Literary Words

These words are used mainly, or with a special meaning, in poetry and other writing in an elevated, ‘literary’ style.

abodea home
accessan outburst of an emotion
accurseddamned
achromaticcolorless
adamantineunbreakable; impenetrable
adieugoodbye
afarat a distance
affiancedengaged to marry
afireon fire
amarantineeverlasting
anathemaa curse; a hex
anonsoon
apacequickly
Arcadianidyllic; countrified
argentsilvery
argosya large merchant ship
arrantutter
asunderinto pieces
atrabiliousmelancholy or bad-tempered
aurorathe dawn
bacchanala drinking session; binge
barda poet
barquea boat
beauteousbeautiful
bedewsprinkle with water
bedizendress gaudily
befallhappen
befoulpollute
begetproduce (a child)
begetteran originator or creator
behesta directive or command
beholdsee
benisona blessing
beseechask urgently and fervently
besmirchmake dirty or discolored
besprinklesprinkle with small drops or bits (of something)
bestrewscatter
betake oneselfgo to
betimesearly; ahead of schedule
betidehappen
betokenbe a warning of
blithehappy
boskycovered by trees or bushes
bourna boundary
bowera bedroom
branda sword
brumemist or fog
celerityswiftness
ceruleansky blue
choleranger
cincturea belt or girdle
circumvallatesurround with a rampart or wall
clarionloud and clear
cleave tostick fast to
climeclimate
cockcrowdawn
connubialrelating to marriage; conjugal
contemndespise; disdain
coronala crown
coruscateflash or sparkle
cozenswindle crapulent relating to the drinking of alcohol
crescentgrowing
darklingrelating to growing darkness
dayspringdawn; daybreak
deathlyfatal
deep, thethe sea
della small valley
deracinatepull up by the roots
dinglea deep wooded valley
direfuldreadful
disenthrallset free
diversof varying types
Divesa rich man
doffremove; take off
dolorgreat sorrow
domea stately building
dreardreary
dulcifysweeten
effulgentshining brightly
eldold age
embosomembrace
eminencea piece of rising ground
empyreanthe sky
enfettershackle
engirdlesurround
enkindlearouse
ensorcelledenchanted
erebefore
ernea sea eagle
espycatch sight of
etherthe clear sky
evanescedisappear; vanish
evanescentquickly fading
eventideevening
faeriea fairy
farewellgoodbye
faya fairy
fellcruel
fervidhot or glowing
fidus Achatesa faithful friend
finnyrelating to fish
firmamentthe sky
flaxenpale yellow
fleerjeer or laugh disrespectfully
flexuousfull of bends and curves
forebodepredict; warn of
foreknowforesee
foretokenan omen
forsakeabandon; renounce
founta spring or fountain
fulgentshining brightly
fulgurationa flash like lightning
fuliginoussooty; dusky
fulminateexplode violently
furbelowadorn with trimmings
georgicrustic; agricultural
girdsecure with a belt
glaivea sword
glaucousgrayish-green; grayish-blue
glistersparkle
gloamingdusk
greenswardgrassy ground
gyrewhirl or gyrate
harklisten
hebetudesluggishness
hitherto or toward this place
horripilationgoosebumps; hair standing on end
hymenealrelating to marriage
hyperboreanarctic; polar
ichorblood, or a fluid likened to it
illudetrick someone
illume/illumineilluminate
imbruestain one's hand or sword with blood
impuissantpowerless
incarnadinecolor (something) crimson; the color crimson
ingrateungrateful
inhumebury
inlyinwardly
insatiatenever satisfied
ireanger
islean island
knellthe sound of a bell
lachrymalconnected with weeping or tears
lachrymosetearful; quick to cry
lacustrineassociated with lakes
lambentsoftly glowing or flickering
lavewash or wash over
laya song
leaan area of grassy land
lenitykindness or gentleness
limnrepresent in painting or words
Lethe, the waters ofoblivion
lineamentsfacial features
lightsomelithe
lucentshining
maddingacting madly; frenzied
magea magician or learned person
main, thethe open ocean
maleficcausing harm
manifoldmany and various
mantledcovered
margea margin
meada meadow
mephiticfoul-smelling
merea lake or pond
miasmaa stench
moona month
morrow, thethe following day
muliebritywomanliness
mutablefickle
nescientlacking knowledge; ignorant
nighnear
niveoussnowy
nocuousnoxious, harmful, or poisonous
noisomefoul-smelling
noontidenoon
nympha beautiful young woman
oft/ofttimesoften
omphalosa center or hub
orban eye
orgulousproud or haughty
outspreadspread out
pellucidtranslucent
perchanceby some chance
perfervidintense and impassioned
perfidiousdeceitful and untrustworthy
perfidya betrayal
phantasma ghost
philippica bitter verbal attack
piniona bird's wing
plainta lament or dirge
plangentloud and mournful
plasha splashing sound
plenteousplentiful
plumblessextremely deep
poesypoetry
Pooterisharrogant; snooty
pothera commotion or fuss
previseforesee
profound, thethe ocean depths
prothalamiuma song or poem celebrating a wedding
puissantpowerful or influential
pulchritudebeauty
pulecry
purlflow with a babbling sound
quidnuncan inquisitive and gossipy person
realma kingdom
redolentfragrant
refectionrefreshment; a light meal
refulgentshining brightly
rendtear to pieces
repinebe discontented
revenanta ghost
Rhadamanthinestern and incorruptible in judgment
rimefrost
rimyfrost-covered
rivesplit
roundelaya short, simple song with a refrain
rubescentreddening
rutilantglowing or glittering with red or golden light
sanswithout
scribewrite
sea-girtsurrounded by sea
sempiternaleverlasting
serpenta snake
shadea ghost
ship of the deserta camel
shorecountry by the sea
sigila sign or symbol
slaykill
slumbersleep
spumefroth; foam star-crossed ill-fated
steeda horse
stillystill and quiet
storiedcelebrated in stories
stranda shore
Stygianvery dark
sublunaryterrestrial; earthbound
summersyears of a person's age
sundersplit (something) apart
supernalrelating to the sky or the heavens
susurration/a whispering or rustling
susurrussound
swaina young lover or suitor
swarda field or meadow
swingestrike hard; beat
sword, themilitary power; violence
sylvanwooded
tarrydelay leaving
temerariousrash or reckless
tenebrousdark; shadowy
thewmuscle
thewyathletic; muscular
threescoresixty
thricethree times
tidingsnews; information
toilsomeinvolving hard work
topedrink alcohol to excess
trammela restriction or obstruction
transpiercepenetrate
travailpainful or laborious effort
trenchantsharp-edged
troublousfull of troubles
trysta rendezvous between lovers
uncloakuncover; reveal
unmandeprive of manly qualities
upheavelift up; heave
Uranianhomosexual
vaingloriousconceited
verdurousfresh and green
vermeilbrilliant red
vestalchaste; pure
vestureclothing
viandsfood
virescentgreenish
viridescentgreenish or becoming green
visagea person's face
visitanta ghost
wantlack or be short of
wastrelan idler or good-for- nothing
waxbecome larger or stronger
wayfarera person who travels on foot
wedmarry
welkin, thethe sky or heaven
wellspringa bountiful source
windblow (a bugle)
withoutoutside
wondrousinspiring wonder
wontaccustomed
wontedusual
wrathfulextremely angry
wreathetwist or entwine
yesteryearthe (recent) past
yonyonder; that
yoreof former ties or long ago
younglinga young person or animal
zephyra soft, gentle breeze

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