Tuesday, July 07, 2009

List #4: 30 Vocab Words from a Michael Chabon Book

This past week I finished reading Michael Chabon’s wonderful novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I wrote a few sparse paragraphs about the book in my ongoing reading journal for 2009, which you can find here (look for entry #27.)

While reading Kavalier & Clay I found myself awed by Chabon’s impressive vocabulary. When it comes right down to it, I am a philologist in the most literal sense of the word. I am a lover of words. (Philology, or the study of words, is an academic discipline.) While reading Chabon’s book I kept a list of all of the words he used that I was unsure how to define. By the time I had reached the end, I found that my list (written on the inside of the back cover) contained 188 words!

This week’s list defines a mere 30 of those 188 words:

1) abstruse – (adjective) incomprehensible or arcane
2) aetataureate – (adjective) of or pertaining to a golden age
3) aquiline – (adjective) a. eagle-like; b. having a hooked beak like an eagle
4) argosy – (noun) a. a large merchant ship; b. an opulent or abundant supply
5) benthos – (noun) the bottom of a body of water
6) bricoleur – (noun) a jack-of-all-trades
7) cathect – (verb) to invest with intense emotional energy
8) defenestration – (noun) the act of throwing a thing, usually a person, out of window
9) execrable – (adjective) detestable or abhorrent
10) faience – (noun) glazed pottery
11) febrile – (adjective) feverish
12) flummery – (noun) a. foolish nonsense; b. a soft, bland food such as oatmeal
13) gelid – (adjective) very cold or icy
14) gimcrack – (noun) a trinket, bauble, or ornament
15) inure – (verb) to accustom to hardship or pain
16) jambeaux – (noun) a piece of armor that covers the shin and calf
17) kohled – (verb) in art, to darken or shadow an area
18) lucubrations – (noun) laborious works of a pretentious nature done late at night
19) oppugn – (verb) to oppose, contradict, or criticize
20) philippic – (noun) a verbal attack or tirade
21) prestidigitate – (verb) to conjure or perform magic, especially involving sleight of hand
22) roentgen – (noun) a unit for measuring radiation
23) soi-disant – (adjective) self-styled or so-called
24) spavined – (adjective) decrepit or deteriorated
25) tenebrous – (adjective) dark and gloomy
26) tergiversation – (noun) a radical change in a person’s opinion about an issue or cause
27) termagancy – (noun) the state of being turbulent or tumultuous
28) tocsin – (noun) an alarm or warning sounded by a bell
29) verdigris – (noun) the greenish or bluish discoloration of a metal such as copper or brass
30) vulpine – (adjective) a. crafty or cunning; b. fox-like