Tag Archives: Reading

Word Smith

Missed deadlines are piling up around me like the leaves of Vallambrosa, only less picturesquely, and I’m scrambling to catch up with my writing and fend off the wrath of my publisher. Until the current write-a-thon ends I have only small chunks of time, far apart, in which to read for pleasure. It’s a time for short stories.
So I turned to a purchase I had made some while back but not yet cracked–the first three of Night Shade Books’ handsome new five-volume set of the collected fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith. It’s been many years since I’ve read more of Smith than the oft-anthologized greatest hits: “The Return of the Sorceror,” say, or “A Rendezvous in Averoigne.” I’m enjoying the strangeness.

Stap my vitals, but that man could sling a thesaurus. He makes HPL look like Hemingway. I rarely have to resort to a dictionary while reading for pleasure, but by a third of the way through the first volume I had had to look up the following words:


A profound obeisance and a complimentary OED to anyone who knows the meanings of all five without looking them up. (Just kidding about the OED, unfortunately.)

Word Smith Redux

Here are the meanings of the words I had to look up while reading the Clark Ashton Smith stories:

nacarat–a pale orange-tinted red; also, a type of cloth of that color

invultuation–inflicting damage on a wax effigy, as by sticking it with a pin, in the belief that this will cause harm to the person represented by the effigy

inenarrable–unable to be narrated; i.e., indescribable

fescennine–lewd, licentious, or scurrilous, as in poetry or song; from Fescennia, an ancient Etruscan town notorious for bawdy songs and verses

parapegm–an engraved plaque or tablet displayed in a public place, usually of brass

The meanings suggested by Daw and Kelly in response to my previous post are, of course, vastly superior! To Daw, the Samuel Johnson Wordful Goodness Award, and to Kelly, the Daniel Webster Medal of Mucho Merit.

Added later: Argh. I meant Merriam-Webster, of course! The perils of writing something first thing in the morning, without enough Mountain Dew in my system to wake up my brain.