Have You Come Across Any Interesting Words While Reading Lately?

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All from The Manchurian Candidate ( http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/8615905 ) by Richard Condon - the man does love his vocabulary!

osculatorium: apparently a religious item which is kissed as an act of reverence and devotion. In the book, "...he clutched the telephone like an osculatorium".

glaucous: I'd seen this in print before but had always assumed from context that it referred to some textural trait; turns out it can also mean a color, a pale bluish-grey or green. [I'm relieved to learn that the alternate meaning *is* about texture - the "bloom" on some plants or other surfaces.] Here it refers to a main character's eye-color, though given his nature it could mean that his eyes appear to be a bit filmed-over...

langrel: irregularly-shaped shot used on battling ships to damage the opponents' sails and rigging. [I'd heard of this before - shooting chains and suchlike - but didn't recall seeing the term before.] In the book it's used as a metaphor for a furiously angry person's vituperative and hurtful words - "spitting langrel".

thlibii: this one really threw me; at least with "osculatorium" I could guess it had something to do with kissing, but I'd never heard this one before at all. In the book it's used as a simile ("they tittered like thlibii"), which didn't help a lot - but then I Googled it and found that it's a term for a specific category of eunuchs (that is, those made into eunuchs via a specific method - don't bother to look it up yourself if you're squeamish).

Those aren't the only new words I found in this book, and as it's rare for me to find *any* unfamiliar words in novels I was impressed at the number of words I had to look up for this one. On the other hand, it suggests to me that the whole thing may have been a wee bit over-written {wry grin}.

 

Complete Thread
I like the word "palimpsest".

Palimpsest is a noun and is defined by the Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/palimpsest) as:

1 : writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
2 : something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface

I discovered palimpsest in Rebecca Stott's novel Ghostwalk & like her use of the word as follows:

"If Elizabeth were here she would say that history is less like a skein of silk and more like a palimpsest- time layered upon time so that one buried layer leaks into the one above."

 

I found it in Anne of Green Gables. It means tall, skinny, and flexible. It sounds just like me!

 

Luckily, I'd just seen Harvey with Jimmy Stewart, so I knew exactly what they were talking about.

 

isn't pooka an imaginary being - was when i was a kid. and there was a british 80s pop group called 'pooka makes three'.

 

I don't like the word but came across it in a review of John Banville's 'The Sea' by the 'Spectator' althogh I agree it is a disconcerting novel.

 

I think this is so neat!

 

This sounds like a good idea.

 

> "palimpsest"

I think I look this word up every time I come across it. Does anyone else have words that don't "stick" with them, that they remember looking up before, but have to look up again?

 

"Zeitgeist" never sticks with me, I always have to look it up (thanks again dictionary.com!!!!)

 

> "palimpsest"

I think I look this word up every time I come across it. Does anyone else have words that don't "stick" with them, that they remember looking up before, but have to look up again?

For me it's hirsute / [hirsuto / hirsuta in Spanish] I can't never remember what the damn word means. I can't remember it now... and I looked it up less than a month ago!!!

 

> I like the word "palimpsest".

I actually didn't know what that word meant until reading this post and then I came upon the word in the book I was reading last night which saved me having to interrupt my reading to look it up, so thanks for that :-)

My book was Pat Barker's The eye in the door and the relevent passage is:
"The past is a palimpset, Prior thought. Early memories are always obscured by accumulations of later knowledge.

 

Glad my post on palimpsest was helpful for you! Funny (in a coincidental sort of way) that you came across palimpsest in your book shortly after reading my post!

 

but most of them are British slang, perhaps inappropriate here? Don't know. Since I'm American I don't hear these words often, and I don't actually know if they are just slang or genuinely offensive!

 

That was one of many unusual/interesting words that I came across while reading McCarthy's "The Road". I do have a pretty good vocabulary of archaic words as well as modern ones, but there were still quite a few words in that book that I didn't recall ever seeing before! Some of 'em could be understood by the context, but others I had to look up, including "rachitic" - which means "suffering from rickets" (or, as used in context, being twisted in body as if suffering from rickets).

