Vocab Builder: Titanic Tinkers

by Erin Brenner on May 25, 2011

This week’s Vocab Builder returns to reader favorite Tinkers, a book whose rich language is almost another character. If you missed the previous editions of this collection, check out Tinkering With Language and More Tinkers. Example sentences are taken from the novel.

  • Finitude, noun: state of being limited or finite.

That final finitude will itself be a bit of scrolling, a pearlescent clump of tiles, which will generally stay together but move about within another whole and be mingled with in endless ways of other people’s memories.

  • Vitreous, adjective: having a glassy nature.

I will remain a set of impressions porous and open to combination with all of the other vitreous squares floating about in whoever else’s frames, because there is always the space left in reserve for the rest of their own time.

  • Titanic, adjective: huge and powerful.

As mother and son came abreast of the front corner of the house, they saw that it was being drawn by eight yoke of titanic oxen.

  • Rotgut, noun: cheap, poor-quality liquor

He was pleased to allow people to think that his taste for rotgut was because of thrift born of his childhood dirt-farmer poverty.

  • Stave, verb: to break roughly into pieces.

They like to recite the story about the winter of ’06, when the snow was twelve feet high and the sun didn’t shine for three months and Budden went mad and took the big ax into the house and staved all of the furniture and piled all the broken pieces together in the middle of the parlor and doused it all with kerosene and took a match to it.

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