fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Vocabulary Stretcher

I'm reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Now, I think I have a good vocabulary, but he sent me to the dictionary this morning. I wasn't in Merriam-Webster and it appears that he may have invented the word "aetataureate" (to mean "golden age") so I shouldn't feel so bad. I googled the word and immediately confirmed my theory that no search term is so obscure that there isn't a rock band with that term as its name. But, in the process, I stumbled upon the Kavalier & Clay word game. I managed to get 40 out of 54 without guessing.

But I'll also note that one of the definitions is wrong. A "luftmensch" is neither high-minded nor an airhead, though I suppose those would be reasonable conclusions to draw from the literal translation as "air man." What it really means is a person with their head in the clouds, an unrealistic dreamer. Think of the sort of get-rich quick schemes that show up on TV shows like "The Honeymooners" or "The Flintstones."

The word I am most proud of having gotten right is "bricoleur." It wasn't quite a guess as I figured it out from knowing what "bricolage" is, which I only know from having read a book about the social history of garbage some years ago.


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