+ Infinite Jest Word List

Expanding my vocabulary with Infinite Jest

I finished reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest a few months ago and along with keeping up with the dozens of wildly different characters in different walks of life, I’ve had the pleasure of learning some new words along the way.  While ‘cunctation’ and ‘quincunx’ are fun to say out loud, my favourite words so far have to be aleatory or lacuna.

This Infinite Jest word list below includes words that I already vaguely understood, but it took reading them in a novel to force me to learn their meaning once and for all! Hopefully this list is a nice cheat sheet for anyone else reading the novel. I also hope to pull together a list of blogs/websites that helped me understand the novel, watch this space.

New Words

Élan – energy, style, and enthusiasm

Loquacious – Tending to talk a great deal; talkative

Fugue – A state or period of loss of awareness of one’s identity, often coupled with flight from one’s usual environment, associated with certain forms of hysteria and epilepsy

Dipsomaniacal – An insatiable craving for alcoholic beverages

Nadir – The bottom, the lowest point

Optative – Of, relating to, or constituting a verbal mood that is expressive of wish or desire

Mordant – Sharply caustic or sarcastic, as wit or a speaker; biting

Anticonfluential – (this is likely a word that David Foster Wallace made up) A reluctance/refusal to allow things to flow together or merge

Leonine – Lion-like

Chiarascuro – The treatment of light and colour in drawing and painting

Deliquesce – (of organic matter) become liquid, typically during decomposition

Ideation – The formation of ideas and concepts

Diurnal – Of or during the day

Dentate – Having a tooth-like/serrated edge

Lebensgefährtin – Partner in life

Leptosomatic – Related to leptosomic, a person of asthenic build

Bröckengespenst – Also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun. The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, or even from an aeroplane

Auteur – A filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie

Rapacious – Inordinately greedy and predatory

Samizdat – Literature secretly written, copied, and circulated in the former Soviet Union

Teratogenic – Able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or foetus

Anfractuous – Tortuous, full of windings and intricate turnings

Fantods – To have the ‘fantods’ is to be in a state of nervousness, distress, or anxiety

Prandial During or relating to dinner/lunch

Quincunx – A geometric pattern consisting of five points arranged in a cross, with four of them forming a square or rectangle and a fifth at its center.

Plosive – The kinds of sounds usually associated with the letters p, t, k; b, d, g, in which air flow from the lungs is interrupted by a complete closure being made in the mouth.

AleatoryDepending on chance; random.

Sangfroid  Composure, to be self-possessed in trying situations 

Gibbous – Marked by convexity or swelling; when the Moon is more than half full, but not quite fully illuminated

Aperçu  Concise, clever review or summation of something

Capering – Skip or dance about in a lively or playful way.

Hirsute – Hairy, shaggy

Rutilant – Having a reddish glow

Fronds – An often large, finely divided leaf

Eidetic – Relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible.

Nacelle – The outer casing of an aircraft engine **I had no idea about this at all, and when I asked my boyfriend he knew it instantly?!**

Afflatus – A strong creative impulse, especially as a result of divine inspiration

Teutonic –  Of or pertaining to the Germanic languages and to peoples or tribes who speak or spoke them

LacunaAn unfilled space or interval; a gap.

Diorama – A three-dimensional full-size or miniature model

Detente – The easing of hostility or strained relations, especially between countries.

Ephebic Of or relating to the characteristic of a young man

Apotheosizing – The glorification of a subject to divine level

Mens-sana – Of sound mind

Effete(Of a person) s overrefined, and ineffectual

Florid – Having a red complexion; elaborately or excessively intricate

Nictitate – To wink/blink

Priapism – A persistent and usually painful long-lasting erection

Coprophilia – A sexual fetish people feel when they come into contact with faeces.

Onanism – Ejaculating outside the vagina during intercourse; (the performing of) coitus interruptus

Apothegm – A concise saying or maxim; an aphorism.

Cunctation – The action or an instance of delaying

Prolix – Using or containing too many words; tediously lengthy.

Amanuensis – A literary or artistic assistant, in particular one who takes dictation or copies manuscripts.

Falcate – Curved like a sickle; hooked

Fulcrum – The support about which a lever pivots.

Jejune – Naïve, simplistic, and superficial.

Glabrous –  Without hair e.g skin or a leaf

Mephistophelan – Wicked

Turpitude – Depravity

Saprogenic – Causing or produced by putrefaction or decay.

Eschatology – A part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the “end of the world” or “end time”.

Orts – Remains/scraps 

Pulchritude – Physical beauty

Nacreous – Possessing the qualities of mother of pearl; iridescent 

Escutcheon – An individual or corporate coat of arms

Crepuscular – Of, resembling, or relating to twilight

Hellacious – very great, bad, or overwhelming

Coprolite – fossilized faeces!

Evince – reveal the presence of (a quality or feeling)

Decoct – extract the essence of something by boiling it

Picayune – of little value or significance

Zaftig – A plump woman