The Dictionary of Purple Prose Gets an Update

Last year around October, I created a dedicated page on my website to Purple Prose (or purple passages), where I jot down little words I find while reading or playing vocabulary games that I find beautiful, unique, or amusing. Its link remains in the top menu of my site. I intended it as a small joke, as purple prose is generally frowned on in modern literature, even though, if done right, it can be a really important part of setting your story’s tone when writing. It’s sister post is from this year’s A to Z, J is for Jargon, in which I talked about the publishing industry jargon familiar mostly to writers, but with a snarky twist.

Since last year, a really amazing thing has happened. The Dictionary of Purple Prose has received over 56,000 views. The dictionary was apparently picked up by StumbleUpon, and saw a huge rise in views in July of this year. I was averaging about 1,600 views a day for a while.

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6,942 views in one day! And I didn’t have anything to sell you. Shoot!

In fact, The Dictionary of Purple Prose has become my all-time most viewed post, more than triple the views of my recent blog post regarding the Blythe Harris and Kathleen Hale scandal (though that one takes the prize for most comments, at over 200 as of this writing).

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I’d been meaning to for a while, but I finally sat down today and pulled out my little Evernote list to add in all of the new words I’d been saving up for the last year. And because Letters J, K, X, Y, and Z looked so lonely, I actually crawled a dictionary to find some words for their sections.

In the future, I do plan on turning the page into an ebook, or maybe even a physical book, though I’ll differentiate the paid version with example sentences and more alternate forms of the words. It will be a little pet project, so there’s no set date for its release. In the meantime, if you have words you want me to add, feel free to let me know, and I’ll mention you in the credits!

This update, for the blog, will include 86 new words, all of which I have listed below. As always, the definitions have been taken from the Oxford Dictionary, Chambers Dictionary, or Have fun!


Dictionary of Purple Prose: New Editions

alphitomancy – (noun) the use of barley as a means for divination.
apocryphal – (adj.) [of a story or statement] of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.
approbation – (noun) approval or praise.
arras – (noun) a wall hanging made of a rich tapestry fabric, typically used to conceal an alcove.
baleful – (adj.) threatening; menacing.
carafe – (noun) an open-topped glass flask used for serving wine or water in a restaurant.
censure – (noun) the formal expression of severe disapproval.
chthonian – (adj.) relating to or inhabiting the underworld.
cozen – (verb) to trick or deceive. See also: cozenage.
crapehanger – (noun) a person who sees the gloomy side of things; pessimist.
degust – (verb) taste [something] carefully to appreciate it fully.
doughty – (adj.) [archaic or humorous] brave and persistent.
exiguous – (adj.) very small in size or amount.
frigorific – (adj.) causing or producing cold.
gossamer – (noun) a light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate material or substance.
harridan – (noun) a strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman.
horology – (noun) 1. the study and measurement of time. 2. the art of making clocks and watches.
horripilation – (noun) the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear, or excitement.
hoyden – (noun) a boisterous girl.
imprimatur – (noun) a person’s authoritative approval.
irremediable – (noun) impossible to cure or put right.
jacksie – (noun) [British] a person’s bottom.
jactitation – (noun) the restless tossing of the body in illness.
jaculate – (verb) to throw or hurl.
jade – (noun) 1. a worn-out, broken-down, worthless, or vicious horse. 2. a disreputable or ill-tempered woman. (verb) to make or become dull, worn-out, or weary, as from overuse or overwork. See also: jadery.
jangle – (verb) make or cause to make a ringing metallic sound, typically a discordant one.
jejune – (adj.) naive, simplistic, and superficial.
jimp – (adj.) 1. slender; trim; delicate. 2. scant; barely sufficient.
jocoserious – (adj.) half in jest , half in earnest.
journey-bated – (adj.) [Shakespeare] worn out by travel.
kenspeckle – (adj.) [Scottish] easily recognizable; conspicuous.
kickie-wickie – (noun) [Shakespeare] a wife.
knurly – (adj.) having knurls or knots; gnarled.
nostomania – (noun) intense homesickness; an irresistible compulsion to return home.
oeuvre – (noun) the body of work of a painter, composer, or author; a work of art, music, or literature.
orison – (noun) a prayer.
pabulum – (noun) [Literary, mass] bland or insipid intellectual matter, entertainment, etc.
panivorous – (adj.) subsisting on bread; bread-eating.
pavonine – (adj.) of or like a peacock.
pell-mell – (adv.) in a confused, rushed, or disorderly manner.
penurious – (adj.) extremely poor; poverty-stricken.
periapt – (noun) [Archaic] an item worn as a charm or amulet.
procrustean – (adj.) tending to produce conformity by violent or arbitrary means.
puckerfist – (noun) [Archaic] a braggart.
quisling – (noun) a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.
recalcitrant – (adj.) 1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory. 2. hard to deal with or manage. (noun) a recalcitrant person.
rufescent – (noun) [Literary] tinged with red.
sinistral – (noun) left-handed.
solecism – (noun) a breach of good manners; an instance of incorrect behavior.
sophrosyne – (noun) moderation; discretion; prudence.
spoonerism – (noun) a verbal error in which a speaker accidentally transposes the initial sounds or letters of two or more words, often to humorous effect, as in the sentence you have hissed the mystery lectures.
stanchion – (noun) an upright bar, post, or frame forming a support or barrier.
stertorous – (adj.) [of breathing] noisy and labored.
tendentious – (adj.) expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one: a tendentious reading of history.
terpsichorean – (adj.) related to dancing. (noun) a dancer.
tiffin – (noun) a snack or light meal.
ululant – (verb) howl or wail as an expression of strong emotion, typically grief.
vespertide – (noun) the period of vespers; evening.
whilst – (conj.) [British] while.
wither – (verb) 1. to shrivel; fade; decay. 2. to lose the freshness of youth, as from age.
xanthous – (adj.) yellow or yellowish.
xenial – (adj.) of or concerning hospitality or relations with guests.
xenium – (noun) 1. a present made to a guest or an ambassador  2. an offering, or a compulsory gift, to a ruler, the Church, etc.
xenophile – (noun) a person who is attracted to foreign people, cultures, or customs.
xyster – (noun) a surgical instrument for scraping bones.
yauld – (adj.)[Scottish or British] active; vigorous.
yap – (noun) loud, irritating talk.
yare – (adj.) quick; agile; lively.
yatagan – (noun) a sword without a guard and typically with a double-curved blade, used in Muslim countries.
yeard/yird – (verb) to bury. See also: yird-hunger/yeard-hungera hunger for land.
yester – (adj.) relating to yesterday. See also: yestereven, yestermorn.
yex – (noun) [Scottish, dialect] a hiccup, burp, or belch.
yob – (noun) a teenage lout or hooligan. See also: yobbery, yobbish, yobbo.
yoke-devil – (noun) [Shakespeare] accomplice for an ill deed.
yoke-mate – (noun) an associate or companion. See also: yokefellow.
zapata – (adj.) denoting a type of flowing moustache drooping down on each side of the mouth.
zari – (noun) a type of gold thread used decoratively on Indian clothing.

