Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Entry:    entrepôt (n.)

In context:  Another Wallace-length sentence.  This one continues directly from above.  I’ve also highlighted one of tomorrow’s words in the same sentence.  (Spoiler alert.)

“Nystagmus or no nystagmus, Tenuate’s a particular favorite of Michael Pemulis, who hoards for personal ingestion every 75-mg. white Tenuate capsule he can lays hands on, and does not sell or trade them, except sometimes to roommate Jim Troeltsch, who nags Pemulis for them and also goes into Pemulis’s special entrepôt-yachting-cap and promotes still more of them on the sly, a couple at a time, feeling that they help his sports-color-commentary loquacity, which secret promotions Pemulis knows about all too well, and is biding his time, never you fear.

If this footnote can’t make you fall in love with Infinite Jest, then I’m not sure what can.

Definition:  Temporary deposit of goods, provisions, etc.; chiefly concr. a storehouse or assemblage of storehouses for temporary deposit.

Other:    Pronounced   /ɑ̃trpo/

SNOOT score:   3

Page:   983

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary


Entry:    discomfiting (adj.)

In context:  “Tenuate’s the trade name of diethylpropion hydrochloride, Marion Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, technically a prescription antiobesity agent, favored by some of the athletes for its mildly euphoric and resources-rallying properties w/o the tooth-grinding and hideous post-blood-spike crash that the hairier-chested ‘drines like Fastin and Cylert inflict, though with a discomfitting tendency to cause post-spike ocular nystagmus.”

Definition:  A typo or an alternate spelling I can’t find elsewhere?  I have a small list of typos I’ve found as I’ve re-read the book.  I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t notice this until now, though!
    
    Three interesting definitions in the OED: 
  1. trans. To undo in battle; to defeat or overthrow completely; to beat, to rout.
  2. To throw into perplexity, confusion, or dejection; to cast down utterly; to disconcert.
  3. To frustrate or defeat of. Obs. rare.
I’ll go with #3.

Other:    Just a great word!  If you use this one, verbally or in written form, it’s a good bet someone will try to correct you.  But as a true SNOOT, you didn’t mean discomfort, did you?

SNOOT score:   4

Page:   985 fn5a

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Monday, 30 January 2012

Site update

The most common reader request is for each entry to include the sentence wherein it appears.

For no reason other than sloth I've avoided that - don't forget, some of DFW's sentences span multiple pages.

Starting tomorrow, I'll include this feature on a trial basis.  I buggered up a finger this weekend, with likely nerve damage to boot, so typing is extra fun, but what the hell.

Thanks for the feedback!

Entry:    unfenestrated (adj.)

Definition:  1884    C. B. Kelsey Dis. Rectum vii. 209   A good, fresh, unfenestrated drainage-tube.

While I’m sure the term is entirely clear now, I’ll provide a bit of extra information for the detail-oriented crowd.

Fenestrated (adj.): 1. Archit. Furnished with windows. 

Or In scientific use: Pierced with a hole or with holes; perforated. ‘ fenestrated membrane (Anat.): that form of the elastic tissue of the middle or contractile coat of the arteries, in which it presents a homogeneous membrane the meshes of which appear as simple perforations’ (Hoblyn, 1868). 

Other:    In the popular imagination, most bloggers live in small, aromatically-stagnant and unfenestrated rooms. 

SNOOT score:   2

Page:   52

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Entry:    pargeted (adj.)

Definition:  Covered or decorated with plaster or parget.

Parget (n.) is, I believe, a thin layer of oil on the underside of a seagull’s wings.
No?  Plaster spread on a wall, ceiling, etc.; roughcast. Formerly also: †whitewash (obs.).

Other:    

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   51

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Entry:    spherocubular (adj.)

Definition:  A neologism.  Presumably describing a spherical cube.  Or is that a cubic sphere?  Either way, it’s about the same as trying to visual anything beyond 3 dimensions.

Other:    

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   51

Source:   N/A

Entry:    cardioid (adj.)

Definition:  A curve somewhat resembling a heart in shape.

Other:    Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, you probably should begin thinking about how to incorporate this into that sonnet you’ve been working on.

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   983

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Saturday, 28 January 2012


Entry:    precocity (n.)

Definition:  The quality of being precocious; early maturity, esp. an unusual degree of advancement in some capacity; premature development.

Other:    Great word!  Also a source of deep and likely unresolved lexical anguish on the part of your blogger.

At one point in junior or senior high, I was reading part of a story aloud to the rest of the class.  I didn’t recognize precocious and mispronounced it as precious.  The teacher stopped and corrected me, to at least a few laughs.  

And it strikes me that I’ve probably overimagined almost the entire scenario.  I’m always very conscious of pronunciation and my shortcomings therein; some of this I think, comes from, precocious.  

Still, in the high-water marks of memory and pronunciation, tops goes to one H.B.’s substituting the word orgasm into “The cat is an example of an organism.” 

