Text Fragments

(Refer to the Writing Notes post for word usage and to Food Vocabulary for food-related words and terms.  Also see Remnants and Famous Quotes.)

Interesting Words


A contronym is a word that has opposite meanings.  For example, when Michael Jackson said that he was ‘bad’ in his video “Bad”, he meant that he was really good (in a bad sort of way).

“bound” – noun form: a leap / a limit (amongst several meanings)

bullock” – an uncastrated male bovine in American English and a castrated one in British English.

“circular” – roundish (verb form) and yet rectangular (noun form).
“cleave” – Related to ‘cleave’, ‘cleavage’ refers to the space between the breasts (the ‘cut apart’ sense of cleave) – but it is created or enhanced by pushing the breasts together (the ‘stick together’ sense).
“dust” – .
“grounds” – .
‘pass’ can mean ‘to skip over, to not do’ or can mean ‘to enact (legislation)’
to secrete = to hide or to exude

Colors and Patterns

“bistre” – A dark greyish black to a soot brown.  1727 is the first recorded use in English.

“brindle pattern” = a coat pattern of a cat or other animal in which the colors are streaked.  The color streaks in a brindle pattern are not as distinct as the striping in a mackerel coat or the patches in a calico (or tortoiseshell) coat.  The usage for brindle / brindled is a ‘brindle pattern’ but a ‘brindled grey cat’.  Though ‘brindled’ is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘tabby’ (which shares its origin with taffety (taffeta; moire silk): Attabiya, Iraq), in the US tabby patterns consist of distinct stripes and spots.

People Nouns and Adjectives

“bumptious” = offensively self-assertive; as used in a movie review, “The other miscreants… are a bumptious lot” (a dweeb, a jokester, and a klepto)

dipsomania” = essentially an older term for alcoholism but with the focus on periodic bouts of extreme binge drinking as opposed to chronic drunkenness.  Used by Oliver Sachs in a case study in “An Anthropologist on Mars”.  (A ‘dispo’ is a drunk; a sot.)

“dyspeptic” = morose, gloomy, and irritable – as with someone suffering chronic indigestion (one meaning of dyspepsia)

hirsute – hairy, bushy

psychopomp” = an entity who escorts newly deceased souls to the afterlife.

Miscellaneous New and New-ish Nouns

mondegreen” – incorrectly stated song lyric based on a mishearing.  For example, mishearing the song lyric “She’s got skills” as “She’s got Skittles”.  Billy Joel’s great “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” contains a number of mondegreens including “Brenda Renetti” instead of “Brenda and Eddie”.

“ecotone” = transitional zone between two major (plant) ecologies; e.g. the Sierra Foothills

“equipoise” = an equal distribution of weight, emotional forces, or other element.

Miscellaneous Old Nouns

agora” – original a central, open-air, public meeting place in ancient Greek cities; evolved into also hosting markets.

anthroposophy = spiritual philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900s in Germany.  Waldorf schools are an offshoot.

“arpax” – harpax; closely related to corvus.  A device used by a pirate to forcibly board a ship.

brigand” – In some cases a brigand is akin to a terrorist: those on the side of the brigand consider themselves to be freedom fighters resisting invaders.  More often brigands have profited from unrest through ransom, extortion, and plunder.  Usually brigands band together in outlaw bands, operating in the manner of an irregular military.

caltrop” – A is a twisted cluster of two or more spikes used to defend against incoming horses or tires.  Not to be confused with the plant water caltrop, so named because its fruit somewhat resembles the weapon clusters.

‘clew’ = ball of yarn or thread

cynosure” – an object of attention, something that serves as a guide

“fascinator” – Originally a fine, lacy head covering with feathers; in contemporary times it is a headpiece (generally with feathers) usually worn as a substitute for a hat at formal occasions.

“furuncle” – a boil; a ‘carbuncle’ is a cluster of boils.

“gorse” – In Western Europe, a a hardy shrub with yellow flowers and sharp spines instead of needles.  It is related to the invasive Scotch broom with which Northern California gardeners do battle.

‘istle’ = textile fiber from yucca or agave

“jobation” – a scolding

“lanai” – a roofed, open porch originating in Hawaii; similar to a veranda, loggia, and an engawa or nure’en (Japanese).

“leading strings” –

“monisto” – A necklace in 1600 – 1800 Russia consisting of a string of coins (or pearls).  The word ‘monisto’ is of Indo-European origin with a root that means ‘neck’.  ‘monisto’ Pinterest board with several Middle European jewelry photos.  A jewelry company out of Kiev, Ukraine.  Gypsy and Ukrainian  coin necklaces.  A Russian gypsy band (musical group).

Description of a monisto on etsy.com: “Natural genuine Baltic amber necklace with sterling silver. “Monisto” – it’s a folklore name.  This colourful necklace made of transparent many-coloured natural genuine Baltic amber beads threaded on a sterling silver jewelry rope and pendants of coin-shaped textured sterling silver circles.  Necklace-“Monisto” made in oriental (eastern) style. Combination sunny-yellowish and dark-cognac colour amber gems very pleasant for eyes.  Necklace 42.5 cm (16 1/2″) long.  Amber gems size – 1,4 х 0,8 сm (9/16″ X 5/16″) and 1,1 х 0,7 сm (7/16″ X 5/16″).”

ouroboros = constant cycle of regeneration such as the Phoenix

“palanquin” – French and Indian name for a litter, a type of human-powered vehicle used to transport humans.  In Japan, kago were used to transport those below the level of samurai, and norimono (very similar to palanquin) were used to transport samurai and nobility.

“chatière” = pet door in French

“perfidy” –

prophyry” = a purple-red stone flecked with large, whitish grains of fledspar or quartz.  The Winter 2013 Legion of Honor Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette exhibit included two vases (urns?) that I felt looked liked they were made of dark chocolate.  The placard referred to prophyry so I incorrectly concluded that the word referred to a type of vase rather than to the type of stone from which the vases were made.  (A ‘krater’ is also a large vase; Ancient Greeks used kraters to mix water and wine.)

“revanchism” – nationalist policy to regain (or revenge for) lost territory (or standing)

stoat” = ermine or short-tailed weasel.  Per Wikipedia, the stoat is one of the world’s top 100 invasive species.

“synecdoche” = a part of something is used to refer to the whole of something, or vice-versa; ‘Amazon’ is used to refer to ‘Amazon Web Services’.

Miscellaneous Old Verbs

deliquesce” = to melt away.  ‘deliquescent materials‘ are often used as desiccants due to their ability to absorb moisture from the atmosphere.  With sufficient exposure these materials change to a liquid state.

“entailed” – x

Miscellaneous Old Adverbs and Adjectives

Miscellaneous New Words

Hibermake – 2021 COVID-caused.

“TCB” = taking care of business

“x” – x

Clothing and Textiles

Brioni tuxedo” – As described in Fury’s Kiss by Karen Chance, a Brioni tuxedo has more snob appeal than one from Armani.  Brioni and Armani are both high-end Italian fashion companies but Brioni focuses on men’s suits and their suits are handmade while Armani consists of several ready-to-wear lines covering a range of goods and price points.  (The Armani Prive may offer handmade men’s suits but they are much more well known for their haute couture gowns – such as those worn on the red carpet on Oscar night.)

“LBDs” – little black dresses.  In Fury’s Kiss, Karen Chance describes the crowd at an exclusive Manhattan party as “lounge suits and LBDs”.

lisle = smooth cotton thread used in lingerie

pussy bow” – also known as a ‘pussy cat bow’.  The floppy, wide ribbon of matching fabric tied around the neck of so many ‘dress-for-success’ (without really succeeding) women’s suit blouses in the 1980s.

spatterdash = akin to a gaiter; 18th century for leather leggings worn by men to protect their garments below-the-knee from mud while riding.

white tie and tails” – Most formal dress code for men and women.  The white tie tuxedo consists of a black tailcoat with silk facings, pants, and silk top hat; and a white waistcoat, shirt, wing collar shirt, and bow tie.  The main differences between traditional white tie and ‘black tie‘ tuxedos are the color of the bow tie (white vs. black) and the jacket bottom hem (tails vs. straight across at about the first knuckle).  Also, a black tie tuxedo may replace the waistcoat with a cummerbund – or eschew it altogether.  Properly, white or black tie is only worn after 6pm; ‘morning dress‘ is the daytime formal wear standard.

Interesting Terms and Phrases

“energy unrestricted” = unlimited calories (in a diet)

“high society” is slang for the highest denomination poker chip at a gambling establishment.  A “stack of high society” is typically worth US$10,000 (500 chips x US$500 $/chip)

“melanin-enriched” – from an undecided US voter interviewed in an article in the 2012 September 16 print edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

“splatstick” – from the Wikipedia article on the 2007 New Zealand film Black Sheep.

throw shade” = A term used by Tom and Lorenzo in talking about a segment on RuPaul’s Drag Race in which the contestants ‘threw shade‘ in a staged “RuPaul Roast”.  The term means to verbally disrespect (diss) a person; depending on the context, it may additionally mean that the person ‘talking smack’ is the one who is diminished more in the minds of the speaker’s audience.

Road to RachelRachel, Nevada is the closest town to the Area 51 nuclear test site in Nevada, a place with a UFO reputation.

“slowly, slowly, catchy monkey” – patience and deliberate movements will enable you to achieve your objective.  “The phrase is an anglicisation of “softly, softly catchee monkey” which Lord Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scout movement) learnt from the people of Ghana.


“voir dire” – xx


mendicant ronin” – from Volume 11 of Usagi Yojimbo.  Refers to a masterless samurai who depends on handouts (who begs for a living).

“moe” = (my interpretation) a helpless and hapless individual whose cuteness enables him / her / it to survive by triggering a protective response in others.  (As a companion to a Birman cat, I totally understand this definition: a google of ‘birman’ and ‘clumsy’ returns 492,000 hits.)Chi KFC China Dec 2011

wabi-sabi = an aesthetic that accepts transience and imperfection.  The unfinished Temple of the Silver Pavilion in Kyoto is an example of wabi-sabi.


98 Replies to “Text Fragments”

  1. ‘limpid’ – clear, lucid, calm; not ‘limp’ – walk lamely, weak, wilted, or flaccid. These two words have different origins though they share ‘limp’.

  2. In Fury’s Kiss, Karen Chance writes “I did see a ton of rooms that didn’t look like they were involved in a reno.” Since she then goes on to use the words ‘palace’, ‘sparkly chandeliers’, and ‘luxurious’ [rugs]; I mistakenly thought that the word was an allusion to the decor of the hotels and casinos in Reno, Nevada (as opposed to Janet Reno). Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary weren’t any help but Wiktionary explained that ‘reno’ is slang for ‘renovation’. I feel that it would have been better to used the full word in this case.

    1. In a flashback to an early memory of Louis-Cesare’s from his teen years (500 years ago) in the French countryside, Karen Chance includes a Baudet de Poitou donkey named Jehan. The name presumably is a nod to the French Trouvere, singer-songwriter Jehan. A Baudet de Poitou is a large dreadlocked donkey from the Poitou region of France. The memory is set during the village’s annual Vendanges: harvest festival after the grapes have been picked and pressed into wine.

  3. bore – to make a hole (or the hole itself – as in a ‘small-bore ‘rifle)
    bore – to make eyes glaze over (to make people weary)
    bore – past tense of bear in the sense of carry
    bore – a eagre, a high wave
    boar – a male pip
    Boer – descendant of a Dutch colonist in South Africa
    Bohr – Nobel physicist

  4. lachrymose – watering pot (someone who is prone to weeping)
    unguent – a healing ointment; used in paranormal fiction to refer to a salve to reveal faeries
    pipistrelle – a genus of very small bat

  5. morphology – per Wikipedia, “In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language’s morphemes and other linguistic units” (where a morpheme is a part of a word – a ‘linguistic unit’ – that cannot be further broken down).

