Monday, January 13, 2014

Do You Know These 20 English Words?

Lately, I've been keeping a list of unfamiliar English words that have appeared in books I'm reading. These are words I've either never encountered before or have seen before but didn't look up in the dictionary until now.

How many of the following 20 words did you know the meaning(s) of?

abatis—a rampart or barricade of felled trees, optionally with sharpened branches directed toward an enemy.
amphora—an ancient Greek jar or vase with a large oval body, narrow cylindrical neck, and two handles that rise almost to the level of the mouth
baize—coarse cloth napped to imitate felt, used on gaming tables.
cartouche—structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament.
crepuscular—Pertaining to twilight. Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight.
echolalia—1. The uncontrollable and immediate repetition of words spoken by another person. 2. the imitation by a baby of the vocal sounds produced by others.
empyreal—of, like or pertaining to heaven; sublime; skyward.
Quick: Which word describes this object?
euphobia—fear of good news.
farrago—a confused mixture; hodgepodge;  mishmash; mélange; gallimaufry. "A farrago of fact, fiction, slander, and rumor."
lanate— covered in or composed of wooly hairs, or having a wooly appearance.
liminal—1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.  2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. The threshold of a physiological or psychological response or ritual.
periphrasis—refers to the use of excessive language and surplus words to convey a meaning that could otherwise be conveyed with fewer words and in more direct a manner.
recrudescence—reappearance of a phenomenon after a period of abatement or inactivity (e.g., a recrudescence of barbarism after peacekeepers leave a war zone).
ridibund—inclined to and/or easily brought to laughter; happy.
rocaille—(often capitalized) In Western architecture and decorative arts, rocaille is an 18th-century style featuring elaborately stylized shell-like, rocklike, and scroll-based motifs. According to, "Rocaille is one of the more prominent aspects of the Rococo style of architecture and decoration that developed in France during the reign of King Louis XV (1715–74). The Rocaille style has been defined as a reaction both to the classic rigidity of the waning Baroque style and to the new interest in nature and the natural sciences. In French, rocaille means 'rubble,' or 'pebbles,' and style rocaille is synonymous with Rococo."
scrimshaw—scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory.
serried—pressed or crowded together, especially in rows: troops in serried ranks.
uncial—designating, written in, or pertaining to a form of majuscule writing having a characteristically curved or rounded shape and used chiefly in Greek and Latin.
vitrine—a display case, usually with glass shelves and/or glass-paned doors.
Note: The illustration further above is  a Louis XV style French vitrine.


  1. Humm ... I think I should have started a list like this years ago-great idea. In the meantime I think I'll hang onto new words.

  2. I knew 3. And I am an avid reader.

  3. Anonymous10:30 AM

    Thanks for the twitter follow, Kas. I've heard of or read 6 words and knew the approximate definitions of 3 of the words. Looks like you've a good blog going, worth some of my time to explore.


  4. I always love learning new words. Great post.

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