Book of the Month/December 2022

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From time to time I have confessed, or perhaps acknowledged would be a better word, and perhaps I am taking too long to come to the point, that I read dictionaries. I suppose you could categorize this as a guilty pleasure, but guilt is not really the right word. Sheepishness is more like it. Today’s book of the month selection is simply the most recent one I completed.

I read dictionaries of slang, dictionaries of proverbs, dictionaries of foreign phrases, one dictionary of Indo-European word roots. and so on. This one, Epic English Words, is a collection of oddball words—some archaic, some quaint, and some that the author found in a corner somewhere. The subtitle promises words of beauty, interest, and wonder. Having read this kind of thing before, I can testify that if you were going to attempt to pick up this habit of mine, this would be a good dictionary to start with. It is a lot of fun.

I can’t really describe the plot, or the character formation—it is kind of like trying to outline the book of Proverbs—and so instead I will just give you a sampling. You may well ask yourself, “of what possible use is this?” The answer is that we should not want to live as the beasts that perish.

Apricity sunshine; the sun’s warmth in winter

Brume fog, mist, or vapors; [adj. brumous]

Clapperclaw to claw with fingernails; to verbally abuse; to scold harshly; to cruelly toy with

Devenustate to deprive of beauty or grace; to disfigure; [Latin venustus (lovely, graceful)]

Edgelord someone attempting to sound edgy by saying something offensive; [slang]

And there are lots of other letters, and many more words. Just read a page a day. Better yourself. Get that big promotion. Look for opportunities to drop engrailment into casual conversation. Engrailment is the word for the notches around the circumference of a quarter. It need not be done in a pretentious way. “Hey, look at this engrailment, guys!”