  6. stall = a car or other engine-powered machine that has (temporarily) shut off; a marked off slot in a barn, parking lot, or marketplace; postpone or delay

  7. felly = rim of a wheel in noun form; fiercely or ruthlessly in adverb form
    reeve = noun forms: female ruff or an old Anglo term for a local official; verb form: to pass a rope or rod through a hole or a pulley
    foliose = leafy
    oread = mountain nymph

  8. agon = a verbal dispute; an ancient Greek contest (‘agon’ was a contest or struggle; also from agein, to lead)
    recondite = absturse; adjectives meaning requiring special knowledge to be understood, esoteric or arcane knowledge

  9. solipsism = the self is the only reality
    ague = a fever with chills and shivering, especially that due to malaria; apoplexy = cerebral hemorrhage; a stroke – or an extreme fit of anger; dyspepsia = indigestion (eupepsia = good digestion)
    xenophilous = attracted to foreign things especially cultures
    nonplussed = perplexed or bewildered
    splooge = ejaculation… with its two meanings, one an exclamation after a pious prayer and the other an expulsion of semen after the answer to a less than pious prayer
    rheology in a food sense refers to consistency as measured by viscosity and elasticity. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rheology

  10. From Something About Harry by Dakota Cassidy:
    ‘glamping’ = glamorous camping
    ‘GILF’ = grandmother I’d like to f**k
    ‘stranger junk’

  11. ‘nigh finance’ is used by the heroine of “Sixth Grave on the Edge” by Darynda Jones to refer to the man’s whose marriage proposal she will probably but has not yet accepted.

  12. Per Ruth Walker in her “Verbal Energy” column in the 2014 July 21 Christian Science Monitor Magazine print edition, ‘deliberate speed’ means ‘intentional speed’.

  13. A pit can be concave (as in a hole or an orchestra pit) or convex (as in a peach pit); it can also be against (as in to pit against each other).
    Rear can mean ‘to raise’ (rear up a child – positive connotation; a horse rears up – negative connotation) or ‘the back’ (go to the rear).

  14. From Food Wars Volume 4: Japanese folklore characters include a zashiki warashi (childlike spirit said to bring good fortune), a colobockle (tiny spirit that lives under butterbur leaves; from Ainu folklore), yukinko (small snow sprite)

  15. nugatory = trifling
    sedulous = diligent
    ecotage = environmental sabotage
    peculate = embezzle
    adnoun = adjective used as a noun

  16. From Prudence by Gail Carriger: Bloody John referred to the East India Company. Competitive whist. Ganesha. Vanara.

    Napier pudding. “Mandenall Pudding Probe” was used on the dirigible The Spotted Custard: “At that moment, the Mandenall emitted a squirt of viscous milky liquid, not unlike rice pudding. This was how it had earned it its name.” “There was no doubt that they had been the talk of the party prior to their arrival. Rue felt rather like the pudding course of a fancy meal, viewed with desire by some, suspicion by others, and discomfort by those who had already partaken too freely.” “…a table of comestibles. It was laid with tea and coffee, ginger wine, and hard-iced milk with soda to quench the thirst. Percy was helping himself to a mall plate of buttered scones and prunes soaked in rum…” “…like a barbarian in an orange peel.”

    1. From ‘Waistcoats & Weaponry’ by Gail Carriger:
      funambulist = tightrope walker
      claviger = key carrier for a location
      squeak deck, sootie, seatlings, mechanicals, aetherographic transmitter, peewit, intelligencer

  17. quire = 24 or 25 sheets of paper, 1/20 of a ream
    tidal bore / human bore / borer / boar / Boer

  18. sheuch – Scottish for a ditch or trough; variant of sough, Northern English for sewer or drain

  19. noesis = cognition
    surd = irrational number
    glabella = refers to the skin and bone of the forehead between the eyebrows and above the nose
    tunicate = marine invertebrate animal; includes salps, doliolids, and pyrosomes; common names include sea squirts, sea pork, sea livers, or sea tulips

  20. hell-kite = a fierce fighter; used (incorrectly?) by the hero as an expletive in the Regency romance ‘Bed of Roses’ by Suzanne Simmons.

    1. woad = plant in the mustard family used to make blue dye – and refers to the blue dye; dighted = adorned;

  21. felly = a wheel rim; setose = having bristles or setae; nodus – from the Latin word for knot, a difficult situation or a complication; culet = small facet at the bottom of a brilliant cut gem or buttocks armor; catafalque = funeral bier;

  22. ‘spoils’ has a negative connotation as an implicitly reflexive verb (ex. fruit spoils); a mixed connotation as an active verb (ex. a grandparent spoils a grandchild – the grandchild gets good but may turn out bad); and has a positive connotation (for the recipient) when used as a noun (ex. spoils of war).

  23. baste = sew loosely; coat with liquid
    row = verb to fight, to use oars; noun line, tier, fight

  24. diktat – n. a harsh settlement imposed unilaterally especially on a defeated nation; an authoritative or dogmatic statement or decree
    burke – tr. v. to suppress or extinguish quietly; to avoid, disregard; to execute (or murder) someone by suffocation

  25. viridian = a dark blue-green color between green and cyan on the color wheel. (Cyan is between blue and green, so viridian has more green than blue.)

  26. From radio program ‘Says You’ broadcast 2016/07/31:
    ‘game’ as a noun: pastime, wild food animal (such as deer); or as an adjective: avid to participate
    ‘mean’ as a noun: the average; as a verb: to convey; or as an adjective (as used in ‘Mean Girls’)

  27. near – archaic word for penny-pinching (amongst other meanings).
    contumacy – obstinate or contemptuous resistance to authority; defiance.
    nidifice – archaic word for a nest.

  28. metromania – obsessed with writing prose
    farfaronade – empty boasting
    pococurante – nonchalant

  29. dorp =South African word for a small town or hamlet. scrumpy = a strong cider made in western England.

  30. cast – verb: cast a shoe, cast a vote, cast a (fishing) line, cast a play, cast away, cast in a mold, cast aspersions, cast on (knitting), cast out (expel), cast one’s lot with, cast off, cast about
    noun: cast of a play, plaster cast, facial cast,

  31. lollapalooza = oner
    sockdolager = conclusive, finishing blow; something unusually large
    gemsbok, goa, oryx, oribi, saiga, silver dik-dik, steenbok, beira, cape grysbok, gerenuk, dibatag, klipspringer, babakoto
    unau (two-toed sloth)

  32. aubade = music or poem that greets or evokes the dawn
    stob = a short piece of wood such as a stake
    double-ripper = a kind of coasting sled, made of two sleds fastened together with a board, one before the other

  33. ecotage = sabotage directed at entities causing environmental damage.
    recess = n. space (e.g. alcove); break between classes; cessation of business (ex. closure of Parliament during vacation); recess of the mind; small cavity in a body part.
    run = v. bleed (as in dye); operate; move swiftly on foot (including to flee or to leave); fish migrating; to race; travel over a regular route; melt and flow; to unravel along a line (like a stocking); to occupy in a range (like sizes); …
    gin = n. alcohol; gin rummy card game; cotton gin mechanical device; hoist; trap or snare.

  34. wen = a harmless sebaceous cyst, usually on the scalp or face; a large, overcrowded city; a rune having the sound of Modern English.