Zari-Work3zeitgeist – (noun) the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.
zelatrix – (noun) a nun whose duty is to keep watch on the behavior of the younger nuns in the convent, or on that of the mother superior.
zeloso – (adv.) with fervor.
zendik – (noun) 1. in Middle-Eastern countries, an unbeliever in revealed religion, a heretic.  2. someone who practises magic.
zephyr – (noun) [Literary] a soft, gentle breeze.
zoetic – (adj.) relating to life; vital.
zaftig – (noun) [of a woman] having a full, rounded figure; plump.
Zoilean – (adj.) carping and unjust criticism, characteristic of the Greek philosopher Zoilus.
zygal – (adj.) in the shape of the letter H.

3 thoughts on “The Dictionary of Purple Prose Gets an Update

  1. Firstly, Alex, a massive congrats on having such a widely circulated post–and one that’s richly deserving of notice. It was one of my favorites of yours. The supplemental words will surely prove an added attraction. You’ve got a few of my favorites in there–apparently I’m a magnet for flowery verbiage. Pays to have an editor.
    I look forward (and will keep my fingers crossed) for the book form of this mini masterpiece. Keep me posted.
    And I hope you both had a little Thanksgiving cheer this last week as well. (Maybe a proper feast and no mere “tiffin.”)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Shelley!

    Nothing wrong with flowery verbiage. I do love it… probably the main reason I write fantasy. You can mildly get away with it, haha.

    And I’ll keep you updated! I want to at least get another 300 words or so before I start compiling. I don’t want it to be a book that someone buys and then goes “Awww 😦 ” when they find out it’s only a quarter-inch wide, haha. 😉

    I forgot about Thanksgiving, can you believe it?! Most people in Japan don’t even know what a turkey is, much less how it tastes, so I kind of just forgot…. (The kanji for turkey is seven-headed creature/monster, by the way… just a neat fact.)

    So yes, it was just a tiffin. 😉


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