Thursday, 6 September 2012

Entry: pulchritudinous (adj.)

In context: "...[indicating with pointer a puppet simply beyond pulchritudinous belief; the Cabinet Room's conference table seems to ascend ever so slightly as Luria P- cocks a well-pencilled eye-brow]."

Definition: 1. That endows pulchritude; beautifying. Obs. rare.

 2. Orig. U.S. (chiefly literary and humorous). Esp. of a woman: beautiful, attractive.


Other: Though, to be honest, I prefer DFW's own definition, taken from the the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus:

“A paradoxical noun because it means beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adjectival form pulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the very opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy (adjective), colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for things and very real things themselves.”

SNOOT score: 3
 
Page: 440

Source: Oxford English Dictionary   

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