 

wingmiketrollwing 8 yrs ago
Distal
Can't believe I've never come across this before. It's an adjective related to "distance". Its flavour seems to be not so much far (as in 'distant') but further away, relatively distant. So the distal end of something would be not this end, but that end.

 

its very common medically (eg to state a fracture site: distal radius)

 

'The medical duality proximal/distal is used to evoke emotional distance, as the medic [neurosurgeon Henry Perowne] filters his day's experience through the gauge of a healing life' - from my review at bookcrossing.com/journal/4247045

Update:sp

 

I think I need to get out more!

 

> I think I need to get out more!

Me too. :)

 

But I am still enjoying the thread!

 

Yeps, in medical terms it is the end which is further from the body. Proximal is closer to the body. So the distal part of a tail would be near the tip and proximal around the base.

 

from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I'd never seen the word before and had to look it up. I like finding new words.

 

I've known and used it for quite a while, but I'd like to see it catch on. (It's also very descriptive of just about every BookCrosser I know!)

 

I like that one too, it's often used as an insult interestingly.

 

Came across this in the review of Sarah Palin's book linked in jonno's Chit-Chat thread. I had long known the word "sarcophagus" (without the second O) but all that time never made the connection with its literal Greek meaning.

"Sarcophagous" literally means "flesh-eating", while "sarcophagus" (one O) was originally used by the Greeks for a kind of limestone used to make coffins of a kind thought to consume the flesh of the corpse within it. The latter word was later used metonymically for the coffin itself, which is how we understand it today.

 

That's incredibly interesting... it reminds me of the Mummy, with the flesh-eating scarabs that lived in the sarcophaguses (sarcophagi??). "Limestone" ... Perhas the scarabs were real after all!!

-Jesse

 

> That's incredibly interesting... it
> reminds me of the Mummy, with the flesh-
> eating scarabs that lived in the
> sarcophaguses (sarcophagi??). "Limestone".
> .. Perhas the scarabs were real after
> all!!

> -Jesse

I believe such beetles do exist. I saw them on a TV show "Bones". When forensics experts are trying to determine certain things about a corpse (time of death, age of the body, etc.), they let these beetles eat the flesh from the corpse and examine the beetles afterwards to make their conclusions. The beetles are also a handy way to strip the flesh from the bones. They are far more efficient and thorough at this task than humans and they accomplish this without damaging the underlying skeletal structure.

 

> I believe such beetles do exist.

Other varieties of scarab are Dung beetles - they make balls of dung like you would make a snowball. then lay eggs in them - the larvae eat the dung. Others pull it underground. The CSIRO (Official scientific research body in Australia) are experimenting with them to see how much cow poo they can pull underground before it releases its methane content on the atmosphere. A time lapse film of them at work in a paddock is amazing - the cowpats disappear like magic ;o)

The scarab with the sun disc in Egyptian iconography is at once the sacred scarab pushing the sun over the horizon, and the beetle rolling its dung ball. An Egyptian version of *As above, so below* perhaps - alchemical bugs, so to speak ;o)

 

 

THX!

 

I agree, this is a fun thread. :)

 

MyssCyn 8 yrs ago
recalcitrant
A word the king used his daughter in "The Princess of Landover"

re⋅cal⋅ci⋅trant  /rɪˈkælsɪtrənt/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ri-kal-si-truhnt]
–adjective 1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.
2. hard to deal with, manage, or operate.

 

neige49 8 yrs ago
Klipspringer
The fictional book I am reading takes place in Africa, and they mention animals and plants I have never heard of before. I looked up klipspringer just to see what the animal looked like - turned out to be a cute little antelope.

 

Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/horripilation) defines it as:

a bristling of the hair on the skin from cold, fear, etc.; goose flesh. (Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009. )

Used in Stephen King's Under the Dome:

"Suddenly he was swept by horripilation. The goosebumps swept up from his ankles all the way to the nape of his neck, where the hairs stirred and tried to lift."

 

Descriptive though, isn't it? I'd forgotten about that word but you jogged my memory.

 

MyssCyn 8 yrs ago
miasma
"She reached her room sunk in a miasma of gloom and dark thoughts."

mi⋅as⋅ma  \Show Spelled Pronunciation [mahy-az-muh]
noun
1. noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere.
2. a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.

