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Word-Nerd Delight: Can You Pass This Quiz on 20 Words From Jane Eyre?

Just for fun. Ungraded.

Girl in glasses taking a quiz on computer

Recently, I reread Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë for a book club discussion where the classic novel served as a springboard for Rachel Hawkins' novel, The Wife Upstairs. (That's another post altogether!)

Rereading Jane Eyre reminded me that every time I open a book, I'm going on a treasure hunt, uncovering forgotten or unused words, dragging them to the surface, brushing them off, researching their origins, and polishing them before putting them in a cubby of my crazy closet of a brain, ready to pull them out when needed.

Don't you love it when you see a word that you've encountered before, remembering its meaning in a vague and murky way, but still close enough that you know what it means?

I do.

I don't know how many other individuals out there are like me, people who believe that words are playthings meant to be manipulated and molded, stacked and strung, tossed and tumbled together. Above all, words need to be KNOWN.

If you're out there, this is for your enjoyment.

Here's a quiz on the meaning of a mixture of words found in reading Jane Eyre, both archaic and contemporary. Just for fun. No grades.

Put the letter of the correct answer in the blank by the word it defines.

Let me know how you did!

WORDS from Jane Eyre:

  1. ameliorate: ______

  2. assiduity: ______

  3. barmecide: ______

  4. beck: ______

  5. debarrass: ______

  6. excrescence: ______

  7. effluvium: ______

  8. etiolated: ______

  9. girandoles: ______

  10. hebdomadal: ______

  11. ignominious: ______

  12. Inexorable: ______

  13. negus: ______

  14. pastille: ______

  15. pelisse: ______

  16. penurious: _____

  17. perfidious: _____

  18. phylactery: _____

  19. saturnine: _____

  20. surtout: ______


A. unpleasant or harmful odor, secretion, or discharge

B. a mountain stream

C. branded support for candles or other lights which stand on a surface or project from a wall

D. constant or close attention to what one is doing. / constant attention to someone

E. deserving or causing public disgrace or shame

F. a hot drink of port, sugar, lemon, and spices

G. extremely poor; poverty-stricken

H. a small leather box containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by Jewish men at morning prayer as a reminder to keep the law.

I. make something bad or unsatisfactory better

J. a man's overcoat of a style similar to a frock coat

K. illusory or imaginary and therefore disappointing

L. a small candy or lozenge OR a small pellet of aromatic paste burned as a perfume or deodorizer

M. a distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, especially one that is the result of disease or abnormality

N. woman's cloak with armholes or sleeves reaching to the ankles

O. to take from a person something that causes shame or embarrassment

P. slow and gloomy

Q. weekly; used especially for organizations that meet weekly

R. deceitful and untrustworthy

S. impossible to stop or prevent

T. pale and drawn out for lack of sleep

Worry about the future

You may have heard recently that the reading, math, science, and civics scores of American students are declining, and I would suggest that the American population, as a whole, would probably score lower than in years past.

I sometimes get discouraged, worried about the future of literacy.

How many vocabulary words can a person learn, after all, from reading social media posts?

If we stream shows constantly and don't carve out time for reading, how will our children be motivated to open a book?

If more than 54% of the American population has a literacy rate below 6th-grade level, how do we expect our children to love the intricacies of the language and develop vocabularies that empower them?



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Buy Jane Eyre from Better World Books (used books that donate a book from every sale to literacy efforts)

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