Monday, March 26, 2007

Uliginous and Malodorous

I think I'm on a big-word kick today. I just re-read the 1200 words I added to Chapter 11 this morning, came across these words, and wondered if these words would make a reader think I was trying to sound presumptuous.

Uliginous means swampy or muddy or oozing. If a plant is uliginous, it means it grows in muddy, swampy, oozy places. I think it might be an archaic word, or maybe it's just a scientific one. I love it because it just sounds so muddy, so swampy, so oozy. Say it aloud: uliginous. You can almost feel the muck of the Louisiana swamps dripping off your tongue. I think I learned this word from either Dr. Johnson's dictionary or a botany class I took in college. I couldn't find it in the American Heritage online. So I wonder, is it okay if I use it?

Another word I learned in botany was sclerenchyma. What a great word. I'm going to find a use for it in my fiction someday.

I know we're not supposed to use big words that scare people. But sometimes a big word is nice. Like when Jane Austen refers to Mr. Woodhouse as a valetudinarian. What a great word.

Malodorous is a bit more commonly used. It means stinky. It's also a great word for humor because it sounds kind of stuffy. Also, the word malodorous makes me think of a stale, old stinkiness as opposed to a fresh, just-born stinkiness. Kind of like a litterbox that hasn't been cleaned in a while, or the inside of a car three weeks after your little sister stuffed her McDonald's sausage biscuit under the seat.

No, of course I wouldn't know of such malodorous smells from experience. Of course not. Any similarity between the situations I discuss here and real life are purely coincidental.

Yeah, right.

5 comments:

  1. I like discovering unfamiliar words in fiction...and blogs! I knew malodorous, but not uliginous. I say use 'em.

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  2. I hate to sound like the valetudinarian that I am, but I truly hope the sclerenchyma growing on my left knuckle doesn't become uliginous, or worse, malodorous.

    Use them! Use them!

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  3. Are you kidding? I keep a notepad handy when reading novels, I just never know when I'll run across a word that I want to look up. Who knows, I could use it in Scrabble someday! :)

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  4. Dulciana: OK, I'll do as you say. :)

    Linda: My, but you have a way with words!

    Jammie J: While "uliginous" would be impressive, it wouldn't score very many points. Better to stick with words like "fez" and "quiz" and "exit."

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  5. I don't think I would ever get to use any of the four words you have mentioned here.

    Thanks for sharing, for if not, I won't have known that such word exist.

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