Doc Smith's Vocabulary

Now, for pure fun, some Doc Smith vocubulary. I knew pretty much what all of these meant, even long ago, but mostly I couldn't give a precise definition. It's fun to actually look them up and pull the definitions together.

None of these words are all that rare; I haven't found one yet with under 5,000 google hits, for example.

Some people like to make fun of Smith's writing style. It's unique, certainly his own, and not in the modern taste at all. I like it, but to each his own. However, I think many people take his "purple" prose for a sign of ignorance and low skills. Nothing could be further from the case. Smith is in charge of his sentences. They do what he wants them to do, and they do it beautifully. If people don't like them, that's a matter of taste, and tastes differ.

Smart or not, I didn't start keeping track of where I found these, so I'm not going to start now. Besides, they often show up multiple places. Again I wish I had the books in electronic format. Then finding all the uses and indexing them would be easy.

Extrinsic, accidental, not inherent. (Gray Lensman p.195)
coruscating (also coruscant)
Hey, coruscate was the word of the day at dictionary.reference.com on 19-Nov-2002! They say coruscate comes from Latin coruscatus, past participle of coruscare, "to move quickly, to tremble, to flutter, to twinkle or flash." The noun form is coruscation. Also from coruscare is the adjective coruscant, "glittering in flashes; flashing."
The only other place I can remember actually encountering this word in use is in Monty Python (the "cheese shop" sketch). Means ardently or excessively craving things, especially food. (And in Gray Lensman p.75 it's "esurient rapacity" even!)
To get rid of, thoroughly. Achieved the fame of being dictionary.com word of the day on 26-Jun-2000. In Gray Lensman p.154 "[The Eich] were anti-social, blood-mad, obsessed with an insatiable lust for power and conquest which nothing except complete extinction could extirpate." I guess that settles that!
Without limits, immeasurable. (Gray Lensman p.193)
Bartleby.com says flickering lightly over or on a surface: lambent moonlight. 2. Effortlessly light or brilliant: lambent wit. 3. Having a gentle glow; luminous.
Preoccupied or driven by lust. In Gray Lensman p.75 it's actually about desire for drugs, rather than the more straightforward sexual lust.
A sudden outburst of action, as a fit or convulson. Jalte's planet grinds itself to bits in "paroxysm after ghastly paroxysm of distintegration" (Gray Lensman p.239).
Hyperdictionary.com says "persistent determination". In Galactic PatrolSmith uses it in "But finally, through sheer, grim, bull-dog pertinacity, he was successful."
Literally, "multicolored". The ballroom for the Grand Ball in honor of Grand Fleet is lit with them. He doesn't mention the colors changing that I can find. This is one of the very rare cases where I'm not actually sure why he's using the word. He doesn't use them at random.
Theasurus-dictionary.com says 1. eagerness for plunder; rapacity; extortion. 2. greedily devouring; rapacious; as, ravening wolves. And there are a really great group of ecommerce links on the page there.
Webref.org says Mineral or compound that resists action of heat and chemical agents. The idea is definitely one of resisting forcible change.
Specifically, "terrible refulgence" (Gray Lensman p.237). The screens of Jalte's base are sending out bright rays of light due to the intensity of the incoming raying.
(an intrepid one on Galactic Patrol p.170) m-w.com says Middle English, creature, thing, from Old English wiht; akin to Old High German wiht creature, thing, Old Church Slavonic vesti thing : a living being : CREATURE; especially : a human being
Just means "by the name of". So archaic, according to Michael Quinion, that the guy responsible for reintroducing it wrote in the late 1400s.

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Last modified Wednesday, 22-Jan-2014 17:24:06 PST.
David Dyer-Bennet