Wondrous Words: The circa 1983 edition. I’m re-reading “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which I believe that I read the first time as a junior in college for an American literature class. The margins are filled with handwritten definitions of words. I suspect these definitions came from my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, originally, but I’m writing them as they appear in faint pencil scribbling on pages 188 and 189 in my copy of Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, A Signet Classic, copyright 1965.
“Nature never wears a mean appearance.”
Mean: lacking distinction or eminence
“When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects.”
Manifold: marked by diversity or variety
“Nature says,—he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me.”
Maugre: in spite of
“In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years.”
Decorum: propriety, fitness
“Standing on the bare ground,—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,—all mean egotism vanishes.”
Blithe: of a happy or light-hearted disposition
I would still have to look up manifold and maugre, although I think I would choose to use “in spite of” instead of maugre, anyway. I’m surprised that I didn’t know the word decorum in college; it’s part of my vocabulary, now, as is blithe. I know that the word mean can be used instead of “lowly” but I can’t say that I use it in that way.
Visit today’s Wondrous Words Wednesday post to see other words that readers discovered this week. Have you learned any new words recently?