Odd Words

Every now and then you run into a word that has you reaching for the dictionary. Or, more commonly these days, typing it into Google.

Beta Eridani in Smyth, The Bedford Cycle


Yeah, have to look that one up.

The source for this word is of course Captain Smyth’s Bedford Cycle, an observing guide to the stars published in 1844. Along with being a fascinating view into astronomy in the mid 19th century, it also provides a look at the language of early Victorian England. This is a book that has had me looking up words on any number of occasions. Smalt? Cinereous?

Poetaster /poʊɪtæstər/, like rhymester or versifier, is a derogatory term applied to bad or inferior poets. Specifically, poetaster has implications of unwarranted pretensions to artistic value. The word was coined in Latin by Erasmus in 1521.


Just a fun word, but one I doubt I will have regular call to use. Some of the other words just might slip their way into my vocabulary to the confusion of friends and co-workers.

I have been spending time with Smyth on evenings I would like to be out with a telescope, but clouds or a bright Moon prevent me from indulging in ancient photons. I will have to blog more about what I find there.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *