A Life Of Fiction XXXVII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work before purchasing it on the Kindle store; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

The Society for the Protection of Defunct and Dying Words: There is no such society. But, if there was, I think that I would be a member, if not its President. I like odd words, whether out-of-date or slang or dialectal. I don’t like to see words disappear from our language. I try to insert some of these words into my writing, in an attempt to keep them alive.

Here, below, are some of my favourite words, for your delectation. They are all real worlds. None of them have been made up. I have chosen one for each letter of the alphabet.

Aproneer: This means a shopkeeper, presumably because they used to wear aprons.

Badinage: This means humorous banter.

Crepuscular: This means relating to twilight or dim light.

Dwale: This is another term for deadly nightshade.

Eructate: This is one of several synonyms for the verb to belch. I like this one, as the word sounds a little explosive.

Fremd: This means alien or strange. I could be wrong, but I think that this is the only word in the English language which ends in the letters md.

Gean: this is another name for the sweet cherry, and a useful word to know if you write poetry.

Howlet: This is a Scots dialectal word for an owl.

Irenic: This means peaceful, or intended to create peace.

Jakes: This is a slang or archaic word which ahs two meanings. One is a lavatory; the other is human excrement.

Kobold: this is a Germanic mine spirit. Sometimes the creatures would secretly assist householders with their domestic chores.

This is the word which cobalt comes from. It is also the name for a diminutive reptilian race in Dungeons and Dragons; for dog-men in the Suikoden games; and I have used it for sir john kobold, who is the British Magician Royal in some of my novels.

Logophile: Yes, that’s me. It is a lover of words.

Megrim: This word has several different meanings: dizziness; a whim; or (as a plural) depression or the blues. But I like to use it as its older meaning, as being a synonym for a migraine.

Nepenthe: This is a drink or drug which causes a person to forget their sorrows. It comes from the Ancient Greek. I have used it in my novels and in my poetry.

Oche: This is the line where people stand when playing the pub game darts. For some reason it is not in a lot of dictionaries.

Phlogiston: This is a thing which the ancients believed to be in all things and which caused combustion. In my novels it is the name given to a Magickal gas which can only be ignited by Magickal fire, and which is lighter than either helium or hydrogen.

Qat: This is a type of African grass which is chewed for its euphoric properties. I like this word because it is one of the few q words which is not followed by a u. as anybody reading this might guess, I like to play Scrabble.

Rictus: This means either the gape of an open beak or mouth; or a very fixed grin. In my mind I always associate this word with the DC character the Joker, who could cause a deadly rictus on his poisoned victims.

Syzygy: This is the alignment of three celestial bodies. But I like the word as it has three letters y and no vowels.

Tantivy: This is both noun and adverb, meaning a fast gallop or at a fast gallop. The word was used to suggest the sound of galloping hooves and, in the eighteenth century, the sound of a blast on a hunting horn.

Umami: This means savoury, and is the fifth taste that our tongues can detect, after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The word is Japanese.

Vewter: This word means, specifically, a keeper of greyhounds. it is used in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and is one of the words to have disappeared from the English language since then.

Welkin: This means the sky or the heavens.

Xenodocheinology: I am doing this one from memory, as it is too obscure to be in any of my dictionaries or other word resources. I think that it means the love of hotels or inns. I hope that it does, as I used it in a poem once.

Yaffle: In addition to being the term for the green woodpecker, this word also means to eat noisily. I’m sure that older British readers will recall Professor Yaffle from the old Oliver Postgate children’s series Bagpuss.

Zugzwang: This is a position in chess, a type of blockade where the person to play will put himself in a worse position, whatever he does. I used to play chess, and I like the way that this word sounds (it comes from the German).

That’s it. A small selection of words we should try to keep alive, as our language would be far less colourful without them. Now I must just update my spellings on Word, as the program says that most of those words don’t exist…


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