The Lexicon: A Cornucopia Of Wonderful Words (1996) by William F. Buckley Jr.; A Review

William F. Buckley’s The Lexicon (published by Harcourt Brace & Company and described as a “pocket word guide”) is a compact reference of uncommon words, which places emphasis not simply on the rarity of the words included, but also, as one might induce from the inclusion of cornucopia in the title, the applicable breadth and variety of those words. Omitted are such narrow oddities as arachibutyrophobia (ie. the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth); a word which Buckley thought belonged in the “zoo section” of dictionaries. The utility of such special case, single-use words as the aforementioned, to general discourse, (then, as now) are, obviously, minimal. Thus, their omission doubtless bowdlerized the volume considerably from what it would otherwise be, should its author have saw fit to include as many arcane and ancient lexical peculiarities as could be found, without regard to utility.

The consequence of this view on the book itself is that it is rather light on inkhornisms and consists primarily of words that tend to sit at the back of the average reader’s mind, like boxes of old clothing in an ill-ventured and moth-proofed attic; such as aberrant (ie. a person whose behavior departs substantially from the standards for behavior in his group) and bellwether (ie. the guide by which one measures other data), as well as a sprinkling of latin phrases such as ab initio (ie. from the beginning) and caeteris paribus (ie. if all other relevant things remain unaltered); and more atypical offerings, such as asservation (ie. an assertion made in very positive form; a solemn assertion), buncombe (ie. talk that is empty, insincere, or merely for effect; humbug), cacoethes (ie. an uncontrollable desire), and enjambement (ie. continuation in prosody of the sense in a phrase beyond the end of a verse or couplet; the running over of a sentence from one line into another so that closely related words fall in different lines).

Every word featured is accompanied, in addition to its definition, by a example of its use in a sentence; often, a wry, scathing observation of some political situation or personality of the time or utilization of Buckley’s fictive works (all citations from his published oeuvre). It is these amusing asides (in addition to a number of cartoons by Arnold Roth) which lend the book its singularity and readability—that quality so often and ironically lacking in written works concerning language.

The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (1997)

“The Highly Selective Dictionary can be thought of as an antidote to the ongoing, poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness—aided by permissive lexicographers who blithely acquiesce to the depredations of unrestrained language butchers.”

 

—Eugene Ehrlich, Preface to The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate.

Eugene Ehrlich’s The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (Harper Collins, 1997) is a treasure trove of obscure words. The 192 page book is divided into six sections, Acknowledgements, a Preface, Pronunciation Notes, a Introduction and, lastly, The Dictionary proper and features such obtuse and oft-unuttered words as blatherskite (a person given to blathering), dysphemism (a unpleasant or derogatory word or phrase substituted for a more pleasant and less offensive one) and galimatias (confused or unintelligible talk).

One of the unique strengths of the book is its omission of commonplace words whose meaning(s) are widely known (such as “door,” or, “car”). In leaving aside [near]omnipresent words, the book focuses wholly on those words a common English reader is apt not to know, which sets it apart from other reference dictionaries that include words which most, quite simply, will not ever need to look-up. It might also be remarked that the proliferation of the internet, which was not so pronounced upon the writing of the book as it is now, further mitigates the need to include commonplace words in reference dictionaries, given the readiness with which they can be accessed through the web.

However, simply because one can find obscure words online doesn’t mean that one will (in a suitable timeframe, if at all)—hence the importance of having a reference book to hand. To this end, The Highly Selective Dictionary is excellent.


You can find the book online at Thriftbooks, Amazon, or Ebay.


Cover image: Man wearing Gernsback Isolator (invented 1925) at writing desk.

Commonly Confused Words: Demur & Demure

Though demur and demure look similar and are pronounced similarly (sometimes the same),  each have a completely different meaning.

Demur (verb) means: to object, or, take exception.  | “Aren’t you going to try some fruitcake?” He demurred, recoiling from his dish with disgust, “You expect me to eat this? What are you trying to do, kill me? Why, I’ve half-a-mind it’d bite me back!”

