Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dictionary Diving (Or, Words I've Had to Look Up Lately)

I got a Kindle for Mother's Day. One of its features is a preloaded New Oxford American Dictionary. You can put the cursor in front of a word, and it'll look show you the definition.

Ha! I thought. I'm a word geek--I won't be using THAT much.

Then I "bought" a series of Kindle books written in the 1910s. (I put bought in quotes because they were free.) 

And I hadn't gone four pages without looking up three words.

Here are some of the words I looked up (another cool feature: highlight some text, and "clip" it into a memory bank). On almost all of them, I knew roughly (and sometimes exactly) what was meant--but I'd never seen the word before.



fiacre (no fair; an anachronism in the form of a horse-drawn vehicle)

weariful (which is clear, but an unusual form)




carrefour (this is an anachronism--a form of horse-drawn carriage)



Crepitation (a rattling sound or crackling sound--raindrops on the window, multiple shots from a pistol) and sedulous (showing dedication and diligence--careful; the thieves lurking in the doorway were always sedulous) were big favorites of Louis Joseph Vance, the author I was reading.
The rain made incessant crepitation on the roof . . .


. . . seeds of death which the Hun and his kin were sedulous to sow . . .

Have you cracked open The Book lately?


God Is My Codependent said...

I'm a medical editor, so I see "crepitation" every so often. It's used to describe noises that bones make in certain situations.

TootsNYC said...

And lungs--the NOAD says:
[ medicine] a crackling sound made in breathing bya person with an inflamed lung, detected using a stethoscope

Oh, and:
[entomology] the explosive ejection of irritant fluid from the abdomen of a bombardier beetle.

That'll make an amusing picture, the next time you run across a description of arthritic joints!

And just for you: here's the last word I looked up:


as in, locum tenens, a person who stands in temporarily for someone else of the same profession, esp. a cleric or doctor. (latin for "one holding a place")

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Aside from the preloaded dictionary, how are you getting on with your Kindle? I'm just curious.

TootsNYC said...

I'm really liking it! Thanks for asking.

There aren't as many books available as I would wish, yet, but the two books I *most* wanted to buy (but was worried about finding shelf space for) were available. Shelf space was the reason my husband bought it for me.

I had considered buying one for myself, but it was just too expensive. If my husband hadn't already done it, I would have simply waited.

I'm a little worried about the Sony Reader / Kindle war. I'm guessing Kindle will win, but who knows? They may both be like the 8-track tape.

One bummer about it is that it's not easy for my family to buy me a book for my birthday. A gift card to Amazon.com is not as much fun, bcs my kids like to pick out the actual book. I may have to suggest that Amazon sell book-specific gift cards, or something.

I find it easy to read (I love being able to make the type bigger--it makes it easier to read in the dim, and easier to read as I walk). It isn't backlit, which is deliberate, of course; designed to be easy on the eyes, so no reading in the dark.

It's very comfortable to hold. And it's easier to read while I eat (no need to worry about getting the pages sticky; it lies quite flat, and I can "turn the page" by pushing a button w/ my knuckle).

It's lightweight and easy to hold while I'm standing on the subway or bus.

And its cool factor is, like 19 on a scale of 1 to 10. People ask me about it on the street!

I've been buying all the public-domain books that are available. Right now I'm in the middle of The J.G. Reeder mysteries.

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