Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Words of the Day

Instead of getting anything important accomplished, once again I find myself sitting amidst relative filth and squalor while communing with my dictionary. It's okay, because I had brownies for breakfast, so I might as well continue the irresponsibility for the remainder of the day. I'll do better tomorrow.

1. Pendulous. This word was found on page 99 of some book whose title I did not mark down. I wish I knew which book it was, because I wonder why this word is on my list. Pendulous means heavy and swinging, right? It must have been used in some unexpected way, and it sure would be interesting to recall how. Oh well. As it is, I am embarrassed to admit that the only noun I can think of to use in relation to this adjective is "breasts" (and not mine, unfortunately). Webster says: Poised without visible support; suspended so as to swing freely; inclined or hanging downward; marked by vascillation, indecision or uncertainty. That last part of the definition is new to me, and I'm guessing that's the way it was used on page 99. Also, it sounds like breasts are only pendulous when they're unfettered, which would be why mine aren't. (Too much information? Let's move on. After I take my 0.62 of a point: one for swinging, minus 1/4 for not knowing it could be used to refer to indecision, then taking away another 0.13 for throwing in "heavy.")

2. Gracile. My note alongside this word is "Nefertiti's skeleton," which means I must have gotten it from National Geographic. (Come to think of it--you never know--word #1 might have come from that magazine too.) I am pretty sure this word means delicate and graceful, perhaps even elegant. Webster says: Slender, slight, graceful. Kind of makes you wonder . . . have you ever seen a fat skeleton? Anyway, that's worth a full point.

3. Excoriating. Once again I have a page number but no title. (It's from page 144, if that helps you, but it obviously does not help me). The sound of the word makes me think of something that is harsh and grating. But maybe I am mixing it up with "exfoliating." Webster says: To wear off the skin of; abrade; to censure scathingly. Wow, so it is like exfoliating, except in a really harsh and grating way. I'm good! Glad I didn't guess the definition was "to remove the core of an apple." One point!

4. Swarthy. I always thought this meant dark-complected, or perhaps even a dark facial expression, but in my vague memory it seems I've also seen it used to describe a man who is thick-set or strongly built. We shall see. Webster says: being of a dark color, complexion or cast. So, I will throw out the strongly-built thing and give myself another point.

5. Lachrymose. I am almost certain I got this word from Lemony Snicket. Have you read his Series of Unfortunate Events? I read the first few (until I got bored with the repetition of the Baudelaire siblings continually finding themselves in danger from Count Olaf). In the third book the children find themselves with their Aunt Josephine, hanging precariously over Lake Lachrymose. I am surprised that Snicket did not define lachrymose for his readers, as he is generally in the habit of doing. This leaves me having to guess at the definition. The word makes me think of a languid sadness. Webster says: given to tears or weeping; tearful; mournful. Sad, right? Another point!

The words must have been too easy this week (or I was too easy on myself in my grading scale). 4.62 out of 5!


Amanda said...

I think I have pendulous covered, hee hee. Is this your best score so far?? :)

Kathy said...

Haha! Fetter them things, girl!!

I guess this was my best score yet! Although I'm not sure how meaningful that is with my completely arbitrary scale.