Demure (adj.) means: reserved, modest (in a affected way), or, coy. | After the grisly duel concluded, the victor sheathed his blade and gave a demure bow to the crowd.

Commonly Confused Words: Cement & Concrete

Whilst cement and concrete are often used interchangeably the two words are not synonyms. Both cement and concrete each distinct materials; the common confusion likely stems from the fact that not only do the two words sound very similar, both are building materials.

Cement is a granular binding powder, made by mixing limestone, calcium, silicon, iron and aluminium which is then heated to around 2,700°F (1,482°C) to form ‘clinkers’ that are then ground and mixed with gypsum which in turn forms the gray-sandy form of cement-proper. Portland cement is the most commonly used type of construction cement as it was developed in England in the 1800s by the mason Joseph Aspdin who, by the tincture, was reminded of the quarries of the English Channel’s Isle of Portland.

Concrete – in distinction – is a mixture of cement and sand and stone into a composition called aggregate. Cement only makes up (typically) a small portion of the total aggregate. The aggregate is then mixed with water, triggering a chemical reaction that makes the cement admixture harden and set, after it sets it assumes the shape of the mold into which it was poured and generally is crafted in heavy blocks or slabs.

Hopefully this will help the aspiring writer avoid mixing up these two similar, but distinct, words.

Fiction Writer’s Compendium: Arcane English Idioms

A idiom is a collection of words that means something other than it would seem, or rather, a group of words whose meaning is different to the individual meanings entailed by the words themselves. Popular American idioms include:

  • A dime a dozen (something cheap or commonplace)
  • Beat around the bush (to prevaricate, generally due discomfort engendered by the topic being obviated)
  • Bite the bullet (to finish something unpleasant swiftly, because it is going to happen anyways)
  • Hit the sack (go to sleep)
  • Time is money (work fast/er)
  • Under the weather (to be mildly ill)

The phrases presented above, however, are only those which are quite popular; below we will turn our attention to English idioms which are considerably more uncommon, which shall serve to both increase the depth and breadth of one’s fiction-writing resources and increase the understandability of older texts whose authors had occasion to utilize time or region specific idioms.

  1. Acid Test: the most crucial and decisive test of worth or importance. This curious idiom came from the old use of nitric acid on gold to determine its authenticity.
  2. Albatross around your neck: a burden that can not be easily dispensed. This idiom comes from Samuel T. Coleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner wherein one of the character’s, a sailor, shoots a helpful albatross (sea bird), bringing bad luck upon his crew, who then hang the corpse of the dead animal about his neck as punishment.
  3. As the crow flies: in a straight line, without consideration of roads. The expression is used to describe the distance between two points via the utilization of a hypothetical crow, which, obviously, doesn’t need to take roads into consideration.
  4. Bats in the belfry: insane, but in a harmless way. Synonymous with “has a screw loose,” and, “off one’s rocker.” A belfry is a church tower, which, in the idiom, is meant to represent the head, the bats occupying the tower, might cause disturbance but are not of any real harm (generally speaking) and thus represent crazed, but ineffectual thought.
  5. Behind the eight ball: in a difficult or trying position. This idiom is derived from the popular game of billiards, more commonly referred to as pool. In billiards, if one sinks the eight ball before any of the other balls on the table, the player who did so automatically loses. The expression “behind the eight ball” refers to the difficulty engendered by trying to shot a ball out from behind an eight ball without hitting the latter object in such a way as to cause it to be pocketed.
  6. Bum Steer: to give bad advice or direction.
  7. Casting (throwing) pearls before swine: to offer something to one who cannot appreciate it. This expression is taken directly from the biblical story of the sermon on the mount, wherein, it is said: Do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot.”
  8. Cock-and-bull: something too ridiculous to be believed. Taken from an English fable wherein a cock (rooster) and a bull have a extraordinary conversation.
  9. Cut the mustard: to meet a certain set of standards. Used exclusively to refer to people.
  10. Dark horse: a unknown or little known competitor in some event who is expected to win by some person or group with special knowledge. As one might induce, the phrase stems from horse-racing. It is often deployed in political settings.
  11. Donkey’s ears: a very long time.
  12. Down in the mouth: unhappy. Derived from frowning (ie. the mouth turns down at the sides).
  13. Dutch treat: a outing where everyone pays for themselves, individually. Synonymous with “Go dutch” or “going dutch.”
  14. Eternal triangle: refers to two men who both love the same woman OR two women who both fall in love with the same man. The triangle has formed the centerpiece of many romantic pieces of literature across numerous cultures through time (hence “eternal”).
  15. Footloose and fancy-free: carefree due immense personal liberty. A close inspection of the phrase will yield its meaning to the discerning. Unlike with many other idioms, footloose and fancy-free is literal (ie. one’s foot is loose and one’s fancy – whim – is free).
  16. Mountain out of a molehill: to make a big deal out of something that is, in actuality, rather trivial, all things considered. The molehill in the phrase refers to the small clumps of dirt created by moles when they burrow. Thus, the phrase means one is acting as if the dirt clumps of a mole is bigger than a mountain, which is, of course, false.
  17. Pound of flesh: the excruciating payment of a debt. Derived from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, wherein, Antonio borrows a sum from the Jewish moneylender, Shylock; when the debt is unable to be paid, Shylock demands a literal pound of Antonio’s flesh.
  18. Stuffed shirt: a pompous and wearisome man.
  19. Talk turkey: to get down to business; to be shrewd and eschew small-talk in business dealings.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve any interesting and unusual idioms that you think should be included.

