Literary Words

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

abode a home
access an outburst of an emotion
accursed damned
achromatic colorless
adamantine unbreakable; impenetrable
adieu goodbye
afar at a distance
affianced engaged to marry
afire on fire
amarantine everlasting
anathema a curse; a hex
anon soon
apace quickly
Arcadian idyllic; countrified
argent silvery
argosy a large merchant ship
arrant utter
asunder into pieces
atrabilious melancholy or bad-tempered
aurora the dawn
bacchanal a drinking session; binge
bard a poet
barque a boat
beauteous beautiful
bedew sprinkle with water
bedizen dress gaudily
befall happen
befoul pollute
beget produce (a child)
begetter an originator or creator
behest a directive or command
behold see
benison a blessing
beseech ask urgently and fervently
besmirch make dirty or discolored
besprinkle sprinkle with small drops or bits (of something)
bestrew scatter
betake oneself go to
betimes early; ahead of schedule
betide happen
betoken be a warning of
blithe happy
bosky covered by trees or bushes
bourn a boundary
bower a bedroom
brand a sword
brume mist or fog
celerity swiftness
cerulean sky blue
choler anger
cincture a belt or girdle
circumvallate surround with a rampart or wall
clarion loud and clear
cleave to stick fast to
clime climate
cockcrow dawn
connubial relating to marriage; conjugal
contemn despise; disdain
coronal a crown
coruscate flash or sparkle
cozen swindle crapulent relating to the drinking of alcohol
crescent growing
darkling relating to growing darkness
dayspring dawn; daybreak
deathly fatal
deep, the the sea
dell a small valley
deracinate pull up by the roots
dingle a deep wooded valley
direful dreadful
disenthrall set free
divers of varying types
Dives a rich man
doff remove; take off
dolor great sorrow
dome a stately building
drear dreary
dulcify sweeten
effulgent shining brightly
eld old age
embosom embrace
eminence a piece of rising ground
empyrean the sky
enfetter shackle
engirdle surround
enkindle arouse
ensorcelled enchanted
ere before
erne a sea eagle
espy catch sight of
ether the clear sky
evanesce disappear; vanish
evanescent quickly fading
eventide evening
faerie a fairy
farewell goodbye
fay a fairy
fell cruel
fervid hot or glowing
fidus Achates a faithful friend
finny relating to fish
firmament the sky
flaxen pale yellow
fleer jeer or laugh disrespectfully
flexuous full of bends and curves
forebode predict; warn of
foreknow foresee
foretoken an omen
forsake abandon; renounce
fount a spring or fountain
fulgent shining brightly
fulguration a flash like lightning
fuliginous sooty; dusky
fulminate explode violently
furbelow adorn with trimmings
georgic rustic; agricultural
gird secure with a belt
glaive a sword
glaucous grayish-green; grayish-blue
glister sparkle
gloaming dusk
greensward grassy ground
gyre whirl or gyrate
hark listen
hebetude sluggishness
hither to or toward this place
horripilation goosebumps; hair standing on end
hymeneal relating to marriage
hyperborean arctic; polar
ichor blood, or a fluid likened to it
illude trick someone
illume/illumine illuminate
imbrue stain one's hand or sword with blood
impuissant powerless
incarnadine color (something) crimson; the color crimson
ingrate ungrateful
inhume bury
inly inwardly
insatiate never satisfied
ire anger
isle an island
knell the sound of a bell
lachrymal connected with weeping or tears
lachrymose tearful; quick to cry
lacustrine associated with lakes
lambent softly glowing or flickering
lave wash or wash over
lay a song
lea an area of grassy land
lenity kindness or gentleness
limn represent in painting or words
Lethe, the waters of oblivion
lineaments facial features
lightsome lithe
lucent shining
madding acting madly; frenzied
mage a magician or learned person
main, the the open ocean
malefic causing harm
manifold many and various
mantled covered
marge a margin
mead a meadow
mephitic foul-smelling
mere a lake or pond
miasma a stench
moon a month
morrow, the the following day
muliebrity womanliness
mutable fickle
nescient lacking knowledge; ignorant
nigh near
niveous snowy
nocuous noxious, harmful, or poisonous
noisome foul-smelling
noontide noon
nymph a beautiful young woman
oft/ofttimes often
omphalos a center or hub
orb an eye
orgulous proud or haughty
outspread spread out
pellucid translucent
perchance by some chance
perfervid intense and impassioned
perfidious deceitful and untrustworthy
perfidy a betrayal
phantasm a ghost
philippic a bitter verbal attack
pinion a bird's wing
plaint a lament or dirge
plangent loud and mournful
plash a splashing sound
plenteous plentiful
plumbless extremely deep
poesy poetry
Pooterish arrogant; snooty
pother a commotion or fuss
previse foresee
profound, the the ocean depths
prothalamium a song or poem celebrating a wedding
puissant powerful or influential
pulchritude beauty
pule cry
purl flow with a babbling sound
quidnunc an inquisitive and gossipy person
realm a kingdom
redolent fragrant
refection refreshment; a light meal
refulgent shining brightly
rend tear to pieces
repine be discontented
revenant a ghost
Rhadamanthine stern and incorruptible in judgment
rime frost
rimy frost-covered
rive split
roundelay a short, simple song with a refrain
rubescent reddening
rutilant glowing or glittering with red or golden light
sans without
scribe write
sea-girt surrounded by sea
sempiternal everlasting
serpent a snake
shade a ghost
ship of the desert a camel
shore country by the sea
sigil a sign or symbol
slay kill
slumber sleep
spume froth; foam star-crossed ill-fated
steed a horse
stilly still and quiet
storied celebrated in stories
strand a shore
Stygian very dark
sublunary terrestrial; earthbound
summers years of a person's age
sunder split (something) apart
supernal relating to the sky or the heavens
susurration/ a whispering or rustling
susurrus sound
swain a young lover or suitor
sward a field or meadow
swinge strike hard; beat
sword, the military power; violence
sylvan wooded
tarry delay leaving
temerarious rash or reckless
tenebrous dark; shadowy
thew muscle
thewy athletic; muscular
threescore sixty
thrice three times
tidings news; information
toilsome involving hard work
tope drink alcohol to excess
trammel a restriction or obstruction
transpierce penetrate
travail painful or laborious effort
trenchant sharp-edged
troublous full of troubles
tryst a rendezvous between lovers
uncloak uncover; reveal
unman deprive of manly qualities
upheave lift up; heave
Uranian homosexual
vainglorious conceited
verdurous fresh and green
vermeil brilliant red
vestal chaste; pure
vesture clothing
viands food
virescent greenish
viridescent greenish or becoming green
visage a person's face
visitant a ghost
want lack or be short of
wastrel an idler or good-for- nothing
wax become larger or stronger
wayfarer a person who travels on foot
wed marry
welkin, the the sky or heaven
wellspring a bountiful source
wind blow (a bugle)
without outside
wondrous inspiring wonder
wont accustomed
wonted usual
wrathful extremely angry
wreathe twist or entwine
yesteryear the (recent) past
yon yonder; that
yore of former ties or long ago
youngling a young person or animal
zephyr a soft, gentle breeze

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