I've recently been rereading the collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. These stories are among my favorites, though it's been quite some time since I read them last. One of the fun things about reading these classic stories has been discovering words that I am unfamiliar with. As I have read, I've been keeping a log of these puzzling words, though I only started logging about one third of the way through the first volume. There are likely several words I've left out as a result.
Here are the esoteric words I've come across so far. See how many you know:
- vesta (noun): A short match with a shank of wax-coated threads
- distrait (adjective): apprehensively divided or withdrawn in attention; distracted
- wideawake (noun): a soft felt hat with a low crown and a wide brim
- presentiment (noun): a feeling that something will or is about to happen
- St. Vitus' dance (noun): a movement disorder marked by involuntary spasmodic movements especially of the limbs and facial muscles and typically symptomatic of neurological dysfunction;
- meretricious (adjective): tawdrily and falsely attractive; also, superficially significant
- atavism (noun): recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination
- chevy (verb): to chase; run after
- betokened (verb): to give evidence of
- asperity (noun): roughness of manner or of temper : harshness of behavior or speech that expresses bitterness or anger
- inanition (noun): the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water
As I go through the second volume (which I have yet to start), I'll keep a similar log and may make a second post with additional words from the past.