Irregardless: Clarifying A Confounding American Neologism

One of the most irascible words in the English language is the American neologism, irregardless, popularized during the 20th Century and meaning: without consideration; or, not needing to allow for; or, heedless; or, without reguard. The word is a combination of both irrespective and regardless, which raises a rather peculiar problem, namely, that both of the base-words are synonyms, thus, engendering a double-negative.

Since both irrespective and regardless mean, roughly, “heedless,” when one is saying irregardless, what one is actually saying is heedless of heedless, or, more exactly, irrespective of disregard OR without without reguard.

Since here, one is disreguarding their disreguard, they are, in effect, maintaining their reguard (provided they had some to begin with), however, this is the precise opposite of the meaning entailed in the casual (as opposed to literal) usage of “irreguardless.”

The solution to this arcane conundrum is, thankfully, quite a simple one: don’t use the word. Both irrespective and regardless are synonyms to this confusing adverb, and hence, can take its place without any linguistic confusion UNLESS one is writing fiction and one is emulating a certain regional dialect.

Hath: Meaning & Usage

Hath (hæθ), sometimes heth, is a interesting word whom most avid fiction readers or students of history have chanced across. Hath comes from the Old English hæfþ (has) which comes from the Proto-Germanic habaiþi (has). In its common, Middle English and latter usage, hath is a third person, singular present tense of have (i.e. haveth) that can be used in relation to a man (he), woman (she) or thing (it), thus, it is a synonym of has (hast may also be utilized as a substitute). Example:

“He hath no knowledge of the broil.” (“He has no knowledge of the fight”)

According to the very excellent Collins English Dictionary, hath was in common and quite popular usage from 1708 to around 1888, where use of the word began to markedly fall off.

However, before one goes about hath-ing your haves, it bares mentioning that, to the Irish, hath has a secondary use and meaning as a mirthful exclamation. Thus, in some Irish literature (most of it archaic) hath! does not have the English meaning of have/has but rather, means instead, “ha!” or “huh!”


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Fiction Writer’s Compendium: Rare English Words

E. M. Forster once said, “English literature is a flying fish.” Logos has gone fishing and below provides the bounty of our catch.