 

wingglade1wing 8 yrs ago
RE: miasma
My kids and I looked up miasma this week, but not for a definition, just a pronunciation. We're watching the anime InuYasha rather obsessively and the characters kept using the word - I thought they were pronouncing it incorrectly but it turns out I've been using the less preferred pronunciation : (

So anime is not a total brain rot - my kids have learned at least one new word!

 

If it hadn't been in amongst: '...and he wrested the gun from Freddie's hand before he could squeeze off another shot...'(or something of that matter) I wouldn't never had known what the heck it meant. I read it in the waiting room at the doctor's surgery yesterday.

 

CEREMENTS

HOYDENISH

TUNDISH

SODALISTS

CHASUBLE

 

I'd like to think I read a lot of classic fiction, especially since the 19th century is my favorite century, but while reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I was surprised to find that over and over, it would have a sentence like: " 'So she must be the murderer!' I ejaculated. "

I get the point, that said character was spitting out the world in a rush, but... still. You wouldn't see that usage today. XD

-Jesse

 

> I get
> the point, that said character was
> spitting out the world in a rush, but...
> still. You wouldn't see that usage today.
> XD -Jesse

I never knew about "Ejaculated" being used to mean "Exclaimed"!! And your right, you wouldn't see the usage today!

 

Actully I came across that word being used in that context once or twice in Harry Potter series. XD It really threw me off...not the sort of word I would expect to find in A.) A more modern book B.) A series aimed at a younger crowd.

 

...original usage. And while I imagine it would cause some snickering in schoolrooms, I think it's good for students to learn that common usage changes over time - and that words can retain wildly different meanings.

Heck, most of the books that used "ejaculated" to mean "exclaimed" also used "intercourse" to mean "socializing", as in "engaging in frequent intercourse with our neighbors". Granted, if I haven't set my mind to 18th-century-prose mode, phrases like that can give me a bit of a start!

 

in his books and as there were no females present and it happened during heated conversation I, too, found out about the other meaning.

 

> in his books and as there were no females
> present and it happened during heated
> conversation I, too, found out about the
> other meaning.

I've known about its old-fashioned meaning for many years. But admittedly you don't see it in many modern books.

 

Or how about the ubiquitous "make love to" which meant "speak affectionately to; woo" before the mid-20th century.

 

I first heard this when I was on a long road trip by myself, listening to a Zane Grey on tape. I nearly drove off the road! Then every time it was repeated, I just laughed out loud, thinking about all those cowboys ejaculating!

 

Urbanely:

1. having the polish and suavity regarded as characteristic of sophisticated social life in major cities: an urbane manner.
2. reflecting elegance, sophistication, etc., esp. in expression.

Subsizar:

an undergraduate who receives maintenance aid from the college.

Abattoir:

a slaughterhouse.

Definitions come from www.dictionary.com.

 

neige49 8 yrs ago
Invigilator
I came across this one last night while reading. It has a very exact meaning: someone who watches examination candidates to prevent cheating.

 

I am reading *My Father Had a Daughter - Judith Shakespeare's Tale* by Grace Tiffany and am enjoying it a lot. I always keep a sticky note inside the front cover of books I am currently reading so I can note the page number of passages I might want to quote for a journal entry or just because I like them. For these 2 new (to me) words, though, I somehow forgot to note the page number so I now can't find them to give an example of the words in a sentence. The first, I had never heard before and had to look up. The second, I think I had heard but couldn't remember the meaning so I looked it up, as well.

pleached: pleach – verb (used with object) 1. to interweave (branches, vines, etc.), as for a hedge or arbor.
2. to make or renew (a hedge, arbor, etc.) by such interweaving.
3. to braid (hair).


mercer: noun - a dealer in textiles (especially silks)
noun - British maker of printed calico cloth who invented mercerizing (1791-1866)


This is a fun thread!

 



 

(BTW, I'm reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which turned out to be much more fun than expected.)

