Sunday, October 30, 2016

Word of the day: précis

The word of the day is précis:
  1. a concise summary.

"He achieved the unintrusive effect—and sombre tone—he wanted, but, in seeking to correct what he perhaps considered the bossiness of his previous novel, 'Concluding' (1948), which used interior monologue and précis, he overlooked the innovations of his earlier works, which had found their own ways of avoiding authorial omniscience."

 - Leo Robson, "Doings and Undoings:?How great was the novelist Henry Green?", 17 October 2016 The New Yorker

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Word of the Day: unheimlich

The word of the day is unheimlich:

Uncanny; weird.


"In making the case for Jackson as a herald of Friedan and others, Franklin doesn't say much about Jackson's humor—which is a pity, because one of her most distinctive and appealing characteristics is a tendency to interleave unheimlich atmospheres and dark portraits of psychological breakdown with bursts of spry drawing-room comedy, droll Mitfordian dialogue, and the odd joke about eating children."

 - Zoe Heller, "Haunted Houses: What frightened Shirley Jackson?", 17 October 2016 The New Yorker (

Monday, October 10, 2016

Word of the day: quoits

The word of the day is quoits:

a game in which rings of rope or flattened metal are thrown at an upright peg, the object being to encircle it or come as close to it as possible

1388, "curling stone," perhaps from O.Fr. coite "flat stone" (with which the game was originally played), lit. "cushion," variant of coilte (see quilt). Quoits were among the games prohibited by Edward III and Richard II to encourage archery. In ref. to a heavy flat iron ring (and the tossing game played with it) it is recorded from c.1440.


"She refuses the swimming pool, the quoits, the badminton, the endless, pointless games."

 - Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Word of the Day: spate

The word of the day is spate:

  1. a sudden, almost overwhelming, outpouring: a spate of angry words.
  2. British.
    1. a flood or inundation.
    2. a river flooding its banks.
    3. a sudden or heavy rainstorm.
early 15c., originally Scottish and northern English, "a sudden flood, especially one caused by heavy rains or a snowmelt," of unknown origin. Perhaps from O.Fr. espoit "flood," from Du. spuiten "to flow, spout;" related to spout. Figurative sense of "unusual quantity" is attested from 1610s.


"The Louveteau River was in spate; bushes and trees torn up by the roots eddied and snagged."

 - Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Word of the day: harmonium

The word of the day is harmonium:

  1. an organlike keyboard instrument with small metal reeds and a pair of bellows operated by the player's feet.

"We found the attic, with boxes of old books and stored quilts and three empty trunks, and a broken harmonium, and Grandmother Adelia's headless dress form, a pallid, musty torso."

 - Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin