Literature’s Lexicon

30 Oct

I love words.  That does not mean I have a particularly strong vocabulary.  There have been words in all the works we’ve read that have caused me to get out the good ol’ dictionary.  Yes, the actual book – we keep one in the glove compartment of the van because we don’t have internet there.   Only dumb phones in this household.  Plus, there’s nothing like the cool breeze of the alphabetized pages of a Merriam-Webster flipping off your thumb.

Okay, fine.  I sometimes use Google.

In most of our books I’ve just let context do its job and give me the basic gist of the unfamiliar.  In fact, I’ve become so reliant on context that I sometimes forget that if the words were standing alone on a blank piece of paper they would be nothing more than vocables to me. (I’m not ashamed to say I looked that one up.  I’m not even totally sure I’m using it correctly, but it’s all an effort to stretch and grow.)

Never have I cared so much about discerning the meaning of the text as I do in P&P.  My bookmark this time around is that blank sheet of paper.  Unfamiliar words make there way onto the paper and if it gives me a bit of SAT flash-back panic then I take the time later to give it a good look-up.  I suppose the vocab list could go in my journal with my other thoughts on the book, but I like the knowledge that this list can be destroyed once the meanings have been researched, leaving no permanent record of my ignorance.

Except for this post, of course.  But the internet’s not permanent.  Right?

Anyway, here are some of the words that may, or may not, have achieved a place on my disposable bookmark of definitions.

Alacrity:  brisk and cheerful readiness.  It’s no wonder I didn’t know what this word meant, I don’t think I’ve ever demonstrated it.

Brook:  tolerate.  Not where Mr. Gardiner goes fishing at Pemberly.

Condescending:  Apparently at the time of this novel this word did not have the same negative manner it carries today.  So, from now on when you condescend to talk at my level about these words I will not be offended.

Copse:  a small group of trees.  Apparently there are small groups of trees all over England, but I fear that Seth Grahame-Smith might have forgotten to do his Google research, and instead assumed the word was “corpse.”  Now the world has this book.  Too bad, really.

Entail:  What is entailed in an entail?  You’ve got me.  But I do know that if your land has one then your daughter’s lives entail finding a good hubby.

Good Humor:  a cheerful trait in a young woman, especially when given an ice cream bar.

Panegyric:  public speech of praise.  I already offered my panegyric here.

Phaeton:  a light, open four-wheeled carriage usually seating four.  In 200 years someone will read a novel written today that mentions a phaeton and will be unsure if it is speaking about the carriage or the Volkswagon luxury sedan.  Maybe Austin should have stuck with carriage.

Sennight:  One week.  Think of it as a contraction- se’nnight – and factor in the days, too.

Solicitude:  care for someone or something.  I hope you have as much solicitude for these words as I do.  Also, I hope that my ignorance of their meanings doesn’t leave me in solitude.  If so, will you have solicitude for me?

Taciturn:  Again, I probably didn’t know this word since I’ve rarely chosen silence.  Also, it sounds like a kind of bird to me.  Kind of a quiet one, though.

Volubility:  Talkativeness.  Now here’s a word I should have known.

Wonderful:  Full of wonder.  I know, not what you thought it meant, right?  It can be used like this:  “It is wonderful that airplanes stay in the air.”  Wait, that’s not a good example.  Maybe – “It is wonderful that you read this blog.”  Still not helpful.  Try this, “It is wonderful that I did not know the definitions of all these words.”


Posted by on October 30, 2011 in Pride and Prejudice


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5 responses to “Literature’s Lexicon

  1. Christine

    November 2, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I vow to use brook tomorrow. It will probably be in reference to my children’s behavior.


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