P is for…


I don’t know about you, dear readers, but we’re in the thick of winter here in Eastern Ontario. It’s cold and windy and generally unpleasant to be outside. Thankfully, there is plenty to do inside! Before we get to the letter P in my Vocabulary Series, I’d like to encourage you to check out my Facebook page, where you’ll find a sneak preview of Coralie, the main character in the novel I’m currently writing. Later this week, I will be making an announcement about Coralie and her dogs, so stayed tuned!

Okay, so this week’s letter is P, which gives us a plethora of pleasing words to peruse. Not only is the first word I chose fabulous to say, but it’s also a compliment, even if it doesn’t sound like one.

Pulchritudinous (adjective)

Etymology:  First appears in American English in 1877. Comes from the English word pulchritude (c. 1400), which comes from the Latin pulchritudino, meaning beauty, excellence, and attractiveness. Pulchritudino comes from the word pulcher, whose origin is unknown.

Definition:  Beautiful.

Example:  The magic mirror sighed from his place atop the garbage heap. While his queen was the most pulchritudinous woman in the land, her vocabulary skills were nothing to write home about.


This next word is one of my favourite words to say out loud. Though it would be better if I could grow a goatee to stroke while saying it…

Peculiar (adjective)

Etymology:  First appears in the mid-1400s, meaning belonging exclusively to one person. Comes from the Latin peculiaris, meaning of one’s own property, which comes from peculium, meaning private property. The literal meaning of peculium is property in cattle, as pecu means cattle or flock. The modern meaning of strange or unusual first appears around 1600.

Definition:  Strange; different from what is normal or expected; particular or special (usually followed by to).

Example:  Snow White felt a little peculiar after she took a bite of the apple, but she figured she could walk it off.


The bonus word this week is a most excellent verb. It sounds like an action word, conjuring images of strange gear-driven steampunk machines at work.

Percolate (verb)

Etymology:  First appears in the 1620s, as a back-formation of percolation, which appeared in the early 1600s. Comes from the Latin percolationem, which comes from the past participle stem percolare, meaning to strain through or filter. Percolare is formed from combining per-, meaning through, with colare, meaning to strain.

Definition:  To filter or ooze gradually through a porous surface (of a liquid or gas); to permeate gradually (especially of an idea).

Example:  Seven anxious dwarfs watched the coffee percolate. It was the first time they’d used the machine without Snow White’s help.


As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.


Image credit:  Annie Leibovitz – Disney Dream Portrait Series

8 thoughts on “P is for…

  1. The word pulchritudinous has always fascinated me as it sounds like it would mean something repulsive yet it is the complete opposite!

  2. I like pulchritudinous as well. And you’re right, peculiar is a fun word to say out loud. I do have a bit of a beard thing going at present, so I shall be sure to test that theory. 😛

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