Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was, for me, a wild introduction to the genre of fantasy/mythology novels for grown-ups. It went from being intriguing to baffling and, when the end of the epilogue rolled around, genuinely epic. I learned so much from this book, most notably more vocab words than I’ve learned from a novel in years. I read this book mostly on the go, so I kept track of all the words on the first page. (Don’t judge, book purists!)
(the first page)
But because so many of the words were so phonetically wild, I decided to play a game I used to play in a summer writing camp as a kid, where you ask someone to spontaneously define a word they don’t know and there are no wrong answers. I did that on the phone and over text for this crazy vocabulary, and it was super-fun. Here are the definitions, and thanks to my friends and family members for helping me out with their fake definitions!
avuncular: “to take a specific path, literally or figuratively” –My dad
- of an uncle
- like an uncle
becalmed: “not so mad” –Amanda
- kept from moving because there is no wind
- made calm
blippeting: when something is jumpy –My mom
- this is the only word for which I could not find a defintion anywhere! I think it’s similar to “blip,” though, a verb meaning “make a short high-pitched sound or succession of sounds”
brook (v): “to move quickly” –Dad
- put up with; endure; tolerate
cadge: being stuck -Abby
- beg shamelessly
caracole: a lively action of some sort in the motion of going backwards -Scarlett, age 10
- (n): a half-turn to the right or left, made by a horse and rider
- (v): to make such half-turns
- (v): to prance from side to side
clangor: noisy – Mom // group of rocks –Dad
- a continued clanging (clanging: a loud, harsh ringing sound)
cloy: carve clay -Abby
- make or become weary by too much of anything pleasant
disgorge: to jump –Mom
- to throw up the contents; empty; discharge
- give up unwillingly
durance: the opposite of endurance, being unable to maintain an activity –Maddy L.
enmities: perks you get for collecting loyalty points at chain hotels. used in a sentence: we stayed in 8 Best Westerns around the country last fall, and the last one we got an upgraded to a suite because of our enmitie points –Maddy F.
- the feeling that enemies have for each other
flay: frolick -Abby
- strip off skin
- scold severely; criticize mercilessly
frisson: French derivative, meaning fruity –Maddy L.
a sudden strong feeling or emotion
galoot: someone stupid –Amanda
- a fool
(congrats to Amanda for getting a word’s exact definition by random guess! <3)
glutinous: thickness –Tania
- feeling like glue; sticky
hectoring: bothering someone -Abby
- bullying or teasing
inter: to decide –Mom
- to put a dead body into a grave or tomb
libation: freedom –Amanda
- pouring out of wine, water, etc. as an offering to a god
- the above offering
mandlin: a miniature mandolin –Victoria
mellifluous: an ingredient in mucinex –Victoria
- sweetly or smoothly flowing
modalities: services included in a modern day basic package of utilities in a house or apartment. This is included but not limited to: air conditioning, cable & wifi. –Maddy F.
- the quality of being modal
- modal: having more to do with form than substance
perspicacity: the finite number of ways you can view a particular situation. A mix of the words “perspective” and “capacity”. For example: “Joe missed curfew last night and his parents were out convinced he was being a hooligan with his bros. Joe argued that he could have been out late studying. His parents said there was a perspicacity of reasons why he was out late, and studying is not an adequate excuse.” –Maddy F.
- keen perception; discernment
prestidigitation: pompous or being too wordy/intellectual –Maddy L.
- slight of hand
reprovingly: annoyingly –Maddy L.
- show disapproval of
roiling: really mad –Amanda
- making water muddy by stirring up sediment
- disturb or vex
susurrus: to dig in & set up a protective area, like to protect your property or building –Dad
susurration (n) (this is another word I couldn’t find, but this seems close):
- a rustling murmur
symptic: someone who always seems to have the symptoms of fake diseases -Victoria
- couldn’t find this one either
thylacine: a type of medicine -Scarlett
- “The thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger or the Tasmanian wolf.” –Wikipedia
tumescent: the smell of dead people. derived from the root word “scent” and Latin word “tume” meaning tomb –Maddy F.
- swollen or becoming swollen, especially as a response to sexual arousal (eww)
hope you learned something! 🙂