My daughter is doing some homework and she asks me to read the first paragraph from a book review written by Francine Prose. The next to the last sentence:
One reason "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" remains so affecting and so profoundly threatening is that Huck shows us what it meant to grow up in a slave-holding society and learn to navigate its pathologies.Okay, affecting I can understand, but profoundly threatening? Where does she get this? What the devil is she talking about? Who is being threatened? By what? I am sorry, I just do not understand.
And the word I didn't know? Well, we find it in the second paragraph, so technically I could have avoided it, but it was a pretty good essay and I was enjoying it. So the word is picaresque, which at first I thought was a misspelling of picturesque, but it's not. It is a word in it's own right and means something like rogue. I've never heard this word before, and I am not sure I approve of it. It is too similar in spelling and pronunciation to picturesque, and too different in meaning.
I like the Merriam-Webster online dictionary because they give you an audio pronunciation, which really helps with these stupid obscure words that nobody ever uses. Oh, did I say that already?
Update December 2016 replaced missing pictures.