First off, I feel that since ole Sir Winston and I are going to be spending so much time together, what with the four volumes of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples coming in around 1600 pages, I need a nickname for him, but I’m not sure what you call a Winston when he’s at home. Winnie doesn’t seem dignified. Win’s a little bellicose-sounding. Suggestions appreciated.
A quarter of the way into Volume I The Birth of Britain and here are the words I’ve had to look up:
- hypocaust: a hollow space under the floor of an ancient Roman building, into which hot air was sent for heating a room or bath.
- efflorescence: reach an optimum stage of development; blossom
- exiguous: very small in size or amount
- coracles: (esp. in Wales and Ireland) a small, round boat made of wickerwork covered with a watertight material, propelled with a paddle
- tonsure: a part of a monk’s or priest’s head left bare on top by shaving off the hair.
- suzerainty: a state presided over by a feudal overlord
- rapine: the violent seizure of someone’s property
It goes without saying that I will not be incorporating any of these words into my regular vocabulary. In fact, according to my dictionary (New Oxford American), some of the definitions are “historical” though the book was published in 1956.
I wasn’t able to guess any of these word’s meanings in context (except the boat one) and was pretty surprised when I did learn what they mean. Hypocaust was especially odd since hypo– is Greek and I can’t figure what the Romans were doing naming parts of their houses in Greek. And “exiguous” left me saying “Really?!” since there are at least half a dozen normal ways to express that idea. Show-off.
So many mysteries in the world.