A Word for Wednesday

Guess what, you guys? The word I ended up picking for today is in famous books; the recognizable, household-name kind of famous books :) This makes me quite happy, for two reasons. First, it feels like it's been a while since the chosen word was one that well-known authors used in their works. Second, digging into remote literary corners in the hopes of finding even a trace of related material has been getting old ;) So, yay for an easy word!

Dudgeon - n. Anger, resentment, malice, ill will, discord

Now, if you're like me, you thought the word was "dungeon" at first glance. I was reading through the D section, came to dudgeon and skimmed right past it. Then I realized that I hadn't read anything about castles or stone or dark damp places. I backtracked, actually read the definition (amazing what happens when you read instead of skim, isn't it?), and knew my search for today's word was over. It's a good thing too, because my dictionary was starting to look like a sticky-note hedgehog. And dictionaries just aren't supposed to look like that.

Anyway, dudgeon, as defined above, describes a specific emotion. It can extend, though, to describe a mood. I found several other dictionaries that defined it this way: a sullen, angry, or indignant humor. And, let me tell you, the usage passages make way more sense with the more moody sense of the word. Take a look:

"Now that same night I think it was, or at any rate the next one, that I noticed Betty Moxworthy going on most strangely. She made the queerest signs to me, when nobody was looking, and laid her fingers on her lips, and pointed over her shoulder. But I took little heed of her, being in a kind of dudgeon, and oppressed with evil luck; believing too that all she wanted was to have some little grumble about some petty grievance. But presently she poked me with the heel of a firebundle, and passing close to my ear whispered, so that no one else could hear her, "Larna Doo-un". By these words I was so startled, that I turned around and stared at her. " Lorna Doone, by Richard Blackmore (see? famous work #1)

"And, slamming the door in Meg's face, Aunt March drove off in high dudgeon. She seemed to take all the girl's courage with her; for, when left alone, Meg stood a moment undecided whether to laugh or cry. Before she could make up her mind, she was taken possession of by Mr. Brooke, who said, all in one breathe 'I couldn't help hearing, Meg. Thank you for defending me, and Aunt March for proving that you do care for me a little bit'." Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (and famous work #2)

So, to oversimplify, dudgeon means being in a really, really bad mood. Easy enough, right? And now to use it myself.

"He's in a rare form, miss," Jerome's butler said as he led the way to the tower stairs. "I'm a warning you, you'd best stay down here."

"You're very kind," I smiled at the dear, grandfatherly man. "But, rare form or not, I'm afraid I have to see him immediately."

He shook his head, muttering under his whiskers, but took my things without argument when I handed them to him. I picked up my skirts and started up the curving flight of steps. The click of my shoes on the stone and the rustle of my skirts dragging behind me were the only sounds to my ears for far too long. What had possessed someone to build so high a tower? One half it's size would have sufficed.

I found Jerome muddling through a mess of parchments. Locked chests formed a haphazard line against the wall. He was drumming his fingers on the table, apparently both blind and deaf to all else.


He started to his feet and his hand went to his hip, to the hilt of his favorite sword. He dropped back into his chair when he saw me, and shielded his eyes with his hand. "Please don't startle me like that."

"I'm sorry, I've never made it up those stairs without you hearing me before." And I had never seen him armed in his study. "Am I correct is assuming that he has contacted you?"

"Yes." He was picking up piles of the paper only to set them down again.

"What are you looking for?"

"My dagger."

"Your dagger? Why would it be up here? You keep it in your chambers, don't you, with the others?"

"No." He stood, scouring the room with his eyes. "I mean, yes, I do. I, I brought it up here two days ago and I haven't seen it since. There's no reason for anyone to steal it. It has no value to anyone but him and myself. Help me find it."

He took his arm as he went to move past me. "Jerome, what's happened?"

"Nothing further."

"I know you too well to believe that."

He huffed a sigh. "Then I ask you to. Believe a lie, this once."

"You intend to give him the dagger, don't you?"

He broke from my hold, gently, but broke all the same. It was the books he started moving this time.

"That's maddness. The dudgeon he bears you will not be so easily appeased."

He slammed a book down. "I have to try, Elaine. I have to try."


  1. loved that clip from little women, one of the best parts too! I love these spots. Maybe I'll have to do one sometime, but I don't think I would write a flash fiction piece, I would just talk about the word :)

  2. Love this word. And I love your piece here. I want to know more!

  3. Jen - Thank you! You should definitely do one sometime. It's fun :) And the flash fiction isn't nearly as hard as I thought they'd be.

    Donna - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I want to know more too ;)

  4. Hey, hey! Sorry I haven't been on here lately. Lots going on. Anyway, that word is fab. I do recall encountering it in more classical books, such as the ones you mentioned. And your little snippet is fantastic! You'll have to turn it into a short story or something because it has a lot of intrigue. Well done, Caitlin!

    And oh, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! ;)

  5. Hey girl! I'm so glad you took the time out of your going-ons to stop by :) Thank you so much. I'm actually thinking of combining this snippet with some of the others I've done...there's a not-even-half-baked story rolling around in my head. Now I just have to get a hold of it ;)

    I did have a wonderful holiday, thank you. I hope yours was as well. Happy New Year!


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)