I just looked up the word “gibbous” and found a nice, concrete definition, and I wondered for a moment why I’d never bothered to look it up before. For some reason, this morning’s weather report led me to the “gibbous” word so I decided to check it out. it’s one of those words I find written occasionally about the moon (I don’t recall ever having heard it spoken) but not particularly defined in the text. In my mind, I think, there was a vague picture of a full moon hiding behind sort of ragged clouds.
There are a lot of words like that which crop up occasionally, and for the most part I have a fairly accurate idea of their meanings. For others, like this one, I make up the meaning to fit my mood, and that meaning might just attach itself to the word for all time.”Puce”, for instance, has for most of my life called to mind a sickly green, sort of a grayed-down chartreuse with olive overtones. Not at all an attractive color. When I finally decided (before I used it in a story) to be clear on the meaning, I found that puce is more a reddish-brown shade, also not particularly attractive, but far from what I had envisioned.
One story I wrote recently had two words that caused comment from my critique group. One was “fug”, which is a stale or smoky atmosphere, normally used to describe a closed room. To me, it sounds as if it should be the aftermath of the guys’ poker night at Butch’s basement. That’s approximately what I intended to convey, but I replaced the word; if the critique group isn’t comfortable with it, it’s unlikely that the general reading public will be.
The second word noted from my draft prose was “artifice.” The sentence I used it in was along the lines of “She was blonde, either by nature or artifice. I decided that if I couldn’t tell, it didn’t matter.” I hung onto that one, though. To begin with, I like the sound of the word. If people don’t deduce the meaning from similar words like “artificial” it’s their loss, not mine. I’m sure they’ll find more to discuss as long as we keep writing.
By the way,”gibbous” means more than half lit, less than fully lit, as least as regards the moon. You should probably check it out for yourself.
I’ll see you again, after the commercial.