Fenugreek

A leguminous annual Eurasian herb with aromatic seeds (also: its seeds). I had seen the word and knew it was some kind of herb but didn’t know anything more specific. It’s used in a lot of Indian cooking in particular.

From the story “Actors” in the collection Dictation by Cynthia Ozick, page 54.

The usage in context here is pretty undistinguished, as the word appears in a list of words that the author of crossword puzzles happens to know. It’s not really worth quoting.

Amaranthine

Of or relating to an amaranth, which is an annual herb. I’m frankly not 100% sure why the word is specifically appropriate in the sense below — I suppose because the name comes from words meaning “never fades” and the sense here is one of early youth, the children nearly as far from fading as it’s possible to get and be in the school described in the book.

The Cannibal Galaxy, page 85.

He was sick of nature’s pledge: daughters becoming mothers, the amaranthine first grade, the eighth grade unfailingly pubescent — Beulah, though her legs were still unrounded rods, was beginning breasts.

Coomb

A valley, possibly steep and narrow, possibly more like a large hollow on the side of a hill. Water does not run through a coomb. Also spelled combe.

The Lord of the Rings, page 516.

Still some miles away, on the far side of the Westfold Vale, lay a green coomb, a great bay in the mountains, out of which a gorge opened in the hills.

Glade

A open space surrounded by woods. I’ve always thought a glade was probably characterized by having water near it, perhaps because the deodorizing product that bears the name is a moist aerosol product. Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” may also have influenced my sense of the word, with its reference to a bee-loud glade and the lake water lapping.

The Lord of the Rings, page 430.

At last as the afternoon was waning they came to the eaves of the forest, and in an open glade among the first trees they found the place of the great burning: the ashes were still hot and smoking.

Mead

This is an archaic form of meadow.

The Lord of the Rings, page 464.

But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and teh wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses in the autumn fields.