Glossary: Words beginning with J, K, L

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J (back to top)





jet d’eau


Jamahiriya (back to top)

“He [Muammar al-Qaddafi] declared Libya to be a ‘Jamahiriya’–an Arabic neologism he created meaning roughly ‘republic of the masses,'” said the Associated Press.”
“The ‘mad dog’ who ruled Libya for 42 years.” The Week, Nov. 4, 2011, p. 39.

janeite (back to top)

A fan of Jane Austen.

“By 1896 the word “Janeite” had come into the language as a term signifying literary fervor and adoration. To read some Janeite expression of enthusiasm, one would think that Mansfield Park was the name of a local soccer team. Anti-Janeites accused their opponents of a lack of virility.”
Lee Siegel. Falling Upwards: Essays in Defense of the Imagination. New York: Basic Books, 2006. p. 281.

jarcha (back to top)

“Sometimes I invent words or take words from other eras, placing them in another context, and sometimes I play games with syntax. That requires not a simple transcription to another language, but a re-creation. I’ll give you an example. In this book, I decided to use the word ‘jarcha,’ which, as you know, comes from the 12th century and refers to a lyrical composition that began to appear as a derivative of Arabic poetry. It was typically written in the voice of a woman saying goodbye. I remember telling myself: this is the discourse of my novel, it’s a woman in transition saying goodbye, I’m going to use that word without explaining anything to anyone to see how people find its meaning thanks to context. Translators hate me for things like that.”

Yuri Herrera, interviewed by Radmila Stefkova and Rodrigo Figueroa. “Literature as a Political Responsibility: An Interview with Yuri Herrera.” Translated by Arthur Dixon. Latin American Literature Today. April 2017.

jatismara (back to top)

“Thanks to the punya (merit) that he had acquired, he was a jatismara, a person who remembers his earlier lives.”
The Markandeya Purana. Translated/adapted/abridged by Dipavali Debroy and Bibek Debroy. Delhi: Books for All, 2000. p. 24.

jet d’eau (back to top)

“A basin of water constantly renewed by canals, was spread opposite the principal hall, from the center of which started a jet d’eau that produced a quiet and somniferous effect by the still splashing of its falling spray.”
James Morier, Zohrab, the Hostage. London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1832. Vol. I, p. 273.

juche (back to top)

“…the leadership of the DPRK trumpets two philosophical principles as the guardians of its people’s welfare: self-reliance, or juche, to minimize the influence of outsiders within the DPRK, and a declared policy of ‘liberating’ South Korea through war—the same policy that led Kim Il-Sung to press Stalin for support of an invasion in 1950. Juche is the regime’s attempt to guarantee no movement along the J curve [tracking political openness against political stability] will ever be needed. It is the Korean word best translated as ‘never having to open, never having to fear.’”

Ian Bremmer. The J Curve: A New Way to Understand Why Nations Rise and Fall. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006. p. 36-37.

K (back to top)





kelleh minar





kova tembel

kamptulicon (back to top)

Flooring made from cork and rubber.

“William Morris objected to the abominable ugliness of early Victorian decoration and furniture, to the rhymed rhetoric which did duty for poetry from the Reinaissance to the nineteenth century, to kamptulicon stained glass, and, later on, to the shiny commercial gentility of typography according to the American ideal, spread through England by Harper’s Magazine and The Century.”

George Bernard Shaw. The Sanity of Art: An Exposure of the Current Nonsense about Artists being Degenerate. London: The New Age Press, 1908. p. 69.

kantaoming (back to top)

Cambodian funeral music genre

“When I was in Cambodia last year, I was speaking to Seng Norn, a master of kantaoming, and he said that one of the barriers to teaching this genre, to passing it on to youngsters, was that his instruments were in fairly poor condition…”
“The disappearing yak hymns of Tibet.” Catherine Grant, interviewed by Gal Beckerman. Boston Sunday Globe, Ideas, Aug. 17. 2014, p. K3.

karass (back to top)

“In my novel Cat’s Cradle, I say that anybody whose life keeps tangling up with yours for no logical reason is likely a member of your karass, a team God has formed to get something done for Him.”
Kurt Vonnegut. Timequake. New York: Berkley Books, 1997. p 44.

katagelasticism (back to top)

The joy of laughing at others.

