Vocabulary – S is for (lots of) Stuff

I might have done two R posts—I lost track.  Whatever.  On to the letter S!

S stands for silly, sentimental, sexy, and smart, all things that I am.  Modest too—oh, that doesn’t begin with S?  Too bad!

This may be a long list, unless I can’t find anything.  S pairs with quite a few consonants.

Sacristy – a room in a church where sacred objects, candles, vestments, etc. are kept.

 Image:  Wikipedia.com

Salacious – lecherous, indecent.  When someone leers at you in a creepy, perverted manner, they’re being salacious.

Moriarty gave Sherlock a salacious glance, licking his bottom lip.


Can you blame him? Sherlock is delicious.

Image:  benedictcumberbatch.co.uk

Scintillate – to sparkle or flash, as with brilliance or charm.  Or actual sparks, if you’ve just stuck a fork into a socket.

(PS:  Don’t do that.)

Scarify – to make incisions or break up something, as with skin or soil.  Also used to denote cutting or wounding remarks.

 Professor McGonagall’s criticism of her methods scarified Dolores Umbridge.  Although she laughed politely, later in her office, she broke four kitten plates in her fury.    

Seine (sayne) – a vertical fishing net.  Also a river in France that flows through Paris into the English Channel.

Sexton – the caretaker of a church, its grounds, and the attached graveyard, if it has one.  A sexton may also ring the bells for services.  These days, most modern churches have electronic carillons, but some older ones still have actual bell ringers.

Bell ropes in the church of All Saints, UK.

Image: Evelyn Simak / Wikimedia Commons

Shtick – in comedy, a bit of business that draws attention to the actor or character, especially one associated with that person.

A good example would be Jack Tripper’s physical clumsiness in the old Three’s Company sitcom, though the schtick doesn’t have to be physical comedy.  Another one would be Ellen DeGeneres’s verbal rambling (Bob Saget does this too).

Sic (Latin) – an adverb meaning thus, or short for sic erate scriptum, or “thus was it written.”  When you see it in a document, it means that whatever text it refers to is reproduced exactly as it appeared in the original, even if there are spelling errors.  You put brackets around it instead of parentheses, like this:  [sic].   It does NOT mean spelling incorrect.

Skive – 1. to shave or remove the surface of something, as with leather.  2. (British) to evade or shirk work or some other responsibility.

 We’re experts at it.

We’re experts at it.

 Image:  eclecticdragonfly

Sluggard – lazy person.

Smirch – to smear or stain something; a stain or smudge.  What a sluggard might have on his clothes if he’s too lazy to do laundry.

Snaffle – a common bit used for horses, made of a bit piece (jointed) with two rings on either side.  The bit acts to guide the horse through direct pressure when the rider pulls on the reins.  It does not amplify the pressure the way other bits do.

Mmrrff mgmmmpphhh fmmmmpphfgg.

 Image:  Thowra_uk / Wikipedia

Sommelier (French) – Pronounced saw-muh-LYAY.  The waiter in charge of the wine in a fancy restaurant.

Spiracle – an insect’s breathing hole.

Squalid – filthy, neglected.  Often refers to living conditions resulting from extreme poverty.

Stentorian – loud, a sound with great power.

 Principal Wood read the names of the misbehaving students into the microphone in stentorian tones.  Buffy winced as the Scooby Gang’s monikers were announced one by one. 

Suctorial – adapted for suction, an organ for sucking or producing suction (such as tentacles or the mouthparts of leeches).  Leeches are harmless and don’t hurt; I’ve had one or two on me when I used to play in the creek as a kid.  Doctors have been using them for various treatments even today.

 I’m in yer hand, suckin’ yer bad bloods out.

I’m in yer hand, suckin’ yer bad bloods out.

 Image:  spinalstenosis.org

 Okay, I’m sorry about that; it was kind of gross.  Here’s another picture of Sherlock to get that out of your head.

Sherlock again

Image: benedictcumberbatch.co.uk

 Mmmmm, yesssss……my preciousss…..oh sorry, where were we?

Svelte – slender.

Sward – a piece of land covered with grass.  Hear the word greensward in Daffy’s song here:

Syncope (SING-kuh-pee) – the medical term for fainting. 

That’s all for today, kids.  Find a word you like?  Use it—it’s free!

Editing, Homework, and Blogging From A-Z

Whew!  It’s been a busy time, and I’m sorry I haven’t been around much lately.  Here’s what has been going on:

  • Homework, homework, homework.  A cliff on which I am hanging by the tips of my fingers.  Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to take these two classes together (healthcare writing—blargh!—and advanced tech writing, which mostly consists of document design).
  • Fitting in those workouts I promised myself I would do.  They take time.  Why can’t humans have super speed so we can do an hour’s worth of exercise in ten minutes and call it good?
  • Revising Tunerville.  So far, I have done the things my reader suggested, and now I’m beginning the tedious line editing process.

Line editing is going through the book looking for stupid things like spelling and grammar errors, consistency in language, and stuff that plain doesn’t make sense.

A little bird told me this was a lot like homework.

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

Let me give you an example.  In this post, I talked about the plot and mentioned Callahan, the Explorer from the Realm who visits Chris with a warning to set things right.  This character is several hundred years old and very reserved.

His dialogue contains no contractions whatsoever.  He says “do not” instead of “doesn’t,” and his speech is somewhat lofty.  He would not say someone made something; he would say they constructed it.

Same with Chris.  His dialogue is much simpler, as are his thought patterns.  Since he is the protagonist, a lot of the book is from his point of view.  When inside his head, I try not to use the same kind of language I use for Callahan.  Look at the difference between this introductory text from Chris’s POV:

In the dark basement, he sat on the bottom step and picked at the splinter.  Emo crawled into his lap and purred, pushing his ears against Chris’s chin.  He rubbed the cat absently and wondered for the thousandth time if the house, built in 1907, could possibly be haunted.  Never quite had the nerve to bring the group here; he would be too disappointed if it wasn’t.  Still, what about those funny noises he used to hear at night when he stayed here as a kid, the ones his grandmother told him were mice?  Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could tune ghosts in like a TV channel and see one whenever I wanted? 

And this, from Callahan’s:

His pace slowed as he drew nearer.  The Directorate meetings weighed on him lately.  He disliked the formality, the pomp.  He would much rather be in the Gardens, tending the lilies and wildflowers that were his favorites, or in the Library reading Poe or perhaps conversing with him.  News of the tuner had naturally reached the Realm.  No one but the Directorate seemed the slightest bit concerned.  The readers read, artists painted, fishers fished, writers wrote, children played, and on the vast azure surface of the Realm’s ocean, sailboats bobbed.  

 The language is slightly more formal, and you won’t see any sentence fragments (yes, they have their place in fiction) in Callahan’s scenes.

Thanks to advice from Write Tight: Say Exactly What You Mean with Precision and Power by William Brohaugh, I’m also searching for words like up, down, off, over, together, behind, and anything ending with –ly.  With each pass through the book, I find rewriting with stronger verbs and ditching these adverbs and modifiers reduces the word count.  I’ve gone from 89,300 to below 88,100.


  • Another thing I’m doing is preparing for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge in April.  Once again, I’ll be blogging every day except Sunday (unless I get behind, which may happen).  I am NOT quitting this time!

I will discuss characterization, using the alphabet structure to illustrate different aspects of a person I think about when I build them out of nothing.  I’ve already begun making notes for each post.   This challenge goes easier if you have a game plan right from the beginning.

  • In addition, I’m preparing to take the summer off and write a sequel to Rose’s Hostage.  Enough research is in place for me to start the first draft.  I might do a mini NaNoWriMo for it, so you can follow along.
  • And I’m planning a trip in the autumn to England and Wales to visit family and see some Doctor Who locations (and castles) in Cardiff.  Woot!  I’ve been to England, long ago, but never Wales.  It’s so exciting, it’s all I can think about.

Wales has the most badass flag in the world.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Of course I’ll blog from there, never fear.  I hope to snap lots of pictures to post as well, so stay tuned.   It would be nice if I could spend a whole month and write, but a sabbatical is not practical for me right now, darn it.

Expect another vocabulary post soon; those are way too much fun.  Once they’re finished, I’ll have to come up with another series for you.  If you have any suggestions, I’m open to them; just post in comments.