Uncommon Words: Part Three (The Name of the Wind)

uncommon words

Welcome back to another edition of “Uncommon Words” featuring exciting words I find in fiction.

These articles feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any book spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

You can find other articles in this series here.

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Name of the Wind” which is book one in “The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss.


  • verdigris. n. a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate.
    • Usage in book: “Nearby there were three great pillars covered in green verdigris so thick it looked like moss.”
  • spurious. adj. not being what it purports to be; false or fake.
    • Usage in book: “Re’lar Ambrose, in the future you will refrain from wasting our time with spurious charges.”
  • inveterate. adj. having a particular habit, activity, or interest that is long-established and unlikely to change.
    • Usage in book: “Threpe was an inveterate gossipmonger with a knack for tasteless innuendo, and I have always had a gift for a catchy tune.”
  • rote. n. mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned.
    • Usage in book: “They are fine for rote learning, but the study of naming requires a level of dedication that ravel such as yourself rarely possess.”
  • remand. v. place (a defendant) on bail or in custody, esp. when a trail is adjourned.
    • Usage in book: “Re’lar Ambrose is officially remanded for laxity in his duty.”
  • mollify. v. appease the anger or anxiety of (someone).
    • Usage in book: “Arwyl seemed mollified.”
  • simulacrum. n. an image or representation of someone or something. <SPECIAL USAGE> an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute.
    • Usage in book: “You let the boy make a simulacrum of you, then bring him here on malfeasance?”
  • auspicious. adj. conductive to success; favorable.
    • Usage in book: “I took it to be an auspicious sign and walked in.”
  • sophist. n. a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with moral skepticism and specious reasoning. <SPECIAL USAGE> a person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments.
    • Usage in book: “You sound like a sophist, boy.”
  • altruism. n. the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
    • Usage in book: “If this is to be a full and honest account of my life and deeds, I feel I should mention that my reasons for inviting Ben into our troupe were not entirely altruistic.”

Uncommon Words: Part Two (The Last Colony)

Welcome back to another article of “Uncommon Words” featuring exciting words I find in fiction. These articles feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any book spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Last Colony” which is book 3 in “The Old Man’s War Trilogy” by John Scalzi. Not as many as I found in the last book, but some good ones in here.


    • rictus. n. fixed grimace or grin.
      • Usage in book: “Hickory’s smile passed from ghastly into rictus territory.”
    • provisional. adj. arranged or existing for the present, possibly to be changed later.
      • Usage in book: “I’m provisionally wrong about the Mennonites,” Jane said, looking back to me.”
    • ostensibly. adv. apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually.
      • Usage in book: “This was ostensibly a research trip for me and Jane and selected colonists, to recon our colony site and to learn more about the planet.”
    • perambulate. v. walk or travel through or around (a place or area), esp. for pleasure and in a leisurely way.
      • Usage in book: “Out of the corner of my eye I saw Beata Novik, his camerawoman, do her slow perambulation.
    • wry. adj. using or expressing dry, esp. mocking, humor.
      • Usage in book: “Rybicki grinned wryly, and tossed his sorghum to the ground.”
    • ostentatious. adj. characterized by vulgar or pretentious display; designed to impress or attract notice.
      • Usage in book: “No one in town had a floater; they were ostentatious and impractical for a farming community.”
    • ombudsman. n. an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, esp. that of public authorities.
      • Usage in book. “I was offered the position of village ombudsman, which I took, and was surprised on the first day of work to find Savitri there, telling me that she was going to be my…”
    • apparatchik. n. Derogatory or Humorous. An official in a large organization, typically a political one.
      • Usage in book: “The planet is called Huckleberry, named no doubt by some Twain-loving apparatchik of the Colonial Union.”

Uncommon Words: Part One (The Ghost Brigades)

This article is the first of a new series of articles featuring interesting and uncommon words I find in fiction.

These articles will specifically feature words that I don’t use very often (if ever) along with their definitions and how they are used in the book. I will try to avoid any spoilers by replacing them with dashes. I am doing this in the hope that I will start using more of these words in my writing. Let’s build our vocabulary together!

This article will feature a few words I found in “The Ghost Brigades” which is book 2 in “The Old Man’s War Trilogy” by John Scalzi.

You can also check out Uncommon Words Part 2.


