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Forum: Unfamiliar Words in the Books You Read

Unfamiliar Words from "Slave Ship" by Frederik Pohl

From Frederik Pohl : Slave Ship (1957).

admixture: the state of being mingled or mixed

agglutinate: to cause to adhere, as with glue

airscrew: (Chiefly British) the propeller of an airplane

approbation: an expression of warm approval, praise

brightwork: metal parts or fixtures made bright by polishing

corvette: a fast, lightly armed warship, smaller than a destroyer, often armed for antisubmarine operations

greylag: a wild gray goose (Anser anser) of Europe

iodoform: a yellowish crystalline iodine compound

keelson: a timber or girder fastened above and parallel to the keel of a ship or boat for additional strength

littoral: of or on a shore, especially a seashore

ladino: In Central America, a Spanish-speaking or acculturated Indian; a mestizo

sternsheets: the stern area of an open boat

telltales: any of various devices that indicate or register information

teosinte: a tall Mexican and Central American annual plant (Zea mexicana) related to corn and cultivated for fodder

(I recognized admixture, approbation, corvette, littoral, and telltales but I wasn't clear on their meanings.)


About to start: Bruce Moen : Voyage to Curiosity's Father (Exploring the Afterlife Series) (2001)

Jon Maloney
4 years ago


Didn't know airscrew, greylag, iodoform, keelson, teosinte. I thought that sternsheets were sails, so I guess I didn't know that one either. Didn't know this definition of ladino. Ladino is also a language spoken by Middle Eastern and Spanish Jews, a sort of Yiddish with a Spanish base instead of German.

And what Emily said. Thanks.

4 years ago
Emily & Margot,

I subscribed to the daily digest and happily got all of the old forum's posts be email. With the new forum I saw no way to do that. As Rob said, you'd have to log on frequently and subscribe to each new forum, and even then you would miss posts made in the forum before you subscribed to it. I wonder how long people will be willing to struggle with that every day?

Anyway, I realized that no one who likes my word posts would automatically receive them, which is why I posted the link in the discussion forum. I'm glad it worked. I see the word forum now has 7 members. Yesterday it had 2, and one was me.


Jon Maloney
4 years ago
I knew admixture, airscrew, approbation, corvette, littoral, telltales and also agglutinate (as a noun...didn't know it could be a verb) but have never heard (or leastwise don't remember hearing) any of the others. I might have to try this index card idea...maybe I can 'make more big my word knowing'.
Rebel Sun
4 years ago
You write good, Rebel Sun, both here and in your prose elsewhere. :-)

I try to only list the definitions meant by the book, but often that's a guess because when I jot down a word I don't include the page number. When I finish the book and start looking up words I often don't recall the exact way it was used in the sentence. Words like admixture and agglutinate were both problematic in that there are multiple close definitions. Here's what my American Heritage Dictionary says for admixture, for example.

"n. 1.a. The act of mixing or mingling. b. The state of being mingled or mixed. 2. Something that is produced by mixing; a mixture. 3. Something added in mixing. See synonyms at mixture."

I'm still not comfortable with admixture. I would have trouble using it in a sentence except as a synonym for mixture.

Agglutinate is a verb with three transitive definitions and three intransitive definitions in my dictionary. I'm not comfortable with that word either.

I like telltales. I'm pretty sure the way it was used is that the main character looked at the telltales as he navigated his boat. I think it meant his nautical instruments.


Jon Maloney
4 years ago

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