Wow, that’s a crazy looking word! I am sure I had never heard it before I read “His Last Bow”, one of The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. But, based on the context, I don’t think the word means crazy. For this word, we have to start at the base noun and the build on it so we fully understand it.
Stertor – an abnormal snoring sound accompanying breathing
Stertorous – characterized by starter or heavy snoring; breathing in this manner
Usage: “The German lay upon the sofa sleeping stertorously.”
Here is a word that I am sure I had never heard before I read The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Sadly, it is in the final short story, “His Last Bow”. Holmes was interviewing his suspect. Well, “interviewing” is not the best term. Rather, Holmes was telling his suspect exactly how and what he had done; in return, the suspect would tell Holmes why he had committed the murder.
Prevaricate – to speak falsely; to deliberately misstate; lie
Usage: “Now, … , how do you justify such conduct, and what were the motives for your actions? If you prevaricate or trifle with me, I give you my assurance that the matter will pass out of my hands forever.”
(Do you like how I omitted the name of the suspect? You will have to read the story to find out who it was.)
Here is a curious word that I found in “The Disappearance of Lady Carfax”, one of The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I wasn’t sure what it meant, so I thought I would look it up and share it with you, especially since Dr Watson uses the word to describe Holmes.
Adroit – expert at using the hands and body, nimble; cleverly skillful, resourceful, ingenious
Usage: “All this I jotted down and felt that Holmes himself could not have been more adroit in collecting his facts.”
I have heard this word before and thought I knew what it meant. But when Sherlock Holmes used it to describe talents Dr Watson did not possess, I decided I should look it up just to be sure. It’s a really neat word, and it rolls off the tongue in a unique way, doesn’t it?
Dissimulate – to disguise or conceal under a false appearance; to conceal one’s true motives, thoughts, etc, by some pretense
Usage: “You won’t be offended, Watson? You will realize that among your many talents dissimulation finds no place…”
If I give you any more of the sentence, I’ll give away the conclusion of “The Dying Detective”, one of The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I’d rather leave you with this cliffhanger, so you will want to read it for yourself. I must say, I was not expecting the story to end as it did.
I came across this great word in “The Dying Detective”, one of The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The context made the meaning of the word very clear, but I still wanted to share it with you. It’s so long and sounds so important.
Perambulate – to walk through, about, or over; traverse; to walk or travel about; stroll
Usage: “Then, unable to settle down to reading, I walked slowly round the room, examining the pictures of celebrated criminals with which every wall was adorned. Finally, in my aimless perambulation, I came to the mantlepiece.”
(My first thought when I read this word was that it reminded me of a scene from Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth walks round the room with one of the Bingley sisters.)
Here is an interesting and rather commanding word that I found in The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Dr Watson was called in by Mrs Hudson to attend to “The Dying Detective”. Sherlock Holmes was on his deathbed. With great imperiousness, Holmes’ cries to Watson to stand back so that he does not catch the disease which is killing him. It was quite a thrilling story!
Imperious – domineering in a haughty manner; dictatorial; urgent; imperative
Usage: “Stand back! Stand right back!” said he with the sharp imperiousness which I had associated only with moments of crisis.
The Greatest Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
I finally finished!
This volume of forty-four short stories and four novels has been my reading companion since June when I started this blog. I feel like I’m closing a chapter of my own life. I have to find a new book friend now.
I know I’ve said this in other posts, but I am so glad I finally decided to read the Sherlock Holmes stories for myself. Emphasis on for myself. There are little nuances and fun quotes that I missed when I just listened to them. And the dramatizations (radio, television, and movie) lose the sense of realism that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle achieved by using Dr Watson as his story-teller. (I have a post about that here.) My favorite example of this realism is when Doyle-as-Watson says in The Hound of the Baskervilles that he is transcribing his letters as he wrote them to Holmes. “One page is missing,” he says. Doyle didn’t have to put that in the story, but because he did, The Hound feels that much more real. It gives credibility to the story. That small detail is omitted from dramatizations because those are concerned with the story and not the method of story-telling.
I hope I have encouraged you to read some Sherlock Holmes stories. Each one offers a great adventure and puzzling mystery. Several have astounding conclusions. Over the next few days, I’m going to give you highlights from my favorites. Stay tuned!
One last word: I am so glad there are twelve more short stories, even if they aren’t in this volume. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to my friends, Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes, just yet.