Literary lessons #1 (intro + vocabulary)

I wanted to start something new on my blog, something where I can keep track of words, sentences, quotes, names and such. Partially for myself, but maybe also to inspire others. They’ll be literary lessons. I love language, and hopefully this way I can also do something with it on my blog.

While reading, I often come across words I’ve never heard of. Usually, they’re not very important in the context of the sentence and it’s possible to guess at Literary Lessons - words I didn't know beforetheir meaning. However, I never looked up the words I didn’t know before; I don’t feel I need to when I can perfectly understand the story.

I thought it might be fun though, to learn a thing or two while reading. Especially in older books where the vocabulary is much broader it happens often that I don’t know the exact meaning of a word.

Therefore, I’ve now written down the words and looked them up. Here are 20 of them.

The Children of Men
P. D. James
portcullis (p.23)
1. a heavy iron gate that can be raised or lowered at the entrance to a castle
crenellated (p.23)
1. having open spaces at the top of a wall so that people can shoot guns and cannons outward.
lugubrious (p.23)
1. full of sadness or sorrow
2. very sad especially in an exaggerated or insincere way.
pert  (p.25)
1. having or showing confidence and a lack of respect or seriousness especially in an amusing or appealing way — used especially to describe girls or young women
2. small and attractive
pilasters (p.26)
1. a rectangular column that is attached to a wall and that is used for decoration or support
claret (p.27)
1. a type of red wine made in Bordeaux, France
2. a dark purplish-red color
parapet (p.27)
1. a low wall at the edge of a platform, roof, or bridge
patina (p.29)
1. a thin usually green layer that forms naturally on the metals copper and bronze when they are exposed to the air for a long time
2. a shiny or dark surface that forms naturally on something (such as wood or leather) that is used for a long time
3. a thin layer
bow-fronted (p.29)
1. having an outward curving front <bowfront furniture>
2.having a bow window in front <bowfront houses>
flyblown (p.29)
1. in poor and dirty condition
2. made dirty by flies
3. not suitable for eating
sardonic (p.29)
1. showing that you disapprove of or do not like someone or something
2. showing disrespect or scorn for someone or something
vicarage (p.30)
1. a vicar’s home
1. a priest in the Church of England who is in charge of a particular church and the area around it
2. a pastor’s assistant in an Episcopalian or Lutheran church
coverlet (p.31)
1. a decorative cover for a bed
coalescing (p.32)
1. to come together to form one group or mass
defunct (p.33)
1. no longer existing or being used
cloister (p.36)
1. a place where monks or nuns live
2. a monastery or convent
3. a covered path or hall with arches that is on the side of a building (such as a monastery or church) and that has one open side usually facing a courtyard
inquest (p. 40)
1. law
2. an official investigation to find the reason for something (such as a person’s death)
cantankerous (p.42)
1. often angry and annoyed
litany (p.42) 19
1. a prayer in a Christian church service in which the people at the service respond to lines spoken by the person who is leading the service
2. a long list of complaints, problems, etc.
Cachet (p.43)
a. a seal used especially as a mark of official approval
1 b. an indication of approval carrying great prestige
2 a. a characteristic feature or quality conferring prestige
2 b. prestige
All the definitions of the words have been found on the Merriam-Webster website

Did you know all of them? Have you recently come across words you didn’t know? Let me know in the comments!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: