Tag Archives: ignominy

Next up: Invidious

Last week we learned about the word incommoded.  It seemed like a silly word to me, but I didn’t want to say anything, you know how much I respect Henry James.

But then I found out that Isabel felt it was a difficult piece of vocab to swallow herself.

“You (Osmund) don’t offend me; but you ought to remember that, without being offended, one may be incommoded, troubled.” “Incommoded”: she heard herself saying that, and it struck her as a ridiculous word.  But it was what stupidly came to her.

It’s okay, Isabel, it happens to the best of us – the author’s words begin to become our own.  You should hear how many times I use the ignominy now.

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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in The Portrait of a Lady


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One Word Obsession

monomaniac – n.  a person obsessed with one idea or subject

Classical Usage:  It might be easier to tell you where Melville didn’t use this word than to track down the oodles and scads of places where he did.  My endnotes did have something interesting to say about his overuse use of the word:  “Given Ishmael’s casual and familiar use of this term, it is perhaps surprising to learn that in 1851 the word was of fairly recent origin; it was coined in 1823 by the French psychiatrist Jean Esquirol.

Classically Mad Usage:  Monomaniac is to Melville as ignominy is to Hawthorne.  Guess I’d better find a theme song.


Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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What I’m getting Hawthorne for his Birthday

I have a few months to wait before Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthday.

But when July 4th comes, I know just what I’ll be giving him.

What?  You don’t think he’ll be thrilled to receive a thesaurus?

Oh, but I think he needs one.

Has anyone else noticed how many times the author of The Scarlet Letter uses the word ignominy?

Ignominy is a noun that means disgrace, dishonor; public contempt.

Hawthorne is fond of this word: extremely fond of it.

I’m not a novelist, but I confess that in my blog post writing when I find I’m over-using a word, I go to a certain website that’s become a friend:

I used to look up other options for the word ignominy.  There was baseness, disgrace, lowness, meanness, and sordidness.

If Hawthorne did not like any of those choices he could have used a synonym from this list: disfavor, dishonor, humiliation, infamy, opprobrium, shame, or stigma.

Hey, that opprobrium word sounds familiar.

I’ll go ahead and order that thesaurus now so that when July comes, and I get my invitation to celebrate Hawthorne’s 198th birthday, I’ll be ready with a gift.


Posted by on March 4, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter


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