More Readings and Unknowns

From The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga:

rictus (n):

  1. the expanse of an open mouth, a bird’s beak, or similar structure.
  2. a gaping grimace: “his mouth gaping in a kind of rictus of startled alarm” (Richard Adams).

From Anna Karenina, the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation:

pharisaic (adj):

  1. (uppercase) of or pertaining to the Pharisees.
  2. (lowercase) practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical.

trousseau (n): an outfit of clothing, household linen, etc., for a bride.

pell-mell (here defined as adverb, but can be noun and adjective):

  1. In a jumbled, confused manner; helter-skelter.
  2. In frantic disorderly haste; headlong.

roan (adj): having a chestnut, bay, or sorrel coat thickly sprinkled with white or gray: a roan horse.

roan (n):

    1. The characteristic coloring of a roan horse.
    2. A roan horse or other animal.
  1. A soft flexible sheepskin leather, often treated to resemble morocco and used in bookbinding.

beadle (n): a minor parish official formerly employed in an English church to usher and keep order during services.

chignon (n): a large, smooth twist, roll, or knot of hair, worn by women at the nape of the neck or the back of the head.

palpate (v): to examine by touch, especially for the purpose of diagnosing disease or illness.

Readings and Unknowns

I’ve had an iPod Touch by my side over the last few months, and I’ve been able to record the words whose meanings were beyond me from my readings.

From The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain:

charily (adv):

  1. carefully; warily.
  2. sparingly; frugally.

ferule (n): also ferula, a rod, cane, or flat piece of wood for punishing children, esp. by striking them on the hand.

éclat (n):

  1. great brilliance, as of performance or achievement.
  2. conspicuous success.
  3. great acclamation or applause.
  4. (archaic) notoriety; scandal.

clod (n):

  1. a lump or mass, esp. of earth or clay.
  2. a stupid person; blockhead; dolt.
  3. earth; soil.
  4. something of lesser dignity or value, as the body as contrasted with the soul: this corporeal clod.
  5. a part of a shoulder of beef.

sedulous (a):

  1. diligent in application or attention; persevering; assiduous.
  2. persistently or carefully maintained.

From My Man Jeeves by (who else) PG Wodehouse:

prismatic  (a):

  1. of, pertaining to, of like a prism.
  2. spectral in color; brilliant.
  3. highly varied or faceted.

persiflage (n): light, good-natured talk; banter

Dostoyevsky and Kafka

I recently re-read Notes from the Underground and stumbled across what must have been the direct inspiration for Kafka’s Metamorphosis at the very beginning of the second chapter:

I want now to tell you, gentlemen, whether you care to hear it or not, why I could not even become an insect.  I tell you solemnly, that I have many times tried to become an insect.  But I was not equal even to that.