absquatulate — to leave somewhere abruptly

adscititious — additional

anfractuous — winding or circuitous

anguilliform — resembling an eel

apple-knocker — (US informal) an ignorant or unsophisticated person

argle-bargle — copious but meaningless talk or writing

argute — shrewd

astrobleme — an eroded remnant of a large, ancient crater made by the impact of a meteorite or comet

barn burner — (N. Amer.) a very exciting or dramatic event, especially a sports contest; first used in relation to an exceptionally good hand at bridge

benthos — the flora and fauna on the bottom of a sea or lake

bergschrund — a type of crevasse

bezoar — a small hard, solid mass which may form in the stomachs of animals such as goats or sheep

bibliopole — a person who buys and sells books, especially rare ones

bilboes — an iron bar with sliding shackles, used to fasten prisoners’ ankles

bindlestiff — (N. Amer.) a tramp

bingle — (Austral. informal) a collision

blatherskite — a person who talks at great length without making much sense

bobsy-die — a great deal of fuss or trouble

boffola — (N. Amer. informal) a joke that gets a loud or hearty laugh

boilover — (Austral. informal) a surprise result in a sporting event

borborygmus — a rumbling or gurgling noise in the intestines

bruxism — involuntary and habitual grinding of the teeth

bumbo — a drink of rum, sugar, water, and nutmeg

burnsides — a moustache in combination with whiskers on the cheeks but no beard on the chin

cacoethes — an urge to do something inadvisable

callipygian — having shapely buttocks

callithumpian — like a discordant band or a noisy parade

camisado — a military attack carried out at night

canorous — melodious or resonant

cantillate — to chant or intone a passage of religious text

carphology — convulsive or involuntary movements made by delirious patients, such as plucking at the bedclothes

catoptromancy — foretelling the future by means of a mirror

cereology — the study or investigation of crop circles

chad — a piece of waste paper produced by punching a hole

chalkdown — (S. African informal) a teachers’ strike

chiliad — a thousand things or a thousand years

claggy — (Brit. dialect) sticky or able to form sticky lumps

clepsydra — an early clock using the flow of water into or out of a container

colporteur — a person who peddles books, newspapers, or other writings

commensalism — an association between two organisms in which one benefits from the relationship and the other derives neither harm nor benefit

comminatory — threatening, punitive, or vengeful

concinnity — elegance or neatness of literary or artistic style

coprolalia — the involuntary repetitive use of obscene language

coriaceous — like leather

couthy — (Scottish; of a person) warm and friendly; (of a place) cosy and comfortable

criticaster — a minor or incompetent critic

crottle — a lichen used in Scotland to make a brownish dye for wool

croze — a groove at the end of a cask or barrel in which the head is fixed

cudbear — a purple or violet powder used for dyeing, made from lichen

cupreous — of or like copper

cyanic — blue; azure

dariole — a small round metal mould used in French cooking for an individual sweet or savoury dish

deasil — clockwise or in the direction of the sun’s course

decubitus — (Medicine) the posture of someone who is lying down or lying in bed

deedy — industrious or effective

defervescence — (Medicine) the lessening of a fever

deglutition — the action or process of swallowing

degust — to taste food or drink carefully, so as to fully appreciate it

deipnosophist — a person skilled in the art of dining and dinner-table conversation

dight — clothed or equipped; to make something ready for use

disembogue — to emerge or pour out (used of a river or stream)

disenthral — to set someone free from enslavement

divagate — to stray or digress

divaricate — to stretch or spread apart

donkey engine — a small auxiliary engine on a ship

donkeyman — a man working in a ship’s engine room

doryphore — a pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic of others

douceur — a financial inducement or bribe

draff — dregs or refuse

dumbsize — to reduce the staff numbers of a company to such low levels that work can no longer be carried out effectively

dwaal — (S. African) a dreamy, dazed, or absent-minded state

ecdysiast — a striptease performer

edacious — that which is fond of eating

emacity — fondness for buying things

ensorcell — to enchant or fascinate someone

entomophagy — the eating of insects, especially by people

erf — (S. African) a plot of land

ergometer — an apparatus which measures energy expended during physical exercise

erubescent — reddening or blushing

eucatastrophe — a happy ending to a story

eviternity — eternal existence or everlasting duration

exequies — funeral rites

exsanguine — bloodless or anaemic

extramundane — outside or beyond the physical world

flews — the thick pendulous lips of a bloodhound or similar dog

floccinaucinihilipilification — the action or habit of estimating something as worthless

