A Word for Wednesday

Before I get into today's word, please accept my apologies for the lateness of this post. I keep telling myself that I should write these things on Tuesday and schedule them to post since I work full days on Wednesdays and then have Jiu-Jitsu class in the evening, but I've managed to forget what I've told myself every single time. Do forgive my tardiness.

So, after work today and dealing with some college logistics, I picked a word. I had started finding examples of it's use when my sister walks by, pauses behind me, and says, "That's not an old word." My first reaction was insistence that it was in fact an old word. My confidence lasted approximately five seconds, at which point I realized that she was right. I had picked a variation of a fairly common word, having been taken in by a novel use of the word instead of the word itself. I returned to scouring the dictionary, found another one and this time when my sister walked past she said, "Yep. Don't know that one." So here's an old word that my sister didn't know ;) I'm not familiar with it and I hope none of you are, 'cause that would just spoil the fun.   

Lusory - a, [L. lusorius, from ludo, lusi, to sport] Used in play; playful

I like how Isaac Watts uses this word in his work, The Improvement of the Mind. "There might be also many entertaining contrivances for the instruction of children in several things relating to Geometry, Geography, and Astronomy in such alluring and lusory methods, which would make a most agreeable and lasting impression on their minds."

A most agreeable and lasting impression indeed :) Do you ever wish we could still speak like that in normal conversation? Be able to say things like "entertaining contrivances" and "alluring and lusory methods" without feeling (and having people look at you) like you're a walking antique? Or dictionary? I wish we could. All Watts is saying is that if you can find a fun way to teach kids, they'll remember it. It's a pretty straightforward idea, but his diction makes it elegant. He's eloquent about the ordinary. And it's a lovely thing, really.

While Watts used today's word masterfully, not many others seem to have used it at all. Not well-known, will-come-up-on-Google-searches others, at any rate. That's the only usage I could find to share with you.

I suppose that leaves nothing but the narrative. A narrative I have very little time to write if this is to be posted while the day still technically reads Wednesday. Here we go.

"Madam, I cannot teach your child."

I stopped mid-step at the sound of my tutor's voice. I pressed my ear up against the stone and waited for him to continue.

"Oh, don't be absurd," my mother said. "You are a highly qualified and experienced instructor. I have no doubt of your excellence. You can teach him. And you will. That is all."

"My lady, in all my  experience, I have yet to encounter a pupil as incorrigible as your son," he said.

"Well, then." I could hear her smirk. Even with a wall between us, I knew that she had just raised her right eyebrow the slightest bit while her eyes got hard. "Consider a challenge."

"I'm afraid, sweet lady, that you do not understand my situation. I have exhausted every means within my knowledge and still I cannot make him comprehend. I have been strict and stern, lusory and lax. I have threatened, challenged, goaded his pride, left him alone with books and no supper, all to no avail. He simply refuses to learn."

I wasn't sure I wanted to hear what my mother would say next. The hall was wide and empty, my shoes soft enough that I could walk past the door without making sound. But I stayed. And I don't know why.

"Then find a way to break his stubbornness," she said, her tone as cold and hard as the stone against my ear. "I will not have a fool for a son."

I was no fool. When it came to books, perhaps then I was a fool. Not in the forest, though, where I took prey with ease. Not in the village, where I kept the goodwill of the peasants and knew their children's names. Not on the manor, which I managed in my father's absence. She thought the hands saw to the smooth workings of our estate. She didn't know it was me. My tutor didn't either.

It was all as plain as the words on the books he gave me. They simply failed to look and see."


  1. I love this excerpt you wrote! Isn't it interesting, how it seems to fit so much better in a historical setting. That's my fave genre to write, because we can be so free w/language. Take sobriquet for instance. You RARELY hear that word used in contemporary conversation. Moniker is the best it gets. But it's such a beautiful word. Why should it fall into the past and never be used again? Great post!

  2. Ooh, I like this! You seamlessly wove in background and characterization without doing an info-dump. Plus, in such a short narrative, we're already able to tell what kind of a person the mc is. Very nice job, Caitlin!

  3. @Anita - I'm so glad you liked it! Historical fiction is my favorite genre as well. I grew up on it and I love the research and discovery involed in writing it. I really enjoy fantasy and at some point I'm going to attempt a fantasy novel, but for now my default setting is historical fiction and I like it that way :) Oooh, those are some fun words. I'd never heard either of them before. Here's to beautiful old words and not letting them vanish into the past!

    @Cherie - Thank you so much. Those are very encouraging things to hear :) I must admit, though, that it all kind of worked itself out. I didn't plan any of that background or characterization, it just kind of worked out that way (which is either a fantastic accident, or I'm improving at least slightly in craft). I was actually really surprised at how well it turned out and how much I like the mc.


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)