Posts tagged ‘Jonathan Swift’

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.

/ˈkæləntʃər, -ˌtʃʊər/

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

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


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: towardly

In contemporary English we can talk about things being ‘untoward’ – but what’s the opposite of ‘untoward’? How about ‘towardly’? Reminds me of a friend who likes to say he feels ‘gruntled’ when he’s happy or pleased. What sentences can you make with this week’s word?

/ˈtɔrdli, ˈtoʊrd-/

–adjective Archaic .
1. apt to learn; promising.
2. docile; tractable.
3. propitious; seasonable.

1475–85; toward + -ly

—Related forms
to·ward·li·ness, noun


My son Johnny, named so after his uncle, was at the grammar-school, and a towardly child.

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Word of the day: shift

shift /ʃɪft/

–verb (used without object)
6. to manage to get along or succeed by oneself.
7. to get along by indirect methods; use any expediency, trick, or evasion to get along or succeed: He shifted through life.

22. an expedient; ingenious device.
23. an evasion, artifice, or trick.

bef. 1000; (v.) ME shiften to arrange, OE sciftan; c. G schichten to arrange in order, ON skipta to divide; (n.) ME: contrivance, start, deriv. of the v.

1. substitute. 22. contrivance, resource, resort. 23. wile, ruse, subterfuge, stratagem.


my companions forced me to land on this coast, and then left me to shift for my self.

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

paddling out of the reach of their darts (being a calm day) I made a shift to suck the wound, and dress it as well as I could.

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Word of the day: declivity

de·cliv·i·ty /dɪˈklɪvɪti/

–noun, plural -ties.
a downward slope, as of ground ( opposed to acclivity).

1605–15; < L of dēclīvitās a slope, hill, equiv. to dēclīvi ( s ) sloping downward ( – de- + clīv ( us ) slope, hill + –is adj. suffix) + –tās -ty


The declivity was so small, that I walked near a mile before I got to the shore

Source: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.


Another word from Dracula.

cul·ver·in /ˈkʌlvərɪn/
1. medieval form of musket.
2. a kind of heavy cannon used in the 16th and 17th centuries.

[Origin: 1400-50; late ME < MF coulevrine < L colubrīna, fem. of colubrīnus colubrine]


And also from Gulliver’s Travels:

I gave him a description of cannons, culverines, muskets, carabines, pistols, bullets, powder, swords, bayonets, sieges, retreats, attacks, undermines, countermines, bombardments, sea-fights