Every Word I Learned from ‘Infinite Jest’

Gabe Habash -- August 23rd, 2012

That picture above is an index of page numbers with words I didn’t know in Infinite Jest. So basically, I just added more information to a whopping book of information. I’d be curious to know how many of these words you guys know, and whether other readers of IJ kept a similar list. One of the pleasures of reading the book for me was keeping this list and discovering that such varied bits of existence had such specific words to name them. Looking through a copy of Both Flesh and Not, which has Wallace’s essays separated by two pages of his vocab words, brought back a pretty warm memory of how much fun it was to read IJ‘s sentences.

Before we begin, some thoughts:

It should be noted that this list doesn’t include most of the hyper-scientific or hyper-medical terms because, well, I think my head would’ve blown a gasket.

Something you might notice: “agnate” is on here three times. That’s because I didn’t know “agnate” on page 91 and when it came up again on page 151, I still didn’t know it, and when it came up again on page 382 as “agnation,” I still didn’t know it. (Same thing happened with “scrofulous.” And “saprogenic.” And “lordotic.”) In that way, I suppose the title of this post is a lie.

Nonetheless, below you’ll find some pretty difficult vocabulary. If you want to know the most difficult passage of the book, my vote would go to pages 322-333, in which the details of Eschaton are laid out (which was supposedly Wallace’s favorite part of the book). If I had to estimate, I’d say those 11 pages took me an hour and a half to read.

One last note: my spellchecker is telling me that 129 of these words aren’t real words.

1. enfilade (13)

noun

a position of works, troops, etc., making them subject to a sweeping fire from along the length of a line of troops, a trench, a battery, etc.

2. thrush (33)

noun

Pathology . a disease, especially in children, characterized by whitish spots and ulcers on the membranes of the mouth, fauces, etc., caused by a parasitic fungus, Candida albicans.

3. fantods (45)

noun

a state of extreme nervousness or restlessness; the willies; the fidgets.

4. élan (55)

noun

dash; impetuous ardor

5. kismet (56)

noun

fate; destiny

6. apocopes (57)

noun

loss or omission of the last letter, syllable, or part of a word.

7. dipsomania (63)

noun

an irresistible, typically periodic craving for alcoholic drink.

8. festschrift (65)

a collection of essays or learned papers contributed by a number of people to honour an eminent scholar, esp a colleague

9. apres-garde (65)

adjective

French for “rear guard,” it’s the opposite of avant-garde.

10. thigmotactic (75)

noun

movement of an organism toward or away from any object that provides a mechanical stimulus.

11. synclinal (75)

adjective

sloping downward from opposite directions so as to meet in a common point or line.

12. calliopsis (80)

noun

any of several species of coreopsis, especially Coreopsis tinctoria,  a widely cultivated garden plant.

13. quincunx (80)

noun

an arrangement of five objects, as trees, in a square or rectangle, one at each corner and one in the middle.

14. varicoceles (80)

noun

a varicose condition of the spermatic veins of the scrotum.

15. plosivity (plosive) (80)

noun

(of a stop consonant or occlusive) characterized by release in a plosion.

16. aleatory (82)

adjective

of or pertaining to accidental causes; of luck or chance; unpredictable: an aleatory element.

17. diagnate (82)

adjective

N/A; nelogism

18. palestra (83)

noun

a public place for training or exercise in wrestling or athletics.

19. agnate (91)

noun

a relative whose connection is traceable exclusively through males.

20. amanuensis (92)

noun

a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary.

21. pedalferrous (93)

adjective

neologism – apparently “of or pertaining to foot metal,” i.e., fast driving

22. fulvous (93)

adjective

tawny; dull yellowish-gray or yellowish-brown.

23. teratogenic (93)

adjective

pertaining to a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, causing birth defects.

24. ephebes (98)

noun

young men

25. louvered (99)

adjective

any of a series of narrow openings framed at their longer edges with slanting, overlapping fins or slats, adjustable for admitting light and air while shutting out rain.

26. piebald (99)

adjective

having patches of black and white or of other colors; parti-colored.

27. semion (101)

noun

A semion is technically part of an anyon, the latter of which is defined in the OED as “a particle having characteristics intermediate between those of fermions and bosons in two-dimensional space.” However, it seems Wallace uses the word as a form closer to “semiotics.” A later search reveals that semion is Greek for “sign.”

28. gibbous (109)

adjective

(of a heavenly body) convex at both edges, as the moon when more than half full.

29. guilloche (120)

noun

an ornamental pattern or border, as in architecture, consisting of paired ribbons or lines flowing in interlaced curves around a series of circular voids.

30. apercu (121)

noun

an immediate estimate or judgment; understanding; insight.

31. easement (122)

noun

something that gives ease;  a convenience.

32. boscages (124)

noun

a mass of trees or shrubs; wood, grove, or thicket.

33. eidetic (127)

adjective

of, pertaining to, or constituting visual imagery vividly experienced and readily reproducible with great accuracy and in great detail.

34. agnate (151)

noun

a relative whose connection is traceable exclusively through males.

35. erumpent (155)

adjective

bursting forth.

36. eclat (155)

noun

brilliance of success, reputation, etc.; acclaim.

37. sobriquet (173)

noun

a nickname.

38. fricatives (174)

adjective

(of a speech sound) characterized by audible friction produced by forcing the breath through a constricted or partially obstructed passage in the vocal tract; spirantal; spirant.

39. acromegalic (185)

noun

a chronic disease characterized by enlargement of the bones of the head, the soft parts of the feet and hands, and sometimes other structures, due to excessive secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland.

40. hyperkeratosistic (185)

adjective

pertaining to a proliferation of the cells of the cornea; or a thickening of the horny layer of the skin.

41. enuretic (185)

adjective

pertaining to lack of control of urination, especially during sleep; bed-wetting; urinary incontinence.

42. torticollic (185)

adjective

a condition in which the neck is twisted and the head inclined to one side, caused by spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the neck.

43. pia-mater (186)

noun

the delicate, fibrous, and highly vascular membrane forming the innermost of the three coverings of the brain and spinal cord.

44. sulci (186)

noun

furrows or grooves, sometimes fissures between two convolutions of the brain.

45. numinous (186)

adjective

of, pertaining to, or like a numen;  spiritual or supernatural.

46. serodermatotic (187)

adjective

suffering from serodermatosis, a skin disease with serous effusion into the skin.

47. tabescent (187)

adjective

wasting away; becoming emaciated or consumed.

48. cachectic (appears as “chacetic”) (187)

adjective

affected by or relating to cachexia, general ill health with emaciation, usually occurring in association with cancer or a chronic infectious disease.

49. steatocryptotic (187)

adjective

pertaining to steatocryptosis, which is derangement of the sebaceous glands.

50. scrofulodermic (187)

adjective

suffering from cutaneous tuberculosis,

51. steatopygiacs (187)

noun

someone suffering from steatopygia, extreme accumulation of fat on and about the buttocks, especially of women.

52. scrofulous (206)

adjective

morally tainted.

53. ablated (208)

adjective

to remove or dissipate by melting, vaporization, erosion, etc.

54. gonfalonish (208)

adjective

pertaining to a banner suspended from a crossbar, often with several streamers of tails.

55. mucronate (208)

adjective

having an abruptly projecting point, as a feather or leaf.

56. autolyzed (209)

adjective

to cause to undergo autolysis, the breakdown of plant or animal tissue by the action of enzymes contained in the tissue affected; self-digestion.

57. frustum (213)

noun

the part of a conical solid left after cutting off a top portion with a plane parallel to the base.

58. otiose (216)

adjective

being at leisure, idle, indolent; ineffective or futile; superfluous or useless.

59. halation (218)

noun

a blurred effect around the edges of highlight areas in a photographic image caused by reflection and scattering of light through the emulsion from the back surface of the film support or plate.

60. tumbrel (225)

noun

one of the carts used during the French revolution to convey victims to the guillotine; a farmer’s cart, especially one for hauling manure, that can be tilted to discharge its load.

61. imprecate (imprecated) (225)

verb

to invoke or call down (evil or curses), as upon a person.

62. afflatus (231)

noun

inspiration; an impelling mental force acting from within.

63. tesseract (232)

noun

the generalization of a cube to four dimensions.

64. labile (233)

adjective

apt or likely to change.

65. stretto (strettoing) (240)

noun

A close succession or overlapping of statements of the subject in a fugue, especially in the final section.

