Tag Archives: Words

I bet Dr. Quinn knew all these words.

excrescence:  n.  an abnormal outgrowth or disfiguring part

Classical Usage:  The Merriam-Webster suggested usage for this word is: warty excrescence in the colon.  Eeeewww, groooossss!  So, what in Jane Eyre could stick out in such a unappealing way?  The tightly wound buns of the poor girls at Lowood.  Remember how Brocklehurst had their locks cut off?

Classically Mad Usage:  Much like chilblains, I hope not find much application for this, at least not in terms of warty colon growth.  And even though I’ve been known to post a few gratuitous pictures of the excrescence of my daughter’s tresses on my other blog, I’ll spare you here.

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Russell the Perfidious

perfidious:  \pro-nun-ci-a-tions-are-too-hard\  adj.  untrustworthy, disloyal, deceitful

Classical Usage:  The definition above could simply read, “Mrs. Reed.”   Jane remembers, “the perfidious hints given by Mrs. Reed about my disposition . . .”

Classically Mad Usage:  This word could really beef up my incessant jabber about reality TV.  Tomorrow night begins a new season of Survivor, and I can’t wait to find out who will be the perfidious player I love to hate.  Can you?


Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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No Soup for You

penurious:  adj. marked by extreme frugality due to a lack of resources

Classic Usage:  This is yet another example of the deplorable conditions at Lowood.  Jane uses the word to describe the amount of cold meat and bread they were given on Sundays.

Classically Mad Usage:  I’m a lover of frugality, but I draw the line at penury (see how I used the word in it’s noun form?)  But, now I at least know what to label any suggestion to cut back in some area of life where I’ve become accustom to posh and fat.


Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Cream and Sugar are Preferable

exigency:  n. urgent demand

Classic Usage:  Here’s the sentence where Jane describes the meager food and drink provided them while at Lowood, “Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third, half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.”  Wow.

Classically Mad Usage:  I’m too stunned by the severity of Jane’s hunger, the parallels to Oliver Twist, and Brontë’s beautiful writing to do much with the vocab. I am feeling an exigency to feed my children an extra helping of bread for lunch.  I might pass on offering them coffee, however.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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A Classic Diagnosis

chilblains: n. a nasty looking ulcerish thing on the extremities*

Classic Usage:  Jane and her fellow orphan girls had to go outside regardless of weather or their insufficient dress.  Their hands and feet became covered with these horrible things.

Classically Mad Usage:  Do yourself a favor:  DO NOT look these up online.  Well, unless your child just built a snowman in little more than pajamas, then you might want to give them a quick look-see.  But be forewarned, chilblains are often confused with frostbite, and neither are pretty.

*This blog, as well as its writers and readers, are not responsible for any misdiagnosis or mistreatment of medical malady, fictional or non.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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If you can’t say something nice . . .

animadversion:  n. comments, usually critical

Classic Usage:  At the beginning of Chapter VI Jane overhears a class at Lowood receiving instruction, “one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd’s chair reading, and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons could be heard, together with the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the performance.

Classically Mad Usage:  I would rather not have to use this word.  You see, I have an aversion to animadversions.  Thank you for not ever leaving them as comments.

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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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Maybe Should’ve Know This One

preternatural – n. something that is beyond or outside of the natural or normal

Classic Usage:  Well, Jane Eyre is a gothic romance, therefore the use of preternatural comes up to describe many of the spooky things we encounter along the way.  My first encounter with the word occurred in Chapter V as Jane makes the long, solo journey to Lowood.  She says, “I remember but little of the journey; I only know that the day seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we appeared to travel over hundreds of miles of road.”

Classically Mad Usage:  Apparently, this is a common word and its absence in my daily discourse is preternatural.  I suspected this was the case, and then I read a book on knitting where the author uses it with preternatural frequency.  I suppose that if the word is common enough to be used in multiplicity regarding yarn humor it deserves a place in my lingo, even if it often feels preternatural to stick it in every sentence.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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