I've just recently read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was a cracking read and provided lots, and lots of fabulous new words for me.
1. Carbuncle (noun)
This isn't quite so much a new word, as a new usage for me. Carbuncle is a term for a multi-headed boil. You'll be pleased to know that I won't include a picture here, but Google Image is just a moment away for those brave enough to explore.
Imagine my surprise to see it used thus in Ruth Rendell's Foreward to The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes:
So while he could people many of his stories with characters like the unfortunate engineer who loses his thumb and that master of disguise, the man with the twisted lip- two of the best stories, these- he understood that to attract readers he must also write about a jewelled coronet which is 'one of the most precious public possessions of the empire' and the fabulous blue carbuncle, abstracted from the jewel case of a countess.
A reference as it turns out to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Here a carbuncle, is clearly a gemstone. Wiki tells us that it is an archaic name given to any red cabochon cut gemstone. It particularly applied to red garnet. (A cabochon cut stone that has been shaped and polished instead of faceted. Turns out one of my favourite necklaces is a cabochon cut stone and I never knew! I think I'll dig it out and wear it tomorrow).
|Picture credit- and don't I wish I could join their society?
It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort that is known as a "Penang lawyer".
From the context this was clearly a walking stick. Still an intriguing term. I wondered what it looked like, and why was it called a Penang lawyer- was it used as punishment? (Possibly)
|More than you could ever want to know about walking sticks
The thick iron ferrule is worn down, so it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.
The webpage where I found information on the Penang lawyer, also answers this one. I'm starting to realise that there are a whole world of Holmes devotees out there. And they all seem to have wildly informative websites!
|The people pictures were a bit alarming, I preferred the dogs.