"What moves thee, if the senses stir not? Light/Moves thee from Heaven, spontaneous, self-inform'd;/Or, likelier, gliding down with swift illapse/By will divine." --Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Hmm, gliding into something.... I recall driving a Volkswagen on a gusty winter night in upstate New York and gliding off the road into a snowbank. Car, passenger and driver were unharmed in this illapse.
"...he was a botcher, cheese-eater, and trimmer of mans flesh imbalmed, which in the arsiversie swagfall tumble was not found true." --François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel
I think this word means "upside down." It's hard to find a definition for it.... I've always enjoyed looking at the topsy-turvy sky and world you can see on the surface of a calm lake. One dropped pebble and the universe is destroyed in a burst of concentric circles.
A book printed before the 16th century; artwork from an early period
"'It's a long story, Sergeant. A few months ago we had a rare book stolen from this room. A beautiful old Tier Buch -- a book of animals -- an incunabulum.'" --Carey Magoon, I Smell the Devil
I attended an antiques fair a few months ago in upstate New York. There were many old books there -- though not as old as incunabula. The aroma of musty, falling-apart books invokes the past like nothing else, I think. Nostalgia stinks?
"The planet Pluto is so far away, and isolated from the sun, it is said, that it produces coryza tempratures." --Angel Steinborn, Urban Dictionary
Of course, Pluto isn't a planet anymore; it's been downgraded by astronomers to a dwarf planet, or minor planet. (I would prefer to call it a planetoid, just because I like the sound of that.) It's essentially a celestial snowball, probably with a rock in the center -- the kind of thing the bully down the street threw at you in when you were a kid, just because he hated your snowsuit.
"Tutor: ....So, in a word, you stand head and shoulders above the ruck and, what's more, you could hold a chair of philosophy or architecture in a great university. And yet you cavil at your lot!
Orestes: No, I do not cavil. What should I cavil at? You've left me free as the strands torn by the winds form spiders' webs that one sees floating ten feet above the ground. I'm light as gossamer and walk on air." --Jean Paul Sartre, The Flies
"You'd better be. If he loses his temper and throws us off the case, we're going to have to start looking for new premises in a less salubrious part of town." "I didn't think there was a less salubrious part of town." "My point exactly."
Glittering, but usually in a false or cheap way, like tinsel
"No, there are too many of these fine sparks you talk of who perhaps may be very clinquant, slight, and bright and make a very pretty show at first, but the tinsel-gentlemen do so tarnish in the wearing, there's no enduring them." --Thomas Shadwell, The Virtuoso
I once had a cat that liked to eat the tinsel (of the "icicle" type) off the Christmas tree. Maybe he had an iron deficiency. Anyway, he always threw it up later, in a sort of shiny hairball, which was both pretty from a distance and disgusting close up -- like many things, I guess.
An obsolete word, replaced by "whisper." Why do words fall out of favor? In this case, maybe because "whisper," with its S sound, actually sounds more like a whisper.
I remember a game we used to play as kids: tell a friend you have a secret and then just make a pssst pssst sound in his or her ear, making the friend giggle and driving the other kids crazy. ("What is it? What is it?")
"Ransom could see that, according to a phrase which came back to him just then, oddly, out of some novel or poem he had read of old, she was the cynosure of every eye." --Henry James, The Bostonians
My favorite Henry James work is The Turn of the Screw, one of the few ghost stories that is truly scary and disturbing -- mostly because it's impossible to know exactly what is going on in the story. Ambiguity can be more frightening than any monster.