Tuesday, 20 December 2011

David Foster Wallace's Word Lists

The late-David Foster Wallace was incredibly fond of collecting words he found to be noteworthy, either by scribbling on the pages of the books he was currently reading, circling specific words in his personal dictionary, or compiling standalone vocabulary lists. The latter method is illustrated below, in the form of just two pages from the hundreds of word lists he amassed over the years.

Transcripts follow each image. Both images courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

VOCAB 3/97

lee (n) -- place sheltered from wind / side of ship away from wind

ruck -- a multitude of people mixed together / (v) to crease or fold

plication -- act or process of folding / condition of being folded

rimple -- a fold or wrinkle

pinchbeck -- any cheap imitation / zinc and copper alloy used as fake gold

scored -- scarred or marked in parallel lines

bolo -- long heavy Phillipine machete

wrack (n) -- damage from devastation, volence / ruin

neap (adj.) -- from NEAP TIDE, lowest possible tide

flitch -- longitudinal cut in tree; a bunch of long planks bound together to make a beam

abrogate (adj.) -- abolished or annulled by authority

detinue -- act of unlawfully detaining personal property OR a legal action to recover property wrongfully detained

murenger -- wallmaker

maugre -- in spite of, notwithstanding

laciniate -- fringed

antipodal -- situated on opposite sides of the world

antipode -- direct or diametrical opposite

primipara -- woman who's pregnant for the first time

minim -- tiny or insignificant portion

aquarelle -- drawing in transparent watercolor

belvedere -- open, roofed structure built to command a view, like a PRESS BOX

celadon -- pale to very pale green

Guttate -- In the form of drops / spotted as if from drops

Trochar / Trocar -- Sharp device used by mortician to remove blood for embalming

gastine -- ?? ghost??

***SCILICET -- adverb, Latin for 'that is to say,' 'namely' (like "viz."?) -- abbreviations are sc., scil., ss, ss.

scissile -- adj. for cut or split easily; "a scissile mineral," "a scissile peptide bond."

satyromaniac -- male version of nymphomaniac

sciolism -- pretentious air of scholarship; superficial knowledgability

descry -- to discern, catch sight of something hard to see

excursus -- long intellectual digression in a speech or piece of writing

confute (v) -- like refute, show to be false or contradictory / or to prevent, forestall

tardive (adj) -- having symptoms that develop slowly or appear long after inception -- used of disease

tarantism -- disorder where you have uncontrollable need to dance

parol (adj) -- spoken, not written

pareve (adj.) -- prepared w/o meat or milk or derivatives and so OK for orthodox Jews to eat w/ meat & dairy; kosher

parfleche -- untanned animal hide soaked in lye to get hair off and then dried on a stretcher / a shield made of this material

flambeau -- lit torch / a decorative candlestick

flake (n) -- a frame or platform for drying produce

recto -- right-hand page of book
verso -- left-hand page of book

rectilinear -- moving in or bounded by straight lines -- "rectilinear pattern in wallpaper"

recrudence -- to break out anew after period of quiescence

palmette -- stylized palm leaf used as decoration in classical moldings, reliefs, vase paintings

Maltese cross -- 4 arrowheads joined at point; looks like ragged tear; dictionary 1089

malocclusion -- faulty contact between upper & lower teeth when jaw is closed