Week: soigné

Post your own soigné sentences in the comments below.

soi·gné
/swɑnˈyeɪ; Fr. swaˈnyeɪ/

–adjective
1. carefully or elegantly done, operated, or designed.
2. well-groomed.

Also, soi·gnée .

Origin:
1915–20; < French, past participle of soigner to take care of < Germanic (compare Old Saxon sunnea care, concern)

Source: Dictionary.com.

How would she have preferred it: in terms of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the ’50s school of highway engineering or, most soigné of all, the Embarcadero Freeway?

Source: The Atrocity Exhibition by J G Ballard.

Wednesday Word of the Week: alectorian stone

An obscure item this week – although not the most obscure term used in The Worm Ouroboros, by any means. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says it comes from the Greek word for ‘cock’, ‘alectōr’; Wikipedia lists several ancient Greeks with this name – I wonder what that says about them. I also found an interesting excerpt from a New Zealand newspaper from 1890 on the subject of magical rocks, in which the alectorian stone is mentioned.

Know of any other apotropaic minerals? Post them below.

A stone, said to be of talismanic power, found in the stomach of cocks. Those who possess it are strong, brave, and wealthy. Milo of Crotōna owed his strength to this talisman. As a philtre it has the power of preventing thirst or of assuaging it. (Greek, alectōr, a cock.)

Source: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

Against such peril I had provided certain amulets made of the stone alectorian, which groweth in the gizzard of a cock hatched on a moonless night when Saturn burneth in the ascendant.

Source: The Worm Ouroboros by E R Eddison.

Wednesday Word of the Week: propinquity/propinquital

The word used in the example below is ‘propinquital’ – but that is not listed in any dictionary I can find, so the definition below is for ‘propinquity’. This adjectival form seems to be unique to Peake. There are a bare handful of words ending with -quity, but many of those have adjective forms ending with -quitous rather than -quital: ‘ubiquity’ and ‘ubiquitous’, for instance. Which suggests that Peake should have used ‘propinquitous’ instead.

pro·pin·qui·ty
/proʊˈpɪŋkwɪti/

–noun
1. nearness in place; proximity.
2. nearness of relation; kinship.
3. affinity of nature; similarity.
4. nearness in time.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English propinquite < Latin propinquitās nearness, equivalent to propinqu ( us ) near ( prop ( e ) near ( see pro- 1 ) + –inquus adj. suffix) + –itās -ity

Source: Dictionary.com.

As objects of beauty, these works held little interest to him and yet in spite of himself he had become attached in a propinquital way to a few of the carvings.

Source: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake.

Wednesday Word of the Week: gonfalonier/gonfalon

Make a sentence with these words – there’s a prize for the best one.

gon·fa·lon·ier
/ˌgɒnfələˈnɪər/

–noun
1. the bearer of a gonfalon.
2. a chief magistrate or some other elected official in any of several medieval Italian republics.

Origin:
1580–90; < French < Italian gonfaloniere. See gonfalon, -ier 2

Source: Dictionary.com.

gon·fa·lon
/ˈgɒnfələn/

–noun
1. a banner suspended from a crossbar, often with several streamers or tails.
2. a standard, especially one used by the medieval Italian republics.

Origin:
1585–95; < Italian gonfalone < Middle French gonfalon, gonfanon < Germanic; see gonfanon

Source: Dictionary.com.

Finally it was the day of the execution, and a gonfalonier came for him, appearing friendly, for he asked what sort of man Michael was and why he was so stubborn when he had only to affirm what the whole populace affirmed and accept the opinion of Holy Mother Chruch.

Source: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.