A Few Special Words

We tagged a few other categories of words as we went along.  Remembering that while the Concordance has all 1534 uncommon words entered, I have only had chance to thoroughly examine and make special notes on the 300 which were the most interesting to me and seemed the most likely to be “archaic” or a “gem” or to fit the other ideas I was curious about.  In fact, if you search on the tag “brief”, you will find those words for which I only made a plain concordance entry.

Meanwhile, those special other tags.  There are not many of them, so I concatenated them all onto one graphic for us:

Special Words

The few blue words are tagged “British” – from Scottish, Irish, and Cumbrian.  The green graph shows us the words from outside the most frequent hundred thousand words in the Project Gutenberg corpus, tagged 100K.   I also had a few thoroughly subjective tags.  The red graph shows us words I tagged “funny” (and a few which the OED calls “jocular”), and I’ve been told that my sense of humour is flawed.  For example, I think the word “quoits” sounds funny and that “burglar” is funny for being anti-heroic.  The few delightful plum words are my personal favorites with the “gem” tag (yes, the lovely Cumbrian word “carrock” is also one of my gems). They are the words which I discovered had multiple meanings and nuanced connotations which all contribute to Tolkien’s elegant storycraft.

Glower

“Glower” in its Scottish regional meaning means simply to stare intently, sometimes with an air of surprise.  In its second meaning, and this is how I’ve always understood it, to glower is to stare angrily (or if one is the weather, to have an appearance of darkness or gloominess).

The etymology of the word is obscure, bless it, and may have to do with the second meaning of the verb “glow” which is to stare.  Or it could be from “glore” which is to stare fixedly in its second meaning (first meaning, to shine.  Now a whole new exploration of words that means both to emit light and to perceive it presents itself).  “Glore” is related to “glare” and probably is related to the Old Icelandic “glóra” – to gleam and glare as the eyes of a cat!  Aha! and cat eyes seem to give light as they reflect it as well as to see all.  We may have it!

If the peaks of the mountains glowered against the sunset – my goodness.  Those mountains are west of them, the Misty Mountains which they have just left behind.  Are they glowing, limned with sunset light?  Are they dark?  Are they anthropomorphically expressing anger, as Caradhras will in a later novel?  All these things together?

“Glower” has just been upgraded to a gem word!

  • 07.132 and the peaks of the mountains glowered against the sunset

“glore, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 26 July 2015.

“glower, v.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 26 July 2015.

Eerie

Oho!  This is a Scottish word and has earned the “British” tag!

The word occurs in the northern (not in the midland) version of the Cursor Mundi. It has recently been often used in general literature, but is still regarded as properly Scotch.

  • 08.038 but it sounded eerie

“eerie | eery, adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2015. Web. 27 July 2015.

Smithereens

Not Scottish but Irish in origin, I gave it the Scottish tag temporarily as “from within the United Kingdom, but alien”.  It means, of course, “little smithers”, particles or atoms, and has not been observed as a singular in the wild.

  • 12.101 in a jumble of smithereens,

“smithereens, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.

“ˈsmithers, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.

Bash

This word is not in the Hundred Thousand either in its plain nor its inflected form as we have in Chapter 2.  Observe with me that being outside of the most common hundred thousand words of Project Gutenberg does not make a word unknown.  Just infrequent.  Google’s Ngram viewer gives us “bash” as rising exponentially in use after 1960, outside of the time that works qualify for inclusion in Project Gutenberg.  Did Tolkien contribute to the fame of the word?

  • 02.080 and bashes to remember)

“bash, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 1 June 2015.