 

Yes, lots, but they were all in Japanese! But I have to admit the book was a Dutch translation of Gail Tsukiyama's 'The Samurai's Garden', so don't be too impressed by my ability to read Japanese;-P

 

carlissa 8 yrs ago
inculcate
came across this word while reading Anne of Green Gables:

"I guess it doesn't matter what a person's name is as long as he behaves himself," said Marilla, feeling herself called upon to inculcate a good and useful moral."

definition found here: http://www.answers.com/inculcate?...

 

I've never heard of either of the following two words:


Doppelganger: "a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart."

Onanistic: another word for masturbation.

 

...if Poe used the word, though he certainly used the concept, and I know I saw the word itself in other ghost/horror stories when I was devouring the anthology section during my teens. [I was aware of "onanism" - if not "onanistic" - relatively early, too, though I can't recall now where I first heard "the sin of Onan" used in that way. (Not that the sin of Onan was masturbation, but a lot of people have interpreted it that way!) Fun with Bible studies {grin}.]

 

I recently finished a novel called Doppelganger

A word cropping up is evemerism :

Evemerism, named after Evemeras, a 4th Century B.C.E.
Greek philosopher who developed the idea that, rather than
being mythological creatures as was accepted by the reigning
intellectuals, the gods of old were in fact historical characters,
kings, emperors and heroes whose exploits were then deified.

Evemerists have put forth a great deal of literature attempting
to prove that Jesus was a great Jewish reformer and revolu-
tionary who threatened the status quo and thus had to be put
to death.

Unfortunately for historicizers, no historian of his purported
time even noticed this "great reformer."

In Ancient History of the God Jesus, Dujardin states, "This
doctrine [Evemerism] is nowadays discredited except in the
case of Jesus.

No scholar believes that Osiris or Jupiter or Dionysus was an
historical person promoted to the rank of a god, but exception
is made only in favour of Jesus. . . .It is impossible to rest the
colossal work of Christianity on Jesus, if he was a man."

The standard Christian response to the Evemerists has been
that no such Jesus, stripped of his miracles and other super-
natural attributes, could ever "have been adored as a god or
even been saluted as the Messiah of Israel." (Dujardin)

This response is quite accurate: No man could have caused
such a hullabaloo and hellish fanaticism, the product of which
has been the unending spilling of blood.

The crazed "inspiration" that has kept the Church afloat
merely confirms the mythological origins of this tale.

"The general assumption concerning the canonical gospels is
that the historic element was the kernel of the whole, and that
the fables accreted round it; whereas the mythos, being pre-
extant, proves the core of the matter was mythical, and it
follows that the history is incremental. . . . It was the human
history that accreted round the divinity, and not a human
being who became divine." (Massey, The Historical Jesus
and the Mythical Christ, henceforth, "MC")

The bottom line is that when one removes all the elements
of those preceding deities and myths that contributed to
the formation of this Jewish god-man - which is what Eve-
merists insist on doing - there is nothing historical left to
point to. As Massey says, ". . . a composite likeness of
twenty different persons merged in one . . . is not anybody."
(MC)

 

Wow, Thanks for the info!

 

Dunzy 8 yrs ago
Antagonable
Clear enough in meaning (capable of being [easily] antagonized), but for lack of a cite beyond one author I must assume it's a coinage.

The author is Chris Eaton, who refers to a character in The Grammar Architect as "the antagonable snowman". (Fun pun, no?)

 

That's abominable!

;-)

 

> I've never heard of either of the
> following two words:

> Doppelganger: "a ghostly double of a
> living person that haunts its living
> counterpart."

> Onanistic: another word for masturbation.

Actually "onanism" is the proper form of this word for masturbation. "Onanistic" means masturbatory, meaning like or of masturbation.

 

 

I hate to admit reading a Patricia Cornwall to pass the time on Australia Day, but I did.

"She's got a huge panniculus." Scarpetta refers to the fold or drape of fat that people as obese as the dead woman have over their bellies . . .

 

Never heard of this word! Thanks for sharing!

 

Now, how to work it into casual conversation... {snerk!}

 

> Now, how to work it into casual
> conversation... {snerk!}

LOL!!

 

A quarrelsome, scolding woman. Found in a history of the Medici family I am currently reading. In fact, unusually for me, there have been several words in this book with which I was unfamiliar and I started noting them down to look up when I have finished the book. I may report back with more, LOL.

 

There are some real belters there link at bottom :)

Occipats
Oroondates
Ortolan
Satyriasis
Witticisms
pretentiousness
Metempsychosis
Amanuensis
Panegyric
Ecomiums
Equipage
Emoloment
necrophagia

Throw in some Latin terminology and reading becomes more enjoyable.

Quam quisque norit atem in ea se exerceat
Credendum est
Nils desperandum

Reading Maketh The Man
Francis Bacon

http://www.librarything.com/---/33646

 

> A quarrelsome, scolding woman. Found in a
> history of the Medici family I am
> currently reading. In fact, unusually for
> me, there have been several words in this
> book with which I was unfamiliar and I
> started noting them down to look up when I
> have finished the book. I may report back
> with more, LOL.

Another such word for a scolding woman is "Xanthippe" taken after Socrates's wife of the same name.

 

 

Merriam Webster definition:
"of, relating to, or being a marriage between a member of a royal or noble family and a person of inferior rank in which the rank of the inferior partner remains unchanged and the children of the marriage do not succeed to the titles, fiefs, or entailed property of the parent of higher rank"

I came across this in The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope. I'm sure I've come across this word before but didn't remember what it meant.

 

tom-m 8 yrs ago
"a"
remarkably versatile word and so easy to spell. You can use it several times in a sentence without appearing redundant. I love it!

 

I'd never come across this word before and found it in Timothy Findley's 'The Piano Man's Daughter'. I looked it up and the definition of 'aggrandize' is 'increase power, rank, wealth of person', or appear greater than the reality'.

 

susieq46 8 yrs ago
Rabelaisian
I found it in a book I'm reading called Land of Lincoln by Andrew Ferguson. The paragraph was describing Abraham Lincoln's fondness for dirty jokes. The sentence read: One contemporary biographer delicately calls Lincoln's taste "Rabelaisian." I couldn't find it in my dictionary, so I Googled it and found the following definition "of or relating to or characteristic of Francois Rabelais. I then Googled his name and found that he was a French doctor, writer, and humanist in the 1500's, and he was also known to write dirty jokes. I also found a definition which said that to be Rabelaisian is to be totally outrageous, raunchy, and crude.

 

Interesting find... never heard of Rabelaisian or about who he was. And who would have guessed Abraham Lincoln liked dirty jokes!

 

Rabelais is mentioned, in very good company:

"Maud: Professor, her kind of woman doesn't belong on any committee. Of course, I shouldn't tell you this but she advocates dirty books."
Harold: Dirty books?!
Alma: Chaucer
Ethel: Rabelais
Eulalie: Balzac!" [In the film this is pronounced delightfully, with loads of emphasis on the first syllable {grin}.]

 

Great! I saw the Music Man so many years ago, and I'm sure that went right over my head. Thanks!

 

> Rabelais is mentioned, in very good
> company:

> "Maud: Professor, her kind of woman
> doesn't belong on any committee. Of
> course, I shouldn't tell you this but she
> advocates dirty books." Harold: Dirty
> books?! Alma: Chaucer Ethel: Rabelais
> Eulalie: Balzac!" [In the film this is
> pronounced delightfully, with loads of
> emphasis on the first syllable {grin}.]

Oh, I know this! I heard "The Music Man" performed years ago at the opera house and it was so funny hearing this woman commenting with relish and supposed horror over dirty books.

 

Then with practice slip them into my own vocabulary where I can :)

 

gonfalon - A vertically hung flag, often with streamers or coming to a point at the bottom.
flap-gibus - A collapsible opera hat (a top hat). Presumably you flatten it and hold it on your lap while watching the opera.
muniments room - I also saw this phrase in another book I read recently. Similar to a library but it's a room for storing documents and maps rather than books.

 

Arten60 8 yrs ago
Thaumaturge
Anyone heard of that one?

It means miracle worker and I came across it in my latest read Shrine by James Herbert. The book is one of those I cannot put down and I am near the end of it.

 

Haven't heard of this word before that I can recall.

 

It was completely new to me now the trick is to get it into a conversation hehe.
Many of the words here I have seen and strive to remember the definitions of, not the exact definition just a vague feeling of meaning is good enough to trigger the actual meaning and context helps.

 

I thought that this referred to a magician or wizard.

 

ahimsa 8 yrs ago
malgré lui
In the preface to Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor calls one of the characters a "Christian malgré lui" which was a new phrase for me. It may be obvious for all you folks who speak French but I had to look it up. (malgré lui = in spite of himself)

 

neige49 8 yrs ago
loess
a buff to gray windblown deposit of fine-grained, calcereous silt or clay

 

We had to read Moliere's classic farce "Le Medecin Malgre Lui" (The Doctor In Spite of Himself) in high school French class.

 

> We had to read Moliere's classic farce "Le
> Medecin Malgre Lui" (The Doctor In Spite
> of Himself) in high school French class.

I didn't have French but I remember reading this play on the sly in class. I thought the scene where the husband was being beaten because his wife was playing a trick on him was so hilarious, I actually started laughing. When my teacher snuck up on me to see what I was reading, I remember he gave me the weirdest look. What, nobody else in America reads Moliere in fifth grade?

 

Arten60 8 yrs ago
Three more
Cheveril
Omnific
Arboreal

 

I recently finished reading Nicholson Baker's "The Fermata" and ran across all sorts of brilliant, weird, made-up words that he coined solely to describe his protagonist's oddball journey through women's clothes and bodies, "vadge" for "vagina" e.g.

 

wingminesaynwing 8 yrs ago
bindle...
as in bindle of cocaine, but I checked the dictionary for a definition and didn't find it. Obviously, I am not into the drug culture or perhaps I would know it.

 

...as carried by stereotypical images of tramps. I haven't heard it in connection with drugs, but maybe it's just a variant of (or typo for!) "bundle"?

 

 

> as in bindle of cocaine, but I checked the
> dictionary for a definition and didn't
> find it. Obviously, I am not into the drug
> culture or perhaps I would know it.

"Bindlestiff" is a word for a hobo, possibly referring to the bundle tied to the stick, an image many people think of when they think of hobos.

 

wingglade1wing 8 yrs ago
RE: bindle...
Merriam-Webster calls a bindle "a bundle of clothes or bedding" and says it may be an alteration of bundle. A "bindle stiff" is a hobo.

 

Pederasty: lover of boys

Anachronistic: a person or a thing that is chronologically out of place; especially : one from a former age that is incongruous in the present

 

> Pederasty: lover of boys

> Anachronistic: a person or a thing that is
> chronologically out of place; especially:
> one from a former age that is incongruous
> in the present

No, a "pederast" is a lover of boys. "Pederasty" regards the action itself, now commonly known as "boy love" or "man/boy love". They made fun of this very type of activity in an episode of South Park that dealt with a dispute between NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) and the North American Marlon Brando Look Alikes.

"Anachronistic" refers to being chronologically out of place. It is an adjective not a noun. The word you mean is "anachronism".

 

 

Eep, I'm being critical again, aren't I? I've had people complain about that before and I try not to be too prissy about it. But I had a college-reading level when I was in grade school and old habits die hard.

It's what makes reading fan fiction so difficult for me. When I see the egregious errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation that passes for writing, it makes me want to bang my head on the table.

 

> Eep, I'm being critical again, aren't I?
> I've had people complain about that before
> and I try not to be too prissy about it.
> But I had a college-reading level when I
> was in grade school and old habits die
> hard.


You aren't critical... Just trying to give the proper definition, which i don't mind. (If I don't know a word I look it up in the dictionary... I can pretty much tell if its a noun, adjective, verb, etc. by the way it is used in a sentence--- just not the meaning in some cases.)

I guess the online search for definitions I've chosen have not given the most accurate meaning of some words I've looked up!

Btw, I thought perhaps you may be a linguist as you are very knowledgeable about the meaning of words!


> When I see
> the egregious errors in spelling, grammar
> and punctuation that passes for writing,
> it makes me want to bang my head on the
> table.

I can relate completely to this!

 

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