  35. schmoop – Urban Dictionary defn: “Lurve. Sickly sweet romantic crap.
    To be schmoopy is to make others vomit with your cavity inducing displays of affection. To want schmoop is normal, don’t be alarmed. Submit.” Used by Tayna Huff in “The Wild Ways”.
    tesseract – 4D hypercube

  36. aleatory= dependent on chance
    phorminx = a type of ancient Greek lyre
    nave = wheel hub
    alameda = tree-lined street

  37. irid = iris family
    sparge = to spray; extracting more fermentable sugars by running water through a mash; to introduce air or gas into a liquid
    fisc = royal treasury

  38. “communitarian ethos”
    vetivert (or vetiver) – an essential oil from the roots of vetiver, an East Indian bunchgrass

  39. famulus – private secretary or attendant; older meaning is the attendant of a sorcerer or scholar
    eosin – yellowish-red dye used as a stain in biology, to color gasoline, and to dye textiles
    tunica – an enclosing membrane or layer of tissue
    dasheen – a large-tubered taro plant.
    ectype – a copy as opposed to a prototype

  40. myrmidon – unquestioning, faithful follower
    unau (plural unai) – two-toed sloth
    nef – boat-shaped ornament
    nodus – complication, difficult situation or problem
    emmet – ant

  41. stet = an imperative to retain printed matter otherwise marked for deletion.
    otorhinolaryngologist = a medical specialist in otorhinolaryngology or otolaryngology, the treatment of ear, nose, and throat diseases.
    telos = the end of a goal-oriented process.
    knap = to break or chip a stone.

  42. samite = heavy silk fabric in the Middle Ages interwoven with gold or silver
    abaft = toward the stern
    cordwainer = cobbler working with cordovan leather
    execrate = to invoke a curse on; to abhor or loathe
    prink = primp
    treen = household items carved from wood, especially from one piece; woodenware

  43. tergiversate = to equivocate; to use evasions or ambiguities. As used in “The Deception of the Emerald Ring”, Lord Vaughn says “…sometimes the truest answer lies in tergiversations.”

  44. The word ‘gallinaceous’, characteristic of the order Galliformes (which includes poultry, pheasants, and grouse), comes from the Latin gallīnāceus meaning ‘of poultry’.

  45. mho = a siemens, a unit of conductance equal to the reciprocal of an ohm
    ohm = resistance of a conductor
    olpe = spoutless ancient Greek jug or pitcher

  46. nandu – running bird; type of rhea.
    envoi – closing stanza.
    cachinnation – laughter.

  47. enjambment – equivalent of a run-on sentence in poetry – continuation of thought from one verse to the next without a syntactic break. From the French enjamber, to straddle or to stride over.

  48. celature = the art of engraving metal.
    Mola mola or Ocean sunfish is a heavy, bony fish that is shaped like a giant bullet – a giant head with a tail and fins set back near the tail.
    roble = valley oak, quercus lobata, endemic to California. Hence Paso Robles (California) means “The Pass of Oaks”.

  49. mole – molecular weight in grams; counterspy; spicy, Mexican sauce; facial blemish (a nevus); jetty, breakwater; small burrowing mammal;
    mew – cage for hawks; secret hideaway; crying sound, especially of a cat; cry of a gull; migratory gull;
    mews – apartment block that was formerly private stables; alleyway containing apartments that were formerly stables; a secluded street;
    to mew – to make crying noise; to confine hawks or falcons in a cage or to tether to a perch; to confine or conceal; to moult or shed;

  50. forte – in fencing, the one-third of the blade closest to the hilt.
    aglet – sheathing at the end of a shoelace.
    anetic – soothing, lacking in vitality.
    anent – concerning, about.
    cor anglais – a type of oboe.
    dhole – wild Asian dog.
    obelus – dagger symbol, diacritical mark.
    solidus – Roman coin, ‘/’ slash punctuation mark, line on a phase diagram below which a substance is completely solid.
    pita – fiber producing plant such as agave, or the fiber from a pita plant.
    arna – wild water buffalo in South Asia.
    inee / onaye – sub-Saharan West African arrow poison.
    animadvert – remark critically.
    eudaemonic – producing happiness.

  51. boxers – dogs, fighters, underwear, members of a Chinese secret society, low crowned bowler hats, people whose occupation is packing boxes

  52. boring tools: wimble, auger, gimlet, drill.
    quondam – at one time, formerly, once
    fusil – a flintlock musket

  53. eye rhyme – words that visually rhyme but do not in pronunciation.
    rubato – relaxed timing.

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