LRK’s words

I had to laugh the other day when my editor sent me a piece from Galley Cat with the most looked-up words on Kindle. Why would she send me that?  Can’t think.

Anyway, running my eye down the list I saw a number of words that I couldn’t remember using, and others I’ve probably used, but in different forms.  Here’s the list, where I’ve put near-duplicates inside parenthesis, and bolded those that I’m pretty sure I’ve used. A number of these, by the way, are post-1920s, so they’re not (I hope!) in the Russell memoirs.  And others I’d definitely have to look up myself (pickelhaube? malacologist?)

You see any words here that you remember reading in one of the LRK books, that I’ve forgotten?

According to Amazon, 85 percent of readers look up words while they read. Below is a list of the most commonly looked-up words in the Kindle ecosystem.

The words that have been looked up the most on Kindle are as follows:















susurration  (susurrus; susurrant; susurrous)


















uxorious (uxoriously)




















plagiaristic  (I’ve probably used plagiarism)













underbred  (though I’m sure I’ve used overbred)








Posted in


  1. Lauren on October 19, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Laurie…I hope you haven’t used plagiarism!! 🙂

    • Laurie King on October 19, 2015 at 8:34 am

      The word probably, but not the act!

  2. richard andrews on October 19, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Would think you’ve used “subfusc” – it is it describes one of the varieties of gown used at Oxford.

    “Pickelhaube” you haven’t used – those are the spike-topped leather helmets of the Prussian cavalry, used up through WWI.

  3. sandy schrag on October 19, 2015 at 7:40 am

    oh good, I know many of those – but certainly not all !

  4. Elizabeth Ryan on October 19, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Malacologist! From Colette, a description of her father’s avocation. Has to do with snails or slugs, I believe.
    But winceyette?!

  5. Lynn Hirshman on October 19, 2015 at 8:11 am

    I think Laurie may have used “pickelhaube” in Mary’s diary during the war.

    “Malacologist” I know I’ve run into in some book I re-read recently, though not, I think, one of Laurie’s — the plot involved a deliberately-placed unusual snail shell designed to incriminate the wrong person — I think it was in one of Kathy Reichs’ books.

    I’m pretty sure Mycroft described his cell as an “oubliette.”

    Those are the ones that immediatel come to mind.

  6. jan winning on October 19, 2015 at 8:32 am

    LOL….I am deep into reading Moby Dick……figure since I was born and brought up in New Bedford, MA, I really ought to give it a serious try…..I think I will begin a list of all the words for which there are no definitions….but it is also a fun read….love the Mary Russel words, though…!!

  7. Virginia on October 19, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I believe that “winceyette” was a kind of cheap, nasty fabric used for women’s clothing in the early 20th century. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Also, I think I’m one of the people who looked up “scarfpin,” only to realize that it would have been a perfectly understandable expression if it had been written as two words — scarf pin, a pin for a scarf!

    I’m going to have to look up a bunch of those other words, starting with the first three!

    • Shirley Thomson on October 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Wincyette wasn’t nasty! It was soft and warm and pleasant to wear.| My mother dressed me in it in the 50s, it was, as I remember, a fine sort of flannelette. She made it into blouses, and perhaps dresses and nightgowns.

  8. Wendy Martin on October 19, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Are you sure you didn’t use kerfuffle just once? I’m thinking I read it in one of the books I just ready for the umpteenth time (please get the new one out!) and it drew me up short. The right word at the time but unexpected.

  9. Mary Achor on October 19, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Since I got my Kindle, I find that I look up some words even if I know what they mean, just to sharpen them in my memory. I know, I know. It makes no sense at all. But it is funi

    • Mary Achor on October 19, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Just reading my first Georgette Heyer book. She makes me laugh, but her language makes me look up words all the time. Lots more than LRK.

  10. Diane Hendricksen on October 19, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I was surprised how many of the words I knew, and surprised at some of them being looked up so often. I will need to more slowly examine the list to see which words I truly understand and which words I need to look up.

    Love the list. It left me gobsmacked!

  11. Pat Hathaway on October 19, 2015 at 10:31 am

    I look up lots of words I know the meaning of simply because I’m not sure how to pronounce them. The Kindle dictionary is so easy to use I can’t resist. Sometimes I even look up a word on Google if it isn’t in the Kindle dictionary, such as quite a few British colloquialisms (see, I had to look that up to spell it. LOL) Many years ago, when I was in college, my friends used to laugh at me because I enjoyed reading the dictionary. So keep on using strange words and I’ll keep on looking them up. : )

  12. Mari Bonomi on October 19, 2015 at 11:08 am



    uxorious (uxoriously)


    I love that these four occurred one after the other!

  13. Martha f. Barkley on October 19, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    If I had my druthers, I would see those words in context…all in how a word is used, I think!

    Druthers is in a song title, “If I had my druthers,” from L’ll Abner musical with Daisy Mae. Remember high school musicals?

    • Mary Achor on October 19, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      I remember that musical. We sang that song in a 4-H skit one summer! I got to play Daisy Mae. Never wore anything that sexy again.

  14. Mary Stueben on October 19, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I believe ‘vulpine’ is used in the Canon as a description of Holmes physiognomy when deep in thought.
    I enjoy using the Kindle dictionary as well, but always wonder about the words listed ‘no definition found’: are they too technical? Obscure? Made up (and not caught by a sharp eyed editor)?? Is it possible to get OED loaded onto Kindle as the dictionary of choice?

  15. Jill on October 19, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I hate to admit it but I’ve gotten so used to reading on my iPad where I love the convenience of the dictionary that I’ve caught myself tapping the page impatiently in a real book trying to see a definition.

    • Diane Hendricksen on October 20, 2015 at 11:14 am

      That is hilarious! I find myself taping the screen of my desk top computer.

      • Mary Stueben on October 20, 2015 at 11:21 am

        And I find myself tapping the right hand page of a paperback on those occasions I pick one off the shelf rather than reading my kindle. It usually takes a few moments before I figure out why the page isn’t changing!

  16. Sue Thompson on October 20, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Winceyette, as in nightgown. Brushed cotton, usually sprigged flower print, tucked bodice with a hàlf placket, and frilled cuffs. As worn by older British ladies in the cold nights, probably to this day. I confess I have two brushed cotton nightgowns for winter, but mine are Lands End, so don’t count as Winceyette!

  17. Dr Karen L Siegel on October 20, 2015 at 9:07 am

    ” palimpset” ! You’ve used that in at least 2 books…
    I’ll review for others you’ve introduced me to.
    More than any other modern writer…
    thrilling, at my age of 70.

  18. Carina Rodebak on October 20, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Thinking of one of Mary’s fellow sleuths (I adored the sequence of her meeting with a young Peter) , I’m certain that Harriet Vane mentioned subfusc gowns in Gaudy Night, though I don’t think the mysterious dress there was made of winceyette,. It was in a sprigged flowered print though. But it would have been something for miss Climpson to use a cold night.

  19. Carol Lambert on October 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Not only do I know most of these words, I’m embarrassed to say that I can tell which books I found them in! I think it comes from being an inveterate re-reader. Since I’m an Audible reader, as well as a paper and Kindle reader, Audible counts how many times I’ve read a book. You may be interested to know that I’ve read several of yours three times.
    Please keep writing!

Leave a Comment