  • mirthless. adj. (of a smile or laugh) lacking real amusement and typically expressing irony.
    • Usage in book: “Sagan allowed herself a moment of mirthless amusement at the fact that her mind-reading ability, so secret and classified, was also completely useless to her.”
  • progenitor. n. a person or thing from which a person, animal, or plant is descended or originates; an ancestor or parent.
    • Usage in book: “If she came across —-, she would need to make a quick determination whether he was useful or if he had gone traitor like his progenitor.
  • attenuatedadj. unnaturally thin. <SPECIAL USAGE> weakened in force or effect.
    • Usage in book: “The noise of their engines attenuated away, leaving nothing but the ambient sounds of nature behind.”
  • gambolv. run or jump about playfully.
    • Usage in book: “You will stay,” it said, and gamboled off before Sagan could say anything.” 
  • trill. n. a quavering or vibratory sound, esp. a rapid alternation of sung or played notes. <SPECIAL USAGE> the pronunciation of a consonant esp. r, with rapid vibration of the tongue against the hard or soft palate or the uvula. or v. produce a quavering or warbling sound.
    • Usage in book: “The head Obin turned and trilled something.”
  • eschatology. n. the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.
    • Usage in book: “…it seemed unlikely to him that a people so concerned with the ineffable and eschatological would create a people incapable of…” 
  • ineffable. adj. too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. <SPECIAL USAGE> not to be uttered.
    • Usage in book: “…it seemed unlikely to him that a people so concerned with the ineffable and eschatological would create a people incapable of…” 
  • putative. adj. generally considered or reputed to be.
    • Usage in book: “The other interesting thing about the Obin — which made their putative alliance with…” 
  • acquisitive. adj. excessively interested in acquiring money or material things.
    • Usage in book: “The one saving grace about the Obin was that they were not particularly acquisitive as starfaring races went.”
  • gird. v. encircle (a person or part of the body) with a belt or band. <SPECIAL USAGE> secure (a garment or sword) on the body with a belt or band. or surround; encircle.
    • Usage in book: “Jared noted the sudden and impressively disconcerting appearance of a broad system of rings less than a klick above his point of view, girding the limb of a blue…” 
  • subsume. v. (often be subsumed) include or absorb (something) in something else.
    • Usage in book: “All the Special Forces training and development subsumed individual choice to the needs of the squad or platoon; even integration…” 
  • vaunt. v. boast about or praise (something), esp. excessively.
    • Usage in book: “‘Ah, the vaunted Special Forces snotty, attitude,” Mattson said.”
  • dissonance. n. lack of harmony among musical notes. <SPECIAL USAGE> a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.
    • Usage in book: “Jared was struck immobile by the cognitive dissonance of having a —- in his lab, and through the confusion came a knife-like frisson of fear …”
  • internecine. adj. destructive to both sides in a conflict.
    • Usage in book: “If the tribes knew an heir was sterile, they would not wait for the natural span of the heir’s life to begin their internecine warfare.”
  • incredulous. adj. unwilling or unable to believe something.
    • Usage in book: “Daniel Harvey gave a look of sheer incredulousness, and Jared was reminded…” 
  • tripartite. adj. consisting of three parts.
    • Usage in book: “…their tripartite plan to attack humanity.”
  • diffident. adj. modest or shy because of a lack of self-confidence.
    • Usage in book: “Other members of the platoon were diffidently polite when forced to be but otherwise ignored the two of them whenever possible.”
  • implacable. adj. unable to be placated. <SPECIAL USEAGE> relentless; unstoppable.
    • Usage in book: “This universe is implacable…”
  • gestalt. n. an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
    • Usage in book: “Presently it coalesced into one big idea, a gestalt that allowed him to respond.”
  • adjutant. n. a military officer who acts as an administrative assistant to a senior officer.
    • Usage in book. “The colonel here doesn’t particularly like me, either, and he’s my adjutant.” 
  • bolus. n. a small rounded mass of a substance, esp. of chewed food at the moment of swallowing. <SPECIAL USAGE> a type of large pill used in veterinary medicine.
    • Usage in book: “…enough remained to impact the planet’s surface, the flaming bolus smacking hard and fast onto a plain of rock…”

Book Recommendations: What I Read in 2015


Here is my annual book recommendations list for 2015. Are you ready? Okay. Let’s start from the bottom and count up to my favorite book of the year.

Note: These are books I read this year — doesn’t mean they came out this year.

15. Armada by Ernest Cline

After reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, his first novel, I was fucking thrilled to read his second novel. I even pre-ordered a hard copy on Amazon. I NEVER pre-order books. I don’t think I have since Harry Potter was flying off the shelves on release day. Really the only good thing I have to say about this book regards the cover art. It’s a beautiful looking book. But, unfortunately, that won’t save it. Where RPO is a sci-fi nerd’s wet dream, Armada is being wet dreamed on by a fat, smelly, neck-bearded 43-year-old that lives in his parent’s basement.  It doesn’t even compare to Cline’s first novel. It was simply… Meh. I give it 2 out of 5 stars for effort and I do not recommend.

14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This book must be forgettable because I’m having trouble remembering the plot. Oh yes. It’s about a girl whose entire family was murdered by Satanists. Sounds fun, right? It was okay. A good girl power book from the author who gave you that movie where you see Ben Affleck’s dick. I liked it. The book. Not the … Anyway, I give it 3 out of 5 stars. The book.

