mummer n. a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume while merrymaking or participating in traditional masked mime
standoffish adj. distant and cold; unfriendly
vignette n. a brief evocative description, account, or episode
ribald adj. referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude way
hurly burly n. a disturbance
This week I try the words in paragraph. Or even– if you will– in vignette:
There arose a great hurly burly in the streets as a mummer wearing a Guy Fawkes mask– wearing only a Guy Fawkes mask– streaked past the curbside café. The baker’s wife, a standoffish and notoriously conservative woman, gaped at the ribald display over her coffee and pretentious literary magazine.
“Mardi Gras,” she huffed as the other patrons cheered and whistled. She buried herself pointedly in the vignette she’d been reading, though when no one was looking stole another private glance out from under it.
Happy New Year! In addition to being the first day of the year, today is also the first Wednesday– and so begins my new segment, Words of the Week. I’ll now be posting something vocabulary-related every Wednesday in order to expand my lexicon and give me an excuse to practice all those words I’ve looked up from reading and promptly forgotten. Word-a-holics, welcome!
In addition to the variable definitions, sentences, illustrations, and other mischief I’ll provide, I hope the weekly posts can also act as prompts for challenge-hungry logophiles. Sentence contributions will always be welcome. Maybe somewhere down the road I’ll even organize a word-off!
For now, here are the 5 words of the week:
wont 1. adj. in the habit of doing something; accustomed to 2. n. one’s customary behavior in a certain situation
disabusev. to persuade someone that an idea or belief is mistaken
conjugal adj. of or relating to marriage or the relationship between spouses
sacramental 1. adj. related to religious ceremony 2. n. a sign of divine grace
tribulation n. a cause or state of great suffering/trouble
And here are five sentences that use them:
A terrible musician but a cunning ladies’ man, it was Harrison’s wont to carry an acoustic guitar and practice chords in public places in order to pick up women.
Or at least, it was, until Harrison met Rachel, who disabused him of his women-attracting strategy by bringing around her very single, very eager-to-date musician friend, Robbie, to flirt with him.
Fortunately, Rachel revealed herself as orchestrating prankster just as Robbie was approaching conjugal topics with Harrison.
Despite, or perhaps because of Rachel’s prank, Harrison took her appearance as a sacramental and asked her out.
“Okay,” Rachel agreed, “But only because your terrible playing has been such a tribulation to the people who live and work around here.”
Today’s edition 3 Words of the Day is special for two reasons:
Contains Jedward (incidentally, you have been warned)
3 Words of the Day is going on hiatus during the course of April for National Poetry Month. Make way for the poetry– and be sure to come back and visit, as I’ll be orchestrating interactive poetry activities!
Right, then. Here are your words:
mummer: a person who wears a mask or fantastic costume in traditional masked mime
antiphonic: resembling alternate/response singing by a choir in two parts
valise: a small traveling bag or suitcase
1. Might a mummy be a mummer, or must a mummer be a mime?
2. Jedward are my absolute favorite annoying antiphonic duo. When they’re not finishing one another’s sentences and competing to squeeze in the last word, they’re being told to kindly SHUT UP!!! (See clips below.)
3. Wow. Those sentences (and Jedward) were so offensively awful that I must now pack my valise and pretend I was never here. Three sentences? What three sentences? I have no idea what you’re talking about. LOOK, WHAT’S THAT?
GASP! IT’S JEDWARD! Well, since you’re still here, why not enjoy a complimentary performance? They sing better than they interview. …And dress. …And groom.
Today’s vocabulary is two-alarm and comes with a side of habanero.
carom: a shot in billiards where the cue ball strikes two balls successively; to strike and rebound
hoss thief: “hoss” as in Old West for “horse”. Used as a term of endearment in the story in which I found it: “you mangy old son of a hoss thief.”
spurn: to reject with disdain; to despise
We’ve got the meat—let’s add Tabasco and call it lunch.
1. A duel of wit (or insults) starts with a smart, returns with a slap, and rejoins with a whopping knock. But the best and most lethal move is the carom that plays off and one-two punch/annihilates all that has been said.
2. I ever see that yowlin’ hoss thief o-gin, I give’m the what-for.
3. Mindy Jean spurned broccoli as fiercely as her cat spurned bubble bath.
The spice not to your liking? Throw down a few sentences of your own and check out the menu (fresh vocab) tomorrow.
Three words of the day, pulled from various short stories:
Mackinaw coat: refers to a heavy and dense woolen water-repellant cloth
peat: a brown, soil-like substance made of decomposed vegetable matter
liturgy: an official list according to which religious worship is conducted
1. Love that distinct, classic color of Mackinaw coats. What is it called: detective? Coffee stain? Camel turd?
2. PEAT! Perhaps that’s it.
3. The sisters watched The Princess Bride so often that various lines– including the rhymes between Fezzik, Inigo and Vizzini– became a liturgy of sorts. Whenever one started “Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?” the other responded, “If there are, we’ll all be dead!” and “No more rhymes now, I mean it!” was invariably answered with, “Anybody want a peanut?”