Athanor

A self-feeding digesting furnace that maintained a uniform and durable heat and was used by alchemists. The word comes from Arabic at-tannūr, the oven, from Aramaic tannūr, oven. I wonder if tandoori is related?

From the story “Actors” in the collection Dictation by Cynthia Ozick, page 79.

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.

Muleta

A small cloth attached to a short tapered stick and used by a matador in place of the large cape during the final stage of a bullfight.

From the story “Actors” in the collection Dictation by Cynthia Ozick, page 79.

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.

Daven

To recite the prescribed prayers in a Jewish liturgy.

The Cannibal Galaxy, page 89.

“Joseph,” Pult said, “come here and daven. You have not davened.” Brill protested, “Rabbi, I just finished davening. You saw me. You heard me.” Pult said: “If you pray and then you go out and embarrass someone, you have not prayed.

Midrash

A haggadic or hallachic exposition of the underlying significance of a Bible text.

The Cannibal Galaxy, page 67.

To him these little stories were only that: little stories made up to color a moral lesson; and when she began with “There ran the little fox,” he knew at once which midrash it would be, and could not, for himself, see the connection with her subject.

 

Riksdaler

The name of a Swedish coin first minted in 1604.

“The Story of Mats Israelson” from The Lemon Table, page 30.

When Halvar Berggren succumbed to akvavit, frivolity and atheism, and transferred ownership of the third stall to an itinerant knife-grinder, it was on Berggren, not the knife-grinder, that disapproval fell, and a more suitable appointment was made in exchange for a few riksdaler.

Akvavit

Variant of aquavita, a clear Scandinavian liquor flavored with caraway seeds.

“The Story of Mats Israelson” from The Lemon Table, page 29.

When Halvar Berggren succumbed to akvavit, frivolity and atheism, and transferred ownership of the third stall to an itinerant knife-grinder, it was on Berggren, not the knife-grinder, that disapproval fell, and a more suitable appointment was made in exchange for a few riksdaler.