Monday, April 1, 2019

Accidental Word Discovery by Jenn McKinlay

JENN McKINLAY: Recently while sitting at my laptop, slinging words, I accidentally typed “cark” in a sort of car/park mashup. When the little red squiggle line didn’t appear, I thought, 
cark is a word? For real? Yes, for real. 

According to Merriam-Webster, it is both a verb and a noun but in both cases it's not good - it is either carking (vexing) about something or to be beset by cark (trouble). All this time I could have been yelling at the Hub and Hooligans to stop carking my mellow, alas better late than never.


A visual representation of cark!

So, Reds, I ask you, what words have you discovered by accident through writing or reading that surprised you?

HALLIE EPHRON: So, to cark is to kvetch. I like it. 

Traveling has always been a source of word discovery. In the UK I discovered that there's such a thing as a chucker-out. It's the bouncer at your local pub. And from being a grammar geek, INTERROBANG. It's a punctuation mark used at especially at the end of an exclamatory rhetorical question, written as ?! Also PHOSPHENE. It's that luminous explosion you see when you squeeze (and keep) your eyes shut. Mine come in checkerboards.

LUCY BURDETTE: My favorite new word came courtesy of Julia while we were doing a panel for JRW at the Albany Bouchercon. Runneling. A runnel is a brook or a rivulet, so runneling means streaming like a rivulet. I think Julia used this in context of blood runneling down a wall...though my dictionary is not so sure it's a real word, I love it!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Thank you, Lucy! These days, I'm happy to remember old words. While I was writing recently,  I was searching my memory, looking for a word that meant 'a tent-like shade over a window.' It wasn't until I was driving through Portland and saw one it came flashing back to me - awning! Not an extraordinary word; I don't know why I couldn't pull it out of my hat. Some of my favorite new words have come from looking for non-boring ways to describe the scenery of the farm country around my fictional Millers Kill. Vetch. Silage. Biscuit wood. Byre. It's a challenge for someone as botanically challenged as I am - I tend to look at all things low and green and say "grass," while everything stalky with a blob of color on top is a flower.

Oh, I remember a very new word! Eyot, meaning an island in the middle of a river. Don't you love odd words for geographical features?




RHYS BOWEN: Because my books are set in the past I have great fun using words that have been lost from our current vocabulary. Flummoxed and curmudgeon and many more that will come to me the moment I finish this post. A favorite word to impress others is RIPARIAN... meaning of the river bank. So a riparian stroll is along the edge of the river!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Ha, Lucy, my favorite new word in my new book is "rill", which is another word for runnel. Although I've used rill in the sense of a deep trench, which might or might not have water at the bottom. 

I love Rhys's flummoxed and curmudgeon, but another of my favorites, too seldom used, is "obstreperous ," resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly.  So useful!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I was thinking about this, and reading the wonderful new book by Denise Mina called CONVICTION— it is absolutely amazing, by the way – – and came across the word meroculous.  Meroculous?
Have you ever heard that word? I never had. 
The book also had the word “diffident,” which I never use, but should. 
And Rhys, I always say flummoxed! And curmudgeon. Am I living in the wrong time?

Finally, I just got back my second round of copy edits, and the copy editor wanted to know if I really meant “I squinted my ears to hear.” I stetted it.

All right, Readers, what new and dazzling words have you found of late?

91 comments:

  1. If it’s possible to have favorite words, then schadenfreude [satisfaction at someone else’s misfortune] is one of my favorite words. Recently I stumbled over bibble [eat or drink noisily] and cabotage [coastal navigation]. But the funniest of weird words I’ve seen lately is winklepicker [a 1950s style of shoe or boot with sharp, long-pointed toe] . . . .

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  2. I have always loved the word riparian. I learned it in high school while I was studying Forestry and my high school had a riparian habitat across the street from it. It's one of those words that just stick with you isn't it? Antiquated words are fun. I love using words like curmudgeon, parasol, ambulate. I call it a couch, mom called it a sofa and grandma called it a divan and they're all the same thing.

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  3. callithump. : a noisy boisterous band or parade

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    1. Wonder if it's got the same root as calliope. (Anyone else take Latin? Or it's more likely from Greek.)