flocculent — having or resembling tufts of wool

forehanded — (chiefly N. Amer.) prudent or thrifty

frondeur — a political rebel

fugacious — transient or fleeting

funambulist — a tightrope walker

furuncle — a boil

fuscous — dark and sombre in colour

futz — to waste time or busy oneself aimlessly

gaberlunzie — (Scottish archaic) a beggar

gaita — a kind of bagpipe played in northern Spain and Portugal

gallus — (Scottish) bold or daring

gasconade — extravagant boasting

glabrous — (of skin) hairless or (of a leaf) having no down

glaikit — (Scottish & N. English) stupid, foolish, or thoughtless

gnathic — having to do with the jaws

gobemouche — a gullible or credulous listener

guddle — (Scottish) to fish with one’s hands by groping under the stones or banks of a stream

habile — deft or skilful

haruspex — a religious official in ancient Rome who inspected the entrails of sacrificial animals in order to foretell the future

hirquiticke — “one past fourteene yeeres of age, beginning to bee moved with Venus delight” (Henry Cockeram, An English Dictionary, 1623)

hoddy-noddy — a foolish person

hodiernal — of today

howff — (Scottish) a favourite meeting place or haunt, especially a pub

humdudgeon — an imaginary illness

hwyl — a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy which is associated with the Welsh people

illywhacker — (Austral. informal) a small-time confidence trickster

incrassate — thickened in form or consistency

incunabula — books printed before 1501

ingurgitate — to swallow something greedily

inspissate — to thicken or congeal

inunct — to apply ointment to someone or something

jumbuck — (Austral. informal) a sheep

jumentous — resembling horse’s urine

keek — (Scottish) to peep surreptitiously

kenspeckle — (Scottish) conspicuous or easily recognizable

kinnikinnick — substance consisting of dried sumac leaves and willow or dogwood bark, smoked by North American Indians

kylie — (Austral.) a boomerang

labaruma — banner or flag bearing symbolic motifs

logomachy — an argument about words

lollygag — to spend time in an aimless or lazy way

luculent — (of speech or writing) clearly expressed

macushla — Irish an affectionate form of address

meacock — a coward or effeminate person

merkin — artificial covering of hair for the pubic area

merrythought — a bird’s wishbone

mim — (Scottish) modest or demure in an affected or priggish way

mimsy — rather feeble and prim or over-restrained (coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass)

minacious — menacing or threatening

misogamy — the hatred of marriage

mistigris — joker or other extra card played as a wild card in some versions of poker

mollitious — luxurious or sensuous

monkey’s wedding — (S. African) simultaneous rain and sunshine

mouse potato — a person who spends large amounts of their leisure or working time on a computer

mudlark — person who scavenges in riverside mud at low tide for anything of value

muktuk — the skin and blubber of a whale, eaten by the Inuit people

nacarat — a bright orange-red colour

nagware — computer software which is free for a trial period and thereafter frequently reminds the user to pay for it

natation — swimming

noctambulist — a sleepwalker

noyade — an execution carried out by drowning

nugacity — triviality or frivolity

nympholepsy — passion or rapture aroused in men by beautiful young girls

obnubilate — to darken, dim, or obscure something

ogdoad — a group or set of eight

omophagy — the eating of raw food, especially meat

omphalos — the centre or hub of something

onolatry — the worship of donkeys

operose — involving or displaying a lot of effort

opsimath — a person who begins to learn or study late in life

orectic — having to do with desire or appetite

orrery — a clockwork model of the solar system, or the sun, earth, and moon

ortanique — a cross between an orange and a tangerine

otalgia — earache

paludal — living or occurring in a marshy habitat

panurgic — able or ready to do anything

parapente — aerofoil parachute, used for gliding

parapha — flourish after a signature

patulous — (of the boughs of a tree, for example) spreading

pavonine — to do with or resembling a peacock

pedicular — to do with lice

peely-wally — (Scottish) looking pale and unwell

peever — (Scottish) hopscotch

periapt — an item worn as a charm or amulet

petcock — a small valve in a steam engine or boiler, used for drainage or for reducing pressure

