ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Just a Few Words--from "Death's Jest Book"

Updated on August 15, 2010

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!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Cosette!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      i just HAD to read this by looking at the title alone. what a great hub! i didn't know any of those words...very cool. totally enjoyed it :)

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, and you will enjoy that book. I love authors that make me think, too!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I love authors who make me think. This is a great hub. Thanks for sharing. I will definitely read Deaths Jest.


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good! You'll enjoy him, Duchess.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      Interesting hub Paradise7, certainly has me thinking I need to read this Reginald Hill.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Rochelle. Yes, I know--I usually just zoom along, getting the story, sort of guessing at the meaning of the words I don't know from the context, filtering them out, at least the FIRST time I read a book. One of my friends asked me, "Why do you re-read the same book? You already know how it comes out?"

      Well, new words are one concrete reason I could give.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      8 years ago from California Gold Country

      Only a couple of them seemed slightly familiar-- isn't it interesting how we can read something and auto-eject some of the unfamiliar words from the narrative, and still get the meaning?

      Interesting list.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Faybe!!! Use "autoelic" DOES justify itself and is sufficient unto the day...

      Love from Paradise.

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 

      8 years ago from Florida

      This is so cool! I am going to use Autotelic! I mean my hubs are a work of art as far as I am concerned. I painstakingly pull all of my pieces together and then stamp it with my own words, which is an art form. Now I don't have to make any excuses or explain it... It's Autotelic! I love learning new words, but some of these have a lovely ring to them. I like Poppadoms, and of course they are food, but I love the sound of the word, and they do look good! Now I have a writer I have to check out!

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comments, saddlerider1 and carolina muscle! I think we're all word fans, here on HubPages!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I love me some arcane verbology .. LOL !! great post!!

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Yup I agree with Mike Lickteigh..words flew over my noggin to. There are so many words that rarely come up in conversations. I remember always reading the Reader's Digest magazines when I was a young boy, studying the interpretations of new words. Many I have forgotten now:0))

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Yeah, Mike, I thought I had a pretty good vocabulary, too. Reggie Hill's is BETTER! No, it doesn't bother me to encounter quite a few new words, I tend to get the gist from the context, anyway, and it's usually a second reading that will take me to the dictionary.

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      I think I have a pretty good vocabulary, but the words on your list went way over my head! If there were too many words I didn't know the meaning of, it could be distracting and I think I would get frustrated, but it sounds as if a new word or two didn't bother you at all. Sounds like Hill is an interesting writer.


    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, Enlydia and akirchner, for your comments. It's reassuring to me to find out other people didn't know what those words meant, either--it wasn't a poorer than average vocabulary on my part that prompted me to write this hub!!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Now there are some words I don't run across every day! Unique hub!

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 

      8 years ago from trailer in the country

      I am attracted to unusual one point in my life, I thought it would be a humorous thing to make up a new word every reminded me of Lewis Carroll, saying "I try to think of at least one impossible thing before breakfast"....(or something like that)...I know that was a bit off topic, but like I said, words thrill me.

    • Paradise7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, billyaustindillon, scarytaff, and cheaptrick for your lovely comments. (PS, cheaptrick, the Brits use the word "lovely" to describe just about EVERYTHING!)

      And scarytaff, with Dalziel and Pascoe on the TV in the UK, it makes me want to move there, now! American television is (generally speaking) too dumb for words and loaded with commercials.

    • cheaptrick profile image


      8 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      To be honest,I'm already having a hard time understanding what you Brit's say as is P!:)

      I'm gonna try to stuff some of Mr Hill's work into this Yankee head of mine though!

      Words are the brush...the mind is the canvas...



    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      Dalziel and Pascoe are a TV crime series here in UK. Good hub No.7

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      Lots of new words here - interesting I will check out Hill's work. When I saw Death's Jest book I was thinking along the lines of Monty Python's "bring out the dead " :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)