Friday, February 27, 2015

word of the day: desultory

The word of the day is desultory:

1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful
2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random
Latin dēsultōrius pertaining to a dēsultor (a circus rider who jumps from one horse to another), equivalent to dēsul-, variant stem of dēsilīre to jump down ( dē- de- + -silīre, combining form of salīre to leap) (

"Jacaranda, a fresh-air fiend, installed herself in a desultory compartment of the train, pulled off her stockings (under the latest edition of Der zaftig Tagblut), rotated her head gracefully, propped her feet up on the knees of the passenger snoring opposite her, and broke out the oscillating fan she'd last used during one of Beau Romano's incandescent tantrums."

 - Karen Elizabeth Gordon, Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness: A Dictionarrative

I guess she's using it to mean "random"?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

word of the day: incarnadine

The word of the day is incarnadine:

1. blood-red; crimson.
2. flesh-colored; pale pink.  
Middle French, feminine of incarnadin flesh-colored < Italian incarnatino, equivalent to incarnat (o) made flesh (

"General Ludovic had effected many momentous decisions on the battlefield, but none left so deep or incarnadine a mark on his name or history as the carnage at Bluttenbad."

 - Karen Elizabeth Gordon, Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness: A Dictionarrative

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

word of the day: calcareous

The word of the day is calcareous:

of, containing, or like calcium carbonate; chalky
Latin calcārius of lime (

"SHUT UP, said Death.  He beckoned Keli with a calcareous forefinger."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

word of the day: postern

The word of the day is postern:

1. a back door or gate.
2. a private entrance or any entrance other than the main one.
Middle English posterne < Old French, variant of posterle < Late Latin posterula, diminutive of postera back door, noun use of feminine of posterus coming behind.  (

"He ducked down, skidded down the ladder to the cobbles and legged it back to the main hall with the skirts of his robe flapping around his ankles.  He slipped in through the small postern in the great door and ordered the guards to lock it, then grabbed his skirts again and pounded along a side passage so that the guests wouldn't notice him."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

Monday, February 23, 2015

word of the day: boniface

The word of the day is boniface:

1. Saint (Wynfrith) a.d. 680?–755? English monk who became a missionary in Germany.
2. a jovial innkeeper in George Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem.
3. (lowercase) any landlord or innkeeper.
4. a male given name: from a Latin word meaning “doer of good.”. (

"Albert strutted along the row, poking the occasional paunch with his staff.  His mind danced and sang.  Go back?  Never!  This was power, this was living; he'd challenge old boniface and spit in his empty eye."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

No, I don't get it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

word of the day: gimlet

The word of the day is gimlet:

able to penetrate or bore through
late Middle English < Old French guimbelet < Germanic; compare Middle Dutch wimmel wimble  (

"'As the bursar of this university I must say that we've always encouraged a good neighbor policy with respect to the community,' mumbled the wizard, trying to avoid Albert's gimlet stare."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

word of the day: sarny

The word of the day is sarny:

English slang for a sandwich. (Urban Dictionary)

"Harga looked around the steamy cafe.  No one was watching him.  He was going to get to the bottom of this.  He rapped on the hatch again.
"'Alligator sandwich,' he said.  'And make it sna-'
"The hatch shot up.  After a few seconds to pluck up enough courage, Harga peered under the top slice of the long sarny in front of him.  He wasn't saying that it was alligator, and he wasn't saying it wasn't."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)

Friday, February 20, 2015

word of the day: bollard

The word of the day is bollard:

a thick, low post, usually of iron or steel, mounted on a wharf or the like, to which mooring lines from vessels are attached (

"Now it really was dawn, that cusp of the day that belonged to no one except the seagulls in Morpork docks, the tide that rolled in up the river, and a warm turnwise wind that added a smell of spring to the complex odor of the city.
"Death sat on a bollard, looking out to sea."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Friday, February 13, 2015

word of the day: caster

The word of the day is caster:
a small wheel on a swivel, set under a piece of furniture, a machine, etc., to facilitate moving it (

"Then Ysabell said, 'We passed a ladder back there.  On wheels.'
The little casters on the bottom squeaked as Mort rolled it back."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Thursday, February 12, 2015

word of the day: hawser

The word of the day is hawser:

a heavy rope for mooring or towing.
Middle English haucer < Anglo-French hauceour, equivalent to Middle French hauci (er) to hoist (< Late Latin *altiāre to raise, derivative of Latin altus high; see haughty) (

"Mort thought that history was thrashing around like a steel hawser with the tension off, twanging backwards and forwards across reality in great destructive sweeps."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

word of the day: balaclava helmet

The word of the day is balaclava helmet:

a close-fitting, knitted cap that covers the head, neck, and tops of the shoulders, worn especially by mountain climbers, soldiers, skiers, etc.
named after Balaklava (

"'And they was kings in those days, real kings, not like the sort you get now.  They was monarchs,' continued Albert, carefully pouring some tea into his saucer and fanning it primly with the end of his muffler.  'I mean, they was wise and fair, well, fairly wise.  And they wouldn't think twice about cutting your head off soon as look at you,' he added approvingly.  'And all the queens were tall and pale and wore them balaclava helmet things-'
'Wimples?' said Mort.
'Yeah, them, and the princesses were beautiful as the day is long and so noble they, they could pee through a dozen mattresses-'

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

word of the day: ammonite

The word of the day is ammonite:

the coiled, chambered fossil shell of an ammonoid.
Medieval Latin (cornū) Ammōn (is) (literally, horn of Ammon ) + -ītes -ite1; fossil so called from its resemblance to the horn of Jupiter Ammon (

"It'll take Mort several minutes to arrive.  A row dots would fill in the time nicely, but the reader will already be noticing the strange shape of the temple - curled like a great white ammonite at the end of the valley - and will probably want an explanation...

"Eons ago the Listeners had found that ice and chance had carved this one valley into the perfect acoustic opposite of an echo valley, and had built their multi-chambered temple in the exact position that the one comfy chair always occupies in the home of a rabid hi-fi fanatic.  Complex baffles caught and amplified the sound that was funneled up the chilly valley, steering it ever inwards to the central chamber where, at any hour of the day or night, three monks always sat.


 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Monday, February 09, 2015

word of the day: inglenook

The word of the day is inglenook:

a corner or nook near a fireplace; chimney corner.

"The fire in the cave-like inglenook didn't add much light, because it was no more than a heap of white ash under the remains of a log."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Sunday, February 08, 2015

word of the day: serry

The word of the day is serry:

to crowd closely together.
Middle French serré, past participle of serrer to press tightly together (

"Death walked slowly across tiles in the lifetimer room, inspecting the serried rows of busy hourglasses."

 - Terry Pratchett, Mort

Saturday, February 07, 2015

word of the day: pillion

The word of the day is pillion:

1. a pad or cushion attached behind a saddle, especially as a seat for a woman.
2. a pad, cushion, saddle, or the like, used as a passenger seat on a bicycle, motor scooter, etc.
3. a passenger's saddle or seat behind the driver's seat on a motorcycle.
Scots Gaelic pillinn or Irish pillín, diminutive of peall skin, rug blanket, MIr pell < Latin pellis skin (
"It had to be a weird dream.  He couldn't have ridden pillion on a great white horse that had cantered up into the sky and then went...
 - Terry Pratchett, Mort