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    2. Love the couch dilemma--It's a couch to me, but all those words conjure different pieces of furniture.

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    3. I use couch and sofa interchangeably, but I haven't called anything a divan in eons. Also when I was very young, the divan was called a davenport. How about that!

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    4. And in Canada, it’s a chesterfield. Love the couch dilemma!

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    5. Calliope is the Greek muse of poetry.

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  4. Ooh, favorite topic! I love the word prandial, meaning meal, and use it as often as I can. You can indulge in a pre-prandial sherry or a post-prandial nap. Also antepenultimate, perambulation, and disambiguate. I recently learned afterclap and wrote it on my whiteboard so I remember to use it in a book: an unexpected damaging or unsettling event following a supposedly closed affair.

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    1. afterclap
      It would make a great title... ripe for dual/triple meanings

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    2. Afterclap is fabulous, makes me think of surprise thunder after a storm has passed.

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    3. Afterclap is perfect for a mystery writer too

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  5. I too often use flummoxed and curmudgeon and I love "squinting the ears"! Not lately but I came across the word lugubrious and had no idea what it meant. Don't you hate when you can't tell from the context? So now while I don't use it, out loud anyway, I think about it when I see certain kind of people, men especially for some reason.

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    1. I was just thinking about lugubrious!

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    2. I like lugubrious as well as malodorous and obstreperous - all the ous(es).

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    3. I don't know about ears squinting, but my ears are dancing with the sounds of lugubrious and malodorous and obstreperous.

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  6. Oh Hank, once again I get that feeling that we are sisters. As I read Rhys's comment I thought the same thing: flummoxed and curmudgeon are common words in my spoken vocabulary. Maybe I really am living in the wrong time.

    Can't immediately think of a new word that has grabbed my attention lately, but I absolutely share the feeling of satisfaction that comes in those moments.

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  7. gleaned. After scanning many articles, she gleaned enough information to write the next chapter.

    Gleaning originally meant picking up the last grain after the harvest. I'll think about the original meaning as I pick through my old drafts.

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    1. It's the name of a painting by French artist Millet that depicts that exact activity. Take a look:
      http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/paintings-analysis/gleaners-millet.htm

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    2. Picking wheat - that makes sense.

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    3. Gleaning is biblical in origin. Those who owned fields would allow the indigent of the community/village to follow after the harvesters and pick up the small bits of wheat (leavings) that had fallen or were too small to be caught up in the harvest. Boaz allowed Ruth to glean in his fields as her mother-in-law was distant kin. He showed her special favor by allowing her to follow the harvesters more closely, thereby pick up more wheat grains and he set men to watch and protect her so that the others gleaners didn't do her harm.

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    4. I love the word glean but had no idea what the origin was - excellent.

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  8. The new words indicating gender "cis-gender" "Latinix". I love how usage reflects contemporary thought.

    Thanks for mentioning "The Gleaners". For years I misthought this was by VanGogh. and I just 'googled' (<- new in lexicon), and I was right!

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    1. I agree I like the contemporary usage of new words - even though I have to look them up repeatedly to remember them.

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  9. And the other day on TV, they kept talking about whether something would be issued in its complete form, :-), and the anchor said "We have no idea how fulsome the release will be." I winced, of course, since "fulsome" does not mean "complete." And then apparently the other anchors decided they liked the sound of that, so they said it, too. I finally tweeted about it to the network. (Curmudgeon, right?)

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    1. Nope not a curmudgeon - just a word girl! :)

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  10. And when people find a new word and then say it wrong. I almost broke up with an old boyfriend after he talked about some delicious food and said he wanted to savv-or every bite. Gah.

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  11. Oh, loving this post and thread!

    Can't come up with new words I've stumbled upon lately as I rush out the door to work, but I'll be pondering this all day - and adding many of these to my "must-use" list!

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  12. I use some of these words in conversation (flummoxed, curmudgeon) and didn’t realize that they might be unknown to some people. Riparian is a word I frequently ran across in my real estate paralegal days. One of my favorite words, picked up from reading over the years, is gobsmacked. A few years ago a well-read friend ran across it for the first time, and was shocked to discover that someone in her circle of friends already knew the word!