“[Willibald] Ruch and his colleagues recently expanded their studies to include two other humor-related concepts: the joy of being laughed at (gelotophilia) and the joy of laughing at others (katagelasticism).”
“When Humor Humiliates.” Susan Gaidos. Science News (Aug. 1, 2009). Reprinted in UTNE Reader (Jan-Feb 2010), p. 75.

kelleh minar (back to top)

“His hunting excursion, to the moment of Zohrab’s seizure, had been extraordinarily successful, and when this unlooked for piece of good fortune had befallen him, on the impulse of the moment he determined to erect a pillar of skulls, a kelleh minar, as it is called, in order that he might place the head of his prisoner, or, as one of his courtiers had called it, of his finest head of game, on the summit, thus to commemorate the great success of this eventful day.”
James Morier. Zohrab, the Hostage. London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, 1832. Vol. I, p. 121.

khevisberi (back to top)

“In the meantime, the khevisberi brings out a simple calico cloth banner with small bells that once belonged to sacrificial oxen.”
Viktor Shklovsky. A Hunt for Optimism. (Originally 1931). Translated by Shushan Avagyan. Amazon Digital Services LLC, 2013. p. 64.

kintsugi (back to top)

“…we can celebrate the scars, write odes to undoing. I think of the Japanese art of kintsugi: to emphasize the place of breaking, limn it with gold.” “Nobody ever sees it coming, except for when they do.” Jessie Lynn McMains, in Sforzando

kirtle (back to top)

“Here we go,” she said, holding up a scarlet kirtle.
Neil Gaiman. Stardust. New York: Avon, 1999. p. 90.

kompromat (back to top)

Compromising material.

“I was also told by a man I’ll call a member of the U.S. intelligence community back in August that he had been told by the head of an Eastern European intelligence service that the Russians had kompromat or compromising material on Mr. Trump.”

BBC Washington correspondent Paul Wood, Jan. 11, 2017.
“BBC Correspondent Releases Big ‘Golden Shower’ Announcement – Awaiting Trump Response.” Natalie Thongrit. Bipartisan Report. Jan. 11, 2017.

kovatembel (back to top)

“The Israelis, long before the age of globalization, adopted clothing quite different from that of the Jews of Eastern Europe or North Africa, choosing instead to adapt their costumes to the local climate, resulting in a remarkable similarity to the colonial style widespread throughout the British Empire (one exception is the kova tembel, the characteristic hat of the peasant Sabra).”

Shlomo Sand. How I Stopped Being a Jew. (2013) Translated by David Fernbach. London: Verso, 2014. p. 52.

L (back to top)





lettered gentility








lunar caustic



lanceolate (back to top)

“She too felt drawn to look at him with an ingratiating smile on her large, old face; she too was rapt by the pallid gaze beneath the deep-wrinkled brow; by the lifted hand, whose thumb and forefinger were joined in an O, while the other three with their lanceolate nails stood stiffly up.”
Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain (originally S. Fischer Verlagberlin, 1924). England: A. Wehaten and Co., Exeter, 1971. p. 552.

Laodicean (back to top)

Quoted definition: “‘lukewarm in religion,’ 1564, from Laodicea, Syrian city (modern Latakia) whose early Christians were chastised in the Bible for indifference to their religion [Rev. iii.14-16].”
laodicean. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: May 29, 2009).

latifundum (back to top)

An ancient Roman plantation.

“Unless the colony was properly settled by family farmers, Franchetti argued, well-capitalized investors would seize the best land and simply reproduce the quasi planation system, the vast latifundia, that hampered the development of southern Italy.”

Raymond Jonas. The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011. p. 98.

leman (back to top)

Lover. From Middle English.

“And the first man who saw thee, if so he might, would take thee forthwith and carry thee to his bed, and make thee his leman.”
“‘Tis of Aucassin and of Nicolette.” in Aucassin and Nicolette and other Mediaeval Romances and Legends. Translated by Eugene Mason. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1958. p. 16.

lettered gentility (back to top)

“Clever boys from ordinary suburban homes — even, more recently, rough young lads from the Commonwealth — are taken up and metamorphosed. Within a few years, they are virtually indistinguishable from the college’s Old Etonians. And despite tokens of loyalty to their roots, all combine to live the life of lettered gentility.”

Liam Hudson. The Cult of the Fact. London: Jonathan Cape, 1972. p. 50.

lickerish (back to top)


“Recurrent news of scandals in the highest circles of government of virtually all countries is proof that the list has not ended of statesmen who hesitate between lickerishness and dutiful government.”
F. Gonzalez-Crussi. On the Nature of Things Erotic. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 53.

liget (back to top)

“In another culture area, the Philippines, the central virtue for the Ilongot is liget: fierce, energetic, restless “anger” (M. Rosaldo, 1980). Liget motivates people, especially young men, to take the risks to perform dangerous acts such as climbing out on limbs of the giant trees that shade their gardens to cut back the branches and let sunlight in. More generally, liget moves people to overcome lethargy, laziness, fear, or other barriers to action, provoking them to make the effort to do something.”

Alan Page Fiske and Tage Shakti Rai. Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

logomachy (back to top)

An argument about words.

“R. Hayyim insisted upon straight, nondevious thinking, the kind which goes to the heart of the issue instead of floundering in a lugubrious logomachy.”