66. nacelle (268)

noun

the enclosed part of an airplane, dirigible, etc., in which the engine is housed or in which cargo or passengers are carried.

67. nictitate (nictitated) (272)

verb

to wink.

68. suppurating (278)

adjective

producing or discharging pus, as a wound; maturating.

69. nystagmic (281)

adjective

pertaining to a congenital or acquired persistent, rapid, involuntary, and oscillatory movement of the eyeball, usually from side to side.

70. levantine (286)

noun

a cloth of twilled silk.

71. kohl (286)

noun

a powder, as finely powdered antimony sulfide, used as a cosmetic to darken the eyelids, eyebrows, etc.

72. anthracnose (288)

noun

a disease of plants characterized by restricted, discolored lesions, caused by a fungus.

73. strabismic (289)

adjective

pertaining to a disorder of vision due to a deviation from normal orientation of one or both eyes so that both cannot be directed at the same object at the same time; squint; crossed eyes.

74. zygomatics (290)

adjective

of, pertaining to, or situated near the zygoma, the bony arch at the outer border of the eye socket.

75. attar (290)

noun

an essential oil from flowers, esp. the damask rose, used pure or as a base for perfume.

76. adit (291)

noun

an entrance or a passage.

77. phoneme (294)

noun

one of the set of speech sounds in any given language that serve to distinguish one word from another. A phoneme may consist of several phonetically distinct articulations, which are regarded as identical by native speakers, since one articulation may be substituted for another without any change of meaning.

78. dirigibles (305)

noun

airships.

79. taffeta (305)

noun

a medium-weight or light-weight fabric of acetate, nylon, rayon, or silk, usually smooth, crisp, and lustrous, plain-woven, and with a fine crosswise rib effect.

80. candent (306)

adjective

glowing with heat; being at a white heat.

81. saurian (316)

adjective

resembling a lizard.

82. homodontic (316)

adjective

pertaining to teeth that are all of similar form.

83. paisano (319)

noun

a rustic or peasant; a roadrunner; a friend or pal.

84. eminence grise (333)

noun

a person who exercises power or influence in certain areas without holding an official position.

85. spansules (334)

noun

capsules containing medicines, coated with materials having slow dissolving rates so that the medicine is delivered at a time after the capsule is taken.

86. ziggurats (343)

noun

temples of Sumerian origin in the form of a pyramidal tower, consisting of a number of stories and having about the outside a broad ascent winding round the structure, presenting the appearance of a series of terraces.

87. prognathous (348)

adjective

having protrusive jaws; having a gnathic index over 103.

88. Bircher (Birchism) (352)

noun

A member or supporter of the John Birch Society, an anti-Communist organization founded in 1958.

89. magisculed (354)

adjective

pertaining to capital letters.

90. caparison (367)

noun

a decorative covering for a horse or for the tack or harness of a horse; trappings.

91. pitons (367)

noun

metal spikes with an eye through which a rope may be passed.

92. cunctations (368)

noun

delays; tardiness.

93. aphasiac (368)

adjective/noun

affected by aphasia, the loss of a previously held ability to speak or understand spoken or written language, due to disease or injury of the brain.

94. aigrette (380)

noun

a plume or tuft of feathers, especially the back plume of any of various herons, arranged as a head ornament.

95. agnation (382)

noun

connection traceable exclusively through males.

96. imbricate (384)

adjective

overlapping in sequence, as tiles or shingles on a roof.

97. fulgurant (387)

adjective

flashing like lightning.

98. glabrous (388)

adjective

having a surface devoid of hair or pubescence.

99. picayune (395)

adjective

of little value or account; small; trifling.

100. panatela (395)

noun

A long slender cigar.

101. dirndl (397)

noun

a woman’s dress with a close-fitting bodice and full skirt, commonly of colorful and strikingly patterned material, fashioned after Tyrolean peasant wear.

102. claque (400)

noun

a group of persons hired to applaud an act or performer; a group of sycophants.

103. saprogenic (402)

adjective

producing putrefaction or decay, as certain bacteria.

104. maffick (mafficking) (429)

verb

to celebrate with extravagant public demonstrations.

105. cuirass (431)

noun

Also called corselet. defensive armor for the torso comprising a breastplate and backplate, originally made of leather.

106. orts (438)

noun

scraps or morsels of food left at a meal.

