31 words only Nabokov would use

31 words only Vladimir Nabokov would use

Lolita is Nabokov’s most famous novel, but he’d actually written NINE in Russian first before he started writing in English, when he rose to prominence.

Lolita, incidentally, is one of my favourite novels. Not my most favourite one, of course (that’s the Great Gatsby, and no I haven’t seen the new film) but it’s right up there.

As Nabokov is famous for using really strange or obscure words, I picked the following from Lolita to admire.

An aside on Nabokov

Publishers’ Weekly names these stories as his finest short stories. Do you agree? I’m not sure.

Also, Nabokov was a noted chess composer. I had to go look it up. It basically means you study chess to the extent where you can create endgames and chess problems. Therefore, he is quite obviously the smartest man who ever lived…and may be inhabiting the body of Irish writer John Banville at the moment.

Lolita Words

coeval = a contemporary
priapic = overly concerned with masculinity
concupiscence = desire for sexual intimacy
simulacrum = a vague semblance
osculate = touch with lips
leporine = rabbit-like
crepitate = make a crackling sound
talus = sloping mass of rocks or ankle bone.
sale histoire = dirty story (French)
ribald = humorously vulgar
torrid = emotionally charged and physically energetic, hot, intense
phocine = relating to seals
nacreous = resembling mother of pearl
nates = buttocks
dolour = painful grief
nictate = blink
limpid = clear and bright
pederosis = pedophile
davenport = small desk or sofa
solipsism = philosophy that the self is the only thing that exists
seraglio = living quarters reserved for women and servants in Muslim household.
iliac = pertaining to the hip bone
incubus = male demon believed to have sexual intercourse with a sleeping female, situation like a nightmare, a person who depresses others
incarnadine = make flesh coloured
eructation = belching or erupting
duenna = a woman chaperon
philtre = drink which makes the one who drinks it fall in love with the one who gives it.
nonce = the present occasion
lentigo = small brown spot on the skin
umbra = shadow caused by interruption of light


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