Following a previous post where I shared some new discoveries in the English vocabulary, brought to me by the Kindle dictionary, here are some more. (For how to make the best out of your Kindle, see another previous post.)
As I was reading Jennifer Egan’s Look at Me on my Kindle, I made a note of all the words I had to look up. The novel was a pleasure to read and the language was inspiring. Of course, a writer’s talent does not just lie in the vocabulary they use, but in how they use it – and I love how Jennifer Egan has used some of the words below.
Gyre – to whirl, gyrate.
Axiomatic – self-evident or unquestionable.
Maelstrom – a scene or state of confused and violent movement or upheaval; as a noun, a powerful whirpool. And the word comes from modern Dutch!
Curmudgeonly – in a bad temper.
Accoutrement – additional item of dress or other items worn by a person for a particular activity.
“America’s conspirators were no different from overlords elsewhere in the world, encased within bulletproof casts and crusts of bodybuards, all the usual accoutrements of oppression and injustice.”
Meager – lacking in quantity or quality (even when you’ve been hearing a word often, it’s interesting to find out its specific meaning.)
Lithe – thin, supple and graceful (just like the word itself!).
Bailiwick – one’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest. (In law, the district or jurisdiction of a bailiff.)
Enjambment – the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of the line, couplet or stanza. In Jennifer Egan’s case, it is used quite poetically:
“He’d bypasssed that enjambment of sensation along with the beach itself.”
Shrapnel – fragments of a bomb.
“… so that these bullets of memory could assault him, enter his flesh and release their shrapnel of foolish and unreliable nostalgia.”
Scrim – a thing that conceals or obscures something.
“A scrim had appeared between them and it frightened Moose.”
Yes, Moose is the name of one of the characters, isn’t it wonderful?