Unusual Words, A.S. Byatt Edition

This week I was cleaning off my desk, and I came across the notes I took while reading A.S. Byatt’s Possession back in April (yes, it took me more than six months to clean my desk). About halfway through the novel, I started writing down all the rare and delightful words that pop up in the text—and ended up with four pages’ worth. I wonder if A.S. Byatt’s everyday speech is peppered with this kind of unusual vocabulary.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • carapace
  • silex
  • besprent
  • celandine
  • exiguous
  • vulpine
  • recension
  • odylic
  • moquette
  • aperçu
  • hypostatisation

What are your favorite bookish sources for unusual words?

15 thoughts on “Unusual Words, A.S. Byatt Edition

  1. Amazing! I have the same list in a notebook somewhere! “Possession” is one of my favourite books and I kept a vocubulary list the last time I read it. I think I got up to about four pages of words. That A. S. Byatt knocks my socks off with her cleverness.

  2. I don’t have to tell you what I think of Byatt — the woman is a genius…..and her extravagant vocabulary is one of the things I love most about reading her. It would be interesting if she did pepper her everyday speech with such verbal delicacies…but it might also kill conversations flat. Somehow I just don’t think I could pull off faking that I knew what odylic means….assuming I ever had the privilege of being IN a conversation with Ms. Byatt in which I was not catatonic with awe….

    Tonight is the last class of this session of my writing class and we are doing a paperback exchange. I’m bringing Possession….wondering who will get it and whether she will like it????

    Thanks for waving the Team Byatt flag once more! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Recommended Reading: “The Kingfisher” and The Kingfisher, by Amy Clampitt | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

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