I am sure I’ve never seen this word before I found it in “The Case of the Lame Snail”, in The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes. I had to stop reading and look it up. From the context, I thought it might mean something like the center of attention. I wasn’t entirely wrong.
Cynosure – someone or something that strongly attracts attention or admiration; something serving for guidance or direction
Usage: “Herlock Sholmes was the cynosure of all eyes as he picked up the football and drew from his pocket a large magnifying glass.”
In this case, Sholmes’ help is required to determine the winner of a football (soccer) match. Dr Jotson is concerned at the end of the story that Sholmes made a mistake, the only one he had ever known Sholmes to make. You will have to read “The Case of the Lame Snail” yourself to determine if Sholmes did in fact make a mistake.
This is a fun word to say. I found it in “Pinkeye’s New Year Resolution” in The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes. From the context, I thought it might mean courage, maybe even stupid courage, and I was not far off the true definition. There are some modern terms one could use, but they are vulgar and (in my opinion) distasteful. Why not use a nice word like temerity instead?
Temerity – reckless boldness, rashness
Usage: “Information at my disposal leads me to the conclusion that he has rented an office in the wing of a large building, owned by the Limehouse Trust, Limited. Moreover, he has had the temerity to put his real name on the door.”
I know that I have read this word and heard it spoken before. I think it means fast or quick. When I found it in “The Mystery of the Mince-Pie” in The Compete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes, I decided it was high time I looked the word up to be sure. Well, I was not very close with my definition.
Voracious – craving or consuming large quantities of food (voracity is the noun version of this adjective)
Usage: “With some dismay I noticed that my amazing friend was suffering from a severe lack of proportion. He served the Turnham Greens, their guests and me, with a cube of pudding about the size of a piece of loaf sugar. The remainder he placed on his own plate. Even though the dinner was a change from the kippers and pancakes of Mrs Spudson, Sholmes might have controlled his voracity. Once he nearly choked with a large mouthful of pudding and had to bury his head in the large red pocket handkerchief.”
Here is a curious word that Dr Jotson uses to describe Sholmes’ pipe in “The Mystery of the Mince-Pie”. As I am not a smoker, I decided to look the word up to find its exact meaning. In fact, the word has no special meaning or tongue-in-cheek use. It truly describes the pipe.
Meershaum – a mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, occurring in white, claylike masses, used especially for pipe bowls
Usage: “Between his thin lips was a large meershaum pipe.” (from The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes)
When I first came across this word, I mentally pronounced it as “pur-lee-us” and had no idea what it could mean. Of course I had to look it up, because that’s what we should do when we don’t know what a word means. Anyway, I looked it up so you didn’t have to. And when I saw the pronunciation, I realized I have heard this word before and kind of already knew it.
Purlieus – (pronounced pur-lyoo) neighborhood, or a place frequented by a person
Usage: “Inspector, I am about to look for the gunpowder plotter,” went on Herlock Sholmes. “Not, however, in the purlieus of crime – not in the haunts of anarchists.”
Of course, if you want to know where Sholmes went to look for the gunpowder plotter, you will have to read the story “The Case of the Gunpowder Plot” in The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes.
I am only halfway through The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes, but you would not believe how many times Sholmes has eaten poor Jotson’s breakfast. And every time is more hilarious than the last. Here is what happened in “The Trunk Mystery”:
“My dear Jotson, we must start at once,” said Herlock Sholmes, as I came down one morning into our sitting-room at Shaker Street.
I glanced towards the breakfast-table.
“My dear Sholmes, I have not yet – “
“We have to call upon Colonel Collywobble without the delay of a moment,” explained Sholmes. “But you know my efficient methods, Jotson. In order to save time I have eaten your breakfast, as well as my own. There is, therefore, nothing to delay us. Come!”Herlock Sholmes and Dr Jotson, “The Trunk Mystery”, The Complete Casebook of herlock Sholmes, circa 1920