Noxious or harmful. Offensive to the senses, especially to the sense of smell. I had read this word many times and, because it resembles the word “noise,” have always had trouble remembering that it doesn’t just mean “noisy.” It is similar also, of course, to “annoying,” which will be my new mnemonic.

The Lord of the Rings, page 613.

There was a faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and swirled.


Having or expressing strong opinions about what people should and should not do, often in an aphoristic or moralizing way.

The Brothers Karamazov, page 646.

“My friend, “the visitor observed sententiously, “it’s sometimes better to have your nose put out of joint than to have no nose at all, as one afflicted marquis (he must have been treated by a specialist) uttered not long ago in confession to his Jesuit spiritual director.


Past tense of “cow,” meaning to make someone too afraid to do something, or to destroy the resolve or courage of. Also: To bring to a state or an action by intimidation. Scandinavian origin, apparently not related to “coward.”

Encountered in Lord of the Rings, page 437.

The Orcs were getting ready to march again, but some of the Northerners were still unwilling, and the Isengarders slew two more before the rest were cowed.