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If you came here from Geek Glories, hi! I'm Liesl Johnson,
a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing
in Hilo, Hawaii. I like your board games collection
and I think you should buy more of them.
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Aside from wondering in vivid detail how a well-armed Shakespeare or a sentient dirigible would fare in a battle with Great Cthulhu, we geeky readers have one thing in common: a love of finely crafted words.
Beautiful, anachronistic, storytelling words.
Let's take a look at a handful of rare words that can churn the cogs and gears of the imagination, and see how H. P. Lovecraft used them. Sure, they're bizarre and obscure. But make the old magniloquent fellow proud, and resurrect them. Then let them accessorize your vocabulary like a very fine hat:
"...but there were not any real ruins. Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the cellar, some mineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of that nefandous well."
It means unmentionable. It's the finer, more tightly corseted version of "unspeakable" and "ineffable," with all the wicked flavor of "nefarious" but with a much smaller chance of making your listeners crack a grin as they imagine Dr. Nefario. "Nefandous" is 100% gloom and doom, 0% boogie robots. Example: "Please keep your more nefandous status updates off my feed."
"Good God! What eldritch dream-world was this into which he had blundered?"
It means scary and unnatural, and while it's great for naming your most disturbing characters (like Philip K. Dick did, followed by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan) it's also perfect for christening your geeky events: The Eldritch Ball, the Eldritch Gaming Marathon, the Eldritch Quidditch Match.
"It would not do to be without a light in these Cyclopean catacombs..."
It means related to the Cyclops, of course, but it also means huge or vast. This one is perfect for describing anything in your life that has swelled to a sickening, repulsive, preternatural size or intensity. Rodents, for instance. I mean, there are rodents of unusual size, and then there are rodents of Cyclopean size, and it's handy to have these grandiloquent adjectives with which we can hack our way through the fire swamps of dull conversations.
"It was partly human, without a doubt... But the torso and lower parts of the body were teratologically fabulous, so that only generous clothing could ever have enabled it to walk on earth unchallenged or uneradicated."
Something teratological is related to the study of monsters. Here we have to assume that when Lovecraft says "fabulous," he intends the older meaning of "like in a fable, imaginary." But that's just a guess, and the door's wide open if you want to declare yourself a teratologically fabulous vampire slayer. You'll need a killer mini-dress, knee-high boots, and a good full-lipped first-season pout, OR, a crossbow, full length coat, and chiseled scowl.
"...since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it... into some other plane or phase of entity from which it had once fallen, vigintillions of aeons ago."
A vigintillion is technically 10^63 (or 10^120 if you're British) but in conversation with fellow geeks, this is the Lovecraftian substitute for the overused "zillions," the vaguely religious "multitudes," and the downright silly "oodles." Example: "You kids and your vigintillion-gig flash drives have it way too easy. Try getting your homework to fit on a floppy diskette."
Undoubtedly you'll uncover more gems of verbal obscurity every time you get lost in the depths of Lovecraft, or Poe, or even Bierce. Use them! As the geekiest of word lovers, I argue that any uber-rare word with general applicability, like (most of) the ones above, deserves to be revivified. Go out there and start a vocabulary zombie apocalypse.
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