peterman — a person who breaks open and robs safes

pettitoes — pig’s trotters, especially as food

piacular — making or requiring atonement

pilgarlic — a bald-headed man, or a person regarded with mild contempt

pinguid — resembling fat; oily or greasy

piscatorial — connected with fishermen or fishing

pleurodynia — severe pain in the muscles between the ribs or in the diaphragm

plew — a beaver skin

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis — an invented term said to mean ‘a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust’

pogey — (Canadian informal) unemployment or welfare benefit

pollex — (Anatomy) the thumb

pooter — a suction bottle for collecting insects and other small invertebrates

portolan — a book containing sailing directions with hand-drawn charts and descriptions of harbours and coasts

posology — branch of medicine concerned with the size and frequency of doses of a medicine or a drug

possident — a possessor, i.e. a person who owns something

pother — a commotion or fuss

pre-loved — second-hand

presenteeism — the compulsion to spend longer at work than is required or to continue working despite illness

previse — to foresee or predict an event

probang  — a strip of flexible material with a sponge or tuft at the end, used to remove a foreign body from the throat or to apply medication to it

prosopagnosia — an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people, typically as a result of brain damage

puddle jumper — a small, light aircraft which is fast and highly manoeuvrable and used for short trips

puddysticks — (S. African) children’s word very easy

pyknic — a technical description of a stocky physique with a rounded body and head, thickset trunk, and a tendency to fat

pyroclastic — relating to fragments of rock erupted by a volcano

ragtop — a convertible car with a soft roof

ratite — (of a bird such as the ostrich or emu) unable to fly because of having a flat breastbone, to which no flight muscles are attached

rawky — foggy, damp, and cold

razzia — a raid carried out by Moors in North Africa

rebirthing — a form of therapy involving controlled breathing and intended to simulate the trauma of being born

resurrection man — a person who, in past times, illicitly exhumed corpses from burial grounds and sold them to anatomists for dissection

retiform — resembling a net

rhinoplasty — plastic surgery performed on the nose

rubiginous — rust-coloured

rubricate — to add elaborate capital letters (typically red ones) or other decorations to a manuscript

rude boy — Jamaican a lawless or rebellious unemployed urban youth who likes ska or reggae music

rug rat — (N. Amer.) a child

rumpot — (N. Amer.) a habitual or heavy drinker

sangoma — a traditional healer or witch doctor in southern Africa

sarmie — (S. African informal) a sandwich

saucier — a sauce chef

saudade — a feeling of longing or melancholy that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament

scofflaw — a person who flouts the law

screenager — a person in their teens or twenties who has an aptitude for using computers and the Internet

scrippage — one’s baggage and personal belongings

selkie — (Scottish) a mythical sea creature like a seal in water but human on land

serac — a pinnacle or ridge of ice on the surface of a glacier

sesquipedalian — (of a word) having many syllables or (of a piece of writing) using many long words

shallop — a light sailing boat used chiefly for coastal fishing

shamal — a hot, dry north-westerly wind that blows across the Persian Gulf in summer and causes sandstorms

shavetail — (US military slang) a newly commissioned officer, or any inexperienced person

shippon — (Brit. dialect) a cattle shed

shofar — a ram’s-horn trumpet used in Jewish religious ceremonies and, in ancient times, to sound a battle signal

skanky — (N. Amer. informal) revolting

skelf — (Scottish) a splinter or sliver of wood

skimmington — a kind of procession once undertaken to make an example of a nagging wife or an unfaithful husband

skycap — a porter at an airport

snakebitten — (N. Amer. informal) unlucky or doomed to misfortune

snollygoster — a shrewd or unprincipled person

sockdolager — (US informal) a heavy blow

solander — a protective box made in the form of a book, for holding items such as botanical specimens, maps, and colour plates

soucouyant — a kind of witch, in eastern Caribbean folklore, who is believed to shed her skin by night and suck the blood of her victims

soul case — (N. Amer. & W. Indian) the human body

soul catcher — a hollowed bone tube used by a North American Indian medicine man to keep a sick person’s soul safe while they are sick

spaghettification — the process by which (in some theories) an object would be stretched and ripped apart by gravitational forces on falling into a black hole

spitchcock — an eel, split and then grilled or fried

splanchnic — having to do with the the viscera or internal organs, especially those of the abdomen

spurrier — a person who makes spurs

stercoraceous — consisting of or resembling dung or faeces

sternutator — something that causes sneezing

stiction — the frictional force which hinders an object from being moved while in contact with another

strappado — a punishment or torture in which the victim was hoisted in the air on a rope and then allowed to fall almost to the ground before being stopped with an abrupt jerk

strigil — an instrument with a curved blade used by ancient Greeks and Romans to scrape sweat and dirt from the skin in a hot-air bath or after exercise

struthious — having to do with or resembling an ostrich

studmuffin — (N. Amer. humorous) a sexually attractive, muscular man

stylite — a early Christian ascetic who lived standing on top of a pillar

subfusc — the dark formal clothing worn for examinations and ceremonial or formal occasions at some universities.

submontane — passing under or through mountains, or situated on the lower slopes of a mountain range

succuss — to shake something vigorously, especially a homeopathic remedy

sudd — an area of floating vegetation that impedes navigation in a stretch of the White Nile

suedehead — a youth like a skinhead but with slightly longer hair and smarter clothes

sun-grazing — (of a comet) having an orbit which passes close to the sun

superbious — proud and overbearing

superette — (N. Amer.) a small supermarket

taniwha — a mythical monster which, according to Maori legend, lives in very deep water

tappen — the plug by which the rectum of a bear is closed during hibernation

tellurian — of or inhabiting the earth, or an inhabitant of the earth

testudo — a device used in siege warfare in ancient Rome, consisting of a wheeled screen with an arched roof (literally a ‘tortoise’)

thalassic — relating to the sea

thaumatrope — a scientific toy devised in the 19th century. It consisted of a disc with a different picture on each of its two sides: when the disc was rotated rapidly about a diameter, these pictures appeared to combine into one image.

thirstland — (S. African) a desert or large arid area

thrutch — (N. English) a narrow gorge or ravine

thurifer — a person carrying a censer, or thurible, of burning incense during religious ceremonies

tigon — the hybrid off spring of a male tiger and a lioness (the offspring of a male lion and a tigress being a liger)

tokoloshe — in African folklore, a mischievous and lascivious hairy water sprite

toplofty — (N. Amer. informal) haughty and arrogant

transpicuous — transparent

triskaidekaphobia — extreme superstition about the number thirteen

triskelion — a Celtic symbol consisting of three radiating legs or curved lines, such as the emblem of the Isle of Man

turbary — the legal right to cut turf or peat for fuel on common ground or on another person’s ground

umbriferous — shady

uncinate — (of a part of the body) having a hooked shape

uniped — a person or animal with only one foot or leg

uroboros — a circular symbol depicting a snake (or a dragon) swallowing its tail, intended as an emblem of wholeness or infinity

vagarious — erratic and unpredictable in behaviour or direction

velleity — a wish or inclination which is not strong enough to lead one to take action

verjuice — a sour juice obtained from crab apples or unripe grapes

vicinal — neighbouring or adjacent

vidiot — (N. Amer. informal) a habitual, undiscriminating watcher of television or videotapes

vomitous — (N. Amer.) nauseating or repulsive

wabbit — (Scottish) exhausted or slightly unwell

waitron — (N. Amer.) a waiter or waitress

wakeboarding — the sport of riding on a short, wide board while being towed behind a motor boat

wayzgoose — an annual summer party and outing that used to be held by a printing house for all its employees

winebibber — a heavy drinker

wish book — (N. Amer. informal) a mail-order catalogue

wittol — a man who knows of and tolerates his wife’s infidelity

woopie — an affluent retired person able to pursue an active lifestyle (from the initials of well-off older person)

wowser — (chiefly Austral./NZ) a puritanical, prudish person or a killjoy

xenology — the scientific study of extraterrestrial phenomena

ylem — (in big bang theory) the primordial matter of the universe

zetetic — proceeding by inquiry or investigation

zoolatry — the worship of animals

zopissa — a medicinal preparation made from wax and pitch scraped from the sides of ships

zorro — a South American kind of fox

Zyrian — a former term for Komi, a language spoken in an area of Russia west of the Urals

Fiction Circular 9/11/18

Send recommendations of independent fiction authors and collectives to logosliterature@yandex.com


FLASH FICTION (under 500 words)

The Dark Netizen continues his project of attempting to have the highest output of microfictions of any person ever with, Border Crossing, which tells the tale of a criminal attempting a border crossing with a bag of illicit cash. One of his best. Also from Netizen, the microfiction, Bagpiper a story about not allowing peer pressure to frivolously dissuade one’s passion.