SNOOT score:   2

Page:   1

Source: Oxford English Dictionary, bad memories 

Entry:    embranchingly (adj.)

Definition:  Yeesh.  Not only is embranchingly not found in any of the dictionaries I check, but neither is embranch.  The closest I could find was embranchment (n.): a branch.  

In terms of effort to reward, this one lands a little more on the neuralgic side.

Other:    

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   49

Source:   Dictionary.com

Friday, 27 January 2012


Entry:    neuralgic (adj.)

Definition:  From neuralgia (n.):  Pain, typically stabbing or burning, in the area served by a nerve; (also) an instance, type, or case of this.

Other:    Neuralgic, dyspeptic, fantods.  We’re getting all sorts of ways to describe just how crappy we feel, aren’t we?

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   48

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Entry:    paralytically (adj.)

Definition:    In a paralytic manner; by, or as if by, paralysis.

Other:    You know, I’m not really sure why I included this term when re-reading Infinite Jest.  If I wasn’t so obsessive-compulsive about the project I’d just strike it out now – but once it’s been writ, it must be included.  I guess you could say that my ability to edit my own selections has been paralytically hampered.

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   48

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Entry:    imprimatur (n.)

Definition:  Commendatory license, sanction

Other:    

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   47

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Entry:    benighted (adj.)

Definition:  1) Overtaken by the darkness of the night; affected by the night (obs.). 2 a. fig. Involved in intellectual or moral darkness.  b. Involved in obscurity. Obs.
Other:    Not so much strange or unusual, but really just a beautiful word.

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   47

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Entry:    phylacterish (adj.)

Definition:  Well, let’s see if we can figure this out!

Phylacter (n) leads to phylactery (n.): The fringe which the Israelites were commanded to wear as a reminder of the obligation to keep the law; (gen.) any fringe or border.

Other:    I guess DFW could also have gone with phylacterial (adj.), but as everyone knows, it’s much more fun to just make up new words.

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   47

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary
Entry:    fantods (n.)

Definition:  The OED’s definition doesn’t really fit the term’s usage in Infinite Jest, either a crotchety way of acting; a fad, or in the adjectival form fidgetty, restless.

I prefer the Scrabble dictionary’s “an emotional outburst” or even better Dictionary.com’s “A state of extreme nervousness or restlessness; the willies; the fidgets.”

Other:    This has to be one of the most beloved terms from IJ.    And it’s never just the fantods – it’s always the howling fantods.
I really enjoy the understated sound of this:
1839    C. F. Briggs Adventures Harry Franco I. 249   You have got strong symptoms of the fantods.

SNOOT score:   3

Page:   45

Source:  Various  

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Two fantastic reader-submitted words not in Infinite Jest

I'll try to stay very much on-topic, but I did so enjoy these two words that I wanted to share them:

callipygian (adj.):   Of, pertaining to, or having well-shaped or finely developed buttocks.

fard (v.): To paint (the face) with fard, to hide defects and improve the complexion.
Entry:    portcullis (n.)

Definition:  A strong barrier in the form of a grating of wooden or iron bars, usually suspended by chains above the gateway of a fortress, a fortified town, etc., and able to secure the entrance quickly by being released to slide down vertical grooves in the sides of the gateway.

Other:    This is an example of a word I’d read dozens of times in my life and had, a best, a foggy understanding of – my guess was something like a drawbridge.  So it turns out I wasn’t too far off.

For Scrabble nerds like me, the sheer number of variations is impressive – even if most aren’t (currently) acceptable in tournament play.  Check it out:

(And, by the way, if I haven’t explicitly stated my endearing love for the OED, now would be the place.)
poortcolyce,  poortcolys,  portcoles,  portcolisse,  portcolyȝs,  portcolys,  portculeres (plural, in sense 2, prob. transmission error),  portculis,  portecoles,  portecoleys,  portecolis,  portecolisse,  portecollys,  portecolyes,  portecolys,  portecolyse,  portecules,  portekoleys,  portcolice,  portcolyse,  portcolece,  portcolis,  portcollice,  portcoullys,  portculiouse,  portcullesse,  portcullize,  portcullys,  portculous,  portecolice,  portecoullys,  porteculles,  portecullies,  portecullis,  portequilliȝes,  portquillice,  portquillize, portcullies,  portcullise, portcullice, portcullis, portculleis, portculles, portcullix; also Sc. pre portculace, pre portculais, pre portculeis, pre portcules, pre portculȝeis, pre portculice, pre portculis, pre portcullies, pre portcullious, pre portculyce, pre portculys, pre portcwlyws, pre portecouleys; portekoles.

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   42

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

 


Entry:    happification (n.)

Definition:  Pretty obviously a neologism.  No doubt some corporate wonk is, at this very minute, describing his/her marketing plan to strategically diversify a newly leveraged happification public sector.