13. The Fold by Peter Clines

I have a love hate relationship with this book. It starts out wicked slow. And the plot drags and drags. Giving you just enough to want to keep reading and find out just what the fuck is going on. But it’s a smart book, and rubs that sci-fi itch pretty damn good. And the last third is fantastic and super inventive. So I give it 3 out of 5 stars and a pretty decent recommendation.

12. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Just finished this one. This is a collection of shorts by the one and only Mr. King. There are some really great stories in it. And none of them are bad. I especially enjoyed Blockade Billy, The Dune, and the one near the end about the fireworks. I highly recommend this book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. Stephen King is always amazing. If you don’t read short stories, this is a great way to start.

11. Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6) by Stephen King

The penultimate book in Stephen King’s highly regarded Dark Tower series. Which … did you hear Idris Elba might play the Gunslinger in the movies? That would be fantastic. I honestly didn’t love this book, but it’s part of a greater whole which I highly recommend. So I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars — and suggest you read the entire series.

10. Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1) by Stephen King

One of King’s newer books about a psychotic fuckhead bent on killing innocent people and the ex-cop trying to track him down. I enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 stars to this one.

9. The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1) by Conn Iggulden

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and I heard Conn is a master. So I’ve started reading his books from the first series he wrote — the Emperor series about Julius Caesar. Spoiler alert –  he dies. But not in the first book — it focuses on his childhood. I plan on reading out the rest of the series and starting some of Conn’s other series while I’m at it. I recommend this book if you enjoy Roman Historical Fiction. 4 out of 5 stars.

8. Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #2) by Stephen King

The sequel to Mr. Mercedes. If you enjoyed Mr. Mercedes you’ll like this one even more. Better plot and better characters IMO. 4 out of 5 Stars.

7. The Ghost Brigades (Old Man’s War, #2) by John Scalzi

Okay — let me introduce the Old Man’s War series here. I enjoyed the first book better than the second, but not by much. If you enjoy sci-fi — like the fun Star Trek/Star Wars type of sci-fi…. you will love this series. John Scalzi is honestly one of the best new authors I’ve read in a really really long time. I am going to read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. But in the meantime — go buy the books in the Old Man’s War series. They are thoughtful, action packed, hilarious, and smart. 4 out of 5 stars to this bad boy, but almost, almost a 5.

6. The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

I started reading Sanderson this year with the Stormlight Archive, and you can read what I think of those books coming up. I think under normal circumstances I would have given The Final Empire 5 out of 5 stars … but I enjoyed the Stormlight Archive so fucking much, it bumped this book down to 4 out of 5 stars… but it soooo wants to be a 5 star you can taste it. And it tastes good. The Mistborn series is a fantasy novel about people who can use Allomancy — that is a magic that has to do with different metals. Sanderson is a master of magic systems and the best fantasy author I’ve read in forever. I will read everything he’s ever written. Eventually. And he writes like 12 books a years. So… fuck.

5. Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) by John Scalzi

I’ve already told you what I think of the Old Man’s War series up above, so all you need to know is this first book is fantastic and you should click on the title up above which will take you to an amazon page where I command you to buy it right now. Okay? Great. 5 out of 5 stars.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

The first book by Andy Weir — and I will be buying the second. I only hope I don’t get burned like I did with Ernest Cline.  I’m sure you’ve heard of this book — after all, a giant fucking hit of a movie with Matt Damon was adapted off it. I don’t care if you do or do not like the movie or if you haven’t even seen it. This book is fantastic. It’s in my top five books of the year. And you must read it. 5 out of 5 stars.

3. Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson

This book is amazing. See below. 5 out of 5 stars.

2. The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

If you enjoy fantasy novels, you must give this series a try. It’s practically the best book I read all year. It’s really long — over 1000 pages, as is the sequel, but they are fantastic. Sanderson is amazing at world building, creating extremely unique and interesting locations, and his magic systems are some of the best. This is a series that Sanderson is currently writing. There are two books out now, out of a planned ten. The third is set to release sometime near the end of 2016 or early 2017. 5 out of 5 stars for sure. I highly recommend. Oh jesus, I just realized these books will still be coming out after I have children. And I will read them with my children. Or they will be disowned.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Even though I don’t necessarily think this is the best book I read all year, I have to give it the top spot because it captivated me more than any other book I read. I couldn’t put the book down. It’s so easy these days to get distracted or overwhelmed with the amount of entertainment being shoved in our faces, however this book completely took over my life. I was even reading it at work. I don’t know how he did it, but Cline simultaneously holds the best and worst spots on my 2015 book recommendations list. I give RPO 5 out of 5 stars and super highly recommend.