“Sivak knew getting through the check post was not going to be easy…”

New Flash Fiction Review published the fantastically titled, There’s A Joke Here Somewhere And Its On Me by Sara Lippmann. A little slice of 80s adolescence.

“MTV watched me.”


SHORT STORIES

From X-R-A-Y, Flipped by Zac Smith. A 700 word sentence about a car crash. The brisk tale’s vivid imagery should compel all of us to take more care on the road and continue developing ways to make vehicular travel safer (from my perch in the US, I’ve long advocated a interconnected, national mag-lev system to increase cost-effectiveness and reduce risk of collision) without impinging upon movement autonomy.

“Brad pinned between the wheel and the seat and the roof of the car but able eventually to wrench himself out through the busted-out window, on his back, coming out like a baby covered in glass and blood-“

Nell published the follow up to her short story, The Angelic Conversation, with The Angelic Conversation: Agnes, a titillating tale of lust both old and new. NSFW.

“His mind drifted to his young confidant. The clever, vibrant woman he had befriended a few months before. They had shared their secrets and intimate desires – and more than once he had felt himself become charged when she posted images of…”

From Jessica Triepel, The First Step, a intimate short story based upon her own personal experiences in a troubled relationship.

“Her husband would be home from work soon, the knowledge of which filled her with a sense of dread. It had been a good day, but she knew how quickly all that could change once Lothar was home.”

From STORGY, Deadhead by Victoria Briggs. A somber and moving rumination on death and family.

“Death brought with it a dizzying amount of aesthetic considerations-“

I particularly enjoyed the old-school stylings of Uncle Charlie. If Ms. Briggs is ever to write up a sequel, it would be interesting to see Charlie positioned as a more central character, perhaps even the lead.

From Terror House Magazine, The Serpent by Mark Hull, the story of a man who loses his tongue and struggles to get it back. Just as strange and fascinating as it sounds.

“When Eben Guthrey awoke, he knew something was wrong. It wasn’t that anything hurt so much as the intense sense of absence in and around his facial cavity. He took a few hazy moments at the edge of sleep to perform a few experiments. First, he tried to get his tongue to tap on his teeth. Then he tried to get his tongue to touch the roof of his mouth. Then he tried to stick his tongue out far enough to get a visual confirmation of it. When all of these tests failed, he was forced to conclude his tongue was no longer in his throat. It had escaped.”

From Idle Ink, The Great British Break-Off by esteemed writer of sad nonsense, Jake Kendall.

“Now at 48 and 47 respectively that ship had not only sailed, but in all probability arrived at its destination.”


NOVELLAS & NOVELS

Horror writer Laird Barron‘s newest novel, Black Mountain has received a hard-cover release date, May 07, 2019. The book is the sequel to Blood Standard, and marks the second entry in the Isaiah Coleridge series.

Thanks for reading. If you should wish to support our work publishing the best underground fiction and promoting independent and unsigned authors and litmags, consider supporting our work.

Writing Prompts 9/10/18 – Energy

prompt #1

There was nothing known not made of energy.


prompt #2

The terrorists hit the power grid, hoping for a revolution, receiving instead only the slow and agonizing death of starvation.


prompt#3

A million gears whirred with a synchronous clattering as the ardent machinist’s great, metal citywalker roared to life and rose up from the ground on legs thick as skyscrapers, smokestacks pumping black daggers to the sky. “It works, it works!”


See if you can use these prompts to make a story of your own and if you do, tag us on Twitter at @KaiterEnless so that we can see and share what you’ve written.