A reader of my books, Gothic Spring and Trompe l’Oeil, wrote recently that she had to keep a dictionary nearby as she read the novels. I sympathize. I do the same whenever I read works by Germaine Greer, author of The Female Eunuch.
I’m grateful my vocabulary gets me through most days efficiently. I understand when my mechanic talks of catalytic converters or the computer guru tells me I need to defrag the hard drive. But I still run into words that are new to me or sound familiar but I’ve forgotten their meaning.
I ran across the word emolument the other day and frowned because I knew I’d heard it before. The dictionary refreshed my memory. Emolument refers to a “salary, fee or profit from employment.” Oh yeah, employment. That was years ago. But other words crop up which ring no bells. Lacustrine for example. Even my Microsoft dictionary didn’t know what it meant. I had to refer to the Oxford tome. Lacustrine refers to living or growing around lakes.
Another term that tripped me up recently was doxology. It means, “Hymn of Praise.” Microsoft knew the definition but not me. I haven’t been to church in years, except to take shelter from a sudden downpour. I forgive my ignorance.
The question remains, how am I to use these new found word treasures? I don’t see me writing, “He had blue, lacustrine eyes.” Sounds too much like an infection. In a peevish moment, I might advise someone who annoys me to jump into a lacustrine place. I bet that would make my antagonist pause. Of course, I’d have to paint a sneer on my face when I said it. I wouldn’t want him or her to think I was engaging in some form of doxology.
(Courtesy of amonshea.com )