Monday, December 31, 2012

My Dictionaries: The Grand Panjandrum Pt. 1


You don't always find an obscure dictionary for 20 cents but I do! I'm not sure how many of these sorts there are but maybe I should seek to find out the answer. My guess is hundreds. I think I'll do inventory on my own collection in the next installment so I can begin to tally them up.

I don't recall ever seeing this one before but I wasn't about to pass up a sturdy hardcover with most of its dust jacket intact. It was compiled by Dr. J. N. Hook and published in 1980. Here's a sample of some of the  2,000 words contained within:

1. elflocks  n  "Let me comb out the elflocks," a mother says to her child. Hair matted, as after a night's sleep, is sometimes called by this attractive name.

2. usufruct  n  The legal right to use something, as the income of an estate: <The will granted him the usufruct of 260 acres of land during his lifetime, with certain restrictions.>

3. subauditur  n  Latin for "it is understood." A subauditur is anything that is implied or understood in connection with what is said openly--a hidden meaning: <Somewhere in his words, I was sure, was a subauditur that I was failing to grasp.>

4. halation  n  Sometimes in a photograph (or around something very light pictured on a TV screen) there is a kind of halo--excessive light, usually circular in shape. This spread of light is a halation, from the Greek and Latin words for halo.

5. sangfroid  n  Literally "cold blood" in French, sangfroid in English means great calmness under strain, self-possession, almost cold-blooded refusal to act emotionally: <When the theater caught fire, his sangroid was unbelievable.>

6. misguggle  vt  A Scottish expression based on guggle or gruggle "to crumple, rumple." One misguggles if he/she handles something or someone awkwardly or roughly: <Don't misguggle the eggs, Lad.>

7. rootle  vi  To rootle is to dig in and around somewhat as a pig does: <She rootled through the old dresses in her ancient steamer trunk.>

8. coulee or coulie  n  In the Midwest and West this word may have any of these meanings: (1) a small stream that sometimes dries up, (2) the bed of such a stream, (3) a ravine or small, steep valley, often with a stream at the base of the coteaux, or (4) a (usually) solidified stream or sheet of lava.

9. boreen  n  Sure and we can say lane or country road, but Irish boreen "narrow rural road, especially in hilly country" paints an especially pleasant picture even for us Irishmen by adoption.

10. refacimento or rifacimento  n  Literally "making over." A bit of Tchaichovsky, for example, is reworked and emerges as a popular song, or a novel is rewritten as a stage play or a movie. Any uch reworking of a piece if music or literature, especially when it is adapted to a different form or medium, is a refacimento.

11. gewgaw or geegaw  n  A piece of trashy jewelry or any other small, showy, and nearly worthless object. By extension, anything whether real or abstract may be a gewgaw if it is small and not worth much: <Unfortunately, many people today consider poetry a gewgaw.>

12. transmontane or tramontane  adj,  cismontane  adj  The first two words originally meant pertaining to the area beyond any mountain or mountain range. Cismontane means on this side of the mountains: <our cismontane friends>.

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