Just a Few Words--from "Death's Jest Book"
One of my favorite fun authors is Reginald Hill. He's English, and writes crime fiction, so his work is a part of one of the most popular contemporary fiction genres.
You can tell, though, that Mr. Hill is a very erudite author. He could have written much more serious works--he certainly has the vocabulary for it.
I'm recently re-reading one of my old favorites of his, called "Death's Jest Book", apparently after an unfinished play by Thomas Beddoes.
I was intrigued to find out how many words I didn't know when I encountered this story once again. The first time I read it, I breezed through it for the story, wanting to know how it all came out, and didn't notice the unfamiliar vocabulary. This time, I paid more attention to the words, and here's a few nuggets for you, that I had to look up, because I didn't know what they meant. (Quite a few nuggets, and I'm only on page 195, about half way though the book!)
Adytum of Esfahan Jame
The word is "adytum" and means the most sacred place of worship in an ancient temple from which all lay people were excluded.
The word is "burin" and means a steel cutting tool with a sharp, beveled edge used in engraving stone.
a Cenotaph in London
A few more words for you:
Cenotaph: a monument erected in honor of a dead person whose remains are interred elsewhere
Episematic: aiding recognition between animals of the same species
Autotelic: a non-utilitarian theory of art stating that a work of art is an end of itself and needs no other justification
And just a few more:
Poppadoms : Thin, round crisp Indian bread, often served with curry
Louche : Decadent; of questionable taste or morality
Eleemosynary : relating to an act of charity
Quaestor : Public officials in ancient Rome responsible for administering finance. (Reggie Hill has Cambridge using this term in lieu of "Bursar" in the book.)
Death's Jest Book, by Reginald Hill
I really like Mr. Hill's writing so very much. I don't mean to make him sound like a stuffy writer that uses unecessarily big words. He isn't. One of his main characters, Dalziel, says the funniest and crudest things (he's a Yorkshire man, no mistake!). His stories read like the wind; they are real potboilers, real pageturners. It makes it fun to learn new words, in this context!
Here's a very convenient link to a good online dictionary:
- Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus - The Free Dictionary
Online Dictionary - Multiple dictionaries including: English dictionary, medical dictionary, legal dictionary, financial dictionary, computer dictionary, thesaurus, dictionary of acronyms and abbreviations, dictionary of idioms, thesaurus, Columbia e