Norman Lamm. Torah Lishmah – Torah for Torah’s Sake: In the Works of Rabbi Hayyim of Volozhin and His Contemporaries. Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1989. p. 29.

logotherapy (back to top)

“While he was in medical school, [Viktor] Frankl distinguished itself even further. Not only did he establish suicide-prevention centers for teenagers – a precursor to his work in the [Nazi concentration] camps – but he was also developing his signature contribution to the field of clinical psychology: logotherapy, which is meant to help people overcome depression and achieve well-being by finding their unique meaning in life.”

“What is a good life?” Emily Esfahani Smith. First published in The Atlantic Magazine. Reprinted in The Week, Feb. 22, 2013. p. 41.

lorgnette (back to top)

A pair of spectacles or opera glasses held to the face by a handle.

“Something new, Edna?” exclaimed Miss Mayblunt, with lorgnette directed toward a magnificent cluster of diamonds that sparkled, that almost sputtered, in Edna’s hair, just over the center of her forehead.

Kate Chopin. The Awakening. (1899) New York: Avon, 1972. P. 145.

”The girls took turns sashaying around Midgetropolis, holding it like a lorgnette and saying, ‘Jolly good,’ and ‘Where did I put my wellies?’”

Leah Hager Cohen. No Book But the World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2014. p. 209.

lothario (back to top)

A man who seduces women; the name of a character in Nicholas Rowe’s play The Fair Penitent (1703).

“Demian thought he’d been cast as the asshole; Kelley guessed that Demian was the prankster; Krystal guessed the ‘stoner lothario, sort of Jersey Shore.‘”
“Reality TV Me.” Jia Tolentino. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. New York: Random House, 2019. p. 51.

“Say the words ‘pickup artist’ and every face within earshot wrinkles in disgust, picturing the slick lothario wearing too much cologne and scanning the room for his next conquest.”
“Picking up pieces.” The Week, March 4, 2011. p. 48.

“Motherhood has a way of weeding out the lotharios.”
“Why You’re Not Married.” Tracy McMillan. Feb. 13, 2011.

“The lady of our narrative, stirred by the man’s harangue, thrust not one but two passes with the sword, leaving the disabused lothario at her feet, uncannily resembling a garden bug pinned to an entomologist’s collection pad.”
F. Gonzalez-Crussi. On the Nature of Things Erotic. Orlando, Fl.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. p. 59.

“What of their obligation to their party? And what of their obligation to the nation, which didn’t need another dime-store lothario at the helm, imposing his vulnerabilities on the country?.”
Eric Felten. Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. p. 211.

“Romances which are not destined to start because of one person’s reluctance, or which have come to an end, turn on the sharp point of the word, now occurring in a bleak guise: ‘I like you as a friend,’ says the girl repelling the amorous boy; ‘let’s always be friends,’ says the Lothario to the discarded maiden.”
A. C. Grayling. Friendship. New Haven: Yale, 2013. p. 201.

“Their men didn’t chase us or try to seduce us the way the Latin men did, young lotharios who thought all North American females travelling alone were ripe for the picking.”
Sheila Dalton. The Girl in the Box. Napoleon and Co, 2011. p. 84.

“A couple of years ago I went down to Key West. One of Hemingway’s house is down there; it’s beautiful, but unusual in that it’s overrun by polydactyl cats. Hemingway’s own polydactyl cat was a wonderful Lothario, and they take care of these living descendants of the original cat.”
Tim Youd, quoted in Richard Polt. The Typewriter Revolution: A Typist’s Companion for the 21st Century. New York: Countryman Press, 2015. p. 311.

“Under normal circumstances, Harris was not the kind of footloose, suburban lothario who would ever think to take advantage of a lonely housewife who had nothing better to do on a sunny summer morning than shop for beer.”
Garth Hallberg. The Piketty Problem: or The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming. The Reason for Everything, 2017. p. 32.

loup-garou (back to top)

“Sometimes the loup-garou is said to appear under the form of a white dog, or to be loaded with chains; but there is probably a confusion of ideas between the were-wolf and the church-dog, bar-ghest, pad-foit, wush-hound, or by whatever name the animal supposed to haunt a churchyard is designated.”
Sabine Baring-Gould. The Book of Were-Wolves. London: Smith, Elder & Co, 1865.

lunar caustic (back to top)

“…lunar caustic, that term I didn’t even know yet. The moon tethering the sun.”
Gemma Files. Experimental Film. Toronto, Canada: ChiZine, 2015. p. 252.

lupanar (back to top)

“Rome would willingly have accepted the Syrian Deity amongst the lupanar of divinities whose residence was the Pantheon and whose rites were obscene…”
J. Stuart Hay. The Amazing Emperor Heliogabalus. Rome: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider, 1972. (Originally London, 1911). p 96.

lych-gate (back to top)

A gate with a roof.

“My English grandmother had told me that lych meant corpse, and these gates had been designed to keep coffins dry in rainy churchyards.”
Armistead Maupin, The Night Listener (a novel). New York: HarperCollins, 2000.