107. picric (456)

adjective

pertaining to picric acid, a yellow, crystalline, water-soluble, intensely bitter, poisonous acid.

108. morendo (461)

noun

Dying; a gradual decrescendo at the end of a strain or cadence.

109. cerise (486)

adjective/noun

moderate to deep red.

110. teratoid (486)

adjective

resembling a monster or exhibiting abnormal development.

111. aphonia (488)

noun

loss of voice, especially due to an organic or functional disturbance of the vocal organs.

112. anechoic (503)

adjective

(of a recording chamber, television studio, or the like) characterized by an unusually low degree of reverberation; echo-free.

113. catalepsy (503)

noun

a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia, characterized by suspension of sensation, muscular rigidity, fixity of posture, and often by loss of contact with environment.

114. anhedonia (504)

noun

lack of pleasure or of the capacity to experience it.

115. jongleur (507)

noun

(in medieval France and Norman England) an itinerant minstrel or entertainer who sang songs, often of his own composition, and told stories.

116. escutcheon (509)

noun

a shield or shieldlike surface on which a coat of arms is depicted.

117. premie (509)

noun

a premature infant.

118. moppet (moppetish) (511)

noun

a young child.

119. cyanosis (512)

noun

blueness or lividness of the skin, as from imperfectly oxygenated blood.

120. amanuensis (515)

noun

a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary.

121. brisance (541)

noun

the shattering effect of a high explosive.

122. reseau (542)

noun

a network; a netted or meshed ground in lace.

123. diverticulitis (543)

noun

inflammation of one or more diverticula, characterized by abdominal pain, fever, and changes in bowel movements.

124. phosphene (545)

noun

a luminous image produced by mechanical stimulation of the retina, as by pressure applied to the eyeball by the finger when the lid is closed.

125. cathexis (550)

noun

the investment of emotional significance in an activity, object, or idea.

126. greebles (551)

noun

“a small piece of detailing added to break up the surface of an object to add visual interest to a surface or object, particularly in movie special effects. They serve no real purpose other than to add complexity to the object.” In IJ, the word is used differently, as an informal slang term: “the boogerish little greebles of dirty gum all around the soles’ perimeter.”

127. ester (551)

noun

a compound produced by the reaction between an acid and an alcohol with the elimination of a molecule of water, as ethyl acetate, C 4 H 8 O 2 , or dimethyl sulfate, C 2 H 6 SO 4 .

128. bosun (579)

noun

boatswain–a warrant officer on a warship or a petty officer on a merchant vessel in charge of rigging, anchors, and cables.

129. cyanotic (580)

adjective

pertaining to cyanosis, blueness or lividness of the skin, as from imperfectly oxygenated blood.

130. aphasia (588)

noun

the loss of a previously held ability to speak or understand spoken or written language, due to disease or injury of the brain.

131. zaftig (597)

adjective

(of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure.

132. coprolalia (621)

noun

the obsessive use of scatological language.

133. chyme (624)

noun

the semifluid mass into which food is converted by gastric secretion and which passes from the stomach into the small intestine.

134. lecithin (631)

noun

any of a group of phospholipids, occurring in animal and plant tissues and egg yolk, composed of units of choline, phosphoric acid, fatty acids, and glycerol.

135. saltire (632)

noun

an ordinary consisting of a diagonal cross on a shield.

136. baroquoco (644)

adjective

Wallace’s combination of “baroque” and “rococo.”

137. mentation (653)

noun

mental activity.

138. cathect (654)

verb

to invest emotion or feeling in (an idea, object, or another person).

139. cognoscenti (703)

noun

persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion.

140. novena (705)

noun

a devotion consisting of nine separate days of prayers or services.

141. matins (705)

noun

the first of the seven canonical hours.

142. catexic (707)

adjective

this is likely a misspelling of “cathexic,” which means “emotionally charged.”

143. selvage (724)

noun

the edge of woven fabric finished so as to prevent raveling, often in a narrow tape effect, different from the body of the fabric.

144. Sybaritic (sybaritically) (728)

adjective

pertaining to or characteristic of a sybarite; characterized by or loving luxury or sensuous pleasure

145. pennon (761)

noun

a distinctive flag in any of various forms, as tapering, triangular, or swallow-tailed, formerly one borne on the lance of a knight.