    Several years ago one of my nephews submitted a “new” word to either the Urban Dictionary or something similar, and it was accepted. If I could remember what the word was, I’d tell you!

    DebRo

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    1. I love the urban dictionary! So many new words plus I also love slang - it usually makes me laugh. Words like hangry - you know, when being hungry makes you angry. So clever!

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    2. Deb, I also love gobsmacked. I recently picked it as the Word of the Day at my Toastmasters meeting, and no one there had ever heard it. I was thrilled when our president used it in a speech for a recent contest (and he won!).

      And Rhys, count me in as someone else who uses curmudgeon and flummoxed as part of my vocabulary.

      If you really want to see some interesting words, check out Grandiloquent (http://grandiloquent-word.tumblr.com/).

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    3. Gobsmacked has become one of my favorite words to use!

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  13. Juddering! What a wonderful example of onomatopoeia. It seems I come across this work in every other book recently. Recently, for me, is in the past 5-10 years. I haven't used it yet, but I'm getting ready. And "louche." Not new to me, but I it see everywhere now. Another is "insouciant." Is there a revival of archaic terms as there is in baby names like Ruby and Violet and Hugo?

    Amongst the wonderful things about my Kindle is the ability to tap on a word, old or new, and come up with a definition and often the date when first used, origin, Latin roots if any. I suspect I look up as many common words as uncommon.

    You should see me reading the NYT on Sunday. I'm continually jabbing my finger through the paper, trying to get to the dictionary. Before long Julie will be putting me in The Home.

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    1. I SO understand about poking your finger through the page to get to the dictionary! Have you ever tapped on the side of the page to get it to turn?

      DebRo

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    2. LOL - that’s hilarious. I’ve caught myself pinching picture on paper to try and make them larger - doh!

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    3. Yet I refuse to read the NYT any way but in print. No matter how many holes I poke it it.

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  14. I picked up "raparian" from reading James Lee Burke. He uses it a lot. Me, sparingly.

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    1. Some authors can execute any word in any paragraph seamlessly. I’d say JLB is one of them.

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    2. Exactly! If it sticks out, then it does more harm than good.

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  15. Hank- Absolutely love "squinting my ears". It's like when you need to turn off the radio in the car so you can visually get your bearings.
    I just finished reading "A Curious Beginning" by Deanna Raybourn. It's filled with wonderful words from an earlier time. I was busy reading so I didn't highlight any of them however I may need to go back and hunt them down.

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    1. I was just getting dressed for work when one of my favorite words popped into my mind. Disingenuous, right up there with smarmy!

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  16. I love all these words and I'm sure I've learned new ones recently, but I can't thing of them at this instant.

    I used to get a "word of the day" text. Some favorites from that period are penultimate, defenestrate, and exsanguination.

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    1. I had forgotten about "defenestrate." Are you thinking of throwing someone or something out of a window, or do you want to remove someone from a position of power? I'm betting that you like it for the throwing out of the window.

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    2. Kathy, you know me too well. ;-)

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  17. Those are good ones, Liz! I follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter - funny and informative!

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  18. Every time I see "riparian," I think of Hyacinth Bucket pronounced bouquet, the Lady of the House.

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  19. No word coming to mind but I love this post.
    It is said that the day you learn something new you don't die. I won't die today.
    Thank you Reds

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  20. I rather like the word "askance." I was just about to use it in a blog post I am composing. "My family looks at me askance." Then I stopped to think: will anyone understand what that means?

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  21. Well, put me in a museum and charge admission. Gobsmacked, flummoxed, askance, curmudgeon. . . all of those are in my vocabulary but I don't use them much. There is a huge vocabulary gap between my generation and the younger ones. I can certainly understand squinting your ears to hear better. I bet your face scrunches a little bit too.

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  22. I like askance and curmudgeon. Also sesquipedalian--a long and multi-syllabic word. Or, someone who overuses such. And a new one that came up in a book at work not all that long ago: syzygy--a nearly straight-line configuration of three or more celestial bodies. Such as the sun, moon, and Earth during an eclipse. Sometimes a whole bunch of planets will do this as well.

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    1. I love that - can't pronounce it - but I love it!

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  23. Shalom Reds and fans. As a youngster, my dad, read far and wide. That sort of stopped as he worked and raised a family. Excepting the books he read to us as children, he stopped reading everything except the New York Times. That said, he loved to use words that would force us to the dictionary. “David, why do you have to be so obstreperous?” he would ask when we had exasperated him to the max. He grew up at a time when teens studied Latin in public schools. His other hobby when he retired was playing Scrabble with himself in multiple languages. He had purchased the game in several romance languages and always had three boards going at the same time, when I would visit.

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  24. When I am reading an ebook or even the print version of a book, I will look up or at least write down words that I don’t know. Currently, it is British mystery novels that give me a good workout just because the books use a somewhat different vocabulary. Words like “trainers” for “sneakers”.

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  25. One time, I used the word “bollocks” in a sentence. A friend, who is a grammar school teacher, said, “That’s not a word.” I went home and looked for the word in a few online dictionaries. I found it but not the meaning I had intended. I had to fess up and admit the incorrect usage.

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  26. I must admit, I don’t like some new usage of words. Especially the use of nouns for verbs or the use of prefixes and suffixes to create new words. I may balk at even newly created compound words.

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  27. My friend Csaba, who is a software specialist, whose mother tongue is Hungarian, will often speak with perfectly good English that I won’t understand simply because he is using IT slang. Without meaning to, I inadvertently got back at him one day by using the word “heuristic”. He called a “time-out” on that one.

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  28. One of my friends was amazed and amused when I could parse out the sentence in Latin that was printed on a t-shirt he was wearing. It said roughly, “If you can read this, you’ve had entirely too much education.”

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  29. Obfuscate
    Apposite
    Obturate
    Subsume
    Dehiscence

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    1. I'm a fan of "apposite," too, Finta. I do often wonder if someone who might not be familiar with it might think I've made a typo and mean "opposite," which, of course, would be the opposite of apposite. Hehehe!

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    2. And my all time favorite, deliquescent

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  30. A word that popped up on my FB feed four years ago and which I recently shared again on my FB page is "rubricate," meaning to mark or color with red. It has its origins in medieval manuscript making, something I find fascinating. There's lots to look up, including images, about the "rubrication" process, but a basic understanding of it, with some images, can be found on Wikipedia, starting with these basic statements.
    "Rubrication was one of several steps in the medieval process of manuscript making. Practitioners of rubrication, so-called rubricators or rubrishers, were specialized scribes who received text from the manuscript's original scribe and supplemented it with additional text in red ink for emphasis. The term rubrication comes from the Latin rubrico, "to color red"."

    The link for the Wikipedia article is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubrication

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  31. Oh, another one I like is pluviophile, meaning someone who loves rain.

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  32. I googled "Meroculous" and found nothing except links to this log (!) and a reference in a book.
    Can you give a definition?

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  33. I've just added redacted to my vocabulary!

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  34. I'm with Hank, flummoxed is in my daily vocabulary. I'm also fond of copse which spellcheck can revision as corpse with hilarious result in some sentences. And here in Florida if we don't have a driveway we will park in the swale which most of the English speaking US calls the verge.

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  35. Love the comments here. I like curmudgeon which is still in use among my relatives. Among the things that I love about reading is learning new words. I remember learning new to me words like "meandering" from reading Maisie Dobbs.

    Diana

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  36. I love words-- especially antiquated ones. I still use "volleys of oaths," "louring invidiousness," and someone in a hurry "pitchforking" their clothes on after reading The Mayor of Casterbridge" decades ago.

    This past Christmas, my favorite find was 15 Long-Lost Words to Revive This Christmas which had me talking about Yule-holes, toe-covers, belly-cheer and the like (and confusing people to no end).

    I also like to collect brand-new words. In fact, I just found one on tonight's episode of "Jeopardy": "smorgasbordello." Oh, all the images that mashup causes to run through my mind! And then there's Wendall Thomas' "bimbocile" from Drowned Under and Sophie Hénaff's "wackolympics" from Stick Together.

    Love, love, love words!

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  37. In australia cark means to break down (or die) as in 'My car battery has carked it"

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