Words of the Week: palaver, scrofulous, divagation, and dactylic

Words of the week is a semi-weekly posting of words I discover via my literary rambles (you can read more about how I capture these and why I started this series here).

  • palaver: flattery intended to persuade | 'Through the trees there is the sound of the wind, palavering.' - Mary Oliver, from the poem 'Her Grave', New and Selected Poems
  • accretion: an increase by natural growth or addition | 'Like all the older children of Major Pentland she had, since her twentieth year, begun the slow accretion of land: from the savings of her small wage as teacher and book-agent, she had already purchased one or two pieces of earth.' - Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
  • scrofulous: morally contaminated | ' ... one for the death of Greeley Pentland, aged twenty-six, congenial scrofulous tubercular ... ' - Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
  • divagation: a message that departs from the main subject | 'She had a curious trick of pursing her lips reflectively before she spoke; she liked to take her time, and came to the point after interminable divagations down all the lane-ends of memory and overtone, feasting upon the golden pageant of all she had ever said, done, felt, thought, seen, or replied, with egocentric delight.' - Ibid.
  •  porcine: relating to or suggesting swine | 'I was forced to ride five days southwest to Scott's Bluff to meet with the new Director of Missions, a porcine reverend from Cincinnati ... ' - Dalva, Jim Harrison | 'She stood against Suttree and gave him a sidelong look of porcine lechery.' - Suttree, Cormac McCarthy | 'Then, amid their laughter, the door opened, and several of the others came in--Eliza's mother, a plain worn Scotchwoman, and Jim, a ruddy porcine young fellow ... ' - Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel
  • dactylic: of or consisting of dactyls (a metrical unit with stressed-unstressed-unstressed syllables) | 'All good and great books are long because they must be mumbled if not sung. 'Melanctha' took me the whole night the second time around, because that second reading was all sound. Where my finger -like a dactyl- was, when I went walking, was at Melanctha's name like a musical pause.' - William Gass, A Temple of Texts