It's as if Anna Karenina is reaching out from beyond the grave. I still have two more words from that book on my List of Words to Look Up.
1. Pellicle. Of course I wrote down that this word was on page 563, and of course I have already swapped my copy of Anna Karenina, so now I can't tell you what sentence it was used in. With no context, I can't even venture a good guess. But I can venture a bad one: a small pelican. Webster says: a thin skin or film. Zero points. Of course.
2. Nihilist. How did I make it out of college without a firm understanding of nihilism? Apparently Levin considers Oblonsky a nihilist, which causes Oblonsky to say that's like the pot calling the kettle black (though not in those words) since Levin has let nine years pass without "taking the sacrament." So I'm guessing a nihilist isn't overly religious. Webster says: a nihilist views traditional values and beliefs as unfounded, and existence as senseless and useless. Nihilism is a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth, especially moral truth. In 19th century Russia (ding!) nihilism was the program of a political party advocating revolutionary reform and using terrorism and assassination. Half a point for heading in the right direction but not quite grasping the scope.
3. Tenebrous. Oh, how I wish I knew where I found this word. All I know is that it referred to the way Pete's head creaked before it cracked (aren't you curious now too?) and I assumed it meant ominous. Webster says: Shut off from the light; dark, murky; hard to understand; obscure; causing gloom. Yeah, I can see how it might cause some gloom for Pete if his skull creaked until it cracked. But my guess was wrong. Which has caused me some gloom. No points.
4. Implacable. Orphan word. My old guess was that it meant "hard," but wouldn't it mean "unable to be placated," or "unsatisfied?" Webster says: not placable; not capable of being appeased, significantly changed, or mitigated. Finally I get a whole point!
5. Fulsome. Another orphan word. My guess was curvaceous. Webster says a lot: characterized by abundance; copious; offensive to the senses or to moral or aesthetic sensibility; disgusting; excessively complimentary or flattering; lavish; obsequious; exceeding the bounds of good taste; overdone; being completely developed; full, well-rounded. I'd started to worry, but there it is in the end. Another point!
Two and a half out of five. It's a little bit ridiculous how much fun this is for me, especially considering the fact that I'm not very good at it.
Now for something completely different…
1 day ago