Every time I finish a Pride and Prejudice variation, I say “Now I will work on my suspense romance.” Many writers work on more than one piece or genre at a time, and I have been known to do this, but writing in 1810 England and modern day New Jersey at the same time is just too tasking on the brain. Why? The language.
In writing Regency romance, I quickly learned to research words to make sure they were actually in use during the time. I pride myself on avoiding words which came into fashion after 1805 (a random year I chose to make life easy). I also stole words I read in other Regency romances after looking them up to make sure they met the model. After one of my word choices was mentioned in a review, I added another consideration to my process: Will this word make my reader stop reading and question the meaning of it? In addition, writers choose between American or British spellings. There is sooo much your favorite authors have to consider when writing.
But the fun thing is finding all these great words. I remember taking my first book, The Ball At Meryton, to my critique group and one of the members commented, “Equipage – I love that word.”
A long time ago, I started paying attention to the Word of the Day on Dictionary.com and recording my favorites – even going so far as to color code some of them for specific characters. I thought I would share a few with you.
Aesthete = a person who has or professes to have refined sensitivity toward the beauties of art or nature. A person who affects great love of art, music, poetry, etc., and indifference to practical matters.
Argy-bargy = a vigorous discussion or dispute. (Scottish, of course.)
Brachylogy = brevity of diction; concise or abridged form of expression.
Brickbat = an unkind or unfavorable remark; caustic criticism.
Calumniate = to make false and malicious statements about; slander.
Corybantic = frenzied; agitated; unrestrained.
Embonpoint = excessive plumpness; stoutness.
Eximious = distinguished; eminent; excellent.
Factotum = any employee or official having many different responsibilities. A person, as a handyman or servant, employed to do all kinds of work around the house. (When I was a state employee, we filed this under “other duties as assigned.”)
Froideur = an attitude of haughty aloofness; cold superiority.
Gormless = lacking in vitality or intelligence; stupid, dull, or clumsy. (Scottish again.)
Irenic = tending to promote peace or reconciliation; peaceful or conciliatory.
Mansuetude = mildness; gentleness.
Natter = to talk incessantly; chatter. A conversation; chat.
Prink = to fuss over one’s dress, especially before the mirror. To deck oneself out. To deck or dress for show.
Puffery = undue or exaggerated praise. Publicity, acclaim, etc., that is full of undue or exaggerated praise.
Risibility = the ability or disposition to laugh. Humorous awareness of the ridiculous and absurd.
Sippet = a small piece of bread or the like for dipping in liquid food, as in gravy or milk; a small sop. A small bit; fragment. A crouton.
Stultify = to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous. To render absurdly or wholly futile or ineffectual, especially by degrading or frustrating means.
Termagant = a violent, turbulent, or brawling woman.
Thrasonical = boastful; vainglorious.
And one more Scottish:
Whigmaleerie = a whim; notion. A whimsical or fanciful ornament or contrivance; gimmick.
Did any bring to mind a specific character or two? What are your favorite words?