Other:    Here’s Hal describing his mother: “Now she’s just an agoraphobic workaholic and obsessive-compulsive.  This strikes you as a happification?”

SNOOT score:   1

Page:   42

Source:   N/A

Monday, 23 January 2012

Entry:  anfractuous (adj.)  

Definition:  Winding, sinuous, involved; roundabout, circuitous; spiral.

Other:    Isn’t this great?  Words like these are what make this project, personally, so rewarding.  Anfractuous.  I’m going to use and overuse this as much as I can this week.

So here is how DFW describes Bruce Green’s memory of one Mildred Bonk:
“Shy, iridescent, coltish, pelvically anfractuous, amply busted, given to diffident movements of hand brushing flaxen hair from front of dreamy forehead…”

SNOOT score:   4

Page:   39

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary
Entry:    unlibidinous (adj.)

Definition:  The opposite or negation of libidinous (n): Of persons, their lives, actions, desires: Given to, full of, or characterized by lust or lewdness; lustful, lecherous, lewd.

Other:    
1667    Milton Paradise Lost v. 449   But in those hearts Love unlibidinous reign'd.

SNOOT score:   1.  You’re welcome to try and find a SNOOTy way to use this word, but it’s beyond my imagination at the present.  I mean, sure, it sounds a little more impressive than unhorny, but how much of an improvement can one hope for?

Page:   37

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Entry: triptych (n.)


Entry:    triptych (n.)

Definition:  A picture or carving (or set of three such) in three compartments side by side, the lateral ones being usually subordinate, and hinged so as to fold over the central one; chiefly used as an altar-piece.

Other:    A badass Scrabble play, for sure.  There are several mentions in Infinite Jest of Byzantine triptych erotica.  That is a Google Images search I’m just not quite up to, as of yet.

SNOOT score:   2

Page:   36

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Entry: dyspeptic (adj.)


Entry:    dyspeptic (adj.)

Definition:  Difficult of digestion; causing dyspepsia; indigestible. Obs. rare.

Other:    As an Internet blogger, I live a life of wealth hardly imaginable to the common person.  I remind them of this fact each time I send my Wagyu steak back to the kitchen as a “bland and dyspeptic offering.” 

(Not really.) 

A more reasonable usage, perhaps, is next time you’re calling in sick, claim dyspepsia.  That sounds far more sinister.

SNOOT score:   3

Page:   34

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary


Saturday, 21 January 2012


Entry:    non-pareil (adj.)

Definition:  Having no equal; unrivalled, incomparable, peerless, unique. In later use freq. as postmodifier.

Other:    Isn’t this a great word?  Pretty clearly of French origin.  To my ears, it resounds much more strongly as a postmodifier now – the usage examples seem strained.

1977    New Yorker 6 June 120/3   McKenna ignored this fashion and championed his left hand, which is nonpareil.

1818    Amer. Monthly Mag. 3 181/2   Now for a picture of the nonpareil De Courcy—this Adonis, Apollo, and Hercules of eighteen.

1645    J. Tombes Anthropolatria 8   Some magnified Peter, as nonparil.

The best, though, is:

a1500    Hymnal in R. S. Loomis Medieval Stud. in Memory G. S. Loomis (1927) 445   To whos myghty power and nowimparaile, All creaturys owyth humble obeissaunce.

SNOOT score:   3 

Page:   33

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary


Entry:    monilial (adj.)

Definition:  Of, caused by, or relating to a monilia or monilias.
And if you’re not currently on your lunch break, here’s monilia (n.):  A genus of fungi having conidia arranged in chains like beads on a string. As a count noun: any of various fungi now or formerly belonging to this genus, some of which are pathogens of humans or plants.

Other:    Only a couple medical terms left in the next long while.  Thankfully.

SNOOT score:  1  

Page:   33

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary

Friday, 20 January 2012

Entry: maxillofacial (adj.)


Entry:    maxillofacial (adj.)

Definition:  Forming adjectives (often used as nouns) with the sense ‘of or relating to the maxilla and ——’, as maxillo-facial, maxillo-mandibular, maxillo-nasal, maxillo-palatine, etc.

Okay, but how about maxilla (n.)?  Anat. and Zool. Either of the pair of bones forming the upper jaw in vertebrates.

Other:    A very distinguished first usage!

1867    T. H. Huxley in Proc. Zool. Soc. 11 Apr. 419   By the term ‘maxillo-palatines’ I designate those processes of the maxillary bones which extend, more or less horizontally, inwards and contribute to the formation of the roof of the mouth and the anterior and inferior walls of the nasal chambers. I conceive these maxillo-palatine processes to answer to the palatine processes of the maxillary bones in mammals.

Also interesting or squeamishness-inducing is the context: “The medical attaché’s particular expertise is the maxillofacial consequences of imbalances in intestinal flora.” 

SNOOT score:   2

Page:   33

Source:   Oxford English Dictionary