146. lordosis (lordotic) (764)

noun

an abnormal forward curvature of the spine in the lumbar region, resulting in a swaybacked posture.

147. parturient (789)

adjective

bringing forth or about to produce something, as an idea.

148. glabrous (789)

adjective

having a surface devoid of hair or pubescence.

149. thanatopsis (thanatoptic) (790)

noun

a view or contemplation of death.

150. olla podrida (791)

noun

an incongruous mixture or miscellany; olio.

151. malcathected (791)

adjective

attached to emotionally in a negative way

152. gneiss (797)

noun

a metamorphic rock, generally made up of bands that differ in color and composition, some bands being rich in feldspar and quartz, others rich in hornblende or mica.

153. quoins (797)

noun

an external solid angle of a wall or the like.

154. civet (civety) (804)

noun

a yellowish, unctuous substance with a strong musklike odor, obtained from a pouch in the genital region of civets and used in perfumery.

155. solenoid (820)

noun

an electric conductor wound as a helix with small pitch, or as two or more coaxial helices, so that current through the conductor establishes a magnetic field within the conductor.

156. strigil (832)

noun

an instrument with a curved blade, used especially by the ancient Greeks and Romans for scraping the skin at the bath and in the gymnasium.

157. acciaccatura (832)

noun

a short grace note one half step below, and struck at the same time as, a principal note.

158. alembic (832)

noun

a vessel with a beaked cap or head, formerly used in distilling; anything that transforms, purifies, or refines.

159. proprioception (832)

noun

perception governed by proprioceptors, as awareness of the position of one’s body.

160. testudo (832)

noun

(among the ancient Romans) a movable shelter with a strong and usually fireproof arched roof, used for protection of soldiers in siege operations; a shelter formed by overlapping oblong shields, held by soldiers above their heads.

161. bricolage (832)

noun

a construction made of whatever materials are at hand; something created from a variety of available things.

162. catalepsy (catalept) (832)

noun

a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia, characterized by suspension of sensation, muscular rigidity, fixity of posture, and often by loss of contact with environment.

163. lordosis (832)

noun

an abnormal forward curvature of the spine in the lumbar region, resulting in a swaybacked posture.

164. chronaxy (832)

noun

the minimum time that an electric current of twice the threshold strength must flow in order to excite a tissue.

165. Lucullus (LUCULUS) (832)

noun

Roman general and epicure.

166. shinola (833)

noun

a now-defunct brand of mid-20th century shoe polish, preserved in the expression, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.”

167. pleurisy (pleuritic) (833)

noun

inflammation of the pleura, with or without a liquid effusion in the pleural cavity, characterized by a dry cough and pain in the affected side.

168. agora (835)

noun

a popular political assembly.

169. parotitis (parotitic) (871)

inflammation of the parotid, a salivary gland situated at the base of each ear.

170. sinciput (950)

noun

the upper part of the skull.

171. finial (950)

noun

a relatively small, ornamental, terminal feature at the top of a gable, pinnacle, etc.

172. delfts (951)

noun

earthenware having an opaque white glaze with an overglaze decoration, usually in blue.

173. seraglio (952)

noun

the part of a Muslim house or palace in which the wives and concubines are secluded; harem.

174. kyphosis (kyphotic) (953)

noun

an abnormal, convex curvature of the spine, with a resultant bulge at the upper back.

175. piaffer (965)

noun

a cadenced trot executed on one spot, with a well-elevated leg action.

176. ciguatoxic (ciquatoxic) (967)

adjective

Reef fish can carry ciguatoxins, which cause ciguatera food poisoning in humans who consume the contaminated fish. These toxins may be specific to certain reefs, are concentrated up the food chain and as such are more likely to be present in larger reef fish, and cannot be destroyed by cooking and freezing

177. fuliginous (971)

adjective

sooty; smoky.

178. cardioid (983)

noun

a somewhat heart-shaped curve, being the path of a point on a circle that rolls externally, without slipping, on another equal circle.

179. nystagmus (983)

noun

a congenital or acquired persistent, rapid, involuntary, and oscillatory movement of the eyeball, usually from side to side.

180. entrepot (983)

noun

a warehouse.

181. incunabula (incunabular) (986)

noun

extant copies of books produced in the earliest stages (before 1501) of printing from movable type.

