From the entire book, read for Western Civ. class.
Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.
New York: HarperCollins, 2005.Drumhead:
"Performed speedily and without formality.""The court martial had been assembled all too quickly and, as with all drumhead justice, the sentence was handed down in a brutally short time..."
"1. a. An alarm sounded on a bell. b. A bell used to sound an alarm. 2. A warning; an omen.""...although, adding what might later be interpreted as a tocsin note, remarked that his moral character was 'unexceptional.'"
"A commission promoting a military officer in rank without an increase in pay.""By the end of the year, though still nominally a lieutenant, he was breveted with the rank of captain as reward for his services."
"Of, relating to, or characteristic of the time or state after the fall of humankind described in the Bible.""Ceylon is in reality a kind of postlapsarian treasure island..."
"Of questionable taste or morality; decadent.""In Victorian London, even in a place as louche and notoriously crime-ridden as Lambeth Marsh, the sound of gunshots was a rare event indeed."
"1. A circular or spiral form; a vortex. 2. A circular or spiral motion, especially a circular ocean current.""...a swampy gyre of pathways..."
"A harmless cyst, especially on the scalp or face, containing the fatty secretion of a sebaceous gland." (Is this the only meaning?)"...meaning that the relatively strict laws that applied to the capital's citizens did not apply to anyone who ventured...in the wen of Lambeth."
"1. Disorderly; jumbled. 2. Secret; clandestine.""...a rough-hewn, rollicking, hugger-mugger, devil-may-care, peculiarly London type of good cheer."
"1. Having a slippery or smooth quality. 2. Shifty or tricky. 3. a. Lewd; wanton. b. Sexually stimulating; salacious.""He hinted that he had come to this lubricious quarter of town for reasons other than the simply monetary..."
"Long sideburns or a handlebar moustache." (My favorite term in the book. But is there a more specific definition?)"But what was most obviously similar about the men were their beards -- in both cases white, long, and nicely swallow-tailed -- with thick moustaches, sideburns, and ample buggers' grips."
"1. Abbr. qr. or q. A set of 24 or sometimes 25 sheets of paper of the same size and stock; one twentieth of a ream. 2. A collection of leaves of parchment or paper, folded one within the other, in a manuscript or book.""He folded the paper into a quire, a booklet eight pages thick."
"1. A small bundle. 2. One of the parts of a book published in separate sections. Also called fascicule. 3. Botany A bundle or cluster of stems, flowers, or leaves.""It was a word that was due to be included in the dictionary's second fascicle, or part, being readied to be printed and published in the later summer of 1885."
Noun from the verb "scutch": "To separate the valuable fibers of (flax, for example) from the woody parts by beating.""...as a flax plant might stand when divided for the scutcher."
"1. A European flatfish, Scophthalmus maximus, that has a brown knobby upper side and is prized as food. 2. Any of various flatfishes similar or related to this fish.""...turbot with lobster sauce..."
"1. Produced or growing from within. 2. Originating or produced within an organism, tissue, or cell.""...dementia praecox was a so-called endogenous ailment, quite lacking in any identifiable external cause."
"A specialized vocabulary or set of idioms used by a particular group.""...with the inclusion of the Old Kentish word 'zyxt' -- the second indicative present tense, in local argot, of the verb 'to see' -- the work was done, the alphabet was exhausted, and the full text was now wholly in the printers' hands."
"1. A long oar used at the stern of a boat and moved from side to side to propel the boat forward. 2. One of a pair of short-handled oars used by a single rower. 3. A small light racing boat for one, two, or four rowers, each using a pair of sculls. 4. To propel (a boat) with a scull or a pair of sculls.""He was a keen athlete, obsessed by sculling..."
From the verb "swinge": "To punish with blows; thrash; beat."The lord chief justice then applied the only sentence that was available to him -- a sentence still passed occasionally today, and that has a beguiling charm to its language, despite the swingeing awfulness of its connotations."
"1. The act of tying or binding. 2. a. A cord, wire, or bandage used for tying or binding. b. A thread, wire, or cord used in surgery to close vessels or tie off ducts. c. Something that unites; a bond.""He tied a thin cord tightly around the base of his member to act as a ligature..."
"One who is employed to take dictation or to copy manuscript."He took rooms off Fleet Street, hired six serving men...as amaneunses, and settled down to the six years of unremitting drudgery that were to prove necessary."
"A stiff flaring collar wired to stand up at the back of the head, worn by men and women in the 16th and early 17th century.""...its rebatos and doublets..."
"1. Warm, glowing praise. 2. A formal expression of praise; a tribute.""Throughout it all, under the rains of slings, arrows, plaudits, and encomiums, Samuel Johnson remained calmly modest."
"Unfulfilled or frustrated in the realization of one's ambitions or capabilities.""...an idea that would eventually permit the involvement in the project of one scholarly but troubled lexicographer manque..."
"Tending to irritate; repellent.""This time, and for the first time, the usually rebarbative Doctor Brayn offered some grounds for hope..."
"Loss of hair; baldness.""...he had lost his teeth and had alopecia."
(208)Nostalgie de la Boue:
French, "Yearning for the mud.""If the beguiling eroticisms of Ceylon, his tragic family circumstances, his obsessive cravings for whores, his nostalgie de la boue..."
"1. Not easily understood; abstruse. 2. Concerned with or treating something abstruse or obscure. 3. Concealed; hidden.""...single-mindedly devoted to learning of the most recondite kind..."
"Directed or turned backward or downward." "An attack by the renowned Brazilian fishlet known as candiru, which likes to swim up a man's urine stream and lodge in the urethra with a ring of retrorse spines preventing its removal..."