There’s nothing like an English book from the 19th century to get you reaching for a dictionary. This time it was George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and here’s the mighty list of humdingers:
coxcomb (n): a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop.
hymeneal (adj): of or pertaining to marriage.
hymeneal (n): a wedding song or poem.
cicerone (n): a person who conducts sightseers; guide.
codicil (n): a supplement or appendix, especially of a will.
- ulceration of the mouth and lips.
- an inflammation or infection of the ear and auditory canal, especially in dogs and cats.
- a condition in horses similar to but more advanced than thrush.
- a source of spreading corruption or decay.
canker (v): to infect with corruption or decay.
- an impertinent, presumptuous person, esp. a young man; whippersnapper.
- (archaic) an ape or monkey.
- a staff that holds on its cleft end the unspun flax, wool, or tow from which thread is drawn in spinning by hand, and an attachment for a spinning wheel that serves this purpose.
- work and concerns traditionally considered important to women.
- women considered as a group.
hoyden (adj): boisterous; rude (also used as noun).
dram (adj): a small quantity of anything, especially liquor.
chyle (n): a turbid, white or pale yellow fluid taken up by the lacteals from the intestine during digestion and carried by the lymphatic system via the thoracic duct into the circulation.
- the projection of the leg of a horse behind the joint between the cannon bone and great pastern bone, bearing a tuft of hair.
- the tuft of hair itself, or the name of the joint.
- coming before; preceding.
- expectant; anticipatory.
- an outer garment lined or trimmed with fur.
- a woman’s long cloak with slits for the arms.
cupidity (n): eager or excessive desire, esp. to possess something; greed; avarice.
bruit (v): to voice abroad; rumor (used chiefly in the passive and often followed by about)
- any generally abnormal sound or murmur heard on auscultation (auscultation = the act of listening, either directly or through a stethoscope or other instrument, to sounds within the body as a method of diagnosis).
- (archaic) rumor; report.
- (archaic) noise; din; clamor.
postillion (n): a person who rides the left horse of the leading or only pair of horses drawing a carriage. refluent (adj): flowing back; ebbing, as the waters of a tide.
- maladministration of public office.
- neglect in preventing or reporting a felony or treason by one not an accessory.
- an act of sedition against a government or the courts.
mercer (n): a dealer in textile fabrics; dry-goods merchant.
- the lord or military governor of a medieval German border province.
- used as a hereditary title for certain princes in the Holy Roman Empire.
leveret (n): a young hare.
sciolism (n): superficial knowledge.
accoucher (n): a person who assists during childbirth, esp. an obstetrician.
- a feudal lord entitled to allegiance and service.
- a feudal vassal or subject.
- owing primary allegiance and service to a feudal lord.
- pertaining to the relation between a feudal vassal and lord.
- loyal; faithful: the liege adherents of a cause
energumen (n): one possessed by an evil spirit; a demoniac.
galligaskins (n): leggings or gaiters, usually of leather, or loose trousers in general.
- a freeman or citizen of an English borough.
- a member of the English Parliament who once represented a town, borough, or university.
- a member of the lower house of the legislature of colonial Virginia or Maryland.