182. bradykinesia (bradykineticism) (996)

noun

slowness of movement, as found, for example, in parkinsonism.

183. whinge (1006)

verb

to cry or complain

184. xerophagy (1006)

noun

a Lenten fast observed especially during Holy Week, constituting the strictest fast in the Eastern Church.

185. felo de se (1006)

noun

a person who commits suicide or commits an unlawful malicious act resulting in his or her own death.

186. suborn (1009)

verb

to bribe or induce (someone) unlawfully or secretly to perform some misdeed or to commit a crime.

187. codicil (1030)

noun

an appendix or supplement, especially to a will, containing an addition, explanation, modification, etc., of something in the will.

188. oubliette (1045)

noun

a secret dungeon with an opening only in the ceiling, as in certain old castles.

189. anaclisis (anaclitic) (1048)

noun

the choice of an object of libidinal attachment on the basis of a resemblance to early childhood protective and parental figures.

190. aspic (1050)

noun

a savory jelly usually made with meat or fish stock and gelatin, chilled and used as a garnish and coating for meats, seafoods, eggs, etc.

191. escutcheon (1056)

noun

a shield or shieldlike surface on which a coat of arms is depicted.

192. malentendu (1062)

adjective

misunderstood; misapprehended.

193. gonion (1067)

noun

a point on each side of the lower jaw at the mandibular angle.

194. uncolloped (1067)

adjective

having no fat.

195. nictitater (1074)

someone who winks.

196. ergot (1078)

noun

a disease of rye and other cereal grasses, caused by a fungus of the genus Claviceps,  especially C. purpurea, which replaces the affected grain with a long, hard, blackish sclerotial body.

14 thoughts on “Every Word I Learned from ‘Infinite Jest’

  1. Steve Carlson

    What a fun article. I was going to comment that I know quite a lot of those words, but some I know only because I looked them up back when I read IJ. Others are words that those of us over age 60 didn’t realize might be uncommon today. Others are common words for those of us who have studied speech, those who have encountered various medical conditions, and those who looked up the same words when we were reading Pynchon. Thanks, Gabe, for daring to expose your own list–mine would be different (though overlapping), but would be at least as long.

  2. Sara

    I loved reading this–I hadn’t realized how many medical terms DFW uses in IJ until now. I appreciate your honesty about which words you didn’t know.

  3. Jessica Weissman

    “Aphasia” is in there a couple of times too. Along with “aphasiac”.

    For what it’s worth I know 110 of the words, but then I’m over 60 and had a classical liberal arts education and like to read popular science and math books.

  4. Clare

    20. The first instance of “amanuensis” is spelled wrong.
    141. As a noun, “matins” is always pluralized. “Matin” singular is the adjective.
    183. “Whinge” is the British synonym of the American “whine.”

  5. Margaret Miles

    Thanks, this was fun!

    One of my pleasures in unusual words is the way they can recall the context in which I first read them: lordosis, for example, from Willie Keith’s navy physical exam early in Herman Wouk’s THE CAINE MUTINY; and nacelle from descriptions of the original Starship Enterprise.

    Word lovers who haven’t read Anne Fadiman’s “The Joy of Sesquepedalians” (in her essay collection EX LIBRIS) should definitely acquire a copy.

  6. Kent Weitkamp

    I would guess that you are either under the age of 30 or have by-passed a liberal arts education. At least a quarter of these words are present in the vocabulary of those over 50 and/or those who have had the benefit of a liberal curriculum. But, I applaud the effort you put into identifying and researching the words. Commendable, and useful means of acquiring knowledge.

    1. Caitlin

      I applaud Gabe for subjecting himself to the high probability of comments like this being made. I certainly didn’t keep an extensive vocab list when I read IF, and probably should have it I wanted to appreciate it to the full potential. I’ll keep this list in mind if ever I feel the need to return to IF.

      P.S – Eschaton most certainly my favorite too

    2. Rob

      UMmm…on what planet? I’m an educated man who is turning 50 this year and I too had to take my reading a bit further when diving into Infinate Jest.

    3. EditorLA

      There is a fair number of well-known words in there; I agree with the 25% estimate. But I have to ask: what happens between the ages of 30 and 50?

      1. EditorLA

        Actually, upon rereading, I’d say the percentage of widely-known words is closer to 40%. But then again, I work with words for a living!

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