Mullioned, Sorrel, Steppe, Contrapuntal, Amanuensis

Semi-weekly, I post new-to-me words (and their definitions) discovered during my literary rambles (you can read more about how I easily capture these and why I started this series here).

Never let a word escape you that looks suspicious. It is severe work; but you will find it, even at first, interesting, and at last endlessly amusing. And the general gain to your character, in power and precision, will be quite incalculable. - John Ruskin

  • Mullioned: of windows; divided by vertical bars or piers usually of stone | "The entire north end was a majestic mullioned window comparable to any in a Parisian atelier." - Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces
  • Sorrel: any of certain coarse weedy plants with long taproots, sometimes used as table greens or in folk medicine | "I put you piously in my mouth and felt on my tongue the long taste of sorrel and the moon" - Zbiegniew Herbert, The Collected Poems | Note: Sorrel was used to remove ink stains from linen, I am most familiar with it in context of the color of a horse (light brownish); not to be confused with Stendhal's Julian Sorel.
  • Steppe: extensive plain without trees | "factories smoke in the steppe trains across the tundra" - - Zbiegniew Herbert, The Collected Poems
  • Contrapuntal: relating to or characteristic of or according to the rules of counterpoint | When I researched this word in the WordBook app, I looked at the notes and realized that this was the third time I had looked up this word - apparently I have yet to comprehend its meaning. Here is the word in context, featuring the three sentences I read: "There is a contrapuntal air." - Agha Shahid Ali, Ravishing Disunities |  "It may nevertheless be the case that these small beings are singing not only to claim their stake in the pond, not only to attract a mate, but also out of spontaneous love and joy, a contrapuntal choral celebration of the coolness and wetness after weeks of desert fire, for love of their own existence, however brief it may be, and for joy in the common life." - Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire | "Surely he or she brings to the page not only what is already known but also the contrapuntal impulse of a permeable intention." - Jane Hirschfield, Ten Windows
  • Amanuensis: someone skilled in the transcription of speech (especially dictation) | "But how does the writer, poetry's amanuensis, rise to meet this yearning for increase?" - Jane Hirschfield, Ten Windows

All definitions are from The WordBook App